Friday, December 21, 2007

"Holiday, Celebrate" - Madonna

I don't know if, when, how often I'll get here until next year so...

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukka
Happy Kwanzaa
Happy Festuvus
Happy Birthday
Happy last week and a half of the year
Happy New Year
Happy College Bowl Season

Whatever you celebrate, do it, and do it right. Enjoy yourself and be safe, and lets all have a great new year. If you have nothing to sad for you. Seriously. Find something , even if it's just a sunrise, because it's a new day full of potential. We spend way to much time (and I'm guilty too) of finding reasons why things suck, and not enough time realizing that life's a pretty cool thing.

See ya next year, if not sooner.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

and people thought I was into bicycling

Every year I send Christmas cards. I don't send a bazillion of them. My philosophy is I sent them to people I won't see to wish a Merry Christmas in person, or here. Mostly it's old school and Navy friends who keep in touch through this once-a-year tradition. With the card, I send a letter, chronicling the highlights of the Lumberyard year. It's not quite a brag-a-thon, but braggy stuff is in there too.

This year, as you can imagine, my year long bicycle quest, culminating in the MS Ride in September, featured prominently. Well, I got a response from an old high school buddy who now lives near San Francisco. It seems he's been seriously into bicycling for the last few years and now owns seven, count 'em, seven bicycles. He listed the inventory out for me.

Now, I'm not into it enough to know a lot about different brands and models. I know what I have, but beyond that, I don't know a whole lot. So, when I got the list and saw, "I have a brand X go-fast-bike." I went to the brand X website to see what the guy has, out of curiosity, and clicked on the go-fast-bike link to see what it looks like. Daaaaaayyyyyymn. Six thousand dollars worth of go-fast-bike, and that's only one of the seven. Another is a five thousand dollar tandem road bike. They go down a little from there, but the guy must have over fifteen thousand dollars wrapped up in things you can peddle. A third one is a mountain bike, so I can see, if you have the money, going with those three if you like to ride both on and off road. One is at his parents' house in Pennsylvania, so he can ride when he visits...I can sorta see that, again, if you have the means. What could you possibly need another three for? I dunno. Because you can, maybe? It definitely made me feel like an amateur, with my piddly little 6 month old go-not-so-fast-bike. It does what it needs to do though.

Labels: ,

Papa don't preach, part 2

It seems Jamie Lynn Spears' moral compass of a dad has spoken up, and says he's "disappointed."

He's "disappointed," not that his sixteen year old daughter and her "longtime beau" didn't have the will power to abstain from sex, not that she wasn't smart enough to use some sort of birth control, but that she accepted money from a magazine to give them the breaking story. Thanks for the input, dad.

Meanwhile, in a related issue that hits home, because it means I have to find a new Christmas gift for the wife, Brit and Jamie's mom, Lynn Spears' long awaited book on parenting was due to hit bookshelves soon. It has inexplicably been put on hold. I guess we'll have to look elsewhere for guidance. For us it may be too late, but maybe it'll drop on shelves before Jamie Lynn does...and at least she can benefit from mom's wisdom.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Papa don't preach

...and from Bizarro World, sixteen year old Jamie Lynn Spears and "longtime beau Casey Aldridge" are keeping the baby. The star of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101 announced she is with child.

So, how "longtime" can the beau be? She's only sixteen fucking years old (literally), and speaking of that, shouldn't he be behind bars somewhere for statutory rape?

This is just way too bizarre. So, how do they hide this on the show? Zoey spends the year standing behind a desk? Nice role model for the little girls who watch her on TV.


Jack Del Rio - shoe in for AFC coach of the year

Gotta be.

Somehow this guy managed to take a bunch of non-Pro Bowl talent and mold them into a playoff team. Has to be a front runner for best coach in the league. Jon Gruden in Tampa can say the same on the NFC side. In fact, in Florida there are three NFL teams. From those three, only one player made it to this year's Pro Bowl...Jason Taylor, from the Miami Dolphins. Those would be the very same Miami Dolphins who were dancin' in the streets Sunday because they finally won a game this season. The two teams that are probably playoff bound came up empty.

