Archive for February 2010

no dog in that fight*

February 24, 2010

I came across two news stories yesterday that I was interested in.  One of them is local, one is most definitely not.  Neither directly affects my life, but I still feel that I want to weigh-in on them.

Crabbe Elementary School

One of the local school districts is considering closing one of its elementary schools.  The idea of closing an elementary school and consolidating it with another is not uncommon.  I am in no way against consolidating schools.  While it may not save the district money in the way of teachers’ salaries, it can potentially save a lot of money in the areas of administrative and staff salaries.  This would allow more money to be spent on the education of children.  It also allows for more pooling of resources and supplies to meet the needs of teachers and students and enhance student learning, and we all know that students need a good learning.  The closed school would also provide a location for the district central office, district preschool and district central school to move that would not be a trailer or the money pit in which they are currently residing.

Now that I’ve listed all the reasons that closing a school is good, I’d like to address why they are making an awful suggestion to go about doing it.  The problem is their choice of schools.  The original plan had been to close Hatcher Elementary, which is the smallest school in the district but is one of the outlying schools of the district.  There were protests, as one might expect about that proposition.  The district’s local planning committee very recently changed directions and decided Crabbe Elementary would be a better choice of schools to close.  Crabbe’s student body has been dropping recently.  When it comes to school size, it is in the middle in the district.  Crabbe’s best feature is perhaps the school’s location.  It is the only school downtown, which makes it the only school where a high percentage of students can actually walk safely to school.  It is located in the city park and next to the main branch of the county library.  Crabbe is also a mile and a half from the nearest other elementary school in the district.

Since the sudden change in plans, there has been the expected protest.  In fact, the protest was so great that the committee has postponed making a final decision, which was expected to be made this past Monday.  While it is easy to just say that the district should not close the school, I would offer an alternative proposition.  If a school needs to be closed to make room for the district administration and preschool, a better choice would be Poage Elementary School.  Poage is the second smallest school in the district.  It is near the center of the district and located just half a mile from the closest other elementary school.  The students in the school’s area could easily be distributed to three other district elementary schools without greatly increasing the distance from their homes.  The biggest downside to this plan would be that the district offices would no longer be downtown.  I’m not saying that’s the only solution or even the best solution, but I did want to throw it out there.

University of Mississippi

The other matter is the suggestion to change the mascot at Ole Miss.  The university dropped Colonel Reb as its mascot in 2003 in the somewhat justifiable name of being unoffensive**.  Colonel Reb was an elderly southern gentleman.  Although he is no longer on the sidelines and courts, he can still be seen in the stands and on various university products.  The reason I say the the removal of the mascot was somewhat justified is because I acknowledge that the idea of an antebellum southern gentleman is widely viewed as a plantation owner, who would by necessity own slaves.  Personally, I consider a southern antebellum gentleman to be someone who stands for honor, respect for others, hospitality and all the other positive views of such a figure that were held in the 1930s when Colonel Reb first appeared.  I believe this is also how the university intended him to be viewed.  Having such a figure on campus can be nowhere near as offensive as the school flying the state flag, which contains the most widely-known Confederate battle flag,** on campus.  Yesterday the school allowed the student body to vote on creating a new mascot, possibly a Colonial rebel or a cardinal in honor of a student organization, or to have no mascot at all.  The students went against most predictions and voted to find a new mascot instead of being the only SEC school without one.  I was hoping they’d vote for no new mascot as a protest, but if they are wanting to get a new mascot, I think a higher rank is in order.

*In choosing this title, I in no way condone Michael Vick’s past behavior.
**I am also a supporter of this Confederate battle flag when it is not being used for terroristic purposes, but that is another issue for another entry.

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Happy Birthday, Pluto!

February 18, 2010

Oh, dear Lord, where have I been?  That’s a story for another post.

In the meantime, today is Pluto’s 80th birthday!  Technically, Pluto is more likely millions or hundreds of millions or perhaps even billions of years old.  Much like the federal deficit, when numbers get that big, the eyes tend to glaze over and just think, “Wow.  That’s a really big number!”  Anyway, Pluto was discovered 80 years ago today by a man named Clyde Tombaugh while using the observatory named after Percival Lowell, who first postulated that there should be a planet in that area and also that the Martians had dug canals on the red planet and that those grooves were proof of life on other worlds.

