Month: August 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Weekend

Some notes from the weekend.


First football game of the season Friday night. I covered Good Ol’ ECHS who had won their season opener. Friday they were facing a team that easily beat them twice last season. ECHS had a 7-6 lead at halftime, and after turning a fumble into a scoring drive, were up 25-24 early in the fourth quarter. They promptly gave up a 58-yard TD run and ended up losing 36-25. A pretty solid effort, historically speaking.

They may well have won if they could have figured out how to stop their opponent’s running back. Kid ran for 328 yards and three touchdowns, and had another 40+ yard TD called back for holding. In shades of the Tony Sands game, they just kept giving him the ball – he carried it on 24 of 27 second half snaps – and he just kept cranking out yards. He averaged 9.8 yards per carry, which I think is pretty good, right? Thanks to a long game and some deadline issues that caused my editor to tell everyone to skip getting quotes, I didn’t have to talk to the ECHS coach after. I believe he would have had some interesting comments about his defense.


M. and C. both had soccer games Saturday. M.’s team rebounded from their 7-1 opening week loss with a solid 3-0 loss. They figured some things out and maybe, given the right opponent, could get a win soon. M. still does her thing of hanging back and not forcing her way into the action. After the game we told her she needs to get mean on the field. She didn’t seem thrilled with that idea.

This was C.’s first game and she fit right in with her team. She scored two goals Saturday, and could have netted a couple more if not for a speedy teammate who got to a couple balls faster than she did. She did a good job on defense, too. She also had a game Sunday, which I missed, but apparently scored a couple more goals and ran full speed on pretty much every play. We’ll see if she actually has talent for soccer, or any other sport, when she gets bigger, but she will always be a high energy player.


I missed her game Sunday because L.’s ice cream social was at the same time. She was soooo excited to finally go to her school. She has the same teacher to M. and C. had when they were three, which thrilled her even more. A couple kids from her 2’s class are classmates again this year. Being normal three-year-olds, they didn’t really interact. She can’t wait to actually start class next week.


A quick baseball note. That was some trade the Red Sox and Dodgers pulled off. There are all kinds of opinion pieces about it on the web, so I won’t get into who won or why either team made the decisions they did. I just love that some teams are still willing to pull off the Whitey Herzog-style trade that completely revamps their roster. Too many trades these days are focused on filling a single hole, or dealing with a single contract issue. I’m all for a team admitting they f-ed up a few contracts and deciding to ditch them in one fell swoop. Because of the size of the contracts involved, a deal this big is unlikely to happen very often. But I would love for more teams to package a handful of players for another handful and see what happens.

Reading

I’ve gotten way behind on updating my Reading page, the little summaries of books that I finish. When I switched over to Squarespace 6, the formatting of that page got jacked up, meaning I have to redesign it.

In the interest of killing two birds with one stone, I’m going to wipe out the existing Reading page and begin posting my summaries here on the main page. Rather than completely catch up, I’ll start with two small books I’ve read over the past week. And the Reading page will become a running list of books I’ve read. I’m pretty good about keeping reading lists over time, so it may end up stretching back several years.

The Way of Baseball – Shawn Green with Gordon McAlpine
No sport lends itself to spiritual examination more than baseball. Its easy rhythms, pronounced pauses, and open-endedness allow for contemplation of, and connections to, things bigger than the game.

Here is the latest entry into the genre of spiritual baseball books. In it former major leaguer Shawn Green shares how he discovered stillness in intense batting cage workouts, which turned him into an All-Star and led to changes in the rest of his life.

It’s interesting, and Green certainly is earnest. But it all feels a little light, especially if you’ve read other Zen-related literature.

A Drive Into the Gap – Kevin Guilfoile.

