Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Ride-Along Gang

Ramblings Post #285
At this age I figured I would be curling up in front of a warm fire at this time of year, my wife snuggled against my side under a warm blanket, my teenage daughter sitting under own throw hating me because I'd suggested a little quiet family time away from phone, and my son down by the hearth lost in thought at how to beat the next level of his favorite video game. Instead I have an empty potato chip bag and the taste of hot dog on my breath in an empty house. But I do have the warm blanket. Two in fact. Missed by that much.
Stolen from Starsy of Reddit!
My new junior partner, who has a tentative name but whose presence is based on my current chicken plucking status, is a piece of work. She's young, "movie best friend cute", and what I've referred to in the office as "precious." It is talking to her that I realize that a) I am very old and b) a lot of what I know probably needs to depart with me. That's not really the issue of this post, but just something I've noticed.

The new junior partner and I trained together, and plucks chickens on roughly the same schedule, although we work in different areas. But since the location of the spot forces us (and most of the company) to take public transportation, please note that Atlanta's train system barely qualifies as HO grade, and we live on the same side of town, the JP and I tend to ride in together. Or rather, she works it so we ride together. As in calls my house before 8am to see if I've caught the train in the morning works it. Insert deep sigh here.

Admittedly the new junior partner is a small girl, having been compared to a middle schooler at one point. And as I said she's cute.  And her personal style is a bit more upmarket than socioeconomic group that uses public transportation at that particular hub we use, which has elicited some unsolicited comments. And she says she has been approached a time or two by prospective male suitors before she traveled with me. So it's kind of a safety issue thing, to some degree, I guess. And I have grown fond of her - relax, she's married - so I don't have a problem sharing a seat and chatting to and from the job so she feels comfortable.

It's just that she wants to get there soooo early. Like hour or hour and half early, so she can eat breakfast. Which means the bulk of my day would spent at the chicken plucking location, with minimal to no time for silly things like chasing my dreams. 

And that outside with-no-wind-guard platform is cold. Like cold cold. And to miss a train by as little as 30 seconds could mean 15 minutes on that same cold platform waiting for the next train. Add to that the fact that the system's timing is loose at best, meaning what should be a fifteen to twenty minute trip can easily turn into one lasting forty five minutes or more, with a single missed connection dominoing into a massive time suck. I talk to people at the job who arrive an hour early everyday to avoid that domino.

Most of the management I've spoken with drives. Which seems oddly fitting.

All I know is I ain't up for this. I was put on this Earth to do more than pluck these chickens and pay bills. 

And she gonna need a new schedule, I ain't up for all this. I'm old. And I ain't never really been a morning person. But I do love me some breakfast food. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Barkeep. Hot Toddy. And don't skip on the hot

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Odd Quotes

A warm shower under the sun.
Our experiences do not come to make us suffer. We attract what we need to grow, to awaken our spiritual nature. Whatever we attract, no matter how difficult, we need in order to grow and learn. Whatever we attract or experience, we can work through.
~ Iyanla Vanzant

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No, Game Theory (or really anything else) does NOT get Carroll off the hook

Ramblings Post #284
I’m not an explainer. Well, yeah I am. Maybe. I like to think of myself as a storyteller, as someone who weaves a tale, crafts a narrative, who gooses the imagination onto a journey so rich that you know more than I said when I’m finished. But as I understand it, the term storyteller probably isn’t as sexy as could be and probably has some weird connotations from childhood lingering about it. I’ll be an explainer.  

Apparently there is a concerted global movement to make Pete Carroll’s decision at the end of the Superbowl sound reasonable. Trying to explain away what was a colossal blunder, people have tried to use statistics, completion rates, time management concepts, Game Theory or just plain ole “strategery”. And not one makes sense, not people who know the sport. And not as long as the goal line offensive formation is a thing.
The Patriots run a GOAL LINE OFFENSE
Yes. This is a thing. Every team in the league has this formation and this basic play in their play book.

There are times in football where you NEED a yard. Just one.  It’s no secret, The other team knows you need a yard. And you know you’re going to run it, and they know you’re going to run it. You’ve brought out the big blockers; there aren’t even any receivers on the field. It's no longer a chess match or any other analogy of great minds meeting. You have to man up, put a body on a body and just go and get it. No excuses.

