Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yeah, I'm playing

Just sitting around the house all bored and decided to post this, just because it beats actually cleaning and stuff.

Multiply 365 Day 329 - Post draft analysis, with an emphasis on the anal part

Tonight is the last night of my fantasy football season. Of the three leagues I am in, I am it the championship game in one, the 5th place game in a second and the 11th place game in a third. Sadly the one where I am in the 11th place game is the one where I actually spent money. Before that league's season kicked off, I did an pre draft analysis of who I picked and why and how those picks panned out. Now is as good a time as any to repost that preseason analysis and see just how good or bad I really did do. Here to start is what I wrote then (I will not make you go back and look it up, lol.)

  1. Ray Rice RB, Baltimore – I would argue the best pick available at the #3 spot. It should be noted that I might not have been the only one with such reservations on the available running backs as the 4th pick ended up being Aaron Rodgers, leaving Johnson and Charles to fall to 5 and 6 respectively.

  2. Felix Jones RB, Dallas – This may be a reach on my part, but his primary competition at running back is gone, and Jones, despite limited touches last year, still had 1300 yards from scrimmage in a back up role (850 rushing, 450 receiving). The only bad thing here is that my 1st and 2nd round picks have a bye on the same exact week.

  3. Vincent Jackson WR, San Diego – Again a reach, but Jackson's problem last year was that he held out and didn't play most of the year in San Diego. Those contract issues have since been dealt with, his previous two full seasons he had over 120 catches and over 2200 receiving yards. So a 60 catch, 1000 yard season is certainly within his wheelhouse.

  4. Brandon Lloyd WR, Denver – If ever there were a case to be made on how bad of a QB Alex Smith in San Francisco really is, it would be that he couldn't do anything with this guy. In his first year in Denver, with capable if not great wide receivers around him, he easily emerged as the best of the bunch, with 1448 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The idea that this guy was available 10 picks into the 4th round boggles my mind. Again though I have a bye issue, as my first two wide recivers will also be sharing the same bye week. Our standard lineup is QB, RB, RB, TE, WR, WR, (RB/WR/TE), K, DEF, so there will definitely be weeks where I am rolling three running backs and weeks where I am rolling three wide receivers or even two tight ends, depending on how the season plays out.

  5. Matt Schaub QB, Houston – By this time, 8 quarterbacks had come off the board (though Peyton Manning was still available) but I took what looked to be the safest bet of the remainder of them, a starter good for 4000 yards, throwing to some of the best players in the league at their position, including Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels.

  6. Fred Jackson RB, Buffalo – I was happy he was here, I still have the bye week issue to confront from my first two picks and I end up getting a starting running back who had over 1000 yards from scrimmage last year (927 rushing, 215 receiving). It should be noted that this was the round that the early adopters start hopping on picks that aren't all that important, as someone went out and drafted the Steeler defense in the 6th round. Please, do pick defenses and I will continue to scoop up value while you do so. While your at it, get yourself a kicker so I can get another good running back or wide receiver.

  7. Owen Daniels TE, Houston – Not in love with this pick, but with Matt Schaub at QB I now double the points these two ring up. If I am going to get a second tier tight end like this, then far worse fates could happen than being able to double up on points. And the panic continued among the league owners, another two defenses get drafted in the 7th round (the draft is 15 rounds long) as well as the first kicker. A kicker, in the 7th round? All I can say to that is thank you.

  8. Mike Thomas WR, Jacksonville – Again the odd picks among my league mates, 4 more defenses disappear as well as another kicker, meanwhile I am out getting a guy like Thomas, who has a very good chance to help me, not just once or twice but on a weekly basis. He had 820 yards receiving last year, which isn't phenomenal but for those of you playing in PPR leagues (points per reception, mine isn't but I am trying to help other people here) he was targeted 99 times last season, finished at #30 in receptions and his primary competition for catches, Mike Sims-Walker, is gone. You can do far worse at pick #80 in a draft than this, like a freaking kicker.

  9. Kevin Kolb QB, Arizona – I'll admit I am not in love with this guy, he was drafted primarily to cover for Schaub during a bye week, but should Schaub get injured (and I am certainly not rooting for that) he is a starter with a top tier wide receiver to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona has one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this year. While there are some publications putting Kolb in as a top 12 QB, I wouldn't go that far but as far as a serviceable backup, yes please.

  10. Lee Evans WR, Baltimore – This is where I am definitely filling out bench spots, so I have no problems taking potential over strictly numbers here. Evans can still be a deep threat, even if his numbers in Buffalo do not necessarily show that. This is still a guy that just two years ago had 1000 yards receiving and while he isn't the youngest guy in the NFL, it is still only his 8th season in the league, far from a washed up point for wide receivers. And having Anquan Boldin opposite him is only going to help him get more single coverage this year. If he gets 800 yards receiving and 5-7 touchdowns then I think I have done good work here, if not than I vastly overrated him.