The first book from the people who publish the hipster-friendly Field Notes notebooks also relates to baseball. In this case, Guilfoile writes of his father, who worked for the Yankees, Pirates, and baseball Hall of Fame, and his descent into the depths of Alzheimer’s Disease. Upon his diagnosis, the elder Guilfoile wrote down many of his favorite baseball stories, some of which center on Roberto Clemente. As his son shares some of those stories, they pivot into a search for exactly who received the bat Clemente rapped his 3000th hit with; at least three people claim to have the stick in question.

It’s a beautiful examination of memory, gratitude, and baseball. And it fits in your back pocket. Perfect for the last few days of summer before football takes over.

The Bandwagon

I’ve been promising this post for nearly two months. Time to share it, I guess.

As promised, here is my accounting of how I would evaluate each major league franchise were the Royals ever contracted/moved away from Kansas City and I was in the market for a new team.

There are several factors that would go into selecting a new team. The team would need to be competitive. Not necessarily a shoe-in for the post-season, but at least in the running for a division title more often than not. They need a history I could glom onto. And they would need to have cool hats/uniforms. If I’m jumping on a bandwagon I need to look good when doing so.

I crunched the numbers and divided the league into these groups:

The Definite Nos:

The entire AL East. I’ve hated no team in any sport in my life more than I’ve hated the Yankees. Part of that hate made me jump on the Red Sox bandwagon for several years, but unless we move to Boston, I can’t see myself ever being a true Sox fan. I’ve been on the Baltimore bandwagon before, and that will never be as good as it was in the 1990s. Tampa Bay is a great story, but odds are they’re going to fall back to mediocrity, and remain there, soon. And while there are many things to like about Toronto, you kind of have to be a masochist to pick a non-NY/BOS team from the East.

White Sox: Blech. Why would you ever pick the Sox if you were jumping on a Chicago bandwagon?

Colorado: I’ve never had strong feelings for this franchise. I have relatives and friends in Denver, but they still aren’t compelling to me. Bad colors, too.

San Diego: Great city, but a thoroughly uninteresting team with a long history of heinous uniforms.

Philadelphia: They made me cry in 1980. And they’re beginning an epic fall from grace.

Atlanta: Never liked them. No reason to now, especially since you can’t see all their games for free anymore.

NY Mets: I can’t be liking a New York team.

Miami: There is a certain romance in liking what should be MLB’s most Latin franchise. But their owner is an ass and their uniforms are hideous.

Arizona: Bad uniforms, bad park.

Houston: See Arizona.

Fatally flawed:

Minnesota: Great new park, nice uniforms, some likable players, friendly Midwestern fans. But they seem destined to fall from their success of the last decade and only be in the pennant chase occasionally.

Pittsburgh: They’re a great story this year, Andrew McCutchen is a joy to watch, and the Indianapolis Indians are their AAA affiliate. Great park, great uniforms, great history. But a tiny market in a division that also has St. Louis and Chicago does not make for a promising future.

Cincinnati: On TV here in Indy, and Great America Ballpark is two hours away, so they would be the easiest team to follow. It would be fun to sit down with the girls each night to watch the Reds and explain the details of the game. But, even with their recent spending binge, a small market team destined to be looking up at the Cardinals and Cubs most years. Plus, everyone in Cincinnati thinks Pete Rose is great.

Oakland: The most unsettled franchise in the game. If they stay in Oakland they’re going to be awful. If they move, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get better. And they abandoned Kansas City in the 60s, so it would be tough to get onboard with them. Keep in mind my summer 2012 hat is a 1955 A’s hat.

LA/Anaheim/California Angels: Some of their uniforms have been cool over the years. Others awful. And I think going to a game in Anaheim would be nice. I like several of their current players. But there are better choices if I pick a West Coast team.

Milwaukee: Shitty uniforms and the foul stench of Bud Selig is on the franchise. If they brought back the Harvey’s Wallbangers unis, I’d reconsider.

