Thursday, December 22, 2005

Books of the Month

So, I've got 2 good books that I've been reading the past month.
The first is Chechnya Diary by Thomas Goltz. He also wrote Azerbaijan Diary, which is quite good. If you want to know what it's like to live through a conflict as a news reporter while making friends with soldiers and civilians there at the same time, it's a great read.
Goltz speaks Azeri/Turkish and Russian, which gave him the ability to communicate with everyone he encounters. Both of his books give a personal detail of war from the viewpoint of the villager, the farmer, the taxi driver.



It took Goltz several years to write this book because he had to dredge up so many bad memories. He's deeply disturbed, but well-informed by the Caucasus.

In that same deeply disturbed frame of mind, we have Jarhead, by Anthony Swofford. I have yet to see the movie, but know that it can't possibly be like the book, or else no one would want to see it. There is very little actual war in this book, and not many shots fired. Most of it is just the random memories of an American boy and the choices he has made that brought him into Desert Shield.

This book is filled with lists: who soldiers write to from the front, and who writes to soldiers. What soldiers really want in various situations, prices of prostitutes in various countries, etc..

If you want to know what the life of a Marine is really like, day-in day-out, maybe you should check it out. It's very reminiscent of movies like Full Metal Jacket & Apocalypse Now. It was interesting listening to this in my car every day to and from work. You'll really pray for and wonder about people you know in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.

Swofford is a non-Christian soldier, who flirts with some deep thoughts and universal emotions. So, if you're turned off by: a lot of foul language, coarse joking, corpse mutilations, prostitution, or submission to authorities, you will not be turned on by this book. Buyer beware.

(Troy and Wes: If you get the book on tape, listen to Tape 1... you'll understand).

I'll have the Book of the Year post up here soon.

Hope I go somewhere that has Internet this Christmas, so I can write more posts. Until then, have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Not much to say

I've got 3 more days left until I'm done with my job, and then a long drive to Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois. Then, school will start shortly thereafter and I'll be deluged and stressed for the next year or 2.

How good would UK be with Chris Lofton on our team? Why didn't we recruit this guy? Can we trade UT for him? We offer you Brandon Stockton.

I was pleased with UK's performance on Saturday. While Sparks didn't do as well as I predicted, Rondo performed right on schedule. Who needs Randolph Morris when we have some of the best scorers in the country attacking the basket?

Good job Wukash for 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. You actually showed that you can grab some boards and be aggressive! Shagari also had 2 blocks, but it looked more like 3 or 4 to me. He definitely altered the game for those brief minutes.

How much more fun would it be if I had cable? I could actually watch games on ESPN, and feel like I was in-the-know. I know what I'll be doing at my parent's and in-law's houses on vacation.

Nothing else that I watch on TV is still showing: The Office, The Apprentice, and such.

Okay, gotta get back to work. Have a good Tuesday.

Friday, December 16, 2005

UK Game Tommorrow

For once, I agree with Seth Davis: UK 74- Louisville 69

My reasons:
1. Taquan Dean carries UL, but it takes more than one player to do that in a rivalry game and a team as deep as UK, and with a quick Louisville-native guard like Rondo.

2. Rondo will drive to the basket early and often, getting guys like Dean into foul trouble, and setting up open looks for Sparks.

3. Sparks loves to play against UL. He'll have a big day as a senior against them.

4. Palacios' ankle is still not 100%.

5. Pitino needs his team to lose this game. Think back to '96 SEC tourny vs. Mississippi State. Losing at Rupp will humble his team, and give even more ammo to Coach P to criticize them and make them listen to him. He'd rather come into Rupp and get blown out than come in and blow out UK. Don't believe me? Read his book.

5. I'm not real impressed with Padgett. The committee of 7' should be able to marginalize him. Just foul him, for pete's sake.

I disagree with anyone who says UK could get blown out in this game. That's ridiculous. At worst, it'll be an ugly game where neither team shoots well and has to grind it out. UK wins, period.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Apprentice Finale

(All pictures are from www.nbc.com).
Okay, so we're very excited about the finale of The Apprentice. You've got Randal, who's like a black version of Nathan Millican, and you've got Rebecca, who's a smoking hot economist/pre-law female. I think that they're both Christians. Randal is a proud member of 1st Baptist somewhere; Rebecca is very humble, and always quick to give others credit, and hesistant to bash them. A rarity for this show!