  11. Danny Amendola WR, St Louis – My Lee Evans insurance policy, Amendola emerged as Sam Bradford's #1 option last year in his first year as the quarterback of the Rams. The 689 yards receiving aren't great, but again for you PPR kids out there, he did pull 89 catches, that is 89 points right there without even gaining a yard. Worse fates have befallen far greater franchises in the 11th round. As an added bonus, he also returns kicks and punts (for leagues that score in those categories), so his 2364 all purpose yards led the entire NFL last season.

  12. Rashad Jennings RB, Jacksonville – All I can say is if you are reading this thinking I am the smartest guy in the room, this pick should give you pause as proof I didn't do all of my homework, Jennings is on the IR and will not be playing any time soon. I have already IR ed him and picked up Montario Hardesty to fill his roster spot.

  13. Brandon Pettigrew TE, Detroit – A backup to Owens, Pettigrew had a good season last year, getting over 700 yards receiving. And let's not kid anyone, Daniels isn't a sure thing to keep from being injured, he was on the shelf for a significant portion of last season. Should both stay healthy then I might even be able to run two tight ends on weeks where I need to cover for players on byes. Not an ideal situation, but at least it gives me the option.

  14. Shaun Suisham K, Pittsburgh – I told you I save my kickers and defenses for late. Suisham's numbers when stacked up against other kickers will not look all that impressive but remember he joined the Steelers half way through the season last year, before that he was sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. If you are buying into the notion that the Steelers have an explosive offense (I am, they led the league in plays of 20+ yards last season), then getting the kicker that is part of this offense isn't out of the question. As far as leg strength goes, he did nail a 52 yarder in the Steelers last preseason game and is 14-15 from 40-49 yards over the last three seasons.

  15. St Louis Rams defense – This was based on three reasons, 1) the Rams made quite a few moves in the off season to improve this unit. It may not be the Bears circa 1995, but it will not be the Rams circa 2010 either, 2) The Rams offense is not the explosive sort that will put together three and four play scoring drives, most drives are going to be of the longer play variety which means the defense will not be on the field. The easiest way for your defense to not give up points is to not be on the field, and 3) the Rams play in the worst division in football. That right there means you have 5 games where they are guaranteed to play some shitty competition (they play San Francisco in Week 17, but most leagues have finished play by then), which can only help. Throw in dates with Washington, Cleveland and Cincinnati and half of there schedule (8 of the 16 fantasy weeks) is against very beatable competition.

And now the lowdown on how those picks panned out

  1. This turned out to be the safest pick of the early ones, Rice lived up to his billing for the most part, Charles ended up with a season ending injury early on and Johnson was far from spectacular this season. Maybe I would have been better with Rodgers, who looks like he will win MVP of the league, but Rice was more than adequate as the third overall pick.

  2. Let the disaster begin. I figured with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice out of the picture in Dallas, the running back job would be Jones's to lose. Well guess what? He lost it. His yards from scrimmage fell from 1250 to 719 and his touchdowns from 2 to 1.

  3. I projected 60 catches and 1000 yards for Jackson. After 15 games he has 58 catches and 1077 yards.

  4. Okay, well now I know why he was available in the 4th round, his numbers were roughly half that of last year. In fact he was so mediocre that he ended p getting traded to the St. Louis Rams, a black hole of offensive talent if ever there was one.

  5. His numbers were good when he played, but the problem was that he didn't play enough, suffering a season ending injury and limiting the amount of time he was in my starting lineup (10 weeks). Add to that that my backup QB on draft day (Kevin Kolb, round 9) also got injured and I had two other replacements for Schaub also suffer season ending injuries (Jay Cutler (1 week), Matt Leinart (one week)) and the QB position was just awful this year.

  6. Another guy that was playing well, just not long enough. Season ending injury (broken leg)cut short what would have been a very productive year (934 yards rushing, 442 yards receiving, 6 TDs in 10 games).

  7. An okay selection that was made a tad less useful when Schaub went down with a season ending injury, thus ending my dreams of double points.

  8. His numbers look far more like his rookie season than they look like from last year. Part of the problem would be that he ended up playing with a rookie quarterback at least part of the year, but when a #1 wide receiver is averaging slightly over just 3 catches a game (14 games, 43 catches) then this has to be labeled a bust pick.

  9. See #5, Kolb got injured before I even had a chance to play him for the one week where he was going to be a bye week replacement.

  10. Another bust pick, I didn't expect much from him at least, which is good because I didn't get much from him either. But did anyone expect just 4 catches for the year? Wow, that my friends, is the very definition of suck.

