Tuesday, April 22, 2008

LA Trip

I went out to LA this weekend for work. Unfortunately, it wasn't for performance-type work but for project management type work. Plus, the work was scheduled to take place from Saturday morning at 5am to Saturday afternoon at 5pm so I didn't even get to enjoy the weekend. That's why I make the medium bucks, right?

Anyway, my trip was not without incident. A few highlights:

-On the flight out to LA I sat in the middle seat between an old guy reading a book titled Explaining Christianity to Buddhists and a twenty-something girl who insisted upon curling into a ball in her seat and thrashing about for the entire flight. I didn't speak a word to either of them the entire flight and still managed to figure out that his final destination was Beijing, China and her final destination was Melbourne, Australia. That's some Monk-level detective work.

-My hotel room at the downtown LA Hilton was pretty freaking sweet. The bed was huge and they even offered to send Paris up to snuggle with me. I declined. After all, I'm married. I'm also allergic to penicillin.

-When I got into the office on Friday I had a pretty cool view of the city. I could see the "Hollywood" sign from where I sat and we were right next to the US Bank building.

-I woke up at 3:45am on Saturday morning to get ready for work. The sun was not yet up. I left the office at 1:00am Sunday morning. The sun was nowhere to be seen. Delightful.

-During those long hours, I heard a man say, "It's not the fall that hits you; it's the sudden stop that gets you going." Though I'm not sure he used a semicolon.

-Back in the office at 7am Sunday morning putting out fires. Not real fires. You know, solving issues. Left at 6:00pm which means that I didn't get to see much of LA. However, the conference room I was in overlooked Compton.

-After everything was done, we did manage to have a celebratory beer on the company. My company is named after an actual person, let's say it's Simon. When the manager picked up the tab he said, "This one is on Uncle Simon." Uncle Simon paid for all of my meals this weekend.

-The cab driver who drove me back to the airport was listening to Rush Limbaugh. When the cab driver asked me if "the radio was bothering me" I said, "No, just Rush Limbaugh." He said, "Okay," kept driving and left the radio as it was.

-As I was waiting to board my plane, they announced that the flight would be delayed because the pilot had to go home due to a "family emergency." I had a family emergency, too - I needed to go home to sex my wife, but no one was making any special concessions for me.

-I sat by a jovial Canadian couple on the flight home and was lucky enough to have the aisle seat. Unfortunately, there was a screaming child behind me who was only happy and quiet when he was allowed to roam the aisle and say hello to the rest of the passengers. I plugged in my headphones and watched The Great Debaters, a Harpo joint.

-The Great Debaters is just like Hoosiers, except the basketball teams are debate teams.

-The landing was unremarkable except for the fact that some guy managed to guide a 500,000 lb. hunk of metal that was falling out of the sky onto a concrete slab without incident.

-I arrived safely at home, exhausted from the weekend and from the trip. So tired that I wasn't even able to sex my wife.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Hated

Every sport has at least one team that is universally hated by everyone except the fans of that team. In some ways, this hate makes sense. Mostly, it's illogical. Anyway, here's how I feel about each of those hated teams and why.


MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

I should probably preface this section with the fact that baseball bores the shit out of me so there is really no team that I give a damn about either way.

New York Yankees

People often refer to the Yankees as The Evil Empire. These people are rarely fans. I rarely refer to the Yankees as The Evil Empire. Of course, I don't ever refer to them as The Awesome Empire, either. This is a team that fails to get me fired up one way or the other. Probably because I don't like baseball. At most I feel slight annoyance during the summer when the coverage of the Yankees-Red Sox series dominates the sports columns.

Boston Red Sox
This is a team that didn't garner much nation-wide hate until recently. In fact, most of the nation was actually rooting for the Red Sox to win the World Series in 2004. Suddenly, the tide reversed and the entire nation got sick of hearing about the Red Sox non-stop. Since then, they have become the second Evil Empire. Regardless, they annoy me in the exact same way the Yankees annoy me.


NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

New England Patriots
Just like their baseball counterpart the Patriots never earned much hatred until recently. In fact, I almost left them off the list. However, their recent run of Super Bowl Championships has made them the NFL's version of The Evil Empire. Especially since their coach got caught blatantly breaking the rules and not owning up to it. The reason I included the Pats on the list is because there were more people who enjoyed the fact that they lost the Super Bowl than there were people who enjoyed that the Giants won.

