Monday, December 15, 2008

Graphic discussion

I've been around news all my life. My parents were religious local news watchers and, for most of the time when I lived at home, we subscribed to a morning and an afternoon paper. My least favorite part of going off to camp was the disconnectedness I felt; no TV and no papers meant I was cut off from current events - even if I had no geopolitical understanding and, therefore, no context to those events.

We were lucky, then, that I got to experience news from several viewpoints. We got broadcasts from New York (where there's always something going on), Philadelphia (and its ruthless press corps) and Scranton (where a local fair was as likely to lead the newscast as anything).

And it wasn't always the news that interested me. The graphics were a big part too; of particular interest were the openings: WPVI's legendary quick-hit video with Al Ham's "Move Closer To Your World"; WNEP, which still uses a different Ham composition; and WCAU's multi-person opening that was used before I moved south.

I suppose it's natural, then, that this curiosity carries through to today.

For some reason, instead of the openings, the thing that catches my eye today is how stations and networks introduce breaking news. So when I stumbled across these two examples, it made for a fascinating contrast.

First, CNN:

It's bold, it's flashy. Three notes and the climax. And it has traditional elements too: notice the strings playing after the other instruments have faded. If you're of a certain age, you'll remember that back when, the sound of a Morse code used to be popular on news broadcasts. They're keeping an eye on the wire, ready to bring you anything of importance that crosses it. (Note that this version doesn't have a voiceover, which is heard in this example.)

Now, onto BBC World:

It's much more stylish, in a European sort of way, with all its half-spheres and curves. The music is far less dramatic and, though urgent in its opening notes, less attention-grabbing.

But such is the difference between the cultures. We're more bold and loud, they're more reserved and stylistic.

So I don't know if it matters a hoot to anyone, just something I found curious: cultural differences as seen in news graphics.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A restaurant that gets it

I've found a new favorite lunch place on the Wednesdays when I trek to Ashburn (and, of course, assuming there's time to be had for lunch).

It's called California Tortilla; I've seen them refer to themselves as Cal Tort for short, even if it sounds like a small, forgotten branch of a law firm.

I used to get my daily dose of humor on the hilarious bumpers for Lucy. Then Sirius went and ruined the channel, turning it into a soulless wasteland (though thankfully it doesn't have a DJ, unlike most other channels).

These days, CalTort fits the bill. Those are some of the freebies pictured above. The napkin should be easy enough to read; the drink behind it has some poor sap getting a drink dumped on his head by someone woman who looks to be having way too much fun dumping. The tagline reads: "Refills are on us!"

Yes, it's a silly gag. But when a place is full of them, it shows you that it doesn't take itself seriously. And that brings a smile to your face.

Just above the soda fountain is a sign that goes where a Coke or Pepsi logo would be. It's a two-part sign that's split by the ice dispenser. The left side reads: "Bad Bob fills his water cup with soda." And it shows some guy, Bob presumably, getting the finger-wagging treatment from another, equally random guy, presumably an authority figure. The right side of the sign says, "Good Bob fills his water cup with water!" Same two random guys, except the lecture is now a celebration. Conflict resolution while you tap the Sprite spigot.

This is part of a long, backward "L" shaped counter; this is the very top of the letter. The sign reads: "Need Help??? Use Megaphone or Bell!"

Sure enough, down the counter a bit - where near the point where the two lines meet - there was a megaphone and a bell. I wonder how many people opt for the former...

For all the silliness, it wouldn't matter if the food sucked. Fortunately, it doesn't. Twice, I've tried the - brace yourself - Buffalo Chicken Wing Burrito, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has shared a bar with me. It's good, and the wing sauce they have works well with the rest of the ingredients; I daresay it would beat what most places pass off as wing sauce.

A quick aside: If you happen to go, for heaven's sake, get the smaller size burrito. Not knowing any better on my first visit, I got the large. When I was finished, about 5/6 of the way through that beast, I couldn't eat another bite. And that was after untold contents spilled because I wasn't smart enough to keep the thing in its wrapper.

For me, the gem of the place was this:

It's called the Wall of Flame. I was heartened to see such wonderful, and ambulance-inducing, sauces. Just to the right of the Jack Daniels-looking bottle (more on that in a sec) is our old friend, Dave's Insanity Sauce.

In my younger stupider days, I bought a bottle of DIS from a German restaurant/novelty store/beer store back in the Lehigh Valley Mall. I couldn't wait to actually use it on my food, so I took a dab and rubbed it off on the front right part of my tongue. That spot burned - and I don't mean smolder, I mean unrecognizably charred - for a good 20 minutes. Not unlike this guy's experience.

It's part of a line of super-hot, XXX sauces, ones that do their damndest to give you space for a tongue ring. Many have catchy and humorous names.

But the Jack-looking bottle caught my attention this day. It may have the greatest product name in all the glorious history of American capitalism: Professor Phardtpounder's Colon Cleaner Hot Sauce, the Elixir of Capsaecin Extremus!

There's something to be said for a bottle of sauce who's biggest words jump out at you: COLON CLEANER.

And it fits in perfectly at Cal Tort, where it seems no gag is silly enough if it makes your day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An important comment I hope everyone reads

A comment notification popped into the old inbox this afternoon. In full:

You know, I've been seeing this for a year, and normally I don't respond to ad hominem attacks, but finally, in this year of change, I thought I'd set the record straight.

1. I was the starting guard for my JV high school basketball team.
2. I was a starting member of the tennis team for 2 years in high school.
3. I regularly played intramural sports through college and law school.
4. I taught tennis at the Special Olympics when I attended Cal.
5. I hosted the Tiger Woods Foundation Golf Clinic at Harding Park in San Francisco in 1999.
6. I play golf whenever I can, having taken up the sport in 1997 after watching Tiger Woods win the Masters. Something about "role model" and "opportunity" made me want to compete in a sport I had heretofore not identified with minorities.

If you bothered to read the entire transcript, you would understand the issues involved. If women are not provided a chance to engage in intercollegiate athletics, what does that say about our country? Everyone uses the old saw that "football, baseball, basketball" will be cut. The evidence hardly exists to support that conclusion, except perhaps in those rare instances in schools where the programs were marginal to begin with. The fact of the matter is, college athletics is more robust, and college campuses are richer, and our nation is stronger because of the passage and enforcement of Title IX.

Yes, sometimes choices have to be made. But the fact is, they have always been made in college sports. Prior to Title IX, campuses determined what mens' sports teams to support and which ones would be self-sufficient. Blaming Title IX for the demise of some mens' programs is an easy blame-shifter, rather than focusing on the fact that we are creating the same opportunity for camaraderie, teamwork, and excellence for young girls and women. I say that's a positive.

It certainly doesn't suck.

Michael Yaki
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

First, I'd like to offer sincere thanks to Mr. Yaki for taking the time to write his comment.

Here's the original post. I think Mr. Yaki missed the long-running gag, that people and things who committed silly acts got thrown into the ever-popular "You Suck" series. Other members of the club include current D.C. council member Marion Barry, electronics maker Sony, faux weight-loss product Lipozene, and the folks who compose the scrolling ticker on CNN.

So you are not alone.

All that being said, I stand behind what I wrote. While your accomplishments are numerable and commendable, particularly your involvement with Special Olympics, they do not qualify you to be in a position to be advising on aspects of intercollegiate athletics. I am as much qualified to be an instructional pilot at Delta based on my hours spent on Flight Simulator.

We agree on more than you may think. The growth of women's athletics in this country is a wonderful development. I pray that the WNBA stays afloat for as long as possible; they provide role models to a generation of girls that may otherwise find few of them.

Title IX, at its essence, is good legislation.

What it has become, however, is not good. It does suck.

See, the thing that blows my mind is this: You're essentially saying - and please correct me if I'm wrong on this - that collateral damage in men's sports is OK, so long as we provide opportunities for women's sports.

That, and your unfortunate choice of words in that hearing, are my primary concerns with you in your capacity as it relates to Title IX. (If you believe the Associated Press wrongly quoted you, please let me know and I will happily post that. I will leave it to our readers to decide.)

Here's what I want from our higher education system: Opportunities for all to participate in as many varsity sports as possible. These days, that is not possible. Wrestling programs are being eliminated at an alarming rate; other Olympic sports on the men's side have also been dropped frequently.

Much of this, as best I can tell, happens to bring a particular school in line with Title IX.

I have no concerns that the big three of football, basketball and baseball will be adversely affected. At the I-A/FBS level, football drives the athletic department; basketball helps out too; and baseball, in certain pockets of the country, is incredibly popular.

Instead, I worry about the minor sports. What if I have a son who runs cross country but goes to a school where the program is cut? What if he wrestles? Can I demand a campus wave off federal funding in order to support my son's team? I can, I suppose, but I'll be laughed out of the building (with a security escort, no doubt).

Let me say this as clearly as possible: My feelings have nothing to do with gender, race, ethnicity or even sport of choice. I will fight with all of my power to ensure that young women have a chance to benefit from athletics.

But what kind of a person am I if I don't fight with that same intensity for young men and their opportunities? Do they not deserve the same chance?

I want equality for all. Not some, or half, or most. All.

Title IX, for all the excellent intentions behind it, fails in that endeavor at this point.


Mr. Yaki, you are always welcome here. Though I disagree most vehemently with your position and the way you present it, I believe in the power of free speech as well.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The difference between the East Coast and the West Coast

Depending on where you live, one of the following statements will be shocking to you.

1. The drive from Bend, Ore., to Portland takes three hours. Using the most common route, you'll pass through 14 different towns.