The Pool:

St. Louis: I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with the Cardinals. I’ve been to many games in St. Louis, and they’re always a good time. I have lots of friends, in several cities, who are Cardinals fans, so that would be cool. I can be at Busch Stadium in four hours. But, having spent most of my life in Western Missouri, it would be difficult for me to fully get on board with an Eastern Missouri team. They would get a long look, though.

Detroit: Historic franchise, great uniforms, Midwestern and in the American League. You don’t think I’d like wearing that old English D hat? The bonus of cheering for them to beat up on the ex-Royals if the franchise left KC.

Cleveland: GREAT uniforms, with one notable exception. Midwestern and AL. Have a history of understanding how to build with youth. At least when they invest in a rebuilding process there is hope that it will show results within eight years. Not a ridiculous drive from Indy.

Seattle: I like the Pacific Northwest. I dig their hats. They’re not likely to contend, but I think it would be cool to be a Mariners fan for some reason.

Los Angeles: Tons of history, so I could get away with wearing sweet, old school Brooklyn hats. Eventually they’re going to turn it around and be a player again. Yet, even with their recent struggles, it seems a little douchey to become a fan of a club like them.

Texas: Popular bandwagon pick #1. A franchise that seems to be headed in the right direction, both short and long-term. If you’re going to hop on a bandwagon, might as well be them rather than the Yankees or Red Sox. Of course, once they finally win a World Series, it’s going to be like 2004 was for the Red Sox bandwagon and everyone will suddenly be a Rangers fan.
(Update: I saw the Rangers in KC earlier this month. The bandwagon appears to be full, as there were tons of Rangers fans in the house, something that was unthinkable not too long ago.)

Washington: Popular bandwagon pick #2. I should have jumped on this one a couple years ago, before it was cool to do so. A definite up-and-coming franchise, but as they’re based on so much youth, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever capitalize on their potential. Hmm, sounds familiar.
Would also provide excellent conversation shifters:
“Can you believe what’s going on in Washington? Somebody needs to clean that town up.”
“No kidding. I can’t believe how much money they gave Jason Werth!”

San Francisco: I lived there briefly, so have some geographic claim to them. Great hats. Some pretty big history. Fantastic ballpark.

The Wild Card:

Cubs: I’ve hated the Cubs most of my life. But becoming a Cubs fan in Indianapolis would be pretty easy. Quick road trips to Wrigley. Lots of other fans to commiserate with. Tons of cool hats. And odds are Theo Epstein is going to get the franchise turned around. Whether he breaks their curse or not is another story, but I expect the Cubs to be good again soon.

All that said, aside from random people who are Yankees and Red Sox fans, there may be no douchier team to follow than the Cubs. And when I mentioned this to my buddy here who is a life-long Reds fan, he said he would no longer be my friend if I ever became a Cubs fan. So they’re a mostly no, but with the tinniest glimmer of hope.

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A Quickie

More firsts over the weekend. M. and C. each caught their first fish. Both snagged a blue gill off a dock with a little help from a friend of ours. I didn’t have my camera or phone with me, but I can assure you they were thiiiiiiiiis big! Actually, they were quite small but that didn’t make their joy any smaller. They were both about as excited as could be. L. had given up and headed back to the house, otherwise she might have caught one as well, since the two other girls that were with us each caught a fish, too.


How do people still not understand the difference between Reply and Reply To All? I’m signed up for library duty at St. P’s. There are a couple shifts that need to be covered this week, and a message went out from the volunteer coordinator asking for replacements. There have already been three replies to all letting us know that so-and-so would really like to help, but they have an appointment then, or will be out-of-town, or whatever. This is getting old fast, so expect more messages about it as the school year progresses.


Beer #2 is fermenting. I brewed a modified Octoberfest Monday. I say modified because traditional Octoberfests are lagers, which require a chilled fermentation process. One day I might have the proper equipment to pull that off, but in the meantime I used an ale yeast and will keep the fermenter in a larger bucket with a little cool water in it. My local brewing store said it should work like a charm.

