Sunday, October 31, 2004

A very sad moment...

End of the tournament yesterday. I've got this sweet sophomore boy--very earnest, very into the activity. He's awesome.

At tournaments, when they award your trophies, they don't know your name. They announce trophies by your code. (For instance, Joe Ravalomanana from Antananarivo High School might be called "24P2.") This kid was something like 16X1. They were calling out the names of winners, and they called out 15X1. He ran up, excited, and claimed his trophy. I had to take it away later. Just awful, but better than having him think he won when he didn't, I think. He took it well.

I propose adding an extra hour to the day after EVERY tournament. It sure helps me out.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ah, the commitment...

Because of the activity I coach, I leave home at this time on Saturday morning.

I'm committed. At least, I ought to be committed.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

For the record...

I still like St. Louis to win. Three reasons:

1. At the start of the playoffs, I picked St. Louis over Boston in the Series. I can't prove it at this point--you'll have to take my word. But yes, I did, and I don't feel I should abandon it.

2. Eight errors in two games? Eight???

3. Somehow, in some way, it'd be fun to watch a big collapse...and I say this as an impartial observer. I suppose it'd be fun to watch them win it all too. I guess I'll be happy no matter what happens.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bio Artson A&E

Never heard of it, but TiVo got it the other day because Aimee Mann was on. The show was basically Chrissy Hynde, Aimee Mann, and Sarah McLachlan singing their songs and being interviewed.

TRP wants more, but it's not scheduled to be on again for as far forward as TiVo can see.

A life goal.

I've always wanted to play Seymour Krelborn in Little Shop of Horrors. I suppose I still have time.

The sexy smart woman who's marrying me is seeing the show with me this weekend. Would they throw me out of the theater for singing along? For getting on stage, cold-cocking Seymour, and taking over?

Friday, October 22, 2004

I'm drunk with the power.

Late in school today. It was a Friday afternoon, sixth (last) period and we'd wrapped up the day's activity a few minutes early, so we were just doing a brief (and rare) bout of chillin'. Earlier, I'd been staring at some former students through the big picture window that leads into the computer lab. They'd waved, and I was feeling snotty, so I just stared at them quizically. Well, they thought they'd get revenge. Three of them in a row stood staring at me. I stared back. They kept staring. We had ourselves a little staring contest showdown. So I thought I'd use the 30 students in the room. I told them to turn and stare at the seniors. They did. I told my sophomores to stand. They did, much to the alarm of my three former students. I told the students to point. They did. I told the students to laugh. They did.

It is terrifying to me how easily I can get first-semester sophomores to do pretty much anything I want. Terrifying and damned fun. When things like this happen, I feel just a little bit like a Soviet premier on the balcony, reviewing his troops. A good thing to experience, just a little bit, at least once in life.

A colleague once said I have the Cult of Personality going. Maybe this is what he meant.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A very bad idea for a product

Just saw an ad on during the baseball game for a new product, Arm & Hammer Enamel Care Toothpaste. It brags that it is the first and only toothpaste with "Liquid Calcium (R) Technology."

The melting point of calcium is 842 degrees centigrade.

Wouldn't it be horribly dangerous for me to put that in my mouth? How'd this get past the FDA?

My Jeopardy! Tryout

When I tried out for the College Tournament of Jeopardy! 14 years ago, well, I didn't get past the written test. Therefore, when I took a half day of school off today and blitzed downtown to try out again, I must admit I was a little nervous when the test began. What if I'm not good enough? What if I fail again? What if nobody loves me?

Plus, it's a helluva nerve-wracking test. The DVD reads the clues to you (Johnny Olsen's voice) with only 8 seconds in between to write down answers. But today, I was on a roll. I was in da ZONE. I didn't miss a question in the first 20. I finally missed one at about #23, but since it's a 50 question test, I was not bothered. I didn't think the questions were that tough, to be honest with you...they told us they were $1600 or $2000 questions, but I'd say $800-1200 is more like it. I've tracked my play on grids while I play along on TV (yeah, I'm a nerd) for a long time, and I only get about half of the $1600-$2000 questions right...but I got about 90% of the test's questions right. Ipso facto ergo, these cannot have been $1600-$2000 questions.

