Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Final Pick

Spain over Netherlands.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

World Cup Picks - Semifinals

Netherlands over Paraguay
Germany over Spain


This poem struck home with me lately, especially the first two paragraphs. Enjoy.

If - by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Friday, July 2, 2010

World Cup Quarterfinal Picks

Brazil over Netherlands
Uruguay over Ghana
Argentina over Germany
Spain over Paraguay

Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Picks Day 18

Paraguay over Japan
Spain over Portugal

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Picks Days 15-17

Improved to 17-20 overall, still some room for improvement though as the group stage finishes up soon.

Brazil-Portugal draw
Ivory Coast over North Korea
Spain over Chile
Switzerland over Honduras

Second Round:
United States over Ghana
Uruguay over South Korea
Germany over England
Argentina over Mexico

Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup Picks Days 12 and 13

Another rough week bringing tournament total to 12-17, France, Italy and Germany really let me down.
Just trying to get over 500 for the group stage now.

Mexico over Uruguay
South Africa over France
Argentina over Greece
South Korea over Nigeria
England over Slovenia
United States over Algeria
Germany over Ghana
Serbia over Australia

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Picks Days 7-9

Still not quite doing as well as I would have liked, the bad start killed me. Just 8-9 overall.

Argentina over South Korea
Nigeria-Greece - Draw
France over Mexico
Germany over Serbia
United State over Slovenia
England over Algeria
Ghana over Australia
Netherlands over Japan
Cameroon over Denmark

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Day 5 and 6 Picks

Turned things around after that rough start and I'm 5-5 overall now.

Slovakia over New Zealand
Ivory Coast vs Portugal - Draw
Brazil over North Korea
South Africa over Uruguay
Chile over Honduras
Spain over Switzerland

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Day 3 and 4 Picks

Ouch, 0-4 so far, maybe I better stick to American football.

Maybe I can right the ship the rest of the weekend.

Slovenia over Algeria
Germany over Australia
Ghana over Serbia
Netherlands over Denmark
Japan and Cameroon - Draw
Italy over Paraguay

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Day 1 and 2 Picks

South Africa over Mexico
France over Uruguay
Greece over South Korea
Nigeria-Argentina - Draw
England-United States - Draw

World Cup Preview

Now for a few picks from a different type of football, soccer.

Overall, I'm not going out on a limb too much and think that Spain or Brazil is probably going to win the Cup. I'm leaning strongly toward Brazil, but you can't ignore how great Spain is offensively.

I'm going to post the two teams I think will advance out of each Group and then each day in the morning, I'll post my picks for each match that day.

Group A

Group B

Group C
United States

Group D

Group E

Group F

Group G
Ivory Coast

Group H

Monday, April 19, 2010

Food Network

I've found myself only blogging to complain lately, so I thought for once I would throw in a positive take. Often on my lunch breaks, I sit in our firm's lunchroom and read for my MBA classes while others watch TV. One of the popular lunch time channels is the Food Network. I also watch the Food Network at home as well.
That said, I think the Food Network is one of the best managed and well produced cable networks there is. If you know me, you know I think highly of ESPN as well, but lately, ESPN is more about content that programming. Most of their original shows (aside from PTI) I don't really like and I can get all the information I need much quicker via than Sportscenter. And I would much prefer reading a couple people's opinion online about something than listening to multiple hosts argue at a near shouting level. The sporting events themselves are very well produced and they do a great job there, but aside from that, I'm not interested most of the time. All that to say, I see the same programming mistakes on most networks. Almost all of my news and sports information now from online sources because I don't like the format it's presented on TV anymore.

What separates the Food Network from the rest of the pack for me are several things. First of all, I think they do a great job of hiring and keeping talent. All of their hosts are personable and do a good job in front of the camera at communicating with the audience. It could be too that because of the nature of their shows, they have to, but still, I think they do a better job than HGTV, DIY, etc, which have shows of a similar format. I think the FN does a good job of presenting the content and getting their message across without undue repetition. Sometimes I feel like DIY or HGTV have about 15 minutes of content and stretch it into 30 minutes and it's just a ton of repetition.

One of the other aspects I really like about FN is originality. Not all the shows are simply cooking shows, they've been able to successfully crossover to reality shows (like the Next Food Network Star), competitions (like Chopped [one of my favorites, by the way] or FN Challenge), travel shows, and have been able to include the home viewer/local chefs in creative ways (such as Ultimate Recipe Showdown and Throwdown) without jeopardizing content. If the NFL Draft or Friday Night football with viewers able to text in comments that scroll across the screen is any indication of how ESPN and several other networks try to get viewer participation or extensive use of forums and comments on the bottom of online content, I'm not interested. I can't stand that.

I also like that there is a large degree of variability in each time slot. Obviously, a lot of the prime time programming is the same (as it should be) but at lunch time or afternoon, I may get 2-3 different hosts or show types in a week and I may get 10-15 over the course of a month. This means that if I go to lunch every day at 1 pm, I don't always watch Sandra Lee or Paula Dean, I have no idea what will be on. I think that variability in programming is great during the day, when your audience is also variable as well.