Eighty years and a lovable cartoon dog later, Pluto is no longer a planet, but either a dwarf planet (plutoid) or a double planet with Charon being the other half.  In five years, a NASA satelite should arrive at our farthest non-planet and send back the first close-up pictures of our most-beloved, relegated neighbor in the solar system.  I’ll be waiting with bated breath.

Peyton Manning

February 9, 2010

In case you don’t realize it already, I’m a Peyton Manning fan.  I HATED him when he was in college.  Alright.  I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t like him one bit.  He was good, and he wore that gawd-awful orange color for that school in Knoxville.  Every time Tennessee played Kentucky, I hoped he’d stub his toe and would be unable to play.  (I never wish serious injury on anybody.)  I saw absolutely nothing good in him until I was a sophomore at Hanover.  I was a Bengals fan.  I had been for years, and I still am.  Living in Indiana though, I gained an appreciation for the Indianapolis Colts, despite the fact that they still struggled at that time, and Purdue University, because they are also not fond of Indiana University.  Over time I realized that in addition to being talented, Peyton Manning was actually a pretty decent guy and funny to boot.

Sunday night, the Colts lost the Super Bowl.  The New Orleans Saints put 31 points on the board.  Drew Brees threw for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns, and now he’s going to Disney World.  Peyton Manning threw for 333 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  The interception was returned for a touchdown that put the game out of reach for Indianapolis.  Now I’m starting to see comments again that Manning is a choke artist, that he isn’t a clutch player and that he really isn’t that great a quarterback.  My response to that is, “Have you actually watched him play?”

Manning is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league.  He consistently drops passes in places that only his receivers can catch them.  Every quarterback will throw an occasional interception, but Peyton throws many fewer than the league average per pass attempt and they are usually due to a blown route or a tipped ball.  Manning is an expert at reading defenses and adjusting plays at the line of scrimmage.  He has picked apart defenses all season.  A team doesn’t stay undefeated until the last two weeks of the season – until after the starting quarterback is pulled from the game – unless the entire team, including the quarterback, plays well.  As far as being a clutch player, Manning led his team to 13 scores in the final two minutes of a half this season.  Eight of those scores were passes for touchdowns.  He has shown that he is a master of the clock and excels in a no-huddle offense.  When it comes to his ability to play, his stats speak for themselves.

Just as it takes a team to win a game, it takes a team to lose a game.  The special teams gave up an onside kick to start the second half.  The Colts defense gave up 24 points.  Reggie Wayne had an off night with a couple of drops and a couple blown routes, including on the pass that was intercepted.  There is plenty of blame to go around for the Colts loss of the Super Bowl.  Pinning it all on Manning is simply unfair.

There are also people ripping into Manning for his sportsmanship.  After the game, he left the field and went back into the locker room instead of congratulating the Saints.  In the post-game interview, a reporter asked Peyton about that.  His response was, “It’s time for the Saints to celebrate.  It’s their field.”  If you looked at your television after the clock his double zeros, you’d have noticed the field was a mass of celebrating Saints.  Super Bowl champions gear was being handed out.  The stage was being set up for the award ceremony.  Reporters were trying to interview New Orleans players.  It really was time for a celebration, not a congratulations from the losing team.  Unlike in the NHL playoffs, there is no line formed for players to shake hands after the game.  It’s a complete mob.  In fact to further deflate the “bad sportsman” argument against Manning, Peyton called Drew Brees that night, after things had settled down a bit, to congratulate him.  Manning and Brees have a relationship that stretches back to when Peyton would call Brees at Purdue to offer advice and encouragement to the college quarterback.  Drew Brees is even quoted as saying, “Peyton’s a class guy,” after the game.  These arguments against Manning just don’t seem to hold water.

