Hope your 2008 is as good as my 2007 was godawful. Better days coming, if I have anything to say about it.


Okay – maybe Joe Gibbs doesn’t know how to coach anymore. I can’t say for sure one way or the other. But he knows how to lead this team – and it looks like they had to completely crash out and hit rock bottom before they could start climbing back up. Since the brain-cramp against Buffalo that lost the game, the Redskins have not trailed. Today, Dallas went 0-11 on 3rd down and combined for one yard rushing. Read that last sentence again. ONE YARD.

Todd Collins is running this team better than any QB has since the Brad Johnson season in 1999. Guy sits as a backup for a decade and then, flip of a switch, rattles off four wins. Well done young old man. The defense has, amazingly, managed to gel even without Sean Taylor (RIP 21) and has put the wood to most everyone they’ve played in December (don’t forget, Buffalo did everything with field goals). And don’t look now, but at 9-7. the Redskins are off to the land of rain for a playoff game.

So…four years into The Return, Joe Gibbs has delivered two playoff appearances – and made the Dallas games competitive every year. During the years in the wilderness, you could write off the Cowboys as two losses almost every season. Playoffs every other year and beating the Pokes – you know, you could do a lot worse.

Maybe they had to have this whole tragedy to really come together as a team. Maybe you have to struggle through that kind of adversity to really become family. I don’t know, but this is manifestly not the same team that kept blowing 4th quarter leads in October and November. Something has changed – and if it carries over to 2008, watch out.



So yes, it’s true…

…I got another bloody cellphone. It’s not what you think – this was a Christmas present from my father-in-law, and although he never heard of it before my wife put a bug in his ear about it, he has since gone and ordered one of his own.

It’s the MOTOFONE F3 from Motorola, and if anything, it is the total opposite of the iPhone. In terms of functionality, it’s the perfect GSM phone…from 1996. It places calls, it receives calls, it does rudimentary text messaging (only stores the last 10 received, doesn’t store sent ones, no predictive text of any kind, etc etc), it has an alarm, and you can pick from 7 pre-installed ringers. And that’s IT. Okay, it also vibrates and has a simple phonebook and speakerphone mode, but that’s all. No color display, no auto date and time, no animated wallpapers or Bluetooth or video camera or touchscreen or GPS or anything like that.

What it does have is, for starters, an e-paper screen. This looks like an old black-and-white calculator-style 12-segment LCD display. However, it remains static without power. This means that at any given time, it maintains what is “written” on it like a sheet of paper and only draws power to change what is displayed – meaning that if you pull the battery out without turning the phone off, whatever was on screen STAYS THERE until you put the battery back in. In short, unless the screen is changing what’s displayed, it draws NO power. You can imagine what this does for battery life.

It also has TWO internal antennae, one at each end. This improves reception tremendously. Better reception means less power wasted trying to patch onto a signal or boosting the transmission power to compensate for a weaker signal – which, again, means better battery life.

No flip. No moving parts at all, really – the keypad is plastic with rubber accents, familiar to anyone who’s ever used the old Sinclair ZX-80. Not a lot of space for dust or moisture to get in. Only the one port for the charger.

You’ve probably guessed by now – this phone is geared toward the developing world. No text ever appears on screen; the menus are a short series of icons, backed up by voice prompts that the phone speaks in one of three languages (determined at manufacture and based on point of sale; mine speaks in Spanish, Portugese or English and is thus suitable for almost anywhere in North or South America. A Canadian model would probably substitute French in there; the one sold in the south of Germany speaks German, Italian or English; one sold in India could speak Gujarti and Hindi, etc etc). In short: you don’t even have to be able to read to use this phone.

As a side note, they’ve almost accidentally created the perfect phone for the elderly and technophobic – the display is clear and easy to read, the keys are plenty sizeable, and it tells you what you’re doing every step of the way. Which gives them an interesting selling option in the developed world, but that’s not the target here. The target is the kind of place where there’s never been wireline infrastructure, where chances to plug in may be few and far between, where your typical RAZR would probably be ruined in a day and a half. It’s the kind of phone that suddenly means ready access to market prices, or news from the next town over, or maybe quicker access to a doctor or police. And it goes for around $30, total – or whatever the equivalent is. (You can pick this thing up in London on a new pre-paid activation for NINE POUNDS.)

When Nokia sold their one-billionth phone, it wasn’t some slick megapixeled 3G Series 60 iPod killer, it was a bog-simple Nokia 1100 somewhere in Nigeria. For Motorola, it’s all well and good to sell the next re-hashed RAZR in America, but they’re looking at a world where one of every two people has a mobile phone, and thinking, “How do we sell one to the other fellow?”

So I have one now. It’s a backup phone, obviously. It’s also a neat technology demonstration. But mostly, it’s a memento mori for my high-tech career – the iPhone may change the face of the phone business in America, but an F3 is the sort of thing that could change the world – at ten cents on the dollar, at that. A new toy AND perspective – as Christmas presents go, that’s not bad.

