Monday, March 31, 2008

Notes From Down South

It's officially my last day in Atlanta and can't wait to sleep in my own bed. I've worked approximately 60 hours since Thursday and - as anyone can tell you - that's about as much actual work I do in a month. You could say I'm feeling it. Everything from my back to my legs to the tips of my fingers are sore.

While this may have to do with my age, it also has to do with being a part of the technology team that is in charge of making sure all of our company's infrastructure is operational when moving to a new building. Most people in an office think moving involves packing up a bunch of files and letting the movers take everything over. Then it's just about unpacking the files in the new office.

If only! Not many see the work that's needs to be done on the technology side. If they did office moves would become less frequent due to absolute terror. Here's just a few of the things that need to be addressed when an office moves:

- T3 data and voice circuits moved to new location. This involves third party vendors that are tightly controlled by unions and thus nearly impossible to work with. I won't mention any names, but you know who you are. *cough* Verizon. Oh excuse me. *Ahem* AT&T!!! Sorry, must be allergies.

- Servers, routers, switches all need to be relocated.

- Repatching down all the workstation cubicles so they can talk to the servers, routers and switches that have been relocated. This is where the sore fingertips come in.

- Packing, then unpacking and setting up the computers that everyone uses so they can talk to the servers, routers, and switches that have been relocated.

- Packing, then unpacking all the printers that print the shit out from the computers that everyone uses so they can talk to the servers, routers, and switches that have been relocated.

- Logging into EVERY SINGLE computer in the office to make sure that when people come in on Monday all their services are exactly as they were when they left on Thursday night.

What really sucks about this line of work is the ignorance a majority of corporate people have regarding what we do. They think we just unplug everything then plug everything back in when it gets moved over. Shit, man, that's the easy part! Simply unplugging and plugging back in is about 25% of what we do during an office move.

Alright. Enough bitching. I'm just tired and cranky. Here are some random thoughts since the last time we spoke (or...um...read? Communicated? Let's go with that).

- I'm officially out of my March Madness brackets. Texas, as well as my $20, became extinct Sunday afternoon. Sadly, this is the first March my bracket didn't keep me in it until the final weekend since 2005. I blame Davidson.

- Speaking of which, I thought for sure they were going to pull off a miracle against Kansas. I had a rather disturbing image of shit running down Hammen's leg when the final three pointer got off. I'm not even a Kansas fan and I nearly did the same.

- Even before the Texas matchup, I knew my bracket was in trouble. I watched Memphis completely dismantle a very good Michigan State team. I underestimated their defensive intensity. Way under! They were everywhere and suddenly I was afraid. Very afraid.

- Sadly, I haven't had much time to watch many games this weekend (please see work story above). I will say UNC and Memphis have been the most impressive. Let's do a quick rundown of the matchups:

UNC - Kansas: UNC has looked VERY impressive so far, but keep in mind this is a Roy William's team and he always manages to find a way to blow it when his team is loaded and a favorite. This will be UNC's first game away from North Carolina and it will show. Kansas has the athleticism and defense to take the Heels out of their game. Kansas by 6.

Memphis - UCLA: I honestly can't see how UCLA keeps up with the quickness and agility of Memphis. These teams are built on two totally different models. UCLA wants to grind it out, slow the tempo and keep themselves within striking distance. Memphis wants to press you to death, create turnovers and sprint back and forth while throwing 82 alley oops to each other. UCLA just doesn't have the fire power to stay in this game. Memphis by 10. Maybe less if UCLA just starts fouling as soon as Memphis crosses half court. That would really slow things down.

That would give us a Memphis - Kansas final that would be one of the most entertaining college basketball games ever. Who cares who wins, this game could have 300 points scored in it!

- Just finished watching the end of the Braves - Senators baseball game and was surprised how passionate Atlanta fans are. They were very upset when Zimmerman hit that walk off. And it's just the first game of the season. Who knew?

- While we're here, why did Bush throw out the first pitch (anyone else here Uecker say 'Just a bit outside' with that one?) for the first game in the new stadium? What the hell did he have to do with getting that stadium built? Yeah, nothing. Why didn't the DC mayor throw out the first pitch? Who is the mayor? Is it still Marion Berry? Why couldn't he have thrown out the first pitch with his latest crack whore at his side?

- Oh, by the way, I found out earlier today that it was warmer in Boston than it was in Atlanta. Isn't that just fucking fantastic.

- I was also lucky enough to be in the center of downtown Atlanta when a ferocious thunderstorm came through. Since this is the exact area where the tornado ripped through a couple of weeks ago, everyone started freaking out and calling to see if there were any tornado warnings in effect. Windows on some of the buildings around here are still missing and many seem to be suffering from PTSD.

- Since the weather is nicer in these parts, I have witnessed a peculiar event every evening. It involves men risking their lives to cross not one, not two, but three major highways to get to a popular overpass hangout. My boss who lives in the area told me they are homeless and that's where they sleep every night. What's really odd is they do this instead of sleeping at a homeless shelter that is within sight of that same overpass. Says boss, 'Well, yeah, they can't drink at the shelter!'

- The one positive in staying here is the hotel room that is one of the best I've seen. Brilliant layout, free internet, full kitchen, modern kick ass bathroom and two - count 'em TWO - flat panel television with High Def DirecTV. Plus, if you don't have your own computer they have one in every room for your convenience. You can even order room service and groceries to stock your kitchen. Good times!

That's it. I'm tired and have another long day tomorrow. I should also note I am suffering from a noxious case of gas right now and my room STINKS! Or maybe I shouldn't mention that.

Will catch up on Tuesday.

Today's distraction: Here is the hotel I'm staying at (minus the odor). I've been told by the bartender that the room I'm in is the exact model of the one bedroom condo you can buy for a mere $500,000. If the condo came with all the same perks, I would seriously consider it. Well, if I had money and stuff.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Playing The Percentages

Since the economy is currently circling around the toilet; getting ready to take the plunge into the sewer system, our company just gave us a good news/bad news scenario. The bad news is nobody will be getting raises this year. The good news is we'll still have a job.

It's better than having layoffs, that's for sure. Plus they've decided that certain positions would not be filled after a person leaves. This makes some sense as most of the people that work here really don't do anything. I would fall under that umbrella, if you're wondering.

What bothers me is the cost of living rising by 3%, while my income stays where it is. Actually, in this Bush World, the cost of living will be going much higher than 3%.

Well, fuck this! Considering my usual raises range between five and ten percent, I am hereby cutting my work load by ten percent. I rounded up just to be safe.

As of today I will no longer be doing the following:

- Answering the phone (approximately 3% of my day. I don't usually answer, anyway)

- Answering stupid questions....wait, this takes up 80% of my day so that won't work.

- Reading emails (app 5% of my day). I'll still respond to them as that takes up more of my time, but I refuse to read what I'm responding to.

- No more conference calls.

Wait a minute, this is in direct opposition to my scheme to drive the new hire from my office. Dammit, I'm screwed now!

Fine, as of this moment, I'm only giving 90% effort towards my job. No, that's not right, either. I haven't given 100% since I started working her. Typically, I'm around 75%, so let's cut that by 10%. As of now, I'm only giving 65%.

There, that should do it. That extra 10% will go towards this blog. Considering I only give 20% of my effort towards this, expect it to now be 30%. That still allows 5% of my time for just fucking around.

Don't expect a 10% increase in quality here, though (what is 10% of crap, anyway). Most likely I'll put in my usual half assed effort and spend an extra 10% of my time trying to find things to write about.

To hell with it. All these numbers are confusing me. Let's just say that I'll put 50% of my effort into my job and the other 50% will fall under the general 'fucking around' section of my day. This will include this blog, jokes, drinking on the job and watching 'South Park' and 'Family Guy' clips online.

KISS is my life's motto, ya know - Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Simple it is.


Today's distraction: Compare the cost of living in your city with other cities. I compared my salary with some places I would consider moving to and was shocked. San Diego and San Jose would be 10%-16% more expensive to live. Houses valued here at $425,000 would cost over 800K there. Yikes!


According to this, the best places to move would be the Tampa area or Austin, Texas. Cost of living would be 25%-29% lower in those areas. I would consider Atlanta, too. That's comparable to Austin.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pain Free World

On March 12th, the University of California San Diego Medical Center removed a diseased appendix. Yeah, whoop-de-fucking-doo, right?

Actually, yes indeed. See, they removed the appendix through the patient's mouth. I shit you not! They basically made a small incision in the patient's navel, inserted a camera into the stomach so they could see what they were doing (which is usually a good idea), shoved what I imagine was one of those stuffed animal grappling claws down this dude's throat and yanked out his appendix. I can only imagine the after taste of that procedure.

Why would they do this, you may (and should!) ask? According to the chair of UCSD Medical Center, Dr. Mark A. Talamini, 'The purpose of this clinical trial is to test more ‘patient-focused’ techniques for minimally invasive surgery. UC San Diego Medical Center is testing groundbreaking ways in which to perform surgery with fewer incisions, less pain, and more rapid recoveries'.

Well, then, there you go.

Quick sidenote here: Duke University has found that the appendix isn't useless after all. Turns out it's a 'safe house' for bacteria. According to this press release, 'While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed,' said one William Parker, Ph.D. One more reason to get rid of those antibacterial soaps and gels. Remember, those kill good and bad bacteria.

Meanwhile, at University of Texas' Southwestern Medical Center, doctors performed the first single incision gallbladder removal. Traditionally, there are four incisions needed, but these dudes used one. 'Through a single hole, we were able to introduce more than one instrument into the patient’s abdomen at once, and we were able to remove her gallbladder very safely, just like we do routinely through four incisions'. Sweet. The goal is to prevent major scarring and increase recovery time. Increased recovery time = less pain.

The patient in this case was a female golf pro who was taking full swings less than two weeks after the surgery. That's pretty damn cool.

