Monday, March 31, 2003

Well this is interesting, looks like my template got hijacked. Well, let's see if this fixes it.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Bits and pieces from all over.

1. Which of these stories frightens you more? this or this? For completely different reasons, both scare the crap out of me.

2. Joe delivers the catchy title that $1M&K needs: "The Million Dollar Chance of a Knifetime."

3. The Pittsburgh area McDonalds are offering the following: Get your salad Pittsburgh-style for just one dollar more! For those of you not familiar, Pittsburgh style salads (usually steak, not Caesar, but sure, why not) with a handful of french fries placed on it. I apologize in advance if this gets exported.

4. Are we already at the point where no one cares about state quarters?

5. It's not a repressed memory, but it's painful none the less. Okay, just see if this phrasing sparks any memories.
"The geefle however cannot eat the nectarines because it has no elbows."

Of the people I've asked about this, a majority (okay 2 out of three) have not only had the sudden jolt of realization about what this is, but actually have described the experience of suddenly remembering it as painful. Not psychologically painful, physically painful, very short and intense, as if the neuron popped alive for the first time in ages, kind of like if you crack a knuckle that hadn't been cracked in a while (or shouldn't). Just odd, I guess.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Now you've done it. Browsed over to the cousin's site, and I found this. I don't know, on one hand it's everyone's right to put their money down where and when they see fit. On the other hand, if the mere mention of an opinion different from your own is sufficient to send you on a boycott of the smallest detail... Well how exactly will you change the world, if you're spending all your efforts turning your back on it?

Monday, March 24, 2003

Well, everyone appears to be in a tizzy over Michael Moore. If you didn't see it coming, well, I can't do anything for you. Whether you believe that Hollywood self-censored themselves last night, or merely showed restraint, if you had to pick one nominee who might go off, you'd pick him. My appreciation of this has to be that Michael Moore might have saved us from Jack Valenti immediately following up by telling us that "when you're file-swapping, you're file-swapping with Osama." Having seen how well something like that went off at the Grammys, and knowing how tight Jack is with that viewpoint, I was pleasantly surprised.

Meanwhile, we wrapped up the suck league draft tonight. 16 rounds Thursday night followed by 9 rounds tonight. A quick summary of all my team. Please remember the basic rules of suck league, the worse you do, the more valuable you are. Thus the best player last year was Mike Hampton (1400+ points) while the worst player was Barry Bonds (-2700 points)

Your 2003 Tampa Bay Yachtsmen!
Manager: Derek Bell

Philosophy: Having won this league last year, I understand the fundamental trick. Get at bats, and get innings pitched. If you get mediocre players, you will win, because unlike totally sucking players, they won't be replaced. Therefore, scour for middling pitchers on bad teams, position players selected for defense, and players who can't be replaced by AAA talent, avoid closers and power hitters unless you're fairly certain they're toast, and don't touch injured players, unless they're trying to fight through it. With that in mind:

Round 1: Todd Ritchie SP, MIL
All three of the qualifications I look for in a starter, lots of losses the previous year on a good team, moving to a bad team, with injuries to other pitchers so he's likely to stay in the rotation even if he dies on the mound. (He was one of my top 3 targets, the other 2 being Steve Sparks, and Tanyon Sturtze. Steve Sparks is a living god in this league.)

Round 2: Corey Patterson, OF, CHC
Last year he was the best outfielder to own. Little hit, lots of K's, and it's not like there's a AAA outfielder challenging him.

Round 3: Shawn Chacon SP, COL
He was my second best pitcher last year, and with him still in Coors it's like buying bonds (savings, not Barry) (Goal number 1 of my team: assemble a rotation's worth of starters early. Starting pitching ruled last year, and though the stats were put more in balance, I'm not about to lose that way.)

Round 4: Mo Vaughn, 1B, NYM
Yeah, I've heard how he's dropped weight, unless he's replaced fat with youth, he's dang near toast. Fact remains, with Kevin Young down to a platoon, Vaughn is the best 1B guy in suck league. This was goal number 2 of my team in action: Lock down top players in the positions of 1B, OF, and to a lesser degree 2B. All of these last year were easily handled by simply picking someone off of the waiver wire, as we only had 6 teams, with 11 this year, they become premiums. While the rest of the league was grabbing SS early (as those were the really bad numbers) I went after the hard positions first.

