Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live Blog of the All-Star Game

I wanted to. All times Central.

7:04 pm - Eric Byrnes is in McCovey Cove. Shouldn't he be... oh I dunno, at the game?

7:07 pm - Let the Barry Bonds lovefest begin! Tonight marks the time when America decides that it's not the end of the world if someone cheats and gets ahead. That's what America's about.

7:08 pm - What's with the Jeter and Griffey interview Willie Mays thing. Nice... but Mays isn't much of an interview and Jeter and Griffey are doing the worst delivery of scripted questions I've ever seen.

7:11 pm - And now a man from San Diego in a Taco Bell jersey is playing Tee-Ball on national TV.

7:12 pm - Swing and a miss and he doesn't put any of his three balls out of the infield. Fox throws it to Homer Simpson, who does the outro to the commercial break. This is going to be a long night.

7:17 pm - Ah, my favorite time of the year. The All-Star intros. Rafael Belliard finally made it to an All-Star Game.

7:19 pm - Gil Meche just got introduced and gave the usual "Yeah, I'm here because the Royals had to send someone look." The Giants fans booed the Angels players (why?) and they couldn't help but chuckle.

7:21 pm - How did the Diamondbacks get two All-Stars? How is Alfonso Soriano an All-Star? How is Brian Fuentes an All-Star? Was Tony LaRussa not watching his last two weeks?

7:24 pm - Ah, the All-Star game where we get to see David Ortiz actually play in the field. And they said interleague play was bad.

7:25 pm - Are they sure that Placido Polanco isn't there to sing the National Anthem? Speaking of, it's almost time for my favorite two minutes of TV of the year...

7:28 pm - Did anyone else notice that David Wright is wearing his pinstriped Mets jersey while Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are wearing their solid white Mets home unis? (Update: nevermind, I just need a new TV.)

7:32 pm - Chris Isaak(!!!) is singing the National Anthem. He looks like a cocky jerk doing that. He only sorta knows the words (perilous night, gave proof through the fight.... close enough) And I think they cut out the Canadian anthem again. *sigh*. There's no better awkward TV moment than the Canadian national anthem at the All-Star game.

7:36 pm - Willie Mays gets brought in from center field. A few years ago, in Boston, another outfielder of note was carted in and toasted. He died a little while later and his head was apparently frozen. Here's to hope the same doesn't befall Willie.

7:40 pm - And now he's throwing baseballs into the crowd. Ummmm... can we get the game started.

7:45 pm - Joe Buck introduces himself and the game by saying "You know the matchup already, the American League vs. the National League." Thanks Joe. Tim McCarver already sounds wasted.

7:47 pm - Taco Bell has run the very odd marathon runners eating tacquitos commercial twice in about 5 minutes.

7:51 pm - They're having Cal Ripken read the AL Starting lineup, despite the fact that we just had a big ceremony on the field that gave this information already.

7:54 pm - The plate umpire is 67 years old, and he's #2 on the all-time games umpired list. They keep that?

7:55 pm - Ichiro singles and Brad Penny starts warming up. Joe Buck just mentioned that Jeter has won three Gold Gloves. Hahahahahahahahaha!

7:57 pm - DJ Chia Pet just got home and asked if I would like her to make me dinner. I got to yell 6-4-3! She still doesn't get it.

7:58 pm - Buck calls Ortiz "clutch." And blames Ortiz's "down" season on the fact that Manny Ramirez hasn't been having a good year. Two Sabermetric fallacies within thirty seconds.

8:00 pm - Prince Fielder has a Steve Sax moment.

8:05 pm - Barry is up. Storybook moment ready to happen?

8:07 pm - Nah, fly ball to right.

8:09 pm - I was about to remark how Tim McCarver had actually not said anything stupid. Commenting on Carlos Beltran making catches in Minute Maid Park or Enron Field or whatever it's called, "He made a lot of catches for the Astros and against the Astros."

8:12 pm - Griffey drives in a run. NL up 1-0.

8:14 pm - DJ Chia Pet wants an iPhone. No.

8:19 pm - Fox outros the top of the 2nd with a shot of a girl picking her nose. Now that's cute. DJ Chia Pet just brought me a cupcake. Yesterday was our second wedding anniversary.

8:23 pm - Prince Fielder was named after The Artist Currently Known As Prince. Where do they come up with this stuff? Russell Martin's father was a buskler.

8:28 pm - DJ Chia Pet asked me what league the Cleveland Indians (my beloved team) are in. Then she asked which one the Braves are in (she's from Atlanta). I will now divorce her. Dan Haren strikes out Miguel Cabrera to end the 2nd.

8:31 pm - I don't know if anyone is actually reading this, but I realize that I haven't written in FIF since March. I miss it. I've been actually cheating on FIF with a gig doing Sabermetrics blogging at MVN.com.

8:34 pm - A one-question interview with Dan Haren. Now that's journalistic excellence on the part of Fox.

8:36 pm - Fox is belaboring the thought that Ichiro will probably be a free agent at the end of the year. Then, they throw it over to Ken Rosenthal who points out that Ichiro is actually close to re-signing.

8:38 pm - David Ortiz is up with two runners on and two out with his team down one. Now, this would be a time for a clutch hit, because Ortiz is soooooo clutch. He lines to right. 1-0, middle of the third.

8:41 pm - Josh Beckett comes on for the AL. Jose Reyes greets him with a double that A-Rod just... well, missed...

8:43 pm - Joe Buck suggests that Jim Leyland intentionally walk Barry Bonds. Bonds squares to bunt. Bonds hits a fly ball to left field. Destiny and Magglio Ordonez get in the way.

8:45 pm - Shameless, "I'm from Cleveland" moment. C.C. Sabathia is warming up!

8:48 pm - Josh Beckett has to strengthen his middle finger using Stan's Rodeo ointment. I did a Google search on the subject. Apparently, this is common.

8:50 pm - I will pay someone a million dollars if they eliminate all copies of John Mellencamp's "Thiiiiiiis is Our Country" from the planet.

8:52 pm - Alfonso Soriano comes on for Bonds. A-Rod just got a "Clutch" award from Pepsi. Hahahahahahahahaha!

8:55 pm - A-Rod just got thrown out at home by about 20 feet. Now that's clutch! 1-0, middle of the fourth.

8:57 pm - The Japanese hot dog eating guy (Hideki Okajima?) is now a spokesman for Coors. Even though he lost on July Fourth.

9:02 pm - Fox is wringing their hands over whether or not Barry Bonds used steroids. He might have, he might not have. I have an idea. As a culture, let's all agree that it doesn't matter. Further, will Bonds please just break the record and get it over with?

9:04 pm - "In the years from 1920-1965, there were 12 players who hit more than 50 HR in one season. In the last twelve years, there have been (I forget what number he said). Did that just happen? No." - Tim McCarver.

9:06 pm - DJ Chia Pet just IMed me from our bedroom. Ain't technology wonderful?

9:09 pm - Derrek Lee and Chris Young (who's actually suspended right now!) enter the game at the same time. After getting into a fight with him a week or so ago. Tim McCarver, desperately tries to make two references to the movie 300. For Sparta!

9:10 pm - Eric Byrnes just tossed his dog into the water. I'm glad that he's on my fantasy team. He hits, he runs, he does weird things.

9:12 pm - The most interesting thing of the night happens. Ichiro hits a ball off the wall and manages an inside-the-park-homerun. Tim McCarver says "It's a rare rare rare thing." Indeed, it's never actually happened before. 2-1 AL. Can the AL win their tenth straight, with one tie... not that I'm still bitter about that?

9:17 pm - C.C. is pitching!

9:19 pm - Tim McCarver: "Sometimes you catch the ball. Sometimes the ball catches you." Thanks Tim. Carl Crawford makes a nice catch.

9:21 pm - C.C. gets the third out to end the fifth, and Eric Byrne's dog is safe. All is good in the world. Is it just me or is Fox casting about for any story line at all tonight?

9:27 pm - Francisco Cordero is facing Carl Crawford. Yawn. It's the sixth inning.

9:29 pm - Of course, right after I type that and submit it, he hits a home run. 3-1 AL. Tim McCarver exclaims "Cordero got it up, and so did Crawford." Hahahahahahahahaha!

9:30 pm - Friend Steve recommends the movie Transformers. He says that if I'm looking for "a good movie, combined with a desire to feel like you're 6 years old again and a serious geekout," then I should go see it. Hmmmm... Isn't there a baseball game going on here?