And, yes, I passed the test. Out of 70 people in the room, only 12 passed the test. I felt confident. Now it's just a matter of figuring out the buzzer and turning on my irresistible charm, right? I mean, at the risk of my fiancee calling me a Game Show Ho, I've been through this before. I tried out for, was on, and won $11,000 on Pyramid two years ago. The nerves won't bother me. I'll be able to pull this off, right?

Well, wrong. My confidence, it seems, was hubris. My performance in the pretend-games portion of the tryout was far from stellar. The buzzer is sort of annoying. I tried waiting until the light-that-signals-you-to-buzz-in to come on. No luck. They actually encouraged us to buzz repeatedly, so I tried that, but there's no timing to that; it simply felt like a matter of luck to buzz in. Times I swear I'd made it in, somebody (most notably Roseanne...Roseanne O'Somethingorother) would beat me. And then the worst part. I blanked on Good Will Hunting. Knew the damn movie, couldn't remember the damn title. YUCK. I missed at least one other question. Yeah, I got a couple of them right, but if we'd have kept score for the 3-5 minutes me and two fellow test-passers were playing, I'd have been a distant third.

Now, in presentation, I was fine. I spoke with a loud, certain voice, and didn't dawdle picking categories. When they asked me what I'd do with the money I win, I smiled and said "I'd make my small July wedding into a larger July wedding." Hey--can't hurt to play the engagement card. I was better in this area than the others. Some of the other test-passers were mumblers and didn't give off good TV vibes. But I got my ass handed to me when we played the game. Dems da berries.

They told us that we'd all be put on a potential contestant list and kept there for a year. They also said "We'd like to use as many of you as possible. That's why we're here." Still, when one considers that I was in only one of at least six tryout groups--and that just in Seattle--I just don't see how I'll be one of the 400 best contestants they find nationwide this year. When you combine that with my recent game-show appearance (not a deal-breaker, but certainly a strike against me) and my status as a white male (they've got plenty of those for the show already), I think my chances for getting a call to be on the show are dismal. I'll let you know if I've been picked, of course, but don't hold your breath. I'm not.

I get to try out again in a year, and you can rest assured I'll be there next time they have tryouts in Seattle. I made progress this time...passed the test, I think easily, but did poorly in the buzzer game. Next year, dammit, I will take it to the next step. I will get there. Yah-huh.

Unless Wheel of Fortune happens to come by first. (Have I reached Ho status yet?)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Tim McCarver is an idiot.

Bottom of the 12th. David Ortiz tries to steal 2nd (why?). Close play: he's called out. Five replays, five angles. Some are inconclusive, others seem to show that Ortiz's back is tagged by Derek Jeter before Ortiz touches the bag. The fifth angle is irrefutable...Ortiz is out. I even slow it down with the TiVo. Tag first, then he gets to the bag. But Tim McCarver still says: "CLEARLY THE REPLAY SHOWS THAT ORTIZ TOUCHES THE BAG BEFORE JETER MAKES THE TAG." Um...no it doesn't, Tim. Why are you whining? And why aren't you looking at this replay the way I am? (Oh, and I know I had the caps lock on. It's just that, when McCarver speaks, he sounds like he has his caps lock on.)

At least he's not Paul "Watch! Lookit! Watch! I want you to watch this! Watch! Lookit! Lookit-look-lookit!" McGuire, who, rather than annoying me, should only be permitted to annoy hungry bears, angry hornets, and inner-city toughs.

Famous last words: "Oh! It's the seventh inning! I'll just watch the end of the game, then start grading."

It's the bottom of the 13th now, and Joe Buck just said "Replays showed that Ortiz was safe." Don't they have access to TiVo in the press box?

Hats off to second base umpire Randy Marsh, who got it right in spite of McCarver's really really annoying whining. God, I love officials.

