Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Bowl week basketball thoughts

I wish the game were over already. It's bad enough that the Pats aren't in it, but the Colts? Ugh.

So, since I've been focused on footbal for the past five months, and ignoring other sports, I thought I'd take a look at my basketball teams to see how they are doing.


UConn has several "promising" players, but they have been losing quite a lot recently. Also, I don't really have much of a tie to Connecticut anymore since Mom moved to NOLA. I doubt my UConn allegiance will last forever. If/when Calhoun retires, what ties me to the school?

My "other" college team is Georgetown, and they're doing a bit better under JTIII, but I haven't followed them enough to know if they can make a Final Four run. I'm doubting it.

And then there are the Celtics. I looked at the standings and saw that not only have they lost their last ten games, but the only team in the NBA with a worse record is Memphis. And their top three scorers are all injured! Greg Oden sweepstakes, here we come! But as any long-suffering Celtics' fan will tell you, playing for the lottery sweepstakes is a bad idea. Even the worst team has relatively slim odds of getting the #1 pick. Back in the Duncan year, when the C's had two picks in the lottery and the highest odds of winning the Duncan rights, their odds were only about 30%. Now a lot of innumerates will say "they had the highest odds of winning, so it's surprising they didn't win". But, um, duh, they had a 70% chance of not winning the top pick! (And then, when they lost that shot, their odds of getting the #2 pick were actually lower, since the Grizzlies at the time were prevented by the rules from getting the #1 pick but were allowed to get the #2 pick.)

Anyway, the C's suck right now. I don't think they'll ever put together an exciting team under Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers. Of course the standard for the Celtics is "NBA finals at least".

Update: correction - the Celtics have now lost 13 in a row. Oh, and Paul Pierce was supposed to be out for "2 or 3 weeks" starting from some date in mid-December. Why, again, is Sebastian Telfair on this team?

Saturday, January 27, 2007


This film was surprisingly good. By "surprisingly", I mean, considering it was Emilio Estevez's project. The last film project of his I was aware of was "Men at Work", a forgettable film featuring himself and brother Charlie Sheen as a pair of fun-loving garbagemen. And I think the last I'd noticed anything of his career was when he was getting squished in an elevator shaft in Mission Impossible (not to be confused with either of the two sequels, all of which had identical plots).

Anyway, "Bobby" is a slice of life/ensemble film about a number of people at the Ambassador hotel in California on the day of the California primary in 1968, aka the day Bobby Kennedy was shot and the last day that an idealistic liberal had a shot at the White House, as far as I can tell.

I was just a few months old at the time. A lot of people cite it as the year idealism died in America.

Perhaps that's a bit melodramatic.

Anyway, the ensemble cast was pretty good. Some of the characters seemed a bit extraneous. I couldn't quite figure out what Anthony Hopkins was doing in the picture. But I suppose that was the point of his character. Some of the actors were notably good. WH Macy was excellent as usual, but I thought Sharon Stone was unusually good playing his wife. I think the movie was somewhat stolen by youngsters Shia Lebouef and Brian Geraghty, who play a pair of RFK volunteers who decide to play hooky on the door-to-door knocking and instead drop acid. I think this was the first Lindsay Lohan film I've seen: she was very good. I hope she doesn't waste her talent hanging around no-talents named Spears and Hilton. (To be fair, Britney Spears has a reasonable amount of talent - it's just not at singing. And I don't think she's clever enough to get away with having a career as a singer with that holding her back. But I digress.)

Anyway, there's not much more to say about the film. Ensemble films tend to suffer from being hard to sum up in a short blurb. In this case, the way to sum it up was to say that all of the characters seemed to be really deeply hurt by the shooting. I may be projecting here, though.

I think I'll read up on the assassination. Seems strange that RFK's entourage was ushered through the kitchen of all places. Doesn't it? I guess that was the quickest way out. But again, the security sucked, didn't it?

Yeah, this smells like another bad shooting.

I wonder if we'll ever have the proof about the Kennedy assassinations? Now that Howard Hunt has died, perhaps the truth will out?