In order - with an assist from Google Maps - it's Redmond, Prineville Junction, Terrebonne, Opal City, Madras, Warm Springs, Government Camp, Rhododendron, Faubion, Brightwood, Alder Creek, Cherryville, Sandy and Gresham. That's every place name, regardless of size, along the route.

On average, that's one town of some size every 12.86 minutes.

2. The drive from my hometown, Lehighton, Pa. to State College takes three hours. Using the most common route, you'll pass through 28 towns.

In order - again from Google Maps - Jamestown, Packerton, Jim Thorpe, Hudsondale, Beaver Meadows, Hazleton, Conyngham, Sybertsville, Hetlerville, Mifflinville, Lime Ridge, Lightstreet, Bloomsburg, Kaseville, Mooresburg, New Columbia, Rosecrans, Mackeyville, Clintondale, Lamar, Nittany, Snydertown, Hublersburg, Mingoville, Zion, Pleasant Gap, Dale Summit and Houserville. That's every place name, regardless of size, along the route.

On average, that's one town of some size every 6.4 minutes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recollections from a year ago

It all started with an innocuous act: checking e-mail.

High in the inbox was a cryptic e-mail. Few details, an ongoing situation.

Somewhere in Miami, Sean Taylor had been shot.

The statement was brief, three sentences. Yet it was the beginning of an unwinding story, one that, a year on now, still stirs emotions throughout the region.

That first day was a blur. Checking for constant updates on the wire, the Washington Post, ESPN, the Miami Herald and SJ all while trying to accomplish a normal day's work.

The tragedy continued into the night as reports surfaced that he was fighting for his life.

I woke up the next morning, wondering what the day would bring.

"Sean Taylor passed away," my wife told me, first thing.

There's a strange duopoly to life as a journalist. My first instinct was to head to work, grab the recorded and head to Ashburn. This was a story that was going to affect a lot of people, even for a county as regionally diverse as the place I work. Unlike few other stories, this one mattered to Giants, Eagles and Cowboys fans, too.

The other side is that we're human, too. It was hard not to feel for the Redskins fans out there, the ones who had such deep emotional investments in the franchise. They were just outside the fence at the entrance to Redskin Park; a makeshift memorial had been set up there.

It was harder not to feel for the players and coaches to whom Taylor was closest. These were people that you sometimes shared a joke with or just chatted with in the course of doing your job; now, they were forced into inexplicable public grief.

The day was windy; I remembered that from seeing a Post video. Two workers came out and hung black bunting around the "Washington Redskins" sign at the front entrance.

The place was packed. I remembered reading about accounts of Pete Rose's final days as Reds manager, just as his gambling habit came to light. When the network news people showed up, one story said, it was never a good situation.

And that's how it felt. The media room at Redskin Park, small for a normal crowd, was SRO. The crowd flowed into the main lobby, where there were 30 or so more people. I counted.

I counted because there was ample time in between the players' availability. There were long periods of frustration - being cooped up with so many other unfamiliar people - punctuated by sheer sadness. Whenever a player came out to speak, their head hung low, they spoke softly and invariably wiped away tears.

It was then, and only then, that the full impact of what happened was felt. These were real people grieving. The facade of invincible NFL players was lifted in a most dramatic and tragic fashion.

Taylor's lockers in Ashburn and Landover remain untouched, encased in glass, a haunting reminder of loss.

A year later, it's still surreal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Hank, miffed at the fact that his pudgy snout wouldn't allow him to get all of the goodness left in the Fancy Feast can.
He tried, though, as evidenced by the tan residue on the right side of his nose.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Just because: The top five rock songs of all-time

Not that you asked for it, but I've been thinking about my all-time top five - hey, the drives can be long and the mind wanders.

So, take it for what it's worth.

5."Far From Over," Frank Stallone
OK, OK, I couldn't resist as wiseass line to start off. But still, you can listen to the tune if you want. Not that I like it or anything. Nah, never. But I could've sworn the first time I actually heard it was in this video, where Martin Short and Christopher Guest try their hand at synchronized swimming.

But seriously, folks...

5. "Estranged," Guns 'n' Roses
Of course, it was nowhere near the hit that some of the other songs on Use Your Illusion I & II were. But there was something different about it, something foreboding. The structure was unconventional, the lyrics too. The song took twists and turns, from intense to mellow, from Slash's blistering guitar to a soft piano/guitar duet. Halfway home, there's a redemptive, more upbeat feel to the tune; then, in an instant, it turns intense again: I see the storm's getting closer/and the waves, they get so high/Seems everything we've ever known's here/why must it drift away and die. And it kicks ass over the final few minutes, leaving you feel like you've been on a roller coaster. The tune takes me back to when I was in high school; I had Use Your Illusion II forever in the CD player, always ready to hit this track. For some reason, I associate it with winter, sitting in my room doing whatever, wishing I was out skiing - back when I did such things - and thinking that the snow must be pretty sweet down at Blue Mountain. Oh well.

4. "One," Metallica
This was the best of times for Metallica, when their music had matured and got polished but before money mattered and they turned everything into a soulless, four-minutes-and-done abomination. The mournful opening bar sets the tone; the reserved music serves as a prelude to the intricate ass-kicking. The production is tight and the music is meaningful - to say nothing of the absolutely haunting video they shot for it.

3. "Dazed and Confused," Led Zeppelin
It's a damn shame Zep couldn't get any higher than three on this list. But, in one song, there's everything you've come to know and love about the band: Robert Plant's piercing vocals, Jimmy Page's mastery of the guitar, John Bonham's sometimes-melodic, sometimes-driving drumming, and John Paul Jones' incredible gifts of arrangement. It wasn't as popular as "Stairway to Heaven" - which, in retrospect, failed to demonstrate all that these four could do together - and for the life of me, I can't understand why.

2. "Under Pressure," Queen & David Bowie
I love how the music plays off the title. Several times, the music builds to a crescendo and someone cracks the valve to let off the steam, leading to the iconic bass line (later shat upon by Vanilla Ice). Each time, the steam seems to take a little longer to rebuild, but the release is no less satisfying. It's a wonderful song; at the times when the pressure is highest, if you will, the instruments and vocals work in such harmony that every last part just seems to fit perfectly. There's no needless verbosity or overwrought loudness. Love it, love it, love it. But not quite as much as...

1. "Nights in White Satin," Moody Blues
First off, I'm sorry you get the short version on the video; no poem reading or anything. Justin Hayward's vocals make this No. 1 for me. Each verse starts understated and dramatic and ends on a fever pitch. Add in the philharmonic to create instrumental cascades - something no band would consider doing today (and no, I don't count Metallica's stunt, a live album with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra nearly a decade ago). Unfortunately, lost in the video, is that the symphony provides a most dramatic ending after the poem. It's a series of peaks and valleys that leaves you exhilarated.

So there you have it... I know you'll think I'm batty, especially for the No. 1 song, but I can take it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

For my pal, Jerry

I have a ton of respect for Jerry, who writes the hell out of a Hofstra-based blog with a really excellent name.

So I know he'll love the photo. (And no, he's not bitter. Why do you ask?)

And, sorry to disappoint you, but I was up in Fairfax talking to one of the wrestlers. Nothing to do with hoops. When are you going to write about Hofstra wrestling, anyway?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Back to normal

I wore my Phils jersey to work on Thursday and kept my Nike Phils had on all day - flaunting our rarely-enforced dress policy.

While I hung out at home with my wife on Friday, we watched sporadic updates of the Phillies' parade on ESPNews.

Now, the parade and the speeches are over.

That means cynical Hustle returns. Enough of the sappiness.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Did it really happen? Honestly?

Did I really see Brad Lidge drop to his knees?

Did I really see a pile of celebration envelope him?

Did I really see Charlie Manuel hold up a World Series trophy?

Did I really see this when I turned the channel?


Yes I did. At least I think so.

Just the thought of the bottom of that pic - "Phillies defeat Rays, 4-3, win World Series" seems incomprehensible. Each time, each time I think of the momentousness of it, and what it means to so many people who mean so much to me, I'm forced to wipe away a fresh wave of tears.

For the first time in my life - or at least since I've been old enough to remember such things - I'll go to bed knowing that one of the teams that I cheer for is a world champion.

Congratulations to our own Philadelphia Phillies, who brought joy to a city that had long since given up on it.

Utterly incomprehensible.

Yet I saw it. I know I did.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

(Photo by Reuters via Yahoo)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What the Phillies' run means to me

I've done a lot of bitching here. There's lots to complain about, at least from the perspective on the maroon La-Z-Boy.

Fundamentally, I like what I do for a living. I've seen a lot of things, been a lot of places and met a lot of people I would have otherwise never met or simply only dreamed of meeting. The downside, as we've talked about many times, is the loss of pure joy that sports once provided.

But, for the past few weeks, that joy has returned.

The Phillies are playing in October.

See, Philly's nine was the first team I ever loved. I can still picture the Mike Schmidt jersey pajamas I had as a little one; I always wondered why I never got to see them play in those jerseys, but that was back in the days when only road games were broadcast.

Schmitty was my first athletic hero, and the Phillies were the first pro team I ever saw play live.

I don't much remember their World Series trip in '80s; though through the highlights, I can picture Tug McGraw's iconic final strike.

I vaguely remember the '83 Series, when many of those same players from 1980 were older and wheezier. They lost that one to Baltimore.

A decade later, an equally wheezing lineup made it back, only to lose on Joe &$#!#@* Carter's homer.

Fifteen years later, after so many close calls - the Eagles' failed Super Bowl visit, a couple of Finals appearances by the Flyers and Sixers, all for naught - the Phillies are on the cusp of making it back.

It's 5-0 in Game 5 as I write this, though the Dodgers are threatening in the fifth. That's OK, because Los Angeles has a good team; to think that they're going to roll over in an elimination game is foolhardy.