To summarize, better talent, better show ideas that take their central theme (food) and use if across various proven entertainment platforms, better produced shows, and variability in programming. I never would have thought that I would think of the Food Network so highly, but it happened. They won me over. On a separate note too, I enjoy how complements the network, but doesn't try to be something that it's not and doesn't expand or water down the network itself. Good job Food Network, keep up the good work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


This is a great concept. However, I think I'll wait until the Car-Mullet comes out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Retire Ronald McDonald?

Corporate Accountability International is hosting a retirement party for Ronald McDonald and has started a campaign to put pressure on McDonalds to retire the icon.

They were successful back in the 90s of getting Camel to retire Joe Camel and are employing similar strategies with Ronald now. Joe Camel, which I never 100% agreed with, got kids to smoke and now Ronald is convincing kids to be obese. They blame Ronald for the increase in childhood obesity. Really? It's Ronald's fault? It's too bad all those kids don't have parents around to keep them from eating McDonalds every day. I can understand lobbying for McDonalds to add some healthier choices on the menu (which they have over the last couple years), but forcing them to retire Ronald McDonald just because kids these days have irresponsible parents that aren't making sure their kids are eating properly is absurd. Besides, smoking and hamburgers are two completely different things. I just think this is absolutely ridiculous.

But while we're here, why Ronald and not the Hamburgler? First of all, the Hamburgler steals hamburgers! He should have been prosecuted years ago and has been running around stealing hamburgers for way too long now. Or what about Mayor McCheese? His head is a cheeseburger! When I see a clown, I don't think of a cheeseburger, but when I see a cheeseburger, I think of a cheeseburger. Call me crazy. Or Grimace? He's actually fat, as opposed to Ronald who apparantly doesn't eat enough of his own product to be obese. Are other chains safe? What about cereals? They all have cartoon mascots. Is the Nestle Quik rabbit next? Tony the Tiger? Wendy? Jack in the Box?


Monday, February 8, 2010

It's all in a name, or is it?

In one of my MBA classes, we did a case study on RadioShack. The basis of the case study was that the name "RadioShack" is dated and that modern consumers can't relate to the store's name. Thus, there has been big marketing push to rebrand themselves as "The Shack" and eventually, store fronts may even have "The Shack" signage and the radio term will be completely gone. However, in my dealingss with RadioShack last week, the problems are much, much deeper than the name. MBA students will also tell you that it is important to have a clear mission statement and business definition that defines who you are and what you do. This is clearly lacking at RadioShack. After calling all 4 store locations in my area, I was quite confused as to what they even sold. I was under the impression that I could get consumer electronics and hard to find electronic parts, adapters, etc. However, I couldn't even find a store associate on the phone who could tell me whether or not they sold a network card for a PC. In fact, at one store, the associate was so bad, he didn't even know what a PC was, much less a network card and began trying to sell me a cell phone. I asked him if there was anyone there who I could talk to instead who might know something about technology and he said no. Let me clarify, there is no one who works at that RadioShack who knows anything about technology. And he was right, I talked to his store manager and he was also clueless. Finally, I found someone at a different store who said that they did have a network card for a PC, so I proceeded further into asking about the card as I needed it to have a PCI-Express interface, because my PCI slot was already being used. She assured me that it was a PCI-Express. However, when I got to the store, it was USB. I've never actually had anyone confuse a USB interface with a PCI-Express one before. In short, I came away from my experience with RadioShack frustrated and bewildered. I will admit, the USB interface card did work out for me because there ended up being Debian Linux drivers for it and there were none for any Intel PCI-Express card that I found. However, the experience certainly solidified for me that RadioShack's problems are much more than their name and I'm no investor, but I'd steer clear of their stock if I were you because the future can't be bright. However, if you are in the market for a cell phone or maybe women's hats or dresses, they may be able to help you, actually, I'm not sure, I don't really know what they sell there and no one who works there can tell me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl Preview

Well, my playoff picks were beyond subpar this year. Not sure how I missed that so badly, and how we had so few good games. Anyway, without further ado, my annual Super Bowl preview.

Offense and Quarterbacks:
We have an amazing matchup of quarterbacks this year. Both quarterbacks have the ability to read defenses and make adjustments well enough that we should have plenty of offense to watch.
As far as key players on offense go, I have to give the Saints the edge. Not that the Colts don't have manageable receivers (Peyton Manning can make anyone look good), but I give the Saints an edge on their explosiveness. They have the ability to go all the way on any reception and open field tackling by the Colts defense will be key in keeping them in check. I also feel like the Saints running backs fit better into their offensive game plan than the Colts do as Addai is more of a power back stuck in a spread offense and they lack that Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush receiving threat out of the backfield.
From a pure quarterback standpoint though, I give the edge to Peyton over Drew because of his experience. The quarterback position is so important in the Super Bowl and should be weighted accordingly. I give the Colts the overall offensive edge.

