Thursday, December 23, 2004

Down and Out in The Winter Wonderland: It's break time. No more posting until after the holidays. I need to write fiction and besides, all I can think to do is vent about winter to you. What a pain in the ass it was to get around in the snow that fell this morning, and the reward for that is a few days of single digits, thank you very much. One day soon I am going have a genuine this-is-where-Cameron-goes-berserk moment.

To remind me of happier times, here's the journal of my last Vegas trip. And I'll catch up with you in '05.
Football Picks -- Week 16: OK, this is the last of them. I'm not posting again until next year so maybe we'll have a recap then.

Here is all the background info. You know the routine by now.

First up teams that are 40+ points superior in DVOA and favored by less than a touchdown. There are none.

Next up, games where a team is favored by 7+ points but has less than a 30 point DVOA advantage (DVOA advantage in parenthesis):
  • Indiana (27.5) -7 over San Diego

  • Seattle (6.9) -7 over Arizona

  • Miami (6.5) -8.5 over Cleveland

I'll skip taking San Diego because of Indiana's propensity for scoring a bazillion points meaning a 7 point spread for them is more like a 4 point spread for anyone else. I'll skip taking Arizona because they are just so bad. So we come to Miami -- this is where I could begin repeating my early season mantra 'The Fins are not as bad as everyone says.' But I won’t. They still don’t have much of an o-line. I think this line is a reaction to last week's fluke win over the Patriots. So as much as it saddens me, I have to take Cleveland and the eight and a half points.

Lastly we come to games where the team with the superior DVOA is the underdog. Here we again have three, including what must be one of the most whacked out lines in history:
  • Atlanta (14.5) +5 at New Orleans

  • Houston (1.4) +7 at Jacksonville

  • Philly (76.7) +3 at St. Louis

I'm going to take the underdog and the points in all these. A lot of what goes into these is the assumption that teams that have something to play for -- some playoff scenario where it benefits them to win -- are going to be motivated enough to do better than the team that doesn’t. I'm not sold on that. See: Miami v New England last Monday.

In fact the PHL-STL game has the most whacked out spread I have seen relative to DVOA. But it is also a special situation. Philadelphia is 76.7 DVOA points superior to St. Louis, but St. Louis is the favorite by 3 points. Now this is probably the result of two things, 1) The injury to Terrell Owens and 2) the fact that Philly has nothing to play for, having clinched home field advantage through the playoffs.

But if you wan to play psychologist Philly does have something to prove in that they need to show they can win without Owens. Also, Philly is still the best team in the NFC. Also, the Rams are the most overrated team in football. I have to take Philly. If I was in Vegas, I'd bet a wad on this one.

So here's the last of them for this year:
  • Cleveland +8.5 at Miami

  • Atlanta +5 at New Orleans

  • Houston +7 at Jacksonville

  • Philly +3 at St. Louis

Whatever the outcome it's been an incredible season of picks. Maybe I'll quit my job, move south, and bet football games for a living.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Shiver: As I write this, the official temperature for Ann Arbor, Michigan is 3 (or trece, in Espanol de Bono). That's an insulting temperature. It's not much different from zero, but it's like, if you looked really hard you could find a little heat out there. Bollocks. Global warming cannot come fast enough for me. My next car will be a Hummer.


Remember that hotel I was going to stay at in New York, Dream; it was close when i arrived and I ended up getting fobbed off on HoJo's? You can read about it here. Anyway, it seems they are finally open for business, but just barely. Check out these comments over at Hotel Chatter. Apparently, some of the workers have a slight hygiene problem:
One big problem with these contractors: They left an absolutely vile stench in the elevators, or on the floors that they would visit. Now the first time you get a waft B.O. you might think, one rotten apple, but time after time as these contractors entered and left different elevators and different floors the stench was literally unbearable.

Well, that's one problem they didn’t have at HoJo's.


This cracked me up. The Ten Most Accurately Rated Artists in Rock History. Get this:

6. My Bloody Valentine: On the surface, My Bloody Valentine should be underrated, but they’re not; everyone who aggressively cares about alt guitar music considers Loveless to be a modern classic, and everyone who is wont to mention “swirling guitars” during casual conversation always references this specific album. Loveless sold about 200,000 copies. This is the correct number of people on earth who should be invested in the concept of swirling guitars.


