Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A long, difficult day

I usually spend Wednesdays at Redskin Park. I was up there all day today; perhaps you've heard why.

It was long, difficult and incredibly depressing.

By the time I arrived, well before noon, the number of media in attendance was double what it usually is. By the time I left around 4:30, it was probably triple. Instead of two reporters, the Washington Post had three reporters and two columnists. Instead of one reporter and one camera person, WRC had three reporters and who knows how many camera people. At one point, I stood in the foyer just inside the main entrance and counted 30 or so people.

Of the 30, I had seen six before in my life.

The media room was packed, such that moving around was difficult. People from Baltimore, Philly, ESPN, and network correspondents showed up.

Obviously, that's the least of anyone's worries. I mention that first because that's how the majority of the day was spent: standing around and waiting.

The Redskins' PR staff did what they could for us; this shouldn't be taken as a dig at them at all. But the simple fact of it was that not many of the players wanted to talk - a situation all of us can understand. Outside of the last press conference of the day with head coach Joe Gibbs and owner Daniel Snyder, we had little warning on when players would speak.

When they did speak, it was a slap back to reality of why all those people were there in the first place.

Reed Doughty, the safety who filled in while Sean Taylor recovered from a knee injury, broke down in tears moments before I arrived. Quarterback Jason Campbell did likewise, bowing his head and wiping away a tear. Guard Pete Kendall, an open and frank sort, spoke in hushed tones about how Taylor was one of the first people to greet him after his training-camp trade from the New York Jets.

It was hard to see this from them.

Six days ago, Campbell smiled a bit when I asked him about the Iron Bowl. Earlier in the season, after a win at home, I just happened to walk next to him when leaving the stadium. At FedEx Field, a tunnel leads from the bowels of the stadium to the players' parking lot; fans gather around the mouth of the tunnel to catch a glimpse of their favorite players.

We walked and I said, "So, when we get out of here, are all those people going to be cheering for you, or are they going to be cheering for me?"

He chuckled and said maybe I had some fans too. I slowed down to let him pass and he turned around to say something else with a wide smile on his face. I couldn't really hear him though - by then, the fans had recognized him and all started yelling, "Jason! Jason!"

It's hard to see good people be in so much pain.

I'll let the greater meaning of Taylor's death to people smarter than me.

I only know what I saw: the fallout of it all.

It was not a fun day to be at Redskin Park.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Two links to check out

First off is something that helps everyone, which is always cool: FreeRice.com.

We get to play a game. The game gives you a word, you identify what it means from a list of four words. So yeah, it's a vocabulary builder.

But here's the best part: Every time you get a word right, the World Food Programme buys 10 grams of rice to distribute to people around the world who need it. According to a graphic on the WFP's Web site, the top 10 recipient countries for rice in 2007 were: Myanmar, Nepal, Cambodia, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cote d'Ivory, India, Madagascar and Ecuador.

Ten grains isn't very much, but with all the people around the world playing the game, over 3 billion grains of rice have been purchased. WFP gets the money from advertisers at the bottom of the page, so be sure and click those links too.

I heard the idea on WTOP, our all news station, and thought it would be worth passing on to all three of my blog readers!

-- AND, EVEN MORE RANDOMLY: My pal Keith got me to sign up for Facebook, and I quickly gathered a list of friends over there. It's a pretty cool place, actually; I never thought I'd get into that sort of thing.

Anyway, while searching through groups, I came across this. Brace yourself.

Hunsickers, Unite!

As I wrote over there: Ain't the Internets great?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The combination to a safe? Or just our way home?

Just heard a stat on Nightline that several million Americans traveled 50 miles or more to reach their Thanksgiving destination. I immediately put my hand up.

I cussed at, gestured at and got pissed off by what seemed to be the remainder of the American population, which all seemed headed from Alexandria, Va. to Lehighton, Pa. (via Ashburn, Va.), just like I was.

Virtually every road, at some point, was a mess. Traffic bogged down 75 percent of the trip from Northern Virginia to past Harrisburg, Pa. The rest of the trip was hampered by fog that worsened as we got closer to Lehighton.

In all, it was a four-hour trip that took five. (And if you count the hours I was working, it took more like nine hours. And that doesn't include the inconvience of having to call two coaches back because I couldn't really interview them while driving in the fog, working on a preview for a game I'll never get to see.)

So, yeah, Wednesday was fun.

In bite-by-bite segments, broken down by road traveled:

I-395, Alexandria, Va. to Springfield, Va.

I-495 (inner loop), Springfield, Va. to Tysons Corner, Va.

VA-267 (Dulles Toll Road), Tysons Corner, Va. to Dulles, Va.

VA-28, Dulles, Va. to Ashburn, Va.

It was at this point we made our first stop. I needed to get some information for my Redskins page; the Redskins went back to work today in preparation for Sunday's game in Tampa. My wife did some running around while I did some work.

Once I finished, we were back on the road, headed for Pennsylvania. The rest of our trip:

VA-28, Ashburn, Va. to Sterling, Va. (Near the end of Rt. 28, we passed the building that house the regional air traffic control center - Washington Center.)