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Colts 38 Patriots 34


The run is over. Winning two in a row on the road against the Chargers and the Colts was a bit too much for this damaged Pats team. On the whole a good season - a better season ultimately than the seasons of all but two other NFL teams. But when it mattered, the middle of the Pats' D simply could not stop the Colts' passing game. And so the Pats get to watch the Super Bowl from home.

Would the Pats have had these difficulties if they'd had Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau? If they'd had both of them, I don't think so. Seau isn't quite the LB he was ten years ago, but he's still a very intelligent player and was doing a great job in the middle before his injury. And Rodney Harrison would have been a Pro Bowler this year if he hadn't had his two injuries. The second one is particularly galling for Pats fans, since he had just come back from the broken scapula and then the stupid Titans hit his knee with a possibly illegal block. (The Pats maintain it was illegal based on the direction the block was happening.)

And the other annoying injury, one that doesn't quite get enough mention, is whatever the hell is wrong with Brady. Brady watchers noticed that he was inexplicably missing wide open receivers time and time again in the second half of the season. And of course, he was on the injury list every week. Kinda of a good hint that he's actually injured. Sure, Coach B is not above messing around with the injury list, but in this case I think something was actually going on.

Injuries are a part of football, and the Colts also had some to deal with. Bob Sanders had just come back from a serious injury and had revitalized their defense, and then in the game itself Peyton Manning clearly injured his thumb, to the point he was telling his backup to "Get ready".

Super Bowl preview:
Colts are going to slaughter the Bears. Give the TD, they'll probably win by more than 10 points. Super Bowls are almost always blowouts, and there's little reason to think this year will be different. If the Bears weren't missing two key defenders, I think they could stop the Colts offense - at least slow it down about as well as the Ravens did. But could they move the ball against the Colts?

That's still a question. The Bears have a good running game, and that may in theory be a problem for the Colts. But the Colts run defense has been much better in the playoffs.

And then there's the Bears' passing game. "Erratic" is too kind a word. But it's easy to make fun of Rex Grossman and forget that he has at least one very good receiver.

And thus endeth the attempt to convince myself that the Bears have any chance here. The Colts' offense is firing on all cylinder and I don't think the Bears are going to be able to bring enough of a pass rush to slow it down. Also, the Colts have been on the cusp of winning the Super Bowl for a few years now and they really want it bad. They are going to be highly motivated and will likely play mistake-free football.

When all is said and done, the Pats did the Colts a huge favor by taking down the one team that would have slaughtered them - the Chargers. So this is the Colts' year.

I might not stay up for the whole thing. I can't root for the Colts because, well, they're the Colts. And I can't root for the Bears because I still remember Super Bowl XX and because, well, I have a bet riding on the Colts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The world is my pantry

Anyway, I was really bummed yesterday morning when I woke up and realized I had left my copy of San Juan at the Shipwright Arms, where Swiggers has their Wednesday night gaming sessions. Forgetting things is an annoying habit of mine. And then as I was about to go to work, I realized that I had forgotten my running shoes at the Bloomsbury fitness club on Tuesday night. That really put me in a pissy mood. Usually I wait more than 48 hours between forgetfulness episodes.

Then I got to work and my boss Ziheng popped in to inform us that the entire cluster, which had been down for two days, was still down, and he think there's an error with the hard drive that has his data, my data, and Richard's data. He's "very happy" that he backs his data up every day.

I'm not very happy. The good news is that on Monday the last of my 3-week long jobs had finished, and I had copied all the needed output from the Linux cluster to my PC, so I could push it through Excel into something that would make a nice graph. The bad news is that the actual data is gone.

Working backwards, I talked to Richard before he left, and realized he still had all the alignments on his machine. Yay!

Then I went to the gym last night. I walked in and asked if they had my sneakers/running shoes/trainers. Nope, they said. *sigh* I'm out a $75 pair of New Balance shoes (which are more expensive here). Anyway, I get into the locker room and there are my shoes, on top of the lockers. Yay!

And when I got home, I got an email from a fellow Swigger who said he had my San Juan. Yay!