They're both the smartest 2 people I've ever seen on The Apprentice. Randal has an MBA w/a PhD., and was a Rhodes Scholar. Rebecca got her Econ degree from the famous University of Chicago. She's 23 and already pretty powerful in the world of charities and financial institutions.

She broke her ankle while ice skating with the New York Rangers in the first episode of the show, and has been on crutches the entire time. That's a handicap she's overcome.

Randal is the guy everyone wants on their team, because he always wins. In one episode, he was the only person on his team to have seen Star Wars. This made him the only credible person in my book. Trump agreed, quickly firing all of the others.

For the final episode, he's got help from Mark, from Kentucky, although he went to school at Louisville.

I can't wait to see who wins. Both candidates are WAY too worthy for the Trump Organization.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Disappointment and fear...

So, I've gotten virtually no response to the rankings of the Tapp Coaching Index, but I'm still quite proud of it.

I saw a couple of things that scared me on Saturday. The first was J.J. Redick of Duke scoring 41 points. Jacking up all kinds of 3's and making them... as usual. Blowing out the #2 team in the country by 31 certainly sends some kind of scary message.
Without Redick, Duke would sink fast. With him, they're shoving it in everyone's face.

4 assists... 4 assists?? 4 assists was all that UK had against IU. UK should go back and watch the game tape of the UNC game last week. They should watch at how well UNC passed the ball, moved it around and inside for layups, and then back outside for open jumpers. That was fundamental. Tubby, what are you teaching these guys?

I didn't get to watch the game because we had to watch Gonzaga-Oklahoma State here. This made me very angry, so I went to campus and got online and listened to it over the Net. What I heard made me furious. How can we lose by 26 to Mike Davis? By 26??? Oh yeah, 4 assists, that partly explains it. 2-24 from 3-point range or whatever. Tells me we just got desperate and started jacking them up there. Haven't we seen this before?

I agree with Cooperstown: Tubby needs to adjust, become a different personality... do something! The players don't respect the system, or the coach. We've looked really bad in 3 games on national TV.

BEAT LOUISVILLE. BEAT LOUISVILLE. BEAT LOUISVILLE!

Next Saturday is my birthday. All I want... ALL I WANT... is a victory. We can lose all we want to against Top-25 teams, but let's still be better than the Cardinals.

Friday, December 09, 2005

And the Winner Is...

I've finalized the Tapp Coaching Index.

A reminder: This index was calculated using a mathematical formula that combined overall winning percentage, NCAA tournament success, and NBA first round picks from ’97-98 to ’04-05.

In order for an NBA draft pick to count, the coach had to both recruit and develop the player. So, that ruled out many players for Tubby Smith & Roy Williams. Tayshaun Prince is the only NBA first rounder that Tubby can claim as his own. I also ruled out Steve Francis (a JUCO transfer who stayed 1 year) for Gary Williams.

I was able to get Lute Olsen’s stats and add them to the list.

FYI- Here are the overall winning percentages for those coaches.

1. Coach K 86.7%
2. Roy Williams 79.4%
3. Lute Olsen 79.2%
4. Tubby Smith 79.1%
5. Jim Calhoun 78.3%
6. Jim Boeheim 74.4%
7. Tom Izzo 74.3%
8. Gary Williams 71.3%

And here are the Tapp Coaching Index Scores:

1. Coach K 8.73
2. Roy Williams 7.34
3. Jim Calhoun 7.02
4. Tom Izzo 7.02 (exact tie here)
5. Tubby Smith 6.63
6. Lute Olsen 6.51
7. Gary Williams 5.83
8. Jim Boeheim 5.65

So, according to this model, Tubby Smith is a Top-5 coach among these coaches since ’97-98.
I’ll also remind you that Olsen’s rating would go up significantly by just adding one more year (his ’97 title). By increasing the span of years, Boeheim’s would go up significantly while Calhoun’s would go down. Gary Williams’s great tournament runs of recent years are what helped his TCI.


I also remind you that Rick Pitino is not on this list, but is definitely in the “Top-5” debate, having taken 3 different teams to the Final 4.

For those of you who say “1998 doesn’t count because Tubby won with Pitino’s players,” and factor out the ’97-98 season, Tubby’s TCI slides out of the top 5.

As I’ve said, this is an imperfect measure. But, it’s a good way to analyze 3 very important aspects of coaching success and compare coaches the coaches by those measures.