The sequence should have been, barring a touchdown at any point in the chain that with 26 seconds left to play is…

A) you run the ball.  From the goal line formation you can go up the gut, off tackle, race to the pylon, or whatever. The defense has to cover 50 yards with 11 men and if Lynch gets a one on one he is most likely to move whoever he hits backwards. It is the low risk, high reward play. If Lynch is one one he could have held the ball forward to score. But in the unlikely event that fails, you burn your last time out which gives you 20 to 17 seconds left. Then …

B) you pass.  This should be a fade pattern or maybe a hitch and go. Out to edge in single coverage.  Play fake the run or even a bootleg since Wilson is mobile. But it’s an endzone or bust play. He throws it to where only his guy can catch it over the top or out of bounds. If it’s a hitch, the point is the pylon or out of bounds.  If you don’t make it the clock is stopped with maybe 10 seconds left, and then…

C) You run the ball. All or nothing. Line up ten and quarterback versus eleven and go get it. You have a bruiser running back and he can stretch his arm to get it. 

This is how legends are made.

For Petey to figure on a “throwaway” play when there are points needed to be scored, and no points are guaranteed in the NFL, is at the level that he is coaching a complete collapse of judgment. Yes, Football is complex and strategic a game of inches, but sometimes you just have to be the better player and just want it more than other guy.

So Yes, it is one of the dumbest playcalls in football history.

Barkeep. Bourbon. Ice. Splash of soda.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Did I do that?": or Modern NFL Playcalling

Ramblings Post #283
There is no try, you either do or you do not. Otherwise you are comedy relief, much like the red-hot Seahawks, who like raised their arms in triumph before they broke the tape and took the win. It was football history, in all the bad ways imaginable. All I can say is, thank god it wasn't my Cowboys.  

I read a column called Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN because the author is a fun read, between his statistics, suggestions for improvement political commentary and observations. I started when it was on Slate and it is a regular Tuesday afternoon read. One of the things he closes out with, along with the “obscure collegiate school scores”, is a little feature called the dumbest play of the season so far. Now, I’m not the authority here, but I think you know my nominee for THE hands down dumbest playcall of the year. 

What would be a reasonable rationale for not running Marshawn Lynch from the ONE-yard line to win?

I’m fairly certain that somewhere in a press conference after the game every reporter in the room shook their heads in disbelief as Carroll broke down the rationale used to justify that playcall. If they didn’t all look skeptical at the explanation then they should have. At least one guy should have yelled out “Bullsh*t” from the back of the room no matter what was said. This all may have happened, as I went to a Superbowl party and pretty much the second that play was over we all stopped watching. After we all stopped cursing.  My god what a bad call. 

There is an old football axiom, “When you pass the ball, three things can happen and two of them bad.” In this case four or five things could have gone bad. Run the ball and you reduce the bad. Carroll figured it for a throwaway play. Throwaway play? They might have been on the one but the game wasn't won yet! They were still down. 

Maybe “The Furry Phenom” Wilson has a clause in contract that he has to be the hero, ala Tony Romo? Or maybe Carroll was scared that Lynch would dance around the endzone holding himself in an inappropriate manner during his celebration on national TV and inducing every manner of fine imaginable? Maybe they started celebrating early? Who knows, but under the circumstances, the Patriots didn’t really win as much as the Seahawks gave the game away.

Lynch was averaging almost four and half yards per carry. And you throw.

You had almost 30 seconds and a timeout. And you throw. 

You needed ONE yard. And you throw. 

What’s really going on? Because I know people who don’t even follow sports, who only watched the one game per year because all their friends do and that’s where the food is, and even they know you run the ball in that situation. If you had a Calvin Johnson or a Dez Bryant maybe, just maybe, you try a fade route. Maybe. But everyone else knows to run it. Run it

Barkeep. Something strong because now I gotta listen to Pats fans until next season. Yeesh.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keep track they said, it will motivate you they said...