9:34 pm - Carlos Beltran triples. Steve and I are talking about Underdog: The Movie which is coming out soon. My review after seeing the preview: "That's wrong. Not genocide wrong, but definitely double homicide with an overdue library book wrong."

9:36 pm - Griffey hits a sac fly. AL is up 3-2.

9:40 pm - Russell Martin hits a San Francisco cop with a foul ball. No word on whether he also hit the construction worker or the cowboy. If you get that joke, I love you.

9:44 pm - MasterCard is doing their Actober contest (horrible pun) where you act out a great moment from the World Series. Can I do Julian Tavarez after Game 6 of the 1995 World Series?

9:47 pm - Riveting TV from Fox. Tony LaRussa talking to Bruce Froemming (the home plate umpire) about all his lineup changes. Yeah... great...

9:49 pm - And we're working along at a nice little clip. Middle of the seventh. And out comes Paula Cole to sing God Bless America? She's still alive? DJ Chia Pet likes to watch Dawson's Creek in the morning, so I'm often reminded of her, but I figured that she had just waited and her life was over.

9:50 pm - Apparently, the keyboard is malfunctioning. This is more awkward than the Canadian national anthem could ever be. Paula should have just belted it out a capella. She finally gets to singing (overdone), but for some reason, the camera man felt the need to give us a close up of her right armpit.

9:55 pm - I just checked who it was that sang the Canadian anthem. No one. The San Francisco orchestra just played it. They didn't even bother having Avril Lavigne come in and do it. She probably would have introduced it as her own song.

9:58 pm - Soriano swings a big bat and hangs right out over the plate. We know what you mean.
10:04 pm - Grady Sizemore is up! (update: Sizemore goes down on strikes.)

10:05 pm - Friend Steve asks whether we can get David Ortiz on Iron Chef. This after we learn that Ortiz (who's been out of the game since the 4th or so) likes cooking and the Green Bay Packers. Victor Martinez is up!

10:07 pm - Oh if only Cleveland Indians announcer Tom Hamilton had been there for Martinez's home run: "A swing and a driiiiive, ta deep left... A waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy back.... gone!"

10:11 pm - I cast my very biased vote for MVP for Victor Martinez. Ichiro will probably get it. Which means that the Japanese guy will get the Chevy.

10:13 pm - Papelbon comes in to start the bottom of the 8th. Tim McCarver says that he's a good closer because he's got a good sense of humor. Yeah... Strangely enough, McCarver's having a good night. He hasn't said that many stupid things. For him.

10:16 pm - We're at the point in the game where the game will be decided by those who are there because their team had to have one guy in the game.

10:20 pm - Papelbon (Red Sox) is pitching to Jorge Posada (Yankees). Is world peace that far away? Middle of the eighth, 5-2 AL.

10:23 pm - Maybe it's just because I'm a psychologist, but does the Burger King barbecue bacon Tendercrisp commercial ("SHUT UP") scare anyone else?

10:24 pm - OK, I give up. What is the decal that's been mowed into the grass in center field?

10:31 pm - My wife and I just had a conversation about popping zits. I love my wife.

10:32 pm - We're having a festschrift for Bruce Froemming.

10:37 pm - Bottom of the ninth. Putz in. The AL looks like they're going to put it away. You know the game is coming to an end when they start doing the credits.

10:41 pm - The last hope for the NL rests with a member of the Washington Nationals. And we're rehashing all of Dmitri Young's problems apparently as a nice way to end the game.

10:44 pm - Young singles to second base. Roberts would have had a tough play. Alfonso Soriano is up with his team down 5-2. If he hits a home run, my neighborhood will go nuts. Cubs fans are that loyal and that bad at math.

10:47 pm - Lest anyone accuse me of writing things after the fact, I have a witness that the previous entry was written before Soriano's HR. Things just got interesting. 5-4 AL, with J.J. Hardy coming to bat.

10:49 pm - A boring game finally has a tense moment. Hardy walks.

10:50 pm - Jim Leyland actually makes a pitching change mid-inning! Not just that, a double switch! Derrek Lee could actually become a hero here. Wrigleyville really would go nuts if he hits one here.

10:55 pm - K-Rod is snapping off curve-balls that I can only dream about. 3-2 2 outs, 1 run game, ninth inning.

10:56 pm - D Lee walks on a check swing... bringing up Orlando Hudson... why is Albert Pujols still on the bench?

10:57 pm - K-Rod loads the bases with a walk to Hudson, and we're actually getting a visit to the mound from the pitching coach in an All-Star Game. Now, it's Aaron Rowand.

11:00 pm - EXHALE! A thriller ends with a fly ball to right, and Albert Pujols sitting on the bench. The AL wins the All-Star game for the tenth straight time. 5-4.

11:02 pm - Flash forward to October. Game 7 of the World Series is in Cleveland, and the Indians come back in the bottom of the ninth to win the game against the Mets or Padres or whoever. The Mets think to themselves, if only LaRussa would have put Pujols in the All-Star game, this game would have been in New York.

11:05 pm - Ichiro gets the MVP. The guy from Chevy is addressing Ichiro even though he can't understand it.

11:06 pm - The interview between the Fox anchorette and Ichiro is amazing unintentional comedy. Apparently nobody told her that he doesn't speak English.

11:07 pm - Apparently, no one told her that he probably won't be a free agent either. I also think that the translator guy basically was just making things up.

11:09 pm - With that said, it's time for FIF to sign off. I don't know if I'll be reviving FIF, but I want to. Catch me on MVN, though. Until next time because this time was better than last time, I am and will continue to be the Pizza Cutter. Say good night, DJ Chia Pet.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My kind of tattoo

I realize I haven't seen an episode of Gilmore Girls in weeks. My wife gave up TV for Lent, and I've been teaching on Tuesday nights, which means no Gilmore Girls. Plus, we haven't been watching the DVD episodes for Gilmore Girls either. Is my guy card going to be permanently revoked if I say that I'm in Gilmore Girls withdrawal?

On to the news:

How to scare away coyotes
(Use an airhorn? Now, how to scare away the jerks with the air horns...)

Thieves steal $12,000 in underwear
(For... what?)

Pizza Cutter, meet Pizza Head
(Now that's commitment to a job!)

Thief uses his own credit card to open a lock
(Guess what happened...)

Bright, shiny objects:

Senior prank
(Didn't anyone... notice?)

I'd laugh, but those who know me would tell you that I could have easily written this
(If I knew anything about physics, that is)

T-shirt of the week:

For sale
(I'm sure there's a few of you out there who are tempted)

And finally:

My wife knows Hebrew. Last weekend at the Bar Mitzvah, she claims that she was following along. On the other hand, while the cantor was singing a song and tapping out a beat, all I could think of was, "Wouldn't it be cool to remix this?" I'm so reverent.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chinese food is bad for you?

Being a professor is nice around finals week. Unlike my students, who are cramming for three or four different tests, watching their immune systems crumble, and enduring a week and a half of anxiety and agony, all I have to do is write a test, copy it, and then hand it to them and read a book while they sweat it out.

But, then again, I have to grade them.

On to the news:

But I went there for a healthy alternative
(Pope may also be Catholic, film at 11)

Speaking of the Pope, he had a visitor today
(The mental image on this one is astounding)

Karma 1, Enron 0
(Actually, Karma, 182M)

More "old people smuggling drugs" stories
(This one happens with alarming frequency)

Bright, shiny objects:

Mario Brothers, done with legos
(A full minute of giggling!)

Actual useful information
(What to have in your car in case you get stranded in the snow)

Today's strange anniversary:

March 21, 1860 -- US extradition treaty with Sweden. Someone apparently felt the need to write that one down.

Fun fact of the day:

Why do they call it Latin America?

And finally:

Happy equinox to you all. It's the first day of spring, which means that the days are finally longer than the nights, and it only gets better until June!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kevin Federline, the search engine

It's time for our Tuesday look around the world to see what's going on!
  1. Boss makes call to beleaguered employee to console them in his time of need.
  2. Good IT workers are so hard to find
  3. Here's another thing that Keanu Reeves can't do
  4. Politicians engage in both bribery and lying
  5. Harry Potter loves the environment
In other words, nothing new is happening.

