Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Welcome Back Snow!

Finally, some snow. I must admit, I think it's wonderful. I may have told you that last Janurary I bought this beat-up toboggan off some Canadian guy in an old pick-up that looked like it had dog cages in the bed. I found it through an ad in the classifieds and the transaction took place one evening in the Home Depot parking lot. When I got the thing home, it was in worse shape than it appeared in the dark, but for $35, I definitely had a solid piece of wood I could work with. I think I invested about $10 in some screws, cut up an old belt for leather strapping material, and put a few hours worth of manpower in. After a couple test runs, I decided we needed a pad and ordered one off E-bay. A couple weeks later it arrived, and what do you know, it stopped snowing...until now that is.

I was out of town when the initial couple feet hit, but arrived back home Friday. By Sunday, we were up at Erie Golf Course. Must have been about 50 people there around sunset time, and we were all cruising down the ice covered slopes - if you remember there was some freezing rain that day. Well, we took it easy and made a few runs down one of the remedial slopes, but we were still moving pretty good. Then, last night, as we got hit hard with fluffy snow - it seemed like the perfect time to try out my new/old sled at Frontier. I figured on a Tuesday, the crowds would be sparse and the new-fallen snow would keep the track slow enough that I could still work out some kinks.

Now, as it kept snowing, it became clear that maybe one shouldn't take to the roads for something as frivilous as a sled ride, but something kept pulling at me. It was almost like that old toboggan was calling me from the garage. I kept trying to find excuses not to go, but after taking out the garbage and shoveling the walks and driveway, I found myself waxing her up with a piece from an old candle. I leaned her against the car and waited. The snow was falling heavily and thickly, and I went inside to check on my son and see if he still wanted to go. After some chaos involving him not wanting to go in the basement himself to get his coat, we headed out. I don't think the wife was all too happy, as I was leaving her with a baby and my daughter who was too tired to go out, but as I said, I was being called.

We negotiated through a near-white out to get to Frontier and found ourselves on hill with a couple drunken teenagers on snow boards. The snow was so thick, that on the first ride down, its spray blinded me, but my instincts had proven correct and we made it down at a nice cruising speed without hitting any jumps. After we wore a path, the spray decreased and we picked up speed. We just went down about four times, but that was enough for me to learn what I needed to about the old toboggan. As I get a better feel, I expect to be able to go faster and take more chances.

But, regardless of all that, it was an absolutely beautiful night at the park. I'm not sure where all the ambient light was coming from, but its reflection off the snow gave the whole place a wonderful night-time glow and the heavy falling snowflakes and peaceful setting surrounded by trees created a winter paradise. Yeah, the snow gets a bad rap, but when you haven't had it for awhile...boy, was I starting to miss it. Last night reaffirmed why. Welcome back snow! Erie in the winter is not such a bad place after all.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Colts/Patriots, Eastside/Westside, Yin/Yang

That was your Super Bowl ladies and gents. We saw it all yesterday. A real knock-down, dragum' out affair, complete with a great comeback and vindicated heros - Manning and Dungy - two guys who have always come up short in the big game, but have now teamed together to finally make it to Football's biggest stage.

Remember, last week, we got into the whole Chargers/Patriots - Eastsider/Westsider parallel. Well, here's my take on this week's outcome, in relation to that theory - with a little dressing added on top: The Patriots have gone too Westside. Tom Brady, from what I heard, is dating actresses and supermodels, in other words, he's moved to Millcreek. This is not wrong in itself. After all, the Colts are historically, a Westside, offensive-minded team. However, the Colts have been balanced out by the hiring of Tony Dungy, a great Eastside, conservative mind, to run the team. And sure enough, the Colts defense kept them in the playoff tournament through two and a half games, before the offense finally opened up and showed its true colors in the second-half yesterday. Yes, the marriage of East and West can work beautifully. And here's why it didn't work with the Patriots, who really squandered their chances yesterday, similar to the way that Dr. Dee obseved the Chargers squandered theirs a week earlier: (Note: theme shift coming) - while the Colts have achieved the perfect balance of Yin/Yang through their marriage of East and West, the Patriots now rely too heavily on the Yang...