I’d like to run the analysis on what I consider mid-major coaches: Bill Self, Bob Huggins, John Calipari, and Billy Donovan.

It would also be fun to run this on legends like Dean Smith and Bob Knight.

It would probably also be fun to run this on talking heads like ESPN’s Steve Lavin.

I welcome your questions and comments.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Weather in Central Texas

On Saturday, the weather was 87 degrees... hot. Shorts and go-for-a-walk weather.
Today, it's a winter storm warning w/snow and freezing rain. I thought I had left all of the weird weather behind in Kentucky.

I'll post the Tapp Coaching Index tommorrow (depending on internet connection).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Who's the Best Coach in the NCAA?

Smitty has asked a key question: Is Tubby Smith a Top-5 Coach?
This is a subjective question, but we can use empirical data to analyze this and come up with a good idea of who the top coaches are. Let's compare statistics from the top championship-winning coaches, and see how they compare. In fairness, I'll measure from the '97-98 season, Tubby's first year.

I've created a mathematical formula to measure coaching success based on 1.)Overall winning % 2.) A point system for success in NCAA Tournament play 3.) NBA first round draft picks produced by the coaches. I'll call it the Tapp Coaching Index.

This is an imperfect measure. It ignores things like head-to-head matchups. But, I believe that the head-to-head games even out. Few coaches enjoy a statistical domination in games against an opposing coach. overall winning % is a much better indicator of success, as is tourny play.
I've included the NBA First Rounders because I believe it's an indicator of the talent a coach is recruiting & developing (this is one of the primary jobs of a coach, after all). It also helps contribute to the prestige and reputation of a school.
NOTE: 2 key coaches have been left out of my analysis. Lute Olsen (because Arizona's website is pathetic and I can't get the statistics), and Rick Pitino (he didn't coach for many of those years). Roy Williams is included, and I used his stats from Kansas and UNC because I believe the teams were very similar in talent and style of play.

Coaches on the List:
Jim Calhoun (UConn)
Coach K (Duke)
Tom Izzo (Mich St.)
Gary Williams (Maryland)
Roy Williams (Kansas/UNC)
Tubby Smith (Kentucky)
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)

What do you think the order of this list is 1-5? I'll post the answer in a couple days. Tell your friends to check it out and join the discussion!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

My Thoughts on the UK Game

Well, I'm glad I finished reading The Carolina Way on Friday. What I saw idealized in the book I also saw on the basketball court on Saturday... on the UNC side.

Those of you actually at Rupp Arena missed Seth Davis's halftime comment that UK will be a team that is loaded with talent but won't actually go anywhere this year. Billy Packer's comments were pretty balanced and fair.

UNC did a great job:
1. Moving the ball around. Good passes, and good, quick interior passes setting up easy layups and at least one thunderous dunk.

2. Rebounding. They got a ton of second-chance points.

Tubby says:
"We really got pounded there. They had 15 offensive rebounds with about nine in the first half. We did a really poor job of boxing out and we take that pretty seriously. We work pretty hard at offensive rebounding. I thought that we really didn’t get the play out of some of our inside people as far as putting some bodies on the court. That really hurt us in the game and when we only get eight [offensive rebounds], that’s critical.”

3. Not backing down. Carolina pride was on full display. Freshmen there don't care that they're freshmen.

I agree with Tubby's statement here:
"I’m not happy with where we are coming off a loss. We really regressed in a lot of ways – boxing out and dribble penetration. I thought we had some careless turnovers and this was really a step back for us in a lot of ways.”

UK never seemed to execute well offensively for more than a few minutes a game. Only a couple times in the game did I see us use good dribble penetration to set up a good jump-shot. Too many times our good ideas turned into badly executed turnovers.

I agree with Wes Cooper's statement that Sheray Thomas is worthless. He took a good charge, and got open for one good dunk. His 26 minutes were soft.

Carter and Orbzut might have not been producing, but at least they were helping to protect the basket and playing aggressive on defense (2 fouls each in 1st half). Maybe we should have played Carter some in the 2nd half?

Overall, I think our team was unprepared to play and got out-fundamentled and out-hustled by UNC and their up-tempo, fundamentally-sound Carolina Way. We'd better be prepared to kick butt next Saturday against IU.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Lyric of the Week

From Johnny Cash... If you've seen Walk the Line, you know the power of his songs. The most powerful of which I think is "Folsom Prison Blues." For anyone who's ever felt like they're stuck in a prison, and yet still know what's going on outside by the whistle of a train they hear...

