Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A reporter. A good reporter. A good slow speaking reporter. A good slow speaking annoyingly dramatic by talking like this reporter. (Pat Collins)

Despite my distaste for local TV news, occasionally even I will lower myself and indulge in the latest goings-on of the metro DC area. Like any major market, DC has its share of beat reporters, silly anchor banter, and at least one story that's "a major scandal". Of reporters who work outside of the studio, many of them do a good job of gathering and telling the facts. There usually isn't much separating these reporters outside of their looks (the #1 reason why people get to bigger markets) and their job detailing a live breaking news story.

Almost all live on-camera reports follow the same path. Let's say there was a serious accident on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. The report will start with a live shot during which the reporter teases the story yet again (after the anchors have done so all day long in promos and their intro). Then the tape will roll consisting of two sound bytes from police officials, shots of flashing lights, cars driving on King street, and maybe an MOS (man on the street) interview about how dangerous the intersection has been the last few years. Then a shot back on-camera as the reporter decides it's time "throw things back to the studio."

I've noticed one regular reporter separates himself from the others.

Is it because he breaks stories? Nope, not that I've noticed or care to notice (since credit for breaking news is always given to the reporter on the story no matter their input).

Is it because the cameraman he works with gets great pictures in synch with his words? Nope, the shots during his report are nothing you can't find on the other major stations (though shots during Fox's weekend broadcasts would be greatly helped if someone used a tripod).

This reporter has a certain way of speaking. And in my humble opinion (it's my blog, so I can't be humble!), his manner of speaking is so slow that it's annoying. Of course I'm speaking of WRC/NBC-4's Pat Collins, who does a good job putting together any story, but that minor detail when he opens his mouth to actually talk, happens as fast as a 100-meter sprint through molasses.

I'm at the point where I refuse to view his pieces. I no longer even wait to hear, "Pat Collins is live on the scene." NBC-4 also has George Michael, and well that's enough reason for me to change the channel before I lose another second of my life that I won't get back.

Collins' speaking reminds me of a jack-in-the-box with a dial on the side that you turn to play a song before the big surprise when it's done. Of course, his jack-in-the-box dial needs so much WD-40 because it is turned so slowly that you've forgotten the last note that was played because it was so long ago. If you've never had the (cough) opportunity to listen to his reports, try this experiment. Have someone talk to you about anything, but they're only allowed to say one word every 7 seconds. Let me know if it's annoying. Talk about pulling teeth sans anesthesia. I've always felt life moved a 1/2-step slower here in the DC area compared to the pace of life in the city (that's NYC for you newbies), but this is ridiculous.

This Washington Post article gives you a nice idea of his reporting style. Here's an excerpt:

A dead girl. A mystery. And Pat Collins. Is there.

"Doreen, she was just 15 years old," begins the Channel 4 reporter. He's planted in front of the Prince George's County cop shop, wearing, for some reason, a baseball cap. "She lived in Fairfax County."


"She was found murdered" -- pause -- "in Prince George's County. She'd been missing for about 12 days. Now, she'd been having some problems in school. But no one" -- huge, hulking, super-dramatic pause -- "no one expected something like this."

Does he get his facts right? Sure, but as the Post wrote, "
There are the odd, somewhat theatrical rhythms of his delivery, which can, he admits, turn off some viewers." Well count me in as one of those turned off by his delivery. It's just too slow. Perhaps it's because I'm a product of the first generation brought up on the Internet so I expect information to reach me when I want it and how I want it - immediately. Collins' style does not comply with the immediacy expected from local TV news either.

The saddest thing? Here's the kicker (ahh, those TV terms haven't left my writing vernacular!), once TV station owners realized the amount of profit available in local TV news (thanks to incredibly low salaries for everyone off-camera, and lots of commercials, among the many factors), the bottom line for a TV news broadcast quickly became ratings while quality quickly dropped.

If Mary Jane's cousin was murdered, it would be nice if things like the story's facts, including such aspects as, oh, I don't know, Mary's account of who her cousin wasb fill the 90-second piece instead of imposing your own take on things. While a report about the latest crime shouldn't need any help keeping our interest, the sad truth is because local TV news looks, sounds, and feels the same, you've gotta differentiate yourself to please news directors and station managers. You'd be naive to think a story is ever allowed to stand on its own. Ever wonder why you don't exactly see the ugliest people as anchors?

As a grizzled, veteran DC reporter, his skills are not to be questioned. He can gather facts like other "reporters", but he just takes too long telling it to viewers. His style is overly-dramatic when the story should be what we notice and care about.

How do you increase ratings? Well there's the whole "tears, tots, tits" theory, along with "if it bleeds it leads" to get viewers. However, if the other 3 local TV stations have the same stories because they all listen to the same police scanners (as station exclusive stories aren't daily occurrences), you can only differentiate yourself by the person actually telling the story.

And that's why Collins has been filing reports for decades. For better or worse, he's a personality in a field and market lacking any.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

America's Problem Nobody Will Talk About

There's a problem in this country that nobody wants to talk about. It's part of each day that everyone faces, or better yet feels. There is a simple vaccine for this epidemic, but few want to change their ways because it has been all they've ever known. For some, it's awkward to even acknowledge, but everyone will have gone through it during their lifetime. It's time for a wakeup call and I'm just the person to do it. What is this easily curable plague that has made its way to every state of the union?

Too many Americans are going to sleep on uncomfortable bedsheets with low thread counts.

