Thursday, July 31, 2014

Originality in Big Ten Logos / Spelling

So there are now 14 teams in the Big Ten. Remember when there were 11 teams and the conference logo had that subtle nod? 

Anyways, I noticed that 10 of the 14 use a single letter as their logo. Indiana also letters but the IU combo doesn't fit in. The others, Penn State, Michigan State and Iowa, all use graphic symbols for logos. 

I thought it would be interesting to see if they spelled any words. It's not as great as I would have hoped for.
I suppose the best I can do that relates to sports is...

Monday, July 28, 2014

6 v 6 Indoor Soccer: Game 1

I played on a soccer team from roughly 2nd grade through 7th grade, first outdoor, then indoor. I stopped playing because I was too out of shape.

In May of this year, I was with the boys at our local park and saw a group of youth soccer games in progress. It looked really fun. 

I started going to our gym to kick the ball around. After a couple weeks, I bought a new ball. I looked into joining a soccer team. I found a 6 v 6 indoor league that plays at our gym. But there was no way for individuals to join, just full teams. So I emailed somebody and asked to be on a free agent list. 

This morning I got an email. A team was looking for players. He told me I needed cleats, shinguards, a white shirt, and black shorts. It's not the most attractive color scheme, but I did have the shirt and shorts. I had the cleats--I bought them in 2006 to play 16" softball in Chicago. On my way home, I went to Sports Authority to buy shinguards. I was ready. Well, I at least had the gear.

I start warming up and I feel like I fit in, same ages, same gear. I asked the "coach" what we do about formations and subs. He said he wanted 2 D to always stay back, with 3 up front that can roam. I told him I could play D (I figured it involved less running) and he put me on the field to start the game. 

This was week 4 of the season. The first two weeks the team forfeited. Last week they lost 10-1. Later I found out this was a work team that clearly didn't have enough interested players. This week we were playing a 0-3 team, but they were in all of their games. 

The game is two halves, 23 minutes each. 

I was tested right away. There's no hiding how good you are when there's only 5 outfield players on the pitch. I made some decent plays, passes. I also got burned real bad on some 1 on 1 jukes. We gave up a goal 6 minutes in. It was pretty clear that they had a number of good players and we had a few that were okay. I subbed out when I got winded, but a few minutes later was back out without ever getting back to full stamina. 

I got a little better, made some decent plays, still got burned but not as much. I think I played four shifts in the first half, never really getting a chance to catch my breath. With about a minute or two left in the first I stole the ball at midfield and panicked and dumped it in even though all my teammates were behind me. That dump in bought my team about four seconds. It was worthless to steal it if that's what I was going to do. It's so much harder to see the field and make split-second decisions when you're out there. Always a good reminder for sports fans. 

I was looking forward to halftime because I was fucking gassed. Halftime is one minute. Luckily I sat on the bench to start the 2nd and somehow no one needed a sub for a good 8 minutes or so. So when I came on in the second half, I felt as rested as I could be. For the first time, I was put in an offensive position. At this point I think we were losing 4-0 or 5-0. The game had slowed down and our team finally had some chances because the other team was caught out of position. 

We had the ball down and were taking some shots, usually wide and trying to pass and all that. I parked my ass in the box, about 6 feet in front of the goal. And wouldn't you know the ball landed at my feet. I poked at it with the top of my foot and pushed it right through the keeper's legs. Our team scored one goal all night and I got it. It's hard to believe even now.

A few minutes later, I kicked a guy in the shin. It wasn't on purpose, but it also wasn't that close to the ball. I was just tired and flailing around out there. But hey, that's why we have shinguards, right?

My shift only lasted four minutes I think. It was amazing how little stamina I had after resting for a full ten minutes. Five minutes later, I was ready enough to go back in. But no one came out after the 5-minute mark. Truthfully, I wanted to get out there a bit, but I knew I didn't have anything left in my tank. It was as good as anything just to sit on the bench. With 28 seconds to go our team got called for a penalty. They had a shootout, they scored. 

I think the final was 6-1 but I'm not really sure. 

In short, I have no stamina. But I did score the only goal of the game. And I was only on offense for about 4 minutes. It was really fun, but it's been over an hour and a half since the game ended and I'm still exhausted. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

BREAKING: Mrs. Hoagie Central is on the record for predicting a shoulder injury for Peyton Manning this year.

meta burritos

In the course of my Denver burrito search, I've now written over 5,000 words. The word document was at about 6300--after I stripped away the titles, blogger formatting and scores it dropped to 5300.

Using Word's AutoSummarize feature here is 1% of my first ten burrito reviews:

Burrito's makes no sense. The menu said green chile. The burrito had folded ends. All the burritos come with beans, rice and cheese inside. I went with the al pastor burrito, no beans, smothered. I found a burrito superior to Chipotle. Then I tried a smothered burrito. Denver Burrito #1: Tacos Rapidos

No rice.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:
The Finals

Well, I've eaten my way though ten distinct Denver burritos. And I have a two-way tie at the top.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
La Abeja 9.5
Señor Burritos 9.25
El Taco Veloz 9
Los Carboncitos 8.5
Socorro's 8
El Tepehaun 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
Adelita's 7
Tacos Rapidos 7

So the only way to settle this is a head to head showdown.