I didn't grow up having strong feelings either way about the Patriots. In fact, the Patriots were one of the few teams that the Colts had a consistent shot at beating when the Colts were terrible. Things have changed recently. The Colts became consistent winners at the same time the Patriots did. For the past few years, the Pats and Colts have been the two best teams in the AFC and the Pats usually get the best of the Colts in the duels that matter. That's why I hate the Pats. Until the whole cheating incident, I respected the fact that they seemed to with with effort and class. Now, I'm just disgusted by them.

Dallas Cowboys
America's Team. It takes a real arrogant bunch of SOBs to call themselves America's Team. They are from Texas, after all. America's Team is also hated by a lot of America. I never really cared much either way about the Cowboys and didn't know that anyone did until I met my college roommate from Philly. I then began to understand the hatred that people had for the Cowboys. Even though I lived with him for three years, the hatred never really rubbed off on me but it never pushed me to root for them, either. This is another team that fails to rile me up unless they're going head-to-head against the Colts.


NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Los Angeles Lakers
The NBA kinda has me stumped. It doesn't seem like there is one team that really stands out as the team to hate. If the NBA does have an Evil Empire it is probably the Lakers (or the Celtics, see below). Anyway, I'm not a Laker fan. Nor will I ever be.

Boston Celtics
They've won a ton of championships. That's usually enough to generate a ton of hate. That hate didn't find me. In fact, I kinda like the Celtics. Watching the Celtics reminds me of the days when my dad and I would watch the NBA playoffs and root for our favorite Indiana native, Larry Bird.

Don't get me wrong, I'll always choose the Pacers but I do have a soft spot for the Celtics.


COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Duke Blue Devils
Man, do people hate these guys. Hate, hate, hate. East coast fans, west coast fans, southern fans, midwestern fans. Everyone. In fact, I've only ever met one person who roots for Duke and he's a graduate. I understand, though I just can't muster up the proper hate. Sure, I get a kick out of it when they bomb out of the NCAA Tournament but I don't actively root for them to lose. If they were in the same conference as the Irish I would be more than happy to reign my hate down upon them, but it's just not worth the effort as it is.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
With the exception of the Yankees this may be the most hated team in America. The Irish are like a political candidate. When the press says something good about them it's because the media has a pro-Notre Dame bias. When the press says something bad about the Irish they take heat for reporting on a team that isn't relevant anymore. You hear the same condemnations about Notre Dame over and over. Notre Dame acts "holier than thou" when they are not. Notre Dame feels a sense of entitlement. Notre Dame gets invited to bowls undeservedly because they are Notre Dame. Charlie Weis is fat.

Or maybe I'm just a little too close to it.

I could try to defend my school. I could offer counter-points to each of those complaints. If I did, I would only be wasting my time because you've already made up your mind about Notre Dame. So have I.

GO IRISH!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hockey!

It's been a while since I've sat down to watch some hockey. Last night after I came home from a dinner with friends, I sat down and turned on ESPN2 to catch the second game of the Frozen Four - Notre Dame vs. Michigan.

Notre Dame was the last team in to the national hockey tournament this year and won two games in which they were major underdogs only to face off against the top-rated Michigan Wolverines in the Frozen Four. Needless to say, the Irish were underdogs again.

When I turned on the game, the second period had just begun and the Irish were up 3-0. I was shocked. I knew they had been playing well, but I certainly did not expect them to have built such a big lead. Of course, that quickly changed once I started watching. Michigan battled back to tie it up. I briefly contemplated turning off the TV because I assumed that I was responsible for the turnaround in Notre Dame's play. Thankfully, I did not. Late in the third period, the teams swapped goals again and it was 4-4 as they went to overtime.

The overtime period was frantic and fantastically fun to watch. It reminded me of the days back in college when all of my friends would get together to watch the NHL Playoffs. Best of all, it ended with the Irish scoring a hectic goal in the overtime to win. They will face Boston College in the championship game on Saturday. I'll be in Indianapolis for my brother's going away party but I'll try to tune in when I get a chance.

I think I've got hockey fever again. Good thing the NHL Playoffs are in full swing.

I never get a chance to see the Notre Dame hockey team play since college hockey is rarely shown on television. Thank God for ESPN2

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ZOMBIES!!!!

Do you like brains? Do you like beer? If so, then you should attend Chicago's 1st Annual Zombie Pub Crawl. Go to the website to get the details and register.

BRAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIINS!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Groceries

Dee and I went to get groceries tonight. We were smart enough to have dinner beforehand so that we weren't shopping on an empty stomach. We made a list and planned to stick to it. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of shopping on a no dessert stomach. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but Dee needs something sweet to top off her meals. It doesn't have to be anything big - often it's just a small piece of chocolate - but she does need it. Today we did not have that.