There, I said it and had to get it out there. Take a look at your sheets right now. If you've got 400 or more, this post will only serve as a reminder to your darker days, when you didn't know where to go for help nor how to stop yourself from going to bed on low quality sheets. The good news is there are many stores, both offline and on, that will gladly take your money to assist you. Try taking solace in my heartwarming and motivational story of today. It will help you see the wrong of your ways and the greatness that is before you with the right prescription.

I didn't do much with myself today and I'm proud to say that I'm not ashamed. In fact, I will use any opportunity I have to be a lazy hermit for the day. Sure I really have to go food shopping, visit the dry cleaners, file some papers, and make an appearance at the post office, but the reality is those can be done later this week.

I usually have enough motivation and energy to get errands done, let alone exercise, but I washed my light green bedsheets yesterday and put some fresh, clean, and soft light blue sheets on the bed. These super-soft sheets are my kryptonite to getting anything done. One of the best things in life is sleeping on a fresh set of sheets, and of course, my 400 thread count sheets from Linen's N' Things have this magnetic pull on me to which I will gladly succumb. Let me tell you (since it's my blog and I can) I couldn't wait to go to sleep.

When I wokeup, the softness of the sheets kept me in bed for about 2 hours until my stomach reminded me it was time for breakfast. I bumbled around the apartment the rest of today until I purposely made the mistake to go back to bed just as I was about to start exercising. To nobody's surprise, I took a little catnap for about 45 minutes and it felt great.

For the uninformed, a sheet's thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads in one square-inch of fabric. While some people argue the sheet's fabric and finish determine softness, manufacturers argue thread count is the key. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. No matter, my set of 400 threads has the feel I need.

These sheets are one of the best purchases I've ever made. Back in college, I had your familiar, average, and bland 200-250 thread count sheets. Thread counts say a lot about your age so everyone back then had sheets on the lower end. Being a (mature?) mid-20's member of society that I am, it was time for an upgrade so I went to 400 and haven't looked back. Compared to my current sheets, the ones back in college were sandpaper, and who wants to waste a day on those.

I am aware that there are much higher thread counts, though I'm just not ready for them at this point in my life. I mean, that's a big commitment that I just can't make right now. I really haven't had these sheets for too long and upgrading to even 600 threads would be too much to soon. You have to let things happen naturally. Yet in honor of full disclosure, I dream of the day when I'm at a point in my life for 1000 thread count sheets.

For now, 400 threads make me want to go to sleep or just stay in bed a little while longer. If you aren't up to 400 yet, please get help as soon as possible, you don't need to sleep uncomfortably anymore.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Cherry Blossom Festival Starts This Weekend

The start of spring only means one thing (well more than a few things, but I'm going for the dramatic angle here) in Washington D.C. - The annual blooming of the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin. I went two years ago for the first time and was amazed at how beautiful all of the trees looked as they lined the basin. It was surreal walking through the blossoms and being engulfed by them. Despite my allergies, it was well worth it.

I didn't make it back last year, but will definitely stop by during the peak bloom season. I'll see if I can remember to bring my camera for some pictures and try to control my hands from "borrowing" some blossoms from the trees. I'm glad to see they have fully recovered, letting me sleep better at night.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Headlights on when it rains is safer...who knew?

When I got up this morning and saw it raining outside my window I immediately thought of two things:

1. The commute this morning will be extra slow for safe defensive driving on wet roads

2. There will be idiotic drivers out there without their headlights on

Low and behold, wouldn't ya know it, surprise surprise, and any other phrase that fits, but there were people driving in a rainstorm without their lights on. I should have known the drive was going to be "interesting" as I got no less than 20 feet from my parking space when I was confronted with a driver sans headlights in my own parking lot! I stopped to flash my lights and even hand signal to him that he needed his lights on, but it was no use. He's Just another driver infinitely making things more unsafe in these conditions.

The beltway didn't fair much better as I was able to see 2 other cars without any lights on, despite the pour rain. I also saw a few people with only parking lights illuminated. While this is better than no lights, it really doesn't hold a candle (haha, anybody? hello? anybody out there?) to the real headlights.

The GW parkway part of the drive went quite smoothly with few of the normal backups I experience on a regular basis. Despite slower speeds, people kept their distance and things kept moving at a brisk pace. I'm sure this was due to the clouds overhead so that annoying sun couldn't do its famed sun glare action.

I don't understand why someone would drive in the rain without their headlights on. I swear it's one of the first things you learn when you drive. Wipers on, headlights on. A pretty simple concept that some people don't get that just keep putting the rest of us in danger.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Peace On Earth With Speed Walking Mall Lanes

Being able to have peace on earth sure sounds like a promising idea, but I should be honest, my innovative idea for mall walking probably won't have the impact this post's title suggests, but it got you to read this rather logical post so let's keep the momentum going while I have your attention.

While I enjoy malls like everyone else, I'm a fast shopper who knows whether or not I'm going to buy something at a store within a minute or two. Maybe it's a form of adult ADD, maybe it's because I grew up with 5 malls within a 20 minute drive. Whatever the reason, I don't enjoy a leisurely stroll through the mall and haven't really enjoyed looking at every piece of clothing on every rack. This really is because my sister takes her time when she shops by looking at everything on every rack.

I still have nightmares when I enter the mall thanks to the time my mom and I were at the GAP about 12 years ago when she not only got the salesperson to measure my waist with the tape measure, but yelled across the store asking if I found some jeans in my size. I guess this is like people who have a bad experience at a circus with clowns and are scared of them the rest of their lives.