  11. Another in a list of walking wounded, Amendola played just 4 games before suffering a season ending injury. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

  12. Well at least he was hurt before I drafted him. I still hoped he might be able to contribute at some point, that point never came. Thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts.

  13. One of the few picks late that was actually decent, Pettigrew put up numbers comparable to last season.

  14. It's a kicker, what do you expect. Ideally he could have been a little more accurate (21-28) or had a stronger leg (only one over 50 yards), but picking a kicker is always a crap shoot. Don't believe me? Consider this, the four best kickers in the league in terms of field goals came from the following teams, San Francisco, Dallas, Cincinnati and Washington.

  15. On this one I admittedly dropped the ball, I thought the defense would be better and the team would have an easy time with their division opponents (6 games). I was wrong on both counts.

And that is post draft wrap kids. Some times it would seem I just don't know what the hell it is I am talking about.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 327 - The end of an era

With less than 48 hours to go, I guess it is about time to close the book on the Multiply 365 project.  I ended up a little less than 40 blogs short, though with all of the stolen content, karaoke fridays, asshats and videos thrown in, I imagine the actual count to the blog was closer to 500 entries for the year.  All in all not a bad years work, but short of the target goal.  As I sit here I am still not sure whether I want to continue this into a second straight year.  Just because I was wine for about 9 por 10 months before the grind of trying to blog every day just hit me.  And I am not sure that grind will be lifted simply by the changing of the calendar year.  Plus, when I blog I like to have something to write about, and there were too many times where I was blogging not because I had something to write, but simply because I was filling the page with nonsense.

Not that all of the entries were bad, truth be told I liked more than I didn't but I don't want to just throw stuff on the page and hope it reads okay.  And really, if it wasn't for me actually paying attention to the page, I never would have met Jen so something far greater than reading enjoyment came out of this project for me. 

But that doesn't mean I have the energy to try to attempt this again, it is somthing that I am still mulling around in my cranium.  Maybe I will go ahead and do it, maybe not, maybe it will come back in a different form, like once a week versus once a day, I really haven't decided yet. 

I guess we all will find out in a couple of days.  Until then.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 326 - The results are in

Final results for all three of my fantasy football league teams this season

League                Regular Season        Playoff Bracket          Playoff  Record          Result

State of Champs   5-9                          Consolation               1-1 (57-67, 63-53)      11th place

Celtic Warriors      10-3-1                     Championship            2-0 (268-160, 216-188)  1st place

Madden All Star Friends  10-3              Championship            1-1 (99.2-102.08, 111.76-104.14)  5th

Multiply 365 Day 325 - Sloth like

That sound you hear is my brain cells screaming, as I am killing them off. It is almost noon here and so far I have subject myself to two cups of coffee, and Steve Wilkos with Maury Povich yet to come. This is literally about as unproductive as I can possibly, at least without lying completely motionless in a puddle of my own drool.

I do have some things that I plan on doing today, a little post holiday visiting and dinner out tonight at the Train Station restaurant here in Indiana, but for now I am trying to do as little as is humanly possible, for no other reason than because I can.

I would post a link to the restaurant, but they don't seem to have a webpage, so I guess that will just have to wait until I get back to Pittsburgh and upload some pics for everyone, but it is a pretty neat place, a restored train station near the heart of downtown Indiana, PA. I have been there once so far and the food was pretty good, and the restoration of the old train station was very nice. But before any of that can happen, I guess I should shower and pretend like I am useful or something. Toodles!

Multiply 365 Day 324 - Invisible ink

Well, barring a flurry of writing on my part, it doesn't look like I will be getting the 365 blog entries I had planned on back in January. It hasn't been for lack of writing, just lack of writing for public consumption. I continue to write on a nightly basis, usually for hours on end and I am sure some of it is quite funny and or entertaining, but it is for an audience of one, not many.

Since I started talking to Jen online over three months ago, I can honestly say that I would be hard pressed to find a day where we did not write to each other. Sometimes it will just be once or twice, other times it will consist of a plethora of messages over different mediums, but the writing has been there. Most nights it can be anywhere from 2 to 8 or more hours in length, and really after putting in a long day of writing I just haven't been inclined to turn around, stare at a computer screen and start writing all over again.

So I guess in the most basic of terms the 365 project is a failure. There wasn't a blog every day, nor was there a total of 365 blogs throughout the year, but from a strictly content perspective, I am quite certain I have never written so much in my entire life, let alone written so much that I am happy with overall. If the 365 project is labeled a failure, but at the end of the day I am with someone that I care deeply about, then I will take that over 365 entries and ending the year as lonely as I started it. It is a trade off I would make any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 323 - Island of misfit or broken toys

So here I am, fully ensconced in my yearly vacation, having just had dinner (steak, french fries, green beans) and figured I would write about some things that happened before I was sent on my merry vacationing way.