The brewing process went off without a hitch. I used a friend’s turkey fryer and did my boil outside to save the house from the odors S. and the girls objected to last time. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I did feel like I knew what I was doing this time. Hopefully it turns out as well as my first beer, or even better. Now I have three weeks to come up with a name for it.

Stuff

First, yes, another visual change to the blog.

If you’ve been checking in during the late evenings over the past week, you may have noticed various changes on each visit. I continued to tweak my initial choice of theme on Squarespace 6. Instead of getting more pleased with my choices, I liked it less and less. So I explored the other options available. Eventually I settled on what you are now looking at, which I will likely/probably/perhaps stick with for a while. I like the combination of readability and minimal eye candy. The downside is it is pretty much a stock theme, so there will be other blogs out there with a similar look. Oh well.

When I was still on WordPress, I had hacked together a way to do ‘linked list’ posts. As you may recall, if a post was a link to something else, there was a visual cue in the subject line. I believe I used a double arrow or something. Anyway, Squarespace 6 has that built in, so I’ll start using it. If a post is mostly a link to something else with some comments from me, you’ll see an arrow in the title, telling you to click through for the original.


OK, week one at St. P’s is complete. I’ll call it a complete success. No calls or notes from teachers. No meltdowns at pick-up time. No trouble getting the girls up and put the door in the mornings. No complaints about kids treating them poorly in class or at recess. Not that we expected any of that, but with the high emotion of the first week, I was prepared for anything.

C. has been happy at pickup each day. She usually gets a little cranky at night, but has done very well. The highlight of her first week seems to be having a girl named Isabella in her class. That’s been her favorite name for a long time. Her favorite doll is named Isabella. Her fish is named Isabella. When she plays, she likes to be Isabella. So naturally she started hanging out with Isabella on day one. When I asked her if she did that just because of her name, first she laughed and said yes. Then she quickly turned serious and added, “But she’s really nice, Dad.” Perfect.

And now L. is having an even harder time waiting for her class to start.


High school football starts tonight in Indiana. I did not get a game this week but already have assignments for the next two weeks. Which is kind of a bummer because it is going to be an absolutely perfect night for football tonight. Perhaps it’s best, though, as M. has an 8:00 AM soccer game across town tomorrow morning.

Happy weekend.

Off They Go

The alarm went off at 6:20. Ten minutes later I was up and rousing the girls. They stumbled downstairs, shoveled some breakfast in, and made their lunch requests. We brushed teeth, put on uniforms, and fixed hair. We loaded backpacks and grabbed bags of school supplies. And then we were off.

The 2012-13 school year has begun.

The morning went surprisingly well. C. was quick to get out of bed, which is often a problem for her, and seemed full of energy and excited. M. was busy telling C. everything she knew about everything that happens at St. P’s.

“ISTEP is a test you won’t take until third grade, but if you don’t pass it, you won’t get to go to fourth grade.”

Timely information there, M..

The school allows parents to walk kids in the first day, so amidst the crowded, boisterous hallways, we escorted both girls to their rooms and helped C. get situated in hers. She was a little quiet when we left her, but I think it had more to do with being in a loud room full of kids she doesn’t know yet. She’s never had a problem with school, so I’m sure she warmed up quickly once things calmed down. I’m eager to hear her talk about the boy that was sitting next to her, who was African-American. She loves to tell us about people who were “born with brown skin.”

The school dismisses at 1:05 today, instead of the usual 3:05, so we’ll see if everyone is as fresh and energetic then as they were when we dropped them off.

So our Best Summer Ever has come to its symbolic end. We still have a few summer activities scheduled for the next month, but the big sisters are back in school and have their first soccer games this Saturday. It sure went quick.
L. doesn’t start her 3’s class until after Labor Day. Since she was the odd one out this morning, and did a great job waking up and going to St. P’s with us, she got a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. I think she sees that as a pretty fair trade.