Round 5: Jeff Liefer, 1B/OF, MTL
Here's the pick that will either guarantee me a win, or blow me out of the water. He's positionally flexible, and in danger of losing his position at 1B to Wil Cordero. This screams suck. If he holds on to the 1B position, I'm perfectly set to deal Mo, or if Mo blows, put Liefer in the OF, and really rack up the points.

Round 6: Damion Easley, 2B, DET
There was a run on 2B at this point, and I needed to nail down one. (We'll see where I recover from this later, knowing that today Easley was put on the Tigers' bench.)

Round 7: Fernando Tatis, 3B, MTL
Not exactly the 3B I wanted, but I had run out of guys that I looked at and went "Yes, this 3B stinks!" Tatis was the last one on my list. I didn't want to be pressured to take one this early, but I needed to.

Round 8: Ramon Hernandez, C, OAK
Another former member of the Monongahela Trawlers (my team last year) Does everything I want him to do. Low batting average, little power. Solid suck. And he starts slow, so I'm likely to reap his benefits fast.

Round 9: Glendon Rusch, P, MIL
I needed another pitcher, Rusch fits the bill. (There seems to be a run on picking Brewers pitching, this shouldn't be surprising, Neugebauer is supposedly out for most of the year, and the rest of the rotation was down to using Dave Mlicki, until they cut him.)

Round 10: Rey Sanchez, SS, NYM
Immediately before picking him, I confirmed Jose Reyes had been sent to AAA. I probably have the worst(that is best) starting shortstop of any team in the league. However, where the average of other positions scored around 100 points last year, the average SS scored around 500 points in the league. I remain comfortable in my strategy. Victoria termed this a filthy pickup. I hope she meant filthy good, because having Rey is that sort of thing.

Round 11: Ben Grieve, OF, TB
Round 12: Rondell White, OF, SD
I tried picking up Rocco Baldelli with the 11 pick, but he's not listed in Yahoo yet, so like several other possible picks, he's going to be involved in the great waiver derby. Ron-DL White was just needing to pick the best OF available (and since I missed out in Round 10 on the guy I really wanted, Doug Glanville, I was getting twitchy)

Round 13: Brett Tomko, P, wherever
Round 14: Gary Glover, RP, CWS
Round 15: Scott Schoeneweis, P, ANA
Round 16: Pedro Astacio, P, NYM
Tomko is just one of those guys who screams 'unspectacular', thus he's perfect for this league. He could put it all together, but if he doesn't, I'll reap the benefits. Glover was bad last year, and I needed relievers, (the layout is 3SP, 3RP, 2P) Schoeneweis was a Trawler last year, and he has two perfect skills for the league: He scores as both RP and SP, and he is "jacktastic". Last year, every homerun given up by a pitcher netted 25 for the home run, and additional points for the hit, the total basses and the earned run. (again this is why Steve Sparks is a living god.) Astacio is a gut play by me. He seems to have all the components to fall apart this year, and with him already injured, I like his odds of blowin' up.

That concluded Thursday. By the time today came around, Easley had lost his job, so I thought I was stuck trying to find a 2B. Then I noticed that Sanchez scored as a 2B in Yahoo. Life is good.

Round 17: Orlando Cabrera, SS, MON
Round 18: Omar Infante, SS, DET
Lacking a SS now, I needed to fill the position, so I put Easley's replacement in, and picked up another former Trawler in Cabrera, who backed up Jack Wilson last year, before becoming my util player.

Round 19: John Halama, P, OAK
If he blows up, Halama will be sent to the bullpen, or when Aaron Harang gets brought back up, Halama will kicked out of the rotation. Both work in my favor.

Round 20: Josh Bard, C, CLE
I don't get it. I haven't found a single article to indicate that Bard won't be the catcher for Cleveland, and I haven't seen a single reference to Bard being anything more than the next generation of Keith Osik. Combine this with his backup being A. J. Hinch, and I think I pulled a late round steal. Worst case, I need to find a new backup catcher.

Round 21: Michael Tejera, RP/SP, FLA
Round 22: Casey Fossum, SP, BOS
Tejera was a safety pick. He was worth 246 last year. Fossum has jacktastic possibilities. The Sox are committed to his success, meaning he could blow up really big early. This is the same principle that caused me to pick up Bobby Smith of the Devil Rays as an early waiver move last year. Smith managed something like 40K's in 20 games before being cut by the Rays. He was worth something like 5-700 points to me, or most of my advantage. I may have to run with Fossum early to see if something similar happens.