My last day of work before taking a week off was on Thursday, and while the day started okay, it didn't quite end that way. Around noon I started the countdown, that is, I kept announcing how much time was left before I went on vacation, so I started with the whole 'T minus 3 hours and counting....” that I do when something is about to happen. I do that sometimes when Sammy and I are planning a Deluca's run on Saturday, with my countdown starting as early as two days before we actually go, so the fact I waited until 3 hours were left to start the personal clock on my vacation countdown was what I would argue was a considerable amount of restraint on my part.

But the thing was, as soon as I opened my mouth was when things all started spiraling downhill. My first announcement that I had 3 hours left was met with some disappointment from Clare, who apparently was going to be doing some baking for the staff Thursday night and bring in the confectionery goodness on Friday, with me leaving I guess that means I was going to miss out on whatever she had planned on baking for me.

That was just the small disappointment for far greater disappointments to come however. By the time I had made my first time announcement, the Coke order had already been delivered and I had placed the grocery order for Friday for our other store, Universal News, and given how slow things were with the students at the Art Institute and Point Park University already gone for the holidays, business was incredibly slow, so getting things done on time didn't seem like it would be much of an issue.

I started putting together the order for our store to be delivered on Friday, I did the deli order at my desk, as well as the tobacco order and then ventured off to our cigarette room, where I did a quick inventory for us and then put together our cigarette order.

The device I used for ordering is call a Telxon, it is a handheld device with a wand and a keypad and a speaker on the back. What you do is basically enter the items into the device one of two ways, either by using the wand and running it over the shelf tag and then inputting the quantity of the item you would like, or you can manually input the 6 digit item number and then inputting the quantity that you need. After you have everything you need in the device, you then go to a telephone, call the appropriate 1-800 number, hold the speaker of the unit against the phone's receiver and press send. And electronic signal is then sent down the phone line and received on the other end which is all of the items you ordered.

As I am on the floor doing the grocery order, the last piece I need to do before sending the order in, I was joking with the staff, I was down to like one and a half hours before I was done for a week and Sammy and I were joking about something when one of us said something funny. What it was, I don't even remember, so I guess it couldn't have been that funny after all, but I was laughing hard enough that I had stomped my left foot on the floor as a point of emphasis. That was a mistake.

Long time readers of the blog know that earlier this year I had a problem with my foot, what that problem was I really do not know, but for a few months it was incredibly hard to walk on, so a day at work was pretty much an agonizing thing. But that issue seemed to have healed up, I haven't had an issue with my foot in months. Until Thursday. As soon as I stomped my foot, a pain shot right through my heel, sharp enough that I spent the rest of the day (and a couple of days afterward) literally hobbling around. Once again it was hard to walk.

Still I mustered on, at that point I had no idea that I would suffer for a few days for what was an apparent stupid move on my part. I continued putting the order in when I noticed that the volume on the Telxon got considerably lower. Usually when you scan or input an item, there is a beeping sound that goes with the pressing of the keys, now I couldn't hear it unless I held the unit very close to my ear. Again I didn't think too much of it, if the unit could still send an order and have it received at the other end, then all was good, I don't need to hear anything, I just have to make sure I am careful in putting the order in.

So I finish the order and head down to my desk to go ahead and send the order in. The phone on my desk is apiece of work. Usually it will work, but if I have to hang up and place another call there are problems with getting the dial tone to come back. So I call the 1-800 number to place the order and the line is busy, so I have to try again, but when I go to call them a second time I can't get a dial tone. I spend a good 5 minutes fighting with the phone before I manage to get a dial tone and get through so I can send the order. I hold the unit up to the receiver and press send and I can faintly hear the tone being sent down the line. When it is complete I bring the receiver back to my ear where I get the message “Excessive phone line errors, please hang up and call again”. So now I am worried that I may have a problem with the unit itself, so I call our grocery provider to see if there isn't a way I can amplify the volume so the audio will get through. If ever you want to see why we outsource customer service jobs, call customer service for Sledd some time, there suggested solution was to place a piece of tissue paper between the unit and the receiver and send the order again, because obviously when the sound isn't loud enough the first thing you want to do is place more items between the two devices. Their proposed solution was one generation removed from the two cups and string solution.

So I continue fighting with a defective phone and a defective Telxon unit, trying another 5 or so times to get the order in. With my vacation coming up, I couldn't just blow the order off, I had to put something in before I went away. And so I was going to just called them and read the order in, which would have taken quite a bit of time, but even that option was taken from me when the Telxon quit working entirely.

