Sunday, November 28, 2004

Watching the Broncos play in the snow

I have much affection for Denver and environs, as I grew up there. I can't say I spend a lot of time missing it, however. It's not that I dislike Colorado--on the contrary, I love those dry craggy mountains and that Western laid-backness. It's just that I like here better.

But tonight, Denver and (evil, awful, slimy, bank-robbing) Oakland are playing a majorly fun football game in a driving, sideways snowstorm. This has brought me a very rare bout of Colorado homesickness. Geez, do I miss that kind of snow and cold. The grey and temperate climate here does absolutely nothing to confirm I'm alive. Colorado's weather reminded me I existed almost all the time, especially the winters. The Broncos and Al Davis's Evil Henchmen aren't just slogging it out in the snow with off-tackle plays, either. They're throwing deep, and successfully. This game is as full of wacky, fun plays as a Madden video game, with loads of interceptions and long touchdowns. Football as fun as it can be...so fun that not even ESPN's crew can ruin it...as fun as it was when I was a kid.

I loved going out into the snow and playing football. My buddies and I used to play every New Year's Eve at my friend Peter's house, from about 5th grade until I decided I'd rather be with girls on New Year's (for the record, this realization came about 9:30 PM on 12/31/1986...11th grade). We'd put on hundreds of layers of clothing, direct every light we could find into the backyard, and have our own little bowl game. On another occasion, eighth grade or so, I remember playing on our junior high's field one cold snowy day, throwing deep to my friend Ian Sneed on the game's final play to pull out a 28-21 win over Peter and Joe. I just threw as hard as I could and slipped while I threw...but apparently the slip was providential, as the ball fell right over Ian's shoulder.

Oakland's Ronald Curry just celebrated his incredible one-handed TD catch by making a snow angel in the end zone. Apparently I'm not the only one who likes playing in the snow a little bit better than in normal weather.

I haven't been home since May 2002. I won't be able to head back this summer--the time and money will be taken up with my wedding. Maybe next summer I'll take my baby down there--show her the Rockies, where she's never been. Or maybe over the winter...we can hang in the snow and do some cross-country skiing, although the altitude will probably kill me after eight years away. This game makes it clear--I've got to get back, ideally soon. It's time to do a little Colorado recharging.

Facilitation

During today's games, I was observed by a clinician. We're in the first steps of switching from 2-man to 3-man crews here, so those of us without 3-man experience were working 3-man games at this holiday tournament for grades 5-9. Clinicians would run out onto the court during time outs to give input.

My second game went to the crapper during the second half, mostly due to an irate coach. (I'm very hard on my own performances--harder than other people are on me, actually--and would certainly tell you if I was at fault for the game's crapper-going. But this one's on the butthead coach, I'm afraid.) Things were rough. With 49 seconds left, our clinician ran onto the floor. Rather than talking floor positioning, he, quite properly, talked about the rough situation we were in. Here's what he said:

"You need to manage this game to get out of here in one piece after 49 seconds. Not just manage the game. You need to facilitiate it. Got that? Facilitate the game. I leave it up to you to decide what that means."

He was very earnest, and very much trying to be helpful, so this isn't a knock on him. Still, I've been home for several hours now, and I still haven't decided what on earth he meant.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Googlewhacking...

Wow! I did it on my first try!

Just today, as I checked out what the very funny Dave Gorman is up to, I found that he's doing a show about Googlewhacking. You probably have known this for years, but I just learned it...a googlewhack is a search on Google where two words, without quotation marks, yields one and only one result. I thought I'd try to find one. I needed two relatively uncommon words, but not too uncommon, that aren't too likely to appear together. My attempt at a googlewhack was this:

truculent videographer

definition: one of many individuals my baby probably found at the wedding expo whose braggodocio about his digital film skills might lead to violence

And lo and behold, I got this page. And only this page! I googlewhacked in my first attempt!!! Of course, now that I've posted this blog, it won't be a googlewhack for long. My page will soil the googlewhack forever. It is mine...all mine!

I would now like to announce my retirement from googlewhacking. I'm going out as undefeated champion of the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Famous Latino Obstetricians

I'm not making fun of the kid who wrote this--the assignment involved Star Wars, and kids just saw the movie, and didn't see characters' names written. But it was still damn funny to learn from a student that Luke's mentor was named OB Juan Kannobie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Whither an officiating blog?