Now it's the top of the 14th in Boston. In Houston, Brandon Backe and Woody Williams are in a CLASSIC pitching duel...and it's easily the second most dramatic and interesting game of the night. Helluva postseason.

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

Have you read Jon Stewart taking it to the idiots screaming at each other on Crossfire? If not, please look here.

Regrettably, Stewart dips into incivility late in the interview, because his complaints are completely on the money. Crap like Crossfire is, as I see it, a HUGE chunk of the reason we don't have civil discourse in this nation anymore, and Stewart lets 'em know. Thank God somebody finally has.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I just voted.

My absentee ballot now has been completely filled out, except for one issue I can't decide about--I want to talk to my fiancee. With the exception of the Presidential race (I've already made up my mind, believe it or not) I looked at each race and each candidate...solid research for every damn candidate, every damn position. Total time: six and a half hours. But worth it, I think.

Some observations:

--This time, I actually voted for judge positions. I feel totally unqualified to make these decisions. Judges shouldn't have "positions," so how the hell do I decide? I went with who I thought was most qualified. Then I encountered Richard B. Sanders on our Supreme Court. A thoughtful guy, clearly very full of himself; has supplied his highlights and his key reasons for every damn position he ever took. I agree with a lot, and I disagree with a lot. He is, it appears, a second amendment nut fundamentalist supported by the NRA. Do I vote against him for his opponent (who wrote a vague statement and has no website) based on this one issue that I'm passionate about? I won't tell you what I did...it's a secret ballot. I'll just say that I agonized about it, and that I'm not sure Supreme Court Justices should be chosen by vote.

--Both of our gubenatorial candidates suck. The Republican actually has a picture of himself with Jay Buhner on his website, as if that somehow convinces me. "Vote Rossi. He knows a guy who hit 300 home runs." But the Democrat also leaves me empty. Yuck.

--I didn't vote a straight Democratic ticket. Close, but a few Republicans seemed to have, you know, plans. To have, you know, a clue.

--I stopped reading Libertarian candidates' statements after the first five. They're basically cut-and-pasted from each other. "It's not the government's money. It's yours. We'll give it to you."

--There are presidential candidates for both the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Equality Party. Come on, guys! Kiss and make up! You're way too small a minority to split...together, you'll be twice as effective! (What's 2 times .0000000000000001?)

--I'm almost as passionate about the vote for State Superintendent of Public Instruction as I am the vote for POTUS. But not quite.

--I still can't decide whether to vote for the law that would require Hanford Nuclear Reservation to be cleaned up adequately before permitting new waste to arrive. It sounds good on face. But I'm torn. Observe:

ARGUMENTS FOR: Sends a message to DC that we're sick of them pussyfooting around the cleanup. Might encourage quicker cleanup before waste hits the Columbia River. Others.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST: Past efforts to do this have been declared unconstitutional (interference with interstate commerce), and the initiative would therefore waste time and money. The initiative process isn't the way to determine nuclear cleanup--citizens aren't expert in nuclear physics. If we pass this law, other states can pass the law...and the massive amounts of nuclear waste we ship OUT to be stored in Nevada would then be stuck here. Others.

I'll talk it over with my fiancee, who lived over by Hanford for a year or so. See if she can shed any light on the topic.

And, incidentally, when I decide how I'll vote, I'll let you know. That I've decided, that is...not what I've decided. You know, secret ballot and all that. Except for Kerry. I voted for him. My only regret is that I don't live in Ohio, Florida, or Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Civil disobedience

At school, we've been asked to resume wearing badges that identify us as faculty members. This is supposedly a security measure, although I can't for the life of me figure out how it helps security. Can anyone name a single school shooting tragedy that would have been prevented by badges? Anyway. A black-sheep teacher friend of mine let me know today that, last time they asked us to wear the badges, he/she couldn't find his/hers. Instead, s/he found his/her lift pass for the local ski area. It's about the same shape, size, and color as our identity badges, but instead of "Local High School" it says "Local Ski Area" on it, and the picture is of the teacher in ski goggles rather than in school clothing. The teacher claims to have worn this badge for four months and nobody noticed. Cool. I'd never be that ballsy, but I'm glad someone else is.

