Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Look, I don't care how effective a diagnostic practice this is: I'm calling fraught on this. This just feels like some doctor was thinking "There's got to be a reason dogs sniff there..." and then they spent way too much political capital trying to get the grant application. They're just bloody lucky the evidence bore them out, because you know that people were snickering behind their backs.

This, however, looks cool. I really should try to figure how I could work the day job software into this program. And the fact that there's a "School of Entertainment Engineering and Technology" is simultaneously the coolest and cheesiest thing I can imagine as an engineering major.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Those of you who do the Laplaca, it's never too early to start your research. Those of you who don't do the Laplaca, well, START!

PS--If you haven't already, read Mike's trip diary. Come for the gratuitous mention of Martin Mull, stay for the description of Family Feud with the sound off.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Tell me I'm not losing my mind.

This is being targeted for launch around Memorial Day. Now, I admit that the recipe has changed a great deal over time, but at some point I'm fairly certain that Mountain Dew claimed one of its chief ingredients was orange juice. So this is even more EXTREME-ly orange. I'll just take this as the final admission that the flavor of Mountain Dew is, in fact, supposed to be the great taste of sweetened, carbonated antifreeze.
Unfortunate draft comment of the weekend:
Commenting on Dennis Weathersby
"'To get a guy of his caliber at this round of the draft is a coup for us,' said Leslie Frazier, Cincinnati's defensive coordinator."

Thursday, April 24, 2003

This bit caught me off guard as I was driving to practice. The implications are interesting. If coffee is sufficient to cause a complaint to be registered, then I can tick off a few dozen places that could be taking on the chin. Quite a few perfume gauntlets that get set up in department stores could be in trouble. And I don't even want to think about a place like Yankee Candle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Until Russell Stover develops the Chocolate Covered Methlab Assortment, there's nothing more dangerous to give small child (or a small inner child) than a Cadbury's Creme Egg.
Creme Eggs were the first time in my life I ever had the reaction "that's too sweet." When you can feel the pancreas gun its engine as you eat, it's time to reconsider. I'm pondering this as I sit staring at an unhealthy number of these, that is to say a plural number. The problem for me is, the Creme Egg itself is an insane amount of sugar. The caramel creme egg is a little better. It's much more manageable in its sweetness. And then there's the Chocolate Creme Egg. Lord, I am its gimp.
The reason for this musing on chocolate and sugar comes from the Easter holiday, and also from a trip down to the Strip. They've added a chocolate of the world shop, which includes a large selection of Canadian candy, and some specialty candy that just made my head spin. For example, this trio was up for sale, and I would have bought them, had they come in smaller sizes. (Explanation: the Fire Bar isn't all that far removed from a recipe for mole poblano, which I enjoy immensely. The Naga is just odd enough that I think it would work in a similar vein to mole poblano, and the Black Pearl is just screwed up.)
I did not, however, secure a set of Peeps. This means that I couldn't participate in my favorite form of marshmallow cockfighting: Peep jousting. Doug points another interesting Peep site.
And for those of you wondering, yes, just like November first, the first day after Easter was greeted by the gift of the evil parent to the developers. Big basket of Easter candy in the office kitchen. And as you would expect, the adults go through it in exactly the same way as the kids. The taffy type ones (in this case those fruit flavored Tootsie Roll assortments) went last.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Today was the day I got my update on where my vacation level lies for this year. This has interesting repercussions on things like my planned Vegas excursion. There were three possibilities my job could have done, either I got a full boost of vacation days this year (moving me up to 3 weeks a year) or they could pro-rate based on my hiring date(giving me half a year of 2 weeks half a year of 3) or they could be total tools and hold me at 2. Well, they definitely chose the middle one. And I can tell this because I have exactly 99.62 hours of vacation for this year (plus 16 hours from last year that carried over.) I'm trying to figure out what I can do with .62 hours of vacation, haven't really decided.

