28 February 2010

Come On You Villa

Three hours of football today: Blackburn at Anfield, and Villa at Wembley against MUFC. Yea for DVRs.

Correction

The official results are in, my chip time was 1:03:23.37 (it took me 45 seconds after the gun to get to the starting line), which is a 10:13 pace. Interestingly, a greater proportion of 45-49 men finished ahead of me than men overall. I guess by the time you're my age, more of the casual runners have dropped out. I finished 101st out of 116 in my age group and 608th out of 705 men.

In any case, my main goal was to be fit enough to run the full race (check), and my optimistic goal was to finish in less than 1:06:00, which I beat by more than two minutes, so it was a huge success. I'm actually less sore today than I was after last week's training.

Next up: deciding whether I'm up to the ING Half in three weeks. It's a harder course and more than twice as long, so there's no chance I can run the whole thing. But I have several friends doing it; one is doing the whole enchilada. My 10k training is pretty well aligned with this schedule, so right now, I'm leaning to trying.

27 February 2010

Charles Harris 2010

This was my first 10k, so I wasn't certain what to expect. My unspoken goal was 1:06 (which is actually faster than the pace of my best 5k). Unfortunately, I forgot to start my stopwatch as I crossed the starting line, so I don't know my exact time, but it was under 1:04, so I'm really pleased. I was pretty discouraged by Sunday's training run, but I guess I just had a bad day.

Today's course is built for speed: the hills are mild and net downhill. The weather was cold, but not too windy. All in all, a good day.

[Edit: corrected time.]

25 February 2010

24 February 2010

Something New

Between the interwebz and globalization, I've found that retail products are depressingly homogeneous. Whether you go shopping online, or at the mall, or in Prague, it feels like pretty much the same stuff.

I'm not the biggest geek I know, but I'm probably several standard deviations from the mean (see what I did there?). My geek cred is shot, though, because I didn't know about this place. They have a "Zombies and Bacon" category. A wooden iPhone case. Something called an EvilTron. My wife complains that she never knows what to get me for presents.

Problem. Solved.

We Pretend We Are Zoroastrians

The Freakonomics blog recently posted an article which discussed a letter from a reader in which the reader stated that to avoid cultural pressures, they pretended to be Christians. This prompted a commenter posted the following:
I am so tired of the anti-Christian bigotry in the mainstream media, especially the liberal media like the NYT.

How do I know it’s bigotry? Because I know for a fact that the NYT would NEVER do a story entitled “We Pretend We Are Jews/Muslims/InsertAnotherReligionHere”.

What struck me is that this Christian actually feels persecuted. I can't imagine anyone in America *pretending* to be Muslim (unless it was a very curious form of masochism). Two of the (Christian) churches I pass on the way to work regularly proselytize on their matinee signs. Can you imagine if a mosque or temple did the same? Even in sleepy Norcross, it would certainly be vandalized.

I know Christians who share this misguided sense of persecution. I doubt they have really considered how difficult it can be to be Hindu or Jewish or Muslim or atheist in America.

Faith is a universal right, but a private one. I will defend your right to believe what you will, but please don't tell me about it or expect me to share it.

23 February 2010

Mini-Wine Tasting

We had a small group together last night. For the second time in a row, I brought a wine I'd had for a while (3-4 years) and it was corked. Now I'm worried that there's a problem with the way I'm storing the wine (in a dark part of the basement in wine racks, for the most part).

21 February 2010

MP3 Purchases

I just bought Louis Armstrong's Basin Street Blues and Flogging Molly's Swagger from Amazon. I doubt that those two often appear on the same receipt.

Sunday

MCFC 0-0 LFC - A great game if you like tackles, poor passes, and few threats on goal. The only consolation was that Benayoun and Torres were deemed fit enough to make late appearances.

10K Traning - My aunt in Houston asked, now that I'm a runner, will I run the Crescent City Classic? With the Saints having won the Super Bowl I'm sure there will be many men running in Buddy Diliberto-inspired dresses and the normally festive race will be even more so. I had planned to run six miles in the neighborhood today, but I had to stop and walk twice after five miles. In spite of eight weeks of training, I am worried that I will not be able to run the full course and could even finish last in my age group next week. That's not the sort of result likely to inspire me to travel to a race. I'm afraid I have a way to go before I'll consider myself a runner (and I'm sloooow to boot).

20 February 2010

Results

Trevor finished 7th and Blaise 3rd. Blaise's bout in the round of 8 was closely contested and left him exhausted; he had nothing left for the quarters.

Sent from my iPhone

Fencing

Today is the final regular season high school fencing tournament. We are at Roswell High and the experience has little to commend it.

Even though their faculty advisor is president of the league, they could only secure the auxiliary gym. This space is too small for the normal eight strips which means the tournament will take longer.

The snack bar (this is an all day undertaking and that's really the only option for lunch) is far removed and there is no seating area provided.

There is no space for the equipment, which means fencing bags clog the hallways. Most of the lights are out in the boys locker room, so answering the call happens in a dark and malodorous place.

Roswell's team also includes one of the least likable teenagers I've run across.

Our boys did OK in pools and enter the elimination rounds seeded 4th and 10th out of 31. I hope they do well, but I will be happy to get out of this place.

Sent from my iPhone

13 February 2010

Mardi Gras 2010

Lots of snow on the drive down, there were accumulations as far as 30 miles north of Mobile.