Instead I had to go to our other store, grab their Telxon unit, come back to our store and redo the entire order. So for the last hour of work I ended up doing that which I had already done, then hobbled off to start my vacation. So while I am all kinds of relaxed and stuff now, it didn't start off that way.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 322 - Actual Christmas

Just sitting here drinking my second cup of coffee trying to be functional this Christmas afternoon.  Yes, afternoon, because we didn't really start doing the present thing till well after 11am, due in large part to the fact that some of us (me) were up very late wrapping presents, because I am working on my Procrastination Boy Scout merit badge.  It didn't help that the presents I needed to wrap for for the people here, and they weren't exactly going to be at a normal time either.  Thankfully I had Jen online keeping me company while I was in all kinds of stealth wrapping mode, talking to her early Christmas morning just was the best present I could ask for.  Everything after that was gravy. 

But because I didn't finish until around 5am I was not going to be one of those people poking around under the tree at 6am.  Even now I am thinking a nap may be called for, because I only got a few hours of sleep.  Thus the two cups of coffee so far, and an extended forecast would say there is probably a 50% chance of more coffee as the day progresses. 

Anyway, just wanted to do a quick Christmas check in.  I will be posting Christmas pics at some point, though probably not for a week or so, that is when I will be back in the friendly confines of Pittsburgh and reunited (and it feels so good, credit to Peaches and Herb ) with my Kodak software.  For now I best get back to the family.   Toodles!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Asshat - The Christmas edition

Yes, it has been a while since I added an Asshat to the page, but really this has to be here.  After all, it embodies that which is Asshat worthy, a combination of the requisite amounts of tragedy and stupidity.  So your Christmas nominee for Asshat is one Wayne Mitchell, who died after eating cocaine out of his brother's ass.  No word on what killed him, the coke or the ass.  But here with the highlights, ........

Man Eats Cocaine From Brother's Butt, Dies

Police: Man Trying To Hide Drug Evidence In Squad Car

POSTED: 9:13 am CST December 20, 2011
UPDATED: 9:18 am CST December 20, 2011
A South Carolina man's brother died after police said he was forced to eat cocaine hidden in his brother's backside.Both brothers were taken into custody on allegations they had drugs in their car.But police told Charleston, S.C., TV station WCIV there were additional drugs hidden in 23-year-old Deangelo Mitchell's backside.Officers said Deangelo Mitchell convinced his brother, 20-year-old Wayne Mitchell, to swallow the ounce of cocaine to hide the evidence. He died soon afterward."It's sickening," North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt told WCIV. "I got upset when I saw the thing. I was pretty shocked on it."Deangelo Mitchell already bonded out of jail on the drug charge, but now police are looking for him again on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 321 - Early Christmas

Season's greetings everyone. Hopefully everyone is having a good December thus far. Me, well I celebrated Christmas on Friday. It wasn't a regularly scheduled Christmas, it was more of an impromptu one.

The thing is, I decided about a week or so ago I was going to send Jen her Christmas present because I wanted to make sure it had reached her before the holiday rather than after. So sometime around the middle of last week I went ahead and wrapped her gifts, filled out the required customs forms and shipped them off to her. In the box I had sent her a movie (“Better Off Dead”, which unbelievably she had never seen), a CD (The Best of Etta James, we both love the song “At Last”) an Amazon Kindle, a stocking with lots of sugary treats and some hopefully useful items like pens, a mini stapler and the like.

Now I knew from previous experience that if I send something to her, especially a box, it will take 5 or 6 business days to reach her under normal Priority Mail shipping (all packages leaving the US must go at least as Priority Mail, though you can upgrade to a faster service), so I wanted to make sure her gift arrived on time. I figured it would arrive around Thursday or Friday of this week. Meanwhile, Jen had told me she shipped my gift on Wednesday of this week and I should have it by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Not that she had to get me anything, I already told her that she was a gift enough, but she wanted to send me something anyway.

So Friday I get out of work a little bit early and I decide I am going to go home and just relax a little bit, no need to be anywhere until Saturday. I run a couple of errands downtown, just picking up some things for my apartment and because I took a different bus home I was actually back at my apartment about 15-20 minutes ahead of schedule. Usually the first thing I do when I get home is check my mailbox, even before I unlock my apartment, so I stick the key in the box and turn it and there is two things in there, one was just a sales flier which I ended up throwing away, the other was a parcel card from the post office. Cards are put in boxes when a package to be delivered is too big to be left on the doorstep. So I drop my stuff in my apartment and head over to the Post Office.

As I am walking over to the Post Office I start examining the parcel card. Parcel cards don't tell much, only that there is something to be picked up and what time it will be available and some other very basic information. As I am examining my card I look and where it says from is simply listed as Canada. Now all of a sudden I am nervous. Because I know Jen lives there, but her package isn't due till next week sometime, so why would I be getting a parcel from Canada? Then it hits me, I must have fucked up my customs form, because they ask you to list everything in the box when you send a parcel, and I didn't write each and every thing I put in Jen's Christmas stocking (yes, I sent and actual stocking), I just wrote Christmas stocking on the customs form, and now because I didn't claim each individual item they refused to allow the package into Canada, and instead sent it back to me.

