Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich Returns

Previously, I've made turkey sandwiches with dressing and sweet potatoes. Well, for the last two years we didn't have the candied sweet potatoes that I needed. This year, I didn't make stuffing so the sandwich was simple. Hot turkey with some honey glaze and candied sweet potatoes. Delicious. 

But that's not the only kind I've had since Thursday. I also made one with cold turkey, honey mustard, black pepper, jalapeno slices, colby-pepper jack and mayo.

And then another one. This time I used the leftover aioli (mayo-garlic-lemon-fresh parsley) with cold turkey, black pepper and cheese.

I enjoy these as much as the hot turkey on feast day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey III

I'm pretty comfortable cooking a turkey by now. It's not that it's super difficult, but it is sort of easy to mess up. I'm always happy with my results, moist meat, crispy skin.

This year it was a 18lb bird. Which is a good size to have plenty of leftovers. Could go a bit smaller even.

This was my first time buying a Butterball. It was on sale for $23. It turned out great, but really no better than any other brand.

Make sure you thaw it about 6 days in advance.

My Method:
The night before, take out the crap, wash it, leave it in the fridge overnight exposed.
In the morning, put it in the roasting pan, rub with some oil, season with salt, pepper, chicken rub.
Breast side up, legs to the back of the oven.
Roast at 500F for 30 minutes. Then drop it to 350. For an 18lb bird, it needed an additional 3 hours at 350.
I covered the white meat with foil when I was happy with the color.
When it's done, transfer to the cutting board and cover it loosely with foil again to let it rest and retain heat.
That's it.

My carving job this year was less focused on presentation, and more focused on not carving more than I needed. Hours later, I carved the rest so that the leftovers could be as moist as possible.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

#1 vs #2 (and true nhl standings)


I've rallied against how the NHL standings are organized for a while. Well, I finally found a good resource that calculates by percentage of points possible.

LINKS:   league standings  -  conference standings  -  division standings

There's another site that doesn't do it as cleanly or well, and takes 30 seconds to update, but does have archived standings. current standings  -  archive

- - -

Two weeks ago, the Avalanche visited the Blues. At the time of the game, here were the overall NHL standings:

The Avs lost 7-3 on the road, and then lost again, part of a three-game losing streak. Those losses dropped them as low as #5 in the league:

Since then, the Avs have won 3 in a row. At home vs Chicago, on the road vs Phoenix and LA. Those teams currently are 4th, 9th and 6th in the league standings, respectively.

Which brings us to tonight. The Avs' 3 game winning streak is only bested by the Blues' 4 game hot streak. And we've got another #1 vs #2 matchup.

If you compare the above standings with the typical standings, you see why I'm so irked by the traditional method.

To make it clear, here is how virtually every media source puts the teams in order:

4, 7, 1, 3, 6, 5, 2, 8, 9, 11, 10.

Not very helpful when you're trying to find the actual order. Especially irksome when you see shit like this:

A couple more notes about the current true standings. Here's what that site has to say about the division abbreviations following the team names:

So there you go. We can see that 3 of the top 4 teams in the league are in the Central. And 8 of the top 9 teams are in the West.

One last note. 

Here are the best records for the last five 82 game seasons:

2011-12: Vancouver - 111 points
2010-11: Vancouver - 117 points
2009-10: Washington - 121 points
2008-09: San Jose - 117 points
2007-08: Detroit - 115 points

Now let's go back to the current standings. If you look at the last column, you see there are four teams that are on pace to have more than 121 points this year.

Clearly, I don't think that pace is sustainable/realistic. But I am impressed that there are that many teams winning so many games more than a quarter of the season in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I don't really want to say too much about the Chiefs.

1. The Broncos own the tiebreaker, no matter what happens on Sunday.
2. I think the Broncos win the division.
3. The Chiefs will still make the playoffs as the #5 seed.
4. If they can get/stay healthy, they will have a decent chance of knocking off the Colts or Bengals.

nfl predictions 2013: take three

After 12 weeks, I'm updating the playoff picture:

AFC Division Winners

Wild Cards

In The Hunt

It sure seems like the Broncos and the Patriots are the only serious teams in the AFC. I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get out of the Bengals or Colts. Either one could have a home playoff game vs KC and beat the Chiefs, but at this point, I'm expecting a Manning-Brady rematch in the AFC Championship. Which would at least be a great game. As for who grabs the 6th spot...the Chargers seem like the best team, but I'd put my money on Steelers, maybe the Ravens.