No matter how long I'm in a mall, I inevitably (and literally) run into the same problem - Window Shopping Slow Walkers (WSSWs). I consider myself a walker closer to the fast side of the spectrum. While I'm no speedwalking champion, I tend to move faster than most pedestrian travelers. Of course, at a mall most people are taking their time with a leisurely stroll while they look at every store or just enjoy some AC and restrooms every 100 yards. The typical WSSW does not discriminate - they're men, women, children (the most dangerous), all ages, races, heights, and weights.

WSSWs are equal opportunity annoyances.

So if I'm in the Paramus Park Mall and have to make my way to Nordstrom's, I recognize my route will take me past some major stores like A&F, the GAP and even Banana. Major stores mean major WSSW clusters that increase the collision incident rate for someone like myself.

Paramus Park isn't the worst WSSW mall that I've visited - that dubious award goes to the Arundel Mills Mall that you can see below. It would seem that its circular layout and one-level construction would decrease the number of accidents because people would naturally move faster as they're on a continuous loop, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

As I begin my walk in this mall, I'm optimistic that things will go well with its wide open space for walking, even with the occasional vendor in the middle. But like so many things in life, you can do all the design and planning you want, but if you have the wrong people to execute, things won't go as planned. With many stores there are many WSSWs and the more WSSWs there are, the more children there are to create the greatest walking obstacle course possible.

Walking quickly in the mall means I have to swerve, say "excuse me", and kick, punch, and hurt j/k) my way through WSSWs. This works for most WSSWs since they recognize their slow walkingness (I can create words whenever I want!), but at the Arundel Mills Mall, the WSSWs tend to wander and not walk in a straight line, which means when I make my move to pass them, the open space that was once ahead of the WSSW, that I would essentially walk into upon passing, disappears because I did not and cannot account for their change of direction. Their direction change stems from their need to window shop and see every item in every window. They must think items for sale in a retailer's window is required for life, and to think all this time I thought it was oxygen - so much for that Biology 101 class.

Of course, when they've got children in tow, it's even tougher b/c children naturally can't stay straight, will run at odd moments, all the while stopping on a dime to stare at some bright lights coming from the latest cartoon character from Nickelodeon, Disney, PBS, etc. This is when I experience the greatest tripping incidence because my not to short 6'2" body has a high center of gravity and isn't the easiest to stop on a dime. Yet another reason I'm not the starting PG for the Knicks.

Since there is a dangerous concoction of WSSWs, their children, and faster walkers, I propose the following:

Mall corridors shall be divided into three walking lanes that exist in front of each store and travel (if you're facing the store) from the right to the left. The first lane and the closest one to the storefront is for WSSWs that want to window shop and take their time passing by, as well as those entering and exiting the store. This would act as the mall's continuous on/off ramp from a store, letting WSSWs rubberneck as they please.

The second lane is for anyone other than WSSWs such as myself who do not want to window shop and require an express lane of sorts to get to their store further down the mall. People traveling in this lane must maintain a minimum speed or else change lanes to the WSSW lane until they can get their speed back up to what it needs to be.

The third lane is reserved for the vendors that fill the middle of the corridor and give people a place to rest, etc. Due to modern mall design, a WSSW wanting to rest in the far left lane must find a quick opening to cross the express lane and rest, but it's no different than slow drivers in the right lane getting over to a left exit.

While enforcement isn't too difficult for these lanes thanks to undercover speed walking officers, most malls won't pay for such a service so users would just police themselves, including the right for fast walkers to do the aforementioned punch, kick, and hurt method of martial law enforcement. Things like the actual lane spacing vary for each mall, but I don't mind acting as a consultant for any mall ownership groups out there that want to increase revenue, keep shoppers happy, and improve traffic flow.

Did I overanalyze a problem few people recognize exists? Sure, so maybe you should just realize that when you're walking slow in the mall, try to do it closer to the store so when you abruptly stop, a faster walker isn't running you over because we're cool like that and have places to go, people to see, and things to do.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

You're telling me there's civilization south of the mixing bowl?

Today was the first day of what might be many for me as I explore the hiking trails in the MD/VA area. My friend and I went south of the mixing bowl in Virginia. It's the meeting point for 495 (DC Beltway), 95, and 395 (an interstate road running from DC to 495). We visited Leesylvania State Park for the relatively easy Lee's Woods 2-mile trail. It was a nice scenic walk with some Civil War relics, Lee family cemetery, and the remains of some old homes from back in the day.

After we started our drive around 4, we noticed a really bad accident on 95 north with a crushed car, a jack-knifed trailer that appeared to have been on fire, as well as a huge hole in the sound barrier. So yeah, it wasn't a pretty thing to see. We figured it would be cleared off the road by the time we made our return trip, but boy were we wrong. We almost got stuck on the HOV lanes going north, but "managed" to get on the on-ramp to the Potomac Mills Mall. The traffic report at this time said the backup was from Franconia all the way to the mall, and as much as I enjoy hanging out in my car wearing out the brakes for at least 10 miles, our stomachs had a different idea.

We scarfed down some IKEA manager's special meals and walked around the mall until things cleared on 95. It turned out really well for me since I brokedown and visited the Linen's N' Things and bought the cast-iron skillet I've needed and good-sized pot for some chili, chicken soup, etc. Believe it or not, I made it out there without any new bedsheets.