In other news:
This is interesting. However, this, occuring in the same town, is hilarious.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Sign I'm probably a bad person:
My continuing thought with these cards showing pictures of the Iraqis is whenever one's captured, there's got to be some sergeant on stockade duty slowly driving the prisoners crazy with a repeated "Pick a card, any card...Is THIS your card?!?" I'm pretty sure that the Geneva Convention never covered taunting via bad close-up magic, but maybe it should.

This article I can't figure out. It feels like snake oil, because it should feel like snake oil. But on the other hand you've got the idea which is essentially sound. I speculate the answer lies between the two. It does break it down, it just goes nowhere near the levels of efficiency they promise. (They're promising 85%, I gotta figure even 8.5% would be great.)

This article highlights something I've always wondered. As screwed up as publishing numbers are, is that overestimation part of what funds the secondary bookstore market? When I go into Book Country or Half Price Books around here, I keep thinking, price X was assigned to this book, when it was published, for a reason. That you can have entire chains of stores filled with books that someone thought would sell, but didn't, indicates that you're got a fundamental problem. I understand that inventory and consumer choice are the key issues here, but I keep looking at this and understanding why went after the book market first.

Now for this article, the law of unintended consequences says we're just one step away from calling a network Prong, aren't we?

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Bruce on baseball

Matt sent me this comment after the widget blew up on him:
I'd actually been meaning to e-mail you about this. Then you set up comments
- even better!

What I noticed from the player list sorted by 2002 point totals was just how
many people came out with a positive score. Basically, unless you're a very
good player, you're going to be a net "plus" for a suck team. A corollary to
this is that to the extent that stats scale, the more you play, the more of a
net plus you'll be.

(That last statement could become even stronger accounting for the idea that
most generic roster-filler players will put up worse rate stats if they play
full-time than if they play only part-time.)

What sets my team (and a couple others) apart from a lot of teams in this
league is that nearly all of my sucky players do play full-time. The worst
hitter in the major leagues (rumored to be Neifi Perez) still won't help you
enough in this league if he spends most of his time on the bench.

For what it's worth (for non-DEK readers), my roster, position by position:
C- Brandon Inge and Mike Matheny (one fills the "Util" spot, which in a
league like this will nearly always be where you want to stick a C or SS,
since those guys hit markedly worse than other positions). I think these
guys offer a unique combination of suck with PT, the latter coming from their
teams' lack of alternatives. Joe Girardi's injury was a godsend to anyone
who benefits from Matheny out-making, although so far he's killed me.

1B - Wes Helms. Kind of opportunistic here, exploiting his position
qualifying (in the opposite direction of what you'd usually do in a fantasy
league!). I'd have to look this up but Helms was probably the first
1B-eligible player drafted. Yeah, there's PT risk here, if Milwaukee finally
realized that Keith Ginter's better, but it's the Brewers so they won't.

2B - Alex Cora; Joe Thurston; John McDonald. McDonald was the first of these
guys I drafted. He's a Neifi-caliber hitter but suffers from the PT problem
(unless Brandon Phillips had sucked early). Took the rookie Thurston a
couple rounds later, only to see him not even make the Dodgers after all.
His unexpected lost PT was Cora's unexpected gained PT.

3B - Pedro Feliz; Mark Loretta. Feliz is a much worse hitter than Loretta
but Loretta has a full-time job. During a computer crash/reboot, I had
Aramis Ramirez autodrafted but he's right at the threshold where players
start costing you points instead of giving you points.

SS - Rafael Furcal; Alex Gonzalez (Marlins). (One of them fills my "IF"
spot.) Where catchers have a few truly sucktastic options and then some
genericness, SS has a lot of interchangeable guys who can put up pretty good
second-banana suckitude. These are the ones I got. I thought that the
downside of Furcal was he'd suddenly be good and the downside of Gonzalez was
PT. Instead it's the other way around, though I fully expect Gonzalez to
regress to his established level.

