Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Hammer's College Football Review: Week 8, Skate and Don't Hesitate

What a game last night in Tallahassee! The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came to town loaded for bear and brother-man they almost pulled it off. Admittedly I haven't paid much attention to the Irish this year but I was very favorably impressed. Brian Kelly has put together a squad with not a lot of weaknesses. Their skill positions are outstanding and their line play is absolutely top notch! But they need to learn how and when to cheat. I refer specifically to blatant picks on cornerbacks right there in front of God and and a national television audience (it cost them the game winning touchdown). So my condolences to all you Papists and half-drunk mud apes of Irish ancestry out there, but buy a clue, you ain't gonna get those kind of calls at Doak Campbell Stadium on a Saturday night.

In other action #4 Baylor is #14 Baylor having lost to the best unranked team in the country, WVU. The Mountaineers blow hot and cold so often it must be a bitch for their fans. At least NC State sucks CONSISTENTLY! TCU looked great against OK State. 'Bama got some payback against Texas A&M, Oklahoma lost to K-State at home (State's defense is KILLER!) and Ohio State is starting to make a move.

I watched most of the Ga. Tech/UNC game yesterday, It was very disappointing. I expected the Jackets to bring that triple option into Kenan and hang 60 on statistically the worst defense in college football. WRONG! Coach Larry Fedora (never trust anybody named Larry) got those assholes to play over their heads so that's two in a row now for Tech.

CW's Cavaliers got dusted by Dook yesterday in Durham. It was funny, all the while the game was on CW was stuck watching The Marriage of Figaro in some dinky little theatre in bumfuq Mary-Land some God-damn where. Nothing like a little Mozart when your team sucks I always say. I could tell he was really into the performance posting on FB every five minutes. And that's just the thing isn't it? A good libretto ain't got a chance in the cultural wasteland of crab-on-the-brain eastern Mary-land. What a waste of time by all parties involved.

Well, I think we can announce the first firing of the year, Florida's Will Muschamp. The poor guy is drowning. The Gators got humiliated yesterday in The Swamp by the Misery Tigers and trust me, Gainesvillains are in no way amused. Oh they'll let him play out the year, but after the FSU game he'll have a bus ticket in hand.

As I alluded to last week, the Shepherd University Rams did indeed lose to Notre Dame (the South Euclid, Ohio Notre Dame) 35-34. Falcon QB Ray Russ threw for 459 yards to hand Shepherd their first loss of the year and dash their hopes of a chickenshit, small college, whogivesashit national championship. Oh well, could be worse, you could be a NCSU fan.

Do you folks realize that if we had to pick the four teams for the playoff right now we'd have two teams from Missississippi in it? Who woulda figured? But since Ole Miss and Miss State play each other the last game probably ain't gonna happen. As you well know, late losses count a helluva lot more than early losses. As it stands now we might even get a two loss team in the playoff.

That's it. I'm kinda bummed what with Duke and Carolina winning and State losing. I'm just not myself. So if I've offended anyone with my off color repartee, then I just want to take this opportunity and say, get over it numb-nuts. C-ya.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

On the Virtues of Sleeping In

Six graduate level writing assignments await my studied eye today, so in order to ready myself to hack others' writing to pieces I figured I'd do a bit of my own first.  I rise today in full-throated support of not rising; that is, in sleeping in.  It is something I do only rarely, but having done so this morning I am flush with praise for the practice and hope for its continuing presence in my life.

I am an early riser.  Partially by choice and partially as a result of geography, I tend to get up pretty early each day, including Saturday and Sunday.  Additionally, having made a career choice that virtually guarantees that I always have work to do and that the level of work cannot possibly be confined to eight hour days, I find myself up early even when I don't have long commutes to make, simply to have enough time to get the work done.

This morning was different, and it involved a conscious choice.  You see Kitten #2 is an accomplished equestrienne, and she has a very,very important show today. Her performance will determine if she makes the Washington International Horse Show, something that has been her aim for about two years now.  Her determination and hard work has been something to watch, and I am truly proud of her for the way she has approached this goal.  The show is so important that she asked that I (and her grandmother) not come to it, and is only allowing her mother to attend as a means of transportation to and from.  I go to many of her shows, and I have been witness to the nervousness and tension that goes along with this pursuit--and so I took my leave with aplomb.