It looks the FCC has approved in-flight wireless for next year, which is very cool; of course, it will be a while before one airline decides to make it free and the others jump on the bandwagon. Until then, it'll be an arm and a leg.

They haven’t quite approved of cell phones. Interestingly, they are no longer worried about safety -- which means the existing ban has been one of the biggest bureaucratic jerk offs in history. No what they are no worried about is whether allowing cell phone conversations will be annoying to other passengers. Well, that's actually none of their business. That should be up to the airlines to set policy. Busybodies. This is the reason the poor flight attendants have to explain how to buckle a seat belt before every flight. If they are really worried about preventing things that are annoyances to passenger, I could provide a list.

But speaking of that, why is it so annoying when the person next you is talking on a cell phone. Why is that worse than holding a conversation with the person next to them (which is unlikely to be banned)? I know it is, but why? Anyone have an answer?


The Wire just closed up another amazing season, sadly amid signs that it may not be renewed. If that's the case, it will be the first gutless move by HBO I can recall. But I'll wait until it actually happens to rail about it.


It's a Wonderful Life, reenacted in 30 seconds. By bunnies. Would that all of Christmas (and Winter) passed so quickly.


I guess the only thing to keep me warm is my football record. I was 3-0-1 in my picks this week. How cool hot is that?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Football Picks – Week 15: Only a couple of weeks left in the season. I know many of you will be glad. I, on the other hand, will need something new. How about online poker? Dangerous.

Anyway, here's where you can read the background on my selection method and get the latest decision grid for all NFL games. Below, a team's DVOA advantage is in parenthesis.

As always, we start with teams that are 40+ percentage points superior in DVOA and are favored by a touchdown or less. This week, that amounts to one:

Washington (47.3) -4.5 at San Francisco

That's cool with me. We'll take the 'Skins.

Next up we look for underdogs of a touchdown or more but with small(er) DVOA deficits. I do not have a rule of thumb for what small(er) DVOA deficits are. Anything under 30 is worth a look at least. Once again, there is only one in that category.

Indiana (19.4) -8 at Baltimore

I'm going to pass on this one. Baltimore has a great defense, but Indiana is at home and they have this disturbing habit of scoring a bajillion points at times.

Lastly, we look for disconnects -- games where the team with the superior DVOA is the underdog. This week we have a whopping six of these:
  • Carolina (17.4) +3 at Atlanta

  • Houston (30.9) +1 at Chicago

  • Minnesota -3 at Detroit (0.2)

  • Denver -1 at Kansas City (4.0)

  • St Louis -3 at Arizona (2.6)

  • Tennessee (1.3) +2.5 at Oakland

Wow. Where to begin? How about the beginning. I'm going to take Carolina although I'm rather scared to because it's Atlanta at home. But Atlanta has clenched the division and Carolina has come on so strong it's worth the risk. I've got to take Houston just because of the huge DVOA spread. I'll also take Detroit at home and suddenly with a running game, and hope Mike Tice keeps calling silly plays. KC over Denver is tough; Denver has something to fight for so I'll pass. I can’t take Arizona with the quarterback situation the way it is. Tennessee at Oakland -- I have no clue so I'll pass.

Thus, this week's picks:
  • WAS -4.5 over SF

  • CAR +3 over ATL

  • Houston +1 over Chicago

  • Detroit +3 over Minnesota

For the record I did my picking on Friday night with the intent of posting on Saturday, then I turned on Sportscenter and they were talking about today's games. At least I'll have these up before any of the games end.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Latest "I like the change of seasons, it helps me appreciate them," is a typical response you get when you whine about the winter. That's kind of like saying, I like getting beaten on the knees and elbows with a rubber mallet because you appreciate it when it stops.

I have always hated winter. I hate driving in it. I hate going to work in the dark, even though I'm my usual 15 minutes late, and I hate that the sun sets shortly after Noon. I hate my down comforter. I hate shaking the snow off the paper in the morning. I hate winter coats. I hate keeping my windows shut. I hate what the arid, forced air heat does to my silken skin.

