Wednesday, December 31, 2008

off to the pacific northwest


We'll be in Seattle/Portland for the next week. Enjoy what's left of 2008 while you still can.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HOW TO: cook a steak on a george foreman grill

I'm using a bacon-wrapped filet mignon. You can find these in a two-pack for about 8 bucks at any grocery store, and it would cost you about $60-80 for two filets at a steakhouse. But can you cook one in December in your kitchen to turn out just as well?


Start by plugging in your George Foreman and preheating the oven to 450 degrees. Once the grill is ready, put the steak down, close the lid and don't touch it for a couple minutes. Then flip the steak and rotate 90 degrees to get a nice criss-cross pattern. Remove it to a small oven-safe plate after a minute or two on that side. (You do have oven-safe plates, don't you? Good.)


Don't even think about cutting into it yet. It's still purpley-raw inside. Season generously with a layer of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and spicy montreal steak seasoning and rub it into the crust on both sides.


Then put the plate on a cookie sheet and put it on the oven. Bake for five minutes for a juicy, pink medium-rare. (Obviously, if you like less pink, cook it longer.) Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into to let the juices settle. It comes out juicy and flavorful and you don't need any steak sauce.


You might wonder if I'm going to use the oven, why not just use a cast-iron skillet or something. Well, this way you don't have to use any butter or olive oil. And I like using my George Foreman. It's quick, easy, easy-to-clean, and makes damn good food.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

best albums of 2008

It's the end of the year and I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, plus stay true to my word. If you want a longer list, here you go.


2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

1. Panic at the Disco - Pretty. Odd.

Sorry, that's all I got. If I missed another great album in 2008, let me know in the comments.

Also, this guy still slays me. It's definitely the worst review I've ever seen on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Construda Super Bowl II recap

We got 6 guys together in a 12-team league. And it seemed like most of the strangers stopped playing at one point. But we still got beat by a stranger.



But as you know, if I had been in the playoffs, I would have advanced to play Dynomite Kings in week 16 for the Super Bowl. Here's how I would have done:






cassel 32
forte 15
slaton 9
colston 21
royal 12
jackson 11
keller 0
longwell 5
dolphins 11

total 116

I still would have lost by 16. I had Shiancoe on my bench who scored 25. So I was two moves away from winning a championship. I needed one more win in the regular season and needed to start Shiancoe over Keller in a mythical week 16 matchup.

But what about Mark? What if his players hadn't crapped the bed in week 15?

warner 1
chris johnson 12
portis 14
housh 0
r. white 2
owens 12
daniels 11
prater 11
bucs 1

Mark's Total 64

Mark's team was not built for the postseason. In fact, quite literally his 2008 team is much like the 2008 Arizona Cardinals. They put up a bunch of points in nice weather, but once it got to December, they fell apart. Not coincidentally, Mark's team was based around Warner and Boldin.

So even if he had survived in week 15, he would have lost to matt, or lost to me if I had made it in.

The flip side of that token, is that for Matt (or for me with an extra regular season win) we would have easily won our week 16 Super Bowl against Mark.

But that's the way it goes. You could "if" just about everything, but Dynomite Kings beat us all and he earned his place in our fantasy hall of fame.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Construda Super Bowl II

So it's Matt vs Dynomite Kings in the least anticipated matchup of the year. Seriously, there wasn't even a media day this year.

But it also easily could have been Me vs Dynomite Kings as I would have replaced Niraj in the playoffs and beaten Matt last week.

And really, if we're being honest, it should have been Me vs Mark.

So with a revisionist eye, here are our lineups to see what would have been the outcome if everything had gone to plan.

Mark's Week 16 Lineup
warner
chris johnson
portis
housh
r. white
owens
daniels
prater
bucs STD

Dave's Week 16 Lineup
cassel
forte
slaton
colston
royal
jackson
keller
longwell
dolphins

Friday, December 19, 2008

ouch

Okay, that's a bad beat.

But who plays fantasy to two decimal places? I'm guessing if your defense records a safety, it's worth pi.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WHY?

Why am I only finding about this after I've already told everyone what I what for Christmas?
But seriously, AFC vs NFC? Way to capture all the excitement of the Pro Bowl.

You should be able to pick 2 teams to come with it, and then they can sell the rest separately, so idiots like me would buy every team, so I could simulate the Chiefs season. They'd probably still go 2-14.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

what's the deal with egg rolls?


They sound so good in theory. A tube of deep-fried goodness. A delicious side dish to go with my Chinese banquet.

So how come I bite into them and it tastes like I'm chewing on grass. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, they're filled mostly with cabbage. That's stupid. No one like cabbage. Why don't we fill egg rolls with peppered beef and fried rice, or cashew chicken, or moo shoo pork?

I would suggest filling them with General Tso's chicken, but that wouldn't make any sense. Since I always order that it would be a little redundant to have it as my side dish.

Monday, December 15, 2008

funny moment from today's podcast

At 5:35 in to today's Fantasy Focus podcast, Nate asked, "Roddy White hasn't caught a TD in 5 straight games--are you concerned?" Matthew Berry said "No, he's still a stud."

This just in...Roddy White's crappy performance contributed to getting Mark eliminated. But Mark shouldn't be concerned.