Regardless of what happens, I'm going to be cheering the whole way.

And I haven't said that about any sports team in a long, long time.

Let's go Phillies.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Now this is how it should be...

Driving to an assignment tonight, generally miffed that I'm having to miss the Phillies game.

But the long drive was made imminently more enjoyable by the fact that, for the third inning, I was able to enjoy Vin Scully calling the game, thanks to XM. I'm even happy to overlook the fact that he called this guy by this guy's name.

That's OK. It's a pure pleasure to listen to Scully on the radio. During the regular season, he gives way in the third inning and moves over the TV booth. So after the third, I did likewise and switched over to the Phillies' feed - just in time to hear another legend, Harry Kalas.

I know some of our regulars are nowhere near a radio signal that would carry a Kalas broadcast. So go search YouTube (hell, just click the link, I did the legwork) and enjoy one of the smoothest voices of our time.

That is baseball as it should be.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Was anyone really surprised that neither of the VP candidates tripped?

Driving home from work, I heard Jeff Greenfield from CBS - a guy whose work I appreciate and a reporter I respect - talk about potential pratfalls leading into Thursday night's one-and-done vice presidential debate.

The key, Greenfield said, for Gov. Sarah Palin was to avoid coming off as clueless and out of the loop (that's my summary, not his exact words). Sen. Joe Biden could not afford any mean-spirited sarcasm or his occasional loose cannon-ness (again, my summary).

And he was absolutely right.

As it turned out, neither did.

I watched the debate with Greenfield's words in the back of my mind. And then it hit me: If he, a reporter, knew this, wouldn't it seem that the campaigns were aware of this as well?

Palin came off as in the know, though her continued unwillingness to expand on the topic at hand was annoying. Biden came off as a thoroughly respectable person, not one who reluctantly participated as if it were beneath him - though Palin was right in that Biden and Barack Obama seem more interested in badmouthing the Bush administration (which does deserve a fair amount of badmouthing) than showing us how they'd do it differently.

Which, I'm sure, is precisely what the campaigns wanted.

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Palin, during debate prep, wasn't lectured over and over that she could ill afford to look squeamish or unprepared to answer. It's hard to imagine Biden, during debate prep, wasn't lectured over and over that he could not have a slip-up. As much as he may have wanted to, he simply could not blow his top.

It's like the venerable John Chaney used to say about his team: The guys he coached against were smart enough and their staffs were smart enough that they knew as much about his team he did. If his Owls couldn't rebound worth a damn, the opposition knew that. If they were turnover prone, those opponents would know that too.

If a guy like Greenfield knows these things about the candidates, you're damn tootin' the campaigns know it. Again, that's not a knock on Greenfield; but in the end, he's just a reporter.

The campaigns know better.

On Thursday, nothing was going to be left to chance.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CFB Viewing Report: Week 5

While I can't put it in the list - as I didn't actually see a play - I was fortunate enough to hear the radio broadcast of my alma mater's win on Saturday, in their biggest test so far this season. You'll find a couple of gamers here and here, (thanks for making that second one so easy to find, guys) and the old 'Hounds are off to a quick 4-0 start. Such is the wonder of modern communication, hearing a low-powered radio station from several states away.

Just as amazing, one of the games I did take in was Lehigh-Princeton, broadcast by the Lehigh Valley's lone television station - which I grew up watching - whose feed was picked up by FSN Pittsburgh, thus making it available to me here in Virginia on DirecTV.

It was a wild, wild, weekend. I've got some serious thinking to do about the SJ poll. Anyway, on with it.

Alabama (beat Georgia 41-30)
Alabama-Birmingham (lost to South Carolina 26-13)
Akron (lost to Cincy 17-15)
Arkansas (lost to Texas 52-10)
Army (lost to Texas A&M 21-17)
Auburn (beat Tennessee 14-12)
Bowling Green (beat Wyoming 45-16)
California (beat Colorado St. 42-7)
California, Pa. (beat IUP 21-19)
Central Florida (lost to UTEP 58-13)
Cincinnati (beat Akron 17-15)
Clemson (lost to Maryland 20-17)
Colorado (lost to Florida St. 39-21)
Colorado State (lost to Cal 42-7)
Connecticut (beat Louisville 26-21)
Duke (beat Virginia 31-3)
East Carolina (lost to Houston 41-24)
Eastern Michigan (lost to No. Illinois 37-0)
Eastern Washington (beat Idaho St. 45-31)
Florida (lost to Ole Miss 31-30)
Florida A&M (beat Tennessee St. 28-21)
Florida State (beat Colorado 39-21)
Fresno State (beat UCLA 36-31)
Georgia (lost to Alabama 41-30)
Houston (beat E. Carolina 41-24)
Idaho State (lost to E. Washington 45-31)
Illinois (lost to Penn St. 38-24)
Indiana (lost to Mich. St. 42-29)
Indiana, Pa. (lost to California, Pa. 21-19)
Iowa (lost to Northwestern 22-17)
Kentucky (beat W. Kentucky 41-3)
Lehigh (lost to Princeton 10-7)
Louisville (lost to UConn 26-21)
Marshall (lost to West Virginia 27-3)
Maryland (beat Clemson 20-17)
Miami, Fla. (lost to UNC 28-24)
Michigan (beat Wisconsin 27-25)
Michigan State (beat Indiana 42-29)
Minnesota (lost to Ohio St. 34-21)
Minnesota State (beat Winona St. 35-32)
Mississippi (beat Florida 31-30)
Morgan State (lost to Rutgers 38-0)
N.C. State (lost to South Florida 41-10)
Navy (beat Wake Forest 20-17)
Nebraska (lost to Va. Tech 35-30)
Nevada (beat UNLV 49-27)
New Mexico (beat New Mexico St. 35-24)
New Mexico State (lost to New Mexico 35-24)
North Carolina (beat Miami, Fla. 28-24)
Northeastern (beat UC-Davis 27-10)
Northern Illinois (beat E. Michigan 37-0)
Northwestern (beat Iowa 22-17)
Notre Dame (beat Purdue 38-21)
Ohio State (beat Minnesota 34-21)
Oklahoma (beat TCU 35-10)
Oregon (beat Wazzu 63-14)
Oregon State (beat USC 27-21)
Penn State (beat Illinois 38-24)
Pitt (beat Syracuse 34-24)
Princeton (beat Lehigh 10-7)
Purdue (lost to Notre Dame 38-21)
Rutgers (beat Morgan St. 38-0)
South Carolina (beat UAB 26-13)
South Florida (beat N.C. State 41-10)
Stanford (beat Washington 35-28)
Syracuse (lost to Pitt 34-24)
TCU (lost to Oklahoma 35-10)
Tennessee (lost to Auburn 14-12)
Tennessee State (lost to Florida A&M 28-21)
Texas (beat Arkansas 52-10)
Texas A&M (beat Army 21-17)
UC-Davis (lost to Northeastern 27-10)
UCLA (lost to Fresno St. 36-31)
UNLV (lost to Nevada 49-27)
USC (lost to Oregon St. 27-21)
UTEP (beat Central Fla. 58-13)
Virginia (lost to Duke 31-3)
Virginia Tech (beat Nebraska 35-30)
Wake Forest (lost to Navy 20-17)
Washington (lost to Stanford 35-28)
Washington State (lost to Oregon 63-14)
West Virginia (beat Marshall 27-3)
Western Kentucky (lost to Kentucky 41-3)
Winona State (lost to Minnesota St. 35-32)
Wisconsin (lost to Michigan 27-25)
Wyoming (lost to Bowling Green 45-16)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What I'll remember about Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium is gone, and we've heard from many that all that's left of the place is our own memories. Here are mine:

The first time I ever went there was in college, in rather unusual circumstances. A friend of a friend found out he was being laid off one day; an anti-celebration celebration was quickly organized. I was in on the plan early in the afternoon when my friend Brion called.

"Hey," he opened. "What're you doing tonight?"

It was college. I was a poor student. The answer was obvious.

"Nothing," I told him.

"Wanna go see the Yankees?"

What, a bar run? Didn't we get MSG in Bethlehem, or was that just in Lehighton?

"No. Actually going to see them."

Well, OK then.

A few hours later, I was in an old Caravan with several other guys, bound for the Bronx.

We drove over the GW Bridge and down the Major Deegan, took the exit and parked pretty close. We managed to get a group of tickets together behind the first base line and watched now-disgraced Roger Clemens pitch for New York; Kenny Rogers - never much friendly so it's hard to call him disgraced - threw for Texas.

I remember walking through the tunnel and getting my first glimpse of the field; it was overwhelming. Even if you despised the Yankees, it's hard to not be amazed at Yankee Stadium. As I walked in, my mind flashed through all of the players that had played on that field: Gehrig. DiMaggio. Mantle. Larsen. Jackson.

Hell, it's the House that Ruth Built.

All of them played on the patch of field before me. Wow.

The second time I went back, I was with my parents and we saw Milwaukee. I had to think a little bit; interleague didn't begin until I started working (I know, because I covered the Phils' first-ever interleague game against Toronto), and I believe I was still in college when i went to the second game. So Milwaukee would've still been an American League team.

That time was just as special, since it was the one time I visited Monument Park in left field.

They can build it bigger and they can build it better - as the new Yankee Stadium is bound to be - but they can't build history into it.

I saw two inconsequential games, both in an inconsequential part of the season. But I saw them, and I saw the stadium.

I can't wait to tell my grandkids about it. Old Yankee Stadium will sound as ancient to them as Shibe Park did to me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CFB Viewing Report: Week 4

A full day of unadulterated football. So it's going to be a long list...