El Taco De Mexico vs La Abeja

- - -

Previously at El Taco De Mexico I had a smothered al pastor burrito.

Previously at La Abeja I had a smothered carne asada burrito.

For The Finals, I'll take a trip back to each and try a different meat. And then I will declare one burrito to rule them all.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:
Los Carboncitos

This is the 10th installment of this series that I explained fully here.

Denver Burrito #10: Los Carboncitos
722 Sheridan

I almost died.

Okay, that's a bit dramatic. I was almost in a car accident about 100 feet from this restaurant.

But since I avoided that, I was able to order a smothered carnitas (no beans) burrito at Los Carboncitos. It's a sit-down place with an extensive menu. The neighborhood is perhaps the sketchiest I've been too, but inside was one of the nicer interiors. By which, I mean that this restaurant had carpet.

After ordering, the brought me complimentary chips and salsa, which was nice. They were good too.

Within minutes, I was presented with a full plate. I thought this might be the one.

It certainly looked the part. The chile was more brown than green and a zigzag of sour cream laced across the top. The presentation and aroma had me believing this could be the best yet.

I forked open the first bite and my reaction was "Indian?" For some reason, the first bite and the first bite only, evoked hints of Indian spices. As I proceeded further I encountered crispy carnitas, semi-colored rice and a lovely tortilla.

With any burrito, the first couple bites are just getting your bearings. Is this good, is this bad. So far, it was good.

But as I continued, there was nothing that stood out as excellent. The carnitas were very crispy and lacked the big flavor I've come to expect. The texture sometimes provided an enjoyable crunch but usually felt too dry. I would call them overcooked, but I'm sure it was intentional.

The rice wasn't completely white, but it also lacked the color and flavor I look for in rice. And while not as bad as some places, it was on the mushy side.

The green chile was solid, but the burrito contents were so dry, I could have used more of it. The sour cream was barely noticeable.

The tortilla was very good. It had a great flavor and a flaky texture.

Overall, it made for a good but not great burrito.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
La Abeja 9.5
Señor Burritos 9.25
El Taco Veloz 9
Los Carboncitos 8.5
Socorro's 8
El Tepehaun 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
Adelita's 7
Tacos Rapidos 7

Editor's Note: I'm lowering the score of Señor Burritos to a 9.25, in my head there's a clear top two so I figure I can't have a three-way tie for scores.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Slate's L.V. Anderson doesn't know shit about food

I started reading Slate this year and I enjoy their articles and opinions, especially the Dear Prudence advice articles. Some of their articles are #hottakes but no biggie.

However, their food & drink editor, L.V. Anderson is the least qualified person I've ever seen putting out content. She has a regular feature called "You're Doing It Wrong" in which she does the wrong shit consistently.

First, the she takes the time to make a video solving a problem that exactly zero people have had throughout history.

Then there was the article that promised, "The One Piece of Equipment You Need to Make Great Lemonade at Home." I'll save you the trouble. Her secret to great lemonade? An electric juicer. Not a manual juicer that will never break and you can get for under $10.

But the worst was today.
The title of the piece: "The Best Way to Light a Charcoal Grill." Even a newcomer like me knows there is only one way to do it. And yet they made a video where they dump the charcoal in the grill and use "lots of lighter fluid." Of course, all the commenters are quick to point out that a chimney starter is the best. It's safe. You don't have to put up with the smell or potentially the taste of lighter fluid. When all the readers know better than the author, how can you justify a feature called "You're Doing It Wrong"?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mark Fever: Make Your Own Six-Packs

Between the two of us, Mark and I consumed 11 bottles of beer at home, from Friday to Sunday. The picture above shows my rankings visually, best on the left.

Mark agreed in some places, disagreed in others. I know he liked the Red Banshee better than the BigLeaf Maple. Overall, these weren't as good as last years.

Blue Moon Farmhouse Red - Blue Moon Brewing Company - Golden, CO

This was the favorite for both of us. It just had a really great taste, exactly what you want a red to taste like.

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red - Anchor Brewing Company - San Francisco, California

We didn't taste any maple, but this was another solid red. Mark thought it was too hoppy, but I liked it a lot.

Colorado Native - AC Golden Brewing Company/MillerCoors - Golden, CO

This is third in my list, but wasn't that great. It was a decent simple lager.

Sawtooth Ale - Left Hand Brewing Company - Longmont, CO

This was the first beer I've had from this craft brewery and I liked it. Simple but smooth. I'd try some of their other beers.

Jack Whacker Wheat - Tommyknocker Brewery - Idaho Springs, CO

Last year a Tommyknocker beer was our favorite, so I tried a different style. The bottle claimed notes of lemony-citrus but that was almost too much. Still it was easy to drink.