Not to be outdone are those same, creative, party people at UCSD Medical Center who removed one woman's gallbladder through her vagina. The process took less than 2 hours and sounds much more entertaining. The UCSD team even has a cool nickname for their new procedures: Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). Top that, Texas Yahoos!

Oh, but I'm not done. Not even close. Suddenly, doctors are beginning to accept methods of acupuncture for treatment and using gold (yep, gold) to relieve arthritis pain. And now this news item from the University of Rochester Medical Center that, thanks to a process called Proteomics, a spit test may be more reliable and soon replace the standard blood test. Imagine, no more needles jabbed into you and blood spurting from your body when idiot doctors can't figure out what's wrong with you. Just spit in a cup and off you go.

With advancements in technology, new surgical techniques, and non invasive (or hole creating) testing we may be approaching the age of pain free medical treatment. No more worrying over that doctor's visit. No more suffering through debilitating joint pain; just buy some gold jewelry or visit an acupuncturist or the old standby vicotin pill popping to ease the burden.

While this is all great news, it makes me wonder why we can't spread this pain free fascination towards the animals we eat. Most of us are familiar with the brutal conditions (some would argue torturous and inhumane) some chickens, pigs and cows endure in order to provide us with food. More than a few of my friends have sworn off meat just because of the way the animals are treated.

If we spend billions trying to find alternative solutions to people care, then why not animal care. Don't argue that it's a business decision, either. With more humane treatment of the animals, the more people would be willing to eat your meat. If you want to argue business sense, then how about an increase in customers for your product? Those potential customers (and I'm betting there are a lot of them out there; those people that are limiting or eliminating meat, chicken and pork from their diets mainly because of the way the animals are treated) would be more inclined to buy your product if they are promised humane animal conditions in life and in death.

Whatever. I'm not here to preach about what you eat. People are going to eat what they want regardless. I just find it odd we spend incalculable amounts of time and money trying to make ourselves more comfortable while torturing and drugging animals that provide our means of survival.

Unfortunately, a useless space like this will have little effect on the meat and poultry industry's day to day operations and I can't expect to spur a nationwide boycott until things change.

What I can do is simply ask you to take a second before ordering that fifty dollar filet mignon while you lounge at Morton's or Shula's. Maybe one of you will decide on the pasta dish, instead.

It goes better with the $150 bottle of red wine, anyway.


Today's distraction: Some book autopsies for your viewing pleasure. No, they aren't gross. This artist actually creates amazing works of art from regular books. Not much impresses me, but this certainly does.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bust My Bracket??!!

Last week's entry title really wasn't a dare.

Davidson?

Seriously? Davidson??!!

I have only myself to blame, of course. After day one I was leading my office pool (by a whopping 3 points, but still) and I went against my own vow. I told wifey that if things were going well in the pool I would wait until after March Madness to shave my goatee.

Unfortunately, Friday night it was driving me insane. It was time. I am now clean shaven and out $20. See, I had Georgetown going to the finals. Since they didn't even make the Sweet 16 you can say I'm out a crap load of points.

Davidson?

There is still a remote outside chance for me. I'm the only one in the office picking Texas to win the whole thing, so if they can pull that off I might come in second or third. If everything goes as I predict from this point on, I may even win the thing outright. Three of my Final Four are still alive and six of my Elite Eight.

Plus, I don't have it nearly as bad as three other folks in my office who had Georgetown winning the title. Too bad, so sad. Looking at the leaders, I'm still only six points off the pace and everyone ahead of me has either UNC, UCLA or Kansas winning it all. Considering how UCLA looked this past weekend, is anyone feeling comfortable with that now?

Other Madness thoughts:

- I was psyched when West Virginia beat Duke because I was convinced I had them as one of my Sweet 16 picks. Once the game was over I went online and I had actually picked Duke. I hate when that happens. I'm sure I had some internal argument with myself that Duke was over rated and WV was under rated, but I just couldn't pick the under dog. Damn me!

- Villanova was my other upset 16 pick, so I look like a friggin' genius there. Well, if you ignore the whole Georgetown thing. Let's ignore that, shall we?

- My other one was Marquette who should have beat Stanford Friday night. What a let down. They had plenty of time on the clock at the end of regulation and wound up heaving a three pointer with 7-8 seconds left on the clock. They got the rebound, but whoever snagged it thought there was less time than there was and rushed a short shot. They played with such poise and confidence all game, it was frustrating to see them melt down at the worst possible time.

- To top if off, Texas now must play Stanford this weekend. That is not a good matchup for the Longhorns. I am officially very worried.

- Michigan State is the bane of my existence. For three years running, they have fucked me over. Next year, just pencil them into the Sweet 16 and be done with it. Doesn't matter who they play.

- What's going on with Duke? They've insisted on building their team around three point shooting and it just hasn't worked. Is Coach K going to recruit any big boys or what? What's frustrating about teams like Duke is how they can catch fire and get to the Final Four or they could flame out like they've done the past two years.

Best game of the tournament, so far: Marquette - Stanford. Back and forth all game long. Marquette nailing some long range threes and Stanford pounding it inside. Two teams trying to win with two different styles and it all came down to the final shot. Amazing shot by Lopez to win it, too. He was nearly behind the backboard when he released the ball.

Best shot of the tournament, so far: Western Kentucky's Ty Rogers for three, with three guys in his face, for the win - NET! Bye bye, San Diego.

Biggest Shocker: Davidson over Georgetown.

Runner Up: San Diego over UConn. I watched the second half of this game and UConn was a step slow all game. They played atrocious defense and didn't really seem to be playing very hard. Maybe they were just off or tired from traveling or they were all sick, but if this were any other coach there would (and should) be questions about the players quitting on him.

Best In Game Comment: Duke - West Virginia game. Duke had just scored with less than two minutes left to cut it to a five or six point lead. One of the commentators says 'We're going to see a great program make a stand here!' The implication being that Duke is a great program and West Virginia doesn't deserve to be on the same court with them. Three seconds later, Duke completely botches the defense of a simple screen play. The result is an easy layup to put the game out of reach. Great program indeed.

Quick note: I'm heading to Atlanta for a business trip on Wednesday morning so don't expect many entries for the rest of the week. Good thing Lost is off for a bit.

Today's distraction: Some very cool Photoshopped images. The apple on is disturbing as hell.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lost - Part 8

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is we finally found out what happened to Michael and Walt after they got off the island.

The bad news is we are officially in a Lost lull. No new episodes until April 24th (if we are to believe last night's post show trailer). Stupid writer's strike!

Off we go. Don't read further if you haven't watched yet.

What Happened: This was mostly a Michael episode. Sayid and Desmond managed to corner him on the freighter and he told his story.

It seems that our old, treacherous friend Mike had a severe case of survivor's guilt. Or in his case 'murdering Ana Lucia and Libby in cold blood' guilt. When we first meet him post island, he looks like his usual harried self. That is until he posts a note to his chest and drives his car into the side of a freight container on a dock. That crazy Michael. Always up to something.

This lame suicide attempt doesn't take of course. In fact, he heals rather quickly and visits his mother, who won't even let him into her house. 'He's my son', he pleads to her. Apparently he hasn't told her about his adventures on an invisible island or that he gunned down two hotties on said island. He has, however, told her that he and Walt are considered dead and she is not to tell anyone they are alive. After refusing him, he looks up and sees Walt in a window. Walt (in a suspiciously quick glimpse - is he 21 yet?) turns away from his father.

Well, that's it. Mike ain't fooling around anymore. He hocks the watch Jin gave him (did anyone else completely forget that?) for a gun and some bullets, which the kindly, rational pawn shop owner agrees to (what kind of small business owner is that dude?) and heads for a back alley to wipe himself of the earth.

Only he's interrupted by....wait for it.....Tom. At least I think that was his name. The bearded Other! 'You don't think we would let you leave the island and not keep tabs on you, do you?' Tom is full of useful information like 'You can't kill yourself. The island won't let you' and how to disarm a man in 3 seconds if he tries to shoot you. Of the two, I'm more dubious he could pull off the latter one. He isn't exactly in top shape unless you consider round a top shape.

Tom tells Michael that they need his help and he has a chance to redeem himself yadda yadda yadda. Mike goes back to his apartment to kill himself in privacy, but the gun doesn't go off. He checks and sure enough it's fully loaded. He tries again, but this is when the news report comes on about the discovery of Oceanic 815. Let's just say his interest is piqued.

He goes to find Tom in his swanky, yet oh so gay, penthouse suite (anyone remember last season's 'Don't worry, Kate, you're not my type' line?). Here Michael is told that it is Charles Widmore that has planted the plane and has stolen the 320 bodies from Korean graves. See, Widmore wants the island to himself and will kill everyone on the island once he finds it. Michael is to get on the freighter and pose as Kevin Johnson. 'I am not going back to that island!' says Mike. 'You don't understand,' Tom says, 'we don't want you to go back to the island. We want you to kill everyone on the boat'. Or something like that.

Michael agrees, flies to Fiji, gets on board and has moments of doubts. These doubts are erased rather quickly when he sees crew members shooting skeet with an automatic rifle. He goes to his room, opens a crate that had been shipped to him and proceeds to arm a bomb in the engine room. Of course, just as he's about to, Libby comes out of nowhere to tell him 'Don't Michael!' She's weird and creepy.

He doesn't listen to the chick he killed (let's face it, who would?), detonates the bomb and is greeted with a 'NOT YET' message. That clever Ben. I bet he's awesome at MouseTrap. Anyway, as Michael is wondering just what the holy hell is going on he gets a call from Walt. He runs up only to find it's really Ben calling from his secret under ground lair. 'I don't kill innocent people, Michael' which we all know is bullshit. 'What about Libby and Ana Lucia,' Mike shoots back. 'You killed them, Michael. We never asked you to do that'.