Jiggity Jig

Home after a long trip home for Christmas. While it certainly had its moments, it’s also unbelievably excellent to be in my own bed, in my own car, with adequate cellular coverage and pervasive Wi-Fi and decent coffee available most anywhere. The old homeland is improving, slightly and slowly, but I’m not sure it’s worth waiting the extra 10 years for them to catch up to where I’ve lived in the last decade.
Two day workweek this week, with the extra day off for New Year’s next week. factor in MLK coming up and I only have one five-day workweek out of four or five weeks. Which is a good thing, I think.
Trip left me with a lot to think about. Not necessarily in a good way, either. Suffice it to say: stay out of the drama of Southern women if you value your quality of life.
However, I have a whole blog post about one of my presents (yes, it’s a phone, more on that later) but people who knew me back East will be amused at one of the gifts I got from my surrogate big sister: a t-shirt with a squirrel holding an enormous pair of acorns, captioned “Mine Are Bigger.” Goes very well with the old motto T-shirt.
And now, the countdown begins…

Christmas eve

As always, the lesson of Christmas back home is simple: keep yourself as far from the dealings of Southern women as possible. Otherwise it’s going OK…although thank God for friends with bonus post-Christmas parties. I think I’m going to need to decompress.

Well, would you look at that…

…there’s a small liberal-arts school, religious origin, high academics, successful in the lower levels of college athletics, joining the Big South and Division I – and it looks like a success.
Gee, where have we seen this before?
Here’s a hint, you men of Presbyterian College: whatever you do, don’t change school presidents. And if you do, find out first what is the new guy’s personal vision for “his” program. And make sure you’re in it.
You don’t want to end up like [ALMA MATER REDACTED.]

Before you lose your minds…

…remember that in 1988, Pat Robertson won the Iowa GOP caucus.

However, there was about a month between Iowa and New Hampshire back then. Might not me time to shift gears then. Also remember that South Carolina was set up as a firewall by Lee Atwater in the late 80s and early 90s to forestall an insurgency-type candidate…and that South Carolina is exactly the sort of state that might gravitate to a Southern governor with a strong religious streak.

Iowa wasn’t even on anyone’s radar until Jimmy Carter won there in 1976. And yet, from this one aberrant event, everyone’s built the caucus system into some sort of political Elector of Saxony. And now that everybody wants to matter, we’re going to rush through this thing like beer through a frat-boy, be done by Valentine’s Day, and then be stuck in general-election mode for the next NINE MONTHS.

This is no way to run a democracy, people. Most countries can blow through the WHOLE PROCESS in 60 days. May be time to take a look at the parliamentary system again (although APSA didn’t go that far in 1950 and the only implementation of their plans was by Newt Gingrich in 1995, with…varying degrees of success).

EDIT TO ADD: According to Novak’s column this morning, Huckabee was on the wrong side of the Southern Baptist revolution in 1980…which means he may not be able to count on the support of the various Baptist ayatollahs who run things in Nashville and Houston. Apparently the head of the SBC is a Fred Thompson man, which could just be a Tennessee thing…but this horse race isn’t even close to over, and there’s going to be a lot of glue made between here and the finish line.

Thoughts from under the coffeepot

* With no more college football, I’ve been forced to turn to Villa – Sunderland. Which I think already happened – this must be tape-delay, although I suppose they could have kicked off at 7 PM. If it were live I think they would be pitching the fact prominently.

* It’s good to know that I can count on Vanderbilt basketball to at least do SOMETHING right every year. Even when they miss the postseason altogether, you can still count on a winning season and at least two big home upsets, usually in conference. Last year, with the 5 straight wins over top-25 teams capped by beating #1 Florida? Magic. Getting to the Sweet 16 didn’t hurt either.

* It sounds like T-Mobile may be blocking Twitter. It could be a technical problem, I suppose, but if they really are blocking it…well, that’s insane. I mean, you’re getting a dime every time somebody sends or receives, why in the hell would you WANT to block it? Sadly, this is just a whiff of what you can expect once network neutrality is thrown out.

* It’s legit cold out here. That’s remarkable. I could actually wear my Celtic scarf on a regular basis this past week (and actually did, up in the city last Saturday). Now I just have to find a pub to wear it into. Unfortunately, the (WARNING: MAY CONTAIN PUB-LIKE SUBSTANCE) down the road doesn’t show enough of the soccer to really be a good pub option, but maybe once conference basketball cranks up I’ll be more amenable to strolling down there.

* What Mountain View needs is a downtown coffeehouse with actual couches and things. Actually, if you could take the old Xando at Ballston and plop it down in the 100 block of Castro Street, you’d be set. Coffee drinks, lunch snacks, full bar, comfy chairs. Now if you wanted to take the 4C’s from Court House and drop them in the same spot, I wouldn’t say no to that either.

* For the first time ever, the three branches of the modern Republican party all have a candidate of their own, and each candidate is unacceptable to the other two branches. By the way, in 30 days we’ll be done in both Iowa and New Hampshire. This is no bloody way to pick a President, and you can put that on a banner and fly it over FedEx Field on Sundays.

* It still doesn’t feel like Christmas, but I put that down to having been out of the country at Thanksgiving and missing the kickoff.

* What a free kick for Villa in the 74th minute. I honestly think that if you brought Martin O’Neill to Vandy and put him in charge of the football, we’d be in a bowl game in two years. The man is a coaching ass.

91-85, FINAL (OT)

Down by 7 with less than 2 minutes to play at DePaul – and Vandy comes back to win on the road and be the nation’s first team to 10 wins.



…you know =)