The area including the mall and its surrounding stores takes up a huge amount of space. It was my first visit there and still can't get over the amount of retail options. We walked the entire mall, but would have appreciated a circular mall like Arundel Mills so we could just make one nice big loop. No real complaints though except many of the major stores were outlets and not the real deal, but nevertheless, it would be easy to drop some cash there. And of course, wouldn't you know it, both malls are owned by the same managing group. It should be noted that the crowd's walking speed and lane changing went very smoothly compared to the Arundel Mills.

When we hit the road around 9, traffic flowed as if there was no accident except for the hole in the wall. My legs (and most importantly my right knee) aren't hurting now, but tomorrow morning will be the test as always. Ultimate may not happen tomorrow with all of the college hoops on, but I've been stubborn before about my knee.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The sun's got an upset stomach, the Ring 2, and my final four

Well, according to one of the blog's frequent visitors, there are some great shots of the sun getting all upset over nothing again and has let out some sunspots, etc. One of them "soared some 240,000 km high, 20 times the diameter of Earth." I'm not Mr. Wizard, but if you'd like more info, etc, checkout

I'll be catching the Ring Two tomorrow night. I hope it comes close to the first one which was an excellent scary movie. I'm going to a 10 pm showing since the 12:30 showing might mess up any sleep I was looking forward to after a really long week. Well that, and I need to save some energy to watch basketball all this weekend.

For what it's worth, here is my final four:

Illinois will beat Wake, and UNC will beat Syracuse, with Illinois winning it all. Of course, this just means the opposite will happen, but it's fun to dream. As long as Duke doesn't win it all, I'll be a happy man.

I just saw an ad for John Basedow and man is he annoying, a post is definitely in order for this faux fitness celebrity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Last night's dinner is always a treat. Imagine a place where you can choose to eat anything you want, in any amount, whenever you want (for $12.95). Yes my friends, the invention of the buffet is quite a great thing and is available in its highest form at the Fortune Star Buffet. Washington D.C.'s largest Chinese buffet is located off Nicholson road, as is self-described as an "All You Can Eat International Gourmet Food Emporium."

All you can eat...oh yeah, it's true.

International...China and the U.S., yep. Maybe single-handedly saving the relationship.

Gourmet...well, most of the dishes are tasty, but to be honest, not all of the options are winners. See: crab legs, some of the tuna sushi, and all of the cake squares. Other than that, you can't go wrong with a plate of chocolate pudding, lo mein, pork-fried rice, and some sushi (with extra wasabi). The peaches and pineapple slices are always fresh, not to mention the spectacular Chinese donuts.

Food...not only does this buffet actually have food, but it also has unlimited drinks. Mmmmm...chinese tea.

Emporium...well, it's not really necessary to add this to its description, but from what I've tasted, they can add whatever they want.

The reason for the buffet visit was a real hankering for some chocolate pudding. I just needed the chocolate pudding (since the Baked Cheetos already had their day in the sun). I worked my way from a bowl of soup to some sushi, to lo mein, to chicken and brocoli, and on and on. Of course, though I felt full, I split a plate of chocolate and vanilla pudding, with some jello on the side with my lucky co-eater.

I knew from the start that this wouldn't be much of a food review since I don't have the best vocabulary to describe food (because I've never done it before), but just know that if you live in the area or anywhere that the Internet is available, find a way to the Fortune Star Buffet and you won't regret it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

An Ode To Baked Cheetos

Well, this isn't so much an ode as it is really just generic literature about the greatness of Baked Cheetos. I just thought this post would come across as something of a literary masterpiece by saying it's "An Ode To...". When you hear something called an ode, it just sounds better than "Why I Love Baked Cheetos." I guess by explaining all this, it has really taken whatever advantage the real title has given me, but I digress.

On a whim and a recommendation from a friend, I bought a bag and well, let's just say the taste is pretty much there, but has half the fat. The back of the bag says it has 5 grams of fat per serving instead of the regular amount of 10 grams. Whatever I guess since it tastes the same. Of course, knowing me, if the healthy version of something has half as many grams of fat as the normal version, that really just means I can eat twice as much and that's just what I did last night. I finally cracked open the bag and trust me it wasn't pretty, but it sure was good and I've got the orange fingers to prove it.

If you haven't heard of or seen this delicious snack, take a look here. I'm not sure who had the time to do this web site (maybe the snackfood industry), but it gives recaps of tons of snack food items. Apparently there are baked versions of several Frito-Lay chips. I'm excited to try the Baked Cooler Ranch Dorritos. I'm not a huge snackfood person, but like many of us, I go through phases where I just can't get enough of one snack or another.

For example, during my 4-hour drive home, sometimes I'll get a need for a small bag of Dispy Doodles. I haven't really seen them down in the mid-atlantic area all that much, but they sure are good. Like the review suggests, they taste like Fritos, but don't really taste as salty so your mouth can handle the taste over and over again, in other words, you can easily finish an entire bag without much trouble.

One of the greatest snacks is a bag of Chedder Chex Mix. It really might just be the best snackfood out there right now. There are several snacks in the top 10, but none deserve a post all to itself as much as Chedder Chex Mix. Well, that's not really true, but I gotta run so I'll write about it another time.

For the rest of my blog that is full of rants, raves, and attempts at humor, its current address is:

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Would It Kill You To Walk 10 More Feet?

I'm ignoring what didn't happen for the MD basketball team tonight until I can compose myself and my thoughts. (haha, get it? Compose, just like I compose here...ok, so it's not funny).