This travesty shows what the Pro Bowl has become. It's a popularity contest controlled by the opinions of folks who have the time to sit in front of a computer for hours on end with nothing more productive to do than vote for their favorites...over and over and over again....and then a hundred thousand more times, just to make sure. It has nothing to do with talent. Yeah, the players and coaches get a say, too, but their say isn't weighted enough to make a real difference. The unemployed folks hanging on the pubic library's internet connection all day...those are the opinions that shape the Pro Bowl.

Joseph Addai and Willie Parker get in before Fred Taylor? C'mon. Did anyone watch that Jaguars/Steelers game Sunday? Willie Parker can't hold Fred's jock strap. Put Joseph Addai on any team outside the Colts and he's average at best. He's certainly no Fred Taylor. A guy with rigor mortis can make the Pro Bowl, but Freddie T. can't? Ben Roethisberger goes before David Garrard? Again, last week's game made it crystal clear, but even before that, Roethlisberger hasn't been all that good, and there's no way you can justify that he's having a better year than Garrard. I guess this year we're having the other-than-Pro Bowl. Either that, or you have to conclude the Jaguars have nobody special, and that being said, JDR has to be coach of the year.

I know it's improbable, but what a story it would make....if the Jacksonville Jaguars run the table and win the Super Bowl....and have not one player good enough to be named to the Pro Bowl. You can bet your ass Jack Del Rio is thinking about it. It's one helluva motivational tool.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

rest assured I'll be writing this blog for a very long time...

...but don't be surprised to find that I've disappeared tomorrow when the J'ville fishwrap offers me a better gig.

What is it with football coaches? Nick Saban swears his allegiance to LSU and bolts for the Miami Dolphins, then does the exact same thing to go to Alabama. Butch Davis swears he's not leaving the University of Miami and before you can blink he's trolling the sidelines of the Cleveland Browns. Bobby Pinocchio demands commitment from his Atlanta Falcons team, telling them how they're all in this together, and then bolts before the end of his first season for Arkansas. Rumor has it, his name is in the ring for the West Virgina job, recently vacated by Rich Rodriguez who himself bolted for Michigan after proclaiming he wasn't going anywhere for a long time, and he hasn't coached a single practice yet. At least he hasn't come out and said he's staying at Arkansas yet. Jimbo Fisher is rumored to be the leading candidate for the West Virginia job, and just last week he signed a contract to stay at FSU to eventually replace Bobby Bowden.

I don't mind them moving on for a better job. I just mind them lying about it. If you can't say you're staying for a long time, don't say it. If you don't want to say you're leaving, don't say anything...but don't lie.

Then there's the whole buyout thing in contracts. Rodriguez has a 4 million dollar buyout clause in his West Virginia contract that basically says, if he leaves early, he has to pay the school four million dollars. He said they're negotiating that. What does that mean? What's to negotiate? If you're the University of West "by God" Virginia, you hold out your hand and, in your best Johnny the paperboy voice, say, "I want my four million dollars." End of story. Jimbo Fisher has a two million dollar buyout clause in his FSU contract. I guess West Virginia gets four million from Rodriguez (or the University of Michigan...whoever actually ponies up the cash) and pays two million of that to FSU to buy out Fisher's contract. They end up with a new coach and net two million dollars to the good side. What a deal!

I guess football coaches live in some alternate universe where contracts aren't contracts, and your word is worth less than the air you used to enunciate it.


Monday, December 17, 2007

who turned on the AC?

Yowza, did it get cold or what?

I know, I know. We got nuthin' on you folks in the northeast. You got wind and snow and rain and the temperatures we get as lows are your highs. I know that. I especially know that because I watched three hours of it happening at John Kerry field in Pittsburgh, where the warm weather Jaguars kicked the ever lovin' crap out of the Pittsburgh Steelers. During that thing of beauty, they'd cut to Cleveland, where you couldn't even see the field through the snow. So, yes, I know you have it worse. That doesn't discount the fact's cold here!