The show necessitated an early wake up (early for Kittens) of 0500.  When the alarm went off, I laid there and considered my options.  I could grab my mask and earplugs and roll over and go back to sleep, or I could get up, make them breakfast, and see them off with hugs and best wishes of support.  You have no idea how attractive the former option was, especially considering how often I am up at 0500 as it is.  I did in fact, grab the mask and earplugs, and put both on whilst the Kitten pursued her toilette behind closed door, an important detail as she did not SEE me make this commitment to sloth and self-love.  I laid there for a minute or two and reconsidered my decision.  IF Kitten #2 makes the big show in DC, I will not be able to be there because I am flying to California.  I had already been informed that my presence at THAT show was absolutely desired, and I earned some raised eyebrows at missing yet another seminal event.  Given these circumstances, my laying in bed might be viewed with some scorn.

Because higher order thought processes had begun--something that always dooms my ability to sleep-- I bounded out of bed and asked the Kitten if I could make her and her spawn some eggs before they left.  I immediately entered faux husband and faux father of the year status with this simple act.  "You don't have to" she said, and while I agreed that I did not HAVE to, I did not feel completely free not to, at least while confined to my own guilty conscience.  And so, I alighted to the kitchen, engaged in the standard feeding rituals with the two dogs who apparently had grown to miss me with great feeling in the previous six hours, and made a pan of scrambled eggs.  When Kitten #2 appeared, she thanked me for the "good luck flowers" I set in her room yesterday (I'm no dummy) and began to devour her eggs.  They were not around more than ten minutes before it was time to load up and move out, and so I saw them off with a clear starry sky and a crescent moon overhead.

And then went back to bed.  And sprawled out decadently.  And put my mask on so that the approach of day would go unnoticed.  And put ear plugs in so that whatever noise the dogs might make would be ignored.

I laid there remembering the DVD-encased advice of some guru I had once heard who said, "if you think deeply about your breathing, no other thought can enter your mind.'  This always works for me, and so that is what I did.  And three and a half hours later, I woke up.  Dazed, but satisfied.  Completely refreshed.  Actually, felling accomplished, as if I had stolen something of great value from some kind of protective giant, or dragon.

Was this theft a responsible act? No.  Indeed not.  I have a ton of work to do.  I am scheduled to go sit in the local viewing area for the Met Opera and enjoy "Le Nozze di Figaro".  The Kitten has been patiently waiting for me to run more cat 6 cable to variously inaccessible parts of the house. But none of this matters to me right now, as I am well-rested and self-satisfied.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's the matter, friend?  Worried about that sneezy West African you sat next to on the shuttle from JFK to Dulles?  Concerned about losing your Majority Leader position in the next Congress?
Share, friend.  Share!

I am become huge, a man of great girth but not mirth.  Got back on the wagon Monday morning and lost 1.8 lbs for the week, but I shan't begin crowing for quite some time.

This quick update comes to you from the Business Center in the Library at the Army and Navy Club in DC, where I am killing a bit of time before recording a Podcast for the folks at War on the Rocks at 6PM.  I'll link to the podcast once it is up.  You can bet it will be largely Naval in character...there are very few things that would get me to head INTO DC on a Friday afternoon, but this kind of a chat with smart fellows is the kind of thing that will do it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An Open Letter from President Obama