So I was in Silver Spring this weekend at one of the strip malls in the area and parked my car about 4 rows of cars away from the store I was visiting. In other words, my car faced another car and then there was another set of cars facing each other before I'd reach the store. I was feeling energetic as I needed the exercise and just took the first spot I saw since there wasn't much to gain from parking any closer, and it's not like I was in any sort of rush on a Saturday morning.

I got back in my car and took a little bit of time starting it up because I had to arrange some items in the back seat before I left. When I started to do this, I noticed a car waiting for me to leave my parking spot. I actually started to laugh at the rediculousness (that's a fun word to say and write) of this whole situation.

It was early Saturday morning which means 2/3 of the parking lot was virtually empty!

So this driver waited about a minute or so for my spot, when she could have just taken one in the row behind me. Sure, maybe she had a problem walking the extra 10 feet any of the 20 other spots would have required her to do, but come on! It wasn't raining outside or anything like that.

There are obvious times when you should try to park as close as possible, like when it's raining, or you're picking up a box from IKEA, but even then you can drive up to the door for a few minutes. Actually, outside of poor weather and any health reasons, when is it actually worth it to park an entire row closer to the door? One row isn't worth it, but certainly if you see a spot become available at least five rows closer, than wait as long as you'd like for the spot.

I doubt it would have changed much for her to park somewhere else. In fact, if she had taken one of the spots in the row behind me, she would have been out of her car and halfway to any of the stores by the time I drove out of my spot. It doesn't bother me so much that she waited for my spot, but the next time you see an open spot, it's a better move to park there and start walking than wait for a spot that's a few feet closer.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Oh I know, Let Me Walk Behind The Van As It Backs Out

So I was just at the Chipotle in Rockville since I don't feel like making dinner out of the scraps of stuff I have here. I had parked my car next to this large van, ya know, one of those that seats 8 people or so. No problems so far, until I was walking back to my car. As I approached my car, the van was pulling out so I kindly waited for the driver to finish backing the van out of the parking spot and going on her way so I could do the same.

Well wouldn't you know it, but while this huge van is backing out of its spot and essentially blocking any path around it since it is has to use all of its alloted space to back all the way out, this woman decides that that is the best time to walk BEHIND THE VAN!

Hey lady! Are you crazy? Are you in such a rush that you have to get by this multi-ton van and buy your new coffee maker from Linens' N' Things? I mean really, did she think the van wouldn't hurt her if it kept going its way?

It's not like she could have missed the van since she looked right at its white reverse lights on. Fortunately, she was able to sneek behind the van without any harm, but I mean come on! Sure, I've walked behind a sedan or two as it's backing out, but only when there's plenty of room and the car hasn't pulled all the way out yet. This van was huge so thank the person upstairs that she wasn't hurt b/c that wouldn't have been a good scene.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Would you like a blister with that fireplace?

So last night I decided I would burn some of the remaining firewood in the apartment as winter will eventually end one of these days and I'm busy tonight and tomorrow night so there won't be much chance to get rid of the wood. The fire started pretty well as I created a triangle formed with a duraflame log at the bottom with two logs forming the arches, with some smaller pieces inside. Quite frankly, I must say I did a good job setting things up.

The duraflame log starting doing its thing and the rest of the fire was going well, until I decided it was time to add two more pieces to keep the fire going. About 40 minutes into the fire, it sparked a bit, but I didn't think much of it since the apartment didn't catch on fire. So I figured I had nothing to worry about when I began walking with the new wood. Well I stepped down with my left foot and suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left toe, second from the left.

I figured it was just a splinter so I looked at the toe and didn't see a splinter at all, it was even better, it was a 1-inch by 1-inch piece of charred wood that was still very very hot. So hot in fact that a blister began to develop in my toe. I immediately put an ice cube on the toe which seemed to help for a few minutes. However, the pain started to come back so I made a mini-bath for the toe to cool things off and stop the pain.

Eventually the blister formed and filled with all that good stuff inside and well, as of this morning my toe hurts when I put pressure on it, but at least I took care of the blister last night and learned a valuable lesson.

Don't step on smoldering pieces of wood.

The door's not shut yet, but... sure is close. If Va. Tech loses today, MD can still hope they'll earn a seed in the NCAA tournament, but it's hard to put them in the way they've played in their last few games. Since beating Duke, their last win was a double-OT squeaker against Virginia. After Duke they lost at NC State, then beat Virginia, then lost at home vs. clemson, vs. UNC, at Va. Tech, and now again vs. Clemson. It sure doesn't sound like a tournament team to me. MD's saving grace is its Strength of Schedule ranking of 10th, and and MPI of 58, but I don't think that that's enough, even with some other bubble teams losing yesterday.

I read on a MD message board that Gilchrist said in an interview that he's aware that some things he did had a negative affect on the team. When his head is in the game, he's a really good player, so let's hope that he decides to return next year with the recognition that he's expected to lead the team by example and not help with its demise.

Some of you have asked about my well-being with the team playing as it has. Thanks for your concern, but I'm holding up well because I'm not surprised by this team's disappointing play. I think it will hurt when the tourney takes place and MD's not playing. Since I've really followed the team, they've always made the NCAA's. It had to end sometime, but I just didn't see it happening this year at all.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

At least they'll play to be the 66th best team in the country

I can't say I'm shocked with today's loss since the team has proven it knows how to lose games it should win. I didn't watch the game, but read a few recaps so I can't say too much about what went on. Blaming it on the loss of Gilchrist isn't the answer since Clemson beat UMD twice already with a full squad. It comes down to these guys not playing as a team instead of individuals. Defense doesn't happen because of one guy, but everyone helping out and playing hard. Losing DJ Strawberry did hurt the team this year b/c of his defense and enthusiasm off the bench, but that's not why this team didn't do well this year. I think the loss of Jamar Smith hurt this team more than people want to recognize. While he never seemed incredibly vocal about leading the team, he put up some strong numbers inside that the team lacks this year.