Playoffs Can Be Cruel

After scoring 1495 in 14 weeks (194 more than the next closest), Mark is knocked out of the playoffs with 58 - his worst total of the year.

This really is a shame. If anyone ever deserved to win a Super Bowl, Mark did this year. Over 9 consecutive weeks, he had 8 over 100, and his other was 96.

Three times he cracked 120. Another 4 in the 110's. And 2 more over 105.
9 out of 14 times, Mark scored over 105. I only did that once, and I tied, and really should have lost if nfl.com updated Forte's ruling.

As for the other people in Construda Super Bowl II: Matt scored over 105 only once, Dynomite Kings 4 times. To have Mark lose in the first round isn't fair. But what can you do?


The weird thing is, there weren't any injuries, he didn't leave monster points on his bench. He just got weak performances from EVERYONE. And they weren't particularly tough matchups. Running against the Texans and Bengals. Throwing on the Vikings. His 3 receivers are in the top ten for the year, and combined for 10 points. Boldin missed 3 weeks and still had 7 games with 14 or better, including 21, 22, and 32. And he scores 1 point this week.

In the other matchup, Niraj needs Akers to kick 4 50-yard field goals. Except in his case, if he had started Garrard over Ryan, he would be trailing Matt by only 1 point, feeling comfortable that Akers would put him over the top.


So there you go. Construda Super Bowl II: Matt vs Dynomite Kings. The matchup that no one would have predicted at the beginning of the year, or at the end of the year.

So if I would have won my division, which came down to a 23-point performace by Marion Barber in week two, a game I knew at the time could determine the season, how would I have done?

Here's the lineup that I set on Saturday:

Cassel 31
Forte 11
Slaton 11
Colston 14
Jackson 12
Royal 4
Keller 3
Longwell 5
Dolphins 11

Total 102

It would have been the best performance of any of the 4 playoff participants. I would have crushed Matt and his 81. My team was built for the playoffs. It's just a shame that I couldn't win 8 measly games during the season to get there.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Construda Playoffs, Round 1

I tried to build my team for success in the playoffs. Unfortunately, I didn't make them.

So I'm going to see how it would have played out. If I had won my division, I'd be going up against Matt this week. So here's my lineup for this week, and we'll see if would have beaten Matt.

Cassel
Forte
Slaton
Colston
Jackson
Royal
Keller
Longwell
Dolphins

Monday, December 08, 2008

What Could Have Been

Sure, I presented playoffs before, but that was before I updated the formula. If you notice, most BCS games aren't close. I think the playoffs would fix that.

January 2008: Actual BCS

Rose: USC (Pac-10) 49, Illinois (at-large) 17
Sugar: Georgia (at-large) 41, Hawaiʻi (automatic) 10
Fiesta: West Virginia (Big East) 48, Oklahoma (Big 12) 28
Orange: Kansas (at-large) 24, Virginia Tech (ACC) 21
BCS National Championship: LSU (SEC) 38, Ohio State (Big Ten) 24

January 2008: Fymbo Formula 1.1a
Rose: #1 Ohio State vs #8 Hawaii
Sugar: #2 LSU vs #7 USC
Orange: #3 Virginia Tech vs #6 Missouri
Fiesta: #4 Oklahoma vs #5 Georgia

- - -

January 2007: Actual BCS
Rose: USC (Pac-10) 32, Michigan (at-large) 18
Fiesta: Boise State (automatic) 43, Oklahoma (Big 12) 42
Orange: Louisville (Big East) 24, Wake Forest (ACC) 13
Sugar: LSU (at-large) 41, Notre Dame (at-large) 14
BCS National Championship: Florida 41 (SEC), Ohio State (Big Ten) 14

January 2007: Fymbo Formula 1.1a
Rose: #1 Ohio State vs #8 Oklahoma
Sugar: #2 Florida vs #7 Boise State
Orange: #3 Michigan vs #6 Louisville
Fiesta: #4 LSU vs #5 USC

Sunday, December 07, 2008

2009 Edition - Fymbo Formula™: A College Football Playoff That Works

Actual BCS Schedule
Rose: Penn State (Big Ten) vs USC (Pac-10)
Orange: Virginia Tech (ACC) vs Cincinnati (Big East)
Sugar: Utah (automatic) vs Alabama (At-Large)
Fiesta: Ohio State (At-Large) vs Texas (At-Large)
Championship: Florida (SEC) vs Oklahoma (SEC)

Fymbo Formula 1.0
This formula includes all 6 BCS champions and the highest ranking non-BCS team (provided in top 12) and an at-large team based on BCS rankings.

Fiesta: #1 Oklahoma (Big 12) vs Virginia Tech (ACC)
Sugar: #2 Florida (SEC) vs #7 Cincinnati (Big East)
Orange: #3 Texas (At-Large) vs #6 Penn State (Big Ten)
Rose: #4 USC (Pac-10) vs #5 Utah (non-BCS automatic)

Semifinal #1: Fiesta vs Rose
Semifinal #2: Sugar vs Orange

Championship: Semifinal #1 vs Semifinal #1

Under my original proposal (1.0) Alabama is #4 but snubbed because Texas got the at-large berth ahead of them, and Utah was an automatic selection.

