September 2007

Ups and downs of the week.

Red Sox – Sox take the division for the first time in years.

 Cubs – Cubbies clinch. I’d love to see a Sox/Cubs series.

 TGIF – I really need a break.

  Harvest Dust – My poor nose.

Water heater – Finally getting repaired (maybe this week finally?).

  Patriots – Best team in the NFL, but still carrying a stigma from a dumb move by management.

  Weather – Looks like a great weekend ahead.

Barolo – No wonder it’s so pricey. It’s goooood.

Ups and downs of the week.

Red Sox – need I say more?

Autumn – favorite time of year.

Twin City Honda – could they really be as bad as the BMW side?

Water heater – finally getting repaired.

Patriots – but will anyone ever think they won fairly?

  Doctor appointments – Showed up on time for my appt this morning, waited an hour to see the doc.

Countries I’ve visited. This doesn’t include countries whose airports I’ve been in and out of. If it did, Greece and Ireland would be red. Still, lots of the world still to see.

Here are the states I’ve been to. Again, no airport in/outs. I really need to visit the northern plains. Probably some of the most beautiful places and I’ve never managed to get there.

Strange as it may seem, the team with the best record in Major League Baseball the entire season, including tonight, will probably not win its division. The Red Sox lost again tonight after a good game by Lester was blown by Eric Gag-me. I don’t know how much the Sox are paying this meatball, but it’s too much. And why he was left in the game after walking in the tying run is a question that has no good answer. It’s like the Red Sox just don’t want to win. No such problem with the Yankmees, who smell blood in the water. The way things are going, they’ll end up winning the division by several games. The Sox will probably stagger into the post-season with the wildcard, only to be eliminated in 5 games by the first team they meet. Sadly, this is typical Red Sox baseball. With each passing year it seems more and more likely that 2004 was a fluke.   🙁

Here’s the brutal picture. Which team looks like the contender?


I was just getting into the Red Sox – Yankmees game yesterday afternoon when suddenly the screen went blank and a message that the “channel would be available shortly” came up. After waiting 30 minutes or so, I called Mediacom to find out what was going on. The service rep told me that there were no technical problems. Fox had just decided to pull the broadcast. He said it’s happened before with Fox.  I couldn’t believe it.  😡

So instead of showing a movie or some other game, Fox gets viewers interested in a crucial game like that one and then pulls the rug out from under them. What a bunch of heroes. I already can’t stand Fox Sports announcers and I don’t watch anything else but sports on Fox, but now I have one more reason to avoid Fox TV whenever possible. Fox sucks.  😡

It seems these days that everyone cheats a little. Mike C. outlined it pretty well on his blog. But Mike was referring to individual cheating. What about team cheating? How far should a team go to win?  The two recent examples I have in mind are the New England Patriots and the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team.

The Patriots were caught videotaping the NY Jets defensive coaches sending in signals to their team. The idea being that once you knew what a signal meant, you would know what the team was about to do next. The NFL confiscated the video camera and determined that the Patriots were knowingly violating the NFL rule prohibiting such videotaping. Coach Belichick was fined a cool half million dollars while the team was fined a quarter mil. They will also lose either a 1st, 2d, or 3d round draft pick depending on where they finish in the standings this season.

The McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team was found to have in its possession a load of very confidential design documents which belonged to their arch rival, Ferrari. They came by the documents by way of a rogue Ferrari mechanic named Nigel Stepney. At first it seemed like a one time incident and that McLaren stepped up and reported the incident right away. But further investigation showed that communication between Stepney and two McLaren drivers was extensive, with at least one McLaren driver asking Stepney for further information. Clearly McLaren knew any transfer of confidential information was illegal and yet they pursued the opportunity regardless. The Formula One governing body, the FIA, correctly saw this as intent and really threw the book at McLaren. McLaren was docked all their current Constructor’s Championship points and will not be allowed to earn any points for the rest of the season. This is no small thing because the Constructor’s Championship is the one the Formula One teams really care about. McLaren also got hit with a $100 million fine. That’s a tidy sum no matter who you are.

