Mission Accomplished, again

So I didn’t post a whole hell of a lot this month. Part of it was football angst and not wanting to keep beating a dead horse. Part of it was down to Thanksgiving and a good bit of travel and company and the like. There were some parties, there was out-of-town dinner company from twenty years ago, there was babysitting (some) and church (on Thursdays?) and a lot of outerwear purchasing – after buying NO new outerwear for myself in 2005, 2006, 2007 or 2008, I’m up to 3 and counting in 2009, plus one or two as gifts.

But the big thing that ate up my free time was NaNoWriMo.

Yes, at long last, five years after first considering it, I knuckled down and churned out fifty THOUSAND words in thirty days. Now, in fairness, some of it was a rehash of stuff I’d thought up before, and a lot of it is thinly-veiled personal history, and things like characterization and plot went out the window in favor or raw narrative. It’s honestly not fit for consumption, which is kind of the point – the goal here was to get fifty thousand words out into the keyboard just to show that I could physically do the dump.

The next one will be a little more serious. Inasmuch as it was a pitch for “why I need a netbook,” it kind of fell flat – the 13″ Macbook is still the straw that stirs the drink for blogger and NaNoWriter alike.

A great finish, though. I’m glad I pulled it off, just like the old days – a wild finish, but I’m done before the office closes.

Conquer And Prevail

Vandy finishes at 2-10. Not pretty at all – the last time they were this bad was 2002, Bobby Johnson’s first year as coach – and at least then they had the potential of a freshman named Jay Cutler to hang their hopes on. This year, the injuries were just too much, and whatever idiot scheduled 12 straight weeks with no byes should be shot.

But Warren Norman wrote his name into the SEC record books, smashing Herschel Walker’s 30-year-old conference record for all-purpose yards by a freshman. The future has some promise.

More importantly, the Dores are shifting gears to basketball. And I was there Friday night, in beautiful Moraga, California, on the campus of St Mary’s College. Where the Gaels – West Coast Conference stalwarts and NCAA tournament threats – had only lost twice in the last three years. At first glance, you might dismiss their 3500-seat gym as a high school bandbox. But it’s LOUD and rowdy and the students are right on top of everything, and they’ll make you eat your assumptions. And you can run out to a 14-point lead in the second half, but you’ll escape with a 72-70 win and be happy to get away with it.

That’s a QUALITY victory when tournament time comes around. And with AJ Ogilvy and Brad Tinsley combining for 5 points, it’s good to know that guys like Jeffery “The 44 Killer” Taylor can fill it up. Also great was the fact that I attended with a LOT of Vandy alumni. Who knew that the Vanderbilt-Cal pairing was so common in this part of the world? A good time was had by all, if I do say so myself.

It was my first Vandy game in 12 years, and only my second or third college hoops game in as long. And I forgot how absolutely intoxicating it is – the roar of the crowd, the wail of the band, the indefatigable energy of the student section. I’ve said it over and over, but it bears repeating: football is for the alums. Basketball is for the students. And it’s AWESOME.

On to Maui!! WHO YA WIT!!!

In the cold light of midnight…

…the Pac-10 picture:

1) Oregon vs Oregon State. The nastiest rivalry in the Pac-10 has become the Pac-10 title game – winner goes to the Rose Bowl (OSU would have the head-to-head win with an identical record and give Stanford 2nd place on the tiebreak, while an Oregon win would give them sole possession of the championship) and send the Beavers for a Holiday in San Diego – and probably a wholesale disemboweling of whatever scrub from the “Big” 12* shows up.

2) Everything else is a complete clusterfuck. There are four teams with three losses – USC and Arizona have to play each other as well as their main rivals, Cal still has to go to Seattle and deal with Washington, and Stanford can do nothing but try to look good against Notre Dame and see how the tiebreakers shake out. Cal has the tiebreak advantage on all of those but USC, and it’s entirely possible that Cal, USC and Arizona could all end up 5-4 in the conference. At that point, it would depend on who beat who, and since USC beat Cal beat Arizona, if ‘Zona beats USC things officially go pear-shaped. If Arizona and UCLA BOTH beat the Trojans, they could fall clean into the Poinsettia Bowl.

If I had to guess, this is how I see it going:

1) Arizona runs the table, pounding a truly terrible Arizona State squad for the Territorial Cup before narrowly edging USC.

2) USC, surprising no one, puts the beatdown on UCLA.

3) The Huskies complete the defenestration of Wazzu in the Apple Cup, getting revenge for last year and turning the tables on their rivals as the most awful team in major college football.

4) Cal gets a narrow win at UW, thanks to two weeks to prepare and maybe a cameo trick play to backup RB Jahvid Best.