If the team makes the NCAA tournament, it's hard to see them going further than the second round. However, there's still a part of me that thinks of them when they play "their game" and beat Duke twice and just missed upsetting UNC at MD. Unfortunately this team usually plays to its level of competition, or as in the case of anyone but Duke, the level of competition is somehow too high for them to overcome.

Show Up or Go Home

In about 4 hours, MD will play Clemson up the street at the MCI center. A lot of these bracket people think a win would guarentee the team a spot, albeit pretty low, in the NCAA tournament. If the players know they have to win this game they will pull it off. Of course, should they lose today, they should be embarrassed to lose to one of the league's worst teams three times this year. Sure they beat Duke twice and they have had the 13th most difficult schedule, but their losses are just sad. Getting swept by NC State and Clemson during the regular season should cancel those wins over Duke. Let's see if the team hold clemson closer to its points per game average of around 70 then their two previous meetings. I'll check back in after the game.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Skippy Peanut Butter is to Scorched Earth, as Pants are to the South

If you feel the need to email me about this post, I've added a link to the right for your enjoyment. Otherwise, just email me here.

I hope you appreciate my SAT analogy for the title of this post. If you don't understand the relationship, you sure will once you read the post.

I'm not sure why this is my first consecutive post about cleaning clothes since it's far from any of my favorite activities and everyone knows I'm not the best at it, but after having some peanut butter on celery and somehow getting PB on my slacks as I always do, it got me wondering if I'm the only person out there who always makes some sort of stain on the same clothes no matter where I am or what I'm eating/drinking with those clothes on.

I have this one pair of navy blue slacks that I'll wear to work. Now each day I usually have a mid-morning snack of PB and celery or something light along that line, and without fail these pants and only these pants show everyone what part of the PB didn't get into my mouth. Maybe it's the color of the pants, maybe it's because I've been eating Skippy brand PB for a year or so after enjoying JIF for a long time. Who knows? Not to get too graphic, but you're mature enough now to handle this type of literature - The pants will always show a white patch or two from the peanut butter.

Where do these patches come from? I'm not using my pants as a napkin and I eat over my desk so it gets all the crumbs and nastiness that comes from the peanut butter. After finishing my snack and cleaning everything off, I will walk to the kitchen down the hall to wash the knife and my hands, only to look down and see the unstoppable PB marks. Adding some water to the patches doesn't make them as obvious for the rest of the day, but the pants usually take an emergency trip to the dry cleaners.

I can't be the only person who has this happen to them. In fact, some of my friends always get coffee on themselves anytime they wear any sort of white clothing. No matter the time, no matter the place, if my friends are wearing white, some amount of coffee will find its way onto their clothes.

I've been told to look into some of those stainguard Dockers pants and other brands out there, but I don't believe they can stop the PB from leaving a path of destruction everytime I open the jar and wear navy blue slacks.

Mid-morning PB is General Sherman's Scorched Earth with my pants playing the part of the South.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Where do all the socks hangout?

I was really confident I was going to take out as many pairs of socks as I put into the dryer this time around. I just had a good feeling that this was going to be the time it happened. The same number of socks in - the same number of socks out. There would be two loads this time. Thanks to a chart my mom devised for me during my freshman year in college, I don't mix the whites and darks, so when a load was washed and ready for the dryer, the white socks were going to dry with the whites they were washed with and the dark socks were drying with their dark clothes counterparts. I recognize I could have separated all of the socks so they'd dry on their own, but where's the fun and challenge in that? Plus, if they all came out together in their own load, it would be a tainted record with an asterisk. I'd be the Roger Maris of drying. Sure the record would have been set, but at what cost? What about the children?

I can understand why Jerry Seinfeld thinks socks use their time in the dryer to escape. Socks don't really have a great life. They surround smelly feet all day and are sacrificed so our feet don't touch the inside of our shoes or walk on the floor of our homes. Worse yet, socks are used for cleaning many surfaces and have been used for waxing cars. I don't blame socks for trying to get away in the dryer duct, but I do regularly clean mine and only use them as a barrier from my shoes. Their cotton makeup could have easily been used for someone's delicates - a much worse predicament than being in a pair of shoes.

The first load was my whites. After completing a perfect transition directly from the washer to the dryer and adding a sheet of Bounce, everything was ready to go. Nervously I set the dial and away they went. Rumbling, bumbling, stumbling around while a blast of hot air permeated them to their ultimate destination - complete dryness nirvana.

Meanwhile, back at the washer (that sits below the dryer), I began my dark load. Now here's the kicker, I never made sure I actually put an equal number of socks in this load, but assumed I always wore two pairs of socks that matched during the week, of course, stranger things have happened. Anyway, 40 minutes later the dryer was done with the whites. They smelled April fresh (or at least that's what the label says April freshness smells like), and they were totally dry.

Without hesitation, I removed the clothes from the dryer and placed them in the laundry basket for the important 15 foot walk to my room. This is a crucial part of the process as hanging socks (or chads) may fall by the wayside, never to be claimed and found again. After setting the basket down on the floor, I deftly placed the newly-cleaned darks right into the dryer with the same skill I had previously shown with the whites. Before they could run away, I smoothly moved them to the dryer. I then began the delicate process of checking out the white socks.