Fymbo Formula 1.1a
This iteration is based on rankings, restricting each conference to maximum two teams, and including at least one non-BCS team if they are in the top 12.

Fiesta: #1 Oklahoma (Big 12) vs #8 Boise State (non-BCS)
Sugar: #2 Florida (SEC) vs #7 Penn State (Big Ten)
Orange: #3 Texas (Big 12) vs #6 Utah (non-BCS automatic)
Rose: #4 Alabama (SEC) vs #5 USC (Pac-10)

This proposal includes 8 of the top 9 teams in the country--Texas Tech is left out because they finished 3rd in their conference, just as they were left out of 1.0 and the actual BCS. Compared to 1.0, this kicks out Cincinnati and Va. Tech (ranked 12th and 19th in the country, respectively) for the sake of Alabama (ranked 4th) and Boise State (ranked 9th). Of course, the flip side of this is that two conference champions are not included, mediocre as they may be.

Fymbo Formula 1.1b
This iteration is based on rankings, restricting each conference to maximum two teams, and including at least one non-BCS team if they are in the top 12, and any conference champion that is in the top 16.

Fiesta: #1 Oklahoma (Big 12) vs #8 Cincinnati (Big East)
Sugar: #2 Florida (SEC) vs #7 Penn State (Big Ten)
Orange: #3 Texas (Big 12) vs #6 Utah (non-BCS automatic)
Rose: #4 Alabama (SEC) vs #5 USC (Pac-10)

By including conference champions ranked in the top 16, Boise State is removed and the Bearcats get added. This is a minor adjustment and comes down to the question of who is most deserving: a team ranked 9th from the WAC, or a team ranked 12th from the Big East?

The temptation is to reward winning the Big East, but Boise State won their conference too. And the reason that Boise State is ranked ahead of Cinci is because they went undefeated and Cinci lost twice. Because of this, I think version 1.1a got it right. If your conference sucks so bad that you can win it and there's that many teams better than you, you don't deserve a shot at the national championship.

What January 2009 Should Look Like
(based upon my best formula to date: 1.1a, and my best guess at how it would shake out)

January 1st, Thursday
Fiesta: #1 Oklahoma (Big 12) vs #8 Boise State (non-BCS)
Sugar: #2 Florida (SEC) vs #7 Penn State (Big Ten)
Orange: #3 Texas (Big 12) vs #6 Utah (non-BCS automatic)
Rose: #4 Alabama (SEC) vs #5 USC (Pac-10)

January 10th, Saturday
Semifinal #1: Oklahoma vs Alabama/USC
Semifinal #2: Florida vs Texas

January 19th, Monday
BCS Championship: Oklahoma/Alabama/USC vs Florida/Texas

The beauty of this system is that it would shake out everything. Would we get a rematch of the SEC Championship, proving that conference's superiority? Or would the Big 12 roll and get Red River II? Would USC prove they belong in the picture or would a non-BCS school pull a cindarella run? We'll never know.

Streak Update

Bigsam1122 got 25 in a row and $1M when the Steelers came back and won 20-13. Pittsburgh was at most favored by 4, so they covered any bets, and if Bigsam put any money on the Cowboys, that was lost.

If he would have followed my advice, he could have won the million last night because the fight didn't go 12 rounds. Or he would have won the million today as the Saints beat the Falcons. Unfortunately they won by 4, so he would have lost his $100k on the Falcons +3, but it looked good when the Saints were up 16-14 at the half.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Streaking for the Cash

So someone has 24 in a row in ESPN's million-dollar race to 25.

It seems a good bet would be to say that the De La Hoya fight tonight will not finish all 12 rounds.

But a safer strategy would be to pick the Saints to win tomorrow (vs Falcons). Then to hedge your bets put $100,000 on the Falcons +3.

Worst Case Scenario: The Saints lose and you win your $100,000 bet in Vegas and don't owe ESPN anything.

Good Scenerio: The Saints win by more than 3: You lose $100k in Vegas but win ESPN's Streak for the Cash and get the million plus the notoriety.

Best Case Scenario: The Saints win by 1 or 2 (or 3 for the push) so you win both bets.

I bet he bets on the NFL tomorrow, you can follow what happens here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Quarterback U.

Finding a franchise NFL quarterback might be the toughest thing in building a sports team. It might also be the most essential. If you think about the teams that have had continued success, what do they have in common? Patriots and Colts of this decade, Cowboys and 49ers in the 80/90's, Steelers of the 70's. You need a franchise QB. But drafting them is a 50/50 shot.

This is Part 1 of at least a 1-part series where I look at colleges to see if that's a good indicator of success.

I'll start with the current crop of good QB's, and then go back every four years or so, and then go back further to get more elites.

I drew the line between Kerry Collins and Gus Frerotte. Sorry Tulsa, but the Gus Bus is not making your case that you are Quarterback U.