So I am walking to the Post Office in a pretty somber mood, because until I fix everything and send it back out, with holiday mail traffic, there is a very good chance she will not get her Christmas presents till after Christmas. I am just not looking forward to this at all.

I get to the Post Office and stand in line and eventually I am up at the counter where a mail lady (as close to an oxymoron as I will type this evening) takes my parcel card and asks for my ID. I show her that, she goes in the back at typical mail employee speed, which is just short of not moving at all, and proceeds to bring out a white box from the back. Now I am really depressed, because I know Jen's package is also a white box, and when it is set on the counter I have the bottom of the box facing me, with a bar code and I know for a fact that the box I sent Jen also has a bar code on the bottom. Anyway, the mail lady says I have to sign something, then asks for my address and I am thinking, what the fuck do you need my address for, just to return a package I had already sent. But I do as I am told, sign my life away and am given the box so I can go.

As I get outside the Post Office I look at the top of the box and I don't recognize the handwriting. I just know that it isn't mine. That is when I start to read it and see that the package isn't from me at all, but addressed to me. And there is an express mail sticker on it. Jen had apparently sent my Christmas gift express, just to make sure it arrived before I went home on vacation the following week. Needless to say I was shocked.

So I get home and about an hour or so later I see Jen come online, and I tell her what happened, relaying the story much as I have done for you. She tells me to hold on a minute and gets on her laptop so we can talk via voice, rather than typing everything and wants me to open my gifts. Let me just say wow and double wow. I certainly didn't expect that. There are times when you get presents and they are okay and all, I mean you don't return them, but you know that whoever bought them did so more as a guess than because they actually know you. That wasn't an issue here. In the box were 3 different seasons of The West Wing on DVD, Band of Brothers on DVD, a Penguins jersey and a Penguins t shirt. I was just stunned, plain and simple. And as we talked I found out that not only did my package not get sent back by customs, but was apparently waiting for her at home when she got off work, so a few hours later we got to repeat the process in reverse with me listening to her as she opened her Christmas presents as well.

Christmas came early and not in any sort of traditional fashion, certainly not in a manner I had planned on celebrating it, but still it was spent with the woman I love and I really can't complain about that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stolen Content - Classic Hitch

Mommie Dearest

The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.

Mother Teresa: No saint
Mother Teresa: No saint

I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the "beatification" of the woman who styled herself "Mother" Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.


It's the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for "beatification," the first step to "sainthood," until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or "devil's advocate," to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

As for the "miracle" that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn't have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican's investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)

According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L'Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican's secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favored making MT a saint right away. The pope's clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the "canonization." But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done.

During the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is "the greatest destroyer of peace," as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize *. Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for "the poorest of the poor." People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the "Missionaries of Charity," but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell's admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.

One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions.

Correction, Oct. 21, 2003: This piece originally claimed that in her Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Mother Teresa called abortion and contraception the greatest threats to world peace. In that speech Mother Teresa did call abortion "the greatest destroyer of peace." But she did not much discuss contraception, except to praise "natural" family planning.(Return to corrected sentence.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sad blog news

In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

By Gasper Tringale.

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 320 - The occupation will not be televised

Occupy Pittsburgh, our own little sect of the Occupy movement, has a unique distinction among Occupy groups, that being that rather than set up on public property, they were set up on private land, a park owned by BNY Mellon. For the most part the banking giant has been fairly tolerant of their new neighbors, but this past week they finally decided that it is time for the Occupiers to go. In a press relase saying that the Occupiers had to be out by Sunday, BNY Mellon cited the potential risks that are involved in camping outside in winter, risks that the banking giant would take on if they allowed the protestors to remain on their property.

Of course the Occupiers do not want to leave, in fact they are claiming that they will "seize" the park from BNY Mellon and serve them with an eviction notice.

Okay, I think it is just about that time. When an organization refuses to recognize private property rights and instead opts to trespass and not leave when asked to, there really is only one solution, that being to put the the protestors in a place where they can stay as long as they want, with no fear of ever being rousted or asked to leave. That of course would be a jail cell.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 319 - Dial M for murder (or at least mash this keyboard)

If this were Sesame Street, this blog might be brought to you by the letter M, except that it couldn't be. One of my blogging issues these days is simply the m key. Yes, my laptop is functioning without one of those, first it just would work part of the time, maybe every third or fourth time I would press it I would get an m, but the problem has gotten progressively worse, to the point where now it doesn't work at all.