Round 23: D'Angelo Jimenez, 2B/3B, CWS
Pure position play. I need a back up at those positions, and he scores there. Also worth 400+ points last year, so hey, why not. Also, this is the point where you realize that people are taking players that you would take in a normal fantasy draft. A similar moment came last year when I took Vinny Castilla in the 6th round. Byko freaked, he had taken him early in his normal draft. I won that argument. I have a feeling someone out there had a similar feeling about Tatis, when I took him.

Round 24: Francisco Cordova, P, SD
They're using him as a reliever, and he's a spent ex-Pirate. It's pure Kidder-bait, but I'll bite.

Round 25: Kenny Lofton, OF, PIT
I didn't have a Pirate on my team yet, and with J. Wilson, Reese, K. Young, Mackowiak, Suppan, C. Wilson, Benson, and Fogg taken, Lofton looked like the most likely to fail, and I needed an outfielder. It's a hedge. Last year I had Jack Wilson, Young, Mike Benjamin, and IIRC Abraham Nunez.

So my lineup (with backups):
C: Hernandez (Bard)
1B: Vaughn (Liefer)
2B: Sanchez (Jiminez, Easley)
SS: Infante (Cabrera)
3B: Tatis (Jiminez)
OF: Patterson, Grieve, Liefer, White, (Lofton)
MI: Cabrera
Util: Bard
SP: Ritchie, Chacon, Rusch
RP: Glover, Tejera, Schoeneweis
P: Tomko, Fossum, (Halama, Astacio, Cordova)

I'm slightly worried about my outfield, but I know that no one's really got a more solid 1-4 there, especially with Rondell White now likely a starter in SD, but I'd love to secure a fifth outfielder as bad as the rest.
I think it's a good team, for bad. Last year, I won this league with a little under 9000 points. I think this squad could do similar,

Friday, March 21, 2003

I'd just like to thank the folks at for titling their headline today "Baghdad Blitz". Now I have "And the man from the back/ said everyone attack and it turned into a Baghdad Blitz..." playing inside my head. I really didn't need that.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

If CNN keeps up the ALL CAPS in their headline for the length of this war, I'm going to have to find another online news service. It's like CNN is screaming in a flame war. I keep waiting for the headline to turn into L337-speak.

I find myself wondering it that was Saddam on that tape last night, and the picture here doesn't help. Especially as if it was him, he's starting to resemble what would happen if you slapped a moustache, beret, and fatigues on Jerry Lewis in hour 18 of the Labor Day Telethon. I suppose if Saddam brings out a kid in a wheelchair, and funnyman Fred Travalena...

Meanwhile back home, we seem to be neatly split between the crazy-ass people against the war, and the crazy-ass people for it. Never has it been more plain to me that we are all completely insane, we just find new and exciting ways to demonstrate this fact.

An update, my state rep is now my state senator, even though he's on active duty. Thus he won't be able to take on the hard hitting issues, like this great debate. Please note, yes, he was a sponsor of this bull...I mean bill.

Finally: Found object: This is apparently on the same server that the Reference Desk is on. (Yes, I've become VERY lazy about updating that.), I'd suggest reading the history bit, because, well, the concept of someone writing a tossup on the historical methods of vinegar production just amuses me. But the main page absolutely kills me, by virtue of being possibly the most random place one would ever find a special link to baby pictures..
My one bracket. Prepare to laugh.
I only do one bracket a year (this being the office pool)
Noting only where I break from the chalk:
First Round:
Weber St.
NC St.

Round of 32:
Weber St.
Mississippi St.

Round of 16:
Mississippi St.

Round of 8:

Final Four:
Arizona v. Pitt
Texas v. Syracuse

Arizona over Texas

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

So it begins. May it be brief, may it be decisive, may the casualties be few, and may it liberate the people.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

For the record, this is another Dwight. It's kind of like what I imagine the Hollywood pitch "It's like The Straight Story meets Dog Day Afternoon!" would end up looking like. It shouldn't be funny, but I think if pirates are the new monkeys, then tractors should be the new pirates. Maybe it's a function of being in flyoverland, but tractors are just naturally funny.

