Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Excerpts from real life conversations II

Last night I went to a major chain sub shop for dinner. The cashier was not the brightest in the world.
So, I'm ordering my sub and it goes like this, "I want a medium xxx sub combo with no mustard".
She replies, "At all?"

I was thinking, of course, "at all". Am I missing something? Do some people ask for only mustard on parts? Is there an option for mustard on the first 1/4 and middle 1/3 of the sandwich? Maybe I'm over thinking it, but I said, "yes... no mustard on the entire sandwich". She had kinda a half confused, half stunned look on her face. I was worried. My wife had ordered prior to me and had answer the question "For here or to go" with "to go". So I thought I was off the hook on that question, but nope. "Would you like that to go as well?". I mean, we are on the same tab, is it often that one person is to go and one is to stay?
Anyway, I didn't feel the need to get too smart with her cause 1) I didn't think she'd get it and 2) I didn't want her spit in my sandwich. It might lower my IQ. So I just said "Yes, it's still to go".

Phil T Super Bowl preview

Here is my grand Super Bowl preview. Warning: It's lengthy and full of information. Everyone in the world gets to comment on the most over hyped football game in the world, so I thought I should be able to throw my two cents out there.
Besides, I had my annual, recurring nightmare that I missed the Super Bowl last night, so I figured I better get on it.
As most of you know (because you all read my NFL Playoff preview) I picked all 4 contestants of the Championship games correctly, but didn't correctly pick the winner of either game. Here's why:
NFC: Two reasons, I didn't know the weather would be that bad. I should have assumed that Chicago weather in January would be pretty cold, but I think it really affected the Saints in the second half. Also, I over estimated the 'Hurricane Effect'. I thought the Saints would really want to make it to the Super Bowl 'for the city', but it turns out, they were happy just to have made it that far.
AFC: The NFL is rigged. Peyton should not have won that game. Pure and simple, the NFL is rigged, that's why so many storylines like this happend, the NFL makes it so. They create their own storylines. It's just good business. (NASCAR is rigged too of course, I'm convinced. They've let it slip a few times recently with all the rules changes, but its been rigged for almost 10 years now, since the emergence of Jeff Gordon. I have a theory that Dale Earnhardt found out and that's why they "killed" him off the series [just like they do with actors] and that he's really still alive and living in a France under the alias Rico La'Racer and is not allowed to show his face in the South again. But that's a whole 'nother post) I should have seen that one coming, any other game Troy Brown runs out instead of in on that out route on 3rd and 4, 1st down Patriots, end of ball game. But no, Peyton, who shouldn't have even gotten another shot, gets the ball back and makes the easy score. The Patriots didn't even make it look difficult (which I think they were supposed to).

So, onto the Super Bowl. I can't really get a good feel for this game. Normally can't on Super Bowls anyway because they aren't normall football games. The pace is way off (it's a 4.5 hour game instead of a 3 hour game), it's over hyped, the fans are all corporate guys who have little or no vested interest in the teams are just happy to be there so the crowd isn't a factor for either team really. Haltime is too long and the players lose any momentum and essentially have to re-stretch and get warmed up again. My theory is that this is because the NFL knows so many non football fans are watching and they want plenty of time for extra replays and time for announcers to over explain everything in hopes of getting more fans. It's not going to work, because those non fans still think the game is too fast and most of them think they could never sit that long (4.5 hours) and watch a single game.

The pace really favors defensive teams as offensives can't get into their normal rythm and have zero tempo. If you look at the last 10 years of Super Bowls, the defensive teams have had far greater success that ones built for offense and we really haven't seen offenses dominate a Super Bowl since the Cowboy teams of the 90's. Denver was able to put a decent number of points on the board in the late 90's with Elway and Davis, but in my opinion that largely because the NFC teams they played were weaker teams. So, score one for the Bears.

AFC vs. NFC: Back in the day, it looked like the AFC would never win another Super Bowl. But now, they've won 5 of the last 7. Of the 50 games this season pitting AFC vs. NFC, the AFC won 32 of those (64%). Score one for the Colts.