Saturday morning I went bicycling in bike shorts and a jersey (trying to work off some of the Friday feast), and came home sweaty. It was nice and warm. Sunday morning I went to church in a short sleeve shirt. Sunday, I watched that amazing display of football in shorts and a t-shirt (a Jaguar t-shirt, by the way) and grilled dinner in the same attire. Then Sunday night it happened. I went outside to do something and...whoa!

By this morning, we're in the 30's and very breezy.

But, let's get back to that butt whuppin' that was the Jaguar/Steeler game. I don't know how much of the country got to see that piece of work, but I revelled in every minute. Well, except the few minutes in the fourth quarter that put the outcome in doubt..I didn't revel in those, but I sat glued to the tube for them, and then revelled a bit more when the outcome was more certain. That display of the kind of football the Steelers are known for hasn't been seen in a while, and it especially hasn't been seen by a team not named the Steelers. Freddy Taylor ran right into their collective faces and left them on their backs, a perspective from which Troy Polamalu got a great view of the snow falling from the Pennsylvania sky. By the end of the game you couldn't read the number on his back through the mud. Wonder how that happened. The Jaguars blew what was the number one defense in the country away. I doubt they're number one after yesterday.

Reality check...I realize that doesn't mean the Jaguars are going to the Super Bowl. Neither of the two biggest stumbling blocks in that road are the Pittsburgh Steelers. Still, it was a beautiful thing. It makes it a bit tougher for that little team from J'ville to stay under the radar, and it has me doing the happy dance.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 14, 2007

pulling the gravy train

I am such a food whore.

I have fairly good will power when it comes to a lot of things. I don't drink all that much any more. I quit smoking 12 years ago cold turkey. I've even been pretty disciplined about working out for nearly a year now.

All that, but put this time of year in front of me, and the parade of fattening crap that comes with it, and I'm doomed. I love food way too much.

First there's all the goodies that show up at work from vendors and such...the cookies, cakes, pies, candies, cheese balls, cheese spreads, crackers, and stuff that shows up screaming "EAT ME!"

Then there's today...specifically this afternoon, and the annual employee holiday party. We all trot over to the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass, where they put out an incredible spread. Right now, someone needs to roll be around for me to get anywhere. There was clams, and mussels, and scallops, and salmon, and crab dip, and prime rib, and sushi, and stir fry veggies, and sweet and sour chicken, and stri fried pork, and....more and more, and that doesn't even begin to hit the dessert room.

There are going to be many many miles on a bicycle to make up for this week, but especially for today.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

good riddance ACC

So the ACC football championship game has been played in J'ville for the last three years. Attendance the first year was a success, because Florida State played in the game and FSU fans supported it. Last year the teams were Wake Forest and Georgia Tech..and neither fan base showed up, not that Wake has a huge one to begin with. This year Boston College and Virginia Tech played and Boston College brought a rousing crowd of...somewhere between 3000 and 3500 fans. The stadium had a crowd of about 45,000.

That wasn't enough to satisfy the ACC though, which apparently has a much higher expectation of the interest its championship game should generate. They saw the embarrassingly unfilled stadium on television and said...sorry J'ville. Not good enough. After two years of losing a lot of money on the deal, J'ville gladly washed their hands of the whole mess. So now we have the next move...literally. The ACC struck a deal to move the game. For the next two years, it's going to Tampa and then the two after that it goes to Charlotte.

The move to Tampa makes absolutely no sense to me. ACC fans are passionate about basketball, but Oh, they can say they are, but when it comes to putting their gas/hotel money where their heart and/or mouth is...not so much. J'ville, with a decent FSU fan base within say a 4 hour drive, proved the ACC mentality is....I'll go if my team is in it, but just to watch my conference'll be on TV. Nobody cares enough to fill a stadium, and moving the game to Tampa, which is even farther from any ACC school outside Miami, makes no sense. They made one move that could sell more tickets in Tampa. The cheapest ticket in J'ville was $60. The cheapest one in Tampa will be $25. The most expensive will be $65. At least they recognize they overpriced their product.