Lands End Amber Ale - Kannah Creek Brewing Company - Grand Junction, CO

This was totally unremarkable. I thought it was boring, verging on bad.

Red Banshee - Fort Collins Brewery - Fort Collins, CO

I thought I was going to love this as I've really been into reds lately. Unfortunately it tasted like a brown beer to me, and a boring one a that.

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple - Boston Beer Company - Boston, MA

Eagle-eyed readers will see that this is the 1 of 12 that we didn't drink. I had a couple of these last fall so I feel like I can place it here, it's a good cider, but that still won't beat out a good beer.

Doggie Style Pale Ale - Flying Dog Brewery - Denver, CO/Frederick, MD

I thought I was going to love this because I've loved it before. I suppose my tastes have changed in the last five years. It was a very hoppy pale ale (as you would expect) but that made it hard to drink.

Hofbräu Maibock - Hofbräuhaus München - Munich, Germany

I didn't think I was going to like this, and I didn't. I only had a sip. I generally don't like European beers and this was no exception. Tasted bland and watery to me.

Bitch Creek ESB - Grand Teton Brewing - Victor, ID

This was the worst beer (not a cider) that we had. It was so dark and bitter, it was just undrinkable. I finished my half-bottle, but I don't think Mark did.

Woodchuck Hard Cider Pear - Vermont Hard Cider Company - Middlebury, VT

This was some of the worst shit I've ever tasted. I got pear specifically because Brit likes pear drinks and I thought it sounded good. It was vile. No one finished their glass. Truly, truly horrendous.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mark Fever: 2014 Recap

Another fun trip. He got in Thursday night and for dinner we had buffalo chicken dip, first discovered in this post. It was really good.

Over the course of the weekend, we played lots of Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Zombie Dice and one game of Cleopatra. 

Friday we set out to do something that's been on my list for over two years. We drove 35 minutes west to Conifer, CO to play a 23-hole disc golf course set on a mountain. It's a hike so we loaded up with 2 liters of water per person, new discs, sandwiches and a protein bar (brownie). We played a skins game (with a max of 3). If you lost the hole, you had to carry the backpack. Mark won the first hole but then I won five in a row. My lead was between 3 and 4 all the way until the 13th where we had our first tie (I was up 3 at the time.) On the 14th I hit my best shot, a 20-foot putt that tied that hole. And on the 15th Mark made the great putt to get all three skins and tie the game. 

And then it started to rain. First a sprinkle, but pretty quickly it was pouring and we were in the middle of the woods. We picked up our pace and got through as much as we could. I opened a one or two shot lead and maintained that through the 21st hole. Up two, two to play. We tied the 22nd meaning, the last hole would be worth two. So either we'd tie, I'd win by two, or I'd win by four.

And then it started to hail. I've never been hailed on before. It really hurts. We tried to shield ourselves under trees but that only works so well. Luckily, it only hailed for a few minutes. We played the last hole and it was also a tie. 

On the way back we went to Tipsy's Liquor World, a liquor store with a square footage that rivals Cowboys Stadium. We each made our own six-pack. That night we went to Crave with Brit and split a Texas and Sin City burger, redeeming the burger Mark owed me from the Chiefs-Lions bet. 

Afterwards the three of had drinks at Brothers, sitting outside on a couch by a fire pit, including a semi-heated discussion of the Hobby Lobby decision. 

Saturday, Mark and I took the boys to Chuck E Cheese and got lunch at Chick-fil-A. Brit had evening plans so more board games that night. 

Sunday, all of us went to the Farmer's Market, including the bookstore and toy store. Mark bought the boys a train with the first letter of their names. We got peach and apple flavored almonds and then took the kids to lunch at Noodles and stopped at Rocket Fizz for candy and a root beer. 

We set up the adjustable hoop in the backyard and did some rad dunks and I lost some games of HORSE. For dinner, all of us went to Il Vicino for pizza.

After the kids went to bed, Mark and I went to J.D.'s Bait Shop Sports Grill. This place had free darts, free shuffleboard and foosball for $1. The beer selection wasn't the best (I got a Fat Tire) but the Tackle Box appetizer was pretty good and the games weren't crowded. Mark kicked my ass in foosball and I kicked his ass in darts. Shuffleboard was a draw. 

Good games, good food, good times. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:
Adelita's Cocina Y Cantina

This is the ninth installment of this series that I explained fully here.

Denver Burrito #9: Adelita's Cocina Y Cantina
1294 S Broadway

This is not a burrito joint. This is a legitimate restaurant serving a variety of "traditional Mexican fare." This is a place that I could take my mom. Missing is any element of seediness. Also Spanish.

I suppose it's a strange dichotomy, but I didn't have the highest hopes because it was too nice. The menus were a high-end print job. This place was verging on classy. If I wasn't doing the burrito search, I would have chosen enchiladas or a unique entree.