Something so odd, it gets its own section:

As I'm someone who deals in the odd, you may be wondering what on earth might actually qualify as "too weird" to be included in the general weirdness that is the Foreign Intelligence Files (FIF for short!).

Kevin Federline is starting his own search engine.

On to the news:

Win a date with... Alan Greenspan?
(What would you talk about?)

Food story, not for the faint of heart
(Would you?)

Headline: Lingerie-clad prowler hit in the head with frying pan
(I'm not making this up)

Bright, shiny objects:

It's a dog... riding a bike
(In Japan)

Political figures in drag
(Perhaps there was some use of Photoshop... nah)

Today's random "next blog":

Business News
(This might be a flog, but it's what came up)

Today's strange anniversary:

March 20, 1969 -- Beatle John Lennon marries Yoko Ono in Gibraltar. I mean, if I was John and you were Yoko, I would gladly give up musical genius...

Fun fact of the day:

In Chinese, the words for crisis and opportunity are the same.

And finally:

The Baseball Psychologist.

How Jewish is your home?

So this weekend, I went to a Bar Mitzvah. My first one. My college roommate's little brother was officially being inducted into Jewish adulthood, and so I was invited to witness it. It was three hours of Hebrew, followed by a sermon (?) on the theme, "How Jewish is Your Home?" My wife and I could only look at each other and stifle a laugh.

"Do you have a Mezzuzah over your door?" (No, but we have crosses...)
"Do you have a Tzedakah box?" (No, but my wife likes to play Sudoku boxes...)
"Do you have a Shabbat tradition? Maybe dad lights the candles or maybe..." (Maybe I'm in the wrong place...)

If you've never been, the service is nice once you actually figure out where to follow along with the translation. The people there were kind and understanding to the two goyim. But, try as I might, whenever they would do a prayer, being Orthodox (Christian... yeah, that was a fun one to explain), I wanted to end it with the Sign of the Cross. Probably the wrong thing to do in those circumstances.

Also, this was on St. Patrick's Day, the day that Americans celebrate the Christianization of the country of Ireland by engaging in large public acts of excessive drinking while wearing green. Waiting for the train, I had to step in and politely request that a very drunk man (in a plastic green hat) stop hitting on a girl who clearly was not into it.

On to the news:

An update on a story I did a few months ago
(Breahalyzers for teachers! It works!)

Today's most creative thieves

Throwing celery now a crime
(At least at a soccer match)

Bright, shiny objects:

How it should have ended
(How your favorite movies should have ended)

Where to shop in Japan
(Once again, Engrish.com! While we're at it, here's a report on St. Patrick's Day in Tokyo.)

Today's random "next blog":

Alexandra Michel
(A midwife serving in the Phillipines)

The Monday playlist feature:

Wednesday marks the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring. Spring Training is in full swing. On the subject, I am trying to research the ill-fated Spring of 1995. Remember the replacement players. Wonder what they were listening to after the game?

5) Dionne Farris -- I Know

4) Soul For Real -- Candy Rain

3) Brandy -- Baby

2) Sheryl Crow -- Strong Enough

1) Madonna -- Take A Bow

It wouldn't be a Monday playlist without Madonna. Will someone tell me who Dionne Farris and Soul For Real are? Is Brandy still alive?

By the way, I found a few other chart review sites. This one has Madonna, Hootie and the Blowfish, Dionne Farris, Des'ree, and Boyz II Men. This one has most of the same plus Green Day's "When I Come Around." (Who knew they'd be the only ones still around from that group?)

Today's strange anniversary:

March 19, 1883 -- Jan Matzeliger invents 1st machine to manufacture entire shoes.

Fun fact of the day:

The Chinese ideogram for 'trouble' symbolizes 'two women living under one roof'.

And finally:

I think I'm really gonna do it. Not a daily blog, but a new blog to highlight my Sabermetric interests. I need to plan it out a bit, but check back for an announcement soon.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

5th Annual NCAA Picks

It is the surest sign of spring that there is. Better than a woodland creature poking his head out of a hole. (Let's be honest. There will be six more weeks of winter either way.) Better than the stores putting out Easter candy for sale. (Let's be honest. They put that out in mid-January. And we eat it in April.) Not quite as good as spring training baseball, but no one bets on spring training baseball. (Let's be honest. That "pool" you enter is nothing more than a cleverly disguised gambling ploy.)

It's time for the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. (It's apparently also time for the women's tournament, but no one watches that one. Or bets on it. Incidentally, while I'm in these parentheses, the Women's Final Four is in my beloved Cleveland. How did that happen and no one told me?) Once again, millions of men (and twenty-three women) will be attempting to show how knowledgeable they are about college basketball by filling out their brackets. This always ends in a great deal of hilarity, as most men know little about college basketball.

I, on the other hand, revel in my ignorance. I know nothing about college basketball. Absolutely nothing. I go to DePaul University, and I don't even know if they're any good this year. (Seeing that they didn't make the tournament, apparently not.) The thing is, I pick my games the same way that you do, based on stupid reasons like "I have an aunt who lives in Arizona" or "I'd rather go to Texas than North Carolina for vacation." Actually, you pick games based on reasons that involve your "knowledge" of basketball, and I win the pool every year. Life isn't fair.

This year, my fifth year doing this (seriously), I can get a little more interactive with the picks because I'm putting it in blog form. So sit back and enjoy as the master picks all 64 games for you and tells you the reasons for why the game will end that way. As always, don't use these as the basis for any real wager. It's not that I mind that you'd gamble, it's that I just don't want you to lose money.

Thr first round or the "So you won an irrelevant conference tournament" Sixty-four:

St. Louis Regional

(1) Florida over (16) Jackson State

Let's think about all the famous Jacksons that there have been. Seventh President Andrew Jackson. Abstract artist Jackson Pollock. And, of course, Michael Jackson (who for some reason is in the news greeting U.S. troops in Japan.) I think the last thing we need is another famous Jackson.

(9) Purdue over (8) Arizona

When was the last time you got a good chicken from Arizona?

(5) Butler over (12) Old Dominion

Everyone knows that the butler is always the killer.

(4) Maryland over (13) Davidson

One of those iron-clad rules of NCAA tournament picking (#3): Never pick a school if you don't know where it is.

(6) Notre Dame over (11) Winthrop

A thought: Had Old Dominion and Winthrop changed places (or ND and Butler), then Butler could have played Winthrop. An Englishman's delight! Rule #6: Never bet against God.

(14) Miami of Ohio over (3) Oregon

A friend of mine went to Miami, and I actually talked to him earlier tonight. He told me that MofO (read that carefully) got in. I said, "So I'm gonna have to pick them to go to the Final Four, aren't I?" He said yes.

(10) Georgia Tech over (7) UNLV

This year, the Final Four is in Atlanta. Tech is in Atlanta. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

(2) Wisconsin over (15) Texas A&M - CC

I have no idea what CC means. Did they let a community college in? Corpus Christi? (Kristy, Kristy, Kristy!) This really confused me when I saw that the "real" Texas A&M is also in the tournament along with the University of Texas, Texas Tech, and North Texas.

San Jose Regional

(1) Kansas over (16) play-in game winner

I went to KU for a conference. Nice place. Yes, that's my entire reason for picking them.

(8) Kentucky over (9) Villanova

KY. Giggle.

(12) Illinois over (5) Virginia Tech

I took a look around at where I was sitting. Never bet against your own state. Besides, Virginia Tech sounds like something that Bible Belt girls say about themselves. (Think about that one for a minute.)

(4) Southern Illinois over (13) Holy Cross

Yeah, I don't know either. So, rule #9 applies. Pick the team ranked higher.

(6) Duke over (11) VCU

Rule #5: Never pick a school if you have no idea what their acronym stands for.

(3) Pitt over (14) Wright State

Wright State. Rong city. Nothing wrong with Dayton, mind you...

(10) GONZAGA! over (7) Indiana

Every year, Gonzaga gets in, and everyone loves screaming "GONZAGA!" Well, by "everyone", I mean "me."

(2) UCLA over (15) Weber State

Weber is not actually a state. And we all know that Webber doesn't have a good history in the NCAA tournament.

East Rutherford Regional

(1) North Carolina over (16) Eastern Kentucky

RHIP. The tournament committee put this game in Winston-Salem instead of Lexington. Coincidence? Rule #1: Never bet on a "directional" state school. Except for Northern Carolina.