I wouldn't usually link to something like this, except that I had to marvel at the fact that Weekly World News has a directory on their website called "bizarre".

Sunday, March 16, 2003

In which I combine attorneys and knives, probably opening myself up to a lawsuit.

Two bits I just experienced:
1. While watching the channel 4 news (famous in my family for giving yesterday's news today), I just saw a story on an accident that nearly kept me from getting back into Oakland last night. It was then followed by a commercial for a lawyer who promoted himself by saying "Just call 1-800-I-GOT-HIT". I wish I was kidding. It put in my mind the bit from a Carl Hiassen book, where the protagonist's ex-wife has shacked up with an attorney, famous throughout the Miami area for his billboards that said "If you've been in an accident then SOMEBODY OWES YOU MONEY!"
2. While browsing through this weeks TV Guide, I came across the fact that there are two dozen new reality shows in development. (If anyone happens to know which circle of Hollywood Hell that those "in development" are consigned to, and if it's above or below those consigned to "hiatus", let me know.) Since they took my notion of I'll Eat That, and turned it into the inferior Glutton Bowl, I figure I should post up my other old idea. It's so bold and daring in its simplicity, I think it would really have a shot. Here's the pitch.

We call it "One Million Dollars, and a Knife." or $1M&K for short. We take ten demographically diverse people, and put them in a room, we see them go through the normal routines of an evening's party. The thing is, it's perfectly normal. But at some random moment, one million dollars drops out of a hole in the ceiling, and out of another hole in the ceiling, a knife drops. You don't know which hole gets which, and there's more than just the two holes. At that point, it's perfectly simple. Get out of there with as much money as you can.

I think the project works because it is the absolute distillation of the reality programming genre. Risk of suffering versus reward of money. It's cheap to produce, you can stretch out the tension of the drop over several episodes, and you've got nice promotional tie-ins: "Tonight's knife is a meat cleaver, by Henkel. It's high carbon steel and stain free, and you know how important that can be. A Henkel meat cleaver, tonight's knife."

Yes, I'm kidding, unless of course Fox wants to put it in development. I'm just doing my job watching us take one more step towards The Running Man.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

"Sometimes after an electrical storm, I can see in five dimensions.." or what this would look like if James Burke wrote it.
Cornfed's words ring only truer today, as part of the next cycle of software intends to extend existing work in allowing user programmable 4-dimensional arrays up to the previously unthinkable 5-dimensional arrays. Naturally, this becomes my testing job. Naturally, this also has only further caused my head to swim. Right now I'm sitting at the office wondering if it's my head, or the math. Such swimming led me to wander around at lunch and stumble across the finding that apparently, according to this, pirates are the new monkeys. I'm not sure what to make of that, since the whole talk like a pirate thing already went through, and I'm more than a little accustomed to the NAQT west coast bureau's use of "Yar." as a piratesque acknowledgement.
The further implication of this, to me as a Pirate fan is that pirates are the new rally monkey. That's too much of an expectation, as in past years, the Pirates really have tried to excise all reference to piracy, in their new ballpark. (This is, incidentally, one of the main reasons Derek Bell was released, as he then promptly went down to Tampa to his yacht, fulfilling the goal of all good pirates, to live on a boat and steal money.*) Plans to place a kid-friendly pirate ship in the river have been scrapped. In fact, the only mention one gets in the stadium any more tying the Pirates to the pirates is the opening animation of a pirate warning us that, among other things, "there be squalls ahead."** This brings us back to how got to see in 5 dimensions. Looks like the rain's about to hit. Yar.

In other news:
The Fantasy Head Draft. Pick your lineup of five talking heads from ESPN.

* Blatant theft of Joe's line, which may have been stolen from elsewhere.
** The thick pirate accent given to the animated pirate actually makes it sound like "there be squirrels ahead", which as we've previously established, would be even more evil and foreboding.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Re: Previous post.
Wow, beat Jon Stewart to the joke by six hours. Behold the power of the web.
Mark posted up one of the signs of this, but it's spreading. I think the immediate moment we'll know we've all gone insane: when we hear reference to a "victory tickler."