According to Yelp, Adelita's serves a fantastic mole. Confession time: I've never had mole. It was very tempting to ask for a burrito smothered in mole, but I wasn't sure what I was going to think. Instead I got it covered in green chile with a cup of mole on the side.

As for the interior, I say no beans like always, and asked the waitress which was better, the carnitas or the al pastor. She said the latter. So I went with that.

The first thing I tasted is the green chile. It was unlike any other I've had. It was tangy, with a generous amount of sweetness. I did like it, but it wasn't as enjoyable as a good spicy sauce.

A couple bites in, I tasted something else that was unlike anything else on this search. Refried beans. This was the first place that had ignored my request to hold the beans. The beans didn't ruin it for me, as I did finish the burrito in it's entirety, but I would have preferred it without.

Every time I'm about to have a burrito, I think this really isn't that hard. There's only a few components. Make flavorful meat, flavorful non-mushy rice, a good sauce and a good tortilla. If you got some cheese or cilantro or onion, that's fine too. But it's really not that complicated.

And then I come here and they fill my burrito with white, mushy rice. And the beans. And a sweet sauce that doesn't compliment the meat. The tortilla was typical, which normally is a criticism, but here anything that's not a negative I suppose should be appreciated.

I don't mean to be so harsh. The al pastor was good. And I did enjoy the burrito on the whole. But there were plenty of drawbacks.

And the mole on the side? I didn't care for it. I don't know if this was good or bad by mole standards, but I preferred the sweet green chile.

I ate it all, but it still comes in at the bottom of my rankings.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
La Abeja 9.5
Señor Burritos 9.5
El Taco Veloz 9
Socorro's 8
El Tepehaun 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
Adelita's 7
Tacos Rapidos 7

Thursday, July 17, 2014

All In on the Cavs Bandwagon

I hope the Cavs win an NBA title.

I did not feel this way before the best basketball player in the world said he was going to play for them. I am a bandwagaon Cavaliers fan.

- - -

I have not seen more than one quarter of a regular season NBA game in years. (Decades? Ever?) I follow the playoffs but don't sit down to watch full games of that either. I got into the 2013 Finals, but that's about it since the Jordan era.

I am a casual NBA fan.

- - -

I wanted LeBron to win a title in Miami because I thought he deserved it after being the best player in the league for so long. But I didn't care about the Heat winning.

But now, I'm excited for Cleveland. Across all their sports teams, they've had moderate success and plenty of heartbreak. I think it would be fantastic for them to win a title and mean so much more than if San Antonio or LA or Boston wins another.

I'm not buying a Cavs shirt. I'm not claiming to be a fan of the team. But I want them to win. I'll loosely follow them, watch some highlights. It's not how I am with any other teams. But I think that's okay.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NBA Lottery Reform is Coming

I fixed the lottery years ago. In fact, after seeing teams like Milwaukee and Philadelphia fail to win 20 games, and be rewarded with high picks, I'm even more in favor of my system.

The NBA is not the NFL. This applies two ways.

1. One or two impact players can change a team from a lottery team to a playoff contender. Outside of a few quarterbacks, that's not the case in football. It makes sense to reward poor teams in the NFL in the name of balance precisely because we don't think NFL teams have the incentive to tank.

2. Because of the incentive outline in point one, NBA fans are accepting and even encouraging of a tanking strategy. NFL fans and teams want to win.

Look at Philadelphia. Right now their best strategy is to not win games, keep getting high draft picks and then kick it in gear. Because the incentive to tank is so real, you need to do something to eliminate that.

The only change I might make to my system is do lottery balls for the first five picks, and then go reverse order for the non-playoff teams 6-14.

If Philly knew that losing didn't help their chances at all, and in fact, made them worse, I guarantee you would see a better product on the court. Which is what this is all about.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:
Señor Burritos

This is the eight installment of this series that I explained fully here.

Denver Burrito #8: Señor Burritos
12 E 1st Ave

So much of this project comes down to authenticity.

I wasn't expecting much of this one. The Yelp reviews are middling. It's not in a hispanic neighborhood. It's on Broadway, steps from Irish pubs and tiki bars. This is a neighborhood like many in America that has assimilated facets of other cultures into a generic approximation of the original. It reminds me of the line, "There's nothing more American than pizza."

It should be noted that at this moment there are two differences in the spelling of the name between Yelp and the actual restaurant.

The first is excusable. Denver yelpers aren't going to have the ñ on their keyboards, so it makes sense to omit it for search results. (Though I just tried searching with and without ñ for places that have it and don't have it, and it works every way.)

The second is just an error. Burrito's makes no sense. I've submitted the change to Yelp and await approval. Also, for what it's worth, the exterior has been painted red since the above photo was taken.)

Instead of parking at the meters in front of the restaurant, I parked a block away on a residential street. There are about eight spartan tables filling Señor Burritos. I was directed to pick a table. A menu and chips & salsa were given to me, a first in this burrito search.