A search under "officiating blog" on Google yields countless pinheads blogging about how officials suck and have cost their team the most recent game.

I want to find a blog of a basketball official a little smarter than I am talking about his/her most recent games. If you find one, let me know. I'll likely be doing some stuff here myownself.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Back in the saddle again...

Tonight, I reffed my first basketball game since July 2001. It was a scrimmage at a nearby HS. It felt really good, but I've got some work to do:

--I've got 20 pounds that I didn't have in 2001. I've actually been working out with my HS basketball team at their practices...running with them as though I was reffing but not calling any fouls. The coach even invited me to do their conditioning drills. One is called a "seventeen." Players run the width of the court 17 times, so 8 1/2 times up-and-back. I didn't expect to keep up with the kids, of course, since I'm over twice their age and was painfully slow even back when I was their age. But shit, that thing kicked my sorry ass. I didn't do a seventeen. I could only muster a ten, and I had finished ten as their slowest players were approaching twelve.

--These practices had the bottoms of my calves barking. Sort of low, in the sides of the backs. As best as I can tell, it's the muscle responsible for pushing off with my toes. But after tonight's game, they don't hurt. Now it's my arches. I view it as progress that I have a new sore spot.

--I did a few dumb things on the floor...set up in the wrong place for a FT, which is a ludicrous error. But the calls were fine. It helped that the game was clean, I think becaue it was a scrimmage and the girls knew each other.

--My contacts don't let me see as well as my glasses. It's annoying...everything is in slightly soft-focus. But I can see good enough to call the game.

My varsity tryout is Monday. I wish I had more time to prepare, but I do believe I could be an asset on the varsity list. If I were deciding based on tonight's performance, though, I'd say no...I was too rusty. Maybe the evaluators will see through that.

Man oh man, is it good to be back. Even if I'll be walking like an 80-year-old for much of the winter.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I said I wouldn't blog about the election again,

and I'm not. But if you voted for the runner-up, you should look at this site. It made me feel really good.

http://www.sorryeverybody.com/

Be sure to look at some of the later sets in the "Images" section, which contain some responses from the rest of the world.

Thanks to Jack Bog for pointing me in this direction.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Give 'til it hurts

Seen at school recently, on a sign put up as a result of an earnest student group's project:

HELP SUPPORT CHILD ABUSE

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Great CD Listening Project

I bought my first new car this past February. One of the best parts about it is that it has the first CD player I've ever had in a car. So I decided that I would listen to each of my CDs in it one time without repetition before listening to any twice. I have 200-ish CDs, so it's been a long project, but it's nearly done.

I've saved some of my favorites until the end, plus the Christmas records, which I refuse to listen to before Thanksgiving. I'm in the heavy hitters now...in the past two days, it's been:

The Beatles' White Album. When my grandmother bought this for me for Christmas 1987 1987, bless her heart, she asked the clerk for "The Beatles' White Christmas."

The Dream Academy's self-titled album. I bought this one in high school as well, on tape (got the CD a few years later). I remember lying on my living room floor on Roxbury Drive, this sucker turned up LOUD. Amazingly, it has aged very, very well. "The Love Parade" and "In Places On The Run" will still sound pretty good in another 30 years, I suspect.

Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin' Simon. My hearing-impaired college suitemate once misheard the lyrics to "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor." "That's gross," he said to me. "What?" I said. "One man's feeling is another man's blow????" I still sing it that way to this day. It's basically the same message.

Indigo Girls, Swamp Ophelia. That means "The Wood Song," the loud singing of which in my car got me through bad mid-'90s times. And "Power Of Two," which means my baby.

There is only one album I've decided I need to get rid of...Gloria Estefan. Hadn't listened to it in 15 years or so anyway. And I got through the single songs that I normally hit fast-forward for...the Beatles' "Revolution #9" and Sweet Honey In The Rock's unbearable "Listen to the Rhythm." I can't part with A-Ha's Hunting High and Low, which means that I had to endure "Love Is Reason." Ugh.