Game night was a little light - Walt is in Atlanta, Cyril is AWoL. Still Michael and Shanna, Elizabeth, Rick and Milli, and (new) Peter were there. It was great fun.

Ran a little over six miles in a little over an hour this morning. It was near ideal conditions: chilly and flat but it's still very encouraging. I'd be happy if I can run the race at that pace. The 10K is two weeks from today.

Raegan took the boys to see Tucks, and then off to buy (more) Saints stuff.

We are going to the French Quarter tonight with my sister and her husband. Endymion rolls tonight; Thoth and Bacchus are tomorrow. Drew Brees will reign as Bacchus; they expect the biggest crowd in this history of Mardi Gras. We'll be in that number.

09 February 2010

Project Euler Level 4

One of my 2010 goals was to achieve the next level in Project Euler. Today I solved my 150th problem, which qualifies me for Level 4 (Intermediate). I've mostly been cherry-picking easier problems, but that's getting harder and harder to do.

Saints Memories

The first team I remember supporting is the New Orleans Saints. I don't remember of course, but the Saints scored a touchdown on their very first play. They went on to lose the game, establishing a pattern of brief periods of new hope followed by years of relentless disappointment.

I was five in the Saints' inaugural season, and my father had season tickets. Since his father also had tickets, we spent those Sunday afternoons at my Mom's parents' house, with the game on the radio.

The week after original Saints coach Tom Fears was fired, Tom Dempsey won coach J.D. Roberts's first game. The team went 6-25-3 under Roberts after that.

Excitement about new quarterback Archie Manning, who won his first game against the Rams. The Saints went 34-101-3 with Manning after that.

Going to games with my Dad, parking in the uptown neighborhood around Claiborne and walking to Tulane stadium, with popcorn and cigarette stubs and peanut shells and empty beer cups littering the concrete stands.

The novelty of the just-opened Superdome, with brightly carpeted ramps and air conditioning and, until smoking was banned, the haze that filled the arena so that by the end of the game you couldn't see across the stadium in the upper deck.

Hank Stram, the first time the Saints hired a coach with previous head coaching experience (and success). Stram couldn't repeat his success and retired 7-21. After Stram: Nolan and Phillips generally raised the team from disastrous to mediocre. Mediocre might not sound like an upgrade, but it was a distinct improvement.

The Raiders game in 1979 when we raced to a big lead, only for Ken Stabler to stage a crushing comeback.

I was at the Dome for the last game in 1983, when we played the Rams and the winner would advance to the playoffs. When we took the lead late in the fourth quarter we danced in the stands, hugging strangers, only to watch in horror as the Rams drove down the field and won on a last second field goal.

The next year, racing to a big lead against the Cowboys, only for Stabler, by now washed-up and on the Saints, to have as many interceptions as completions and fumbled to boot. My friend Brian remains convinced that Stabler intentionally threw the game.

Jim Mora, coming over from the defunct USFL. Following the team from Connecticut without the benefit of the internet: the strike, "coulda, woulda, shoulda", Hebert's confidence, leaving New York early enough to see the first playoff game, only for the Vikings to embarrass the Saints in the Dome in the playoffs. Missing the playoffs at 10-6 the following season.

Under Mora, the Saints were pretty consistently competitive: four playoff appearances in ten seasons. But the team plateaued, especially after GM Jim Finks died of cancer. Fans and announcers (*cough* Diliberto *cough*) who had suffered through the lousy teams of the 70's and the mediocre teams of the early 80's were now indignant over the lack of playoff success.

Exit Mora and enter Ditka, but without Buddy Ryan. Ditka took over a team that had just gone 3-13. After two consecutive 6-11 seasons he was fired as his third season was on its way to 3-13.

With Haslett, the team not only made the playoffs, but notched its first playoff win (we were there for that one). After that, he managed to get us back to competitive, but that came to an end on August 29th 2005. Between disasters, the coach was also rumored to have been indiscreet with a Saintsation. Whatever the truth, his tenure ended.

07 February 2010

SB44

In the background, Bourbon st going nuts. In the foreground, one of my Dad's socks. I wore them tonight so that he could be with me for our Super Bowl experience. He was an original season ticket holder; one of the first games he took me to was a 62-7 loss to Atlanta. He would be so happy tonight.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Sent from my iPhone

06 February 2010

LFC 1-O EFC

The Merseyside derby went old school with lots of hard challenges. Kyrgiakos was sent off for a play in which his own injury required stitches. Mascherano, Pienaar, and Fellaini were all fortunate to avoid red cards (though Pienaar eventually was sent off for a dubious yellow in stoppage time at the end of the game). Strangely, Everton looked more threatening playing against eleven than they did against ten. Neville and Howard were both pathetic in defense for a Liverpool corner, and Kuyt made them pay. Liverpool deserved the win, though they'll need to be decidedly better if they hope to take any points away from the Emirates on Wednesday.

05 February 2010

John Terry

For the most part, I think that the salacious details of celebrities' lives are neither interesting nor any of anyone's business. Tiger Woods slept around? I don't care. But when you sleep with the partner of a teammate, you're putting your libido ahead of the team.

Whispers of indiscretion by a teammate appeared to lead to one of the Saints' best players ever, Willie Roaf, to request a trade. I'm inclined to agree with Capello that Terry's alleged behavior doesn't show the kind of concern for the team that you'd want from someone wearing the armband.

As a Liverpool fan, I'd love to see Stevie get it, but I think you could make a pretty good case for once-almost-red Gareth Barry.