I ordered the adobada, smothered, rice instead of beans. The chips & salsa were surprisingly good. Maybe this place would be better than expected? The tables were half-filled, more white customers than I'm used to seeing, but I did overhear plenty of spanish conversations.

After a few minutes, I was served my burrito on a plate. It was red. The menu said green chile. Typically green chile sauces are somewhere between green and brown. But this was red.

From the first bite, I was pleased. The sauce was tangy, a bit spicy, and delicious. The rice was not mushy. The meat was solid. Within two bites I had established that there was nothing wrong with this burrito. Where would I dock points?

I was again surprised by the adobada. It was full of flavor. It had that component that I don't know how to describe other than authentic taste. The rice didn't provide that much flavor, but it helped round out the burrito. I really enjoyed the tangy chile, even if it wasn't green. The tortilla was a bit gummy at times, but it was never bad.

I finished it quickly and realized this seemed smaller than the typical offering. After tax it was only 6.50, tip brought it up to 8.

Even though I didn't see it coming, I think this ranks with the best I've had.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
La Abeja 9.5
Señor Burritos 9.5
El Taco Veloz 9
Socorro's 8
El Tepehaun 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
Tacos Rapidos 7

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Post-Decision II

Nothing is more annoying than "Look at me, I called it." That said, look at me, I called it.

Anyways, not having LeBron meant that Cleveland was the worst team in the league and earned 3 #1 picks. Obviously having LeBron for the last four years would have given the Cavs a better shot of winning a title from 2011 to 2014. But as for the 2014-2015 season, the Cavs best shot of winning may have been to tank for four years and then get LeBron back.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:
El Taco Veloz

This is the seventh installment of this series that I explained fully here.

Denver Burrito #7: El Taco Veloz
400 Federal Bvld

I am always in fear of looking like a gringo that knows nothing, which of course, I am. On my way to El Taco Veloz, I knew I was getting a burrito. But I decided that I should also get a taco.

The burrito-taco decision is not just a matter of preference. It's a matter of authenticity. Most of Mexico, does not traditionally have flour tortillas. Burritos are found in the north, but in general, I perceive the notion that corn tortillas have more cultural currency, and by extension, that corn tortilla tacos are more authentic than flour burritos.

Even the idea of ordering sour cream or crema makes me a little nervous. My line of thinking is they've been doing this a long time. They choose to not serve burritos with crema. And here I come in, having grown up in the Midwest and I'm asking for sour cream because that's what I grew with at places like Carlos O'Kelly's.

Anyways, this place is on Federal Boulevard--known as the mecca of non-white culture in Denver. The long street houses stretches of Mexican and Vietnamese shops, and probably other cultures that I'm not aware of.

I ordered the al pastor burrito (no beans, add rice) and a barbacoa taco. I decided not to get the burrito smothered. Even though I like the green chili, there's something nice about holding a burrito in your hand.

The total (with tax?) was 6.00 even. I was expecting at least eight if not more. In the almost ten minutes it took to cook I surveyed the interior. They offer a salsa bar with eight salsas plus veggies and limes. There was a magazine featuring the Mexican goalie on the cover with the translated caption, the hero of Mexicao. A boombox was on, set to Spanish talk radio.

Occasionally, I would sneak a peek of the cooking process. It really does add something to see your food being made in front of you, and I wonder why more restaurants don't make that available. (I know why, but still.)

I was served a plate with both items on it, plus a roasted chile. The burrito was loosely wrapped in wax paper that had absorbed a good amount of grease. I unwrapped it and peered inside. It was overstuffed with a heaping pile of brightly colored al pastor. I had to keep searching to see the mound of rice underneath.

From the first bite I knew it was good. The pork is outstanding. I saw them finishing it on the griddle to order with bits of pineapple. This resulted in the pineapple still being fresh and solid. Overall, the meat was bright and deep. The barbacoa was also good, but the al pastor was better.

A couple bites in, the meat and rice started falling out the other side. It was a loosely rolled, hand-held burrito and I tried my best to keep it together with the wax paper but it was just filled too much. After 20% of the filling fell out, the remaining burrito regained structural integrity.

The tortilla was also extraordinary. It was flaky. You could tell it was homemade and that it had spent enough time on the griddle to gain some crunch and flavor and still be pliable enough to wrap around. There was a subtle amount of cheese that was melted and almost crunchy on the inside of the tortilla. I was very glad that I had not smothered this in green chile--if I had I would have lost the texture.

The weak point of this offering was the rice. It was mushy and lacked the color and flavor that I've come to expect.

I appreciate the salsa bar in theory, but of the three I tried, I didn't care for any of them. And without any salsa or crema, it was dry on the inside. If they had included a touch of the green chile on the inside, it would have helped.