And when it comes to skiing, I suck Lake Michigan through a straw.

And here in Michigan the onset of cold weather also means the onset of kamikaze deer leaping out in front of your car at three in the morning when you are driving back from the bar in a just under legally intoxicated condition. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

Fun fact: Hunting and/or farming deer for commercial purposes is against the law. We are swamped with the carcasses of suicidal deer alongside every road, but if you want to order a venison fillet, it'll have to be imported from New Zealand or somewhere.

To quote Jimmy Buffett, "I need to fly to St. Somewhere." And it's only December.


I am seriously considering getting an iBook. I have never been a Mac person. Really, they have always seemed a little weird to me -- the people that is, not the Macs. Especially now that they all have iPods. Do you realize they like to call themselves Pod People as if they have been replaced by aliens or something?

But, the little 12' iBook looks awfully appealing to me. It is light and has a good battery life; it even has a special power mode for playing DVDs that shuts down everything except the screen and the DVD player to extend the viewing time. It's nicely priced and good quality, or so I've read. The problem is it also involves me buying about $600 worth of software on top of everything else. I'd need Office Standard, Quicken, Photoshop CS, maybe one or two smaller things. That's a good chunk of cash and a major PITA over and above the purchase price, which makes me think I should stick with Windows. The big cost there is Office which I suspect will run me about $300. I'd love to hear if anyone knows how to get Office for Mac cheaply. (And no, Appleworks and OpenOffice will not do.)

I'd also be interested in any recommendations for a Windows/PC alternative. Battery life and low weight are big priorities. And built in wireless. And at least 512 meg. And Windows Professional (not Home). And a docking station would be nice. And…

If I defect, you can blame Dell and the Satanic Inspiron they sold me. But gawd, don’t let me become a Pod Person. Could there be a more conceptually obnoxious device than a U2 Special Edition iPod?


My picks were 2-2 this week. That's bad. (In Vegas, breaking even means you lose the house rake.) But I take solace in the fact that I mentioned that I thought this week was scary, so at least I was right about being wrong. Also, this was my worst week of the season so far. What a great year when your worst week is 50-50.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Local Insanity: Ann Arbor has more than its share of the bizarre. One walk through the U of M diag during the Naked Mile or the Hash Bash would be proof enough, but here are a couple of things that stand out above the usual madness.

This unbelievable article in the Detroit Free Press details how Michigan defensive lineman Larry Harrison came to be arrested for indecent exposure. Get this:
Harrison, a suspect in 14 other cases of indecent exposure in campus neighborhoods since August, was caught in the act by a police officer who was part of a surveillance team, said Ann Arbor police Lt. Chris Heatley.

Apparently Ann Arbor has adopted a fifteen strikes and you’re out rule in these cases. Or maybe it's a fourteen strikes and we form a surveillance team rule.

"The charges are very serious and very alarming," coach Lloyd Carr said in a statement as the school suspended Harrison from the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl. "I can only hope they are not true."

Uh, Lloyd, he was caught in the act. I would try to imagine a situation where someone could be accidentally playing with himself on a stranger's porch but I might throw-up in my mouth.

The description of the suspect matched Harrison in several of the cases. In some of the incidents, the suspect covered his face. Harrison had been identified as a suspect before his arrest early Tuesday.

Police studied the U-M schedule and noticed the incidents stopped when Harrison was playing in out-of-town games. Heatley declined to give details of how Harrison, 6- feet-3, 313 pounds, was identified as a suspect.

A 6 foot 3, 315 pound man was able to evade the police by covering his face. If you say so. Luckily, someone in the AAPD had the bright idea that a man that size was probably a football player as opposed to an Art History TA.

Harrison, 20, appeared in 15th District Court wearing handcuffs, a yellow jersey and low-slung blue jeans without a belt. His attorney, Joe Simon, and his father, Larry Harrison, pulled Harrison's pants up to his waist several times during the arraignment.