OF - Carl Crawford; Alex Sanchez; Juan Pierre; Todd Hollandsworth. OF, like
1B, have the risk of killing your team if a player suddenly has a breakout
year. Then again, overrated speed demons are good for a suck league, both
because their worst-case scenario isn't so bad for you and because their
overratedness keeps them in the lineup longer than otherwise. Hollandsworth
always struck me as a guy who'd make bushels of outs if a team ever gave him
600 plate appearances, which the Marlins might actually do.

SP - Kirk Rueter; Miguel Asencio; Jimmy Haynes; C.C. Sabathia; Josh Fogg;
Ismael Valdes; Sidney Ponson; Darren Oliver. Ponson and Haynes are the
perfect innings-eaters, both just bad enough to be useful to their real team
but also useful to a suck team. Rueter is there because his peripheral stats
have never supported his results (and also as a hedge: I don't want
him to suck). Sabathia is a big-time gamble. I think at some point this
year he'll have a half-dozen putrid starts before the Indians suddenly
announce a season-ending injury but overuse is something you can never count
on either way.

RP - Joe Beimel; Jay Powell; Kevin Gryboski. For relievers it's almost as
important that guys be overrated as that they be bad. If you're bad but not
overrated, you just won't make the roster period (happened to me w/Mike
Porzio). Gryboski was lucky last year; Beimel will benefit from wishful
thinking as Pirates brass remember his 2002 first half rather than his second half.

I responded with the following thoughts (some other thoughts have been added):
The two things that absolutely rule in this league are PA and IP. Get those, and everything else follows. You can survive in pitching with innings eaters but not necessarily with guys who suddenly blow up in an inning and get pulled. At best you're going to get five, six innings, maybe 2 or 3 runs before they get pulled. Ideally you want the back of the rotation guys, 3 or 4 starters, not end of the rotation guys. Personally, I don't care about relievers, as long as they score as RP. My perfect plan for the league is guys who are both RP,SP, for the RP slots and the rest SP. Typically, these are long reliever/spot starter types, or the guys who are veteran presence/fourth starter types. Lots of innings, and not really expected to do anything other than get shelled.

With hitters this year, I think that PA is still the main key stat, but where last year the third best stat was pitcher's HRs given up, this year I think the stat valuations make hitter K's more useful. Otherwise Josh Bard and Rocco Baldelli shouldn't be of roughly equal value to my team. Incidentally, Rocco looks to be an even bigger fantasy conundrum than Mike Cameron. You know he's going to cool off eventually, but when he does, he could be anything from still valuable to utter crap.

The other fun part of this league is the seeming pinata effect of your pitchers. Monday, I had both starters in the Brewers-Cardinals game. And both worked perfectly, about 5IP, 5ER, 3HR between them. I jump from the low 900's to the high 1000's. Only problem, one got the win.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Y'almost got me...

Not a good weekend for me. I admit, of all the NAQT people, I probably react the least well to criticism. I don't take praise well enough, and when we get criticized, either as a group, or when people decide to make a personal attack (even against someone else), I tend to take it personally on myself. So having seen the torture of a thousand cuts come down Friday and Saturday, I was feeling pretty low. (I was doing my best impression of "Chartreuse" from Ken Nordine's Colors). Especially given how personal the most vitriolic attacks were. They seemed geared towards denigrating the person, rather than confronting issues. (The latter I can accept as criticism, or a difference of opinion, the former I can't even be generous enough to call it spite. It was hate.) So I tuned everything out, and started watching TV, and ran across the Dennis Miller special on HBO.
Now Dennis Miller has lost a good bit of his fastball, he's got to throw shotgun blasts of humor out there a lot more, because the laser edge just isn't there. But he hit me with one. He was talking about how the U.S. was the target of all this crap in the world, criticism justified and otherwise. I'll misquote it here of course. "[The U.S.] is the most powerful, most hated, loved, feared, admired country in the world. You know what we are, we're Sinatra in Vegas."