Oh, SNAP! Back at ya, Michael! Bastard! At this point Michael agrees to disable the engine and radio, then proceeds to cry like the little bitch he is. Ben is satisfied and smug and goes back to creeping out Juliette. We don't actually see this, but I know that's what happened. I'll bet he made her another ham.

So, that's pretty much it for Michael. Sayid stares at him a bit before deciding to muck things up even more by turning him into the captain. 'This man is not who he says he is!' Hey, at this point in Lost, who is?

Meanwhile, the idiots on the island are still trusting Ben. Locke brings the rest of his camp up to speed about Psychic Asian Dude (I know, Miles, but I like my name better) and that if they allow them to take Ben, the rest of them will die. They know this because Ben told them. That same Ben that introduced himself as Henry Gale and has lied to them and tried to kill them on many, many, many occasions. PAD makes Locke and Sawyer (who really needs more air time this season) think by stating, 'Last week he was caged up and now he's having dinner with you'.

Ben also tells his daughter, Rousseau and his soon to be dead son-in-law to run to the Temple (where all the others are apparently hiding). When they are about halfway there soon to be dead son-in-law becomes dead 'guess you won't be marrying my daughter after all' ex-boyfriend. Rousseau then gets it before his daughter raises her hands in surrender and yells 'I'm Ben's daughter!!!' to whoever is shooting.

And scene. Until April 24th. Dammit!!

What We Learned:

- Michael confided in Walt what he did to free him from the Others. Walt, shall we say, didn't take it so well and now won't talk to Michael.

- The island has some super natural control over anyone who comes in contact with it. We sort of knew this already, but it was explicitly stated for the first time last night.

- Kate really wasn't Tom's type. Jack and Sawyer are, though.

- The captain on the freighter is having trouble controlling his crew. They all seem to want to get to the island as soon as possible.

- Sayid may be the smartest person on the show.

- Sayid may be the dumbest person on the show.

- Tom enjoys his time off the island.

- Libby is haunting Michael and might have a degree in nursing.

- PAD seems to be the only completely honest person on the island.

- Walt's an ungrateful, little brat.

New Questions and a Random Prediction:

- How do these Others keep showing up at the exact right moment? I mean, a back alley in New York City? Is there someone that knows what's going to happen before it happens?

- When Tom says to Michael 'the island won't let you', is he actually referring to Jacob? Does Jacob control the island and those that come in contact with it?

- Is Rousseau really dead? I think not. When they showed her body there was no blood and she's survived too long to be so quickly dispatched. We'll see her again.

- Did Ben set up his own daughter?

- Why are people still listening to Ben? Why hasn't someone just shot him in the head and be done with it? Sawyer was on the right track earlier this season. So close....

- What happens between now and when Sayid gets off the island that makes him start working for Ben?

- What are the intentions of the crew on the freighter?

- Is Charles Widmore really behind the fake Oceanic 815? Or are the Others manipulating Locke and Michael to protect themselves?

- Who was shooting at Rousseau and company?

- What the hell is the daughter's name again? Danielle?

- Why didn't Danielle's boyfriend just wear a shirt with a bulls eye on it? Way to move when the bullets started flying. 'Duh...why did my water bottle just explode?'

OK, my random prediction: The captain of the freighter already knows about Michael. No basis for this, I just got that feeling when Sayid brought Michael into his office. The look on the captain's face was anything but surprised. In fact, he seemed a little put out by the whole thing. Maybe he's just more concerned about a possible mutiny, but remember this: Ben always has a backup plan.

Always.

Today's distraction: Figure out Sawyer's nickname for yourself. Me? I'm Professor. Must admit, I like it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Fever

Our long national nightmare is nearly over.

No, sorry, I'm not talking about the Bush Presidency. I'm talking about winter. It is no more and I couldn't be happier about it. Very soon my favorite time of year will be in full swing. I can't friggin' wait!

While I'm getting antsy, here are a few random thoughts and follow ups.

Before I forget, here are some of my favorite things about spring:

- Spotting the first buds on the trees and the first flowers emerging from the ground.

- That first day over 70. Like the end of an ice age.

- No longer wearing a coat, hat, and gloves to work.

- Driving with the windows down.

- That first time someone in my neighborhood starts up the lawn mower.

- Smell of the ocean air once the wind currents start flowing from the south again.

- Watching the boys play outside. It's what I imagine bear cubs emerging from hibernation must be like.

- Smoking cigars on my back deck.

- Bare feet.

- Baseball season.

- Three letters: BBQ

- Remember the lovely couple from the Kansas trailer? You remember, the woman who was on a toilet for two years or so? Right, her. Her boyfriend has been charged with 'mistreatment of a dependent adult'. This basically means every married woman is on the hook if her husband winds up having to make his own dinner or clean the house because she's out partying with her friends.

- Could the 'Hi, I'm a Mac' commercials be affecting how people view Microsoft? Perhaps, but me thinks this slip has more to do with Microsoft pushing an over priced, ineffective, and counter productive operating system. I do like those ads, though, even if the Mac is dating Drew Barrymore. Talk about virtual reality.

- Anyone who lives over in Boston's Copley area will be thrilled to hear that the Copley Place owners are going to build a new 47 story building. This addition will include expanding the Neiman Marcus store by 53,000 feet and a bunch of new residential condos. Don't worry, current residents, it's not like you had that much parking or much of a view to begin with.

- If you haven't seen this trailer yet, take a moment and enjoy. I hope this is as funny as it looks.

- As a tribute to friends heading to Paris soon, the Eiffel Tower is adding a huge Kevlar constructed observation deck to help celebrate it's 120th anniversary. I really hope this is temporary because it ruins the effect.

- If you've read here for a while or French, you know we've both been preaching proper urinal etiquette. Well, it finally spilled over into the real world. Hopefully this will spur social change.

- The list of America's cleanest cities was published in Forbes this week and Miami is the big winner. This surprised me initially, then I remembered that this is the same population base that wears all white to Miami Heat home games (well, when they used to go to the games), so they are used to acting like Stepford wives. Here are the top 10: Miami, Seattle, Jacksonville, Orlando, Portland (Oregon), San Fran, Oklahoma City, Tampa, Minneapolis - St. Paul, San Jose.

- Since today is the opening day of March Madness, here is a great article from one of my favorite sites (Cracked.com) about the 6 people who ruin the office pool. My favorite is the guy that picks Duke every year.

- Speaking of which, I've signed up for CWTV again and am watching 2 games on 2 different computers in my office. I am March Madness central! Next year I'm buying two widescreen monitors and hooking them up on my walls. That would be kick ass!

That's all I got. Time to concentrate on my bracket. I've decided that if I'm doing badly the first weekend, I'm shaving my goatee off. If I'm doing well, I ain't changing a thing. Don't fuck with the mojo.

Today's distraction: A totally bizarre, but fun game that involves moving an Asian grandmother. Let's just say a catapult is involved.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

State of the Celtics

I've been holding off talking about the surprisingly dominant Celtics all season long. That time is through.

After they dismantled both the Spurs and Rockets I feel the need to address what's going on. Usually I would leave this for French, but he's apparently retired or cut down to posting once a month. Slacker!

Part of the reason I held off was because I was waiting for the inevitable crash to earth. I didn't fully buy into this team for several reasons:

Age: The three stars are all 30 and above and at the tail end of their careers. The excitement of the new season and playing with new, competent teammates pretty much guaranteed a fast start, but I was convinced there would be a let down at some point.

Injury: I was sure some season ending injury was going to befall one or more of them. Especially Ray Allen, who was coming off double ankle surgery. At the very least there would be some lingering issue that affected their play. There was some of this, of course, with Garnett's ab strain and Allen's jammed ankle which is worrying me.

Bench: It initially seemed that Ainge & Co. were just signing whoever they could get to fill out the roster. As if Pierce, Garnett and Allen were more than enough to carry any team, even if it consisted of Development League rejects and unproven young guys.

Coaching: Look, I like Doc Rivers. He seems like a good guy, but his career in Boston up until this year was questionable at best; disastrous at worst. He fiddled constantly with lineups, refused to stick with a regular rotation and managed games (especially close ones) with the finesse of a sumo wrestler. It was ugly.

Conferences: Even with just the three stars (btw, I refuse to call them the 'Big 3'. That refers to Bird, McHale and Parish. Nicknames should not be recycled. You listening Tomlinson?), you could pencil in the Celtics for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. This was even before Miami and Chicago shit the bed. The problem was how this team was going to match up with the power houses of the Western Conference. Keep in mind this was before the Lakers acquired Gasol and the Mavs picked up Kidd.

Point Guard: I liked Rondo last year and thought he showed enormous promise and improvement throughout his rookie season. But it's one thing to like the potential of a player and an entirely different thing to entrust the success of a potential championship contender to an unproven, still learning point guard who can't hit a shot outside of 18 feet.

So what happened? Well, the Celtics currently have the best record in the NBA, they are officially feared by EVERY team in the league and, when playing at their best, are scary good and enormously fun to watch. Just ask the Rockets who had beaten down 22 teams in a row and were playing at home. Final score: Celtics 94 - 74 and that isn't even an indication of how badly the Celtics whipped this team last night.

How - I mean really - how the hell did this happen? Let's break it down.

Age: Yeah, the three stars are over 30 years and you could argue that both Garnett and Pierce have more miles than that on their bodies since they've been carrying crappy teams for the past 4 years or so. But they are a young 30 (Pierce is 31, Garnett 30 and Allen 32) and, more importantly, they keep themselves in tremendous shape.

Here's a telling story. When Garnett first signed with the Celtics, he decided to start his usual early morning workout routine at the practice facility. He arrives at 6 am and find Pierce already there covered in sweat. He is startled because throughout his career he has always been the first to workout. As he walks around to get his bearings he hears someone else and finds Ray Allen working out. Like Pierce, he's drenched and it's apparent he's been there for a while.