Michigan (Brady, Harbaugh)
Purdue (Brees, Orton)
Northern Iowa (Warner)
Vanderbilt (Cutler)
NC State (Rivers)
Syracuse (McNabb)
Tennessee (Manning)
Cal (Rodgers)
Marshall (Pennington, Leftwich)
East Carolina (Garrard)
Southern Miss (Favre)
Boston College (Ryan, Hasslebeck, Flutie)
Ole Miss (Manning)
Auburn (Campbell)
Eastern Ill. (Romo)
Louisana (Delhomme)
Miami-Ohio (Roethlisburger)
Stanford (Edwards, Elway)
Delaware (Flacco, Gannon)
West Virginia (Bulger, Hostetler)
LSU (Russel)
Virginia (Schuab)
Penn State (Collins)
Central Florida (Culpepper)
Indiana (Green)
Arizona State (Plummer)
Virginia Tech (Vick)
USC (Palmer)
San Jose State (Garcia)
Washington (Brunell, Moon)
Alcorn State (McNair)
Central Wash. (Kitna)
BYU (Young)
FSU (Johnson)
Miami-FL (Testaverde, Kelly, Kosar)
Pittsburgh (Marino)
Washington State (Bledsoe, Rypien)
UCLA (Aikman)
Maryland (Esiason, O'Donnell)
UNLV (Cunningham)
Notre Dame (Montana
Morehead State (Simms)
Oregon (Fouts)

So there you go. The colleges of the good quarterbacks of the last 20 years. Somewhat surprisingly, there is hardly any overlap. Also, surprising, many of this schools aren't football powerhouses.

Here's the list of multiples:

Boston College (Ryan, Hasslebeck, Flutie)
Miami-FL (Testaverde, Kelly, Kosar)
Michigan (Brady, Harbaugh)
Stanford (Edwards, Elway)
Purdue (Brees, Orton)
Washington State (Bledsoe, Rypien)
West Virginia (Bulger, Hostetler)
Marshall (Pennington, Leftwich)
Maryland (Esiason, O'Donnell)
Delaware (Flacco, Gannon)

I never would have guessed, but based on quality and recency, if there was one school that you might expect to have a good quarterback soon, it would be BC.

It would probably be worthwhile to do a breakdown by conference, but it seems again that there is so much variance, you can't really even say that one conference produces a large number of gunslingers. Just from a glance, I say the Pac-10 looks good, but whatever.

The verdict: a college is no predictor of QB success.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Big Ten vs SEC: Who's Faster?

So I've heard for a long time that the Big Ten is a slow football conference. But is it just a myth? Are Big Ten athletes really slower than, say, the SEC?

I decided to look up the track and field times to get the truth. I was able to find the top 8 100m times for the Big Ten and the top 20 for the SEC.

Big Ten 100-meter Dash
1. Ibrahim Kabia, MINN :10.29
2. Anthony Cole, OSU :10.30
3. Adam Harris, MICH :10.36
4. Dominique Worsley, ILL :10.37
5. Marcus Thigpen, IND :10.55
6. Troy Woolfolk, MICH :10.58
7. Andrew Cope, PSU :10.61
8. Devin Pipkin, IND :10.62

SEC 100-meter Dash
1. Richard Thompson, LSU :9.93
2. Evander Wells, TENN :10.01
3. Trindon Holliday, LSU :10.05
4. J-Mee Samuels, ARK :10.08
5. Rubin Williams, TENN :10.12
6. Jeremy Hall, FLA :10.17
7. Willie Perry, FLA :10.19
8. Rickie Bratton, OLE :10.20

So there you have it. There is a reason for stereotypes. The fastest runner in the Big Ten would have finished 13th in the SEC.

Post-Turkey NFL Hamper Dump

After 13 weeks, I am still the #1 Chiefs fan in Home Team Challenge. And 183rd nationally.

The #1 Ravens fan gets this: Overall First Prize** - Trip for two to watch the Baltimore Ravens. Cheerleader Swimsuit Calendar Shoot. Includes round trip airfare and hotel accommodations. Location to be announced. (ARV: $2,600.00)
The #1 Chiefs fan gets nothing. Oh well.

As for Construda, my fantasy season ended in a 13-point loss to Burnsy. If I would have started Eddie Royal over Vincent Jackson, I would have gotten 14 more points. Likewise, Forte over Addai would have produced 14 more points. Of course, if Burnsy would have started Driver over Walter, he would have gotten 11 more and won by 24.
Link
Matt and Mark both won their divisions, and dynomite kings will be the wild card. The final spot will come down to Kirat vs Niraj. In a ruling that ends up not affecting anything, Kirat should be credited with a win against me in week 12. We tied 108-108, but the NFL ruled that Forte didn't actually get 10 receiving yards, which means I should have lost by a point. But for Kirat, a tie is as good as a win, so it doesn't matter.

What's also interesting is that the #1 seed is still up for grabs between Mark and Matt. What we know is that the #1 seed will face dynomite kings in week 15, a 8-5 team that includes Rivers vs Chiefs, Westbrook vs Browns.

You could make the argument, that the easier road for either Mark or Matt would be to take a dive this week, grab the #2 spot, and play the winner of Niraj/Kirat.

Last year, after week 13, Mark had sewn up the #1 pick, and Rishi/Dave was in the #3 slot. Kirat beat Niraj in week 14 for the right to play me in the playoffs. I ended up scoring more points than Mark in the playoffs. If Kirat had benched his studs in week 14, he would have tied Mark in the first round of the playoffs and who knows what would have happened then. In essence, last year Kirat chose to win week 14 and it cost him in week 15. I wonder if that will happen to Mark or Matt in this year's week 14.