(8) Marquette over (9) Michigan State

True story: I picked Marquette because I was concerned that there wouldn't be a team in the second round with a Q in its name.

(5) USC over (12) Arkansas

Since we're talking about people who live in Southern California, Pamela Anderson has come forward and stood up for Britney Spears. It's too bad that there's not a team named "Britney" or something like that, and that I already eliminated Jackson State.

(4) Texas over (13) New Mexico State

I know that Mexico is talking about the whole Reconquista thing, but doesn't that part of America sound better as "Texas" than an as-yet-unnamed-New-Mexico-State? Was that too high-level of a joke?

Did anyone get that?

(11) George Washington over (6) Corneilius Vanderbilt.

(3) Washington State over (14) Oral Roberts

Do I even need to make that joke?

(10) Texas Tech over (7) Boston College

God vs. Bobby Knight. I know that Rule #6 says never bet against God. But, this is Bobby Knight. (Long time readers of this annual festival of ignorance will surely groan that my Bob Knight fascination hasn't gone away. Neither has my Kris Benson fetish.)

(15) Belmont over (2) Georgetown

Here's my entire reasoning for why I picked Belmont. We live near Belmont Street. It's a sign! Remember, someone like me wins the pool every year.

San Antonio Regional

(1) Ohio State over (16) Central Connecticut State

A memo to Central Connecticut State: Congratulations on winning the NEC and getting an automatic bid to "The Dance." After 40 minutes with Ohio State, you'll be singing this song. (CCSU's motto: "Start with a dream. End with a future." Catchy. Relevant.)

(9) Xavier over (8) BYU

God vs. God. Draw. Yes, but Ohio vs. Utah. No contest.

(5) Tennessee over (12) Long Beach State

It's Spring Break time and Long Beach State is being punished by being sent to Columbus. Right there, that's plenty of reason to think that they'll throw the game.

(4) Virginia over (13) Albany

Guard play? Better perimeter defense? Trap blocking scheme? Hydrostatic emissions? If I keep this up, I'll eventually say something that sounds intelligent.

(6) Louisville over (11) Stanford

A school's basketball ability is always inversely proportionate to it's IQ. Stanford gets screwed on that one every year... so does...

(3) Texas A&M over (14) Penn

Or whoever comes out of the Ivy League. But then again, if Stanford and Penn both pull upsets, will this be the nerdiest game of NCAA basketball ever played in the second round?

(7) Nevada over (10) Creighton

Problems with Creighton: 1) In Oklahoma. 2) Sounds like a packaging supply store. 3) Not spelled the way it sounds. This will cause them to lose. Also, my exact thought process on picking this one: I picked the #10 teams in the other three brackets. I felt I was being unfair to #7,

(2) Memphis over (15) North Texas


The Round of 32, The Second Round

Which could be a reference to the NCAA toruney or the fight over who Anna Nicole Smith's baby daddy is.

Meet Me in St. Louie Regional

(1) Florida over (9) Purdue

What do you mean I spelled it wrong?

(5) Butler over (4) Maryland

A butler hasn't gotten this much love in prime time since Mr. Belvedere.

(6) Notre Dame over (14) Miami of Ohio

Omar, if you're reading this, I gave Miami one game. C'mon man, there's a limit to how far a #14 seed from Ohio can go. Then, they get beaten by Notre Dame, who ran our high school. Besides, you can't bet against God. Also, a story that I heard from a friend who went to the Michigan-Notre Dame football game this year: Before the football games, the ND players all go to Mass together. A quick reminder that God has better things to do than block field goals. Afterwards, they all emerge to a bunch of cheering ND fans... and jeering Michigan fans. Have we gone so far as a society as to cheer people coming out of church?

(10) Georgia Tech over (2) Wisconsin

When I was in Atlanta last week, I sat down for a dinner with me and eleven Russians. The guy I was sitting next to worked at Georgia Tech. (Not shocking considering that I was in Atlanta...) but he seemed like a nice guy. Ramble on Wreck.

Do you know the way to San Jose regional?

(1) Kansas over (8) Kentucky

Rock chalk, Jayhawk.

(4) Southern Illinois over (12) Illinois

This is breaking another cardinal rule of NCAA picking. Never pick a directional school over it's non-directional counterpart. But, Southern Illinois is the Salukis. You gotta give it to a school that has a mascot that no one knows what exactly it is.

(6) Duke over (3) Pitt

I always pick Duke.

(2) UCLA over (10) GONZAGA!!!

Becuase you know that Dick Vitale will be there, baybee!

There aren't any songs about East Rutherford regional

(1) North Carolina over (8) Marquette

I asked my wife. She said North Carolina. I figure she knows about as much as I do.

(4) Texas over (5) USC

I don't see any horns on your head.

(3) Washington St. over (11) George Washington

I love it when matchups like this happen.

(10) Texas Tech over (15) Belmont

Did I really pick Belmont over Georgetown? What on earth was I smoking at the time? I don't even know where Belmont is.

Davey Crockett regional.

(1) Ohio State over (9) Xavier

Hang on sloopy, sloopy hang on. O! H! I! O! Also, will someone please tell me why North Carolina gets to play in Winston-Salem, but OSU can't play in Columbus?

(5) Tennessee over (4) Virginia

Here was my actual thought process: Tennessee has a nice orange pattern going on there. I don't know what Virginia's colors are. Therefore, Tennessee wins this game. Something to note: I have yet to name one basketball player throughout the entire course of this entry.

(6) Louisville over (3) Texas A&M

Maybe because the game is in Kentucky.

(7) Nevada over (2) Memphis

When I saw these two in the bracket, I thought of Elvis Presley. Do I go with the young Tennessee Elvis or the older Las Vegas Elvis. The post office already tried that one. Then I remembered that Marc Cohn went walking in Memphis and no one has heard from him since. Not a good sign.

The Sweet Sixteen (That awful MTV show)

(1) Florida over (5) Butler

Where would you rather be on March 22nd? Florida or Central Indiana. Thought so.

(10) Georgia Tech over (6) Notre Dame

Georgia Tech have to approach this like any board game. The goal is to move along home, and so Tech stays true to the goal. Has anyone noticed that I haven't yet mentioned Paris Hilton?

(1) Kansas over (4) Southern Illinois

Jayhawk vs. Saluki. Stop and think about that one for a while. The dodo bird meets the wild dog. Kansas gets the edge because there's not only a band named Kansas (and none named "Southern Illinois"), but there's also a band called the Jayhawks.

(2) UCLA over (6) Duke

We've gotten to the point where I start feeling guilty for always picking Duke. Besides I can't spell Krzyzewski.

(1) North Carolina over (4) Texas

Prettier uniforms.

(3) Washington State over (10) Texas Tech

I suppose I could have had Texas play Texas Tech. At this rate, Washington State will have beat Oral Roberts (hehe), George Washington, and Bob Knight. Not bad. Perhaps they will also lull Dick Vitale into a deep sleep and drop him off in Antarctica. Now that I think of it, I'll say six words and it will scar you for the rest of the day: March of the Pengins. Dick Vitale.

(1) Ohio State over (5) Tennessee

Special guest appearance by Ted Ginn, Jr. Wait... Greg Oden. There! I know an actual college basketball player! I'm sure there's no relationship (not that anyone will catch that reference, except my wife.)

(6) Louisville ties (7) Nevada

Why not? Like it matters.

The Elite Alliterative Eight. Why does Alliterative start with a vowel?

(1) Florida over (10) Georgia Tech

You know how when you play Candy Land, you have to get a purple card to get to the finishing square. However, no matter how hard you "try", you can't get one. It's like that with Georgia Tech. Florida somehow pulls out a Blue, Orange, and Purple card.

(2) UCLA over (1) Kansas

Quick, name three cities in Kansas. You can't do it. Out of the tournament.

(3) Washington State over (1) North Carolina

Does a 3-seed count as a Cinderella? Watch, Wash St. will be dumped out in the first round by Oral Roberts. That happens in everyone's brackets. One of your Final Four teams will lose in the first or second round. Count on it.

(1) Ohio State over (6/7) Louisville/Nevada

Is it baseball season yet?

The Final Four

This final four features four fine and favored franchises. Why do they call it the final four, when it's really the semi-final four?

Florida over UCLA

Ohio State over Washington State

Funny how those things work out, eh?

The Final

Ohio State over Florida

If this final happens, I will personally enroll in Ohio State and play for them to ensure that they win. More to the point, I will enroll at UF to make sure that OSU wins.