Alabama (beat Arkansas 49-14)
Air Force (lost to Utah 30-23)
Akron (beat Army 22-3)
Arizona (beat UCLA 31-10)
Arizona State (vs. Georgia)
Arkansas (lost to Alabama 49-14)
Army (lost to Akron 22-3)
Auburn (lost to LSU 26-21)
Ball State (beat Indiana 42-20)
Boston College (beat UCF 34-7)
BYU (beat Wyoming 44-0)
Central Florida (lost to BC 34-7)
Central Michigan (lost to Purdue 32-25)
Chadron State (beat Colorado St.-Pueblo 32-0)
Colorado State-Pueblo (lost to Chadron St. 32-0)
East Carolina (lost to N.C. State 30-24, OT)
Florida (beat Tennessee 30-6)
Florida Atlantic (lost to Minnesota 37-3)
Florida International (lost to South Florida 17-9)
Florida State (lost to Wake Forest 12-9)
Fresno State (at Toledo)
Georgia (at Arizona St.)
Georgia Tech (beat Miss. State 38-7)
Indiana (lost to Ball St. 42-20)
Indiana State (lost to No. Illinois 48-3)
Iowa (lost to Pitt 21-20)
Iowa State (vs. UNLV)
Kansas (beat Sam Houston St. 38-14)
Louisiana Tech (beat SE La. 41-26)
LSU (beat Auburn 26-21)
Miami, Fla. (beat Texas A&M 41-23)
Michigan State (beat Notre Dame 23-7)
Minnesota (beat Fla. Atlantic 37-3)
Mississippi State (lost to Ga. Tech 38-7)
Montana (beat UC-Davis 29-24)
N.C. State (beat East Carolina, 30-24, OT)
Navy (beat Rutgers 23-21)
North Carolina (lost to Va. Tech 20-17)
Northern Illinois (beat Indiana St. 48-3)
Northeastern (lost to Syracuse 30-21)
Northwestern (beat Ohio 16-8)
Notre Dame (lost to Mich. St. 23-7)
Ohio (lost to Northwestern 16-8)
Ohio State (beat Troy 28-10)
Penn State (beat Temple 45-3)
Pitt (beat Iowa 21-20)
Portland State (lost to Wazzu 48-9)
Purdue (beat Cent. Michigan 32-25)
Rice (lost to Texas 52-10)
Rutgers (lost to Navy 23-21)
Sam Houston State (lost to Kansas 38-14)
SMU (lost to TCU 48-7)
Southeast Louisiana (lost to La. Tech 41-26)
South Carolina (beat Wofford 23-13)
South Florida (beat Florida Intl. 17-9)
Syracuse (beat Northeastern 30-21)
Temple (lost to Penn St. 45-3)
Tennessee (lost to Florida 30-6)
Texas (beat Rice 52-10)
Texas A&M (lost to Miami, Fla. 41-23)
TCU (beat SMU 48-7)
Toldeo (vs. Fresno State)
Troy (lost to Ohio St. 28-10)
UC-Davis (lost to Montana 29-24)
UCLA (lost to Arizona 31-10)
UNLV (vs. Iowa St.)
Utah (beat Air Force 30-23)
Utah State (beat Idaho 42-17)
Virginia Tech (beat UNC 20-17)
Wake Forest (beat Florida St. 12-3)
Washington State (beat Portland St. 48-9)
Wofford (lost to South Carolina 23-13)
Wyoming (lost to BYU 44-0)

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Friday night...

In now 12 years of covering football, there seems to be one constant: The weather takes a turn south starting with Week 3.

When I was on the computer this afternoon, the Weatherbug temp seemed to be stuck around 74. This was in mid-afternoon when, in the not so recent past, we were much further up the thermometer.

I have long sleeves on for the first time since I don't know when. It's just a simple button-down shirt, but still.

I'm out in Manassas, and left the house at an appropriate time to be here. In order to avoid the frustration of Friday traffic, I took several back roads that - on more than one occasion - made me think I was back in Carbon County driving to a game. But such is the wonder of local knowledge and GPS.

On the way, I stopped in our Manassas office to take care of some quick office work, nothing major. As I walked outside, the sun was dying to the west, the air was cooler and the streets - normally much busier - were near silent.

I felt alone. It's a common feeling on days like this at a time of year like this.

The start of everyone else's weekend is simply a continuation of our workweek; obviously you know this when you sign up for this job, but the reminders, though infrequent, can be painful.

My wife's out at happy hour, getting just a little more visiting with our dear friends Andrew and Rebecca, who trek back to Phoenix tomorrow. Occasional commenter Donna says she's headed to Old Town.

And here I am.

I have no doubt that, some years down the line, young Drake will develop a love of Duck football and maybe he'll think he can cover them. I hope I'll be there to give him a lollipop and distract him from such silliness.

Eight minutes to kickoff. I guess I'd better start paying attention...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is anyone home?

(A political rant below, if any of you are averse to such things.)

How's this for a stunner? Democratic veep pick Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) told Good Morning America that it's "patriotic" for the wealthy to pay more taxes that, in the Obama-Biden administration, would be used to help offset tax cuts for the middle class.

Good Lord... where to begin.

How about with semantics? It's not patriotic. Patriotic is believing, truly believing, what our country stands for and doing what you can, as a citizen, to support and promote those ideas. Patriotism is something that all of us, left and right, can agree on: Jefferson's principles about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Respecting the rule of law, even if you don't agree. Supporting our troops and all the sacrifices they make to protect us. That's patriotism.

Patriotism is not policy.

All that, of course, says nothing of the exaggerated idea of wealth redistribution. My wife and I are not rich; barring an unexpected lottery win, we will not be rich. So this whole Robin Hood ideal is quaint, but barely realistic.

Let's imagine for a moment Obama gets elected and this policy is enacted. Now, other folks are penalized to give me a few more bucks to throw around. Let's say, for instance, I decide to save that money. As an average citizen, I put the money in the bank - which is probably a large national or regional bank, like PNC, BB&T or Bank of America - which it uses to help make loans to others at much higher rates than what I get back. That makes money for the bank, which is run by wealthy individuals who get a cut of that money in either salary or bonuses. (In truth, we belong to a small credit union, yet I don't think the people running the credit union drive Kias.)

Let's say, for instance, I'm your average guy and want a shiny new techno-gadget or a new game for the 360. What am I going to do? I'll take that money to Best Buy or Circuit City and buy something. That money, in turn, helps the bottom line (however incrementally) of billion-dollar international retail outlets, which pay their executives a great salary and good bonuses because I decided I wanted something shiny from Best Buy or Circuit City. Moreover, the manufacturer gets a cut of that, possibly taking the money out of the country and making rich people even richer.

Let's say, for instance, I want to get ahead on bills. That means more money headed into the direction of the following: Verizon Wireless (Verizon's market capitalization: just shy of $93 billion); Washington Gas (market cap: $1.73 billion); Cox Communications (a privately-held company, but in 2005 made a sale to another company that brought in $2.55 billion); DirecTV (owned by Liberty Entertainment Group - market cap: $12.31 billion); XM Radio (now a part of XM-Sirius - market cap: better than $3 billion); and Carmax (market cap: $3.35 billion).

So, no matter which way I turn, I'd be giving that money right back to a large corporation, which are mostly run by rich people, who - per this policy - gave me the money in the first place.

Wealth redistribution is a myth, particularly in a capitalist society.

But here's what bugs me most about Biden's idea of patriotism: The money from the rich folks is supposed to come to me.

I live in a decent suburban house with a wonderful wife (happy birthday, honey) and two cats. I drive an Explorer (though I wish I drove a Stratus so I could exclaim it like this guy) and have enough to indulge in a newfound wine passion. Yeah, money is tight, particularly after we bought the house; but I can make it for however long it takes to pay off said Explorer.

So why, exactly, does Biden want to give money to me? I live a good life with few complaints.

Why not give the money to people who really need it? Like the lower class or the lower-middle class, people who struggle to pay bills on a regular basis. People living below the poverty line. The homeless.

There are people out there who are a lot worse off than me, through no fault of their own. Why are they not at the front of the line? Why me? I could use the money, but I don't need it. Lots of other people need it. Why don't they get consideration?

Oh, right. We don't pander to the lower class.

My bad.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

RIP, Whiskey's

Mark passed along the sad news today: One of the venerable watering holes in Ketchum is no more.

He lamented the fact that he had spent so much time in that place. Mine was severely limited, as I've only been in the Hailey-Ketchum area once in my life.

But the one time I made it there, Whiskey's was on the itinerary.

A few years ago (Really? It's years with an 's'? Seems like yesterday...) we were in town for Mark and Maya's wedding. We got a brief taste of the town during our stay: The bars that I remember were Whiskey's, one with a lot of college kids and a third that several of us had (liquid) lunch in.

So I'm bad with names. It's the experience that counts.

Anyway, I do hope Whiskey's rebounds, though at the moment it's in shambles. When Mark talked about all the time he had spent there, I flashed back to JP McGillicuddy's in Bethlehem. It was a good-sized restaurant right across the street from our football stadium; they had 70-some beers on tap and I did my damndest to get through the whole stock. And I have yet to have wings that compare to theirs: huge and never lacking for a lip-smacking (and gastrically potent) hot sauce.

Apparently it was done in by a dual problem of letting minors in and not paying taxes. Not a good combo. The owner started a new place, PJ McGrady's, which apparently is still kicking on Bethlehem's south side, near Lehigh.

Whiskey's came to a more abrupt end (though one can only hope it gets rebuilt). That makes it all the more sad.

Here's hoping Whiskey's rises from the ashes. In a couple decades, I'm going to need a place to buy my nephew a beer.