Ordinarily, I would take that as the height of arrogance to apply that to NAQT, (most of all the "most powerful", we still aren't the largest provider out there,) but it was what I needed to push me out of my funk. I understand that unlike any other format, NAQT doesn't self-select. That is, we don't end up creating a divisive that people can polarize against and not compete (CBI has the cost issue, TRASH the distribution, ACF the difficulty and the distribution.) Conciously or unconciously, NAQT ended up building ourselves on the premise that we can be the place where everyone can get together and play. Sometimes you can see that work out very well, sometimes it doesn't. And for most people last weekend worked. But all that means is that we have to do it again next time, and better. Saturday, until I started thinking about Sinatra in Vegas, I didn't know if I could do it. Now... I know a picture I've got to take on my summer vacation.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Wow, it works.

Friday, April 11, 2003

I keep parsing this ad above me to "Buy Fact or Crap Game" all the wrong way. It seems some sort of extortion to me to make me buy "Fact," lest I pass a Hungry Hungry Hippo or two.

Okay, so I'm not in Boston. Your explanation, 'cause you deserve one.
Around January, the day job formally announced what I had expected, that the six month schedule for software releases was going to put the release date for 7.1 smack down on April 14. That put the weeks of mad rush testing ending Friday, which would have been the travel day. And since I figured I was going to be out for most of last week anyway due to ICT, one of them had to go off the schedule. I had sort of prepped for this, by originally planning not to play in the regionals, preventing the question from occurring at all, but things got screwed up. First, I was needed to balance out brackets, then a team didn't make it, and I was stuck. The irony of it all comes from the simple fact that today we got the official word. Code freeze next week. I'm too dang efficient at finding bugs. Release has been pushed a month back. Gahh!

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

In 30 years, the Mark Linn-Baker of his era will get his big break, in a film adaptation of this this article called My Favorite Ear.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

A sabermetric approach to suckitude?

Last weekend, while I was prepping for the ICT, Yahoo added a bunch of players to its database for the 2003 baseball season, thus sparking the Great Waiver Derby. To give you an idea of the players involved, we were talking about players like Rick Helling, Darren Oliver, Esteban Loaiza, Steve Parris, Casey Blake, and Jeremy Bonderman. My two targets in the waiver derby were Rocco Baldelli, (filling a percieved need at OF), and the pitcher that I really coveted, due to the fact that he was listed as the 3 in the Devil Rays rotation, Jim Parque. Parque was a no brainer, but Baldelli I was worried about. Just after picking him up, I noticed that he was hitting over .300, with a .770 OPS. So I was very hesitant to put him in the lineup today. Then I ran some numbers based on the suck league's scoring system.** Of my outfield options, Baldelli became the best option I had (having scored 100 points this season), despite the high average. Reason: far more K's than anyone else. In fact, of all my players, only Josh Bard had scored more points (104) So, okay, Rocco's off the bench. I then took a look at all my players and tried to figure out if there was a simply computable stat that I could use to predict a good bet to fail. The one stat I've worked out is Points/PA. I'm going to see if it's roughly predictable of performance. If I extend out the idea of perfect suckitude (every at bat a K) versus perfect antisuckitude (every bat a HR, giving a run a hit, and and RBI), we get a range of 12 to -34. At this point on my team:
Josh Bard (6.5) I suspect this is an absolutely insane number, but I feel good about having him now.
Rey Sanchez (4.08)
Omar Infante (3.88)
Fernando Tatis (3.44)
Rondell White (3.17)
Rocco Baldelli (2.77) Wow, hitting over .300, and still worth an average 2.77 points to me every PA, wow.
and on the downside
Mo Vaughn (-0.15)
Corey Patterson, the vengeful (-1.57)
Jeff Liefer (-3.25) Uh, oh...

I then ran 5 quick tests
Randall Simon (-3.57) That won't last.
Jack Wilson (4.1) That might last.
Mike Cameron (0.08) Since Cameron is the walking fantasy baseball conundrum, it's worth tracking him.
Reggie Sanders (-5.89) That's one freaky week.
Barry Bonds (-2.44)

Yes, I know it's very early, but I'll have to revisit this.