1 Broncos
2 Patriots

6 Steelers at 3 Bengals
5 Chiefs at 4 Colts

NFC Division Winners

Wild Cards

In The Hunt

The NFC North is a 3-team race that could go either way. The NFC East will likely come down to the last game, Cowboys vs Eagles. I think the Cowboys finish 8-8 for the third straight year and miss the playoffs again.

1 Seahawks
2 Saints

6 49ers at 3 Eagles
5 Panthers at 4 Packers

My Panthers Calcutta pick keeps looking better and better.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Me at 30

This picture was taken today, November 22, 2013.


As of 12:20 am this morning, I have completed thirty revolutions around the sun. I have lived on this rock (which is mostly water) flying through space for 360 months.

Along the way, I have made mistakes.
I have learned things.
I have consumed a lot of food.

I have written books.
I have produced commercials.
I have created new life.

I have lived in three states.
I have traveled to nine foreign countries.
I have gained and lost weight repeatedly.

I like Palahniuk's and Vonnegut's books.
I like Fincher's and Nolan's movies.
I like Kansas City's barbecue.

I'm not afraid of heights.
Or snakes.
But I am afraid of car accidents.

I couldn't be happier with my job.
I couldn't be happier with where I live.
I have sports teams that let me down.

I have an amazing wife.
I have two fantastic kids.
I have nothing sarcastic to say about my family.

I'm a decent cook.
A pretty good dad.
And a below-average husband.

This year, I have discovered that I am not necessarily the person I thought I was.
I have the problem of settling for good enough.
I wonder who I could be if I pushed myself farther.

Overall, I am happy.
I am happy with the life I have.
I am trying to spend my remaining years, living bigger and better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spinning Wheels

It's a small hill, not normally something that people would notice. Cars routinely stop on this hilly stretch waiting for the light to turn green. This morning, it wasn't so routine.

I was in the left-turn lane. A few cars ahead of me started changing into the middle lane at the same time. I followed suit. I assumed there was a broken down car. Instead there was a silver sedan, spinning his wheels.

The street was icy. And the slight incline was enough to make it difficult to go from stopped to starting.

As I switched lanes, my car wobbled and slid, searching in a panic for traction. It was about the third or fourth time in twenty minutes that I wasn't in full control of my car. It was easy to see how that could have been me in that silver sedan.

I didn't have to be in that car to know what he was feeling. It's a terrible feeling. You're stuck. You have a wheel and a gear shift at your disposal, but you're helpless. Meanwhile, seemingly everyone else is passing you. Is is it because they have better tires or did you just catch an unlucky break, a patch of ice, a steeper slope?

Some days feel like that. Spinning wheels. Pressing the pedal down and getting nowhere. And everyone else is getting by just fine.

It's easy to think that if someone would stop and get out and give you a slight push that you could just get where you need to be. But the truth is that no one is coming. Because everyone has their own car to deal with. Everyone has their own places to be.

So it's up to us. We have to get out and push our own car up the hill. Or let it slide all the way to the bottom and try again.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Avs Blow Out Blackhawks

I had this idea all ready to go a week ago when the Avs played the Blues, and then they had to go and ruin it. But it fits so nicely with Colorado having their first season in the Central division. And then three first-period goals chase Crawford out of the Chicago net.

Oh and the headline for this post was stolen from SportsCenter:

Yes it was a big win. Lets look at the top ten records in the NHL at the moment (as always, calculated by points percentage):

1. Blues (1.55)
2. Avalanche (1.5)
3. Sharks (1.476)
4. Coyotes (1.476)
5. Blackhawks (1.455)
6. Kings (1.409)
7. Ducks (1.391)
8. Bruins (1.381)
9. Wild (1.364)
10. Lightning (1.333)

4 teams from Central
4 teams from Pacific
2 teams from Atlantic

That's not really the point. The point is that with the win the Avs move up and the Blackhawks move down. If the season ended today...the Blues would get the #1 seed in the Central, and Colorado would be hosting Chicago in the first round. Tasty.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Too Real

Hockey and Time Zones

This probably isn't interesting to anyone else, but the Avalanche play evening games this year that from the perspective of the Eastern time zone, start at 7pm, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10 and 10:30.

Eastern is what's listed on the ESPN schedule, but I thought it would be interesting to break it down with local time, and Mountain time.