In pigskin pick'em, I forgot to make picks during thanksgiving, but can still be compared on a plus-minus games over .500 to Mark and the Sports Guy. After Mark has 2 bad weeks in a row, I think I'm ahead of him now. I'll add it up later.

Oh and Colston finally got a touchdown, winning another board bet for Mark. Full recap after the season.

And the Chiefs have slammed the door on the Lions by becoming the 30th best team in the NFL. I can almost taste that burger now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Flex Thanksgiving

Why should I be subject to watching the Lions and Seahawks on Thanksgiving?

If it were up to me, I'd switch the scheduling as they do for NBC Sunday Night games.

I'd start the day with the Giants at Redskins and end it with Steelers at Patriots. Now there's two games worth being thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Monday Construda Miracle!

Down 13 with only Colston active, my chances were slim. At halftime, Colston didn't have any catches. And then a 70-yard touchdown on a broken play and I get my 13 points.

West Standings
Dave 6-5-1
Niraj 6-6
Kirat 5-6-1

With two games to play, only one of these teams is making the playoffs.

Week 13
Kirat vs Showtime
Dave vs Niraj

Week 14
Burnsy vs Kirat
Dave vs Showtime


Scenarios for Kirat
The only way for him to make the playoffs is to win both games and have Dave not win both.

Scenarios for Niraj
If he wins both, he's in.
He has to win in week 13 to stay alive. If he loses to Kirat in week 14, he needs Kirat to lose in week 13 and Dave to lose in week 14.

Scenarios for Dave
If he wins both, he's in.
He has to win at least one to stay alive. If he wins in 13 but loses in 14, he needs Kirat to not win both. If he wins in 14 but loses in 13, he needs Niraj to not win both.

Takeaway Points
I can clinch the division next week if I beat Niraj and Kirat loses.
Both games are must win for Kirat.
Week 13 is a must win for Niraj.
One of the games is a must win for Dave.
If I win in 13, I advance with either loss from Kirat or another win by me.
If I lose in 13, I need to win in 14 and have Kirat lose in 13 and have Niraj lose in 14.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Construda Draft Analysis

With only 3 weeks left in the regular fantasy season, I look back at my draft.

Round 1: Addai
6th RB taken / currently 26th in RB scoring

Round 2: Big Ben
6th QB taken / 27th in QB scoring (based on average to not give advantage for already playing in week 12)

Round 3: Colston
7th WR taken / 80th in WR scoring (was injured, now just underperforming)

Round 4: Welker
12th WR taken / 28th in WR scoring (no longer on team)

Round 5: Thomas Jones
22nd RB taken / 7th in RB scoring (after I got Slaton I tried to trade him, ended up dropping him before he really took off, so this might be the worst one yet)

Round 6: Selvin Young
23rd RB taken / 68th in RB scoring

Round 7-10: Cotchery, Scheffler, Packers, Gage: all no longer on my team

Round 11: Forte
33rd RB taken / 8th in RB scoring
Forte was my only good draft pick. It's amazing I'm 5-5. The team I drafted was terrible. The funny thing is I still think I have a shot at winning this thing.

Hindsight is 20/20 Drafting Results

If I had a time machine, this would be the perfect drafted team, based on what was available in our draft at my 7th pick.

In parenthesis is their current scoring ranking at their position.

Round 1: Portis RB (1st)
Round 2: Fitzgerald WR (2nd)
Round 3: Michael Turner RB (4th)
Round 4: Calvin Johnson WR (4th)
Round 5: Boldin WR (1st)
Round 6: Bucs D (1st)
Round 7: Roddy White WR (3rd)
Round 8: Cutler QB (3rd)
Round 9: Owen Daniels TE (4th)
Round 10 DeAngelo Williams RB (11th)
Round 11: Forte RB (8th)
Round 12: Vincent Jackson WR (13th)
Round 13: Akers K (1st)
Round 14: Warner QB (1st)

This is just to show that if I had all the foresight in the world, it would have be possible for me to draft the numbers 1 and 3 QB, three top ten backs, the top four receivers and the best kicker and defense.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

best restaurant meals

Although this is a little late, I'm adding a fourth meal to my list.

I went to Hugo's Frog Bar and had a bowl of New England Clam Chowder, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, and a decadent, enormous portion of Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Why am I just reminded of it now? I just made reservations for Friday night: Gibson's. Hugo's was the followup restaurant to Gibson's so now I have high hopes. Will it get added to the list?

The List
Le Village Buffet - Paris Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas -- January 2005

Fogo de Chao, Chicago -- April 2006
Capital Grille, Chicago -- November 2006
Hugo's Frog Bar, Chicago -- August 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Earth Has Stopped Spinning

In today's Fantasy Football Focus podcast, at 22:20, Matthew Berry called a certain player "a key cog of the hottest offense in the league, right now, from a fantasy perspective."