All Hail Liberated Man

Finally, a tribute to some real American heroes: the men who stay home with their children.

“I sort of take things upon myself,” said Mr. Griffioen, whose family has added a son and moved to Detroit. “I don’t go to the store to buy my kids toys. I make them toys. I do woodworking, leatherworking. I learned all sorts of manly skills that I never would have had time to learn if I were sitting in an office 28 stories above San Francisco.”

Wait, what? He freaking makes toys for his kids? Builds things? Fine leather goods?

Jesus.

And I was proud of myself for running a silly blog and brewing some beer. I clearly need to step up my game.

London Calling

Another summer Olympics has come-and-gone. These were good ones, I think, although if you’re a loyal reader of the blog and this was your only connection to the games, you wouldn’t know it. In both 2004 and 2008, I wrote extensively throughout the games. This time around, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t do any immediate posts after important events. Instead, I kept a running file where I jotted down little notes as they occurred to me. With the games over, I’ll work through the list and see what happens.

Thus begins my epic 2012 London Summer Olympics review.

Week one brought swimming, and some kick-ass American women along with the over-hyped but still excellent Ryan Lochte and the end of the Michael Phelps experience. A pretty good week in the pool for the Americans all around.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the swimming coverage were the obligatory looks back at the men’s 4×100 relay over the years. Along with Lezak’s epic effort in Beijing, there was the footage of the Australians beating the US in Sydney after Gary Hall, Jr. had said the US would smash the Aussies like guitars. What followed was the classic image of the Aussies playing air guitars to show they were unbroken. What I love about that moment, and what I don’t think anyone ever talks about when the tape gets replayed, is the sly look of appreciation from Hall. He was a master shit-talker and while he was frustrated losing, you could see in the twinkle in his eye and quick grin that he approved of Australia’s behavior.

Speaking of Hall, why don’t more swimmers wear boxing robes and championship belts to meets anymore? Don’t get me wrong, I love the mutual respect sphere that flows around Michael Phelps. It was cool seeing him offer congratulations to Ian Thorpe in 2000 and Chad le Clos this year. But having a few real assholes, not just kind of slimy guys like Lochte, around makes for great TV.

The Phelps era has been terrific. Missy Franklin seems poised to carry on his era on the women’s side. But it is a little frustrating to watch NBC heap enormous amounts of hype on the swimmers they think will have the best games. Phelps could operate under that hype, and amazingly lived up to it. But in the opening days of these games, there were rumbles that he was having a disappointing meet. Then, when Lochte faded a bit, suddenly he was a disappointment. Which is dumb. They both had tremendous Olympics. Perhaps they didn’t snatch every Gold NBC wanted them to, but they outperformed nearly every other male swimmer.

What ever happened to German swimmers? Didn’t both East and West Germany used to be pretty good in the water? Did unification somehow make them allergic to chlorine?

I get that she had a huge jump in time over the past 18 months, but why is it assumed the 16-year-old Chinese swimmer who kicked ass is doping but neither Missy Franklin or Katie Ledecky are? It’s not like no Americans have ever tested positive, although they’ve tended to be older ones. Hey, the Chinese are probably dirty, but if a 16-year-old raises questions when she swims nearly as fast as a man, shouldn’t a 15-year-old who destroys a field that included the world record holder be held to the same level of scrutiny?

Why did Bob Costas need such a large studio? That thing looked like a World War II era airplane hanger, yet there was just him and his desk, with his little interview nook off to the side. I guess real estate is cheap in London-town.

I’m not a huge gymnastics fan, but I must admit, the women’s competition was fun. And not just because the US took the team gold with Gabby Douglas netting the all-around gold. That McKayla Maroney is something else on the vault. It’s not as much fun to hate the Russians as it was 30 years ago, but it’s still kind of fun to watch them crack under the pressure. I also enjoy the absurdity of gymnastics. Catalina Ponor looked like a giant out there, and she is only 5’3”. What a weird sport where you are uber-athletic and not even pint-sized.