5) Stanford, their bowl destiny out of their hands and with no Roses to play for, mails it in against Notre Dame and scores a sloppy and uninspiring win. Talk of Harbaugh in South Bend drops to church mouse levels.

6) Oregon rides the sheer intimidation of Autzen Stadium to a close-fought win over the Beavers, and punches their ticket to take on that other OSU in Pasadena on New Years Day.

Which leaves us with:

1) Oregon (8-1) – ROSE

2) Oregon State (6-3, tiebreak over Cal and Stanford but not Arizona)- HOLIDAY

3) Cal (6-3, tiebreak over Stanford & Arizona but not Oregon State) – SUN

4) Arizona (6-3, tiebreak over Stanford but not Cal or Oregon State) – LAS VEGAS

5) Stanford (6-3, no tiebreaks) – EMERALD


I don’t know the tiebreaks up and down, but that’s my best guess. Do the math – that’s Oregon on 10-2 overall, followed by four – FOUR – teams with IDENTICAL records of 6-3 in the conference. And USC, darling of the media this last decade, winds up behind them all with a record of 8-4 but 5-4 in the conference, and finishes up in the lesser of the San Diego bowls.

The thing that has to make the Cardinal crazy – aside from losing the Ax for the seventh time in eight years – is that they are done. They have no more Pac-10 games left to play. Their conference season is through – and they could still wind up anywhere from second to fifth place, and they won’t know for two weeks.

If you don’t think the Pac-10 has swooped in and nicked the SEC’s title as toughest top-to-bottom conference in the country…you better Ax somebody.

* That conference is Tex-ass** and a bunch of spastics. When one of your divisions may not have a single team bowl eligible, you are a suck-tastic conference.

** Mack Brown can talk his way into a title game, but on the field, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Florida or Bama defenses wouldn’t eat the Horns alive.

Misson Accomplished

I can’t take any credit for this one. The wife was feeling sick and a bit dizzy, I was depleted, and I came to the realization: it’s not on me to win or lose this thing. For better or worse, it’s not my Axe.

So I gave it back to Cal to win or lose it, finished my mescal at the tailgate, and we headed home.

And Cal rewarded our faith with a 34-28 win and Shane Vereen’s heroic night.

I’m not going to go out there Monday morning and blow my cover. But I’m not above fetching a cheap shirt from the bookstore and marking it up to read “BEAT *BY* CAL.”


I could be wrong, except I’m not

Nailed it.

The Google Chrome OS is, as I predicted, essentially a Linux kernel running a web browser and just enough hardware support to run netbook-style hardware, with a bare-minimum of onboard storage (enough to hold the kernel and run Chrome + Gears, basically) and wireless networking.

Basically, it’s your own little portable Google. It is about as idiot-proof as it’s possible to make, with provisions for automatically downloading and reinstalling the OS to vanquish any sort of glitch or malware. Factor in the notion that Google can sell these things for the cost of hardware alone, less a small subsidy/discount for pushing people to the advertising, and it becomes clear: they’re going to sell a MILLION of these things.

There’s no chance this costs over $200 at point of purchase – in fact, very possibly less. I don’t see it needing more than 1 GB of RAM if it’s just running, in essence, a bunch of browser windows. And storage? Hell, 4 GB of flash drive memory would do, and you can get that free in your cereal box these days. Probably no Ethernet hardware either, maybe a USB port but not much more, no video out most likely…it’s being pitched as a second computer, a la a MacBook Air for an order of magnitude less money.

This ain’t hay, folks. This is a very different vision of how computing works. This is the cloud in its purest form, pushed by a company with the resources to do it and the spare cash to make it as cheap as possible for you.

Come on, practice saying it with me: “I for one welcome our new Google overlords, and would like to remind them that as a trusted blogger, I can be helpful in rounding up others to work in the pastry mines…”

It’s Midnight Cinderella

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

For years, Cal hovered right there in the second spot in the Pac-10. If only USC could be overcome, Cal could break through, make it to Pasadena. They were always in contention – hell, officially, they were Pac-10 co-champions in 2006. Everything seemed to be trending the right way. Then the wheels came off in 2007, and the team’s never been put right since.

Now the clock has finally struck 12. USC has done what it’s never done in the regular season under Pete Carroll – they’ve lost a game they had to win. In fact, they’ve done it two weeks out of three. They’ve had all manner of near misses in games they did win (Ohio State, Arizona State) and are currently in fourth place in the Pac-10, with all the tiebreaks against them. If the season ended tonight, they’d be ticketed for the Vegas or Emerald Bowls at best.