The player and team in question? Mark Bradley of the Kansas City Football Chiefs.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Premature Look at the Fymbo Formula™: A College Football Playoff That Works

Here's what it would look like using the establish formula:

New Year's Day: Round 1


Rose
#1 Alabama vs #8 West Virginia

Sugar
#2 Texas Tech vs #7 North Carolina

Orange
#3 Penn State vs #6 Utah

Fiesta
#4 Texas vs #5 USC


The problem with how this looks now, is that the Big East and ACC don't have any teams in the top 18. Are they even deserving of a automatic berth?

Instead of giving each conference an automatic berth, I could restructure to go based on rankings, restricting each conference to maximum two teams, and including at least one non-BCS team if they are in the top 16.

That would give us:

New Year's Day: Round 1

Rose
#1 Alabama vs #8 Boise State

Sugar
#2 Texas Tech vs #7 Utah

Orange
#3 Penn State vs #6 USC

Fiesta
#4 Texas vs #5 Florida

It's just odd that right now they are 4 Big 12 teams in the top 10 in the BCS. But that will get sorted out. Also odd that are two non-BCS teams in the top 10.

Still, this is an improvement over the inclusion of those putrid ACC/Big East schools.

Also, a prediction: Neither Alabama nor Texas Tech will play in the National Championship.

I'm Afraid I Don't Quite Understand The Stock Market

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Results

Okay, it's time to shake off the gravitas of that last post and crack a little smile.

It appears the final results are going to be 365-173 with NC going to Obama, MO to McCain, and Obama picking up 1 of the 5 Electoral votes from NE.

So that's 10 votes shy of the 375 number designated as a landslide by 538.com. Olbermann dubbed a neo-landslide, which I think is ridiculous. You don't have to pump up Obama's results, Keith. 365 will stand for itself.

Anyways, this summer I received this map of Battleground States in a video emailed to me from David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager:


This map shows the 17 swing states that will decide the election. Using this as the starting point, this means that 200 Electoral were Safe Dem, and 142 were Safe Rep. That's a pretty big advantage to start from in the battleground states.

In fact, for Obama to get to 270 from there, he only needed PA (21) CO (9) FL (27) and VA (13).Or if you assume that IA, WI, MI and NH were also safe, that puts him at 238, needing only 32.

Or putting it another way, Obama ended up with 365. The five swing states that were noted by CNN (IN, OH, PA, VA and FL) add up to 92. Barack Obama would still be the 44th President even if he had lost all five key states.

But back to the Obama Battleground Map. Those 17 states were worth 196. 164 went blue. 32 red. And the ones that went red were a stretch to put on the battleground in the first place, except for Missouri: GA, MT and ND. Bush outperformed Kerry by 58%, 60%, and 64% respectively.

If you're scoring at home the math is off by one. That's because Obama is projected to get 1 of NE's 5 votes, which wasn't considered a battleground by O's campaign.

So technically, here's the breakdown:

Obama
Safe D: 200
Battle: 164
Safe R: 1
Total: 365

McCain
Safe R: 142
Battle: 32
Safe R: -1
Total: 173


As for the states that I specifically wanted to be blue, I got Ohio, Florida, Indiana and Viriginia. A narrow miss in Missouri and not even close in West Virginia. Not too bad.

And my prediction of 318-220 wasn't terrible. I missed three states and the 1 vote from Nebraska. I gave Indiana , Ohio, and North Carolina to McCain. The actual results were 50-49, 51-47, and 50-49, for Obama. Notably, I didn't project any states for Obama that went to McCain.

As for the pundits, the winner was:

Alan Abramowitz, Emory University political scientist
Electoral College: Obama 361 McCain 177

The loser was:

Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard editor
Electoral College: Obama 252 McCain 286

As for fivethirtyeight.com, my trusted source for all my electoral projections...

Their model picked the states and came up with 353 for Obama, off by the 11 votes of Indiana and the 1 in Nebraska. When their model averaged the possibilities, it arrived at 348.6 and cited that there was a 59% chance that NC would go to Obama. We had heard the Obama ground game would be the difference in many states, and it seems that could be the explanation why Indiana went blue, contrary to the polling model.

Still, I think they nailed it.

Their popular vote prediction:
52.3 percent for Obama
46.2
percent for McCain

Current totals according to Wikipedia:
52.5 percent for Obama
46.2
percent for McCain

Obama became the first Democrat to get 50% of the vote since Jimmy Carter in '76, trumping Bill Clinton a.k.a. the first black president.

And Obama got the most votes ever, though that record will likely be broken as our population keeps increasing.

And voter turnout was 64% of eligible citizens. A previous estimate was that only 70% of elgibile citizens are registered to vote. This was the highest turnout rate since 1908.

This concludes Hoagie Central's 2008 election coverage. Winning was the easy part. Governing will be tough. And that's the one that counts.

History in the Making

"This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight." - from John McCain's concession speech.

McCain was half right. This election carries special significance for African-Americans and all Americans.

For me, a white American born in the 1980's, it's sometime difficult to imagine how recent slavery existed. On the face of it, slavery seems archaic. A tragic mistake that was corrected along the way. And when we hear about genocide happening today elsewhere in the world, it almost seems preposterous. This is 2008.

And yet, the history of the United States is a short one. 232 years is a drop in the bucket on the timeline of human history.