Age be damned with these three. If anything, this team won't lose for lack of conditioning.

Injury: So far so good. Garnett lost some time before the All Star break with an ab strain and Ray Allen's ankles are holding up for now. Just as importantly, Tony Allen seems back to his explosive self after back to back knee injuries the past two seasons. I forgot how quick and energetic he is when healthy. I also commend the Celtics for not rushing back any of their players. They realize there is a bigger goal at stake then the regular season. It helps that the team went 7-2 when Garnett was out and the All Star break hit at just the right time, but still.

Bench: Which brings us to the most important part of this team. This isn't just a collection of random castoffs. Leon Powe, Big Baby, Eddie House, James Posey, Tony Allen and even Brian Scalabrine are perfect compliments to the three stars. Nobody tries to do more than they are capable of and all of them are perfectly aware of their roles. Even the additions of Sam Cassell and PJ Brown (an addition that could be a huge difference maker in the playoffs) were logical. The way this team has been assembled to assimilate with the three big guns is the second biggest surprise of the year.

Coaching: Allow me to take this opportunity to officially apologize to Doc Rivers. He has managed the team nicely and even has some sort of rotation going on. Maybe he just had crappy players to work with? He always got his teams to play hard (even in Orlando) and with Garnett showing up that wasn't going to be an issue any longer. I have a sneaking suspicion that Garnett has more to do with Doc Rivers resurgence than anything else. Garnett reminds me of Magic, Jordan and Bird in that they were all unofficial coaches. During the KC Jones era here in Boston it was more likely Bird was calling the shots on the floor. Not that this is a bad thing. Both Rivers and Jones were smart enough to let their superstars take control and enjoy the free ride.

Conferences: Here is the most telling stat of this years: Against the Western Conference the Celtics are an unheard of 22-4. 22-4!!!!!!!!!! I don't think they've won 22 games against the West the past 2 seasons combined. Maybe the past three. This tells me that not only are the Celtics legit, but that they can match up against any team in either conference. This is very good news.

Point Guard: As anyone who has watched the Celtics this year can tell you, Rondo is the motor behind this group. He is improving every game, every play, every minute he's on the floor. Defensively he's a pain in the ass; swarming, slapping at the ball, harassing the other team's PG. Offensively, he's getting better and better at blowing by his man and setting up the inside guys. I'll bet half of his assists have ended in Perkins or Garnett dunking the ball. Plus, Eddie House has been surprisingly effective as a backup and with Sam Cassell now on board, this team should be good to go.

One other thing I didn't think of - Rivers made a point (sorry, no pun intended) of taking the pressure off Rondo early in the season by letting Pierce or Ray Allen bring up the ball. Or Rondo would give up the ball early and let the offense flow through Pierce or Garnett. It's a small, logical game plan, but as Rondo became more comfortable and confident (and as a result his teammates becoming more confident and comfortable with him) he has been running the offense more often. This makes the Celtics even more difficult to defend. Not only can Pierce, Allen, Rondo, House and even Posey bring the ball up and run the offense. How do you plan for that?

Those were just my early season concerns. Here are some things that I didn't even consider and have been the driving forces:

Defense: Forget about the star power, the energy the players have been bringing, the point guard situation, Doc Rivers actually coaching. The real reason this team owns the best record in the NBA is the oppressive defense it brings every night. One thing I never noticed about Garnett was the pride he took in his defense. He works on it constantly and, in effect, makes his teammates work on it as well. The Celtics have gone from one of the worst last season to the best. No, really, they lead the league in defensive field goal percentage at a shade under 42%, points per game allowed (90.8; ahead of even the Pistons) and point differential.

For those that watched the Celtics last season, this is just shy of a miracle. I'll let a professional have the last word on this topic. After last night's Rocket beat down in which the Celtics held Houston to 34 points in the second half, Tracy McGrady said, 'In my 11 years in the NBA, that's the best defense I've ever seen'.

Paul Pierce: I'll admit taking him for granted in the past. Always thought he was a bit over rated. He was always very good; normally one of the best 15 players in the NBA, but he had the tendency to try to do too much. One of those offensive players that forced the issue. Sure he would have spectacular games and had the ability to literally take over games on the offensive end, but there were also those times where he would heave up a desperate fall away with two players on him or launch a three pointer with 15 seconds still on the shot clock.

This year is far and away his best. His scoring and stats may be down, but don't underestimate how efficient Pierce has been making that extra pass. Or passing up the three pointer to dump it into the post to get a better shot for his team. He can still score, but now he does it only when he needs to. I guess that's what happens when you have competent teammates.

But there is another, perhaps more important change in Pierce this year. He seems to be enjoying himself. I remember his first two years in the league, Pierce couldn't help but smile as he learned just how good he could be. The last few seasons he's been scowling and pouty even when the team was playing well. The infamous Indiana playoff game when he completely lost his cool and wore some sort of bizarre face bandage was nearly the undoing of Pierce in Boston. Fans were disgusted with his antics and embarrassed by his behavior. That summer there were calls for the Celtics to trade him.

Looking back it seems that trying to do it all - be THE MAN - was too much for him to handle. With the arrival of Garnett and, to a lesser extent, Allen relieved the pressure. Pierce no longer needs to heft the team onto his shoulders and lug them around. He still can do that and at times he has (the Spurs game Monday night is a perfect example), but just knowing he no longer has to score 30 points just to give his team a chance has lifed the burden. He's playing like he wants to this season and not because he's required to.

Kevin Garnett: Admittedly I only watched Garnett on occasion. He was in the Western Conference and I never had much of an opportunity to see him. Most of the time I saw Garnett was on SportsCenter highlights. Don't get me wrong, I was pumped when they traded for him (tempered a bit by giving up Al Jefferson), but the first month of the season was a revelation for me.

Forget the athleticism or the dunks or the aggressive approach - we were already aware of that. What surprised me was the energy he played with. The dude is tireless. He's jumping just as high, running just as hard, playing defense just as ferociously if the team is down by 3 or up by 25. Relentless is the word.

I was used to watching players like Lebron and Kobe coast at times and I expected the same from Garnett only because I had never seen him play an entire game before. Well, allow me to say fuck that! KG is like a starving, abused Rottweiler on a basketball court. He attacks, attacks, and then attacks some more. If he senses fear or weakness you can forget about containing him. He'll eat you alive.

But, of course, it's not just that he plays all out all the time (something Boston fans LOVE by the way; there's a reason Bird and Orr are gods in this area), it's that innate sixth sense of the game he displays. I had no idea what a great passer or tireless rebounder he is or how he seems to be in the right place at the right time on nearly every play. He is not just an athletic, seven foot freak of nature, he's a student of the game. He studies it, practices it, hones his abilities and wants to be the best player he can be. Not just for him, but for his team.

This extends to the other players. Do you think Big Baby or Leon Powe would be as effective this season if they didn't practice with KG? How much does a player improve when you have to guard him in practice every day? By all accounts, he plays just as hard in a scrimmage as he does in a real game and he does so in order to help the guys playing against him. If you have to guard Garnett every day how much more prepared are you to guard Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol? Exactly.

What's really strange is how Garnett would gladly sacrifice his stats and glory to improve his team. Maybe that's the main ingredient to this year's success. Not that they have good role players or a sound approach to defense (although that certainly helps). Maybe the key is combining three unselfish players who happen to be some of the best at their position. Ainge deserves credit for rolling the dice, but I don't think even he saw this coming.

I do have concerns. Doc Rivers is still the coach and I have a nagging feeling that he will cost them at least one playoff game with a boneheaded decision or substitution. He could very easily out think himself, if that's possible.

There is Cleveland and Lebron to worry about. There are the Pistons, but they don't worry me too much anymore. They've been showing their age lately. Orlando, too, could cause problems. Not to mention whoever emerges from the West.

I am taking solace, however. Doc Rivers is our coach, Garnett and Pierce and Allan have never reached NBA Finals, and a number of things could go south from now until the end of the season. But if Eli Manning can beat Tom Brady in a Super Bowl and the Red Sox can win 2 World Series titles in 4 years, then anything is possible.

Doc Rivers: Coach of the Year? Believe it or not, it wouldn't be the first time.

Today's distraction: Check out this ridiculous story about the Timberwolves owner accusing Garnett of 'tanking' last season. Pretty dubious claim considering Garnett refused to be traded and wanted to stay in Minnesota until the middle of the summer (when the Celtics acquired Ray Allen). What a putz!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bust My Bracket

'It's the most, wonderful time of the year....'

Sing it with me!

No?

Fine, be like that, you big party pooper. This is my favorite time of the year. Not only is some of the best, most dramatic basketball of the year being played, but it also means spring is right around the corner and, most importantly, wifey doesn't mind me going out to bars to watch the games because she can't stand watching.

It's win - win!!

Anyway, I was going to do a rundown of the teams, but I haven't had much time to watch many college teams this year. So, rather than do the rundown of the favorites, I'm going to focus on the bracket itself. Let's face it, this year is a crap shoot anyway.

The way I figure it, these are the teams that could win it all.

North Carolina
Kansas
Tennessee
Texas
UCLA
Georgetown
Pittsburgh
Connecticut

With these teams potentially catching fire and ruining everyone's office pool.

Memphis - Considering their atrocious free throw shooting, I can't consider them contenders.
USC - OJ is really coming into his own at the right time.
Louisville - players and coaches that have been here before.
Michigan State - The most unpredictable team this year.
Duke - Too reliant on the three point shot, which spells doom during Tourney Time.
Notre Dame - very talented team across the board.

Then there are the dark horses who have the talent to go deep, but are in a tough region or lack some aspect to make them true contenders.