For years, people have been talking about the teams that were waiting in the wings to overtake the Trojans. Usually, the conversation came down to the Oregon schools and Cal. Well, right now, Oregon is in first place. But both Oregon schools beat Cal senseless – as did USC. And now, USC’s lost their second straight home game against Stanford – in fact, Stanford absolutely destroyed the Trojans. They have a tiebreak in the Pac-10, and only one conference game left, and Oregon and Arizona – the two teams ahead of the Cardinal – still have to play each other.

And where is Cal in all this?

In the last three seasons, Cal is 5 games over .500. They’ve split the Big Game the last two years (after five straight). They’ve taken a remarkable array of talent and radically underachieved, wasting talents like DeSean Jackson and Jahvid Best with unimaginative playcalling and unnecessary over-complex offensive design. Three offensive coordinators in as many years have produced a team that’s confused at best and ineffective at worst. Special teams have been neglected beyond all reason, resulting in kickoffs that go 20 years and the inability to take a confident field goal from outside the five yard line. And the offensive line, with a cockamamie pro-style series of sets and formations, has been ineffective at run-blocking and helpless in pass protection.

There’s no sign that this is a flash in the pan, either. Oregon has a first-year head coach. Jim Harbaugh is no longer a joke down on the Farm. Pete Carroll is struggling, but USC isn’t going anywhere. And Cal’s “quarterback guru” hasn’t produced a drafted QB since Aaron Rodgers, who left Berkeley five years ago.

Jeff Tedford has been coasting a long time on 2004, aided and abetted by the disaster that was Tom Holmoe and the memory of 1-10 in 2001. But it is no longer possible to avoid considering the possibility that 2004 and 2006 were the flukes, and Jeff Tedford is in essence a 7-8 win per year coach. The administration and fans of the Golden Bears are going to have to take a long, hard look at whether that is the case – and what, if true, they are prepared to do about it.

Because the clock’s struck midnight, and if you look at Cal, you can see clearly where the slipper’s been stuck.


So if I started off as a student, then became a political scientist, then changed classes and became a computer tech, then changed classes and became a blogger in addition to a tech, does that mean I’m actually now a bard?

(If you never played first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, take my word for it, all of what I just wrote was !-ing hysterical.)

Football wrap-up

* Florida won 27-3, but one touchdown came off an INT and another after a Vandy slip on a punt that gave the Gators the ball at the 13. Tebow got sacked four times, and Vandy’s starting QB – the backup, Adams – wasn’t sacked once. I think we’re a lot better than what we’ve shown this year, but that doesn’t mean much at 2-8.

* Jahvid Best has probably played his last game of the year after a godawful injury – he was knocked out cold to the point where they cut his jersey off and took him off the field immoblized, with a blanket for shock and an oxygen mask on. How bad was it? Fans from Oregon and USC were logging onto the Cal boards in real time to say how horrible it looked and that they were praying for #4. It looks like he has movement in all extremities, but the concussion – a much worse one than the one last week which wasn’t even caught until Monday – pretty much sticks a fork in his season, and by extension Cal’s. I wouldn’t be too sanguine about Big Game at this point, and I’m pretty sure the Washington game is a loser. Not much left to do at this point, but when the offseason arrives, it’s time for a serious long look at where the Cal football program is and where it’s headed, because the rest of the conference seems to have solved the puzzle.

* Bama has won the SEC West and will play in what is essentially the national championship semi-final against Florida. Better not overlook Mississippi State (I’m not worried about overlooking Auburn). I know I’ve gotten distant from the Crimson Tide in recent years, and it feels awfully bandwagon-ish to be going out in the red cap or the houndstooth now, when they’ve been the third team in the house for so long – but dammit, I just want to be associated with a winner. With Vandy coming back to earth, Cal falling apart, and the Redskins locked into permanent shit-the-bed mode, I just want somebody to give me at least an even shot at a W on weekends. Even Celtic is hitting the wall under Tony Mowbray. But I do have a longer history with Alabama than any other team in sports…

Just once before I die…

…I’d like to hear an argument against gay marriage that doesn’t boil down to “it’s against God” or “it’s icky.”

Except, you know, there isn’t one.

The reason we have a representative democracy, rather than a direct one, is because people are assholes. Anybody who says different is drunk on the milk of human kindness or else just not paying attention. And at some point, a higher authority – I’m thinking five or so people in DC – will have to make it abundantly clear that your rights under the law may not be curtailed by a 50% vote because some people think you are oogy.

And please, please, please spare me the sanctimonious retching about “states rights.” It’s amusing to me that states’ rights never come up when they want to go to the left of the national standard. When I hear “states’ rights”, my gun comes off safety all by itself.