Ms. Ponor is not unattractive, it should be noted. And since she’s 24, it’s ok to say that.

I didn’t get too bent out of shape about the tape delay of major events. NBC spent a shit-load of money to get the rights, they have to leverage the material in the best way to make their money back. From their perspective, it worked great, as they got fantastic ratings each night and apparently made money on the games. NBC hasn’t done much right, aside from Sunday Night Football, in the last 15 years, so I can’t really blame them.

What did bug me was how they treated taped events, that many viewers already knew the outcome of, as if they were live. The long, dramatic pauses while gymnasts or divers waited for the judges scores. Or at least long pauses if the competitors were either Americans or in the medal hunt. If it was just someone who was interesting but out of the running, like Ponor or one of the British gymnasts, the scores magically appeared immediately. I’m not sure it was necessary to show the entire wait for each American score. There was plenty of drama already.

When I thought more about it, I realized our generation was warped in our youth. I don’t remember the 1976 Montreal games, but people a couple years older were able to watch important events live. The 1980 Winter olympics were in the US, although the biggest event of the games was, famously, shown on tape delay. The 1984 LA games probably shaped Olympic lovers my age more than any others. And those games were wall-to-wall live events. The 1988 Winter Games were in Calgary. So in a 12 year span four of the eight games were in North America. Throw in the ’96 Atlanta games and NBC’s genius move to get the Beijing swimming finals schedule so they could be shown live in US prime time and it makes sense that so many people in their 40s are bitching about the tape delay.

I was disappointed the Ryan Seacrest somehow worked his way into the NBC broadcast team. Mostly because I’m pretty sure that guy has pictures on everyone in Hollywood and this means he’ll find a way to replace Costas in another four or eight years. I thought it was funny, though, when he offered up social media reports. That’s about right for him.

As much as I dislike Seacrest, the worst interview I saw over the two weeks was John McEnroe interviewing Usain Bolt. That really made no sense at all. More on that piece in a bit.

Beach volleyball gets all the attention, for some pretty obvious reasons, but I love the indoor game, too. I watched quite a few matches and was pleasantly surprised that Logan Tom is still playing.

As fun as she is to watch, the Brazilian women’s team is like six Logan Toms running around. If you know what I mean. Sadly I never caught a Netherlands field hockey game. I’ve heard rumors those ladies were attractive. If only there was a way to see pictures of them on my computer.

Another thing I missed, team handball. I’ve seen it in the past but didn’t get a chance to jump on the bandwagon this year.

Spending the middle weekend of the games in Kansas City made for an interesting experience. There were primary elections in both Kansas and Missouri last week, so each commercial break was absolutely flooded with political commercials. Here in Indy, we got the occasional Obama or anti-Obama ad, and one very curious ad by one of the candidates for governor here1. What we did get flooded with was health care provider ads. My wife’s employer and the other two mega-systems in the area saturated the airwaves with ads. The strange thing was many of them would repeat with a break. So there would be a St. V’s commercial, a car ad, and then the same St. V’s ad again. Odd.

Even C. noticed. When she saw an ad for a smaller organization, she exclaimed, “Really?!? They’re copying off of St. V’s.”

A series of commercials I did like: the AT&T ones that showed kids watching events from the previous night, then writing down the winning time and going back to train. Well done on multiple levels.

If you weren’t reading Joe Posnanski’s Olympic blog you were missing out on one of the great commentators of these games.

Over to the track. I was amazed that the East German women still held the world record in the 4×100 with a time set in 1985. The East Germans were the dirtiest of the dirty, but you would figure that with 20 years of better drugs, better training, better nutrition, and the quick evolution that seems to be present in elite athletes, that either the Americans or Jamaicans would have taken care of that record long ago. Kudos to the Germans! They were really on to something in their labs.