One pair matches, two pairs match, three pairs match...on and on it went like that until finally the last pair of white socks matched and were placed in the sock drawer. I had no expectation that my socks would work so well. Of course, this got me thinking, what if, by some miracle, the dark socks would match as well? Would anyone believe me? It would be the first time in history. Would I be famous? Would I get my own reality show on the yet-to-be-created all-clothing channel? Or what about the laundry channel?

45 minutes later, the dark clothes were dry and also had that great April fresh scent we've all been told to love. After meticulously placing the clothes into the basket and walking back to my room under extremely tight security, it was time for the second-half of the dream wash.

The first 4 pairs of dark socks matched and I started to get nervously excited. Would the last three complete the dream wash cycle or end like every other load every washed in the history of the world - with the one sock that got away to freedom. And then it happened, the three socks each missed their replica partner. One brown sock, one navy blue sock, and one black sock. In a desperate attempt, I decided to look around at the miscellaneous socks that make their way to the living room and some crevaces in the apartment. I found what would be a matching black sock on the floor over the stair banister, which means it fell during transport of another wash a week or so ago. I found a brown sock that did not make it into the original wash underneath my desk (thereby eliminating any pure record that I would set if the last sock matched up).

After looking around my room and the apartment for what must have been about 4 minutes, I gave up on the navy blue sock and took my loss just like we all have. It was another sock gone and another pair that'll be bought this weekend to replace it. So while the socks didn't match this time, I sure came close and won't give up until all the socks that enter the dryer, come out together. I think it's a conspiracy by the lobbying group the Sockmakers of America have with dryer manufacturers to allow one sock to escape each load so more and more socks must be bought.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

My Right Knee, Iron Chef America, and a Great Movie

I know, I know, that headline is so creative and intriguing that you just have to read what I'm about to write, or you could go about your life without reading it and be better off.

I played ultimate (albeit poorly as always) for 45 minutes, heeding the advice of my orthopedist and my mom. And what do you know, but my knee isn't hurting as badly as it was last Sunday, but if we learned anything, it's that the real test is tomorrow. I'm confident it'll go better than last time.

I just watched "Friday Night Lights" and think it's one of the best sports movies I've ever seen. The plot moved along, there was great acting, and the make or break point of any movie - the action play scenes were incredibly real. If you want a real review of it, I usually agree with the Post's take on a movie. Here's is the great review when the movie premiered. Sure, it's not on Chupper's movie reviewing level, but it does a good job.

On another random note, a great Washington D.C. forecasting blog is

I'm watching "Iron Chef America" and it's just a great show. It really gets me thinking about possible dishes I could make, but it also makes me realize my meals leave a lot to be desired. No matter, I'll continue dreaming of great meals everynight in a vain attempt to match Morimoto and Bobby Flay. The reality is my meals won't change, but for an hour it's fun to think I'll be inspired to change my ways. And for the record, I am the Champion Shake N' Bake Chef...let's see them use that as a secret ingredient!

Chuck Thompson Suffers Serious Stroke

Edited at 8:40 PM: Thompson has passed away. The Baltimore Sun also has a photo gallery of him.

The voice of many an Oriole and Colt game, Chuck Thompson suffered a life-threatening stroke on Saturday night.

Sure I love the jersey, but I hate the team.

Could this MD basketball team be anymore annoying to watch? They've disappointed on so many occassions this year that if the NCAA tourney committee sees beyond their sweep of Duke, the Terps are in a lot of trouble, and rightly so. Sweeping Duke sure is nice, but then getting swept by Clemson? The worst team in the conference (at the time)? That's uncalled for. 11 straight years making the tournament is surely in trouble this time around.

These guys were the first class after everyone from the championship team left so the thinking was they'd make the sweet 16 last year, then maybe crack the elite 8 this year, and get back that far again next year and with some good luck, make it to the final four. So what happened? Well as of last week or so, the team was in the country's top 10 in points per game , yet ranked around 250th in PPG defense. Worse yet, they were last in the conference in scoring defense. Against clemson, the terps let up around 96 points (I'm too frustrated to lookup the exact number) and guess what Clemson AVERAGES for the season? Only a mere 26 points under that total!

When you watch them play, they seem to have the mentality that they will simply outscore the other team everytime their torn up the other team's offense. These kids have to take some pride in their defense. Instead of thinking they'll just get those 2 points back on the other end, how about not putting yourself in that position in the first place?

Also, would it kill these guys to pass the ball more than twice on at least a few possessions each game? Gary's offense calls for a lot of movement and passes, but these guys just don't seem to pass well enough to make things work. You can't say the team lacks chemistry because this is their second year together (albeit after losing Jamar Smith) and they will be together (gasp!) next year as well. Is Gary to blame? Sure, these are his guys, but I doubt he tells his players to shoot no matter who's open and not to take any pride in playing hard on defense.

Sure they held their own versus UNC, but with 20 seconds to go and the score tied, UNC's Raymond Felton drove down the left side of the lane (through the heart of any team) and had an uncontest layup. Where was the rotation? The help defense? Oh that's right, these guys don't know how that works. UNC didn't even have its leading scorer, Rashad McCants, playing this time around.

The kids are 7-9 and in 8th place as the ACC wraps up its regular season today. All the "experts" suggest a win in the ACC tourney would assure the team a place in the NCAA tournament.

Let's just hope it's as simple as that, but it's probably too much to ask from this team.