The Peyton factor. I don't think Peyton has one the big one yet. So, he beat the Patriots. He hasn't won a Super Bowl yet. Dan Marino played in the Super Bowl as well, but lost. If Peyton is going to be the face of the NFL (arguably, he already is), he HAS to win this football game. Just making it to the Super Bowl is not winning it. If he loses, the talks will come back about how he can't win the big one. The monkey is still on his back, it just got smaller.

The letdown factor. Honestly, this affects both teams. I can see the Bears 'happy to be there' since even though they were winning all season, the talking heads still said they weren't very good and weren't a Super Bowl team. They proved them wrong, but could let that accomplishment be all they need and play that crappy 'happy to be there' football. [Like 1/4 the college bowl teams do]. But I can see the Colts falling for this trap too. They have been expected to be in the Super Bowl for about 6 seasons now and haven't. They are finally there, it would be easy for them to have that 'Whew, he finally made it' mindset. It wouldn't be the first time it happened, where a team basically had to make it back there in order to win it because just making it was just a sigh of relief the first time.

Overall: I think the Colts are a better team. However, when that offense doesn't click they are a different team and if the tempo of the game effects the offense, the Bears have a very real shot. Super Bowls have a tendency as well to be blowouts late in the game as one team pulls away, if the Colts click, even if for only a quarter, they can pull out enough of a lead to win going away. The Bears defense will have to play its best football in order for them to contend in this football game. The Bears have played primarily a Cover 2 defense all season, and haven't gotten much pressure on opposing quarterbacks with just their linebacker blitzes from the Cover 2. Against the Saints, they were able to get quite a bit of pressue on Drew Brees, and the Saints are similar to the Colts in that both teams kept their quarterback pretty clean and off the turf all season. The Bears will have to get pressure again this week against Peyton, as the Patriots have proved for years, the way to beat the Colts is to pressue Peyton, force him out of the pocket and to make quick decisions. That's how you beat the Colts. I think the Bears have the defense to do that. But let's go back to a point I made earlier. The NFL is rigged. If so, then they need Peyton to win to solidify him as the face of the League, as their star. Plus, they can have Vinatieri kick a FG late if needed and then he can seal a Super Bowl win for his once arch rival team. If this were a regular season game, the Bears win by 7. But it's not a regular season game, it's the Super Bowl. And despite the fact that I will be pulling for the Bears on Sunday, I think the Colts win. And I think they win by 17.

Colts 14, Bears 10 at the half. / Final score: Colts 34, Bears 17. Peyton is MVP.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quick Takes

The National Football League
-I'm sick and tired of the National Football League. For crying out loud, it's the NFL. We don't call the NBA the National Basketball Association. We don't call it the Professional Golf Assocation. No one in their right might says that National Hockey League. You do hear Major League baseball occasionally, but there at least is minor league baseball. But it's like everyone is against the 'NFL' these days. The other morning on sports talk radio when discussing the NFL draft, they dropped 'National Football League' about 20 times in 5 minutes or less and not once used 'NFL'. Annoys the crap out of me. Of course so does the entire morning show on WCCP now. Why would you gear a morning show on a sports talk radio station toward non sports fans? Idiots.
-Why are these NFL teams in such a hurry to hire head coaches? It's like its a race or something. I mean, this is one of the most important decisions you will make and set the course for your franchise for years to come, and you are going to rush to that decision?
-On the same topic, the Cowboys. How can you hire an offensive coordinator without first hiring a coach? What if the coach and the guy you bring in to be head coach have different coaching philosophies and ideas? Who would even want to coach a team when the owner had an offensive coordinator in place already that he hand picked. Plus, they say he is being groomed to be head coach in two years, so I guess that means who ever is head coach is just a figure head? There's no way anyone is going to take that job, just to be fired in two years no matter what for someone else.
-Speaking of figureheads, that kid that's the head coach of Oakland is simply a figurehead. Al Davis can control him. That's why he hired a teenager to coach the team. I guess the only positive is that the team can't get much worse. Well, 0-16 or 1-15, but I think I could at least coach a team to that. I predict that team being bad for awhile.

Super Bowl Parties

Ok, there is a huge Super Bowl preview on the way in a couple days where I will give all my thoughts on the game, but first, Super Bowl parties.