7pm Eastern
Games at New York, Philly, Tampa Bay, etc
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 5pm

7:30pm Eastern
Games at Detroit, Montreal, Florida, etc
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 5:30pm

8pm Eastern
Games at Chicago, Minnesota, etc
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 6pm

8pm Eastern
Games at Denver
Local Time: 6pm
Mountain Time: 6pm

8:30pm Eastern
Games at Dallas
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 6:30pm

9pm Eastern
Games at Denver
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 7pm

9pm Eastern
Games at Phoenix
Local Time: 6pm
Mountain Time: 7pm

9:30pm Eastern
Games at Denver, Edmonton
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 7:30pm

10pm Eastern
Game at Denver (this happens once, scheduled for NBC Sports TV)
Local Time: 8pm
Mountain Time: 8pm

10pm Eastern
Games at Vancouver, San Jose
Local Time: 7pm
Mountain Time: 8pm

10:30pm Eastern
Games at LA, San Jose
Local Time: 7:30pm
Mountain Time: 8:30pm

Local time is fairly consistent. Usually 7 or 7:30, with some occasional 6pm and 8pm games in Denver in the mix too. Mountain time varies from 5pm to 8:30. I prefer a start time of either 6 or 7pm, Mountain Time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Chiefs are 9-1

The Broncos definitively beat the Chiefs.

They're now both 9-1. Looking at Denver's schedule, I think they win their last 4 games. Their game next week in New England is huge. And then the following week at Arrowhead, is even bigger. 

So we're looking at a Broncos team that I think will finish somewhere between 15-1 and 13-3.

- - -

The Chiefs have a number of tough games. They could beat the Broncos in KC and still finish 12-4. 

On the one hand, I think it's safe that they make the playoffs. Which is sort of crazy. 
But, you play (and watch) to win a Super Bowl. The odds of that happening go down significantly if they can't win the division. 

So it's not life or death, but I've been focused on staying ahead of the Broncos. 

Basically, they must beat them on December 1. That will put level the tiebreaker and put the Chiefs 1 game ahead. Depending on how next week shakes out vs Chargers/Patriots, the Chiefs will know in 2 weeks what kind of cushion they have. 

- - - 

Just for fun, let's assume the Chiefs beat the Broncos. What will the tiebreaker be? 

First up is division record. The Broncos would be 3-1 and host the Chargers, visit Raiders.
The Chiefs would be 2-1, with both Chargers games and a Raiders game on the road. 

I'm assuming the Broncos win both of those. 
So now, the Chiefs need to win all three of those division games just to keep the tiebreaker alive. (Yikes.)

After that, it's common games. Long story short, all games are common except Broncos vs Ravens, Patriots and Chiefs vs Browns, Bills. So a Patriots loss doesn't hurt Denver here. And in order for this to matter, the Chiefs would have to lose a non-divisional game. Entirely possible that it could be even on this factor too. 

Then you get to conference games. The only way this matters is if KC loses to Washington, it doesn't hurt them. If it gets past this, it goes to strength of victory, which I'm interpreting as point differential, which will go to the Broncos. 

It's still a little murky...but I'm guessing that even with a Chiefs victory, Denver might own the tiebreaker. It would likely come down to divisional games, as I think Denver has an easier chance of going 5-1 than the Chiefs. 

- - -

All of that said, the Chiefs still can control their own destiny. If they go 15-1, they will win the division and get the #1 seed. 

If they lose any games, it's very possible they lose the tiebreaker and will have to stay ahead of the Broncos, which means needing help (in the form of Denver losses). 

This is probably all a waste of time. KC could very well finish 11-5 (though 13-3 always seemed like the right number, to mirror 2003) and Denver could be 3 games ahead of them. 

- - -

What happened last night?

For starters, no pass rush on Peyton. The whole plan was to hit him and get him out of rhythm. Apparently, you're allowed to throw the ball quickly, neutralizing our pass rush. Manning is well suited to handle even the best pass rushes. 

Despite that, I'll take 27 points given up. I'd prefer 17. But 27 is the lowest Denver's given up and within the realm of possibility. 

Here's what's not good enough

field goal (after 1st and goal from the 2)
half expires
PUNT on 4th and 7 at Denver 41 with 12 minutes to go, down 14 points
turnover on downs
time expires

So let's add up the missed opportunities. The fumble was in the red zone, costing 3-7 points. Not converting the TD from 1st and goal from the 2 cost them 4 points. And then the punt on 4th and 7. It's not 4th and 7 from your own 23. You're at their 41. You need 2 touchdowns just to tie, and that's if your defense holds. (As it turns out, from that point the Chiefs needed 17 points to get to overtime. 12 minutes to play, you need 17 points. You're on the 41. You have to go. Instead the punt went into the endzone for a gain of 21 yards of field position. 