Sure I love the jersey, but I hate the team.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Anyone else feel like the sun has too much power?

What is up with the sun? I mean really, am I the only one who thinks it has been on this epic power trip for too long? Sure it heats the earth, helps with photosynthesis, gives some people nice tans or makes them look like lobsters, is incredibly crucial in the water cycle, the cycle of life, and many other cycles like bicycles and unicycles. But what else does it do for us? We're trapped in its gravitational pull and we have no say about that. What if we wanted to take a weekend trip to another solar system or galaxy? There's no vacation time allotted for that. It controls our daily activities, when we go to sleep, and even what we wear thanks to its weather control. Maybe earth needs to take a sabbatical to get away from that huge star and just see what else is out there. It can't hurt right? One of the best ways to find out how important something is to you is to take a break and see if you miss it. Where's the harm in that?

The sun hasn't always been so nice to us anyway. What about those solar flares that interrupt your cable and satellite TV? Does the sun ever apologize for making me miss reruns of Saved by the Bell (SBTB) in 10 second intervals? No! Of course it NEVER interrupts SBTB the New Class reruns. If that happened, I would never have to write a column as ridiculous as this one. Stupid sun.

Don't forget everyone's favorite driving challenge - Sun Glare. Since we've agreed to work on the sun's timetable everyday, could it at least not shine so brightly while we're driving to and from work? Look, we're following your lead, so the least you could do is make our drive a little safer by not blinding us. We know you're there and acknowledge your presence all the time, but when we drive, can you just turn the wattage down a bit?

We're not the only ones with a right to complain about the sun. What about the dinosaurs? The sun didn't exactly stop a huge rock from hitting Mexico that blanketed the atmosphere with dust and dirt and killed all of them. Sure, I know what you're saying, if we have no sunlight, we'll die just like the dinosaurs. Well, that's a very valid point, but we just have to create an alternate light source that does all of the sun's good things for us and then we can checkout the rest of space.

Am I asking that we never come back to this solar system and get stuck in the sun's gravitational pull again? No, but I wouldn't mind taking a little break from the sun. It's on a power trip and needs a time-out in the corner while we explore aliens, space junk, chubaca, and new recruits for college basketball.

Guess who's back...

After much fanfare, I've returned to Google's blog server after checking out some other options. Sure some other blogging services have some nice bells and whistles, but this loads fastest and is easiest to deal with so here I am.

Be sure to checkout my friend chupper's blog with the link to the right. He's making a new life in LA after being a tried and true east coasterner (sure that's a word!) for all his life. Like this blog, it's still trying to find its way in this crazy mixed-up world so take a look.

I'm sure you're dying to know about my right knee. Actually, I hope you're not really dying, but then again, aren't we all just on our way to dying. Wow, this got really morbid really fast. I'm actually an optomist and happy to be alive! Right, so my knee. The minor swelling has gone down and it's doing a lot better than it was. I think I'm going to try playing ultimate on Sunday in DC, but only 2 games this time instead of playing for the 2 hours (or hour and a half more than my orthopedist allowed me).

I've got a lot of posts to catch-up on so be scared, be very scared.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Weatherpeople with the power of the man upstairs

That Washington post article really nailed it with its satire of local TV news wx folks. The dumbing down of America is reflected in how silly TV news has become. Don't worry, I'll probably bring this annoyance up more than a few times, along with other great and annoying facets of TV news.

The worst thing to happen to TV news is when the first news director and station manager, president, etc. saw how easy it is to make a profit. Of course, to make a profit you need to get higher ratings so you can charge advertisers more for airtime. And how do you do that? The three T method of thinking...tits...tears...tots. Start airing stories that are racy and sexual in nature no matter how irrelevant it is to the media market or has any place in the news. If you can get someone crying on camera or some "disturbing video", well that will surely get ratings, nevermind you're ignoring the quality of your product. And of course anytime you can show pictures of cute babies or kids, well who doesn't want to see that.

This is why people have come to appreciate shows like nightline or the Newshour because not only do they discuss what really is news, but they give their reporters and producers more than 90 seconds to tell the whole story from both sides. If you watch TV news, it will definitely leave something to be desired. Local TV news gives you an abbreviated capsule of the story which is fine if you would rather read USA Today instead of the Post or the Times.

Of course there is that whole issue of anchors and the silly things they do. For now, I think everyone should know that WX reporters are not omnipotent (as my blog jests). It's just silly, overused and annoying to have an exchange like this:

Anchor (A): "Well it sure was a nice day today Mike"

WX Guy Mike (WX): "It may not stay this way for too long as we head toward the weekend."A: "Let's hope you give us some good news and change it for the better. (followed by some fake laughter)

WX: "I'll try my best, but you know I don't have much control on these storms."

A: "But you're our only hope for better weather."

WX: "For the last f-ing time! I have no control over these storms. I have no God or almighty or whatever you believe in powers to control things. I'm just someone who likes meteorology and wanted some local fame instead of being some scientist researching atmospheric conditions over the Atlantic Ocean and only being known amongst my collegues. Who wants to be behind a desk for NOAA when you could be asked to cut the ribbon at a new Target opening or have people look at you like they sort of know you when they only know you as that weatherguy who controls the atmosphere thanks to the silly banter I deal with every stinkin' day from anchors like yourself. And would it kill you to write your own lead-ins for once?"

A: "So you're saying you won't be bringing us sunshine this weekend?"


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Snow is for your lives!

Until my next post, here's a good satire from the Washington Post about the TV News (industry, profession, false bravado):