And then the Americans finally broke the record, with Carmelita Jeter’s fantastic anchor leg. Relays are always fun, especially when your team is pulling away. My all-time favorite remains the men’s 4×100 in 1992, when Dennis Mitchell handed off to Carl Lewis, threw his hands up and pointed at Lewis as he exploded down the final stretch. Jeter pointing at the clock as she clinched the world record was right up there.

I’ve been a big Allyson Felix fan since her emergence in the Athens games, so it was great to see her finally grab some golds.

Which leads me to the official B. Hottie rankings for American women in the games:
Alex Morgan
Allyson Felix
Natalie Coughlin
Logan Tom
Hope Solo

I love the shots of track athletes gathering for their events, when they have their backpacks on. Here are the elite of the elite, and they suddenly look like school kids waiting for the bus.

An area where the tape delay was handled poorly was how some field events, in the 2 1/2 minutes of coverage they got, were clearly shown out of real time. For example, a race on the track would be shown that obviously took place at night. A commercial break. Then an update on the javelin, which took place while the sun was still up. So much for continuity.

I’m still not understanding how the women’s soccer final wasn’t on NBC, especially after the epic semi-final between the US and Canada. That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen, full of momentum swings, controversial officiating, some terrible sportsmanship, and epic goal after epic goal, all topped by Morgan’s winner in the final minute of extra time. Seems like the perfect reason to switch the game over to NBC where it can get the highest ratings. As it was, the game got the highest ratings the NBC Sports Network has ever had in its short history.

Diving is kind of boring, especially since the US has kind of sucked at it since Greg Louganis retired. Which made local boy David Boudia’s cinderella story to the gold in the platform Saturday all the more enjoyable. I’ve been reading about him since he was like 14 or 15, since he grew up here. There was always the hope that he would turn into a medal contender, but it was fun to see him actually do it.

We live in the age of the backlash. Anything that happens or is said is pumped up, then the backlash comes, then the backlash to the backlash, and on until something else comes along to get people worked up. Thus it was funny to see some people get so bent out of shape about the assertion that Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever. Some were acting like it was an absurd argument. Others as if it was absurd to question it.

What I don’t get is why isn’t Usain Bolt in the argument? He’s the first to ever repeat the 100/200 double and anchored two Jamaican relay golds. He’s smashed the world record in all three events along the way. Dude has redefined his sport in much the same manner that Phelps did his. His medal total may not equal Phelps’, but there’s no doubting he’s in the conversation for best ever.

The one redeeming part of the Bolt-McEnroe interview was seeing/hearing the footage of the Jamaican track trials earlier this summer when Yohan Blake beat Bolt in the 100. If you saw it, I think you will agree with me that NBC needs to ditch Tom Hammonds and Ato Boldon and bring in Jamaican announcers for the 2016 games. Those guys were awesome!

The Big Lead linked to an article in Muscle Week magazine that looked at whether sprinting is clean or not. I did not realize that, under the current guidelines, it is still possible to quadruple your testosterone levels while passing the ‘rigid’ Olympic doping tests. That’s interesting to know, and puts a bit of a damper on those who crow about the sport being clean. I mean, doesn’t Justin Gatlin look like he’s about to rage at any minute? And isn’t it weird that he’s running faster now than he did when he tested positive six years ago? I’m just saying.

Oh, and Ryan Bailey, the US anchor in the 4×100, showed how ridiculous Bolt is. Bailey was not only flying, but doing so in a free-and-easy style that recalled Lewis. And he still got flat dusted.

Dream(ish) Team. The only game I watched extensively was the gold medal game, which was ruined when the referees turned it into an NBA playoff game circa 1994 in the second quarter. There seemed to be a whistle every ten seconds. The bad part for the NBA is most of the calls were completely legit, which shows how physical/grabby the game has become and how much NBA refs have to let go to keep the best players from fouling out early. That said, the Euros need to drop the horrific flopping if they ever want to be taken seriously. There are several teams who can hang with the US now, making the ‘acting like you got shot when you barely got touched’ thing even more ridiculous.