Every year, I feel the need to go to a Super Bowl party in order to get the full Super Bowl experience. I mean, it's the Super Bowl for crying out loud. You can't just watch it by yourself.
But at the same time, every year I come away disappointed. Half the people there make the same lame "I'm just here for the commercials" joke, like I haven't heard that a million times. In fact, whenever someone says that, all I'm thinking is "Great, now I have to listen their running commentary throughout the game (as if NFL announcing wasn't bad enough these days), answer their questions about what is going on, and listen to them belittle the game and comment on how they would make it better. It's like someone who doesn't vote commenting on what the government should do, except worse. Just because it's the Super Bowl, people think they can get by with all this stuff. If the roles were reversed and a bunch of football fans went to a recital or scrapbooking class or whatever, do you think that type of behavior would fly? Of course not. So why does it work for the Super Bowl. Plus, everyone has to be quiet during the commercials, but everyone gets to talk during the game? I will never understand this. Even through there are people there just for the commercials, and I'm not against that at all, its still a football game. Isn't it? Maybe it isn't. It rarely seems to properly reflect the NFL season, the timing and pace are all off, and its way overhyped. Comments? Anyone? Am I in left field about Super Bowl parties? Maybe I've just had bad experiences.
Oh well, what's the big deal right? It's only one football game. Had these commercial watchers 'enjoyed' the entire football season, they probably would flitch every time they saw Peyton during the game from being inundated with all his commercials all season long.
I've seen some interesting betting lines for the Super Bowl, but I'm proposing some new ones:

Over/Under on Peyton Manning commercials during the Super Bowl. I'm setting it at 19.
52 if you include the pregame show.

Total Peyton Manning appearances (including pregame/postgame/during game/halftime clips/commercials). 1438
Better hope you don't have HD, cause that's a lot of Peyton.

Place your bets.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book Review : The Education of a Coach

(copied this "Book Review" idea from Craig T's Blog

I just finished David Halberstam's book The Education of a Coach. It's about Bill Belichick and his rise through the coaching ranks and to the pinnacle of the coaching world. Its an interesting read. Particularly because Bill is a guy who has never great at football himself and only played at a small college, whereas most coaches played at a high level themselves. Belichick had to earn the respect he has among players and coaches with a lot of hard work and film work. He's always been the master at taking away what an opponent does best and the book talks alot about his use of film and innovative defensive formations and sets to accomplish it. It's a good read for any football fan, but not for the person who despises Belichick because obviously the book makes him look good.

Monday, January 15, 2007

King of Rice A Roni

We've discovered something here in the Townsend household. It's that I am the King of Rice a Roni. That's right, the San Francisco treat. I own that stuff. We have it almost once a week and whenever I make it, its delicious. Scrumptious, even. It's like I can't go wrong with the Roni. Beef, Chicken, Family Size, Herb and Garlic, 4 Cheese, doesn't matter. King me.
I had this idea the other day as a result. Seeing as how I've always wanted to be a TV chef, now that I've found my niche, it's on. The title of the show is "Rice A Roni and ...". Basically, I prepare Rice A Roni for every meal and then add a creative side/meat like chicken tips or chicken something or beef prepared somehow or vegetable medley or something to go along with the rice-a-roni.
Guess the sponsor? That's right, Rice-A-Roni. Maybe they'll give me like an honorary trolley or something. Greenville likes to name things after even their small time celebs, I'm thinking Phil T Boulevard is not out of the question now.
Well, I have some work to do, off to the kitchen...