Monday, September 15, 2008

CFB Viewing Report: Week 3

A little late, I know. And the viewing was a little limited because our dear friends Andrew and Rebecca were in town; we took Saturday to enjoy the evening with them.

We miss them dearly since they've moved to Phoenix, and spending time with them was way more important than me catching a game in the Utah-Utah State game.

And as I was typing, news flashed on screen: "(14:23) B. Westbrook up the middle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN."

Still making my way through the list, then this: "(10:34) (Field Goal Formation) N. Folk 47 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-L. Ladouceur, Holder-B. Johnson."

Sigh. "(8:59) B. Westbrook up the middle to DAL 34 for -1 yards. FUMBLES, RECOVERED by DAL-J. Ratliff at DAL 33."

Sigh. "(4:40) M. Barber right tackle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN."

We'll see what happens...

Anyway, on with it:

Arizona State (lost to UNLV 23-20, OT)
Buffalo (beat Temple 30-28)
BYU (beat UCLA 59-0)
Cal (lost to Maryland 35-27)
Chattanooga (lost to Florida State 46-7)
Clemson (beat N.C. State 27-9)
Duke (beat Navy 41-31)
East Carolina (beat Tulane 28-24)
Florida Atlantic (lost to Michigan St. 17-0)
Florida State (beat Chattanooga 46-7)
Georgia (beat South Carolina 14-7)
Georgia Tech (lost to Va. Tech 20-17)
Illinois (beat La.-Lafayette 20-17)
Iowa (beat Iowa St. 17-5)
Iowa State (lost to Iowa 17-5)
Lousiana-Lafayette (lost to Illinois 20-17)
Maryland (beat Cal 35-27)
Michigan (lost to Notre Dame 35-17)
Michigan State (beat Fla. Atlantic 17-0)
Minnesota (beat Montana St. 35-23)
Missouri (beat Nevada 69-17)
Montana State (lost to Minnesota 35-23)
N.C. State (lost to Clemson 27-9)
Nebraska-Kearney (beat Western St. 44-15)
Northwestern (beat So. Illinois 33-7)
Notre Dame (beat Michigan 35-17)
Navy (lost to Duke 41-31)
Nevada (lost to Missouri 69-17)
Ohio State (lost to USC 35-3)
Oregon (beat Purdue 32-26, 2OT)
Penn State (beat Syracuse 55-13)
Purdue (lost to Oregon 32-36, 2OT)
South Carolina (lost to Georgia 14-7)
Southern Illinois (lost to Northwestern 33-7)
Syracuse (lost to Penn State 55-13)
Temple (lost to Buffalo 30-28)
Tulane (lost to East Carolina 28-24)
UCLA (lost to BYU 59-0)
UNLV (beat Arizona St. 23-20, OT)
USC (beat Ohio State 35-3)
Virginia Tech (beat Ga. Tech 20-17)
Western State (lost to Nebraska-Kearney 44-15)

indicate a non-Division I game.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Uh, Carter Beauford's really good

After the sad death of Dave Matthews Band saxophonist LeRoi Moore, I was reminded of a video I had seen months before. It wasn't of Moore or anything, but another of the guys in DMB: drummer Carter Beauford.

The guy's incredible. I say that as someone who played as a kid and prayed frequently that one day I'd wake up to a Tama rage cage with double bass, more toms than I knew what to do with and cymbals hanging from the rack by a chain. (Mick Brown totally had the right idea.)

As proof, I'll offer up this doozy. Apparently he's making some sort of documentary or instructional video and he plays along with the studio version of Ants Marching. Since the camera's exclusively on him, he can showboat a little (which he does) and play much more intricate fills than he does on the released version (which he does).

The clip's on Google video, so no embedding here, sadly. But here's the link.

The first minute is pretty tame; the nature of the song pretty much determines that. But at the minute mark (:55, actually), Beauford starts getting into it. The standard beat on the song is pretty easy, but at :55, he fluffs up some of the fills with some syncopation and an off-beat accent on the partially open hi-hat.

It's not easy. Drumming is about rhythm, and the fill from :55 to 1:03 is anything but. It's intentional, of course, and impressive to watch a pro pull it off.

He cools it out again for a little while. At 1:45, he makes use of the full complement of equipment by using the small 'splash' cymbals. While it's hard to tell there, those little guys can make an interesting sound.

At 1:49, his fill is quite difficult, giving you a quick hit on the snare, chilling on the hi-hat and coming back with the crash, right on time.

When they pull back for the wider shot at 2:33, you can see an odd-shaped cymbal in the upper right; it looks like it's inside out. It's called a China, and adds a different kind of sound, as you can hear. He comes back to it again later.

The fill at 2:58 might be my favorite. It utilizes the low toms by themselves for effect, which you don't often see in pop music. Usually they provide more of a rhythmic background (think of the trippy bridge in 'Welcome to the Jungle', here at 3:24), so it was nice to see them stand on their own.

A few seconds later, my favorite technical piece: He uses his right hand to take down the toms and the splash cymbals. Speaking from my own lack of expertise, that would be something I'd need two hands to do. Beauford needs only one, and is pounding on a cymbal on the left with his other hand. But then again, that's why he's a world-famous musician.

The fill coming out of the bridge at 3:42 is also impressive. Quick hands are a necessity.

At 3:51, he rides the toms up and down. I've always thought that was underused in pop music; it seems like you can get a wonderful effect when you go against the grain like that. Out of the fill, he puts the China on display, and you can really hear the difference from a normal crash.

The showboating's at 3:58. Nothing hard about hitting cymbals the way he does, but it does make for a more flashy performance. And that's really what it's all about, right?

Even so, it's an impressive display of musicianship. Bravo, my friend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Killing time on a Friday afternoon...

A few weeks ago, I walked downstairs in my normal evening attire; shirts are only for the most important of occasions, such as the chance of me dribbling dinner down my chest.

"Go get some clothes," my wife urged. Her fear, she said, was that unexpected guests might pop by. All I'd have is my evening, uh, best.

Her fears were realized this week when I was relaxing after a short day. I was awaiting her arrival in my typical at-home attire when the doorbell rang. Now what?

I didn't have a shirt on. When I answered the door and found out it was a traveling salesman, I didn't care that I didn't have a shirt on.

Long story short (and believe me, it'll be a lot less painful for you, dear reader, than it was for me): His company, a new startup, was in the neighborhood and was looking for suckers homeowners who needed a renovation and they were offering free estimates and would I be around Saturday and if that wasn't convienent they were also around in the weekday evenings because they know how challenging everyone's work schedule can be.


The guy was all about signing people up. I was all about not being signed up.

I felt like I gave him plenty of outs. Did he have a brochure I could show my wife, we would discuss it and get back to him? Nope, he just ran out of brochures. So, for the second time, would I be around Saturday and if that wasn't convienent they were also around in the weekday evenings because they know how challenging everyone's work schedule can be.

In the meantime, Grace the cat takes advantage of the open door and runs outside. Still shirtless, I chase after her and shoosh her inside.

Silly me. I thought perhaps my frustration of having the cat run outside while several minutes into this high-pressure pitch was evident on my face. It wasn't. He didn't miss a beat, even as I scolded Grace.

My sigh or general look of disinterest would've been a clue to a more adept salesman. But, well, you do the math.

My final lifeline was to ask for a phone number. My wife and I would discuss it and I would be in touch if we wanted to pursue their offer. Well, he said, we're still a pretty new company and don't really have a phone number yet, but would I be around Saturday and if that wasn't convienent they were also around in the weekday evenings because they know how challenging everyone's work schedule can be.

"Then we're not interested," I said. "Take care." And I closed the door.

Ten minutes of my life I won't get back...

I don't mean to dismiss the guy or his job; it's got to be a tough job. But how, exactly, does he expect to be taken seriously when he shows up out of nowhere selling a product we don't need from a company I've never heard of that doesn't even have a phone number? And then I'm supposed to be sympathetic when he doesn't take a veiled 'no' for an answer?

Sorry. Next caller.

But hey, if you can make some kind of a credible sales pitch, maybe I'll put a shirt on for you.

-- OVER AT THE WINE BLOG, we're rapidly coming up on our centennial wine. I can't believe I've made it that far. And I can't believe just what that says about me... (cough cough L cough U cough cough hack cough S cough cough H hack cough, clears throat)

Anyway, I signed up with this outfit called BlogBurst which takes your blogs and distributes them to various media outlets that sign up for them. When one of your blogs goes through, it gets posted on a little side area of the page.

I thought it made sense to sign up the wine blog, since that's more focused than this one, which is just a whole mess of crap.

But the latest stats from BlogBurst about who put one of my snippets on their page: Chicago Sun-Times 845, Reuters 23, Computer Shopper 1.

That's exactly what the Windy City needs: To be exposed to another blowhard.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago

Remembering how my day unfolded on that terrible day...

I lived in Manassas then, the first of my now four addresses since I moved south. I lived in the dark basement which was always brutally cold in the winter; but I did have the benefit of Dish Network, which the house's owner proudly purchased.

It should be no surprise that I've always been a news junkie. When I was a kid and got shipped off to summer camp for a week, I enjoyed camp for what it was but hated the fact that I felt so out of touch with what was happening elsewhere in the world.

When I woke up that morning, the remote was nearby and I flipped on one of the news programs; I can't remember if it was CNN or our local CBS affiliate, which was my choice at the time before the quality dropped off dramatically a few years later. I remember being confused; the words didn't match the picture. There was quite clearly a fire at the WTC, but the on-air folks were talking aviation.

Later, when the two ends met, I was stunned, as we all were. I flipped between channels to see who was reporting what, but there was no chance I'd turn off the TV. (That same TV had served me well over the years, coming on board during college and serving as the broadcasting centerpiece in the Woodbridge bachelor pad.)