I'm guessing Dad has been trying to get him to keep his pants up all his life.


In a wonderful case of life imitating me, compare this statement from a U of M activist group pushing for mandatory sex education,

"A Gender and Sexuality requirement will create new dialogues, challenge hegemonic discourse, break taboos and stigmas, and open up realms of communication between all students," states the students’ proposal, slowly being circulated among LSA faculty members. The plan would incorporate a wide swathe of issues, from classes on "Hollywood Masculinity" to those on gender and health.

with this passage of a U of M professor assigning a term paper from a book you may have heard of called Apple Pie:

"The topic of your term paper is," the Prof. said with flourish, as if he were introducing a play, "Themes of pious oppression in literature since 1950." He wrote it on the board so I had to believe my ears. He continued, "You must identify at least three such themes from your readings, either explicit or unconscious, and explore them fully..."

You see, you can’t make this stuff up.

By the way, Tom Wolfe's recent bestseller I am Charlotte Simmons, about what a cauldron of sexual promiscuity and political correctness the modern university is, was partially researched at Michigan. I'm sure it's a fine book, but if you'd like something with a closer perspective, possibly more realism, and almost certainly more humor, you know where to go.
Football Picks -- Week 14: The fact that I went 5-1 last week is less remarkable than the statistical anomaly (it must be) that with the except of the one "on-tilt" bet I made in Vegas, I have made exactly one wrong pick each week. No matter how many games I have picked it has been exactly one wrong and the rest right. Averaging one wrong would be understandable, but never varying is truly bizarre.

Having said that I have now jinxed myself I'm sure.

Newbies, should see this page for an overview of the process and summary of the data used.

Our old standby of picking the favorite when they are 40+ percentage points superior in DVOA but favored by a touchdown or less fails us this week. There are no such situations. The closest situation we have is Philly 58.3 better in DVOA and favored by 9.5. You have to wonder if there isn't a point where superior DVOA doesn’t translate well into a larger margin of victory. Is a team that is 58 DVOA points superior more likely to win by 10 or more than a team that is, say, 42 points better. I don’t know. I am going to take Philly on this for two reasons. 1) I think there is a big difference between less than 10 points and 10 or more. I don’t think a touchdown and a field goal is an unreasonable margin of victory for any game, even when you take into account potential garbage time minor comebacks. If you opponent gets in striking range of ten points, it is no longer garbage time; 2) Looking at Philly's blow out of Green Bay last week, they are clearly motivated to win by a lot of points, and they certainly will be able to against Washington.

Next up we look for games where the spread is 7 or more, but there is not all that much difference in DVOA or it is not in (subjective) proportion to the spread. There are six such games that catch the eye:
  • Buffalo -12 over Cleveland, BUF + 18.6 in DVOA

  • Dallas -7 over New Orleans, DAL +2.0 in DVOA

  • Atlanta -8 over Oakland, ATL +17.3 in DVOA

  • Minnesota -7 over Seattle, MIN +6.9 in DVOA

  • Green Bay -9.5 over Detroit, GB +4.0 in DVOA

  • Arizona -7 over San Francisco, ARZ + 18.3 in DVOA
Picking underdogs here is complicated by the fact that, with the exception of Dallas, all the favorites are at home. I just can't pick Seattle or Oakland. Seattle has been spiraling down since early in the season, and Atlanta at home is too scary a concept to cross for the Raiders. After last weeks win and given the pathetic state of New Orleans, I would be more tempted to pick Dallas here, but that's way to small a difference in DVOA to justfy 7 points on the road.

I will take Cleveland and 12 simply because 12 is an awful lot of points. I will also take San Fran over Arizona because both these teams are so incredibly bad that a close game is likely. Now, what to do about the Lions? It's tempting to take the Lions but who knows. If Favre comes out with a chip on his shoulder in Lambeau the Lions are dead. He might after last week's loss, so I'm going to pass on this.

Our last check is for teams that are superior in DVOA but are even money or the favorite has the lower DVOA. There is only one such game (which suggests the spread is catching up to the DVOA, or vice versa). Kansas City is 23.9 points superior in DVOA but is getting a point and a half over Tennessee. That's too good to pass up, I'll take KC.