So even with the offense sputtering with 6 other punts, the Chiefs were a couple of plays away from getting up to 27 points. 

- - -

So you're telling me there's a rematch. Even though it was a sound defeat, I think the game in KC will be different. The Chiefs may not win. But it should be closer. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Illini. Sigh.

When you're down 12 and there's 5:30 to play the game, you need to score two touchdowns.

I don't care if it's 4th and 26. The Eagles did it. So when it's 4th and 13 you have to go for it. By punting away the ball, you're giving up.

Beckman sends on the Illinois punt unit, and two plays later, the Buckeys get a 50+ yard touchdown anyways.

I was all set to be excited about the moral victories (covering the spread, most points scored on Buckeys all year) and then the coach just gives up. What's the worst that could have happened? The Buckeys get the ball near our endzone. What's the best?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Everything was going so well.

A couple days ago, the crystal ball was pointing that Cliff Alexander would be committing to Illinois. And then last night, Quentin Snider decommits from Illinois and signs with Louisville. And now the experts are predicting Alexander to announce he's going to Kansas. The announcement isn't for a couple of hours, but I already know he's not coming to U of I.

- - -

The Avs were 14-2 and the best team in the league. I didn't care that they lost to Carolina 2-1 on the road. But going to St. Louis and playing their new division rival for the first time? I wanted that one. And they give up 7 goals. As of right now, here are the 6 teams with the best records in the leauge, calculated by points percentage: (Central Division in Bold)

1. Blues
2. Blackhawks
3. Avs
4. Sharks
5. Ducks
6. Coyotes

Well then. So the top 3 teams in the Central are the top 3 teams in the league. Followed by three teams from the other division in the West. The Avs are still in fine shape, but they play Chicago and St. Louis, both at home, in their next 5 games. Those are big games.

- - -

And then we get to the team with the best record in the NFL. You know, the big underdog on Sunday. Somehow, the Broncos were only favored by 7 against San Diego, but are getting 8 or 9 against Kansas City.

If the Chiefs win, I bet it's by 7 or less.
If the Broncos win, I bet it's by 10+. 21 wouldn't surprise me.

The Chiefs have 7 games left. The goal is to win the division.

Losing both Broncos games would put them one back in the standings and needing to finish one better. Meaning it would be very unlikely.

Winning both would put them three ahead in the standings, with the Broncos needing to finish one better.

Splitting? Then the tiebreaker becomes murky (division record, then common games, then conference games) and the Chiefs would hold just a small one-game lead. Basically, still up for grabs.

So yeah, this game is important. And no matter what, the game on December 1 will be even more important.

The Chiefs don't need to win this one to win the division. But it would sure help.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chiefs - Broncos, 1994

October 17, 1994

We'll pick up the action at 2:09:00 with the Chiefs ahead 24-21 with 1:41 to go and Elway with the ball. Even though I love getting the call right with instant replay, there's something charming about not having it. They call it on the field and that's it.

(Really crazy to think that this game is closer to the 2003 Trent Green-Priest Holmes-Dante Hall Chiefs than today's are.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SF Recap

Friday: Breakfast at Sweet Maple, visit to Matt's Uncle, Lagunitas Brewery, Sycamore, Pancho Villa

Saturday: Farmer's Market at Ferry Building, Boccalone, Acme Bread, Walk to Fisherman's Wharf, Boudin Bistro, Ghiradelli Square, Frisbee Golf at Golden Gate Park, Bi-Rite Creamery, Bourbon & Branch Speakeasy

Sunday: Bears game at Mad Dog in Fog, Hike through Buena Vista Park, Haight/Ashbury, Sandwich at Ike's Place

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Let's Just End The Season Today

Current NFL Playoff Picture:

Of course, the NHL has a new "divisional" format that's a bit more complicated. Let's work it out. (It's also tougher, since the teams have played a different number of games you need to sort by point percentages, not total standings points.)

This paints a much better picture than these standings. Here, we see the Blues have a firm hold on a playoff spot. The Avs have a better record then the Sharks, so they get to face the worse of the Western wild-cards, at the moment the Canucks.

It's kind of nice, personally, to not have to worry about facing the Sharks/Ducks/Coyotes until the conference finals, as they seem to be the hottest teams. (Yes, I know it's early. And the Blackhawks/Blues are probably just as good.)

In the East, the Lightning currently have a better points-percentage than the Penguins, so they get the Canadiens instead of the Bruins.

Overall, it's a bit strange that it's billed as divisional playoffs, and as it stands, 3 of the 8 first-round series aren't divisional. But shit happens.