Before the games, I was down with the idea of this being the final Olympics the NBA fully supported. It made sense to do what soccer has done and go to an Under-23 concept. Use the World Championships as the true world championship and slide the Olympics down to serve as a preparation point for each country’s next generation. As long as all the teams operate under the same roster restrictions, that will still make for a great tournament, even if teams aren’t loaded with each country’s best players.

But during the games many players from other countries complained, saying the Olympics were still very important to them. I would imagine Russia and Lithuania play fairly regularly. Players from both teams said, though, that when they play in the Olympics it means a lot more.

I’ve been swayed. Just because the United States isn’t as interested in the NBA player concept, just because we don’t completely dominate every game, doesn’t mean we should force the games to impose age restrictions. That said, I think David Stern will still get his way and the next US olympic team will feature players at the beginning of their careers rather than in their primes.

If nothing else, the tournament should shut up people who claim this year’s US team could have beaten the 1992 team. That was a dumb argument before the games, and even dumber now. Listen, this year’s team had great talent. But no one will beat a team anchored around Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan in his absolute prime.

Also, I’m sure Coach K will find a way to write another book out of this experience.

Some predicted this would be the year China caught the US in total medals. Did not happen! Suck it, China! You’re going to have to use better drugs if you want to catch is in Rio!


  1. The commercial is 30 seconds of the candidate, who never served in the military, talking about how great people in the military are. He never asks you to vote for him, or claims that his opponent is somehow anti-military. He just thinks the military is awesome. It was so strange it almost felt like an SNL-style parody of an ad. “America is the best. Hoosiers rule. The army is awesome. Warm spring days are the most perfect thing ever.” 

Seriously, Again?

A quick note about the new look. No major changes for you, the loyal reader, to worry about. Squarespace, the service I’ve been on since early this year, just released the newest version of their platform. Version 6 brings in a bunch of new technologies, most of which can be lumped under the term ‘responsive web design’. Basically what that means is a site should look the same whether you’re reading it on a 30′ display, an iPad, or a smartphone. I like what I’ve seen so far.

The downside is my old template did not carry over, so it gives me a chance to play around without being terribly disruptive to my readers. I’ve based my current look on the visual theme Solarized, which I’ve used for most of my text editing apps for a couple years now. It’s allegedly designed to make reading as easy and strain-free as possible. I’ve generally found that to be true, but I trust you’ll let me know if that’s not the case.

Ironically, despite all the super new and cool technology that backs up Squarespace, my site has gone from being full of graphics, sidebar links, etc. to looking closer to the first version of the site than anything else. Pretty weird, huh?

Thanks for indulging my technology itches and reading.

The Cloud’s Fatal Flaw (For Now)

This is a frightening story. Mat Honan, a technology writer, had his iCloud, Google, Twitter, and Amazon accounts hijacked, and in turn, his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook remotely wiped, destroying years of data he had not backed up. He was lucky, though, in that the hackers were only interested in having some fun rather than running amok with his financial data.

All of the big technology companies are pushing us towards exclusive use of their cloud-based systems. Syncing in the cloud is tremendously difficult, and it’s pretty amazing that the systems work as well as they do. There really is a magic to accessing a file on your phone, tablet, or computer and always having the latest version. But as hard as they are working on the sync-side of their businesses, they all clearly need to spend even more time considering the security elements of the cloud. If people can’t be sure their data will be safe, there’s no reason to use the cloud.

Amazon has already adjusted how users can reset their passwords. Apple has suspended the current system as they research a better option. This is an excellent reminder that you should take advantage of all the security options available to you when you put your data into the cloud. For example, if you use Google, by all means use their two-factor authentication option. It’s a bit of a hassle to set-up, but that’s a small price to pay for not waking up one day and finding all your accounts hacked.

Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking

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