My fellow citizens, recently there has been much discussion in the press about the Ebola outbreaks. Some are criticizing our response with false charges and misinformation. I would like to address your concerns today and reassure you, I have our most qualified people working on your behalf to eradicated this scourge. 
First, why in 2010 did we discontinue the CDC quarantine regulations aimed at Ebola? As was reported on MSNBC I personally was not aware these regulations had been scraped, but after careful analysis the healthcare professionals at the CDC decided they were not needed and saw no reason to reinstitute them solely to appease those who shout the loudest. Manufactured hysteria trumped up by rightwing talk radio and Fox News cannot dictate our actions. The reality is we live in a world community. If I were to close our borders to West Africa and Ebola were to remain strictly an "African disease" then no monies would be allocated for the research needed to attack this virus. We ARE our brother's keeper and if black Africans are suffering then the world is suffering. Need I remind America of their rape of that continent and our obligations there?
My fellow Americans the facts are clear, this whole situation could have been avoided had not the Republicans gutted the CDC's budget. If we had had the funds the nurse in Dallas would have been trained and her protocol violation wouldn't have happened and she would not have Ebola. I tried to fund the CDC properly so as to protect the world from the ravages of want and disease. If we had had the funds our top scientists would probably have developed a cure by now. I did my best for the American people but the rightwing does not care about your well-being, their opposition to the Affordable Care Act proves it.  Sadly the bad guys win sometimes, for that I am sorry. 
Let me reiterate, our policy is we will not close our borders because it would actually make the problem worse. America is a country of immigrants. Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics ARE America and have been since our founding. We cannot and will not turn our backs on the poor and destitute no matter what country they may be in. I am currently doing everything in my power to minimize this plague but whatever may happen, it is clear the Republicans have failed us and I hope you remember when you go to the polls in two weeks. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Taiwan Trip Wrap-up

It is now Tuesday afternoon, two days after I returned home to Easton.  I need to wrap up the Taiwan trip because some readers get upset that I "leave them hanging" (you know who you are) when I don't do a closure piece.  So here it is.

The flight home was absolutely delightful.  We were whisked to the airport, through a special security gate, and to our departure gate with the greatest of bureaucratic ease.  Flopping into my business class pod, I endeavored to be strategic about the fifteen hour flight by staying awake long enough to eat the sumptuous meal they had planned and then watching a movie.  I did both, selecting "Million Dollar Arm" for viewing, and I was not disappointed.  About five hours into the flight, I changed into the Viet Cong pajamas they gave us for the flight, not because I was not already comfortably attired, but because I knew I'd be wearing those clothes for an extended period and I felt I'd given them a rest.  Mask on, earplugs in, and off to sleep--but only for two and a half hours--at which point I woke up and tackled some work projects for a few hours.  Then, another movie--"Draft Day", which was exceptional.  A bit more work, another meal, and voila--we landed in New York fifteen hours later but only three hours after we took off by local times.

My traveling companions all checked bags, but I did not, using my new rolling, hanging, bag suitcase that fits in the carry-on bin so that I could avoid the hassle.  Additionally, my enrollment in Global Entry meant a quick walk to the kiosk, insertion of my passport, fingerprint check, answering a few questions and I was then clear of immigration.  Because I had to wait on the others, I went out into the lobby of the airport and called the motel that we were booked into for the night, in order to get the scoop on how to get there.  One port authority bus to another part of the airport and then onto the hotel shuttle.  Easy enough.  We arrived at our Best Western at around 2330 and took to our rooms.  At 0800 we were up and out, back to JFK to hop on the shuttle to Dulles, then the drive back to Easton. I got home at around 2PM and was greeted by two sloppy labs and The Kitten.

The rest of the day Sunday was brutal, as I just wanted to go to sleep.  But I stayed up long enough to watch "Once Upon a Time" and then went straight to sleep, awakened by my alarm Monday morning at 0600.

It was truly a first class trip, in terms of accommodations, meals, and travel.  Additionally, it was a top-flight intellectual experience.  We got to talk with some really smart people, and we learned a great deal about a part of the world few of us know well. I can tell you straight out though, that I am not sure I'd ever fly that far again UNLESS is was in biz class.

So, consider this trip wrapped.  Thanks for your interest.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Hammer's College Football Review: Week 7

First off I'd like to congratulate CW on his just concluded trip to Taiwan. After seeing the photo of him shaking hands with the ROC Prez, well it's pretty clear he's world-class. But before you go getting a big head CW (I know, THAT train left the station ages ago!) just remember, in Tickbite you're just another God-damn Yankee!