I'm outta here...gotta find my damn badge. Or maybe go make one.

Some debate stuff

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter has stated what I was thinking last week: the most terrifying moment of the St. Louis town hall debate on Friday was Bush's response to the last question. Alter writes about it here. What Alter doesn't write about is how Kerry dropped the ball in his response, giving a stock answer on Iraq we'd already heard five times in three debates rather than using Bush's non-answer as exhibit A of Bush being incapable of admitting an error, adjusting to changing conditions, or even seeing the possibility that there's another way besides his.

As for tonight...well, I was pleased with Kerry, as I felt it was his best performance. It was also Bush's best performance, a nice happy medium between the first debate's whininess and the second debate's voice-cracking bluster. I only shouted out obscenities at Bush once...when he took the "would you raise the minimum wage" question and completely fucking ignored it, instead talking about No Child Left Behind, which leaves all children behind. I don't have the text of the law handy, but I believe it reads: "Hey, schools! Hey, teachers! Get your students to improve right away! And don't ask for money to help--we won't give it!" Still, I'm not a me-too Kerry guy...I actually agree with him on an issue or two domestically. Such is life for a Democrat who is troubled with his party's perspectives on abortion and medicine.

I finished all those papers. This is my first early-to-bed night in several weeks. And I'm gonna take it, as we're continuing to tackle hilites from the Iliad tomorrow. Much to my delight, the little nippers seem to, with a little hand-holding to ensure understanding of the text, really enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I love this game

Tonight...went to my first championship sporting event. (Unless you count the 1991 World Bowl where the London Monarchs beat the Barcelona Dragons 21-0. Yeah, I don't either.)

The Seattle Storm and my pretend girlfriend were champions. I attended both of the home games, both victories. The runner-up Connecticut Sun's Nykesha Sales was a megababe, carrying the Sun in game 2, even having a literal shot for the championship (she missed it). The Storm's Betty Lennox was series MVP--50 points in the two wins. The Sun shut down my pretend girlfriend and Lauren Jackson, but Lennox more than made up the slack, and Seattle's defense was astonishingly good in the second half tonight. Connecticut had no prayer.

Observations:

1. The stadium was incredibly loud. Amazingly loud. Packed at 17,072. I can remember being in a louder McNichols Sports arena for Nuggets playoff games as a kid...in particular, a 1983 game against Phoenix. I was in the second row from the ceiling, where all of the sound gathers. I was in a similar place tonight, and I think it was louder. Either I'm older or the higher-pitched voices of women and girls made it feel louder.

2. Lots of horn-honking after the game, dancing for TV cameras, etc. But no looting. I guess the WNBA isn't looting-worthy yet. But if there is looting, it'll probably be at Claire's and the Hello Kitty store***. Look out, world. Here come the adolescent girls, and they're ready to riot.

***I decided not to take this joke in the direction you may have been thinking.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A bunch of crap with no real unifying theme

HER: Are there any baseball stats they don't track?
ME: Ball-scratching.
HER: I bet somebody does.

*****

One of the support staff/clerical folks at school is doing a horrible job. I have given up on her doing her job and am now doing her job (as it applies to me, anyway) on the sly to double-check her very shoddy work. I am angry about this. If I state that I am angry about this, however, I will be assumed to be "insensitive towards the efforts of the support staff." Annoying.

*****

The new custodian who cleans my room doesn't talk. That's too bad. I always viewed conversation with the former custodian as a reward for staying too late. And if I were a custodian, I'd think of a little conversation as a welcome respite from work. Unless he became a custodian so he could have respite from conversation, which he's stuck with in the whole rest of his life.

*****

For the record, I did pick the Twins to beat the Yankees in the series. I wish to God they'd have won last night.