You don't find Lego, Lego finds you

Over the weekend, I had a great experience. I got to be a Technical and Design judge at a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego Regional Competition. It was awesome. Basically, 9-14 year olds from across the Upstate had to build Lego rebots to complete up to 9 different missions on a competition board. It was very interesting. The robot used a Lego computer unit, that you program using a program on your computer/laptop. The difficult part is that the Lego robot had to be programmed to complete the missions prior to the competition, it was not a remote control robot. But, they could touch or modify the robot inside of base. So it was interesting how kids designed the robot to have several different attachments that quickly interchanged so they could run a program on the robot and have it return to base, change out an attachment, and run a different program to complete other missions. You could store about 5 programs in the Lego computers memory.
So, basically the different teams came back to see me and the other Technical and Design judges and sat down and talked to them about their robot, their programs, design, and then they demonstrated on a competition board how it worked so we could judge locomotion, navigation, and predictability and accuracy of their programming. I don't think I've talked to that many 9-14 year olds since I was that age. In fact, since I was unpopular back then, I'm not sure that I talked to that many (about 200+ kids) 9-14 year olds ever. But one of the main reasons I don't like kids is because I never feel like I can talk to them at my level and since these were the best and brightest kids around, I could, so it wasn't that bad at all.
They competed against each other for points (different missions and the success level of the mission were worth different amounts of points), design and technical ability of robot, teamwork, and on their associated research project. My wife was a Teamwork judge.
By the way, the missions were tough. I could see it taking me 20-30 hours or maybe more to design and program a robot to complete all the missions.
It was a fun event and if you get a chance to volunteer, judge, or even attend one of the FIRST Lego events, I highly recommend it.

Click here for pictures of the event.
And here for more information about FIRST Lego and the missions.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Excerpts from real life conversations

Occasionally, I have conversations with people that have to be posted. Mostly ignorant people. Today, its an exerpt from a voicemail.

From Sprint engineer: "...We apologize for you calling me a liar".

First of all, I didn't call him a liar, I said "You better get your story straight!" about 3 times and told him to quit interupting me. I don't know about you, but when I chew someone out, I don't like to be interrupted. Basically, I've had some problems with Sprint over the last 16 hours and a tech on site told me at 9:36 that the repeater in the telco closet was the problem and had been fixed. Well, the tech at 12:30 who called to confirm the site was up said it was 10:36 and that it was a bad jumper wire that had been replaced. So I told him to get his story straight and call me back in an hour with an update. To which he said "Unbelievable" and hung up. I missed his call back in a hour because I was in a meeting, but he left a voicemail that included the above quote. Basically he said I was wrong and that it had been a jumper wire that goes into the repeater that was the problem and that "we apologize for you calling me a liar." Is that possible? Don't I have to approve of my apologizes? Can I apologize for Sprint for that guy being a prick?
This opens up a whole new can of worms if we can just apologize for other people without their knowledge.
Oh well, at least Sprint apologizes for me calling him a liar when I didn't call him a liar. I've had quite a bit of trouble with Sprint lately, I'd hate to see what it says on my file. I'm sure they have some choice words under my name.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

NFL Playoffs

The NFL Playoffs start today and I will once again attempt to pick all the winners prior to the playoffs starting. For those of you who know me, know that I have been within a game or two several times straight up, but the spread has been killing me lately.

I still can't figure out how the Giants made it into the playoffs even. The NFC just looks bad, on the field and on paper. The AFC is much tougher to predict.

Wild Card Round
Philly over NY Giants
Dallas over Seattle
Indianapolis over Kansas City
New England over NY Jets

Chicago over Dallas
New Orleans over Philly
Indianapolis over Baltimore
New England over San Diego

New Orleans over Chicago
New England over Indianapolis

Super Bowl
New Orleans over New England

Although, New England could easily win this game and I HATE picking against Bill Belichick when he has two weeks to prepare for any team. He just doesn't lose when you give him that long to prepare, but the spirit of Cinderalla prevails in this one and New Orleans pulls the upset. I'm sure I'll change my mind sometime next week though and wish I would have said that New England wins.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Mouse Hunt 2007 Part III

Baxter appears!