And finally:

The play in game winner

(16a) Florida A&M over (16b) Niagara

Headline: Niagara Falls.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona...

It's time for our Tuesday look around the world to see what's going on!
  1. Bob Dole finally got a job in the health care field.
  2. Mariah Carey is making a movie in which she plays an aspiring singer.
  3. We're all going to die.
In other words, nothing new is going on.

On to the news:

Teenagers scare ostrich to impotence?
(With firecrackers?)

Sword fight breaks out after man breaks into his ex-girlfriend's apartment
(The fun of doing this blog is that I have no idea what awaits me in the morning)

Bright, shiny objects:

More from the "creative ways to recycle" department
(Someone, Lindsey, linked these as a comment. They're in German, but you'll get the idea.)

Can you name all 50 states?
(You have ten minutes. Go.)

And finally:

The word in Russian for "red" is the same as the word for "beautiful." I learned that one this weekend.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My baseball addiction

A few observations on life:

For those of you who saw the previous post and wondered, Allendale is officially off the radar (they dropped out on Tuesday morning). A big thanks to those who were following along and commenting. My mom was even watching it. It means that I'll be around for another year in my graduate program. I'll apply next year.

Chad Six was released.

I can finally use this page again. I missed baseball. The best test of whether you're a baseball junkie. If you've ever looked at a spring training box score, you have a problem. Seek help immediately. Failure to do so may result in this.

In other news, did you ever wonder what would happen if Avril Lavigne covered Toni Basil's "Mickey" and Fergie's "London Bridge" at the same time? It would sound something like this. Catchy. Creepy. Because America really needed a soundtrack to endless teenage catfights. Why'd she have to go and make... nevermind.

(Tsk tsk Avril. Not that anyone will remember this, but the song that she's blatantly ripping off is this one by The Party, "I Want To Be Your Boyfriend." For those of you who don't remember the early 90s, The Party was a "band" manufactured out of former members of the Mickey Mouse Club. It's just that they had a slightly better personal trajectory than others who followed the same career path.)

*Drool* Anyone want to get me a St. Patrick's Day/April Fool's Day/Birthday (even though it's in December) present? This looks absolutely gorgeous. Warning to wife: You wouldn't see me for two weeks. (Only downside: Who licensed Nirvana's "Breed" to this game?)

Am I a nerd for the fact that I'm trying to design a better post-hoc test for significant moderator test for fun?

While I'm in the neighborhood...

On to the news:

Headline: "Beer-drinking duck understands Chinese"
(Do I even need to add anything to that?)

Here's to multi-tasking!
(I need to be able to write my dissertation like this)

Dog gets college degree. So does cop.
(In Ohio)

Man tries to cash check from God
(Hey, God, while you have your checkbook out...)

Who Wants to be Keanu Reeves?

And finally:

I get to see my nieces this weekend!!! And oh yeah, the rest of my in-laws.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Live-blogging the Clearinghouse

Well, I suppose a traumatically-induced, frenzied search whose possible outcomes are a year of separation from my wife or a complete failure of one of the primary objectives of my professional life for the last eight months is the sort of thing that might make for some good comedy. This is a case where we would do well to heed to words of the great prophet, Jimmy Buffett, who taught us that if we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane. So, here I will live-blog my navigation through the Clearinghouse process.

The rules of the exercise:

  1. The places I will be applying to will be in the Clearinghouse for the same reason I am: they didn't match up. No matter how they try to spin it, I am picking from the leftovers.
  2. It's unlikely that there will be positions open in Chicago. A lot of big schools tend to be in the middle of nowhere, and people want to live in the big city. Chicago is likely sold out.
  3. At 10:00 am Central, a list goes out of all the programs that didn't match. Additionally, on an e-mail listserv, training directors can also post openings. This means that I will be a slave to my e-mail account.
  4. So, I need to find a psychology internship that deals with kids, one preferably in the Midwest that at least pays something (some places are "unfunded"... which translates into "slave labor."), and is APA-approved.
  5. Applications are basically done by e-mail, with my CV and my cover letter as my only materials. Places then might call me back for a quick interview. I'm told that positions are offered fairly quickly, to the point that some people start the day at 10:00 unmatched and have a job at 11:00.
  6. An internship is necessary to graduate from my program. So, failure to secure one means that I'll have to postpone graduation for another year (From June '08 to '09). Right now, it's not sounding like such a horrible thing, given the alternatives.
  7. Other than that, there are no rules.
As always, all times Central.

Sunday night -- I explained it to my father this way: "Remember when we had the fish tank and we would drop a couple of fish food flakes into the tank and all the fish would come zooming to the top to try to grab some food? It's like that. We're the fish. The programs are the fish-food flakes."

9:18 am -- I believe as a way to taunt those of us in the clearinghouse, APPIC just sent out their match statistics. 75% of those who applied matched. Of those, 45% matched to their first choice and roughly 80% to one of their top 3. There are now 296 positions unfilled at 150 programs, and 842 folks who are looking to fill them. That's about a 35% chance.

9:29 am -- Just got a call from my faculty advisor. She advises me to delete the tagline from my e-mail, "Ask me why I'm a Christian." This is non-negotiable. If you'd like to know the answer, click here.

9:51 am -- Tick tock, tick tock. At 10:00, the floodgates open.

10:10 am -- Florida, Texas, and California have the most openings. There's one in Atlanta that looks interesting. Free room, board, and Russian lessons sold separately.

11:34 am -- Sent out a flurry of e-mails. Got bites from two programs near Chicago (yay!), although one is strictly adult, the other is very psychodynamic (think Freud). Got nibbles from a place in NYC. May be asked to go to Allendale, Illinois for an interview at a site. At least someone is returning my phone calls.

11:55 am -- Prospects so far: Two sites in Chicago, as mentioned above. Two in California, one in Miami, one in Atlanta, one in NYC, one in upstate New York (Frederic Church country!), one in Providence (near Quahog), and one at Baylor in Houston. Unless others come through via e-mail, this might be the list.

11:59 am -- Already, the first e-mails are rolling in saying that positions have been filled. My, those fish sure swim fast.

12:24 pm -- Consulted with director of our mental health center. She gave me the scoop on Allendale, and said she'd make some phone calls. I've also been in almost constant contact with my research advisor. My poor cell phone. It's not gonna like me after today.

12:32 pm -- One possible option for folks out there is to do a military internship. You get 63K a year, but are then commissioned as a Captain in the Army and must serve 3 additional years. In other words, this is a sneaky way of recruiting.

12:39 pm -- Alright, a rundown of the places:

River Oak in Carmichael, CA. They work with kids, and their site is wonderfully non-helpful! Update from my advisor: "She sounded interested!" but "She had a few offers out."

Sharp Healthcare in San Diego. Seems to be mostly inpatient/hospital stuff. Not bad.

Marcus Institute in Atlanta. Mostly developmental disabilities (autism, MR), but it's in Atlanta...

Alexian Brothers Health Care in Chicago. Mostly adults. Talked to the DCT there, who said she wasn't ruling me out, but I'm not a really good fit...

Allendale Association in Chicago. My #1 choice. In Chicago (sorta, 50 mile commute each way...) Deals with kids. Big into Freud. Can't have everything in life.

North Bronx Healthcare Network in NYC. Hospital based. They at least e-mailed me back! Could be a lot like the time I spent at Cook County Hospital. ER fans in the room, the actual hospital looks nothing like that. And I didn't sleep with any of my co-workers.

Ulster County Mental Health in Kingston, NY. Seems fairly general. Anyone know where Kingston is?

Brown University Medical School in Providence, RI. Pediatric HIV Clinical Research. Not exactly my specialty, but then again, I am working as a stats consultant to such a project...

Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Adult and Adolescent Psych rotation. Well, at least I know how to do one of those two things.

1:00 pm -- Alexian Brothers is filled. Another one bites the dust.

1:19 pm -- After about 50 messages from the Clearinghouse e-mail server, I've gotten my first spam message of the day, exhorting me to buy stock in some Canadian mineral company. I never thought I'd be that happy to get spam!

1:29 pm -- My faculty advisor has been calling a lot. So, every ten minutes, I have the hope that it's a program calling me. It's her. However, it's because she's basically taken up a position on my wing to call everyone at all of these sites. Back in high school, I founded a small cult to the worship of zebras. The work that she has put into today on my behalf makes her a candidate for the cult's highest honor, the Order of the Emu.