I'm surprised how many memories these songs bring back. I love listening to them. So I declare this project a success. Just about 15 more good CDs to go. I'll be done in a couple of weeks. Cool.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

ESPN, please, please heed me...

(TRP inhales, prepares for extended rant...)

Paul Maguire and Joe Theismann continue to be the worst thing about being a football fan. I mean, every week they annoy me, and their buddy Mike Patrick isn't much better. This week, the three of them set a new speed record. They managed to annoy me to the point of yelling at the screen after exactly three seconds of play.

Buffalo's Terrence McGee fielded the opening kickoff over his shoulder and was carried back into the end zone, where he knelt for what he thought was a touchback. The ref spotted the ball at the one...if a player gains possession of the ball at the one yard line and his momentum carries him back into the end zone, he has to run it out or else the team gets possession where the ball was fielded--at the one. Buffalo challenged the call. Ref Tom White poked his head under the tent. We watched replays. The Fiancee, who is quite football-tolerant (and I love her so for it) said "Okay. You watch for possession and say when. I'll see if he has two feet down." We did that. Multiple times. TiVoed. Paused it. Slowed it down. McGee controlled the ball, got one foot down inside the one yard line, and the second foot down in the endzone. No possession in the field of play. Touchback. Ref was wrong. Good challenge. Tom White came out and said so, rightfully overruling the play. The first words from Mike Patrick: "That's not what the replay showed." WHAT THE HELL? Can you at LEAST say "That's not the way we saw it?" Can you maybe get your damned eyes checked? At the very least, you have technology at least as modern as TiVo...why not use technology to your advantage to show what happened? If my fiancee and I can do that, why can't ESPN?

My favorite moment was later, in the third quarter. White threw a flag Theismann didn't like. Theismann went ballistic. He said: "Tom White's crew averages 18 flags a game. EIGHTEEN! This is very high for this league. So far tonight...they've thrown seven." Keep in mind this is late in the third quarter, so they're hardly overcalling the game. Seven in three quarters? That's not a hanky-fest.

I'm totally fine with broadcasters pointing out and even criticizing a legitimate mistake, but Maguire and Theismann will bitch about ANY call. They'll say they're calling it like they see it. To me that's the problem...they're calling it like the whiny overgrown toddlers they are. Patrick, a me-too artist, goes along with whatever they say. Who the hell decided these guys belong in a booth? I'm seriously considering turning on the radio to listen to Joel Myers and Bob Trumpy, who, while not my favorites, at least don't cause me to shout out obscenities.

I didn't like Dennis Miller, but bring him back! Pat Summerall was dull and sometimes inaccurate, but get him out of mothballs and have him work solo! Get Brett Summers! Rex Reed! Don King! Get my mom and sister! I don't care! I'm so angry I've filled an entire paragraph with exclamation points, which I normally hate! All I'm asking is please, please, ESPN, get Theismann and Maguire out of my TV and banish them to the purgatory of the sports-card-signing circuit where they won't bug me anymore.

(Exhales...)

In case you're curious...

this is what time I got home on this competition Saturday. That's 20 hours without sleep. But by God, I feel good. Kids competed well.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Assistant Coach Wanted

Wanted: Kind, driven young man or woman to assistant coach some sharp, eager, driven kids. Must be willing to deal with their emotional extremes and enjoy eavesdropping on some very high-level conversation on the bus. Hourly wage: for the love of God, don't go there.

Apply at my place 4:30 Saturday mornings.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A cure for the hiccups...and more!

The other day, She and I were headed back from socializing and sushi when I developed hiccups. I hate hiccups. Hate 'em. They're annoying, painful, and make me feel like I have no real control over the world. And I LIKE to have control over the world. (Teacher: has control. Usually. Ref: has control, you'd damn well better believe it. Poet: has control. Shit, I MAKE the world there. But I digress.)

I have tried everyone's preferred hiccup cures, but only one works for me: Rolo candy. Take a Rolo candy (or, for more severe cases, two simultaneously). Keep it in my mouth for at least ninety seconds. Focus on keeping it waaaay waaay back in the mouth, at the back of the tongue and palate. Hiccups go away. 100% effective so far in my lifetime.