Mind you, I can always just go over to my desktop and blog from there, all of the keys are functional on that piece of equipment, but there is something to be said for being able to blog from wherever, just by cracking open the laptop and typing away. And I still take the laptop to work with me every day, so not having an m key is a little bit of a pain in the ass. I could just buy a new laptop, or at least a new refurbished one. Checking Ebay the other day, the same company I bought this one from is now selling a newer version of the same model laptop (Dell Latitude) with Windows 7 (I am still running XP on this one) for around the same price as I got this one for. And I don't blame them for my laptop issues, I have had this one for a while now and it literally goes everywhere with me, back home when I visit the family, to work every day; it has definitely logged a couple of miles and plenty of usage in the time I have had it. And technically it is still usable, while the m key is gone, I am using a little workaround where I pull up the virtual keyboard and just point and click on the m whenever I need one. Which it turns out, is quite often.

I guess that is one of the problems with having a name like Matt, any time I write it I need that damn key. And I am pretty much guaranteed to be firing off a few email missives each day just for work. But not having the key just gives me another reason not to blog, it is hard enough to come up ideas on what to blog about, it is more of a pain to have an idea and know that in order to get it down on the page I have to go through some convoluted method to actually take an idea and turn it into a blog entry.

Not that that is the only reason I haven't been blogging as much recently, it isn't even the main reason, but it is just another one.

Multiply 365 Day 318 - Fantasy update

Sitting here watching the Pne - Islanders game and it is time for the first intermission, so I figured this is as good a tile as any to blog.  But what to blog about?   Hmmmm.  Well I haven't talked about my fantasy football teams in a while, so I might as well go ahead and cover that topic this evening.

For the record, I am involved in three leagues this year as well as one survivor pool.  The survivor pool is over for me, the premise o iyt is relatively simple, each week you take a look at the entire schedule of NFL games and pick one team yhou think will win.  If you lose you are done, if you win then you move on to the next week, the only stipulation being you can pick a team you have previously used.  The pool started with 44 people in it, I managed to make the final three before being eliminated.  But because it is like Highlander (there can be only one), technically I didn't win, though I will take a third place finish.

As for football leagues, most are either starting their playoffs or will do so next week.  Of the three leagues I am in, I made the playoffs in two of them.  Of course the one league where I didn't make the playoffs was the one league I actually paid to get in, the bar league that I have been in for around two decades now.  That team, well, let's just say it didn't do too well.  We are playing our last week of the season and my record is 4-9. which eliminates me from any talk of playoff consideration.  Admittedly I didn't have my best draft in that league, but I was killed with injuries as well.  I lost Fred Jackson (who I drafted in all three leagues) when he broke his leg.  Losing a starting running back who is set to rush for 1000 yards (he had 934 yards rushing when he went down with an injury) is a pretty big blow to most fantasy teams, but it was the quarterback carousel that I ended up being on that really killed me.  I started with Matt Schaub, who was decent when I had him, but he fell to the season ending injury bug when he hurt his foot.  That sent me scrambling to the free agent wire, where I picked up Jay Cutler, who lasted one week before he too fell victim to the season ending injury bug.  Back to the free agent wire, I decided to take a flier on Matt Leinart, Schaub's back up in Houston.  That experiment lasted about one quarter of one game before Leinart would end his season with a broken collarbone.  That's right, I lost three quarterbacks in three weeks.  That takes skill right there.  

In the other league I am in on Yahoo, I have clinched a playoff spot with a 10-3 record.  The only real question is what seed I will be in the playoffs, either #1 or #2.  There is one other team wioth an identical 10-3 mark, though they hold the tiebreaker (points scored), so I will need to win and have the other team lose for the #1 spot, otherwise I will enter the playoffs as the #2 seed.

Lastly there is the Madden/Facebook league, where our playoffs start this weekend.  Again I made the playoffs with a 10-3 record, but the league has 12 teams and 10-3 was only good for the #3 seed.  The top two seeds (and first round byes) went to two teams with 11-2 records.  But in that league you needed to be no worse than 8-5 just to get a playoff spot (6 of 12 teams qualify), it was pretty competitive for most of the year.  So I will start the playoffs against the 6th seeded team and go from there.  

Anyway, that is a quick update on the fantasy teams.  And now the hockey game is back on, so I am outta here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Karaoke Friday - The hockey edition

I know, another feature that has slipped from the blog, but with me having a pair of tickets to Monday night's hockey game (Penguins - Bruins), it seemed like a good time to add this little ditty to the Karaoke list, since it is played every time the Pens score a goal


I got my head checked
By a jumbo jet
It wasn't easy
But nothing is,
No -

When I feel heavy metal WOOHOO!
And I'm pins and I'm needles WOOHOO!
Well I lie and I'm easy
All of the time but I'm never sure why I need you
Pleased to meet you!