Stanford
Purdue
Xavier (who plays Purdue in the second round)
Kansas State
Butler
George Mason

Realistically, any of these teams could go deep. It all depends on one bounce of the ball or one shot that rolls around and out (or in) or one bad call by the ref. Anything can happen, which makes this so much fun.

My problem is I've got to fill one out for my office pool and have no idea who to pick. Let's take a look at the regions and get a better feel for this. Hopefully, I'll have my pick by the end of this column.

East: This has UNC written all over it. Not only do they have the best team, but they play close to home right up until the Final Four. Raleigh for the first two rounds followed by Charlotte for the Sweet 16. They don't have to fly until they reach the Final Four (which they will).

Tennessee looks like the only major threat, but even if they get to the Elite Eight to face UNC, they're playing in NC. It's basically a home game for the Tarheels.

Potential troublemakers: Louisville, winner of the George Mason/ND game, Butler

Pick from here: UNC

Midwest: Kansas is the obvious pick here. Probably the most talented team in the country with a point guard the plays with intensity and smarts. Love watching that kid.

However, I caught two Georgetown games this year (one being the Pittsburgh game they lost) and this team looks like one of the few complete teams up and down the roster. They have solid guard play, they rebound, they play stellar defense and they are huge up front. If Hibbard can stay out of major foul trouble, they can beat anyone.

Potential troublemakers: Clemson, USC

Pick from here: Georgetown

South: I don't trust Memphis. I just don't. They can't shoot free throws to save their lives, the only real test they had this year was against Tennessee at home and they lost, and they tend to lose focus during games. Sure they're talented, but it wasn't enough last year and won't be enough this year.

Besides check out Texas' potential run. They start in Little Rock where the biggest threat will be....um....who? Kentucky? Miami? Stanford? Right. So if you pencil in Texas to the Elite Eight (which I have), guess where they play for the rest of the tourney? How about Texas. Their Elite Eight games are in Houston followed by Final Four games in San Antonio. How's that for some home cooking?

Even if Pittsburgh (I have them beating Memphis) or Memphis make it to the Elite Eight, they'll have to play a loaded Texas team in Texas!

Potential troublemakers: Michigan State (as always), Marquette

Pick from here: Texas

West: Speaking of fair, once again the bracket gods have shone on UCLA who play their first two rounds in Anaheim. If they get to the Elite Eight (and they should) they only go as far as Phoenix.

Yeah, I know Duke is in this region but they haven't impressed me at all this year. The only other competition is UConn, who have been up and down and could just as easily lose in the first round as go to the Final Four. I hate teams like that.

Potential troublemakers: Drake (who I really like), West Virginia

That makes my final four look like this: UNC, Georgetown, Texas and UCLA. I can live with that.

UNC and Georgetown are an epic battle, but I think Georgetown has the better defense and better guard play. They pull out a squeaker that could be a classic.

Texas is freakin' playing in San Antonio for crying out loud and play an UCLA team that is good, but not great. They make it to the finals.

That leaves Texas vs Georgetown. Did I mention this will be held in San Antonio?

Looks like I'm picking Texas. So many of these teams are so close in talent that any little advantage counts. Having a home slate from the Elite Eight on is more than a little advantage.

So, if this happens (and it probably won't) does this nominate Kevin Durant for the Ewing Theory?

Today's distraction: Some insider stats on picking Cinderella teams. All this does is make things even more confusing. As last year's winner in my office proved, you can just as easily throw a dart.

Monday, March 17, 2008

This Is War!

A few entries ago I mentioned how the company I work for make decisions in a rather questionable manner. At best they can be labeled as murky. At worst they're fucking illogical and irresponsible. I believe I used the term 'mind boggling'.

Unless you're CEO or owner of your own company, I'm sure many of have felt the same way about our employers. I usually just laugh, shake my head and get on with my day when it comes to most of these decisions, but this latest one has taken on a rather personal nature.

Allow me to explain.

Not to give away too much information about myself, but my job consists of taking care of the technical side of my company. To put things simply, I am the computer guy for the entire northeast region. Just me. Nobody else. There's more to it than that, but in the interest of getting to the point, we'll leave it at that.

The beauty of my job is security. I am it. Nobody here can do what I do, shows any interest in what I do, and basically doesn't have any idea WHAT I do on a day to day basis. Officially I work out of our Boston branch, but I am a national employee. My boss is in another city and I don't have to answer to any of the big wigs here on too many occasions. I work with the other people here, not for them; if that makes sense.

Anyway, due to me knowing nearly all the inner workings of our office (including passwords to all systems, the firings and hirings before anyone else, handling the system security, and processing and storing all the really, really expensive equipment) it's imperative that I have one of the only locking offices and maintain my privacy. Offices that lock are three: mine, the Operations Manager who handles all the HR stuff, and the Office Manager who handles all the financial stuff. I'm in elite company. For perhaps the only time in my life.

About 18 months ago, I was forced to move offices from one floor to another. I did so even though it meant losing my view to Boston Harbor and my new office strangely included a second desk. At the time I thought 'what the fuck?' but that's a normal thought I have when working. To make sure things between me and the Ops Manager were level, I stressed that even though I have a second desk I can NOT have someone sharing an office with me.

Response was 'Oh, no, we wouldn't do that!'

Yeah, well, late last week I learned that they really would do that and have told me to clear things out because I'll be having a new office mate soon. I have built up an intimidating supply of equipment on secondary desk just to prevent the idea of putting someone in here with me a possibility. It's bordering on 'unsafe' at this point and there is the very real possiblity of being crushed to death when the pile of shit decides it's defying the laws of physics to be still upright.

In response to this request I sent an email to the powers that be stressing that the agreement for me moving was the promise of privacy and security. Their response was basically 'Tough shit, there is no place else to put him'. Granted there is limited space in our local office, but it's not like they didn't have years to find places to expand or move. In fact, since I've been here (6 + years, now) they've been 'planning' on moving us to new space so we can all be together. Currently we're on 3 different floors.

Oh, and did I mention we're a real estate company that specializes in finding commercial space? Yeah, so you'd think we would be able to find ourselves some decent rates considering we know basically everybody in the industry.

But I digress....

When I got the response back, I heard Bugs Bunny in my head (again!): 'Of course you know, this means war!'

And war it is. I will clear out the desk to look like a good soldier, but I have a battle plan in place to drive new hire out within a month or at the very least make them move people around so I have my own office again.

They have no idea what they've started.

Below are my ideas to make this new hire's life miserable. Word has it he has a home office, so the blue print is going on the assumption it will take no longer than two weeks to get him to realize his home office is his only office.

Details from Operation Repel New Hire:

Subtle Phase:

- Playing music constantly. No difference here as I do that anyway. Just nobody to appreciate it.

- All telephone conversations will be on speaker phone with volume up as high as it will go.

- Waiting three rings before answering calls. Again, ring volume up to max.

- Coming and going from office constantly. He will be sitting by door, so it will make things annoying in a general, harmless way.

- Make sure I have steady stream of visitors. This is also business as usual for me, but I want to amp it up a bit. I'm also concerned that visitors will decrease if there is a douchebag sitting in here with me. That would make two douchebags in one office, but at least I'm douchy in a cool, funny way.

- Random, useless equipment 'accidentally' left in his way. This shouldn't be difficult at all.

- Replaying the same voice mail endlessly like I can't figure out what the caller is trying to say.

Not So Subtle Phase: This will include all of the above but add...

- Eating a stinky lunch at my desk every day. Chinese or Thai food usually does the trick.

- Taking my shoes off while in my office. I'll make sure I walk to work every day and maybe wear the sneakers I ran with that morning. The socks, too!

- Make a playlist with all of the most offensive songs I can find. Believe me, I have a lot. These would include 'Fuck a dog' by Blink-182, 'Sucker' by Peeping Tom, and 'Lapdance' by NERD.

The All Out Assault Phase: All of the above plus...

- Daily, unnecessary conference calls on speaker phone.

- Cease showering and wearing deodorant.

- Changing clothes in the office at least twice a day.

- Eating ungodly amounts of garlic for dinner the night before. I want it oozing out my skin when I show up in the morning.

- Drinkfests at least once a week. I want to create that hideous, beer is coming out of my pores, hangover stench.

- Drinkfest with garlic ('The Toxic Avenger').

- Simply stare at new hire - unblinking and unmoving - for long periods of time.

- Chair sabotage. When he sits in his seat he might go flipping over backwards, he might not move an inch, it might be normal, it might be rigged to send him through the wall, it might collapse to the floor. Not knowing will be the ultimate torture.

- Random, incoherent mutterings. Things like 'That motherfucker!' or 'If I had my gun with me...' should be sufficient. The key is to say it quick and under your breath, thus making proof difficult.

- Rubber bands and paperclips. Someone's losing an eye.

- Loud, excessive farting and burping. Believe me when I tell you this will be his undoing.

I also have another level that involves making the lives of everyone else in the office miserable. This includes including myself in every and all conference calls I can, then reserving a conference room to call in. I need my privacy, after all.

As a last resort, I'll be working from home as often as possible. Or taking three hour lunches. Or inviting everyone to my office for beer o'clock. Or slapping the back of new hire's head every time I walk past him.

I should also note that if this new hire turns out to be a smoking hot chick, then all bets are off.

In fact, I may enjoy this new arrangement.

Today's distraction: 5 tips on how to deal with difficult relationships at work. Oddly, 'Waging War on Offending Party in Effort to Make Him Dread Coming To The Office' isn't listed. Pussies!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lost - Part 7

For those outside and looking in to the Lost experience, the show may simply appear to be one gigantic puzzle that viewers are trying to piece together. We create theories, argue about numbers and their relevance, try to outguess the writers at every turn, and debate the merits of murdering Ben in cold blood.

They would be correct, of course, but the real reason we tune in again and again to have our minds blown is because we legitimately care about the characters. Some we hate, some we love, some we still haven’t made our minds up about, yet, but they are all human characters. People we enjoy spending time with and want to see get off this bizarre island. Well, except Locke, who should stay.