As it stood, this burrito had some high points but wasn't quite as good as the best I've had.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
La Abeja 9.5
El Taco Veloz 9
Socorro's 8
El Tepehaun 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
Tacos Rapidos 7

For what it's worth, I thought the taco was good but I still preferred the burrito. The corn tortilla was small but griddled and full of flavor. It was much better than the grainy corn tortillas I usually hate.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Thirty-Two Million Dollar Man

After hearing rumors about a reboot of 1973's The Six Millon Dollar Man, I was curious what that would be worth today:

This of course is only a measure of the impressive-ness of the title and doesn't properly evaluate the actual cost of technology.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

USMNT wallpaper

Over the last week the USMNT crest has grown on me. At first I hated it. I've come to accept it's not terrible. Though I thought it would look better in a one-color version. So I made this, gave it a little texture. Done.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Faking Injuries in Soccer

I wrote about this in 2006 but it's still happening and drives me nuts.

In the 102nd minute of Costa Rica-Netherlands, the Dutch were controlling the ball in the attacking side of the field. All of a sudden the Costa Rican players started pointing to the other half of the field. The ref notices and then instructs a Dutch player to play the ball over the sidelines. A player in a white jersey was down on the pitch.

You know how this story ends. A trainer comes out and after a minute of standing around, the Costa Rican player is fine to stay in the game. Costa Rica takes the throw-in, and then plays the ball gently down toward the Dutch goalie. The end result for the viewer is a minute wasted and the Dutch were forced to sacrifice field position.

This may be Fair Play but it is not fair play.

- - -

I have two solutions.

Solution #1

This proposal is utterly simple. The ref is mandated not to instruct an attacking team to interrupt play. If a team takes possession and one of their players is down on the grass they have the opportunity to kick the ball out and sacrifice a possession or choose to attack with 10 men to see if their player just has the wind knocked out of him. This removes any instances where a team is expected to return the ball to the opposition.

Solution #2

This is the idea I floated in 2006. Teams without possession are given permission to request the ball out of play. For simplicity, I would require a player to notify the ref of the request. The caveat is that you request the ball to be played out, that player must be subbed out and you may not make a request if you are out of your three subs.

What we have now is a farce. It encourages players on a team without the ball to go down without any risk.

Improving the Avalanche Logo

I noted last summer that this logo would look better without the random black section. Here's proof. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

My Favorite Teams

Fandom is one of those things thought of as unchanging. And yet my fandom, in some cases, is rather fluid. Back in 2007, my list looked like this (yikes). In August 2011, I updated the list.

At that point, I had the Avalanche below the Illini, having just moved to Denver. By October 14, I was doing my homework, digging in to the team's lore. By November 2, I made this. And on November 6, I went to my first Avs game in person. Stastny scored the only goal for the team in the first minute.

Anyways, I recognize the risk of doing this right after a World Cup, but this is where I'm at.


I don't have a baseball team. I don't have an NBA team. But I'm solidly behind a NFL and NHL team, I've got college basketball and college football, and now a soccer team. Happy Independence Day. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Stastny vs Iginla

Stastny was a free agent who was signed for 28M over four years by the Blues.
Iginla was a free agent who was signed for 16M over three years by the Avs.

Here are their stats for the last four seasons (2012-2013 numbers are pro-rated to 82 games since it was a shortened lockout year)

Stastny Goals

Iginla Goals

Stastny Assists

Iginla Assists

Total Points in the last 4 years:
Stastny: 211
Iginla: 270

Yes, Iginla is 37 and Stastny is 28. But basing it on recent data only, it seems that Iginla should be able to at least match Stastny's production.

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:
La Abeja

This is the sixth installment of this series that I explained fully here.

Denver Burrito #6: La Abeja
508 E Colfax

"As a non-native Coloradan I didn't quite get the point of green chili until I had a carne asada burrito smothered in it from La Abeja." - Yelp Reviewer

After having the carne asada burrito smothered in green chile from La Abeja, I totally know what she means.

It's a place that I've driven by plenty of times without even noticing. You enter through a door that makes it seem like you're walking into an electronics shop.

Everything is in Spanish and even though the employees speak English I found myself using "arroz" and "frijoles." A subconscious effort to gain street cred. According to Yelp, everything is good. For me, between carne asada, carnitas, barbacoa and al pastor, it's a toss up. But carne asada seemed to be the most popular online and since I had carne asada yesterday, I figured it would be a good comparison.

This is the second time that I've been asked "smothered?" in such a thick accent that it's unintelligible. At best it sounds like "muda?" But this time I was prepared. Carne asada, smothered, arroz, no frijoles. The menu board looks the same as above, but some of the white pieces of paper have been replaced or updated. I believe my burrito was 7 bucks.

As an aside, La Abeja means The Bee, which makes no sense to me at all.

I sat down and within minutes was presented with a plate. The burrito had folded ends. It was indeed smothered and then topped with white cheese. Lettuce and a slice of tomato were on the side.

(As always none of these are my photos. Except for the lime, this is exactly how mine looked.)

The first bite was a wad of tortilla with a few grains of rice, a casualty of the folded end method. The next bite was all rice. This is the opening act, a preamble before you discover what the burrito actually has in store for you.