1:32 pm -- Over the weekend, having nothing else to do, I finished up a manuscript and sent it out to American Psychologist. I doubt it will be published there, but I figured that it's worth a shot. I've also crossed into the time zone where I should be working at my real job.

1:41 pm -- A position pops up on the e-mail in Massachusetts. I'll bite.

1:50 pm -- We're now reaching the point where nothing is happening. If you've ever watched "Without a Trace", you know that this probably isn't a good thing. Well, since I'm in the neighborhood, enjoy this.

1:52 pm -- A nibble from River Oak, which I found out is in Sacramento. Imagine me moving to the C-state.

1:56 pm -- And now a note from Allendale that says that they are processing all the applications they've gotten. All? Oh dear...

2:18 pm -- The silence is deafening.

2:24 pm -- San Diego and Houston are both out.

2:26 pm -- So is upstate New York.

2:36 pm -- There goes Atlanta. That one hurts, because I would have at least had some connection back to my wife. I could have lived in her old bedroom. Is that weird?

2:38 pm -- Friend Steve points out that there could have been multiple "Stay Classy San Diego" jokes... To that, I can only say, "Lou, how's the weather gonna be?" (Nice.)

2:46 pm -- RIP River Oak. No California sunshine for the Pizza Cutter.

2:57 pm -- I have the websites for each of the sites that are still in the running up on this computer. There are, sadly, only four little Windows left (Allendale, North Bronx, Brown University... please no jokes about friend Omar..., and somewhere in Massachusetts.)

3:05 pm -- Goodbye Boston... although I'll be there in a few weeks.

3:16 pm -- You know that point in the party where it's just time to go home? I think I've finally hit that point.

3:26 pm -- Another period of eerie silence. Most of what I'm getting is e-mail from friends telling me to keep my head up. Thanks much, to all of you.

3:28 pm -- Brown Medical School has decided not to fill their position at all. Only Allendale and NYC remain.

3:33 pm -- Last night, I did my usual Sunday night grocery run and call to my parents. I got to the store and as I was walking to the car, I noticed that something was awry. If you're the sort of person who takes the same things in your pocket each day, you know what I mean. I'd forgotten my wallet at home. Thankfully, this wasn't in the check out line.

3:48 pm -- Nothing.

3:56 pm -- A metaphor, if you will.

3:58 pm -- News out of New York. They've filled their spot. One place remains.

4:22 pm -- No word from Allendale. I called them and they are reviewing things. So, I'm now holding my breath to see what happens there.

5:09 pm -- Well, I'd love to post something here, but there are only so many ways to describe waiting in limbo. I've got no more bullets to fire. There's nothing left to do but sit and wait.

8:00 pm -- Resignation. It's not gonna happen this year. Looks like I start again here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In the Clearinghouse

I don't often do full on diary-blog entries, but this one is a big one. I might be moving to a random U.S. city in June, sans mon femme. It's not a matter of any relationship problem: We're doing fine, and in fact, that's what makes this such a heart-breaker. Yesterday, I received news from the organization that matches psychology graduate students with psychology internships. An internship is the final piece of a Ph.D. in my field, and the application process has been going on for the last eight months or so.

I didn't match. My biggest problem is that I applied exclusively in Chicago, primarily so that I could be near my wife. That was both for the fact that she's my wife and that after a hard day on the job (and in my field, I have plenty of them... calling in allegations of child abuse is a thrill a minute), she's amazing at calming me down. The Chicago internship market, on the other hand, is brutal. There are only a few internship programs (or at least, fewer than might be expected), and a lot of people are drawn to them because they want to live in a big city after spending five years at a university in the middle of nowhere. Plus, many of them are hyper-specialized, and I'm not a specialist by nature.

Those who don't match go into what is euphemistically called "The Clearinghouse." What it means is that Monday morning, a free-for-all starts among those applicants who didn't match and those programs who still need to fill spots. Signs point to none of those spots being in Chicago. It forces me into a position of either waiting another year and doing this all again next year, or trying to find something in another city. The latter means a new city in June, for a year long posting. The former basically means a year of a holding pattern (I refrain from using the phrase "a year wasted") professionally.

This was not part of the master plan. But, the Good Lord has sent me many blessings dressed in ridiculous packaging before.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Back for a quick check in

I've been struggling with an ethical issue: Should I talk about the Britney Spears case or not? As something of a pop-culture connoisseur and this being the biggest pop-culture/celebrity meltdown since Michael Jackson, maybe I should say something. It's odd because she's actually made Kevin Federline look like a fine, responsible, upstanding member of the community.

On to the news:

Meetings actually make things run worse
(Note to all bosses out there)

Next time someone wants to give you a hug, mace them
(Or something like that)

Man robs building next door to police dog training facility
(Could this be your future cellmate?)

Bright, shiny objects:

What Jim Henson really sounds like
(The Muppet Guy)

Jedi house party gets out of hand
(Alcohol and light sabers... not a good combo)

And now a word from our sponsors:

And finally:

Because I can: Eiffel 65.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Love Lobster? Beatboxing flute player?

A few observations on life:

Yesterday was Forgiveness Sunday in the Orthodox Church, which marks the beginning of Great Lent. On this day, everyone in the church bows down before everyone else and asks forgiveness. It is the most powerful thing in which I have ever been involved. My hamstrings hurt, but to humble myself and ask even the 3-year-olds if they will forgive me what wrong I have done is something that I should do more often.

In other news, the Walgreens theory of the apocalypse is still alive and well. My wife and I went to buy a few supplies this weekend and saw this, a "Love Lobster", which seems to be a three-foot tall plush stuffed lobster in a questionable state of chemical enhancement (i.e., it looks drunk...) And it was half-off because Valentine's Day is over!

Because I can: Craig Ehlo.

And to make yourself feel out of breath and less than adequate, check out the beatboxing flute player.

Friday, February 16, 2007

From my dad.

This week's theme:
Frederic Edwin Church

To finish off this week's theme, may I present Church's tribute to the American flag, produced around the time of the Civil War.

Our Banner in the Sky

On to the news:

Today's award for the oddest thing to steal
(And how to get caught...)

Today's award for the oddest animal story
("An Australian man who caught a 4ft shark with his bare hands says he only did it because he was drunk." Really?)

Today's award for people who need a cranial-rectal extraction
(This is brilliant stuff)

And finally:

After your weekly check of Is It Friday dot net, a bit of bad news. The blog will probably be scaled back or MIA for the next few weeks. I am an Orthodox Christian, and we are entering the season of Great Lent. I've decided to cut down on internet usage, which would include FIF. Not sure if it'll go away completely or not, but expect to see less of me for the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

High Holy Days

No blog today on account of it being one of the holiest days on the calendar. Today, I can say the four sacred words that I have longed to hear since the end of October. "Pitchers and catchers report."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Angst Day!

Is there a day on the calendar that promotes more angst than Valentine's Day? (Every year, J. Geils Band's "Love Stinks" enjoys a renaissance every year around this time.) I'm not a fan of the way that the day has evolved. There's a myth that the only love that "counts" is romantic love. Romantic love is wonderful, and I recommend it, but there's so much more to life than that. May I suggest C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves.

Today, may I suggest you appreciate exactly how many people love you. And tell them you love them. It doesn't have to be romantic. Just real.

This week's theme:
Frederic Edwin Church

West Rock, New Haven
(Absolutely gorgeous)

On to the news:

Austrian kids get a lesson in swearing
(From their teacher)

Greenpeace sends Valentine's in Japan
("Be our valentine and resign!")

Batman shuts down school

And finally:

Short one today. Probably no blog tomorrow. My schedule's a little busy. However, until then, enjoy my new obsession song.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Not if they're negative numbers!"

It's time for our Tuesday look around the world to see what's happening!
  1. U.S. subtly prepares for war with a country in the Euphrates valley based on shaky evidence.
  2. Somewhere out there, someone is preparing to use a cheesy song tomorrow.
  3. Marty Schottenheimer got fired for losing a playoff game.
  4. Al-Qaeda deputy releases a grainy video-taped message and... calls for unity and understanding?
In other words, nothing new is going on.