We are emotionally invested in these people. Simple as that. We want to see them over come their limitations, get past the trauma of childhood, become better people. Yes, even Sawyer who is much more entertaining as an uncaring tough guy.

Last night’s episode reminded viewers of this in a rather cruel, thunderclap of an ending.

Avoid the rest if you haven’t watched. If you have, my condolences. Not an easy episode to get over.

What Happened: Let’s break this into parts, because there is much to cover.

The Freighter – Sayid and Desmond find that the boat isn't any more stable than the island. Both watch as a female crew member laden down with chains walks to the edge and jumps into the sea. Bye, nice cameo, no named actress. They are both taken aback when the rest of the crew passively watches her sink to her death.

They also meet the captain, at long last, after receiving the least cryptic note ever ‘Don’t trust the captain’. However, the captain turns out to be one of the most forthcoming characters in ‘Lost’ history. Actually telling Desmond and Sayid that Charles Widmore is the man behind the project and showing them what’s supposedly the Black Box from Oceanic 815. As he disturbingly says ‘How many resources are needed to plant a fake plane and where do you find 320 dead bodies?’

As for the suicide, he calmly explains that his crew is experiencing a rather extreme case of cabin fever. We saw the woman before, reading her book upside down and being rather testy. Captain thinks it has to do with being close to the island, but they can’t move further away because someone has screwed with the engines.

Which leads us to the least surprising twist Lost has ever given us. The revelation that Michael is indeed the spy on the freighter. He’s a janitor going by Kevin Johnson (didn’t he play for the Phoenix Suns?) and Sayid and Desmond played it off like they never met before.

Sun/Jin Mind Fuck – Once again Lost plays us against our own expectations. We see Sun and Jin on the island deciding to join Locke’s band of misfit toys. Sun has decided she doesn’t trust Daniel or Charlotte and heads off with Jin to Locke’s camp. Juliette, desperate to stop her and pulling one of the all time bitch moves in television history, tells Jin that Sun had an affair and she wasn’t sure the baby was his.

Yeah, that would do it. Jin storms off to…um….go fishing? Just what I would do. Bernard, in a rare appearance joins him and, in a Buddhist type conversation convinces Jin he should forgive Sun because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. Bernard was talking about Rose, but still.

Juliette for her part explains that Sun needs to get off this island at all costs or she and her baby will die a horrible, gasping death. Worst beach day ever.

Sun, it turns out does leave the island. We know because her flashforwards show her in labor and the birth of her daughter. Indeed. There are complications and we’re given the impression that things are going badly, but both mother and daughter are just fine.

As for Jin, he’s running around trying to get to the hospital and having a heck of a time. He loses a giant panda when it takes off with another guy in a cab (did that guy that took the cab not find it strange there was a gigantic stuffed panda sitting next to him?), then his cell phone gets run over and he over pays for a replacement panda. Finally, he gets to the hospital.

BUT WAIT, he isn’t there for Sun. He’s there to give the panda as a gift to some ambassador, who’s daughter just gave birth to a son. It’s a gift meant to grease the wheels for some future deal. Here I’m actually angry because I think Jin has slipped back into his business only mode after getting back from the island.

BUT WAIT AGAIN! Turns out this isn’t a flashforward at all. It’s a flashback and they are showing Jin only two months into his marriage with Sun.

So what gives, you may ask? Us too. Flashforward to Hurley showing up at Sun’s door to visit the newborn (again, Hurley seems to connect everyone together, no?). While there he says ‘Guess we should go visit Jin’. And they do.

At his fucking grave!!!

DAMN YOU, LOST WRITERS. DAMN YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL!!

Here is where Lost earns it’s loyalty. Not with the twist (which is traumatic for me, since Jin is one of my favorites and the most rational person on the island), but the very emotional scene of Sun talking to her dead husband and introducing his daughter to him. One of the best, most heart wrenching, depressing scenes of the show.

Oh, and it ends on that. Thanks for watching. Anyone else think the girl jumping into the ocean loaded with chains was onto something?

What We Learned:

- Sun is one of the Oceanic Six. That makes Sayid, Kate, Jack, Hurley, Sun and.....Aaron? Not sure I would include him, but that could be six. Or it could be five.

- Michael is Ben's spy.

- Hurley doesn't clean up well off the island, either.

- Captain could become one of my favorite characters if he keeps with the straight talk. Sort of refreshing after all the island characters talking in code half the time.

- Sun and her daughter live!

- Hurley either gets out of the mental hospital at some point or when we see him at Sun's he hasn't been committed with Charlie-itis, yet.

- The boat is not immune to the psychosis of the island. Pity.

- Juliette has a major mean streak.

- Neither Ben nor Michael are very good at coming up with convincing fake names. I mean Kevin Johnson. That's the best they could do?

- Oh, yeah, Jin dies!

New Questions:

- Do we consider Jin one of the Oceanic Six? Did he die after coming home?

- Is Jin really dead? As one of my friends said, why would Sun go to the trouble of having a fake head stone if he weren't? My argument - maybe it's all part of the cover up and he had to stay on the island for some reason.

- What's with the banging on the boat? Both Desmond and Sayid hear it. Is there a prisoner on the boat?

- What's with the gory bloodstain in the room? Suicide or something else?

- How the hell did Michael get back to the free world and still have time to incorporate himself into the freighter's crew?

- Where is Walt?

- Why would Michael voluntarily spy for Ben? My guess - he wouldn't and Walt is being held captive again. Which means Ben is a lying, back stabbing piece of shit. But we already knew that.

- Why are we not supposed to trust the captain? Seems to be the only straight shooter in this entire universe.

- If Widmore didn't plant that fake Oceanic 815 with the dead bodies than who did? And how was that even possible? I always figured him to be behind that since he's the richest guy we've met, but it's becoming more apparent he may be just as clueless as we are and is looking for the island, not trying to keep it hidden.

- Is the captain really as forthcoming as he seems or is he just throwing B.S at our island friends?

- Why are some people driven insane by the island and others not?

- How long has the freighter been off the coast of the island?

- What the hell happened to Jin???!!!!! AAIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

Only one episode left before the withdrawal starts. I suggest running Lost from the very first episode to let the rest of the world become addicted like me. It's such a great idea, it will never happen.

Today's distraction: As a tribute to the unsolved mysteries of Lost, here are the top 20 unsolved mysteries of man. Everyone enjoy their weekends!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Crappy Relationship

According to this absolutely insane story, a woman spent two years sitting on a toilet.

Yes, you read that correctly. She sat on a toilet with her pants around her ankles for two years. And that's not even the insane part. The really crazy thing is she had a boyfriend!

Pam Babcock, who has the most fitting name possible for someone that sat on a toilet for two years (only Bobcock would have been better) developed a strange phobia about wiping her ass apparently and was brought food and water by her boyfriend. She spent so long on the toilet the authorities had to remove the seat to get her out. Her skin had actually grown around it.

For you guys that take their time attending to business, you know how uncomfortable your legs get by just sitting on the john for 20 minutes. Two years? TWO FUCKING YEARS!!????

This is lunacy at it's most incomprehensible. So many questions....

Why didn't the boyfriend do anything?

'I should have gotten help for her sooner; I admit that. But after a while, you kind of get used to it,' was his reply to reporters. 'It just kind of happened one day; she went in and had been in there a little while, the next time it was a little longer. Then she got it in her head she was going to stay -- like it was a safe place for her'.

Is anyone surprised this happened in Kansas? No offense, Hammen, but seriously, even you couldn't have been shocked by that development. The only place less surprising would have been Idaho.

Where did the boyfriend go this whole time?

Sadly, don't think we have an answer for this one. The residence looks like a trailer so I'm guessing there weren't multiple bathrooms, unless the bucket in the backyard counts. I can't imagine this guy having friends that would let him use their bathroom.

Why didn't her boyfriend do anything?

He claimed he would ask her every day to come out and she would answer 'Maybe tomorrow'. Hey, that's not doing nothing.

What the fuck?

Hey, I'm with ya....

Wait, if they were boyfriend/girlfriend was there any hanky panky?

If you read between the lines, I would think yes. Boyfriend claimed that other than her being in the bathroom their relationship was 'otherwise normal'. If you define normal as 'totally fucking insane'.

Why did the boyfriend finally call for help?

He became concerned when Babcock seemed groggy and disoriented. Maybe she thought she was in a public restroom instead of her own.


Seriously, what the fuck?

*shrug*

What was the police reaction to the situation?

The same as ours basically. According to the County Sheriff charges are being considered against the boyfriend, but 'She was not glued. She was not tied. She was just physically stuck by her body'. In other words, she was not forced to stay on the toilet unless you count her crippling phobia of anthing not bathroom related.

Is there any hope for this woman?

She is currently under evaluation, but just the fact she's no longer got a toilet seat stuck to her ass is a positive step. We know her legs atrophied and she will bear the brunt of toilet jokes and puns the rest of her life. Other than that, she's just dandy.

What's next for the boyfriend?

No clue. My bet is he'll wait for Babcock for an appropriate time, then try relationships with the Bearded Lady or Sigourney Weaver's character from 'Copycat'. If she's still alive.

Anything else we should know?

The County Sheriff's name is Whipple. Figure on a mass of 'Squeeze the Charmin' jokes from Jay Leno the rest of this week.


Today's distraction: Use Google Drive to familiarize yourself with Wichita, Kansas. Unsurprisingly, there aren't many streets as part of Google. You get the main freeway and that's it. Still, type in other cities below and have fun with it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

National League Preview

As Hammen pointed out in yesterday's comments, I completely forgot Detroit now has Edgar Renteria (aka Mr. National League) at shortstop this year. This apparently means Inge is on the outside looking in. Not sure if this make the Tigers better or worse. Guess we'll find out.