Ok that's done, now on to the important stuff. Sorry but I gotta get on my soapbox a minute. Did you see that Georgia Bulldog Todd Hurley was suspended? That's right he was selling his autograph for twenty bucks a pop. Of course in the UGA bookstore you can buy his jersey for $120.00 and he gets squat, but hey, he signed the scholarship contract so screw him!
When are these idiots gonna learn? I heard on the radio that during the Ed O'Bannon trial dealing with this very subject an NCAA official testified that the NCAA was actually doing players a favor with this set up, protecting them from exploitation don't you know. Exploitation by one to prevent exploitation by another, gee sounds like absolute bullshit to me but then again I'm not a lawyer.
What is a kid to do for money? Some of these guys come from homes without a pot to piss in. They can't work, they can't sell their likeness or jersey or tickets or any damned thing, so how do they get their spending money? Well however they do it you can cool believe it's illegal under the Neo-Fascist NCAA. Why not just give them s stipend of say $300 a month? Makes sense right? They're a revenue producing sport (really BIG revenue) so give 'em a couple of bucks. Not gonna happen friends. The lesbians on the b-ball team would scream bloody friggin' murder, the golf team would want lifetime memberships to Firestone or Pinehurst and eventually the theatre group would want to be paid for their awe inspiring performance of Guys and Dolls, that's why not. So now we have a situation where maybe the best running back in college football is on the bench and Jameis Winston will start for FSU next Saturday, after attending a rape allegation hearing on Wednesday.

Ok, enough bullshit let's talk football. Man O man did you catch the Auburn Missississippi State game? I thought Auburn was the best but the Bulldog offense was kick-friggin-ass. It's was kinda ragged with four turnovers each way, but State made the most of them. It was a really entertaining game and more evidence that the SEC is the best and Miss State may be the best of the best. Their cheerleaders ain't bad either (Girls of the SEC, Nov. 2011). Speaking of Missississippi Ole Miss ain't looking bad either! They put a spanking on Texas A&M which is in no way a pushover. Can't wait for these two to tangle!
I didn't see the TCU Baylor game, just the highlights, but I wish I had recorded it. I'm usually not that big a fan of shootouts but hey, that's the game these days. TCU had this one but couldn't hold on. Petty had a bad game last week and his confidence was a little shaky, but Baylor reeled off three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to rob the Horney Frogs out of possibly the playoffs. I was hearing noises about TCU being the best team in college football, and they are good, they just lost their composure. But ain't that the great thing about college? They're just kids and they'll shock the shit out of you going and coming. Sometimes good sometimes bad.
In ACC action Duke got the Ga. Tech monkey off their back with a victory in Bobby Dodd, the Heels went to South Bend and played the Irish reasonably tough but still got 50 points hung on their cheating asses, the Pack lost to BC at home (so much for this year) and FSU won on the road at Syracuse. Out little snot-nosed brother school ECU (the best team in the state probably) kicked ass in South Florida which is actually in central Florida (Tampa) and not really South Florida unless you're a redneck and don't count all those blow-ins, Haitians and Cubans down in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade, in which case Tampa IS South Florida...I guess, in a roundabout way.
In the Big Ten Michigan State whipped Purdue in what was a pretty good game, they're the cream of that degenerated conference. Lookie lookie, Michigan beat up on Penn State, there is life in that old dog yet. The Gophers outscored Northwestern so I guess they ain't for real, just spoilers.
The Shepherd University Rams remain undefeated at 6-0 and 9th. in their little poll, but they play Notre Dame next week so who knows?

Goodbye Auburn, hello Missississippi. By the way, I'll be out of town next week, the Dalai Lama wants to hook up in Monte Carlo and I thought I'd visit my friends over at the Palais Princier (haven't been in a while). But not to worry, I'll still be blogging with daily updates of my trip (got up, brushed my teeth, took a dump, worried about jock-itch etc., stuff like that).
C-ya and in no way, shape, form or fashion would I want to be ya!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dispatch from the Road: Day 8--Last Day in Taiwan

It must be time for me to leave this dynamic, wonderful place, because my sleep cycle has thoroughly matched to the time zone.  I nodded off at 2100 last night and woke at 0600 this morning, refreshed and ready to tackle or last day here.  Yesterday was a good day and worth a bit of retelling.