So She and I stopped for a roll of Rolos. Problem: there wasn't a roll. All there was was a giant bag. I'm trying to lose weight...the giant bag isn't exactly ideal for me. But I can't stand hiccups. I bought the bag.

The hiccups were cured. All that's left: the big bag of Rolos. (Roloes? Rolodex?)

I've been pounding them down at a rate of 7-10 candies a day...maybe more. Still have a couple days left in there. Today...well...I'm noticing my pants are loose. That can't be right. So I step on the scale to see if I've picked up 2-3 pounds of Rolo. Nope. Believe it or not, I've LOST a few pounds since I increased the Rolo intake of my diet.

Just wait until I write the book with my new dietary secret. I'm gonna be a kazillionaire.

On this holiday...

Fox Sports shows women's soccer. Good thing to have on while you chill between work and this weekend's 5:00 AM wakeup call. USC just scored a bizarre goal. Free kick from midfield lofted into the box. Looked like it was headed out for a goal kick. UCLA's goalie, Valerie Henderson, watched it float slowly by. It hit the goalpost, ricocheted off of her, and into the goal. Sucks for her.

But as I was looking up Ms. Henderson's name, I discovered this game was actually played on Sunday, and that UCLA will come back to win in OT.

My baby now has half the closet for herself. It seems I was not using space that efficiently. Necessity is the mother of invention, and now I'm feeling like my stuff is more packed in.

Next: an oil change!

I love lazy holidays...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Moratorium

With the previous two posts done, I now will not talk about our President until either

--the new year

or

--when I damn well feel like it.

I will, of course, respond to comments.

Look for talk about refereeing right here, bay-bee. I'm so very excited to be back.

...then I'll call for civility

I've been sad for a few days over Bush's re-election. But I'm pulling out of it. I'm cool with losing elections. (I'm a Democrat...I'm used to it...my record is now 2-3 in voting for the winner.) What I'm not cool with is the divide in our country. As I've said before, I'd like to see more civility.

We don't have any in our political discourse. I've talked about Jon Stewart on Crossfire. I've been saying for years that the bullshit posturing on that show and others like it are bad for real debate. It enflames what I think is a false polarity of views in the two-party system. It emphasizes the idea that any deviation from party gospel on any of a hundred different issues makes you a heretic. It rewards pigeonholing and incivility. This hurts our country because it discourages discourse. I'm a Democrat who's not a big fan of the way abortion has become an acceptable (and even fundamental) form of birth control in this country. I'm a Democrat with serious misgivings about socialized medicine. I'm a practicing Christian...a deep believer. And the fact that I'm stating these beliefs will make me less than a "real" Democrat. Indeed, to many lefties (even some of my friends), it will make me "insensitive" or even "stupid," the two names lefties most like to call people on the other side of the aisle.

Of course, it goes both ways...that awful woman Ann Coulter makes a good living calling me and my liberal friends unpatriotic America-haters, and the Christian Coalition and fundamentalists in this country would call me less than Christian because I believe my gay friends who love each other should have just as much a right to marry as my fiancee and I do.

The net result: we don't talk to each other. I don't talk about abortion with anyone because I've grown to hate everyone on both sides of the issue. I'm a blue-stater whose liberal friends would look at me like I'd just punched a toddler if I say "I don't know when life begins, so I can't support elective abortions." If I told you that Jesus' teachings inform my political beliefs, you'd probably think I were Jerry Falwell's bitch...but I'm not, I just try to remember Matthew 25:35-45 and follow it when deciding what's right and wrong. Neither do I talk to more conservative friends about why I believe it is consistent with Christian principles to allow gay marriage. I don't want to be seen as browbeating someone, nor do I want to have my faith questioned.

The result of this divide isn't just that we stop talking in meaningful ways, but that we consequently associate only with those of our party. I saw a stat that put me a little at ease...44% of voters live in a state that went for the other guy. That's nice. But still, how many friends of the other party do we really associate with? Who do we talk to? I played a game with some of my teacher friends the other day. I posed this question: "If I required you to move to a red state, where would you go?" The first reaction tended to be a look like they were sucking on a lemon. God forbid we leave a coast! Then, once they gathered themselves enough to answer, the answer would usually sound like this: "Oh, I'd move to Colorado! I'd live in Boulder." or "I'd move to Texas. Austin, of course." The point? We don't even want to live next door to our political opposition. This shames me. Our country is better than that. (And I'm not pretending to be perfect. But I'd like to think I could be happy and a good neighbor while voting in the minority.)