*****

Gotta order some ref clothes. I'm back on the court after a three-year hiatus anytime now. Maybe this'll help me lose the 15 more pounds that gotta go.

*****

Being overweight is weird. I've always been alarmingly skinny. My first drivers' license read 6'2" and 135 lbs. I've got the pictures to prove it. So it's weird to think of myself as needing to LOSE weight. But all of this weight has arrived since my vocal cord injury forced me to stop reffing for a while. So strange, the way that one body system affects another.

*****

Are you still here?


*****

My baby and I just completed newcomers class at our church. I can't believe I stayed Catholic as long as I did. Hearing people encourage use of one's mind and clergy stating that sometimes they start their homilies by talking about the parts of the readings that they disagree with, at least on the surface--I never knew clergy to do that, unless they were obviously Catholic black sheep. What a kick-ass place.

*****

I am exhausted. 57 papers to grade by Wednesday and a college buddy coming to town for the weekend. I'll get it done. May have to send the college buddy out with the fiancee to the movies or something.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

First reaction to the debate

I dislike them both.

A buddy of mine got me a T-shirt that said "Grumpy State Debate Team: We're right, you're wrong, end of debate." I got the sense that this was Cheney's demeanor. When he used so little of his time in rebuttals, I got the sense that he was so certain that he was so right that he felt it would demean him to have to answer these questions. He projects the image of the mean guy next door who'll curse at you if you kick your football into his yard. Stubborner than Bush but without Bush's good-guy charm.

Edwards was smarmy. Taking the extra 15 seconds when Gwen Ifill accidentally gave him an extra rebuttal was a bad move. I've liked what I've read about him in the press, but my image of him has fallen. He was trying too hard...eager like an annoying first date. Too damn smooth.

I liked it best when they were catty. Why did Cheney vote against MLK day and Head Start?

I predict this debate has no effect whatsoever on the polls. Won't be waiting for an impact on electoral-vote.com for this one.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Well, Edgar played.

Sort of. 0 for 4 with a strikeout, and grounded into two double plays. Yucky way to end a career, but it was still cool. Standing O's every time he came to the plate. Loads of curtain calls. Quite nice. I'll miss Edgar, who leads the league in the somewhat arcane category of Home Runs In My Presence with 15. Yes, I keep track.

Ichiro also had hits #261 and 262 for the year, extending his record over George "Let's Have Some Tasty Steaks At The" Sisler.

M's manager Bob Melvin has a flair for the dramatic. He sent Edgar out to make a 9th inning pitching change...a chance for another massive standing O. And he pulled Ichiro from the field with one out in the 9th...another chance for a standing O. He's got a fine sense of theater, Melvin. Too bad he likely won't have a job in 48 hours.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Bye bye, Edgar...

As a part of my 16-game season-ticket package I share with a buddy, I have tickets to tomorrow's Mariner season finale. We got these tickets in hopes that the M's would be in a pennant race. Um.....no. But then, I was hoping that Ichiro might set the single-season hit record in that last game. Um.....no. (Maybe he'll get a hit to extend his new record.) But that's okay; I will get to see Edgar Martinez's last at-bats in the majors, and since he's my favorite player of all time, that's quite significant to me. Um.....maybe not. Maybe I won't see it.

Tonight, the penultimate game of the season, was Edgar Martinez night. Lots of Edgar moments. They put him in at third base (for one pitch...a ball) because Edgar said he started his career at third base, and he wanted to end it there. There was a huge, hour-long ceremony after the game. Teammates returned. Multiple gifts were presented. Charities received moneys in his name. Bud Selig announced that the AL Designated Hitter award would henceforth be known as the Edgar Martinez award. They renamed one of the adjoining streets "Edgar Martinez Drive." His wife spoke. His teammates spoke. The mayor spoke. The governor spoke. It was a long, nice event...an excellent way to end his career.

But wait! I have tickets to TOMORROW'S game!!! Please, don't tell me you're retiring a game early, Edgar! Please get in some AB's tomorrow! AAAAHHHH!!!