Charlotte makes a little more sense. Several ACC schools are a day trip from Charlotte, and if North Carolina, NC State, maybe Clemson are in it, they could maybe sell...50,000 tickets. Please don't laugh. It could happen. Boston College still won't travel. Miami won't. FSU, Duke or Wake might. Clemson and Virgina Tech (and maybe FSU) are about that game's only hope of a sellout. When the SEC plays its championship in Atlanta, people from here that are huge Gator fans go....even when Florida isn't playing...because they have a passion for SEC football. I'm not one of them, but I see it happen. ACC football fans don't do that. Nobody from the Carolinas was making the trip to see Boston College play Virginia Tech in Jacksonville. Now if Duke and North Carolina were playing basketball in Jacksonville (not that I can fabricate a decent reason for that to happen), the whole state of North Carolina would be jammin' I-95 to get here.

Tell ya what. If that game goes to Charlotte and the crowd still looks like it did in J'ville, the ACC it going to have to look in the mirror and own up to the wake up call. Your fans just don't give a shit about your football program...or not enough to go pay to watch your championship game.

Call this sour grapes if you like, but I was tired of the organizers pleading with the J'ville population to buy tickets to something they really didn't care about, just to keep that thing they didn't care about in Jacksonville. The ACC commissioner and his staff seem to think this game is a huge draw, and over the last three years it's been proven otherwise. Maybe, in Charlotte, it can be. For their sake, I hope so.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

golf and cheating and...why?

Monday I volunteered at a charity golf tournament. It was a first for me. I've played in many of these things, but never volunteered to help run it before. Therefore I don't know how prevalent this practice, about which I will pontificate, is. I got there early and loaded carts with goodie bags, stocked the beverage carts with beer, water and soda, helped with the putting contest, and then sat on a chair by one Par 3 hole where you'd win a car if you got a hole in one. They need someone to sit there so there's an unbiased witness if someone actually manages the hole in one. Also on this hole, having nothing to do with me, was a closest to the pin contest. There was this marker stuck in the ground. If you managed to hit you ball closer to the flag than the marker, you wrote your name on an attached pad, and moved the marker to your ball.

So I'm sitting there, dodging the occasional errant shot. OK, to be honest, it was more than occasional. I ducked...more than once. Sometimes I thought they were gunning for me. One guy admitted as much. He said he told his foursome he would aim for me and draw the ball back to the green. Yeah, like he's good enough to pull that off. He missed me, but not by much. I digress though.

I'm sitting there getting a decent sunburn, and one guy hits the green, but he's not closer to the pin than the little marker. I could tell from where I was that he was fairly close, but not closer. With me and the other three guys he's playing with watching, he picked up the marker, put his name on the pad and placed it where his ball was. I was appalled, but apparently, this wasn't a first. I was talking to other volunteers, afterwards., who worked this tournament in past years. One woman observing the hole in one hole last year saw someone do the same thing.

I kept my mouth shut. It was none of my business. I was just there to witness the improbable hole in one. How does someone do that though. Is it worth that much to you to win a contest? For what? Maybe a free dinner? These are people who paid $125 to play in a charity golf tournament. How hard up can they be for a meal? I don't understand why someone's integrity is worth less to them than a steak at Outback...or something similar.

The prize car for a hole in one finished the day safely back where it came from, and Mr. Cheater, whoever he may be, won the closet to the pin thing. I was so hoping someone would legitimately hit a ball closer than he did, but karma was asleep at the wheel Monday afternoon. Maybe she woke up and slapped him silly later.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

pussy whipped

It's always fun when the Carolina Panthers play the Jacksonville Jaguars...two teams that got into the NFL the same year, both with large kitty cat mascots, both using the other as a measuring stick because of all that and both having success their own way. The Jaguars own the matchup record, but the Panthers have been to a Super Bowl. Of course, it's more fun for me when they play and the Jaguars win.