This week's theme:
Frederic Edwin Church

There's been a traveling exhibit of Church paintings going around the country, but not stopping off anywhere in the Midwest. :-( It's one of those things that I would actually travel out somewhere to see these things, if I had time. They're currently in Princeton, NJ. Some day, I'd like to go to Olana, Church's home in the Hudson Valley. I've even kicked around the idea of writing a screenplay/novel based on Church, and I suppose I could write off the trip as a work-related expense.

In any case, here's a few more paintings to gawk at.

Cotopaxi, from Church's travels in South America.
Chimborazo, from the same series.

On to the news:

Entire nation responds to accusations of fictional character
(High five!)

College finally points out the obvious
(As a professor, I suppose we only have ourselves to blame on this one)

Chocolate baths for Valentine's Day?
(That actually sounds rather disgusting)

Bright, shiny objects:

How do I recycle this?
(Into recycling? Got something you have no idea what do with?)

Another in the "Choose Your Own Adventure" vein
(I know, I did one yesterday...)

Today's random "next blog":

Pro Photo Learning Center
(Seems to be a collaborative blog about professional photography. This is the fun of the "next blog" button)

Today's strange anniversary:

February 13, 1959 -- Barbie doll goes on sale.

Fun fact of the day:

The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.

And finally:

Last night, as my wife and I were going to bed, my wife teasingly told me that I should get out because she got to the bed first. I replied using my standard comeback that "I was here second and two is a higher number than one." I've been using that for ten years (in all honesty, I stole it from here), and I'd never had anyone mount a comeback to it. Her response: "Not if they're negative numbers." I love my wife.

Monday, February 12, 2007

More on Iceland--Lithuania relations

Sifting through the news today, I found that there were a few stories that were related to my actual professional job as a child psychologist. I know I toyed around with the idea of doing a baseball blog, but I want to do a psychology blog too. Today, we find out that adoptive parents are actually better parents than biological parents, and that there's a renewed focus on academic burnout in fourth grade. That, combined with the news that autism rates are on the rise, means that there's a lot of child psychology news.

This is the problem with blogging. It's addictive.

This week's theme:
Frederic Edwin Church

FIF goes high-brau this week, featuring one of my favorite painters, Frederic Edwin Church. Church was a member of the first truly American school of painting, the Hudson River School, which focused on painting the American landscape in the mid-to-late 19th century.

My personal favorite painting by the man is "Twilight in the Wilderness" from the collection of the Cleveland Art Museum.

On to the news:

Hunter shoots washing machine
(Hunting at home... maybe not such a good idea)

Restaurant offers free meals to the hungry
(So to speak)

Looking for a Valentine's Day date?
(Maybe these aren't the best prospects)

Bright, shiny objects:

Engrish.com just made a great soccer joke, but no one would get it
(If you have to ask the question, you wouldn't understand the answer)

Choose your own adventure, the online video Valentine's Day edition
(Remember these from grade school?)

Today's random "next blog":

Random thoughts and associations
(You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a blog by its title)

The Monday playlist feature:

Well, it's Valentine's week. So, I should probably pick a memorable Valentine's Day to recall on this week's playlist. Around my house, there's a framed poem that I wrote for my wife back when we were dating on Valentine's Day 2002. I actually wrote to her parents and asked if they would send me a particular picture of my wife so that I could incoporate it in. They did, and that's when I knew that they liked me. Anyway, here's what we were listening to back then.

5) The Calling -- Wherever You Will Go

4) Usher -- U Got It Bad

3) Linkin Park -- In the End

2) No Doubt -- Hey Baby

1) Pink -- Get This Party Started

Today's strange anniversary:

February 12, 1991 -- Iceland recognizes Lithuania's independence. Apparently, this was a big enough event that someone felt the need to write it down.

Fun fact of the day:

Many northern parishes (counties) of Louisiana did not agree with the Confederate movement. To show their disapproval, they changed their names. That's why there is a Union Parish, Jefferson Parish, etc.

And finally:

I don't get the point of dog shows in general, but MSNBC has a whole section of their website devoted to the Westminster Kennel Club show. Rent Best in Show and you'll never be able to think of a dog show the same way.

Friday, February 09, 2007

How my wife made chicken fillets using zen

Last night at dinner, my wife and I were recounting the time when we were at a friend's house trying to make fried chicken. My wife is a vegetarian. There were four other people in the kitchen, yet none of us could figure out how to fillet the chicken in front of us. My wife, the vegetarian, took over and did a fantastic job. We were laughing about that story last night when she said, "Yeah, it was all thanks to the Chinese Religions class I took in college." I stopped and pondered what exactly people were studying over in the religious studies department (my wife was a religion minor... we both went to the same college) She continued, "The professor told a story of a man to explain the concept of zen. He was a butcher and he was so good that it was said that his knife never dulled. When asked, the butcher said that he was just in a zen state that he was able to just follow the bone with no problems." My wife reasoned then that she should just follow the bones. So, next time you're about to disparage someone for picking such a useless major at a liberal arts college, remember: you actually learn valuable life skills.

This week's theme:
Trekkie music videos

I'm saddened that the I love the 90s theme had to go. I actually checked last night, and the videos are all gone. I guess I'll have to wait until it comes back on VH-1 (which will no doubt be within the next 24 hours).

Anyway, a musical tribute to the greatest tradition in Star Trek, the guy in the red shirt getting killed. Music by Queen.

On to the news:

Today's least justifiable excuse for a divorce
(Pumpkin pie?)

Psychic museum closes down
(Due to unforeseen circumstances!)

Truck driver spills 40 tons of cow intestines all over Wisconsin

Bright, shiny objects:

Where to hide your money from burglars
(Advice from a former burglar)

The Luke Johnson phone experiment
(Give this guy a call. Tell him that he's on FIF.)

Today's random "next blog":

Grain of Sand
(Kirby Plays World Game... I don't know what that means either)

And now a word from our sponsors:

And finally:

It's time for our weekly check of Is It Friday Dot Net!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The hoohaa monologues

Yeah, it's legitimate.

This week's theme:
Trekkie music videos

A man in Star Trek uniform shirt sings about being a nerd... Imagine that
(Nerd Pride!)

On to the news:

Need a good way to waste time?
(Watch cheddar age!)

Vagina Monologues has to change its name in Florida
(This is worth a cheap laugh)

Urine-town: the musical
(Sponsored by the Omaha Urology Institute!)

Malaysian colleges offer courses on how to clean toilets
(Wife, don't say it)

Quote of the day:

"Get ready... for the violence... of the lambs."

Bright, shiny objects:

Nintendo humor, live on stage
(And you kno you'll catch all the references)

Mice on drugs
(All in the name of science. Interesting for about 30 seconds, but a good 30 seconds)

Today's random "next blog":

4th Avenue Blues
(A man with schizophrenia blogs about his life. As a clinical psychologist, I encourage you to read this one and gain a little more understanding about schizophrenia)

Today's strange anniversary:

February 8, 1992 -- "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred peaks at #1. America, go hang your collective heads in shame.

Fun fact of the day:

A-1 Steak Sauce contains both orange peel and raisins.

T-shirt of the week:

Salute your shorts!
(Here's to failed Nickelodeon shows)

And finally:

I can already feel the sunshine.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pimp My Bathroom

It's Valentine's Day next week, so without fail, all of the jewelry stores are out with their commercials. One of them, Kay Jewelers has their increasingly-annoying "every kiss begins with Kay" slogan. (Not since, "Oooooooooooh, that's Jared!" has a jewelry store been so annoying) My wife pointed out that every kick begins (and ends!) with Kay as well. Food for thought, guys, if you're out shopping.

"Here's a diamond, sweetie." (Doubles over in pain.) "Here's another one..."

This week's theme:
Trekkie music videos

Star Trek... meet Rocky Horror Picture Show

On to the news:

More about mini-pigs
(A wedding?)

Man deposits marijuana at a bank
(Must have been good stuff)

Quote of the day:

"The average person spends 11,862 hours in the bathroom, which equals one year, four months and five days in a lifetime... a toilet should be the most wonderful location in your home." -- Steven Pollyea, vice president of marketing for Roto-Rooter plumbing on the company's new "pimped out" john.

America, we've finally gotten to "Pimp My Bathroom."

Bright, shiny objects:

Selling dental health using the world's oldest advertising technique
(Think of it as an ode to a certain pearly white substance)

Learn Dutch, the easy way
(Part Five!)