Bill Belichick has been seperated from his wife since 2004. The Patriots last Super Bowl win followed the 2004 season. I don't think this is completely coincidence. While some may say, great, this frees Bill up to work even more than his legendary long hours, I think it has also upset his balance. The Patriots have lost their female touch, or their Yin. Brady dating super models and actresses , who probably have more Yang than most men because of the competitive nature of their professions, doesn't help the situation either. Yes, the Patriots are built for war, but football is about more than war, it's also about properity and peace. You have know how to manage the entire game. The Patriots got off to a big lead, but then didn't have the motherly instincts to properly nurse it, and therefore gave it away so they could get back to the battle and satisfy their Yang instincts. Unfortunately, being constantly at battle uses up too much energy, and the announcers noted several times that the Pats looked tired down the stretch.

Now, the Colts, have historically been a "soft" team, having too much Yin, and their quarterback may be gay, for all I know. He sure is a helluvan' actor. Dungy brought the warlike, father-figure into the picture and laid down some loving discipline on the franchise. When the Colts offense couldn't get untracked trough the first two rounds of the playoffs, and through most of the first-half yesterday, there was no panic. No, Dungy applied a steadying hand to keep things calm, and he also got his Bob Sanders-led defense to carry the load with some hard-hitting Yanglike play. Then, when the offense blossomed in the second half yesterday, it was a thing of beauty. The warline Yang of the Colts defense had laid the groundwork for the Yin to bloom. The interception on the final play (not to mentioned the three runs to slam the ball into the end zone for the winning points) were evidence of the Yang protecting what the Yin had established...

No, the Bears don't stand a chance.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Troop Surge

Okay. It's time to go on record for or against the Bush Administration's proposed troop surge in Iraq.

I have been against the invasion of Iraq from the beginning for a variety of reasons:

For example, I thought the war against terror organizations needed to be fought by attacking their funding and through surgical military strikes against individually identified targets. I also thought international cooperation was critical. Declaring a costly, open land war against a country that did not attack us--without the backing of the China, Russia, France, Germany, Canada, or any Arab nation--was bad policy.

However, instead of creating coalitions, the US went against almost every major country in the world and invaded Iraq...and now we are left on an island. The deaths, the bloodshed, the $400 billion pricetag...all of it has led to this quagmire.

In addition, since this is primarily an ideological war, it must be fought for the hearts and minds of the people. Belive it or not, the Iranian demographic is fairly young and they want their iPods and blue jeans. They want to be friends with the West and we keep giving them the finger. In other words, the "war" with the Arab world is not being fought properly. Killing Arabs in Iraq, whether they be Sunni or Shiia, is not going to produce stability in the region.

Face it: The rehabilitation of Iraq has been poorly planned from the start. In other words, The Bushies planned for an easy win, but--like remodeling your bathroom--this project has been more difficult (and more costly) than expected.

That said, the US cannot simply walk away. There has been too much invested. Therefore, I support the proposal to send additional troops as long as there is a timeline. If, for example, there is no clear-cut progress by Labor Day, then "everybody out of the pool." They all come home. There's no more point in it.

I guess the thing that annoys me most is: What took them so long? Why is Bush talking about a troop surge now (four years into it)? Just because Republicans lost the elections? Is that what it takes to revise a strategy? For someone who can never admit a mistake, I guess it is. The man has mud in his ears.

So, there it is. Send in the additional troops and get the job done or get the fuck out right now. That's my position.

Sadly, I fear that more troops will be sent, more people will die, and the Iraq mess will not end until a new president takes office.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NFL Playoffs


Well, it looks like we both got knocked out last weekend. Baltimore and SD both lost. Of the two, the SD loss was particularly disappointing. The Chargers were not prepared for that game...and I can see why people label Schottenheimer as a "loser." His players repeatedly gave the game away.

I'm no pro football coach, but I can tell you that if I'm up against Bill Bellicheck, I'm going to go into the game with an Eastsider mentality. In other words, I would assume that the Pats are not going to be easily conquered. Therefore, every play would be contested and every advantage maximized. The Chargers, however, played like they were going to have a hundred chances at everything.

A muffed punt that the returner tried to pick up instead of just covering? Not against New England in the playoffs...they made him pay.