Last night, I went out into the garage to get some boxes to put away a few Christmas lights. As I moved one aside, Baxter comes running out from under a nearby box and runs straight into my woodpile (yes, I have a woodpile in my garage, its landscape timbers waiting for Spring). I quickly glance around to find a nearby Christmas present, my new copperhead. A copperhead is a two pronged hoe. Copperhead pic for those not as well versed in hoes. I had worked with a copperhead quite a bit over the summer and knew how to wield maximum destruction with it. The cool wooden handle felt good in my hands, I was confident that I had chosen the right weapon and that this epic battle between man and mouse would end tonight.
Here is where I made a mistake. Instead of trapping him and sensely beating him to death, I decided to give him an option. I opened the garage door, humanely allowing him to chose life over death and imminant destruction. Then, I went to work on the wood pile, swiftly using my copperhead to move around landscape timbers as if they were toothpicks and then swinging at an empty roll of carpet as if it was possessed. All the while keeping a close lookout for Baxter. But he never appeared. My suspicion is that at some point he snuck out the garage door while I was working on finding him elsewhere. Once my wife came home, she donned a scary looking sock hat and my baseball bat and joined the hunt. At this point in the story I should interject that my garage door has now been open for about 45 minutes, clearly being used for purposes other than 'egressing' and 'ingressing' and in violation of my home owners assocation rules. I'm sure I'll have a letter in my mailbox about that today. As Jeni tip toes around on high alert holding her baseball bat close and ready to swing and I walk around swinging a copperhead at innocent landscape timbers, I'm beginning to see while possibly the HOA hates us; since those nazi's are so much more high and mighty than us common folk, who are forced to hunt for our mice on our own. So in the end, Baxter was able to allude us once again, although I did clean up the garage and got rid of anything that could be considered a food source. Plus, surely the image of me wielding that copperhead ready to strike is burned in his little memory and haunting his little mouse dreams.
Mouse 2, Phil T 0.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mouse Hunt 2007 Part II

I mentioned previously that I was fortunate I had that college diploma to figure out setting the mouse trap. Well, apparantly, our rodent friend upstairs has a Masters degree in mouse traps as he was able to successfully eat the cheese off of every trap without setting any of them off. This is something I would not be able to do. He has now resorted to mocking me.
It is time for a return trip to Wal-Mart for something stronger...

Mouse 1, Phil T 0

Delco Cat Toys

Will Ferrill + Vince Vaughan = HILARIOUS!!!

This cracks me up.

"You are running with the big boys now. This is not NASA anymore!"

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Mouse Hunt 2007 Part I

Over the weekend while caring for my sick wife, I kept hearing a scurring in the attic. Thinking at first it was the wind, I didn't pay it much attention, but as Saturday night wore on it became apparant that it was, in fact, a scurry. And it was occurring right above the kitchen.
So, the next day, I went to Wal-Mart to get some mouse traps. First of all, they put these in the grocery part, and not in the pesticides as one would imagine, but that is a different story. So after hiking back across Wal-Mart (stopping first to ride the carousel and having a picnic by the lake, seriously these Wal-Marts are just getting too big) I found them.
Upon arrival home, let me just say, it's much harder to set a mouse trap than I imagined. Good thing I have that college diploma, cause I cerainly needed it. Second thing to note as it was now New Year's Eve, so I have some tips for you for when setting mouse traps in the attic:
1) Don't do it while the neighbors are setting off fireworks right above your house
2) Leave your Blackberry (set to vibrate) downstairs
These thing may seem obvious, but I assure, I didn't even realize there were fireworks going off until I was up there. And when one is being very cautious and on the lookout for a mouse (I named him Baxter), one doesn't want something that could feel like a mouse running up one's leg vibrating away in one's pocket if you know what I mean.
Traps set: 4, Trips to ER: 0. That's a win so far in my book.
Now, we wait...

The Next Generation

I'm worried about kids these days. I'm worried that in 20 years, we will have a generation of people who can not walk on their own. They will be either too lazy or have had so many torn ACLs that they sound like the doors in a haunted mansion whenever they stand up. And I'm learning toward the former of the two. Have you seen fun slides? I just experienced this phenom over Christmas as some kid in my extended family was wearing them at Christmas (he was also dressed in full Paintball attire for a bulk of the time, but we won't go there, besides, for those of you who know me, you must live in constant fear that I will pull out a paintball gun at them at any time). So, basically, they are these slick plastic slides that you put on your feet so that you can slide around on carpet "like socks on a hardwood floor". Splinterrific! As if last year's invention of putting wheels on their shoes wasn't enough, now they don't even have the effort of having to hold on to someone to pull themselves along, they can merely slide around. Seriously, I spent several hours in airports this fall, and I would put the number of kids with wheels on their feet at around 35%. I shockingly high number I thought, but based on my observation, that's my guess.
If these things catch on, in 20 years, a whole generation won't be able to walk. It's going to be sad.
Of all the things that technology has made irrelevant, I never saw walking coming. I guess I'm just one of those old fogies who still walk around with 2 my own feet and tennis shoes all day.