I understand that there are plenty of people who will not like Peyton Manning, and that’s fine.  It’s similar to not liking the Red Wings or Lebron James.  Either it’s an opposing team/player that can completely dismantle your team or you want to root for an underdog to come out ahead.  Just be honest and cheer against Manning for that reason, like I did when he wore orange, instead of trying to attack his playing ability or personality because in this case, those arguments just don’t hold up.

Place Your Bets

February 6, 2010

There are a ton of interesting things you can bet on during the Super Bowl.  Just ask the people in Vegas that make up the books.  There’s always the standards of “Who will win/beat the point spread?” “Who will score first?” “Will there be overtime?” and “Who will win the coin toss?”  Here are some of the more unusual Super Bowl XLIV prop bets:

The current over/under on how long it will take Carrie Underwood to sing the national anthem is about 1 minute 40 seconds.  Personally, I’m hoping for the over on that one for two reasons.  First if the anthem runs long and I’m running late to the Super Bowl party, it will give me a little bit of extra time to get there.  On the other hand if I’m on time to the party, I can think of worse things than having to look at Carrie Underwood a little bit longer.

What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach?  In case you’re wondering, yellow is currently the favorite to win that one.

The current over/under on how many times CBS will show Archie Manning is 4.  Personally, I think that’s low, since Archie has close ties with both teams.  I’d put it more around 5 or 6 times, but the folks at bodog.com have already made adjustments to that one since the line opened.  I’m sure they know what they’re doing.  Not to be outdone, the over/under on shots of Kim Kardashian, Reggie Bush’s girlfriend is 10.

Currently the over/under on Brett Favre mentions during the game is at 7.  You’re right.  He’s not playing this weekend – unless he plays catch with his kids.  I think that’s a bit high unless they start discussing where he would have thrown a pick instead of the completion the two quarterbacks in the game will be throwing.  Favre is a great competitor and a great athlete, but he doesn’t have the accuracy or mental side of throwing the ball like the two quarterbacks in the game.  Instead the announcers should stick to the players and teams in the Super Bowl – or their father/past players.

Who dat?  Who dat?  Who dat think they gonna beat dem Saints?  The phrase “Who dat?” is expected to pop up 15 times during the game between close-ups of fan signs and the announcers.  I have a feeling they’ll do a montage of “Who dat?” signs during the game, raising the number to at least 25.

Will Pete Townsend have more than 5.5 windmill power strokes on his guitar during the halftime show?  While we’re on the halftime show, there’s a 67% chance that a member of The Who will not smash a guitar.  I’m rooting for that other 33%.

Hurricane Katrina is expected to be mentioned 2.5 times by the announcers.  Yeah.  I’ve got nothing to say about this one.

There are even cross-sport bets!  Which will be higher: the total points scored in the first half or the number of the winning car in the Daytona 500.  Unfortunately, I have to go for the car number.  I don’t even think the Colts and the Saints can put up 48 points in the first half.

Will the Colts score more first quarter points than Alexander Ovechkin will have shots in his game on Sunday?  For those of you who don’t know, Ovechkin leads the NHL in shots this season.  Here’s hoping Sid the Kid and the rest of the Pens can shut him down.

Can Drew Brees throw more touchdown passes than there will be goals scored in the Arsenal-Chelsea game?  Although the Premier League match will likely be high scoring, I think Brees will end up tossing up more TDs.  Lets face it, a high scoring soccer match is still only three or four goals.

The Super Bowl-PGA match-up is whether Manning will have more touchdown passes than Phil Mickelson will have birdies on Sunday.  Mickelson is currently under scrutiny for using wedges that predate how far back a PGA rule on clubs is retroactive.  Usually, the PGA match-up would involve Tiger Woods, but he won’t be playing this weekend while he’s in sex rehab.  There’s was a suggestion among line-makers to see if he would score more in rehab than Manning will this weekend though.  Personally, I only hope for the best for Tiger.  Yes, he’s done some bad things – at least 12 times if the stories are to be believed – but I hope he turns himself around and makes a new start of things.  I like a good Tiger joke as much as the next person, but those will still be around even if he becomes a fine, upstanding public figure and role model again.

One last bet that I can’t leave out is the Kardashian Line.  Will Reggie Bush have more rushing yards than Khloe Kardashian’s husband, Lamar Odom, scores points, rebounds and assists in his game on the same day.