VA-7, Sterling, Va. to Leesburg, Va.

US-15, Leesburg, Va. to near Mechanicsburg, Pa.

I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike), near Mechanicsburg, Pa. to near Westfield Terrace, Pa.

I-83, near Westfield Terrace, Pa. to Colonial Park, Pa.

I-81, Colonial Park, Pa. to near Lickdale, Pa.

I-78, near Lickdale, Pa. to Hamburg, Pa.

PA-61, Hamburg, Pa. to Orwigsburg, Pa.

PA-895, Orwigsburg, Pa. to New Ringgold, Pa.

PA-443, New-Ringgold, Pa. to Lehighton, Pa.

Across the bridge, and finally a quarter-mile stretch on PA-248 to my old neighborhood.

So there you have it. Recapping: 395, 495, 267, 28, 7, 15, 76, 83, 81, 78, 61, 895, 443, 248.

That would be one hell of a safe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Weekend football report - and a programming note

My wife got in touch with a long lost friend last night. They chatted for a good 30 minutes.

When she returned and got me up to speed on pertinent details, she soon became enthralled in the documentary I was watching on HD Theater called "Riding Giants."

It was about the rise of surfing in Hawaii and NorCal; the shots were breathtaking the story was well told. There's a part about Laird Hamilton taking a killer wave in Tahiti that appears on YouTube. So here you go:

Anyway, on with it. Viewing options weren't great this weekend, but here you are (and my apologies for not putting one together last week; we were hosting folks on Saturday and I just didn't have the time to put it together):

Army (lost to Tulsa 49-39)
Boise State (beat Idaho 58-14)
Boston College (beat Clemson 20-17)
California (lost to Washington 37-23)
Cincinnati (lost to WVU 28-23)
Clemson (lost to BC 20-17)
Connecticut (beat Syracuse 30-7)
Delaware (lost to Villanova 16-10)
Duke (lost to Notre Dame 28-7)
Florida (beat Florida Atlantic 59-20)
Florida Atlantic (lost to Florida 59-20)
Florida State (beat Maryland 24-16)
Gardner-Webb (lost to Liberty 31-0)
Georgia (beat Kentucky 24-13)
Georgia Tech (beat UNC 27-25)
Idaho (lost to Boise State 58-14)
Illinois (beat Northwestern 41-22)
Iowa State (lost to Kansas 45-7)
Kansas (beat Iowa State 45-7)
Kentucky (lost to Georgia 24-13)
Liberty (beat Gardner-Webb 31-0)
LSU (beat Ole Miss 41-24)
Maryland (lost to Florida St. 24-16)
Miami, Fla. (lost to Virginia Tech 44-14)
Michigan (lost to Ohio State 17-3)
Michigan State (beat Penn State 35-31)
Mississippi (lost to LSU 41-24)
Montana (beat Montana St. 41-20)
Montana State (lost to Montana 41-20)
Northwestern (lost to Illinois 41-22)
North Carolina (lost to Ga. Tech 27-25)
Notre Dame (beat Duke 28-7)
Ohio State (beat Michigan 17-3)
Penn State (lost to Michigan State 35-31)
Pittsburgh (lost to Rutgers 20-16)
Richmond (beat W&M 31-20)
Rutgers (beat Pitt 20-16)
Syracuse (lost to UConn 30-7)
Tennessee (beat Vanderbilt 25-24)
Tulsa (beat Army 49-39)
Vanderbilt (lost to Tennessee 25-24)
Villanova (beat Delaware 16-10)
Virginia Tech (beat Miami, Fla. 44-14)
Washington (beat Cal 37-23)
West Virginia (beat Cincinnati 28-23)
William & Mary (lost to Richmond 31-20)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A random blast from the past

My wife and I spent Sunday morning out and about, running a few errands. First it was off to Washington Golf Center so my wife could finally pick out her birthday present - a new golf bag. (She got a purple and gray Titleist bag, which I must say fits her well.)

Out next stop was open-ended. We knew we needed food, but didn't want to deal with the mess we were sure would await us at Costco in Pentagon City. So we then agreed on Safeway, but detoured at the last minute to a nearby Harris Teeter, which opened only within the past six months.

It's a very urban-ish shopping experience: parking deck, wine and snacks upstairs, less room to navigate through rows and shopping areas.

Sensing that I was starting to annoy my dear wife (who, bless her heart, had put up with me so well up to that point), I trudged upstairs to check out the wine. After a lot of searching - the wine selection was fair but not great - I picked out a pinot grigio from Columbia Valley. I returned to show my wife, who asked me to walk back upstairs and get some Doritos for a mid-afternoon snack.

I did and was walking back toward the wine when a woman passed by.

"She's short," I thought, instinctively. "Son of a gun, she looks an awful lot like..."

Of course, I'm going to keep up the suspense.

I met up with my wife downstairs. With our basket full (or at least full of what we needed), we walked to the checkout line. There was that woman again, just ahead of us, with a guy.

They exchanged words, and my suspicions were confirmed.

It was her.

Ain't that a hell of a thing. You make a seemingly innocuous trip to a grocery store, and look what you come away with.