  • Philly -9.5 over Washington

  • Cleveland +12 over Buffalo

  • San Francisco +7 over Arizona

  • Kansas City + 1.5 over Tennessee
This is about the least confident I have been in any of my picks this year. Too bad I can’t get odds that my one loss streak is broken.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

HBO Roundup: A lot of reviewers panned the Peter Sellers bio, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, that came on HBO Sunday. I thought it was good. They took a lot of chances dramatically, in fact using so many different creative devices may have come off a bit gimmicky, but I liked it. It couldn’t have been easy to biograph Sellers, who was practically an empty shell for his characters; especially without making him seem either heartlessly evil or helplessly sad. Sellers just was.

It won't be a grand revelation, but the movie is worth seeing. It's especially poignant if you remember some of the old British comedies that are recreated in part. Fascinating to be reminded of Sellers' performances in these films and have them put in the context of his personality (or lack thereof).


The Sellers flick pre-empted The Wire, which only has two shows left on the season.

If you ask anyone what the best cop show ever made was, and they say anything but The Wire they probably never saw it. If you haven’t seen it, don’t bother watching the last two episodes. They will be meaningless to you. The first two seasons are out on DVD. You should rent them so you get the full effect, but even if you do, bear in mind that The Wire isn’t paced like a typical TV show. It is very possible that you could look at an early season episode and think absolutely nothing is going on. The Wire is intentionally paced to build slowly over the season. In this fascinating interview, done sometime during the second season, series creator David Simon explains in some detail about the artistic philosophy behind the show and how it steps beyond a standard cop show. It actually explains the show better than I can.

I should point out that even though it is a gritty adult show, in contrast to a lot of HBO drama, there is no preponderance of violence or nudity. It really is carried by the plot and the characters.


Once The Wire ends we'll come to the second season of Carnivale. If you have broadband you can get the trailer here. This will be a make or break season for Carnivale. Last season was visually stunning, and eerily atmospheric, but a little light on plot structure. The challenge is simple. If they build a compelling storyline or two they'll have a winner. If they fall back pretty pictures and reed thin stories propped up by Deus Ex Machina, it'll be a write off.

It's interesting to contrast this interview with the Carnivale's creator, Daniel Knauf, with the above interview with David Simon. Knauf is all about find the right way to keep the audience passionate and keep "blowing their minds." Simon doesn't give a rat's pistachios about the audience; he only cares about the story. There's an awful lot that could be said about that contrast.

Rumor has it that Carnivale was looking to cast a multiple amputee for the role of Management for the sake of realism. Whatever the case, let's hope he (or she) can act.
Links Lying Around: Random nonsense I've stumbled across while trying to recover from Vegas.
  • No dark sarcasm in the courtroom. The kids who sang the anti-grammatical chorus to Pink Floyd's The Wall are all grown up and suing for royalties. I guess they got their education after all.

  • Quite possibly the coolest optical illusion ever.

  • The ten least successful Christmas specials.

  • When someone wants you to watch It's a Wonderful Life, scare them away by explaining how Pottersville Rocks!

  • Remember Bejeweled, that insanely addictive little game that came out a couple of years ago? Bejeweled 2 is now available. Try to resist.

  • Top 100 Overlooked films of the '90s, although I am not entirely certain I would call some of these films "overlooked." Found at the the evil devourer of time, List of Bests.

  • I'm not big on the Mobil diamond and AAA star hotel ratings. I've been burned by these. But if you're curious, here're the latest top properties according to Mobil and AAA.

  • Someone believes they accidentally photographed a meteorite striking a street lamp. That would have to be about a zillion-to-one shot. There is still a good deal of debate over what it actually is.

  • A guide to the hot new board games. (Is that an oxymoron?)

  • Iron Chef America is now an actual TV series, starting in January

  • My review of The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy is up over at Blogcritics

Psst! 5-1 in football picks. {giggle}

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Where's the Nearest Manger?: I have no reason to be totally freaked out about money right now, but for some reason I am. Actually, I do have a reason -- it's all the gratuitous traveling I'm doing. It tends to lead to a gag reaction when I open my credit card bills.