Monday, March 10, 2003

Fascinating little bit here, this is actually my state rep. The civics implications are real interesting. Would it have been unreasonable to pull him off the ballot six days out? Probably. Does it look bad? As written here, yes.
Planting update. Dill has sprouted, basil has sprouted, mixed lettuce and spinach have sprouted. I'm managing to get slight leverage in the Mom-DEK guilt battle via this, since my aunt will go paranoid about planting for spring pretty much the moment I start laying this on heavy, and try to compel my mother into long hours in their greenhouse. More trays are in development. As I have said before, my mother can do the Dilbert's Mom thing a little too easily. I need all the ammo I can get.

I got back into Baseball Mogul over the weekend. The 2012 World Series threatens to be one of the best ever. Pittsburgh won 4-2 over Texas. Between an 11-inning Game 1, a 16-inning Game 4, and an amazing 6-6 performance by Pittsburgh's shortstop in Game 5, there was more excitement than I've ever gotten out of the game. I had to gut it out during the season, dealing off my MVP third baseman and my best homerun hitter, but dealing the former for my two top relievers, the latter for mostly cash and hopefully next year's number 2 starter, means I should have a shot at my sixth title while serving as GM. Hopefully I can translate this into Suck League prowess by doing everything backwards. (Incidentally, one slot remains to get us to 12 teams, we could go higher.)

Mike has decided to do a NIFL pick-em league. The management is not responsible for anyone maimed in the process of choosing their NIFL team. (Incidentally, you better be down with OVG.)

And now a joke for only those who are in NAQT. WOW! PANCAKES! For the rest of you. While in Chicago, a party of NAQTeers looked at a brochure, finding an entry for the Original Pancake House. The first sentence of the entry was, of course, "WOW! PANCAKES!" If there is a more perfect expression of "you are trying to make this so much more exciting than it is... and failing," it's screaming "WOW! PANCAKES!" Which fits the above article, and thus we have symmetry.

Actual knowledge for quiz bowl: How many of these do you recognize?

Friday, March 07, 2003

Bits from around the office.

1. The XP backlash has begun, since that's the section that's currently slamming the release timetable. The "FINAL DEVELOPMENT FREEZE" which had been written on a whiteboard outside their bullpen is now rewritten with "March", "April", and "May" all done in by strikethrough. Looks like anonymous strikes again.

2. This week's item to buy so someone's kid's class can go on a field trip. Collectible, Beanie Baby-clones embroidered with various designs (Like a libra for lawyers, etc.) By far the best and most disturbing of these has to be the all black SWAT Team teddy bear. Nothing I can add here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Surfin' and turfin'

First of all, in the three hours since I changed the description file, I've picked up a new advertiser. I'm not sure exactly how "lunatic in shambles" maps to Dick Vermeil in the great advertising database, but it can't be any stranger than Craig's new sponsorship. I'm pretty sure, were I looking for Jesus at this exact moment, I'd wouldn't find him in the Census data. I'm pretty sure that's a lesser-known, but no less important, consequence of the separation of church and state.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pepper, is getting hammered for viral marketing, and while I can't blame people for hammering away, I can't really blame Dr. Pepper for trying to employ the medium. After all, whether it's people reading here (my last post) or if it's the current mutual admiration society being propagated on quizbowl, it's to a certain degree the same thing, you come for the content, you leave with an opinion which will influence where you're going to go. However, I can hammer Dr. Pepper really easily, if they're selling a “milk-based product with an attitude". Having seen previous incarnations of this concept, I'm pretty sure I'm not interested in drinking a carton of hate or a wedge of spite. I already get too much spite fed to me.
So a blank description field gives us bath products? Next.

I love timed rounds. Not only do they help prevent bad writing, by forcing people to summarize rather than dump the encyclopedia entry verbatim, but it helps save tournaments.

Those of you who missed out on the most exciting tournament of the weekend, nothing can get your engines revved like having your reservation trumped in mid tournament. S'anyway, CMU's high school deal was trumped twice in one week, first by Boy Scouts, then by a too-full-of-his-own-importance Princeton Review pinhead. The second one was the big one, necessitating us moving two buildings over, regrouping, and putting the tab room in the hallway. In spite of this, we moved over, pulled together, and put together a great tournament. So why do I say timed rounds saved it. Well, thanks to the delays we lost about 90 minutes total. Somehow, we managed in spite of all this, we managed to gain 60 minutes back during rounds. While I credit the staff for working great under fire, I shudder to think what would have happened.had the rounds not been timed, and had they not been written to be played timed. I've never seen an untimed tournament get delay time back, but I see this effect all the time on the clock.