The vampires drained me of my dreams.

February 5, 2010

I visited the vampires gave blood this afternoon.  It went about as usual for me.  I went in.  I scanned the promotional material – aka the dos and don’ts of giving blood.  I passed the mini-physical.  I laid down and asked them to bring me a drink.  I found the prettiest worker to look at and distract me while they poked me.  They stuck me.  I bled – in a contained manner.  I stopped bleeding.  I felt light headed.

Here’s where things went a bit different.  They guy that took my blood asked if I usually get light headed.  I said that I have the past several times.  He told me that giving blood is “probably not your thing” and that I should probably stop doing it.  He went on to say something about my blood sugar dropping that much not being good for my body, but I wasn’t paying much attention because I was too busy passing out.  Okay.  I didn’t really pass out.  I was kinda disappointed though.

I always thought I’d get to 20 or 25 gallons before I stopped.  I’d get my pin that says I’ve donated buckets of blood then I’d start volunteering at blood drives whenever I could.  I had a feeling that one of these times, they’d tell me to stop donating.  I felt it would be well before I hit a bucket, too.  I just didn’t think it would be this soon.  Right now my donor card reads 7 pints.  Oh, I’ve donated more than that.  I gave once in high school.  I donated 5 or 6 pints in college.  I think I even donated a couple of times between college and grad school.  Those were back in the days of the little paper cards and shoddy non-computerized record keeping.  I’m sure I’ve donated at least a gallon and a half, but the Red Cross only has records of my blood letting donations since I moved to Louisville and got a permanent card.  If I follow the advice I was given today, I won’t even get my one gallon pin.  I realize that it’s selfish and petty that I want that pin.  The important thing is that I’ve given blood and helped save lives.  Recognition shouldn’t matter.  I don’t think I’d even wear the pin.  There’s still a part of me that wants it though.  There’s a part of me that says to go back one more time to get that 8th pint and my pin.  There’s a part of me that wants to write to the Red Cross office to get my count fixed.  I don’t like myself for thinking either of those.  I know I should take the advice that I was given today and stop giving; it’s what I’ve known was coming for the past couple donations.  Maybe after a few days go by, it won’t bother me anymore.  They say time heals wounds, but will it heal the lack of one needle prick?

Rivers Bridge

February 1, 2010

I was at the reenactment of Rivers Bridge over the weekend.  Instead of boring you with stories of camping in the rain in a freezing swamp, I’ll tell you about the trip there and back.

Since I was passing through Charlotte to get to southern South Carolina, I arranged to visit with my little brother for a little bit.  It was a nice drive down, and I got to his exit from the interstate with very little trouble.  Unfortunately, I wrote right when I should have written left.  I ended up in what turned out to be a very sketchy neighborhood.  I found out later that it was where a gun fight between two cars started before going to the other side of the city.  Eventually I found his apartment.  I made arrangements for one last stop on the way down then we ate dinner and visited. In the morning we went out to REI to do some shopping.  I wanted boots.  He wanted to see the new REI store.  I’m pretty sure that REI could be a dangerous place for me to visit, but I managed to just get out with the new boots I wanted and my wallet still intact.  Then it was time for me to go on my way.

I made one last shopping stop in Columbia to get a pair of leather gloves for reenacting and hit the interstate again figuring I would stop in the last town before the reenactment site to get a bite to eat.  Little did I know that once I was 10 miles from the interstate, there would be no more eateries.  The last little town went by with nary a place to eat.

reenactment…. reenactment… skip skip skip…

It turns out that it was probably a good idea that I left early on Sunday.  The trees along the highway north of Columbia were covered in ice.  The roads in North Carolina were still wet, but they hadn’t refrozen yet.  Virginia had patches of very visible ice under every bridge.  West Virginia was smooth sailing though.  I made two stops for gas and two stops for coffee, and I was still home before the end of the Pro Bowl.  I didn’t watch it, but I was home before it ended.

I got a good night’s sleep.  I took the morning off (I was supposed to be out all day today.) and a long hot shower and shave later, I felt almost human again.