When the first tower fell, I was on WUSA's local coverage, since events at the Pentagon were unfolding. I'll never, ever forget hearing JC Hayward, a veteran anchor and a real pro, mutter only "Oh my God," as it fell.

Then reports came in about the doomed plane that was taken down in a quiet field in western Pennsylvania. One thing ran through my mind: Is this it, is this the big one? Are we all screwed? I mean, four planes in one day?

I was incredibly saddened and moped around for a few minutes. But I figured my best option was to get into work and see what needed to be done. As I drove, the traffic seemed heavy but moving, and I wondered if all the other people on the road were feeling as shitty as me.

Once at work, I managed to slap together a photo page for the special edition that we put out. It wasn't a prizewinner, but we were all still in a fog and just trying to do what we could.

That night, there were three of us back in our Manassas bureau. We all had slices of a larger story, re-connecting with people who had ties to NYC or the Pentagon. I talked with the parents of a kid then at NYU, one that was a pretty damn good soccer player and and an even better singer while in high school. He went on to bigger and better things.

Once we had all filed, I hoped like hell the nearby pub was open. It wasn't. I had just hoped to find someplace to drown the sorrows of the day, and I would have gladly run up a considerable tab that night.

Instead, I went home and tried to sleep.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go read this. Now!

Our friend Dave, the pilot, details his descent into Philly as Hanna nears the city.

It's not a fun flight for anyone. But Dave is able to recount the blow-by-blow of how he landed in a tropical storm, which I'm sure tested even the most veteran flyers on that aircraft.

To get a sense of what Dave experienced - and this is in lighter winds on a clear night - here's a cockpit view of a 767 coming into JFK.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Flashback: Tourneau

I drove for lunch yesterday when I was taken aback - in a good way - by a commercial I heard on our all-news talk station, WTOP.

The commercial itself wasn't anything flashy, nothing that would make you drop groceries to hear what was being said.

But it was one distinct word that caught my attention: Tourneau.

In the days of my youth, I got my television news from the 10 p.m. broadcast from WNYW, which is now the Fox affiliate in New York. Our cable system was such that channel 6 on our dial would broadcast WNYW programming until 11 p.m., when it changed to WPVI-6, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia. We didn't miss any network programming, since my hometown was located in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market.

Those were the rollicking days of New York, with former mayor Ed Koch, Bernhard Goetz ("Go Mets! Go Jets! Go Goetz!" the punchline in Mad read), Tawana Brawley, the cocaine and crack epidemic, racial tensions in Bensonhurst and, later, late mob boss John Gotti. Every night, there was a spate of headlines that made NYC feel a thousand miles away from our 5,000-person rural town.

WNYW always began its newscasts with this: "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" I can see some of the anchors and reporters as if it were yesterday. Perhaps you recognize the guy who appears in this clip at :17 and 1:30; he's on a network now, if just a little crustier. (If you couldn't guess, here you go.) Longtime anchor John Roland always came across as a pro, never overly dramatic, never needlessly hyping second-tier news. Every year, he would urge us to be careful with fireworks on Independence Day; and I'll never forget the night when a pre-recorded tease opened the news and Roland effortlessly brushed it off to get to the night's breaking news: the crash of TWA Flight 800.

I remember Nick Gregory from the weather (he's still there, too). Bill Mazer answered sports trivia questions every night from viewers; Carl White took over in 1991, but he was no Mazer. There were two guys who did commentary - Wiki IDs them as Dr. Martin Abend and Prof. Sidney Offit - who never agreed on anything. But I guess it was their job to get ratings.

Anyway, I remember much about the old Channel 5 newscasts. And I remember the commercials, too: Nobody Beats the Wiz. And discount electronic chain competitor Crazy Eddie (say it with me, his prices are IN-SAAAANNNNNEEEE). And who could forget Phil Rizzuto (RIP, Scooter) for The Money Store. (I also came across a Carvel ad, but I think that was more or a WWOR property.)

And then there was Tourneau. Back then, it was Tourneau Corner.

For all of the crazy news and wacky ads, nothing seemed so distant as Tourneau Corner.

What, I'd think, there's a store just for watches? And some of them cost a thousand dollars?!

There may well have been multiple locations, but I never saw an ad for Tourneau on any of the Philly stations. Now, they've got shops in most every major city in the country; the ad I heard the other day was for the shop at Pentagon City in Arlington.

In mere moments, I flashed back to my childhood and the wonders of living near a major city. I snapped back to that reality.

All because of a 30-second radio spot.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Analysis discernment

With the advent of 24-hour news, there has to be something that fills those hours. Yes, to some degree, news happens every single minute of the day. But news judgment, which should be our industry's common sense, dictates that very few of those news events matter to the populace at large.

So gives rise to the analyst, which helps fill the duller moments. And it's a tricky business.

We all have agendas. Hell, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think anyone out there gave a rat's ass what I thought. (That may well be the case, but I'll take my chances.)

Analysts are no different; they are experts in their field. But for some, those agendas take precedence over their analysis.

The easiest example of this would be a certain media outlet serving, implicitly, as an organizational mouthpiece. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, for example, recently purchased the region's top sports talk radio station; others have wondered openly whether criticism of the team would be neutered. Of course, those at the station say no, but it's a fair question.

It doesn't always have to be organization-wide, either. Which brings me to my least-favorite anaylst on any network that I frequently watch: this guy, whose name I cannot bring myself to type.

I have yet to see a moment of cogent analysis whenever he is on camera. CNN's other political analysts of either party seem to have little problem with this, the most basic aspect of their job. Republican strategists say that McCain is trying to achieve this, Democratic strategists counter that Obama will come back with that. Is it risky? Why is that this is important to be achieved? What's to be gained? What's to be lost?

You may get that from that guy, but whenever I've seen him, it comes in an offhand, dismissive manner. Instead, he cannot wait to jump all over whatever Democratic platform and decry what's so wrong with it.

I can figure that out for myself, thanks.

I'm watching to learn, to be informed, not to be persuaded. I'm looking for information, not beliefs. I'm looking for informed opinion, not outright bias.

He's the worst of the bunch. Sadly, the election is still two months away. That means two months longer of listening him blather on while failing to offer any significant insight.

But not for me. As soon as he comes on, I'm changing channels.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

CFB Viewing Report, Week 2

The TV signal managed to hold out in spite of the threat from TS Hanna. We missed HD broadcasts for much of the early afternoon, but the SD signal was much hardier and we weren't forced to miss any game action.

It was touch and go in the morning as the heaviest rains were moving in. We missed a fair portion of GameDay, but that wasn't a terrible loss. Well, it was for my wife, ever the Kirk Herbstreit fan.

(And by the way, is this a record? Three posts in one day?)

So, on with it, the rundown of who we caught in Week 2:

Air Force (beat Wyoming 23-3)
Alabama (beat Tulane 20-6)
Arizona State (beat Stanford 41-17)
Army (lost to New Hampshire 28-10)
Auburn (beat Southern Miss 27-13)
Boston College (lost to Ga. Tech 19-16)
Bowling Green (lost to Minnesota 42-17)
Buffalo (lost to Pitt 27-16)
BYU (beat Washington 28-27)
Central Florida (lost to So. Florida 31-24, OT)
Central Michigan (lost to Georgia 56-17)
Cincinnati (lost to Oklahoma 52-26)
Connecticut (beat Temple 12-9)
East Carolina (beat West Virginia 24-3)
Eastern Illinois (lost to Illinois 47-21)
Eastern Michigan (lost to Michigan St. 42-10)
Florida International (lost to Iowa 42-0)
Florida State (beat Western Carolina 69-0)
Georgia (beat Central Mich. 56-17)
Georgia Tech (beat BC 19-16)
Idaho (beat Idaho St. 42-27)
Idaho State (lost to Idaho 42-27)
Illinois (beat E. Illinois 47-21)
Indiana (beat Murray St. 45-3)
Iowa (beat Fla. Int'l 42-0)
Kansas (beat La. Tech 29-0)
Kansas State (beat Montana St. 69-10)
Kentucky (beat Norfolk St. 38-3)
Louisiana Tech (lost to Kansas 29-0)
Marshall (lost to Wisconsin 51-14)
Maryland (lost to MITSU 24-14)
Memphis (lost to Rice 42-35)
Miami, Ohio (lost to Michigan 16-6)
Michigan (beat Miami, Ohio 16-6)
Michigan State (beat E. Michigan 42-10)
Middle Tennessee State (beat Maryland 24-14)
Minnesota (beat Bowling Green 42-17)
Montana State (lost to K-State 69-10)
Murray State (lost to Indiana 45-3)
New Hampshire (beat Army 42-10)
New Mexico (lost to Texas A&M 28-22)
Norfolk State (lost to Kentucky 38-3)
Northern Colorado (lost to Purdue 42-10)
Notre Dame (beat San Diego St. 21-13)
Ohio (lost to Ohio St. 26-14)
Ohio State (beat Ohio 26-14)
Oklahoma (beat Cincy 52-26)
Ole Miss (lost to Wake Forest 30-28)
Oregon State (lost to Penn State 45-14)
Penn State (beat Oregon State 45-14)
Pitt (beat Buffalo 27-16)
Purdue (beat No. Colorado 42-10)
Rice (beat Memphis 42-35)
Richmond (lost to U.Va. 16-0)
San Diego State (lost to Notre Dame 21-13)
South Carolina (lost to Vandy 24-17)
South Florida (beat Central Fla. 31-24, OT)
Southern Mississippi (lost to Auburn 27-13)
Stanford (lost to Arizona St. 41-17)
Temple (lost to UConn 12-9)
Texas (beat UTEP 42-13)
Texas A&M (beat New Mexico 28-22)
Texas-El Paso (lost to Texas 42-13)
Tulane (lost to Alabama 20-6)
UNLV (lost to Utah 42-21)
Utah (beat UNLV 42-21)
Vanderbilt (beat South Carolina 24-17)
Virginia (beat Richmond 16-0)
Wake Forest (beat Ole Miss 30-28)
Washington (lost to BYU 28-27)
West Virginia (lost to East Carolina 24-3)
Western Carolina (lost to Florida St. 69-0)
Wisconsin (beat Marshall 51-14)
Wyoming (lost to Air Force 23-3)

EDITED to update with late-night scores. Hey, I was going to have a long day Sunday...