Then, of course, comes the first of the 2005 bills, which so far have my gym membership and my condo fees going up for next year. OK, the gym thing is a trivial amount, but a twenty dollar a month increase in condo fees after a similar increase last year is annoying the hell out of me. When I bought this place, condo fees were $125/month. Now they are $215. That's, what, a 72% increase in since '98 (I think). What else in the world has gone up in price 72% since 1998? We live in times of very low inflation; I can't see how maintenance costs could have gone up so damn much. Can they not find illegal immigrants and pay them slave wages like any self-respecting condo board?

The rational person is now saying, "So get on the condo board and do something about it." Well the fact is, it's not so bad to make me do that. It's a total of $240 dollars more than last year and I went through that in Vegas like it was nothing. But is does piss me off enough to bitch about it on my web site. Ipso bleedin' facto.

Another problem vexing me is my inability to alter the rate at which time passes.

Firstly, I need sleep badly, but I cannot get over this jet lag. The last three nights I have promised myself to get to sleep at a reasonable hour but I can’t seem to get off Vegas time, so despite being red-eyed and nearly catatonic, I lie awake in bed 'til the wee hours. I shall attempt to drug myself to sleep tonight.

Secondly, I have so much writing (and corresponding reading) to do I may never catch-up. I have to write about Vegas, and I have two book reviews swimming around in my head, not to mention fiction that I was just making some progress on until recently. Again, I may have to resort to chemicals.

This is all a problem of time. If I could just alter the rate at which time passes things would be OK. I could speed up time at night so as to get enough sleep and slow it down when I need to get writing done. A wayback machine would be nice. I'd put it on my Amazon wish list but they don’t seem to stock them. Using chemicals to alter the rate of passing of time is highly indicative of something about life at the turn of the millennium, no doubt. I just don’t know what it is.
Football -- Week 13: So last week, as I mentioned, I was 3-2. I should have been 3-1. My picks were Houston, Buffalo, Miami, Jacksonville and Baltimore. The first three covered or beat the spread, the last two didn’t. The real bad decision was Baltimore to beat the touchdown spread against New England. This was the one bet I made that violated the principles I have been following been following since I started doing my Football Outsiders based picks a few weeks ago. It didn’t really make the cut. It was close, but not clear. Unfortunately, I had read a couple of convincing articles by sportswriters who seemed to know what they were talking about that suggested that NE winning by a touchdown was unlikely. Plus, I was betting "on tilt" as they say in poker. My judgment was scrambled by some egregious blackjack losses, so I was groping for a reason to make up for them. Stupid. But it's all spilt milk now.

This week, in contrast there seem to be tons of picks. Also for this week I have summarized the key information on this page to give a better feel for how I make my decisions. (I'll clean up the HTML eventually, but that gets us back to the above mentioned time issue.)

Our first rule of thumb is to play the favorite when a team is 40+ percentage points better in DVOA but is favored by a touchdown or less. This week there are four of those.
  • Buffalo -3.5 over Miami

  • Kansas City even over Oakland

  • Philly -6.5 over Green Bay

  • Pittsburgh -3 over Jacksonville

The only one I'm even slightly hesitant about is Philly because they are a lock for the NFC title and Green Bay is still fighting tooth and nail and because Brett Farve is who he is.

There are two match-ups where the favorite is more than 50 DVOA percentage points up on the underdog, NE over CLE and IND over TEN, but the spreads are in excess of 10 points and that scares me. NFL teams play to win, not to beat the spread, so it's really easy for me to see one of these teams up by say 17 points and the opponent gets the ball in garbage time at the end of the game and easily marches down for a meaningless touchdown that just happens to beat the spread. Still, Indy is tempting; I do believe it is their goal to score a hundred points in a game.

OK, possibly playing "on tilt" again, but I am going to swap out Philly/GB for Indy -11.5 over Tennessee.