Sure enough inside, there are only two things: steak and rice. The steak is chopped finely, smaller pieces than you'd expect. The rice is well-colored and flavored. But the unquestioned star of the show is the green chile.

It is spicy. It is bold and rich. It's the best green chile I've ever had and singlehandedly explains and justifies the entire concept of smothering a burrito.

It's not too spicy. It's not there to ruin your day. But it is hot. It's a cumulative heat that grows. I'm thankful to have a glass of water that I finished in the five to ten minutes I was dining there.

After discovering the hero of the dish, I went back and tried to taste the rice and steak by itself. They were both flavorful in their own right, the meat perhaps not as good as some other places I've had, but still very good. The rice is basically a necessary addition for me. I wonder if I had asked El Tepehaun to add rice to their amazing adovada how much better it would have been. Though their green chile pales in comparison to La Abeja's.

The tortilla grew on me. At first I thought it was mediocre, but by the end there was nothing to criticize this tortilla over. If it were me, I would experiment with slightly griddling the finished burrito to give the tortilla a slight crunch and extra flavor, but perhaps it doesn't actually work with the smothering process. Or perhaps it's just tradition to serve a soft burrito.

I really enjoyed this burrito and I immediately starting thinking about a return trip. The carne asada was very good, but perhaps the barbacoa or pastor could be even better. As I was paying on my way out, I saw that they offer under extras, a side of crema for 50 cents. I think that sounds like a fantastic idea.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
La Abeja 9.5
Socorro's 8
El Tepehaun 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
Tacos Rapidos 7

Editor's Note: I just changed the score for El Tepehaun from a 7.5 to an 8. After tasting more, I realize their meat was truly amazing, and even if the rest of the components didn't stand out, it deserved a better score.

checking on my World Cup bracket: before quarterfinals

I made a bracket before the tournament. Not as a competitive thing, more so just to see how easy the World Cup is to predict.

Of the 16 teams I predicted to advance to the knockout round, I got 11 correct.

I was overconfident on Spain, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Bosnia as my sleeper for no reason.
I was underconfident on Chile, Nigeria, Algeria, Costa Rica and USA. (reverse homerism!)

Of the 8 teams I predicted to make it to the quarterfinals, I got 4 correct: Brazil, Columbia, Germany and Argentina. 3 of my final four are still alive (Spain the other).

On the bright side, the next four games all appear to be exciting. I think France-Germany and Brazil-Columbia could go either way and it's cool that they are regional rivals. The Netherlands and Argentina would seem to be the favorites in the other games, but you never know.

A Brazil-Argentina final would be the most interesting final possible and would cause a multitude of riots.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Until 2018...

Four years ago, this was how it ended. 

Yesterday Belgium dominated the match. Fifa's stats show US had possession 52-48, but for scoring attempts Belgium had 38. US only 14.

Tim Howard had a record 16 saves. The Belgian goalie, 4.

Belgium had chance after chance, in great space, and couldn't get it by Howard. Honestly, it seemed that most of them were not the best of finishes, mostly going right at Howard. There were a couple that Howard got just an inch of boot on, enough to redirect it. Moving forward it is worrisome how much our team was consistently outplayed and had to rely on superb goalkeeping.

After all that, right at the end of normal time, Wondolowski had a point blank chance at an open net and pushed it over. It happens.

And then in Extra Time, Belgium had two quick goals and it was all over. Might as well put in Julian Green, the 19-year-old who was often cited as someone who should have been left off the roster in favor of Donovan. Two minutes in, his first touch finds the back of the net.

And suddenly, after the game was all over, the US side unleashes their best attack yet. Ten minutes of pressure and excitement. Jones had a chance in front of the net and pushed it wide. Dempsey was on the receiving end of a brilliant set piece and should have, could have, sent the game to penalties.

In the end, Belgium got the win they deserved. But the last gasp of the Americans showed promise for the future.

I've been a fan of the World Cup since 1998. 2010 was really the first time that I got into the US team. (I really blew it in 2002) But now I'm in.

In July 2015, the USA will play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. (The US have won this 5 times, most recently in 2013.)

In June 2016, the USA will play in a special 100th anniversary (of CONMEBOL) tournament called the Copa Americao Centenario, hosted in the US, featuring the best teams from North America and South America.

In June 2017, there is the Fifa Confederations Cup. This is an 8-team tournament held a year prior to the World Cup, in the World Cup's location. This features the current champions of the 6 regions, the reigning World Cup holder, and the host nation. (For the record, in 2013 Spain was both the reigning World Cup holder (2010) and the champion of Europe (Euro 2012). As the runner-up of Euro 2012, Italy represented the European spot.) The CONCACAF spot is determined by a play-off game between the winners of the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cup. Since the USA won the 2013 contest, winning the 2015 Gold Cup would secure their spot in the Confederations Cup. (Also for the record, something I knew nothing about in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup, the US actually finished second at the 2009 Confederations Cup and had a 2-0 lead at half-time over Brazil, before losing 2-3. They beat Spain 2-0 in 2009, in the middle of Spain's run of three consecutive major trophies (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012).