During the campaign, I stumbled across a blog that was so conservative that it made me uncomfortable. I might not have read it in the past. Not only do I read it now, but I'm in an email conversation with the author. (Hi, Janie.) We're never going to agree on a hell of a good chunk of the issues, but dammit, we WILL talk. I WILL listen. If nothing else, I'll learn what arguments need to be emphasized the next time around, learn where my own arguments are weak, and make acquaintances with someone a little outside my comfort zone.

I just hope other Democrats do the same. Especially the leadership. We don't need to change or give up our principles...just to shut up and listen for a little while. We just need to open our minds a little and tolerate people with different viewpoints. Isn't that what we're always saying we do anyway?

Election postmortem: First I'll bitch...

If I've learned one thing as a basketball official, it is that people can look at the same thing and see different things. It doesn't make them bad people, and I certainly don't believe that they're lying. I think that the light hits the corneas a little differently when a person has an emotional stake in things. But looking at a borderline block/charge call needs to be different from looking at critical matters to our nation like the war in Iraq, and I'm afraid that we're simply seeing the world differently. I wish we could agree. Not on matters of morality, but on matters of fact.

When I encountered this study a few weeks back, I couldn't help but shake my head in disbelief. 47% of Bush supporters polled between May and September believe that Iraq had WMD. Their beliefs are based on...what, exactly? Where is the factual backing that demonstrates this? 75% believe that Iraq had substantial ties to al Qaeda. Again, I need to see the evidence. Not only is there no evidence of a Saddam/al Qaeda tie, it doesn't make any sense on face. Al Qaeda's desire for a fundamentalist Muslim world order went against the secularist dictatorship Saddam had.

So how can we heal divisions when we can't agree on facts? How can we have discussions when so many of us are quite simply mistaken on what exists in the world?

I haven't felt this way since the O.J. Simpson trial. I remember a number of people insisting that the Juice was innocent; this in spite of overwhelming scientific and physical evidence implicating him. Nothing could knock the O.J. supporters from their mistaken beliefs. DNA evidence? Nope. Blood from the two victims and O.J. mixed up in a million locations that only O.J had been? Nuh-uh. Footprints from shoes that were one of like eight of their kind in the world, and the other seven were in Italy? No. I was looking at the physical world and applying the scientific method, and others were seeing entirely different things. Outlandish things. I put those who believe that Iraq had WMD or ties to al Qaeda or--and this one floors me--was predominantly responsible for 9/11 in the same classification as those who supported O.J. ten years ago.

The morning the jury found O.J. innocent, I was amazed, and, like today, I wondered if our nation was so hopelessly divided that we'd never come together. I headed to work. My coworker was approached by a customer. Both of them were African-American. The customer said "Yeah! O.J. is finally free!" The co-worker said, happily: "Yup! He got away with it!" I was so refreshed to hear the "got away with it" remark. It showed me that, even though she was happy about the verdict and I was sad, at least we agreed on the facts. She was happy, I imagine, that after years of white guys getting off scot-free for murdering black people (see Till, Emmett), that white America was finally getting a taste of their own medicine. Okay. Although I disagreed that it meant O.J. should go free, I could have a discussion with her about it because we agreed on the facts. We could have an exchange where we both learned some things. But the customer, who believed O.J. was innocent? No chance. There can be no discussion unless there are shared facts to discuss. Since he lived in a world that didn't have the same physical realities as mine, I couldn't talk it over with him. As a result, no growth was possible for either of us.

I'm willing to hear arguments that it was a good idea to invade Iraq, although I passionately disagree. (I'm also willing to hear arguments that we should ban gay marriage, should continue to view abortion-as-birth-control as a feminist necessity, and any number of other things I passionately disagree with.) But I'll need the opinions to be based on facts. Real ones. Verifiable numbers or existant physical phenomena that we both can see. Don't get me wrong: I understand that there are intelligent reasons to vote for Bush. But I can't get past this: a huge chunk of Bush supporters didn't have accurate information about critical issues, or insisted on ignoring it/blocking it out/passing it off as a conspiracy of the "liberal media." If even a few of them would have changed their vote on the basis of accurate information, the result would have been different, and I'd be a happier guy this morning. But facts and evidence apparently aren't important to that subset of Bush voters.