On Sunday I was worried. I thought the Jaguars ought to win, but it was that sandwich game thing. They just played and lost a close game with the Colts and next week the Steelers are on the schedule. In between, there's the Panthers, with Vinnie at quarterback. There's no way my boyz should lose this game, but this is the kind of game that has bit them in the ass before. The end of last season was riddled with them. This season is different though. The Jaguars are winning more of those kinds of games that they haven't in the past, and they rolled over Carolina. Sorry Painter Lady, but I was a very happy camper on Sunday, not leaving my seat until the final seconds ticked off. The Jaguars are getting better as the season goes on, but this week will be a huge test, and the game a week ago showed the boys still have some growing to do before they're ready for the likes of the Colts and Patriots. Time will tell.

The game was a blast. There's a group that sits behind me. It's a husband, wife, her father, and a few of their friends. She's a Matt Jones fan, and everybody constantly gives her grief for it, and she constantly defends him. Sunday she was in her Matt Jones jersey, and he came to the line of scrimmage and several of us (yes, me included) were ribbing her.."Oh my God! It's a Matt Jones sighting!" The guy caught one pass in the back of the end zone, but didn't get his feet down in bounds, and we ended up settling for a field goal. The next time down though, he ran the same route, caught the ball and did come down in the end zone. She was sooo happy, giving all of us a friendly na-na-na-na-na. It's fun when you have pretty much the same people around you from game to game. Some of those people have been sitting around me since the very first Jaguar game ever. I don't know if I'll have tickets next year. They might not make the annual budget. If not though, I'm going to miss that.


Friday, December 07, 2007

the rubber meets the road...

...or the needle pokes the ass, one or the other.

It's time for Barry Bonds to tell it like it really was. I'm very curious about what he'll have to say. I'm expecting the government has overwhelming evidence to refute his claim that he never used steroids. If that indeed is the case, and they bring all that to bear in court, any rational person would 'fess up and not take the travesty any farther.

But Barry Bonds isn't any rational person...and he is a walking travesty.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

the terms of his parole killed him

So I'm driving around yesterday, getting some stuff done and listening to my old standby during the day...sports talk radio. The discussion is centered around Shawn Taylor, his recent murder in his home by people who thought he wasn't there and intended to rob the place in his absence. Unfortunately for all, he was injured and was resting in his Miami home when the wanna-be robbers showed up, and they turned into murderers when one of them shot him.

Part of the discussion was Taylor's past, which has some rough spots to it. He had some gum issues in his youth, but he was pretty much growing up and straightening his life out when this happened. Anyway, one of the conditions of his parole from past indiscretions was that he was not allowed to own a gun, and in fact, he did not. Here's where it gets interesting.

The host of the radio show made an incredible leap...the terms of his parole killed Shawn Taylor. Here's the logic involved. If he were allowed to own a gun, and if he did indeed own that gun and if he could have retrieved said gun when all this was happening, he may have been able to defend himself and in doing so, save his life.

I actually did something I never do, I called the guy, and I called him out. Yeah, I was in my car and pulled out my cell phone...something I preach against, but he made me so mad I did it anyway. This is the kind of logic that makes me hate lawyers, because they use that sort of shit in court all the time. It's right up there's not your fault for hurting yourself by spilling hot cofee in your lap. It's McDonald's fault for making the coffee hot.

NO! The terms of his parole didn't kill him. Some idiot killed him. Take the terms of his parole out of it, and lets say he actually went out and bought a gun, and it's in the house somewhere. Does that save his life? Maybe. Would you bet your life savings on it? Probably not. Take the idiot coming through his front door with a gun out of the equation and does that save his life? Definitely. Yeah, I'd bet my life savings on that one. Don't try to blame anyone or anything for Taylor's death except the one thing that caused it. Some person was intent on doing something illegal. When he was stopped, he did something even worse. That's the cause. That's the only cause. Don't try to take the focus off that by blaming the system, or a judge, or "the terms of his parole". None of those things pulled the trigger that caused Shawn Taylor's death. An idiot did that.