9,000 years ago humans invented metalworking, maps, and dental drills.
7,000 years ago Egypt enjoyed beer and bread, Mesopotamians invented the wheel and axle, and Scandinavians created ice skates.
3,000 years ago Romans were performing cataract surgeries and Indians were getting cosmetic surgery.

And eleven score and twelve years ago, the United States of America declared it's independence, leading with the bold statement that all men are created equal. Of course, eleven years later at the Constitution Convention in Philadelphia, it was agreed that a slave was to be counted as 3/5 of a man. In 1790, 18 percent of the people in America were slaves.

Slavery existed long enough to divide the United. It was abolished in 1865. It took eleven months to get three-fourths of the country to ratify the 13th Amendment. As for Kentucky and Mississippi, they eventually ratified it as well. In 1976 and 1995, respectively.

143 years ago slavery was no longer legal in America. Not that long ago, considering a 114-year old American cast her vote on Tuesday. Her parents were slaves.

And while the 15th Amendment declared that a citizen's race could not disqualify them from voting, the story of racial discrimination didn't end there. Jim Crow laws continued segregation in public facilities, poll taxes and other ways to deny voting rights, and an overall era of racism and unequal rights. It wasn't until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the spirit of the 15th Amendment was fully realized.

Barack Obama was born in 1961.

When he was born, not only could his mother not envision that one day a black man could become president, she couldn't yet promise him that he would be able to vote for president.

My parents were born in the 1940's. I am literally one generation away from an era before equal civil rights. To think that my grandfather who lived through the Great Depression, and admitted that he made his first black friend through my mother within the last ten years, cast his vote for an African-American on Tuesday is simply remarkable.

Wednesday morning, November 5th, I walked to work like I do everyday. And I stopped a picked up a copy of the free Red Eye paper from the Chicago Tribune. And a block later I saw a mom and three young boys getting their copies of the Red Eye. They were three black boys probably between the ages of 4 and 8. And I realized that this is their first election memory.

One day they will fully appreciate that history was made. But it's amazing that boys and girls of all races will have this as their first election memory. They will never be shackled with the idea that the highest office in the country is reserved only for white people. When their parents tell them that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, it will not be ridiculous for them to think they could reach the highest position in whatever field they want.

And then later that day, my mom said something interesting to me. She said that she wished that the media would stop talking about how he is the first black president. I thought to myself how ridiculous it would be to not adequately cover this historic moment. But she continued to say that she hoped the media would talk about how after 8 years of Bush, we finally have a president who is beyond intelligent. That she didn't care at all about Obama's race, and that she was thrilled to have this man in the White House for who he is.

And I think that it should not be overlooked that the reason Obama was able to capture so many voters had little to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with what he said, the plans he presented, and how he acted in the face of a crisis. (You could make the argument that anyone who voted for or against him based on race, was likely to vote Democratic or Republican respectively, anyways. And that the number of independents that voted based on race, was likely split as well.)

Furthermore, I think that it's all the more reason to celebrate the historic nature of this outcome, because of his character. If, hypothetically John Edwards had become president and selected a token black man who wasn't ready for a VP, and then something happened to Edwards, that would still have produced this nation's first black president. While a milestone, it wouldn't be anything to get excited about.

After September 11, 2001, I experienced a strong sense of unity. Not that I wasn't proud, but it was mostly a feeling of togetherness an united strength.

On November 4th, 2008, I felt humbled, privileged and proud to be an American.

I'll end with words that were spoken twenty years before I was born, by a man standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:

Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning...I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What It Was Like To Be There

I didn't film this, but it's not that far from where I was standing. This is the one moment that stands out from last night. Not even seeing the President-Elect speaking in person trumps this.

CNN had just projected Virgina moments before putting Obama at 220. Everyone knew that California would put him over the top, and we started counting down.



You can see the screen better in this next clip. All night we had been getting the graphics and sound from the CNN Projection animation. And then just when we expected to get another one it didn't say "CNN Projection." It said "Breaking News" and that's when we knew.



At that moment, it became real.

The World Reacts

There's a lot that I'd like to say. Including that winning was the easy part, and that actually improving things is the real challenge that lies ahead. And that even in a blowout, this is still a country divided. And I'll take some time to reflect on the historic nature of this election, and once all the results are in, an analysis of the votes.

But for now, I just want to take one day and soak it in.

New York City




Jerusalem




Athens



Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Final Thought on the Election (pre-results)

It's an exciting day in America. It's an exciting day to be in Chicago. And I am grateful that I was born before November 4th, 1990, so that I have the privilege of voting for the 44th President of the United States.

* * *

On March 6th, I posted: I'm convinced that Obama will be the Dem. nominee and I'm reasonably sure that he will win the election as well. But I'm still nervous about that one.

On April 22nd, I posted: I'm convinced Obama will win the Dem nomination, and 70% confident he will win the general election.

On May 9th, I posted: Obama will be the 44th President of the United States.

* * *

And here's my link of an art project that I did on a Saturday in March.

And to think, that day, is today.

Point / Counterpoint

Just in case Hoagie Central has been too partisan lately, I thought I would give the conservatives a voice. Here are some comments from when news broke yesterday about Obama's grandmother passing away:



And here are some comments from the story that Dixville Notch, NH went to Obama 15-6.