Converse of the above rule of thumb is to look for teams favored by at least a touchdown but with a DVOA difference less than 40, then decide if there is a compelling reason to pick the underdog. There are five such match-ups.
  • STL -11 over SF

  • NYJ -7 over HOU

  • BAL -8 over CIN

  • MIN -8 over CHI

  • SEA -7 over DAL

Picking SF seems like a no brainer, but they are soooo bad. Houston can put it together but the Jets have their starting QB back and they are at home. Seattle has been on a brutal downward trend since the start of the season but they are at home and the Cowboys are a mess. Chicago can play well and they may want to at home against Minnesota. Baltimore is another favorite at home.

Chicago is tempting, but I'm going to take SF and the 11 points and hope the 49ers can make good use of the above mentioned garbage time. I'll back off of the rest.

Next up we look for teams that have superior DVOA but are the underdogs per the Vegas bookies. There are two of those this week. ATL is superior to TB but TB is giving 1.5. NYG is superior to WAS but WAS is giving 2.5. Neither of these are egregious enough to pick on.

Finally, a special situation. Arizona is starting a brand spanking new rookie QB, John Navarre. Navarre was a great QB for my alma mater (Michigan), but when you pile on the fact that it's his first ever snap in the NFL, his starting RB is out, he's got the added pressure of coming back to Michigan, and Joey Harrington and the Lions once again find themselves with something to prove -- at home, I just think the deck is too stacked against him. This is going to be a personnel issue based pick but I'll take the Lions and hope they can keep at least a touchdown advantage.

So here's the recap for week 13:
  • Buffalo -3.5 over Miami

  • Kansas City even over Oakland

  • Pittsburgh -3 over Jacksonville

  • Indianapolis -11.5 over Tennessee

  • San Francisco +11.5 over St. Louis

  • Detroit -6 over Arizona

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Guess Who's Back -- Back Again: That'd be me. Back for a quick update.

First off, I was 3 - 2 in football picks, my worst week yet this season. Wouldn’t you know this was also the week that I actually wagered money on them, since I was in Vegas for Thanksgiving. Still you can’t complain about coming out ahead, and they did a bit to alleviate my horrible showing at the blackjack table. A full accounting is coming (both of the picks and the trip), but I remain jetlagged for the moment so I'll need a few days to get back to what passes for normal.

On this trip, I discovered a couple of things. Not the least of which is that I really need a better understanding of my camera. Virtually every one of the pictures I took of the strip at night came out blurry as hell. If it was just a few of them I could pass it off to the fact that it was bitter cold and I may have been shivering. But all of them? Nope. Either I'm doing something wrong or the camera is. I'm guessing me.

The other thing I realized is that my laptop is well nigh useless. This is a Dell Inspiron I bought a coupe of years ago. The power supply has always been flaky; sometimes after having been shut down for hours, it inexplicably boots up. Seriously freaky if it happens in the middle of the night when it seems like an eerie blue glow is emanating from the next room for no reason. Now I discover that it will only hold a charge for about 15 minutes. Which when combined with the fact that I could not get the hotel room connection working meant that I had to hunt down internet cafes on the Strip and the laptop was essentially a 10 pound albatross I got to lug through various airports.

Plus, the CD burner doesn’t work properly. It will duplicate entire CDs via Roxio, but can’t copy ad hoc files to a CD for backup. What a POS. When you combine this with the fact that my desktop is also on its last legs and recently needed a solid weeks work to reconstruct after a disk crash, it's clear it's time for me to invest in new computer infrastructure. Lucky I've been spending an insane amount of money on recreational travel.

Fortunately my employer provides interest free computer loans so it looks like I'm going to pick up a new IBM X series sub-three-pounder with built in wireless and take the hit over the next eighteen months as a paycheck deduction.

Anyway, I've finished reading The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. At the outset I thought it might turn out to be one for the Pantheon, but now I don’t think so. Not that it wasn't rewarding, but it is a difficult book to get a grip on and in the end, the objective is not all that exceptional. A wonderful main character, though, and some interesting perspective. I hope to do a full review.

At the moment I am reading The Whole Wide World, by Yvonne Castaneda, an author of my acquaintance. You'll get the scoop on that too.

But I really really really really really need some sleep. More soon.