Today's random "next blog":

Usually, I don't post political blogs
(But it's Canadian politics, so it doesn't count)

Today's strange anniversary:

February 7, 1936 -- A flag is authorized for the Vice President. You didn't know that D-Chains had his own flag, eh?

Fun fact of the day:

How do gun silencers work?
(Straight dope knows everything!)

And finally:

NASA today said that in light of the recent diaper-clad astronaut stalker woman story, they'll be re-vamping their psychological assessments to try to screen these folks out and they'll be looking into her past to see if there were any warning signs which they should have noticed. I teach classes in psychology, and one of my favorite activities to do with the class is to have them imagine that they've all just been arrested on national television for double murder or some other big crime. Then, I encourage them to take a look into their own lives and come up with all the "reasons that we should have known." Everyone has things in their past that qualify as "warning signs." This kind of post hoc ergo propter hoc thinking will end up with a bunch of wild theories that people will believe completely, and then I will no doubt have to explain why they aren't true. Here's to job security!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

See can anyone matters really nothing

It's time for our Tuesday look around the world to see what's happening!

  1. Congress is going to tax terrorism. That'll show Osama!
  2. The moron count in America is apparently going up
  3. Well what do you know? Letting kids play with the oven isn't a good idea
  4. Teenagers feel bad after sex
In other words, nothing new is happening.

This week's theme:
Trekkie music videos!

Another in our "I watched entirely too much Star Trek: The Next Generation" series. The entire episode catalog of the show, set to music. If you're a hardcore fan of the show, you have got to see this.

On to the news:

If you thought Paris Hilton's miniature chihuahua was annoying, wait until you see this.

Today's least justified grand theft auto
(Of a police car, no less)

Quote of the day:

O. J. Simpson on why he hopes that his If I Did It never comes out: "It made it look too much like an admission of guilt,” Simpson said to the Palm Beach Post. “I wasn’t happy with the hypothetical paragraphs. A ghostwriter wrote the whole thing, and I OK’d it. But there were a lot of inaccuracies about the case and about how I would have done things. But I figure I’d let it go since I didn’t kill anyone."

O. J., are you listening to me? No.

Bright, shiny objects:

If the robots win, we'll have to listen to techno
(Lite Brite music video?)

And the award for most creative waste of time
(Counting numbers in 5000 languages... you know you're curious)

Today's random "next blog":

Deep Navy Blue
(Someone's diary blog. Seems like she puts a lot of effort into it.)

Today's strange anniversary:

February 6, 1990 -- Steve Briers of Wales recited the entire lyrics of Queen's album "A Night At The Opera" in 9 minutes & 58.44 seconds backwards! And Mimi Marquez, clad only in bubble wrap will perform her famous lawn chair/handcuff dance to the sounds of iced tea being stirred.

Fun fact of the day:

Hang On Sloopy is the official rock song of Ohio.

And finally:

Today, I booked more stops on my American tour. We're going to Atlanta to see the world's cutest nieces at the end of the month, and then I'm going to spend four days in Boston for a conference. Nyah nyah, I get to see Fenway Park.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Da Bears, Chewbacca, Europe, floating porcupines, and diapers

Chicago is going through its post-mortems around the Bears' loss. No word on if the city will have a "second place" parade. If they have one, no one will go. It's so cold that I don't think anyone would show up if they had won the thing. It's so cold that within 15 seconds this morning, my nose hairs were frozen (I know, that's much more than you ever wanted to know about me).

But, in good news...

This week's theme:
Trekkie Music Videos?

Nerd Pride! Here's "Starfleet Rhapsody". You'll only get the jokes if you followed the Next Generation.

On to the news:

Chewbacca arrested
(Today's been a weird one)

Woman wins big jackpot at casino
(A baby)

Cat gets credit card
(Dead people vote all the time in Chicago... what's the big deal?)

Police chief gives himself a ticket
(Finally, an honest cop!)

Quote of the day:

A feature I just dreamed up... let's see if it becomes regular.

Upon running into a deer while out skiing, a doctor remarked: "My first thought was, 'What hit me?...a (snow) boarder? drunk skier? linebacker?'"


Bright, shiny objects:

Engrish.com is getting a little forward with us
(I'll be sure to call you.)

Take a bad song to try to cover. Do a bad job.
(Unintentional comedy rating: high)

Today's random "next blog":

Romanian poetry
(In translation... I told you these things were random)

The Monday playlist feature:

I actually checked and the I Love the 90s videos were still up. In theory, today would have been 1994. But, in case I revive the 90s theme for next week, I'll put that off. Nah, I'm in the mood for something 80s. So, let's see what America was listening to around this time in 1987.

5) Samantha Fox -- Touch Me (I Want Your Body)

4) Billy Vera and the Beaters -- At This Moment (YouTube's only sorta heard of it... Here's a cover)

3) Bon Jovi -- Livin' on a Prayer (It's OK... it would be the first thing I click on too.)

2) Cyndi Lauper -- Change of Heart

1) Madonna (why is she in every single countdown I do?) -- Open Your Heart

So, we have two one-hit wonders of whom I've never even heard, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper (when did she ever put that song out?) and Madonna. I love the 80s... or was it 90s. Hard to tell any more.

Today's strange anniversary:

February 5, 1783 -- Sweden recognizes US independence. Thanks guys. 7 years late. And ABBA sucks.

Fun fact of the day:

All porcupines float in water. (I'm so gonna get sued for this one.)

And finally:

I saw this one as I was completing the blog as a late-breaking news story on MSNBC.

Headline: Astronaut arrested in alleged kidnap attempt.
ORLANDO, Fla. - An astronaut drove from Houston to Florida, donned a disguise and confronted a woman she believed was romantically involved with a space shuttle pilot she was in love with, police said. She was charged with attempted kidnapping and other counts.

OK, so far it's just a normal average everyday story.

U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew last July on a shuttle mission to the international space station, was also charged with attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. She was denied bail.

So these are the people that get to go into space?

Police said Nowak drove from her home in Houston to the Orlando International Airport — wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate — to confront Colleen Shipman.

So... she drove to an airport 900 miles away... when she could have just flown. In a diaper. I think we're seeing a pattern starting to form.
Nowak believed Shipman was romantically involved with Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, a pilot during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the space station last December, police said.

My brother's response: Gives new meaning to the term "mile high club."

Nowak told police that her relationship with Oefelein was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," according to an arrest affidavit. Police officers recovered a love letter to Oefelein in her car.

If you've seen Wedding Crashers... start thinking about Isla Fisher's character.

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston said that, as of Monday, Nowak's status with the astronaut corps remained unchanged. "What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate," he said. Hartsfield said he couldn't recall the last time an astronaut was arrested and said there were no rules against fraternizing among astronauts.

Well, that answers all the "Why does NASA have so many problems?" questions. Isn't James Hartsfield the lead singer of Metallica?

When she found out that Shipman was flying to Orlando from Houston, Nowak decided to confront her, according to the arrest affidavit. Nowak drove the 900-mile trip from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers, police said.

Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.

Yeah, that was too much information.
Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, Nowak boarded an airport bus that Shipman took to her car in an airport parking lot. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit. Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman's car, the affidavit said. Shipman drove to the parking lot booth, and the police were called.

I think we have a visual... I think we have a visual. Wig. Trench coat. Diaper. Now, let's play a game of "Good Idea, Bad Idea." If you saw that rapping on your window, would you roll the window down?
During a check of the parking lot, an officer followed Nowak and watched her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. They also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.

She blamed it on MacGyver.
Inside Nowak's vehicle, which was parked at a nearby motel, authorities uncovered a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter "that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein," an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman's home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

Police said Nowak told them that she only wanted to scare Shipman into talking to her about her relationship with Oefelein and didn't want to harm her physically.

"If you were just going to talk to someone, I don't know that you would need a wig, a trench coat, an air cartridge BB gun and pepper spray," said Sgt. Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. "It's just really a very sad case. ... Now she ends up finding herself on the other side of the law with some very serious charges."

Thanks for clearing that one up for us, Barbara.
If convicted of attempted kidnapping, Nowak could face a maximum of life in prison. It was not immediately known whether Nowak had an attorney.

According to NASA's official biography, Nowak is married with three children. During her 13-day mission in July she operated the robotic arm during three spacewalks. Oefelein piloted the space shuttle Discovery in December. He has two children, according to a NASA biography.

Do you ever look around you and wonder how it is that our species survives?