An interception that turned into a fumble because the interceptor tried to run directly into traffic? Not against New England in the playoffs...they made him pay. He should have focused on protecting the ball, and not on making a big return.

In my opinion, the Chargers should have won that game easily. They certainly had the chances and the talent.

However, it appears that coaching was the biggest problem. SD was not ready to beat Bellicheck and the Pats, so they didn't.

As for the Baltimore Browns, I was glad to see them lose. They are a Steeler arch-nemesis, so fuck them.


The Sp"oils" of Iraq


You have asked, since the beginning, "Why did the US really invade Iraq?"

One oft-repeated reason is to "bring democracy to the Middle East." Bullshit. We spend $400 billion and 3029 American lives so that Iraqis can vote? Does anyone support that kind of deal?

To fight terrorism? To depose Saddam? To find WMDs?

It's all trumped-up bullshit.

The reasons the US went into Iraq are money and oil. First, the guy who pushed hardest for the war was Dick Cheney, and the entity that has gained most from the war has been Halliburton.

Now, according to the The Independent, a British newspaper, "the Bush administration is heavily involved in writing Iraq's oil law, a draft of which the paper said it had obtained. The law would allow Western oil companies contracts of up to 30 years to pump oil out of Iraq, and the profits would be tax-free" (USA Today, January 16, 2006).

So, there you go. It is all about the sp"oils" of war after all.....and how dare we innocently wonder---after watching all of this go down---why some Arabs want to kill Americans. The US marches in with its army (under the guise of self-defense), kills thousands of their people, fails at providing adequate security, and then steals their oil on top of it.

Wow...our "leaders" are some serious assholes. All they care about is money and power. Maybe that's all there is...

I fear that, as a result of these policies, that we continue to be a nation held hostage to the interests of big business and big money. Innocent people will continue to die in the name of "national interest" while the weathy gain more wealth.

Survival of the fittest, eh, Ralph?

On it goes..........................

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Al Shugart

Just to get back to Big Al for a minutue, who Dr. Dee eugligized last month. Here's a great article from his local rag in Santa Cruz that kinda sums up his life and times. There are some great lines in here:

"When Seagate company policy banned smoking indoors, Shugart would go outside and chat with fellow smokers, some of whom had no idea he was the CEO."

"In 1996, Watkins, working at Conner Peripherals, opposed Seagate's acquisition of the company. He planned to bail out of the post-merger firm and lined up a job at Maxtor, a Seagate competitor. When Shugart found out, he arranged for a conversation and showed up in bellbottoms, red socks and sandals. Shugart didn't ask Watkins to stay, but Watkins canceled his move to Maxtor to work for Shugart."

"He left every day for work before 6 a.m. driving from his home in Pebble Beach, saying someone had to make the coffee."

It's not wonder the guy the guy was named the "Most Admired Man in the Industy" by DataStorage six times. I'd say "rest in peace," but I'm not sure Al would want total peace.



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Super Bowl Picks

OK, Ralph, it's time to go on record with your Super Bowl picks for 2006-2007.

It’s a tough call for me because I haven’t seen many teams play (other than Pittsburgh).

In the NFC, I’ll pick New Orleans. Chicago is tough, and should make it to the NFC Championship Game, but Rex Grossman makes key mistakes...he's sort of the Vinny Testaverde of The Midway.

Other NFC wannabes: Philly, Dallas, and Seattle, are all inconsistent. So, I’ll pick Chicago and New Orleans in the NFC Championship with New Orleans going to the Super Bowl on the last-minute heroics of Drew Brees.

In the AFC, I like San Diego. Although I’ve only seen them play once, LT seems very good. Plus, SD is 10-2 in the AFC! That's pretty impressive.

At the same time, New England--with Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck--are always tough at playoff time. Baltimore has the defense to win the Super Bowl while Indy does not, but can the Ravens score enough points? The AFC is more difficult to call than the NFC....better teams.

My final word on the AFC? I’ll say San Diego and Baltimore in the AFC Championship and San Diego going to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl pick: San Diego beats New Orleans 31-17.

Now that I've put the hex on them, they'll probably both lose in the first round...