He tried to turn my argument into an attack on gun ownership, but I wouldn't let him...because I'm not against gun ownership. I don't own one, but I think people shouild have that right if they so choose. I'm not opposed to guns. I'm opposed to idiots using them to kill people. In the end, he agreed with me, but I think he made the original statement just to bait someone like me into calling and making his show more than a monologue.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

we so rocked

I went to the MS Bike Ride celebration/awards thing last night. Mostly I went to support my team and its captains. Those two women worked real hard on their own time to make the ride a fun thing for all of us, and I wanted them to know I appreciated what they did. It really was their night, as our team was recognized several times.

The first plaque went to the company, for sponsoring the event. The next went to us as a team, for coming in third in fundraising among corporate teams (and actually, among all teams). The third was for best jersey. I thought ours was pretty cool (and can be seen modeled by me, and a few other team members, in this blog a few months ago) but I had no idea we'd be recognized as the best. The team captains did, though, and they were crossing their fingers when it was unveiled. They told the graphic design guy who created it that we had a chance, so he was there when they announced it. The last was for highest pledge average, because riders on our team raised an average of over $1,200 each, which pretty much blew everyone else away.

I realize this is two days in a row of tooting my own horn for the same accomplishment, but I won't apologize. I'm very proud. I'm proud of myself for doing this thing. I'm proud of my team for what we accomplished. I'm even proud of the graphic designer from work for the way cool jersey. We really did rock!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

the MS bike ride saga for this year ends tonight

WARNING...what follows is me, patting myself and my bike team on the back.

What began around the beginning of March as a mission ends tonight. There is a party downtown to celebrate the end of this year's MS Bike Ride, announcing the final amount raised and handing out awards.

I'm not expecting anything personal in the way of awards, but I'm hoping I can get down there to attend anyway. Our team came in third in fund raising despite being smaller than many others, and much smaller (waayyyy less than half the size) than the two teams that raised more than us,and less than many teams who raised less. Rumor has it our team co-captains will be recognized in some way, and I'd like to be there to cheer them on.

Still, my final total raised was $3,350, and I'm pretty damn proud. Our team raised over $69,000 and the entire ride raised over a million dollars.

It's been an amazing experience, and now...I can't see myself not doing it again.


Monday, December 03, 2007

I love it when a plan falls apart

Oh the chaos that is college football.

Every year people complain that college football needs a playoff system, and every year the powers what be ignore the complaints, because they make way too much money on the system as it is. Every year they tell us to let the season play out and the cream will rise to the top. The maddening thing is, most of the time, they're right.

Then came this year...a year where everybody, and nobody, deserves to play in a natinal championship game. There's undefeated Hawaii, who arguably played a tougher schedule than Ohio State, yet Ohio State lost a game and is still going to play in the championship game. I'm not sure why. Hawaii is not, but not many people think they should because they come from a weaker conference. There's Oklahoma, who beat Missouri, who was ranked number one before the weekend, but nobody living outside the show me state actually believed they were the best team in the country. There's LSU, but they lost twice...and one of those losses was to Kentucky. There's Georgia, who wasn't good enough to play in their conference championship, let alone the national championship. There's USC, who lost to Stanford, and whose mascot is named after a condom. That should take them out of the mix all by itself. Ohio State is the Big Ten champion, but their schedule has been a cakewalk due to a weak Big 10 conference this year, and a non-conference schedule where I'm surprised they didn't play the youngster's high school. (I'll admit to a slight anti-Big 10 bias. I get the idea they think a whole lot more of themselves than is warranted. Before you think you're ready for a berth in a national championship game, learn to count....without your fingers.)

All the coaches from all these teams were pleading their case all weekend, and in the end, there are good reasons why each of them should play in a national championship game, and good reasons why each shouldn't. The whole thing is a mess, and I love the mess. Maybe...there ought to be some kind of playoff to sort it all out.

Then there's the other side of the argument. How important is it really, that we find out who the best college football team in the country is? After all, we're talking about a bunch of students who, for the enjoyment of the game, happen to play on Saturdays. The game is there to help enrich their academic experience. Right? How much energy do we really have to expend on figuring out who's better than who?