Hoagie Central: Nothing if not fair and balanced!

Real Americans Vote on Election Day

There I was, in the voting booth a little after 8 a.m. CST. The ballot in my hands, with a million thoughts running through my brain. The debates, the policy positions, the judgment and character of the candidates, and of course, the attack ads.

As I stared at the two sides of the arrow I had to connect, I had a struggle with my conscience. Who is the real Barack Obama? Was I really voting for a Socialist? How could I vote for someone who knew Bill Ayers? Isn't he too risky? And was he even born in the United States?

I did the only thing I could do. With a heavy heart, I filled in the ballot for John McCain and Sarah Palin. They might keep us in Iraq for another for years, but I couldn't live with myself knowing that I put a secret Muslim terrorist in the White house.

* * *

Of course, the act of filling in McCain's arrow sent my body into anaphylactic shock and I passed out. When I woke up 15 minutes later, with a piece of donut in my mouth, I came to my senses and crossed out McCain's arrow and filled in Obama's.

* * *

In case anyone who doesn't know me ends up reading this...(cough, cough) satire.

Here's what really happened: I went to bed a little after 1. And then I woke up with a nosebleed. I've been having recurring nosebleeds off and on for a long time. And it's usually no big deal. I've gotten quite adept at holding my nose and running to the bathroom.

Anyways, so out of habit, I got in the shower, washed up and by the time I was finished the nosebleed had stopped. As I reached for my towel, memory pieces started assembling in my head. Brittany was still in bed. By the time my alarm goes off she should be at work. Did my alarm go off?

And then I opened the bathroom door and looked into my living room. Pitch black. That's not good. I thought to myself, I hope it's closer to 7 than it is to 5:30. I walked to the kitchen and looked at the microwave: 3:45 a.m. I'm an idiot. I went back to bed.

Luckily, my hair didn't get messed up so I didn't need to shower again in the morning, and I actually felt fully rested and ready to go. So it didn't turn out terrible but I'm still pretty stupid for showering before 4 a.m. on election day. And yes, this part really is true. As for voting, it was quick, and a little exciting. I was proud to wear my Obama shirt, even if I had to covertly hide it under my coat. And now I've got 2 receipts for the times I voted for Obama. February 5th and November 4th.

But the real excitement is yet to come.

Monday, November 03, 2008

An Email on the Eve of the Election

Earlier today, I received an email. I thought that this person deserved a response.

In the second paragraph you asked me to fight for this country's future.

I will.

In the second to last paragraph you asked that I never forget that much has been sacrificed to protect our right to vote. You continued, we must never forget those Americans who, with their courage, with their sacrifice, and with their lives, have protected our freedom.

In this, I fully agree with you.

Your final plea was that I exercise your right to vote as an American tomorrow.

Sir, you grabbed my attention with the subject line. And I've decided to take you up on your offer. I will proudly fulfill my American responsibility and, in doing so, will make history tomorrow.

Pres Picks

Here's my picks:
Obama 318, McCain 220
Dems 58, Rep 40


Here's a rundown of other's picks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The War Across The Shore: Midwest vs Mid-East

It's Week 9!

Time for the most anticipated matchup in the history of football. It's a rematch from Construda Super Bowl I and here's the edge pre-waiver wire:

Both teams are 5-3 and in the playoff hunt. Mark has faced the more difficult schedule, but still faces a tougher road to the playoffs as he's still 2 games behind the division leader. Mark's got the receivers. I've got the running backs. Game On!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Time to Celebrate!

Burger Standings
Chiefs 1-6
Lions 0-7


If this is how the Lions celebrate, I'd hate to see how they ignore tradition.

The Falcons, 49ers and Texans were the easy games on the Lions schedule and they've already happened. There isn't a game remaining that you would give the Lions a good chance to win, but I bet the win at least 1.

However, there is a very good chance that the Chiefs win this bet 2 wins to 1.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pigskin Pick'em


Mark and are using ESPN's Pigskin Pick'em to pick all the games against the spread. And he's actually doing better in this format than ever before. Here's a quick check in before week 8. We've played 102 games.

On the Season
Dave: 50-52 = Down $40
Mark: 54-48 = Up $120
Sports Guy: 52-47-3 = Up $100
Sports Gal: 50-49-3 = Up $20

I'm not worried. Starting in week 5, I've increased my total each week by 2. This week: 10.

one way to make a name for yourself

This really has nothing to do with the election, it's just a sad state of how desperate people can get. I saw the story first on Drudge Report, and sure enough later it was on Fox News main page and on the CNN Politics page. The CNN story led me to http://sarahsarmy.blogspot.com/ where I found this:


Ashley Todd became a hot name. In the top ten of Google Trends:


Her twitter feed was found, with before and after tweets:


She got the attention that she wanted:


But then the truth came out. And this probably wasn't what she was going for:


Which led to some funny comments (although my favorite is still the exchange from Jay and M above):


To reiterate this means nothing for McCain or Obama. I'm not going to try and make a connection, that this is a metaphor for the McCain campaign or anything. I just can't help but think how sad it is, that someone thought they could make up something like this. And if she really does have psychological issues, I do feel bad for her. But next time you carve yourself in the mirror, don't make it a backwards B.