Calling bullshit

Did you see that flag at the end of the BYU-Washington game?

As a part of a Husky household, it's hard not to be emotional about that call. In case you missed it, Washington quarterback Jake Locker scored on a draw with two seconds remaining, pulling the Huskies within a point of a ranked, non-conference opponent.

The PAT should have been a no-brainer, as they usually are. Until someone noticed there was a yellow flag in the end zone. Locker was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the PAT was pushed 15 yards back. The kick was blocked, sending Washington to an unexpected loss (though it's very much a possibility they could have lost in overtime).

Locker dove over the goalline, popped up and dropped the ball over his shoulder, like he was trying to reach an itch on his back before proceeding to celebrate with his teammates. In the officials' view, this was unsportsmanlike conduct.

Except it wasn't.

Given the situation and the call, it was as horseshit a call as you'll see. Officials are supposed to be like reporters: never inject yourself into the story. Yet here we are, talking about how these officials decided a game on a questionable call at the game's ultimate moment. (And BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's interview after the game didn't help. "The rules are the rules," he said, but you can bet he'd have had a hernia if the flag didn't hand his team a win.)

Was it merely a misinterpretation of the NCAA's new, get-tough rules? Or was it just an awful call, limited only in scope by the game it affected?

There is a lot not to like about the NCAA. No other organization is so blind to reality; at postseason tournaments, the players are unfailingly referred to as student-athletes, yet there is at least some part of the population that is all of the latter and none of the former. The NCAA will always be happy to tell you how great and wonderful college athletics is, and yet when a situation contradicts that - as often happens - it's simply a rogue trying to gain an advantage.

And so with this, as the NCAA tries to crack down on showboating and me-first celebrations, taking a page from the No Fun League.

But I defy you to tell me that Locker's celebration was worthy of a penalty. Tell me that, at the moment of the touchdown, all the Cougar fans back in Provo or SLC pointed to the TV and screamed, "That should be a penalty!!!"

You can't, because you didn't. No right-minded person would have.

Washington got jobbed. Even the most frothing Wazzu or Oregon fan could not help but agree on this, not if they were being honest and not just putting on a show.

They were Pac-10 officials, and a statement from that league ought to be forthcoming. I won't advocate suspension or expulsion for this crew, but the Pac-10 simply must remind its officials that, in the end, common sense must prevail.

Because Lord knows we can't count on the NCAA for such a thing.

Hola, Hanna

I thought of my brother-in-law, Mark, this morning. Funny that we should hear from him.

We've talked from time to time about weather, and just the radical climatological difference between his home region and mine.

I won't pretend to be any sort of expert on the Hailey/Ketchum, Idaho metro area, but my limited personal and anecdotal evidence suggest it's cold as balls. Snow hanging around late into spring, that sort of thing. When we visited for Mark and Maya's wedding, the nights were winter-jacket appropriate - which was rather jarring for me, considering it was October.

That's not severe weather, of course, just a simple climatological difference. But in the Northwest and into the Mountain West, wildfires are a constant threat. That's some scary stuff; we had a small one (by Western standards) a few miles from my house during high school. It was eerie to watch; though it was no threat to people or property, there was an overwhelming sense of helplessness, knowing that you could do little to change the fire's mind if it wanted to go somewhere.

The Northwest also deals with the occasional earthquake and the rarer volcano eruption. Pretty wild. Or so it seems to someone whose feet have been firmly entrenched in the Mid-Atlantic.

But I've been able to come back with some weather events that make our fair region formidable. Some areas of the Northwest can get humid in the summertime, though there's no comparison to the oppressive levels we can deal with here. That humidity has a tendency to kick up some wicked thunderstorms; 'bad' thunderstorms have a completely different meaning there than they do here.

And there's the occasional tornado, the most frightening of our weather events. Thankfully, they're rare; we had one earlier in the year that dissipated before it reached us. Still, seeing your county fall under a tornado warning is an attention-grabber.

If that wasn't enough, sometimes we just get some freak of meteorology that happens to pound us all with snow. If you lived on the east coast in the early 90s, you probably remember the Blizzard of '93, which kicked ass in my hometown in Pennsylvania (which, understandably, was ill-suited to handle the volume of snow we received) to places further south (which, understandaly, were ill-suited to handle any significant snow). The Blizzard of '93 happened to be an especially strong Nor'easter, a phenomenon also unknown to those west of the Mississippi.

And then there are days like today. Hello, Hanna.

The west coast is unaffected by storms that have names. We'll get them once every few years, the last notable one being Isabelle, which cancelled my wife's surprise birthday party that year. We held out hope for a long time that we could give it a go, but we gave up when our area started falling under a state of emergency.

Today is pretty much a washout, as expected. NASCAR rightly called off last night's Nationwide race and tonight's Cup race, pushing both back until Sunday. While it would be a fine day to spend watching college football, the severe weather has disrupted our DirecTV signal, which remains my greatest frustration with satellite TV. Even the standard-def channels are gone, and for some reason, they seem to be hardier than the high-def channels.

So we don't quite know what we'll be doing today. Maybe there's a trip to a bar in our near future.

Just so long as we don't get patio seating...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

CFB Viewing Report: Week 1

I took Dylan Thomas' advice. Though his most famous poem dealt with a subject more weighty than summer's annual disappearing act, I did exactly as he requested. For three weeks, I fought like hell against the opening of NFL training camps. Now, over a month later, the beginning of a new college football season was coming, whether I wanted it to or not. By the time the opening weekend began - the only one in which college does not compete with the NFL - I had resigned myself to its arrival.

It's here. And time for me to give you a rundown of the games I saw. As was the case last year, the only way I count a game is if I saw at least one play from scrimmage. But there is a twist to this season; since our move and the subsequent addition of DirecTV (sports tier and GamePlan), our volume of games should increase dramatically. At the end of the season, we'll tally up all the games and conferences we saw and see if there's anything we can learn from it.

The fruits of that, however, won't be known until at least Week 3. Tonight, I wound up getting involved with a friendly poker game (finished third; the top two got paid, of course); next weekend, the Sprint Cup tour rolls into Richmond, which means there will be limited viewing opportunities.

With all of that in mind, here's the Week 1 rundown:

Akron (lost to Wisconsin 38-17)
Appalachian State (lost to LSU 41-13)
Bowling Green (beat Pitt 27-17)
California, Pa. (beat West Chester 44-32)
Coastal Carolina (lost to Penn State 66-10)
Colorado (beat Colorado St. 38-17)
Colorado State (lost to Colorado 38-17)
Delaware (lost to Maryland 14-7)
East Carolina (beat Va. Tech 27-22)
Florida (beat Hawaii 56-10)
Fresno State (beat Rutgers 24-7)
Georgia (beat Ga. Southern 45-21)
Georgia Southern (lost to Georgia 45-21)
Hampton (beat Jackson St. 17-13)
Hawaii (lost to Florida 56-10)
Illinois (lost to Missouri 52-42)
Indiana (beat W. Kentucky 31-13)
Iowa (beat Maine 46-3)
Jackson St. (lost to Hampton 17-13)
LSU (beat Appalachian State 41-13)
Maine (lost to Iowa 46-3)
Maryland (beat Delaware 14-7)
Michigan (lost to Utah 25-23)
Missouri (beat Illinois 52-42)
Navy (beat Towson State 41-13)
Northwestern (beat Syracuse 30-10)
Ohio (lost to Wyoming 21-20)
Ohio State (beat Youngstown St. 43-0)
Oklahoma State (beat Wazzu 39-13)
Oregon (beat Washington 44-10)
Penn State (beat Coastal Carolina 66-10)
Pitt (lost to Bowling Green 27-17)
Rice (beat SMU 56-27)
Rutgers (lost to Fresno St. 24-7)
SMU (lost to Rice 56-27)
Southern Cal (beat U.Va. 52-7)
Syracuse (lost to Northwestern 30-10)
Tennessee (lost to UCLA 27-24)
Towson State (lost to Navy 41-13)
UCLA (beat Tennessee 27-24)
Utah (beat Michigan 25-23)
Villanova (lost to West Virginia 48-21)
Virginia (lost to USC 52-7)
Virginia Tech (lost to East Carolina 27-22)
Washington (lost to Oregon 44-10)
Washington State (lost to Oklahoma State 39-13)
West Chester (lost to California, Pa., 44-32)
West Virginia (beat Villanova 48-21)
Western Kentucky (lost to Indiana 31-13)
Wisconsin (beat Akron 38-17)
Wyoming (beat Ohio 21-20)
Youngstown State (lost to Ohio State 43-0)

Italics indicate a non-Division I game.

Edits to add Sunday games.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

CNN ticker people, you suck

A complaint just e-mailed to CNN:

CNN and staffers,

I am e-mailing to ask what happened to the scrolling ticker at the bottom. Not long ago, it was a good source to get the news of the day; now, it's merely a headline regurgitator, devoid of context and greater meaning.

Instead of getting a sense of the news, I now get a snippet. Instead of getting the five W's, I now get two - maybe.