** AB (+4), R(-6), H(-8), 2B(-6), 3B(-12), HR(-18), RBI(-6), SB(-6), CS(-12), BB(-6), K(8), E(10)

Monday, April 07, 2003

Random collected notes from the past four days. (I'll get to the ICT eventually)

Actual thoughts relayed through my head: "Interesting...Abu Dhabi television's ticker runs the other way...wonder wh..DOH!"

Say what you will about the Iraqi forces, it takes a special sense of wacky to come up with the notion of a suicide dumptruck.

Having seen the previews of one, and the review of the other, I am not entirely convinced that The Lizzie McGuire Movie and What a Girl Wants are not the result of someone accidentally selling the same script to two different studios.

You can tell United Airlines is doomed, given the amount of complaints that I heard made about them, even before they started screwing me over. Well, that and the fact that they were using their movie service to play inflight infomercials.

Other odd bits from the United video feed.
Taken entirely without sound, the trailer for Finding Nemo kinda looks like Dude, Where's My Fish?
There's something called Smooth Jazz Television. I don't have a joke here.
I should have actually listened to the audio for Drumline. I'm glad I didn't listen to the audio for Two Weeks Notice.

After noting the defendant's name, I can't help thinking this would have been a far better plot for A Night at the Roxbury.

(If someone's made this joke already, I apologize but...) Calvin Klein is seeking drug treatment, after having harrassed Latrell Sprewell during a game. Glad to hear it, I had figured this was some sort of self-promotion for the new flagrance CK One-and-One. For him...for her...FOR THREE!

Thursday, April 03, 2003

We aren't going to use this as the official slogan, but I really need to get it out there somewhere.

The following takes place between 6PM and 6PM on the day of the NAQT ICT in Los Angeles.
Events occur in real time.

Ehhhh...Maybe I think too much.

See you in LA, folks.
Okay. The NBA ad featuring a reanimated Frank Sinatra singing "I've Got You Under My Skin" has a tagline of "Love It Live"....much like the zombie corpse you've got huckstering... right.

Under 48 hours to go. I'm realizing that we're going to be starting the festivities around 10pm my time, and rolling until a little past 1am. Hoo boy. While Matt points out that he's got the authority in DI, I get similar powers in DII, though I'll be out in the field. This is your first and only warning.

This is always the interesting part. We've placed all our pieces, now it's just a matter of execution, and what will come out of left field to completely slam us.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

More bits and pieces.

1. Apparently Corey Patterson took my picking him in the first round personally. (4/6, 2 HR, 7 RBI) EEEK!

2. I'm suffering from a Wag the Dog moment. Having seen the footage of the Iraqi information minister giving the statement from Saddam, was I the only one who went: "Wait, isn't that the background from the Weekend Update when Brad Hall did it?"

3. It's extraordinarily difficult to find things to write up today, given so many websites are pulling April Fool's jokes.
Okay, once again, from the top.

I think I've isolated what scares me about those two articles from last time. I'll take back that they scare me for completely different reasons, they're both about what happens when all the information is freely available. Whether its possible future terrorists who know what they want to do, or random marketing droids who don't know what they want to do, it's two aspects of the same problem.
If nothing else, at least I feel much safer knowing Carey has given Homeland Security a proper plan for a zombie incursion (item 35 in the gallery). I think this should be posted in all public buildings.

Like Joe, I hope to be absolutely positively done this evening with my packet duties for the tournament. And also like Joe, I experienced the heartwarming quest for a bodywarming jacket that is The Bourne Identity. However, since we basically walked in on that movie by accident, I went completely over the Recommended Daily Allowance of Matt Damon movies, as I had already rented Rounders (mostly so I could Bill Simmons into English.) The massive headache this caused only confirms that Matt Damon should be reclassified as an environmental hazard. (Okay, it might have been John Malkovich's bizarro Russian accent.)
Also following up on Joe's entry, Burn Rate did prove to be an interesting game. I think I may have hit on one good strategy in the game that I won, but I expect it was a function of the cards I was dealt to start. I also like the fact that they've basically made it extensible via blank card packs.