Defense and Turnovers:
Both defenses face a huge challenge this week, especially the Colts who will be without Dwight Freeney. Dwight is a big loss and he could pressure Drew and hopefully force him to make a mistake or two. But it could be worse, they could have had losses in their secondary. Net-net, the defenses are about a wash. I have been able to find a few stats though that indicate an edge for the Saints. First of all, the Colts are ranked 30th in the league stopping opponents on 3rd or 4th down and 31st in forcing 3 and outs. This will give the Saints offense more opportunities and possibilities for big plays. Also, that could raise the time of possession for the Saints and lead to a more tired Colts defense that might make mistakes late in the game. The other things is turnovers. A turnover at the right time will change the course of the game. Just ask the Cardinals last year. The Saints are 2nd overall in forcing turnovers and the Colts are 18th. Based on those two stats, I'll give the edge to the Saints.

Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton. Payton has more NFL experience and comes from the Bill Parcells/Ray Rhodes coaching tree. Caldwell was a mediocre college coach until he came under the Dungy tree in the NFL. Caldwell is also in his first season as a head coach. I prefer Payton here as a pure coach, but Caldwell has a coach on the field in Manning. Still I give the edge to the Saints here.

Game Conditions:
Both teams play their home games in a dome, so if weather is a factor, then it will be for both teams. They are also both passing offenses and can be affected by the possible rainy forecast in the same manner, although I'd rather have Donald Brown and Joseph Addai in the rain than Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
The Super Bowl is different too because the game is slower (longer commercial breaks and more game stoppages) and without the experience of managing a slower game, offenses can get out of sync from all the delays. Since Indianapolis has been here recently, they may handle it better.

Other Factors:
Another factor that could come into play is the "happy to be here" symptom. The Saints have never been to a Super Bowl. That could play out in one of two ways. It could be a motivating factor to finish the job and increase their level of play. Or, they could be contempt that they've reached their goal and not play up the challenge. We've all seen it play out either way. I don't see the Saints being contempt but they could get caught up in the whole playing for the entire city of New Orleans pressure and trying to hard to win that it hampers their play. The whole Hurricane Katrina, we need to win for this city, card could be too much for them to carry. The Colts want to win a Super Bowl, but the entire city of Indianapolis isn't at stake, their minds are not going to be as heavy and most of the players have been there before so they will play more relaxed and handle the pressure of the game better. Advantage Colts.

Overall Prediction:
Halftime Score - 14-17 Saints

Final score - 35-31 Colts

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dream Diminished

Over the holiday season, one of my lifelong dreams was either diminished or possibly more easily achieved. But more easily achieved is not always a good thing, so I'm going with diminished. It used to be that back in the day, the good old days as they are oft called, you worked hard all your life to make a difference in this world. You serve, innovate, implement, and bust your tail to make the world a better place. And then, maybe, just maybe, you will be given the honor to have your face embolden on a US postal stamp. But now, with PictureItPostage, anyone can have their face on a stamp. You just download their software to your PC and order stamps all day with whatever picture you want on them. Stamp collectors must be going crazy, how are they going to collect one of each of all these stamps? Plus, their entire hobby has been diminished. Why should I bother trying to find some obscure Benjamin Franklin stamp? I'll just put Ben's picture into PictureItPostage and $18.45 later, I have 20 of them.
I've always wanted to achieve something that someday, people would deem me significant enough to remember by legacy by putting my face on a stamp. I just don't know that it's worth it now. Now, when my daughter is born, we'll be able to send out birth announcements with her on the stamp and her crowning achievement in life will have been a few dirty diapers and keeping me up at night. Well, that, and the fact that she's my daughter. So, Mother Teresa, Abe Lincoln, George Washington and on down the line, thanks, but you know, had you just been born much later on, you wouldn't have had to work so hard for the honor of having your mug plastered on a stamp.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hormel Deli Ham

I don’t understand Hormel's claims about their prepackaged deli ham. The packaging says in bold letters across the top “100% All Natural Ham” but then in small letters underneath, it says “Enhanced with up to 11% solution.” How can it be 100% ham then? Am I really eating 111% ham, I don’t think so. It’s more like I’m eating 89% ham that claims to be 100% ham. Is the solution all natural too, or is that part also a lie? I have a feeling I know what type of “all natural” solution pigs produce and it’s nothing that would “enhance” my ham. You know what 100% ham is? Slice off the butt of a pig, cook it and package it for me. That’s 100% ham. Anything else is just a lie. I realize 89% ham isn’t flying off the shelves like 100% ham is, but if the 100% is a lie, I’d rather them just say that it’s “ham.” Cause with the other blatant lies on the front of the packaging, I’m not even sure I can believe that part of it either.