Parade figures
As we discussed, yesterday was Taiwan's "National Day", and we were treated to front row seats at the National Day Parade/presentation in front of the building the President works in (he lives in another).  The streets were packed with patriotic Taiwans (I hear people using this phrase rather than "Taiwanese", and I like it better anyway), and it was clear that folks were into it.  A brief diversion?  We in the United States are metaphysically certain of both the greatness and the exceptional nature of our Republic.  For many, we simply can't understand why anyone free to choose would not try and move to our country.  The funny thing is, lots of people in lots of other countries feel the exact same way.  Have you ever landed on a plane in Japan or Turkey?  I have.  And when the plane touches down, people applaud.  Because they are back where they want to be.  Being here this week and especially yesterday gave me yet another opportunity to reflect upon the universality of love of country. The people of Taiwan have a LOT to be proud of, and it was good to share this day with them.

101 Taipe looking up
We sat on a broad boulevard and watched the dancers, acrobats, military bands and marchers pass by, mostly in the cloudy morning, but occasionally in the rain.  We were provided with large rain hats and slickers to protect us from the elements, and they did come in handy when the heavens opened up.  There were speeches and exhortations which the crowd seemed to appreciate, but my lack of Chinese language skills left me to just people watch, mostly.  Occasionally I cracked a tasteful joke.  And a few less tasteful.  But I digress.  We were provided with a translated version of the President's address, and it hit all the high points.  The bottom line for me after making this trip is that right here, just off the coast of China, is a version of China that blends all the wonders of this ancient culture with the vibrancy of representative democracy and economic dynamism....and the world chooses to believe that it does not exist.  That countries such as North Korea and Syria have seats in the UN and Taiwan does not seems unjust.  Again, I'll take my foreign policy stuff to another blog, but as an American, you ought to question degree to which we accommodate the mainland in order to salve their poor ego's where Taiwan is concerned.

Warning on a mirrored floor
We headed back to the hotel after the parade to change out of wet clothes and then head to the Taipei
101 skyscraper, formerly the tallest building in the world and now sixth.  We had a delightful dumpling meal in what our handler assures us was a very famous restaurant, and then we headed to the observation deck on the 89th floor.  We didn't get back to the hotel until 30 minutes before we had to turn around again and head off to a diplomatic reception, but the bus waits for no man and so I changed clothes again and headed to the reception.

This was quite a party, and the whole diplomatic community--such as it is in a country where 9/10ths of the nations on Earth do not extend full diplomatic relations--was on display.  Food and booze were everywhere, and the crowd was in good spirits. We (my companions and I) mingled a bit and then congealed in a central location to share our observations and to people watch.  It really was quite a party, but we were all pretty ragged and so we alighted from the gaiety and headed back to the humdrum of our hotel.

The Hullabaloo
My mission upon arriving was to deal with the logistics of all the presentos I had received in the past week.  The lovely woman in the business center hooked me up, selling me a box and directing me to the concierge who handled the particulars of mailing it back.  I had the choice of using FEDEX to ship my stuff for nearly $400, or the Taiwan equivalent of "Joe's Shipping" for $138.  I chose the latter, and managed to lighten my traveling load by packing a bunch of non-essential/dirty clothes into the box.  It is estimated to reach Easton in two weeks.

Today is a sightseeing day and departure.  We'll hit some local history until lunchtime, then back to the hotel for packing and preparing for the flight.  We leave tonight at 1900 and land Saturday night at JFK; we'll overnight near the airport and fly back to Dulles on Sunday morning.

I will probably get the inflight wifi for the flight home, so there may be a closing post then.  If not perhaps Sunday..  But for now, signing off to go to breakfast.  Cheers.

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