Both these incidents point to a team management so obsessed with winning that it will knowingly violate rules and invite huge punishment upon itself. In other words, they’ll cheat to win. It also leads one to wonder what the management of these two organizations were thinking. Both these teams are currently the best in their respective sports. Neither team needed to cheat to win, yet they both chose to do so. In the case of the Patriots, it can be said that signal stealing is a common occurrence in the NFL and the Patriots have been both the offender and the victim before. But the NFL specifically prohibits videotaping signals and the Patriots knew this. Likewise, in Formula One the teams collect as much information about their rivals as possible. But crossing the line into receiving illegally obtained documents from a Ferrari insider is akin to the difference between military reconnaissance and spying. Troops captured while conducting recon are treated as POWs. Spies are shot.

The thing that strikes me in both these cases is the utter stupidity of those involved. Not only did the Patriots not need to cheat as they did, they could have gotten away with it simply by having their cameraman sit in the stands rather than stand on the sidelines with the rest of the team. The folks at McLaren should have known right from the start that Ferrari would find out about the missing documents and that it would cost McLaren dearly. Not blowing the whistle at the very beginning was just plain stupid. The only explanation I can see for professionals at this level to commit such stupid and useless acts is a complete obsession with winning at all costs. When it gets to that point, you have to wonder if it’s worth playing at all.

If you win a ton of games and have a tiny ERA and still collapse when you need to win the big game, are you really the best? The best BP in baseball just blew a 5 run lead in the 8th against a team they REALLY needed to beat.   🙁

I decided I’d like to have a place to post some larger versions of my many pictures, so I created Random Scenery. It’s a simple site which displays a single image from a directory of many images. Refreshing the page will change the image. There are only a couple dozen images right now, but that number will grow over time. I hope you enjoy your visit.

UPDATE: I added a 10 second auto-refresh, so now you can just sit there and watch.  🙂

It’s that time of year again when the corn and beans are brown and the giant combines are out hauling it all in. It still amazes me how much land can be harvested in a day. Soon it will all be gone and the sense of suddenly being in a much bigger space will stick with me for a few days. Then we’ll have eight months of empty fields until the first green begins to return late next spring.

Farm road

Corn rows

Soy beans


Trust – This afternoon on the way back from Indy we stopped at Grissom’s Lost Creek Orchard farm stand on Rt 130 just north of I-70. Grissom’s has a great selection of produce and, more importantly, an impressive variety of jams and jellies, many with no sugar added. It is the no-sugar-added types we were after. My folks love them and we prefer them as well. In the image below you can see them all on the shelves. Today we bought $38 worth only to find Grissom’s does not accept credit cards (although I was sure I’d used mine there in the past). We had very little cash on us and no checkbook, but the lady at the counter said, “No problem, you just mail me a check.” And just that easy we were on our way with our goods. Needless to say we’ll have a check in the mail ASAP. That kind of trust, coupled with the superb quality of their produce and jellies, is what keeps people coming back for more.


Vegetarian Chickens – Tonight we hit County Market to pick up a few essentials, including eggs. We notice a carton of a dozen eggs from “Vegetarian Chickens.”

Are there carnivorous chickens? Any chicken farmers out there care to elaborate?

Brouhahas – Chucktown is getting a Starbucks. I guess that means we’re finally on the map, eh? Lots of folks are up in arms about bringing a “big chain” coffee shop to town, although all the other big chain places don’t seem to cause a problem. McDonald’s is the most popular place in town.

Then there’s the infamous neon billboard in Champaign, which I still have yet to see. Oh the calamity! Champaign is beginning to look like downtown Tokyo! The distraction will cause accidents. If I see it tomorrow I’ll get a picture and post it here so you can judge for yourself. Maybe it is that bad.

Great starts – Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox just pitched a no hitter in only his second major league game. Pretty damn impressive. 8)