I expect better from CNN. While I dearly hope I'm wrong, this new format comes off as a ham-handed way to fit more words on the screen at once.

Unfortunately, your online video archives don't include the scrolling overlay, so I cannot provide specifics. But clearly, the tone of the ticker has changed.

You should be elevating our discourse, not dumbing it down. Yet that's precisely what has happened, both in terms of content and execution.

Each sentence is barely more than a subject, verb and maybe a few modifiers. And that's when the whole word is written out; it seems that in this new format, every word that can possibly be shortened will be. "Weekend" becomes "wknd;" "attorney general" is reduced to "atty gen." Please leave the text-message speak for the kids.

Let's take a current event and use it to illustrate the differences: Sen. Obama's speech in Berlin, for instance.

What I could have expected to read on the old version of the ticker: "Barack Obama continues overseas tour with speech in Berlin today on mending fences with allies."

What I can expect to read on the current version of the ticker: "Obama to speak in Berlin tdy."

Please go back to the old way. From my perspective, all you manage to do is cycle through the full roster of headlines more quickly; once upon a time, I would read an item of interest and be disappointed when it got interrupted by a commercial break. I'd wait around until the next segment, then wait further until I could read the conclusion of the brief.

Now, you simply encourage me to pick up the remote that much faster.

This new version encompasses the worst aspect of television news: Squeezing the most into the least and if major details happen to get left out, oh well.

No one has an attention span longer than two minutes anyway, right?

Wrong. I expect better and, if CNN cannot (or chooses not to) provide that, I'll find other means of getting my news.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Posted without - er, with one comment

It's symbolic for me. And no, it has nothing to do with my wife, whom I love deeply and could not be happier with. The lyrics are metaphoric in a different way.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thanks for nothing, General Assembly

The rift between Northern Virginia and the rest of the Commonwealth is nothing new. The rural parts of the state live decidedly different lives than us in suburbia. Out there, life is quiet and uncomplicated; here, I hear a car or truck buzz by every few seconds at 11:42 p.m.

As the above story notes, geopolitical factions (in a micro sense) exist in our state government. Today, our legislature was supposed to hold a special session to figure out just how to fund our overwhelmed transportation system.

But does anyone really expect anything to be accomplished?

Gov. Tim Kaine (D) has one plan, which includes the raising of some existing taxes - notably, our sales tax and various vehicle-related fees. Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) wants to raise taxes on gas. Republicans in the House of Delegates, a group largely comprised of those outside of Northern Virginia, are adamant about not approving any state-wide tax hikes.

Kaine's is the better of the two plans, though it would be interesting to hear Saslaw's defense of his plan in the fall come election time. With gas whizzing past $4 a gallon, it's not hard to envision Saslaw needing to polish up the resume. Kaine's plan is better, though still unadviseable in such a poor economy. Why not wait a few months to see if the economy improves and the populace can better withstand a tax increase? It's not like the roads will get any worse in a few months; they can't get any worse than they already are.

An important side note: One factoid in this Fox 5 story (click the first video) mentions that though we pay 40 percent of the taxes in the state, we would only receive 14 percent in return. Meanwhile, in a Lynchburg News & Advance editorial, the paper wonders: "Del. David Albo [R-Fairfax, my addition], a top member of the tax-hating wing of the House GOP, has a simple plan to solve his region’s problems: Simply change the funding formula and send state money to the transportation districts based on population. Want to venture a guess how the rural Lynchburg District would fare under that plan?" I suppose that the fine people of Lynchburg have a greater right to my tax dollars than Interstate 95, which I drive daily.

Not that any of that matters. The House Republicans, meanwhile, continue to show their nonchalance at the challenges we face every day. Ostensibly, their job is to govern the Commonwealth for the benefit of all; but here we are, hoping desperately they'll throw us a crumb while they stand back and laud their principles. The time has long passed for grandstanding, gentlemen.

I suppose cutting spending in other areas wouldn't be an option. Surely our friends in the legislature don't employ too much pork-barrel spending, do they? Our attorney general wants an audit to make sure the Department of Transportation uses its money efficiently; such an audit would surely cost the Commonwealth in financial and human resources that we don't really have.

Virginia's General Assembly got us into this mess. It's their job to dig us out. But that won't happen, not as long as William Howell and his cohorts are allowed to punt the issue for the umpteenth time. It won't happen as long as Kaine, Saslaw and the Democrats can't come up with any sort of alternative that, even if only temporarily, can stop the bleeding.

It's all about principles, even as we suffer through another day of clogged roads and no hope. Another day of being held hostage by our supposed leaders, many of whom derive a fair portion of their paychecks from our region's taxes. Yet they are unaccountable to us, and unwilling or unable to recognize that their misguided indecision has tangible effects.

The great unwashed pay the price for their principled stands. Compromise is unbecoming.

How I dearly wish I could vote against the lot of them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Something to dull the mind

Monday was not a happy day for those of us in the industry we're in. The news, literally and figuratively, gets worse and worse.

It's heartbreaking for those who walked out of the office on Monday for the last time, the winners of a lottery that makes us all poorer.

But we trudge on as best we can, hoping that we'll have a job tomorrow and the next day and the next day... but always wondering when our number will be up.

In order to kill the pain and forget about our life for a moment, I offer this. My screensaver at work offers a choice of 73 photos for passersby the take a look at. Here's each of the 73 as a way to catch a glimpse into someone's life:

1. An overhead shot (from several thousand feet) of Washington National Airport (DCA)
2. A long exposure of a DCA takeoff at night, red lights lifting off from runway 31
3. In-flight photo on short final into Philadelphia (PHL), showing the Philadelphia sports complex
4. An interior photo of a silhouetted passenger inside the terminal at DCA
5. Long final into the fog at San Francisco (SFO)
6. A worker carts a load of bags at Portland (PDX)
7. The tail of a Qantas 767 with a 747 takeoff in the background
8. Wine being poured out of a holding tank
9. Unidentified 747 on short final into London Heathrow (LHR)
10. Virgin Atlantic 747 takeoff at LHR
11. Header attempt in front of net at a UEFA game; keeper punches out
12. Bob Barker in front of the venerable Plinko board
13. A Champions Tour golfer putting at Sunriver, with Mt. Bachelor in the background
14. Overhead shot of the terminals at Newark Liberty (EWR)
15. Lineup of long-haul planes at Tokyo Haneda (RJTT)
16. Man lighting up a cigar
17. High shot from behind home plate at PNC Park, with downtown Pittsburgh in the background
18. Employees share a hug as they board Delta's new 777
19. Northwest 747 as seen from inside the terminal at Detroit (DTW)
20. Branded Northwest winglet, as seen in flight
21. Man holding two beers on a bartop
22. Asante Samuel's introductory press conference with Eagles coach Andy Reid and owner Jeff Lurie
23. Rows of wine grapes in Oregon
24. United 747 just after liftoff at SFO
25. Plate of Buffalo wings, celery and beer in the background
26. A winemaker walks through her vineyard in France
27. Cork and cap from French wines
28. GTA4 screenshot: Niko firing from behind a bullet-riddled car
29. Billboards advertising GTA4 release
30. GTA4 screenshot: Niko with an RPG
31. GTA4 screenshot: Niko looks over his shoulder
32. Unidentified customer plunks down money for a copy of GTA4
33. Emergency landing on I-81 in southwest Virginia, near sign that reads: "Va. Highlands Airport, next exit"
34. Empty I-95 in central Philadelphia with center city in the background
35. Giant doors leading to the Guinness factory
36. Balloonist cruises past Mt. Bachelor
37. A Mariners player works on his bunting during spring training
38. Monaco F1 race: Ferrari driver maneuvers through a chicane
39. Monaco coastline with street course in view
40. Monaco near start/finish line
41. Va. Tech coach Frank Beamer speaks to a few reporters at Richmond International Raceway
42. Green flag at Auto Club Speedway as drivers speed past
43. Daytona 500 racing on the backstretch, near an Airtran MD80
44. Daytona's massive grandstand as night falls
45. Sprint Cup haulers parade down The Strip in Las Vegas, near a billboard for Lance Burton
46. Barack Obama campaigns in central Oregon
47. Man dressed up as a pint of Guinness; the costume was later stolen
48. Vijay Singh gazes out to sea at Pebble Beach
49. Running back tries to break away from defenders at Oregon spring practice
50. Kayaker prepares to enter the Deschutes River
51. Golfer tees off at the par-3 seventh at Pebble Beach
52. Surfer on the waves near Pebble
53. Pelicans crowd the top of a waterfall fountain in Portland
54. Philadelphia's famous Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River
55. Ryan Howard homers off a hapless Pirates pitcher during spring training
56. Golfer walks toward the island green (par-3 17th) at TPC Sawgrass
57. Flyers players celebrate a goal against Ottawa
58. South Park's four main characters around a campfire
59. Singapore Airlines' new A380 lands
60. Kegs of beer on a truck at Euro 2008
61. Korean DMZ with border markers in view
62. Vineyard in Spain with mountains in the background
63. Idaho thaws with melting snow in the low ground with snow-capped mountains in the background
64. Stealth fighters fly overhead in a group of three
65. A Starbucks store in Seattle
66. Construction site with downtown Reno in the background
67. Portland's Rose Garden
68. The storefront for Powell's Books in downtown Portland
69. A ferry crosses the water in front of the Space Needle in Seattle
70. Traffic stopped at a checkpoint on the Venezuela-Columbia border
71. American vineyards
72. Air circulator in vineyard
73. A snowplow works in futility at a messy Logan International (BOS) in Boston

So there you have it. A little glimpse at the images that put my mind at ease... Lord knows we need plenty of that these days.