And no, I didn't go introduce myself. I'd guess she gets that a fair amount as it is; I'd rather have her enjoy a Sunday morning of anonymity. One would think it gets tiresome.

But she looked well and I hope her life outside of the public eye has been fulfilling. I wish her the best.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Does this qualify as ironic?

Me, standing in my boss's office, watching my wife on TV sitting next to her boss.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Visa got it all wrong

Perhaps you've seen this commercial.

It's dead wrong.

Yesterday afternoon, my wonderful wife asked if I could stop by the store on the way home. We were in need of supplies. Certainly, I replied.

I desperately needed gas anyway, plus I was looking for this video game, which sounded pretty damn cool. Except the price was $50, so I walked out empty-handed.

Just up the walkway was a Shoppers, a regional chain that has one store outside of the immediate Baltimore-DC area.

After literally walking around the entire store to find ice cream, I finally arrived in the right aisle. I found some Breyers, picked it out and walked toward the express checkout line.

Had I guessed correctly on where the ice cream was, I'd have arrived at the checkout when both express lines were open. But by the time I actually got there, the second of the two was checking out its last customer.

So I settled in line behind two younger females in the only remaining line. Both were together, apparently, but were making separate purchases.

The first made it to the front of the line. She fumbled through her gear to produce ID to walk out with her wine coolers, but otherwise uneventful.

The second girl? Oy.

She had a debit card, but had no clue how to use it. She slid her card through the reader and then accidentally cancelled her transaction. That happens from time to time to me, so I understand that.

One would think the second time would go more smoothly. It did not.

It got to the point that the cashier was simply pushing the buttons for her.

"Do you want cash back?" the cashier said. No, came the reply. A split second later, the cashier hit the corresponding button. Finally, it was over. The two left.

The cashier rang up my ice cream, I handed her a $5, she handed me change and thanked me. All in under 20 seconds.

Apparently everyone in Visa's commercial knows how to correctly use their card.

Unlike the real world.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A rant, and then weekend football report No. 5

Three times today I was annoyed, almost beyond words.

I got so mad I could have made up a word to express my frustration. Like "asdasasafaf" or "inmindernate" or "trickeration."

Wait, someone already said the third term - three people, in fact. And that's why I'm so pissed off.

"Trickeration" is not a (excuse the French) fucking word. It's a word coined by our lords and masters at ESPN, because someone decided that trickery was just too damn dull. It describes any offensive football play that involves any level of razzle-dazzle: reverse passes, option passes, flea flickers, hook-and-ladders, whatever, because apparently using any of those terms - you know, actually describing the play - is so un-ESPNlike.


Its continued use, in a small way, dumbs down the English language. Obviously, it's not grammatically correct; yet it seems now to be so ubiqitous - and growing each weekend - that I fear some people may think it's perfectly correct.

It's not.

If the play's a flea flicker, say so. If you want to get creative, call it trickery - as much an underused word as donneybrook, shenanigans or tomfoolery.

Do not use "trickeration." It's not a word.

Anyway, on with the weekend viewing schedule:

Alabama (lost to LSU 41-34)
Arizona (beat UCLA 34-27)
Arkansas (beat South Carolina 48-36)
Arkansas State (beat Fla. Int'l 27-24)
Boise State (beat San Jose State 42-7)
Buffalo (lost to Miami, OH 31-28)
California (beat Wazzu 20-17)
Clemson (beat Duke 47-10)
Cincinnati (beat So. Florida 38-33)
Coastal Carolina (lost to Liberty 37-24)
Delaware (beat JMU 37-34)
Duke (lost to Clemson 47-10)
Florida (beat Vanderbilt 49-22)
Florida International (lost to Arkansas State 27-24)
Iowa (beat Northwestern 28-17)
Iowa State (beat Kansas State 31-20)
James Madison (lost to Delaware 37-34)
Kansas State (lost to Iowa St. 31-20)
Liberty (beat Coastal Carolina 37-24)
LSU (beat Alabama 41-34)
Miami, Ohio (beat Buffalo 31-28)
Michigan (beat Michigan State 28-24)
Michigan State (lost to Michigan 28-24)
Navy (beat Notre Dame 46-44, 3OT)
Northwestern (lost to Iowa 28-17)
Notre Dame (lost to Navy, 46-44, 3OT)
Oklahoma State (lost to Texas 38-35)
Penn (beat Princeton 7-0)
Penn State (beat Purdue 26-19)
Pittsburgh (beat Syracuse 20-17)
Princeton (lost to Penn 7-0)
Purdue (lost to Penn State 26-19)
Richmond (beat Villanova 35-27)
San Jose State (lost to Boise State 42-7)
South Carolina (lost to Arkansas 48-36)
South Florida (lost to Cincinnati 38-33)
Syracuse (lost to Pitt 20-17)
Texas (beat Oklahoma State 38-35)
UCLA (lost to Arizona 34-27)
Vanderbilt (lost to Florida 49-22)
Villanova (lost to Richmond 35-27)
Virginia (beat Wake Forest 17-16)
Wake Forest (lost to Virginia 17-16)
Washington State (lost to Cal 20-17)