Onto the National League.

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves: Check out this starting rotation - John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton, Chuck James. If this were 10 years ago this team would be the favorite to win it all, although I'm not sure James would have been out of grammar school at that point. The lineup is decent for the NL. Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira, Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur provide some punch, but will it be enough?

Reasons to be concerned: Smoltz, Glavine and Hampton are a combined 116 years old; Hudson wasn't that effective last season; they play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball; will the fill ins for the departed Renteria and Andruw Jones pick up the slack?

Reasons to be excited: Kelly Johnson is just a stud; experienced (old) pitching staff should keep the team in most games.


Florida Marlins: I was tempted to say that this team is going to be better than many people think, but considering who they have on the roster, that would mean winning 50 games. Sanchez should be back and healthy, but will he be as effective? When you have an infield that includes Jose Castillo, Dallas McPherson and Dan Uggla you're going to have a tough time winning games. Of course, McPherson could finally figure it out and have a spectacular season, Hanley Ramirez will produce and maybe Josh Willingham will get it all together.


Reason to be concerned: Depending mightily on very young players and potential; will the young pitchers develop or crash and burn?

Reason to be excited: Ramirez. Son of a bitch!

New York Mets: Made the single biggest splash that will cause ripple effects all season. The Johan trade made this team an instant favorite. Don't forget they still have John Maine and Pedro, too. This team could be scary good if Willie Randolph finally comes out of his coma. On the other hand, Billy Wagner is still their closer. Yikes!

Reason to be concerned: Age and health of Beltran and Moises Alou; El Duque still pitching; Jason Vargas and his career 5.81 ERA could be your fifth starter.

Reason to be excited: Seriously? Johan; Pedro; Reyes; Wright; Endy Chavez making a nuisance of himself; Johan. Did I mention Johan?

Philadelphia Phillies: Did you know the Phillies won this division last year? It's true! So much attention was paid to the Mets disasterous collapse, the Phillies' manic run during the last three weeks was over looked. Sure they shit the bed in the playoffs, but that's what happens when you have mediocre pitching. Good thing they improved that....oh...um....

Reason to be concerned: Adam Eaton; Jamie Moyer; Brett Myers; Rowland no longer in center field; Burrell still in left field.

Reason to be excited: Hey, they basically did it with this same team last year; Ryan Howard; Jimmie Rollins; Cole Hamels.

Washington Nationals: Very interesting team. Could be the surprise team of the year, actually. Austin Kearns, Lastings Milledge, Wily Mo, Elijah Dukes, Dmitri Young, Ryan Zimmerman. They'll either explode and make an exciting run or implode by having daily fist fights in the dugout. Either way this is going to be one entertaining team.

Reason to be concerned: Elijah Dukes is on your team; not much pitching to look forward to.

Reason to be excited: Dukes does have the talent; so does Milledge; if both bond with former bad boy Dmitri Young there is no limit to what they could do.


AL CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs: I can't shake the feeling this team isn't done dealing. Rumors have them going after Brian Roberts, but they seem to need another big bat in the outfield. All they have now is Soriano and spare parts. Will Matt Murton finally get his shit together? Is Kosuke Fukudome (the greatest name for playing in Wrigley Field EVER) that good?

Reasons to be concerned: Lack of outfielders; DeRosa's heart; Pinella's blood pressure.

Reasons to be excited: I liked the Leiber pickup over the winter. With him this team now runs out a starting rotation of Zambrano, Rich Hill, Ted Lilly, Jon Leiber and Jason Marquis. Not bad at all. Oh, and you get to watch Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

Cincinnati Reds: I don't care that you hired Dusty Baker - who I always thought was over rated anyway - for your team, if you don't have players there is nothing a big name manager can do to help you. Other than Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr who else is on this team? Unless I'm missing something, this is going to be a long year for Red fans.

Reasons to be concerned: Honestly? Have you seen this team? I just scrolled through your roster and recognized the names of 5 players and two of them were because they played for the Red Sox at one point.

Reasons to be excited: You may be a part of the Scott Hatteberg farewell tour. Cherish the memories.

Houston Astros: Strange makeup here. It seemed like they were going into full rebuilding mode, but then suddenly picked up walking subpeona Miguel Tejada and Kaz Matsui. Carlos Lee is still around, as is Mark Loretta and Lance Berkman, but it's difficult envisioning this team finishing above .500.

Reasons to be concerned: Starting pitching; age of every infielder on the roster is over 30; no visible plan in place.

Reasons to be excited: Roy Oswalt seems healthy (for how long?); um....Kaz Matsui is your new second baseman? I guess that's something.

Milwaukee Brewers: The surprise team of last season didn't really do much to improve on that over the winter. They sort of jogged in place by picking up Mike Cameron and now have the steroid all star bullpen with Eric Gagne and Guillermo Mota. Should still be a fun team to watch with Fielder, but you would have thought they would have gone for broke this year.

Reasons to be concerned: Ben Sheets health (continued); lack of pitching upgrades; Gagne in the bullpen.

Reasons to be excited: Fielder; old friend Gabe Kapler making his comeback; Mike Cameron making a great diving catch at least once a game.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Between Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, this lineup isn't nearly as bad as I thought. LaRoche, Sanchez and Bay all had subpar 2007s, so if they pick things up.....yeah, I'm not buying it, either. I tried.

Reasons to be concerned: Here's a sure warning sign your team is in major trouble: 3rd on your relief pitcher depth chart is one Byung-Hyun Kim. He's like a weather man in New England - no matter how poorly he performs there is always another job waiting for him.

Reasons to be excited: You still have Freddy Sanchez. If it weren't for the 2 World Series wins in the past 4 years, Red Sox fans would still be mourning that trade.

St Louis Cardinals: House cleaning at it's finest. Gone are Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen and arrived are Troy Glaus (who I bet thrives in the NL) and reclamation project Matt Clement. Can you imagine? Watch him win the Cy Young. We all saw what they did Joel Pineiro last season.

Reasons to be concerned: Pujols' elbow; Mark Mulder's effectiveness; Rick Ankiel's expired HGH prescription; Tony LaRussa's drinking problem.

Reasons to be excited: The continuation of the Rick Ankiel Story; watching Pujols hit every day; the career year Glaus is about to have.


NL WEST

Arizona Diamondback: I really, REALLY like this team. Considering they made a nice run last year in the playoffs then added Dan Haren and a seemingly healthy - if ancient - Randy Johnson to their mix this is going to be a fun team to watch.

Reasons to be concerned: Randy Johnson's back; Eric Byrnes not matching last season's production; real possibility of Brynes and Upton smashing heads as they both dive for the same fly ball; still have a Drew on the team. Wait, is that still officially a bad thing?

Reasons to be excited: How about a rotation of Dan Haren, Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson and Doug Davis pitching in the NL; outfield of Justin Upton, Chris Young and Eric Byrnes; Orlando Hudson.

Colorado Rockies: Raise your hand if you think this team can repeat last year's success? Ok, raise your hand if you aren't from Colorado. Considering the historic run they went on just to make the playoffs, I can't see them making it back. Although I did like the Mark Redman pickup and Holliday, Tulowitzki, and Helton are all back. And I like Atkins, too. You know what? I just talked myself into thinking this team could be good.

Reasons to be concerned: Starting rotation of Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez (who should be playing soccer with that name); can they catch lightning in a bottle again?

Reasons to be excited: Getting to watch Holliday; team seems greater than the sum of it's parts and actually enjoy playing together.

Los Angeles Dodgers: A minor renovation over the summer without sacrificing too many of their prized prospects. Plus they upgraded from Grady Little to Joe Torre, something I wish the Red Sox had done on October 15th, 2003. Plus, if both Penny and Schmidt are healthy all year, they have one hell of a rotation. Well done, Dodgers, well done.

Reasons to be concerned: Jason Schmidt's arm; Esteban Loaiza's ERA; Nomar being Nomar again; Andruw Jones hitting .220 again; Jeff Kent decomposing on the field.

Reasons to be excited: Addition of Mark Sweeney; potential of Furcal, Nomar, Jones, Kent lineup; Joe Torre managing a more talented team.

San Diego Padres: There is something about the Padres organization that always seems to revive a pitcher's career. Just look at Greg Maddux who is pitching again this year. I bring this up because the Padres took a small gamble with huge potential when they signed Mark Prior. Yeah, that Mark Prior. If he is indeed healthy for once, this allows the Padres to throw out Peavy (2.54 ERA), Young (3.12), Prior (career 3.51), and Maddux (career 3.11). Holy shit!

Reasons to be concerned: Prior's injury history; a pair of 37 year olds (Edmonds, Giles) in the outfield; not much done to improve last season's anemic offense.

Reasons to be excited: Seriously, holy shit! Did you see that rotation? They really don't need offense with that; Edmonds is fun to watch when healthy; Khalil Greene's hair; Adrian Gonzalez's bat.

San Francisco Giants: Hard to figure what the Giants were trying to do this past winter. They finally cut ties with Bonds which lifted $18 million a year on the payroll and the black storm cloud hovering over the clubhouse, but the only big pickup was Aaron Rowand. He's solid and plays hard every night, but isn't he just a younger version of Dave Roberts who is still on the team? Definitely not someone who will change the fortunes of a team.

Reasons to be concerned: Barry Zito having another shitty year; lineup that replaced that most prolific (if inflated) hitter in history with Aaron Rowand. Honestly....

Reasons to be excited: Maybe last year was a transition for Zito; Lincecum back and healthy (for now); beautiful ballpark; enjoying Benjie Molina's 2 minute 'run' to first base; very real possibility that Bonds was holding this team back (Ewing Theory for you Simmons' readers).

That's all, friends. I hope you all are as excited as I am for this season.