Ramblings Post #282
You are what you eat. Which means at one point my entire body was made up of pizza, wings, hoagies and beer. Ah college. But my body really needs to be made of leafy green veggies, baked or grilled meats in sparing quantity, and lots of water. It is in fact made of veggie fried rice, chocolate, coffee and crystal light. It’s like I can’t make up my dietary mind. At least I really enjoyed the wings and beer.
Krispy Kreme. Now I want a box. Hmmmm.
One of the grand problems of tracking your food intake is that you actually see what you eat. It’s easy to forget those mini-Milky Ways and Oreo six pack on a normal day, but if you have to write it all down?  Ugh. The whole exercise is more disheartening than you might imagine, unless you’re a health nut.

I didn’t used to drink this much coffee. I never got into the coffee craze and really only went to Starbucks just to get out of the house during my “Introspective Period,” as I’m going to refer to it, so looking at my intake notes the amount of coffee I’m drinking is ridiculous. Maybe it’s because it’s free, maybe it’s because I put in enough sugar to power an elementary school for five years, or maybe because it’s free. Did I say that already? Someone remind me to look up caffeine poisoning.

I do drink a lot of water, which is good. And I eat a lot less salad than I thought, which is bad. I used to go through bags of salad like clockwork, but as of late I might eat one or two salads a week. My baked chicken consumption is down as well. And my broccoli. Actually, all my vegetable consumption is down. Note, that when I say down, I mean down from where I thought it might be, in that I hadn’t kept track in a while. It’s the old I was millionaire until I counted my money type thing.  Makes you want to stop counting. On the other hand, up until last weekend I was controlling the snacks pretty well. Damn you Dig'em

All this tracking my food intake is as part of a group of my friends that is working to better their health. And by better their health I mean they're making it competitive and buying every gadget under the sun to prove they are in shape. And I'd like to be a part, well, a more participatory part, but I'm not signing up for one more app, not buying any more equipment and I'll be damned if I'm gonna participate in Meatless anything. That's how they get you! Damned vegans. First it's just a Monday for a while, then why not every Monday, and before you know it, BAM, you're eating tofu bacon and kale for breakfast and you're hooked on potato shakes. Nope, not me. I'll do the 10k steps a day, the workout and less sodium, keep my calorie count in limits and the exercises, but don't mess with my bacon. 

And yes, it's on my food tracker. Less calories than you think too. 

Barkeep, let me get a vodka and tonic. What? Vodka has like no calories or something. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The NFL does racing & other country stories

Ramblings Post #281
In the movie The Big Year, there is a moment when one of the protagonists meets the theoretical villain of the piece, only to find out that while he formidable, he's also honest. When asked about it he goes "Nobody wants to be known as the cheater back at the clubhouse." It's an interesting take on life, a true bit of character,  that makes him a little more human, even as he does less than nice things. If only life were like that.   

Is Tom Brady a country boy? Did he grow up on NASCAR? Because there is an old saying in the racing game, “that if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”  That 11 of the 12 balls were under-inflated isn't coincidence, it's a scheme. Anyone who plays a sport knows that any sport worth playing is worth winning, and a little cheating is expected.  But there is a limit to what is acceptable cheating, a nudge and wink here or there, and just poor sportsmanship. And I think Brady crossed the line.

I say Brady because Belichick strikes me as a brighter guy than that. I combine that fact with other pro quarterbacks saying it would have helped tremendously with his game, and that they've known it to have been done before, to form my opinion. I mean, Nike once sent Tiger Woods golf balls, and he sent them back indicating which ones were off weight by feel of the ball on the club alone. That Tom Brady, a man who has played quarterback man and boy for more than 20 years wouldn’t have realized that his primary tool felt “off” stretches the limits of believability. The guy who intercepted the ball and held it for less than 30 seconds could tell it was deflated.

Think about it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't like the Patriots since the spying on the other team thing from way back, so there maybe so ire here. I mean, I admire the Jaguars more at this point, at least I'm sure that they come by their victories honestly. It's a way of looking at the world I guess. I read the ESPN poll where pretty much half the country doesn't think it's a big deal, which says a lot. They're supposed to be the Patriots, the closest thing we have to a dynasty in football right now. That people are okay with the successful getting away with bending the rules is just... well, I'm at a loss for words. 

To me this begs the question: How many other times have they not played by the rules, and just not been caught?

Barkeep. A lime rickey. Yes, seriously.