And then of course in June 2018, the US will have another shot at the World Cup. Which is really the only trophy that matters for international teams. The US team will likely look much different and may not be prepared yet for a deep run. But based on recent success of advancing out of the group stages, I suspect that a deep run will be coming in the next 20 years. Perhaps 2022, perhaps 2026 when the US could be a potential host nation. It may not be coming soon, but I believe it is coming.
10 best World Cup goals so far

The Search for Denver's Best Burrito:

This is the fifth installment of this series that I explained fully here.

Denver Burrito #5: Socorro's
19 E Bayaud

This is a one-man operation where everything is made in sight. Just sitting there and watching him make the burrito before mine, and then mine, made me like this place.

According to Yelp, his name is Carlos. I'm honestly not sure if his last name is Socorro or if it was named after anybody at all. Google's translation of Socorro is relief, so it could be a metaphor of an oasis compared to all the other restaurant options. Perhaps he just liked the sound of it.

There's a total of six seats, three facing the counter, three facing the window. When I entered there were four people. The guy in front of me got a burrito to go and I believe it was the al pastor. That's what I was planning on ordering, but when I saw his, the pork seemed mushy. So I opted for the carne asada.

I took note that when finished, the burrito before mine was wrapped in foil and then grilled for 5-10 seconds. This was something that I had read on yelp and was excited, because I like the idea of a slight crunch on the exterior, though seeing that it was grilled with foil would lessen the impact.

All the burritos come with beans, rice and cheese inside. From there you have the option of chile inside, smothered, or deluxe which is smothered with cheese, tomato. Chile inside is a dollar extra, smothered two, and deluxe even more.

Interestingly, the al pastor plain was 3.99, the carne asada 5.99. A 50% markup for beef instead of pork? So with the chili inside mine was 6.99, which is totally fair. Yet I could see ordering a plain al pastor for 4 bucks as a great value.

It was fun to see my burrito made. First he microwaved the rice and steamed the tortilla. A good amount of green chile was the first layer. Then the carne asada. That was pre-cut and sitting in a container full of some sort of marinade. Then some shredded white cheese. Then the spanish rice. Carlos asked if it was for here or to go. I said here. That's when he placed my burrito on a plate and put it in the microwave before serving it to me. No grilling? So that's what I get for saying here, huh. Mistake on my part, but if I'm not getting it smothered, why not grill it and then put it on a plate?

This was a large tortilla rolled simply. It seemed perhaps a bit smaller than some of the others I've had, but not dramatically.

My first reaction was hot, in both senses of the word. It took me a little while to figure out what kind of hot we were really talking about. It was spicy but not unnecessarily so. Temperature-wise, it was hotter than it needed to be. The upside to the time in the microwave is that the cheese completely melted on the inside. Combined with the ultra-warm green chile, the insides were a melty, delicious mess that more resembled the inside of an enchilada.

The meat was once again fantastic and seems to be the most common differentiator between an authentic place and national chains. The rice was full of flavor and is a great addition. The green chile was spicy good and the cheese melted everything together. Each component delivered nicely.

The tortilla was solid but not remarkable. The simple roll with open ends meant no thick wads of tortilla at the edges, which is again appreciated. One drawback was that it felt a little skimpy on the meat.

I would happily go back and try the al pastor plain burrito to go for four bucks and see if the time on the grill makes a difference. For now, while I liked it quite a bit, I think this burrito is closer to the whole of the competition than the leader.

El Taco De Mexico 9.5
Socorro's 8
Chipotle 8
Bocaza 7.5
El Tepehaun 7.5
Tacos Rapidos 7

Denver Burrito Search: Chipotle Addendum

This doesn't count as one of the numbered reviews, but it is worth noting. Last week, on the way to a radio recording session, I stopped with co-workers to have a burrito at Chipotle. Though having many, many Chipotle burritos over the years, this was the first time since starting the burrito search.

Since I was getting it to go and wouldn't have the ability to add hot sauce, I tried the "hot" red salsa instead of my usual medium green salsa. I also selected the carnitas with fajita veggies, cilantro-lime rice, cheese and sour cream.

I was surprised at how not impressed I was. The biggest standout was by far how disappointing the carnitas were. Just dry and bland. I know I've liked them before but these were sub-par. Which raises a dilemma--for all other establishments my review of a single burrito is the same as my review of their restaurant. But for Chipotle, I have many data points to consider when assigning them a score.

The red salsa was hotter but I missed the flavor that the green salsa brings to the party. The other components were as good as I remembered. The tortilla, which I had always thought was their weak link, was not great, true to form.

In total, it's still a good burrito. But the flavor of the meat brings it down. Even though it was only one data point, it's enough to bring down my overall view of Chipotle's burritos from an 8.5 to an 8.