For the record, here are the things I am personally excited to watch this season:

- The ring presentation on Fenway's opening day

- Johan Santana mowing down those NL lineups

- Pedro motivated back to deadly form by Johan's presence (is this the first 1-2 punch in history where last names are unnecessary?)

- Full season of Lester, Buchholz, Ellsbury

- The drama that will be the Yankees

- Clemens being convicted of perjury

- Ortiz hitting with a good knee again

- Buster Olney's daily blog

- 'Baseball Tonight'

- Actually making a game in person this year. Yeah, good luck to me....

Today's distraction: Hit some home runs to get in the groove. You have to hit the Play Game button and make sure you turn down your volume if you're at work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American League Preview

No dilly dallying today. Much to get through. American League today with National League tomorrow. So excited baseball is warming up. All signs point to a fun season.

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles: Hard to tell what this team is trying to do. They unload Tejada to the Houston Suckers…er…Astros, making everyone think they’ll build around the young guys. Then they trade Eric Bedard to Seattle and seem intent on getting rid of Brian Roberts. But they keep Jay Payton, Jay Gibbons and Kevin Millar. What the hell? Seems like the only plan Baltimore has in mind involves the bottom line. Sorry, Oriole fans, looks like another depressing season coming up.

Reasons to be concerned: Still have an owner making a mess of things and most of your recognizable players will be wearing new uniforms on opening day.

Reasons to be excited: You still have Cabrera pitching every 6 days or so and there should be some young guns to cheer for.

Boston Red Sox: Sorry, the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox. WOOOOOOO!!! YEAH, BABY!! Sadly, this year is already shaping up to be a ‘Hangover Year’ with Beckett showing up out of shape (causing back problems), Schilling injured and Manny already looking forward to next year.

Reasons to be concerned: Beckett and Schilling; Manny continuing his decline?

Reasons to be excited: Full season of Jacoby, Lester and possibly Buchholz; Dice K fully adjusted and under the radar; Manny looking for another big paycheck and Papi’s fully healed knee.

New York Yankees: How great is it to have an insane person in charge of the Yankees again? Hank is carrying the Steinbrenner crazy torch with pride and I applaud him for it. As for the team itself, there are way too many question marks to figure out what this team is going to do. Giambi is 37, Jeter can’t play forever (I don’t think), which ARod will show up this year? Plus, the starting rotation consists of a Pettitte sans performance enhancers, the artist formerly known as Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, Wang and a player to be named later. Rivera is nearly 60 now and it’s possible Chamberlain could throw his arm clear off his body before June.

Reasons to be concerned: Age, payroll, steroids are now banned from baseball, starting rotation, Igawa still being on the roster.

Reasons to be excited: You just know Hank is going to go apeshit when the Yankees go 10-21 in May and make some crazy trade. Can’t wait. Hughes and possibly Kennedy showing what they’re made of; watching Damon try to throw.


Tampa Bay Rays: Despite having a bus load of young, exciting, athletic players, the flaw in this team will still be pitching. Another season under both Shields’ and Kazmir’s belt can only help, but who is there after that. Garza should be ok, but they’ll need to find some gem in a hurry if they want to do any real damage.

Reasons to be concerned: Can Carlos Pena repeat his 2007 season? Will the pitching at least keep them in games? Losing the most menacing part of your team name.

Reasons to be excited: BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Akinori Iwamura will be fun to watch. Rocco Baldelli, too, if he can stay healthy. Not an ‘if’ I would bet on.

Toronto Blue Jays: The busiest of all the AL East teams this past winter. Snagged Scott Rolen from the Cardinals and Dave Epstein from….uh…retirement? Did anyone else actually want him? If everyone plays to potential and stays healthy this could be a very dangerous team.

Reasons to be concerned: What does Rolen have left? Is his shoulder fully healed? Is AJ Burnett going to effective?

Reasons to be excited: If Rolen and Eckstein produce; if Burnett, Hallady, Chacin, and Marcum all stay healthy and effective; if BJ Ryan can close games out; if Vernon Wells bounces back from a subpar 2007, this could be a very good team. Lot of Ifs, though.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox: The additions of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera should provide the energy missing from this team last year. Sure, Cabrera is 33 now, but he’s still one of the better defensive shortstops in the game and always – ALWAYS! – seems to come through with a big hit. Still, it looks an awful lot like the same old with this team and they’re betting their season that two or three of their young arms will be effective enough to carry them in a tough division.

Reasons to be concerned: The age and durability history of Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye; their starting pitching; once again living the Bobby Jenks Experience.

Reasons to be excited: They can only be better, right? Swisher will be fun to watch; Cabrera should bring some needed levity to this serious bunch.

Cleveland Indians: Is bringing back the exact team as last year a good thing or a bad thing? With Sabathia, Carmona forming one of the best 1-2 combos in either league and Westbrook and Byrd, this will be a tough team every night. However, this is the same team that completely collapsed against the Red Sox last October and I have to question the mental toughness of this group.

Reasons to be concerned: Will there be any lingering effects from last year’s playoffs? Sabathia and Carmona pitched A LOT last season. Will Byrd be as effective as last year and will Cliff Lee do anything worthwhile.

Reasons to be excited: This is the same team that nearly eliminated the 2007 World Champion Red Sox (yes, I just like writing that) and they should be just as good if they stay healthy.

Detroit Tigers: With the addition of Miguel Cabrera, this is one of the best – if not THE best – lineup in the league. Check out this hypothetical:

Curtis Grandison
Placido Polanco
Gary Sheffield
Cabrera
Magglio Ordonez
Carlos Guillen
Ivan Rodriquez
Jacque Jones
Brandon Inge (????)

Even if you replace Inge with Marcus Thames, this is still a kick ass lineup. See a weakness anywhere? Hell you could replace Jones and Inge with my mother and your mother and this team will still score 900+ runs.

Reasons to be concerned: Cabrera’s dietary habits; Dontrelle Willis adjusting to AL lineups; starting spots 3-4 which coincide directly with the health of Bonderman.

Reasons to be excited: If Bonderman is healthy;
Once again…
Curtis Grandison
Placido Polanco
Gary Sheffield
Cabrera
Magglio Ordonez
Carlos Guillen
Ivan Rodriquez
Jacque Jones
Brandon Inge

Kansas City Royals: Despite showing improvement last year, they didn’t seem to do much this past winter to take that next step. Meche is still there only semi-reliable starter and there infield roster reads like another team’s Double A affiliate.

Reasons to be concerned: The Greinke situation; De La Rosa being your number 3 starter; Brett Tomko being on your roster.

Reasons to be excited: Hey, it’s a new year and anything could happen; maybe this year’s batch of rookies will work out.

Minnesota Twins: Let’s see, they swapped Johan Santana for Livan Hernandez, Torii Hunter for Delmon Young and are counting on Liriano to be fully healthy after Tommy John surgery. If this were any other team than the Twins I would be expecting an epic losing season. But this team has been so well managed in the past it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in first place as late as July.

Reasons to be concerned: Liriano’s elbow; Mauer having peaked at age 23; Delmon Young replacing Hunter as a community leader.

Reasons to be excited: Maybe Liriano is healthy; Young could get his shit together and have a superstar season; you have a guy named Boof on the team.

AL WEST

Los Angeles Angels: If you’re confused, this team is actually in Anaheim and used to be called the California Angels then the Anaheim Angels and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim which kind of defeats the purpose of having ‘Los Angeles’ as part of your team name. Look, they have a great team on paper this year, but until you get the city thing straightened out, you ain’t winning shit.

Reasons to be concerned: Vlad’s back; who is playing shortstop?

Reasons to be excited: Let’s see….a pitching rotation that includes Jered Weaver, Jon Garland, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar (at home only); an outfield that is comprised of Torii Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr, and Garret Anderson; a lineup that’s going to give other teams absolute fits all year.

Oakland Athletics: This team always gives off the illusion of rebuilding. Trading and Swisher gave that impression last winter, but there is still a good foundation here. With Street and Harden still pitching they have a chance because you know they’ll pull some 20 year old rookie phenom out of their asses in June and go on a torrid second half run.

Fun Fact: Look who’s back from the dead! Glad to have him back. No, really! He’ll always be welcome.

Reasons to be concerned: That whole trading Haren and Swisher thing; Harden’s health (as usual); the rest of the starting rotation (if there is one).

Reasons to be excited: A backup catcher with a great last name; Chavez and Crosby still around (but for how long?); new stadium outside of Oakland soon! Congrats!

Seattle Mariners: Sadly, this looks like another year they’ll be also rans to Anaheim of Los Angeles…er…the Angels. They improved their pitching by picking up Bedard, but they still have Richie Sexson as a regular and starters 4 and 5 are questionable at best.

Reasons to be concerned: You read about Richie Sexson, right? He’s still there; how long can Ichiro keep at it? 37 year old Batista (who could be 45 for all we know) is your fourth best starter.

Reasons to be excited: This is still a better team than last year; Sexson could shock us all and fulfill his potential; Bedard; not the Texas Rangers.

Texas Rangers: I was ready to trash this team until I looked at the roster and realized they really aren’t that bad. Or shouldn’t be anyway. Blalock, Young, Saltalamacchia, and David Murphy (one of my favs) are back. Problem is the pitching. Who starts for this team? We know Kevin Millwood and Kason Gabbard (part of the Gagne debacle) and probably Jason Jennings until his ERA hits 8 by May 15th. Who else? Is there anyone in their farm system? I’m sure we’ll find out.

Reasons to be concerned: See above comments about pitching; newly added Milton Bradley could actually murder someone this year. No seriously, if he forgets his medication it could happen.

Reasons to be excited: They should be included in nearly every trade at this year’s deadline; get to watch Murphy blossom into a star; newly added Milton Bradley could actually murder someone this year.

Can't wait for this year to start.

NL coming tomorrow or Thursday depending on when I can get it together.

Today's distraction: Play some Escape, a quick and fun waste of time.