At the grocery store we stayed pretty close to our list, but I did leave her unattended a couple times. Once, her father called to ask about which computer he should buy and the other time I ran off to grab some pasta that we missed in the first aisle. In those two brief absences, Dee managed to grab some Oreos, two half gallons of ice cream and some chocolate Pirouline.

As we got to the register, I realized all of the goodies she had added to our cart. So did the guy at the register. The guy at the register also decided that he was Dave Letterman and decided to do a running commentary on the items we bought. The exchange went something like this:

Register Guy: Looks like you guys went shopping hungry.
Jeff: Nah, we just haven't been in a while.
RG: Well, I'm seein' ice cream, cookies...
Dee: We just like ice cream.
RG: Wow. That's some cheap salmon. Must be something wrong with it.
Jeff: (unsure) Ha.
RG: Yeah, good price. Sure you want it?
Dee: What did he say?
Jeff: Yeah, just bag it.
RG: Oh man, I'm coming over to your place.
Jeff: Just bring some beer.
RG: I'm not 21.
Jeff: Then you're not invited.
Girl Bagging: Oh, damn. That's cold.
RG: Man, that juice looks weird.
Jeff: It just needs a shake and it will be fine.
RG: That stuff is weird.
Jeff: It's just settled.
Dee: What are you talking about?
Jeff: Nothing
RG: You guys must like vegetables. That's a lot of peas.
Jeff: Yep. It's not all cookies and ice cream.
RG: But that's a lot of peas.
Jeff: You can't buy just one.
RG: Hey, look at this...
Jeff: Can we just wrap it up here? We need to get home.
RG: Right. Here we go.
Dee: What's going on?

As you can see, the last thing I needed was a smart-ass checking me out and making a comment about every little thing. I already had Dee sneaking in all sorts of bad-for-you treats so I was in no mood to deal with some twelve year old commenting on my grocery haul.

Or maybe I'm just a grumpy old man.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Work Confusion

We have a pretty cool little system at work that sends us an email whenever we receive a voice mail. This means that the email then shows up on our Blackberry. It is very helpful when we're traveling or we decide to cut out of the office at 2pm on a Friday.

Suddenly, this little system started sending me emails telling me that I had voice mail when I didn't actually have voice mail. Strange. What was up with this little system? Why would it make me rush back to the office from the bar only to discover that I don't actually have voice mail? I immediately called the tech guys that are in charge of the system and ordered them to get to the bottom of it.

Soon, I began to get random emails from people I didn't know. They addressed me as John and began to congratulate me on my new job. I headed to the company's online directory and discovered that we had hired a new employee named John Ford. I immediately understood what was going on.

At my company (now also, John Ford's company) the email convention is to use the first initial of the employee's first name and the employee's full last name followed by the infamous @, the company name and .com. For example, my email address is jford@mycompany.com. Obviously, everyone - including the guys who set up the email/voice mail system - assumed that John's email address was jford@mycompany.com. It obviously was not his email address. Therefore, I ended up learning about all of his voice mails. Plus, he had some industrious friends who decided to guess his email to send him congratulations. They guessed wrong. They sent their emails to me. Fortunately, the tech guys fixed the voice mail thing and I was able to remedy the erroneous friends with a couple quick emails of my own.

It looks like my hardships are now over and I'll be back to taking extra long lunches again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

NCAA Tournament

Payscale.com has an interesting take on the NCAA tournament here. Using this method, the Irish find their way to the National Championship game. Strangely, the final four on Payscale's bracket (Notre Dame, Stanford, Georgetown, Duke) is a final four that wouldn't be completely out of reason to pick in your pool.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The NBA

I just realized today that I have yet to see a single second of an NBA basketball game. Sure, I've seen highlights on ESPN while I've been working out in the gym but I've never seen any live action this season. There was a time when I was in high school (the Magic/Bird/Jordan years) that I would always be looking for the Pacers game. I would certainly never miss the playoffs. In fact, I remember being pissed that the whole OJ car chase thing happened during a Knicks-Pacers playoff game. I loved the NBA and I would have been a major reader of the NBA blogosphere had it existed at the time.

What happened?

I'm not sure. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the Pacers have gone from challenging for the NBA title to the bottom of the conference (I think - haven't checked the standings). I'm sure it doesn't help that there doesn't really seem to be any major rivalries between any of the teams in the league. Plus, there isn't really any one player that I really want to root for.

I've been perfectly happy without the NBA and I'm not sure I'll ever go back. Too bad I have no idea where to find hockey on TV.