Any ideas for fixing this?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Curious headline

Currently on the Yahoo! News site:

"Arafat aide claims he is not in coma"

I, for one, believe the aide. If he is able to make the claim, he is certainly not in a coma.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ref pants

(Note that the "pants" above is a noun, not a verb.)

It is exceedingly difficult to find black flat-front all-polyester long pants in any size, let alone my own. My waist size is currently X. Three years ago, the last time I was on the court, is was X-2...X-3 on a good day. Ah, how I have let myself go...Anyway, to avoid the post-election blues, I decided to head out ISO ref pants tonight. I already have most of the rest of my 2004/05 ensemble for my return to the court. I'll get the jacket locally...I want to make sure I match my partner during pre-game. I bought the shoes at an Adidas outlet south of Portland last month. They're shiny and comfortable...and they were cheap. I then bought two V-neck shirts, two lanyards, and two Fox 40 whistles last week from an online store advertised in Referee magazine, but they didn't have black flat-front all-polyester long pants in my size...only in X+1. X+1 isn't acceptable...the plan is to lose weight during the season, not to gain it. So I passed and decided to look locally.

First was Fred Meyer. That's where I bought my last pair of ref pants four years ago. They were, as I recall, Levi's Action Slacks. Or were they Haggar? Well, they were there in their polyester glory. I remember being pleasantly surprised. Not this time. Everything was all cotton...and cotton fades in color. My first year reffing JV, I got seriously dinged in an evaluation because my pants had faded to a blue color. She asked: "What's up with the pants?!" I responded: "They're cotton." She shook her head slowly, as if I was a pathetic, underdeveloped soul not to have known cotton fabric's properties from birth. But I digress. Fred Meyer. Nothing. Nada. Susan, an exceedingly perky saleswoman, helped me. I said I needed black all-polyester flat-front pants for reffing. She escorted me to the boys' section, to the Dickies. They felt really heavy, like they'd need a tool belt. They had double knees. I'd die from the heat in these. She said "Well, the double knee will come in handy when you kneel." Kneel, I asked? "Yeah, kneel." I explained that the ref does not kneel on the basketball court. She thought I meant football. I told Susan I'd look elsewhere. Bizarrely, as I walked away, Susan said "If you have kids, you could get a matching pair for them." Hunh? "You know, dress as refs together. That'd be so cute! Like, for Halloween! He could go as a little ref!" I just kept walking, thinking that any kid who dressed that way for Halloween would get the crap beat out of him. (Or her.)

Sears...no luck. Target...well...I settled for 65% polyester, just for the time being. I'll head to a different ref shop online.

T-minus about three weeks to my return to the court. I hope I adjust back quickly.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Oh yeah...

Ray was fantastic. Jamie Foxx gives one of the best performances I've seen in years. See it in the theater...you want the surround sound for all that music.

Pessimism

I realized a few weeks ago that it's wonderful to be a pessimist.

Pessimists spend life either pleasantly surprised or smugly correct.

I just wish I didn't feel so smug right now.

Man oh man. If this were a movie, I'd walk out. It's too scary.

I guess smug isn't the word. I'm sad. I haven't been this sad for a political event in my life. I suspect this will always be the saddest I feel about politics. But the sadness will last every minute of four years.

To paraphrase a Republican friend I've met while blogging: Bush supporters, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOU. Please, explain your positions in a way that doesn't sound like we're selfish pricks who don't care about our future financial health or about the values of the rest of the world. Please. I want to get it.

Please, no. PLEASE, no...

I am actually experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety today because of the election.

This didn't help.

Thank God the fiancee' is insisting we go to a movie after work before I settle in to an evening of angst, fear, and anger. This feels like the best idea she's ever had.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A wonderful essay from an American abroad

The guy at electoral-vote.com revealed his identity today, and wrote this. I loved it.

My pessimism...damn my pessimism...