Looks like there's not all that much selection pressure against my forgetfulness. The world is quite happy to store my things for me, and let me collect them later.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Patriots 24 Chargers 21

I really didn't think the Patriots were going to win this game. San Diego was beating them up on both sides of the ball, and had cruised to an easy 14-3 lead. And then the Pats did one of their patented 2-minute drives to get a TD right before the half. Suddenly, after 30 minutes of football completely dominated by the Chargers, they were only up by 4 points.

Then, because I didn't want to be riding the N18 back to Harrow to get home at 3 a.m., I left the sports bar. I follwed the end of the game on a sopcast feed. Wow. Marty Schottenheimer really lived up to his reputation yet again. He's a great assembler of talent and great at winning regular season games, but just cannot win in the postseason. He's not good enough - it's that simple. There's no way the Pats should even have had a chance of tieing the game at the end, much less winning it with a FG. Given how thoroughly the Charger running game was dominating the Pats, how did the Chargers only score 7 points in the second half? Usually a team with a dominating running game just keeps running the ball, controlling the clock, and beating the other team to death. The final score should have been something like San Diego 35, New England 13.

Wow. It's weird watching the Pats have this run. As a Red Sox fan, I'm used to the jinx being on my team. Now with the current version of the Pats, they seem to have an anti-jinx, whereby they repeatedly win games that they don't quite dominate.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

the leaky ceiling and the cats

So, I get back to the UK on Thursday the 4th, and I'm horribly jet lagged. I nap an hour or two, unpack a bit, watch a bit of TV, and then try to get to sleep. At about 1:00 in the morning I start to hear a drip, drip from the kitchen.

I've noticed in the past that the kitchen ceiling tends to drip a bit from time to time. But this time it's really bad. After I put a pot under it to catch the water, I try to get back to sleep.

But the dripping is a bit too loud. After about 15 minutes, I get up and dump the water out - the pan has filled. Hmm...this doesn't bode well.

I look up at the ceiling and poke it a bit. Bad idea, now the water is literally streaming from the ceiling.

Have I mentioned that it wasn't raining and my flat is on the ground floor, with another flat upstairs? So it's a bit unusual to see water flooding into the kitchen.

At about 2 a.m., I think of my options and decide to call the landlord. In my mind, this qualifies as an emergency. He's annoyed but he agrees to come over. But first he has me wake up the guy upstairs to see if he (Steve) can see what the issue is.

So I wake Steve, who talks to the landlord, and assures him that there's no flooding upstairs. Steve then dashes upstairs and the dripping mysteriously starts slowing down.

I'm thinking Steve knows what is causing the dripping, but I cannot say for sure since I didn't go upstairs myself.

By the time the landlord shows up, the dripping which had been a stream fifteen minutes earlier, is now petering out. On the whole, something like 2-3 gallons came out of the gap between the wallpaper and whatever else is going on there.

In any case, the net effect of the landlord visit is that he notices the odor and the cat litter all over the place. He doesn't like it.

Yesterday evening I get notice that he wants his flat back in two months. *sigh*
I've never been evicted before.

Anyway, I left a message on his machine and we've pushed his resistance back to the level of I can stay until July, when this job is up, but the cats have to go. At this point I can kind of see his point - the flat was reeking of urine all week. The cat sitter who had been visiting didn't really do a great job keeping the odor down, and since it's the winter, I haven't had the windows open much for ventilation like I did in the summer.

So now I'm faced with the choice of finding a cat-friendly flat for 5 months (I think that would be impossible), convincing the landlord that the cats should be allowed to stay (I'm not optimistic) or finding a home for them from March to July.

Ain't life great!

The most curious thing about all of this is that I finally got a refill for my anti-depressants yesterday, so all I could think as I was going to sleep was "You know, I should feel much worse than I did 24 hours ago, but I feel much better." Chemical control of moods is a very strange thing. (BTW, SSRIs are not euphoric, like anti-depression medication used to be. They just mop up the crappy feelings. And they take a while.)

At some point I'll do a longer post about depression.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Turning 39 today. Happy birthday to me!