I got my head done
When I was young
It's not my problem
It's not my - problem -

When I feel heavy metal WOOHOO!
And I'm pins and I'm needles WOOHOO!
Well I lie and I'm easy
All of the time but I'm never sure why I need you
Pleased to meet you!

Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Oh, yeah

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 316 - Updates? We don't need no stinking updates

     I guess it is about time for my monthly update. Okay, so I don't have a monthly update per se, but it has been a little while since I talked about me here.  Maybe that is a good thing, at times when I talk too much about me I feel I come off as whiny.  But recently I haven't been talking about myself as much, maybe my life isn't whiny enough to be blog worthy.

     Because really life has been okay.  As far as work goes, well, it is work.  By definition it can't be all great, but it's not all bad either.  No real complaints, and hey, I did get another pair of hockey tickets for Monday night's game against the Bruins.  How much bitching can one do when they show up for work and someone hands them two $210 ducats to a Pens game?  Really?

      And my personal life is still moving along pretty swimmingly too.  Jen and I have been together for 2 and half months now, hardly long in the grand scheme of things, but every relationship has to start somewhere, and I would like to think we are starting off pretty darn well.  The biggest problem is the problem that plagues all online relationships I'd imagine, just the desire to want to be there when things aren't going well and knowing you can't be.  Sure, you do the best you can with what you have, but there is something to being able to look someone in the eyes, or take them in your arms when they are upset and online you just can't do that.  Not that we are awash in bad times, just the opposite in fact, she makes me happy everyday.  Sometimes it is just a simple note in my email at work, an evening where we are chatting and the time flows effortlessly by, or going to the mailbox and seeing something in there from her, whatever the means she just makes every day a little more special.  

     And there my friends is the blogging problem.  How can I come here and bitch about my life when there is nothing to bitch about?  If being happy means I don't blog as much, well I can live with that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 315 - Breaking blog

Okay, I am sitting here, the TV is on and because it is Saturday afternoon, about the only thing I have found worth watching is college football. Not that watching a football game is bad, but I have no real rooting interest in either of the teams that are on right now.

That being said, I was troubled by something I just saw. There was a breaking news item. Now to me, something that is breaking news is of relative import, a national tragedy or crisis, maybe something that the President will be commenting on later in the evening. Instead what the breaking news was was that Herman Cain, whose poll numbers have been floundering of recent because of alleged extramarital affairs and claims of sexual harassment, was dropping his bid to win the Republican nomination to run for President..

Sorry kinds, a candidate whose poll numbers were running in the single digits deciding to up and quit his primary campaign just isn't worth of breaking into regularly scheduled programming. Does it have a place in the newcast in the evening? Sure it does, but it isn't of such great significance that normal programming needs to be interrupted.

I realize that news is now a business, and the more shock and awe a newscast can generate, the more eyeballs it has the potential to attract, the more advertisers will pay to be there. But the more one cries wolf, the less chance people will listen when an actual wolf is at the door.

Multiply 365 Day 314 - Scientologists taste like chicken

It happened again. I had mentioned the strange disappearance of "Jesus on a Stick" guy, how he used to be on the same street corner every Thursday, shouting at all of us sinners and non believers, as if the power of his voice, and his stick could somehow shed light into our utterly dark souls. Then a movie crew came into town, and with it the Grand Poobah of Scientologists, Tom Cruise and before you could know it, "Jesus on a Stick" guy was gone. Now maybe it was just a coincidence that those two events should happen so close together, maybe not, who knows.
But now it has happened again. The master of all things Scientological is still in town, and another of those familiar faces has disappeared, someone that I call "Fucking Chicken Lady". She earned that name from the day I first saw her, she was standing outside our store with a male companion. Nothing unusual about that, there is a bus stop there after all and people do still take buses to all parts of the city. What was unusual was the conversation she was having with her male companion, which basically consisted of her yelling at him. There weren't even any pauses to breathe in her diatribe, nor breaks for punctuation in her speech. It was like something out of "The Exorcist" or something, but instead of channeling anti-Christian words, instead what was coming out of her mouth sounded like this, "Where'smyfuckingchicken?Yousaidyouweregoingtogetsomefuckingchicken.Ididn'tgetnofuckingchicken.Where'smyfuckingchicken?" With that one frenzied, poultry laced diatribe, "Fucking Chicken" lady was born.
The thing is, now she too is gone. She hasn't been seen in better than a month. If one person disappears it is just a coincidence, if two disappear it starts to feel like a trend. But what is the end game? Why are the Scientologists collecting Christians and chicken lovers? Maybe if it were rotisserie chicken it could be explained away as a fascination with sticks. Or maybe there is some diabolical experiment going on to determine which came first, the Christian or the egg.
Whatever the case may be, I am just hoping they don't come looking for French fry lovers, because then I am screwed.

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