"I bet there's rich folks eatin' in a fancy dining car,
they're prob'ly drinking coffee and smoking big cigars.
Well, I know I had it coming; I know I can't be free.
But, those people keep a movin,'
and that's what tortures me."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Book of the Month


The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching
Dean Smith, Gerald Bell, & John Kilgo.
(Very fitting since the Cats play UNC on Saturday)

I recommend this book to anyone interested in basketball & business. I got the audio (9 CD’s) for just $4.00, and saw plenty of hardbacks at the same price.

Every chapter in the book features an historical snippet or principle from Smith (read by Smith himself), then a recollection by a former player, and then an application of the principle to business by a guy with a Ph.D. in business administration.

Up until now, I’ve always hated Carolina basketball and Dean Smith. I disliked that he broke Adolph Rupp’s all-time winning record. I thought he was overrated, all of those years but only 2 NCAA Championships to his name. My parents told me the stories of how he would beat the old UK teams with his “4-corners” offense. “Stall ball,” and how all of Memorial Coliseum would boo him for just dribbling out the clock.

Perhaps I’d also always been a little jealous of Carolina. They have much a much more star-studded alumni list than Kentucky…

1995 was the most crucial year in my memory. Rasheed Wallace threw Andre Riddick against a goal post, and all the world remembers is the choke hold that Riddick put on Wallace a couple plays later (Carolina came back and won an ugly game in the 2nd half). From what I understood, Smith had told the players to play rough, because Kentucky was intimidated by rough play. “Dirty,” I thought.

What I didn’t know until I read this book was that Wallace and the entire UNC team ran laps in practice because of his technical fouls. That was Smith’s rule that he kept all through his tenure: If someone gets a technical foul, the whole team runs in practice. No exceptions.

If someone simply cursed in practice, the whole team ran. Dean Smith has morals, no exceptions.

Dean Smith was very driven to win, but also was innovative. He recruited guys that respected their coaches and families. He graduated over 90% of his players, with something like 50%+ going on to graduate school. He never had an NCAA investigation or infraction.

His teams beat Duke (they seem to be having a hard time doing that these days).

He explains in the book how he designed the “4-Corners” offense and why many people remember it only as “stall ball” or cheating. He and his players preferred to run, and press. He found the 4-corners the best way to keep the lead late in the game, and teams definitely weren’t able to stop it. The shot clock stopped it, when it was introduced, and he preferred that because he preferred to run and score quickly.

Charles Scott, the first black ACC player, tells a story of how UNC came to Lexington in '68 and beat a hostile UK team, not by the 4-corners, but by stopping UK's offense. Rupp ran the same play over and over, and wouldn't change his plan. UNC had already scouted and prepared for it, and thus stifled UK's offense.

Smith was a pioneer in recruiting Scott. On his recruiting visit to Chapel Hill, Smith took Scott to his own all-white church. This meant a lot to him as a black athlete.
He adapted his methods with each team, and often changed strategies to fit each team.

Former Carolina players come back and contribute to the program. They help run summer scrimmages, and many have become coaches themselves. They don’t get into scandals.

The faculty highly praised and gave Dean Smith awards themselves. Many are quoted as saying he was one of the best teachers on campus. They liked the positive attention he brought the school, and the fact that the students were had such a high graduate and post-graduate success rate. You don’t see that mutual admiration from coaches and professors at many colleges today.

The Carolina Way of coaching and practicing has influenced a lot of teams. The continuity of Smith’s program carries over to the style they play today, and his players have become some of the best coaches in basketball. Guys like Felton, May, & McCants stuck around because they wanted to get UNC back on top and keep the tradition alive.

The book changed a lot of my thinking about Smith, and definitely increased my respect for him and his program. I misjudged him.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

American Psychos

Well, we had a happy Thanksgiving dinner with friends in southwest Dallas. It was a fun time, and I carved my first turkey (which my wife cooked, a first for her also). Accomplishments all around.

On Friday, I engaged in my wife's family's tradition of doing early-bird special shopping. We had our eye on a desktop computer at Best Buy (w/printer & flatscreen monitor). So, that means that I got up at 4:00am on Friday(!) and we were standing in line by 4:30 (doors opened at 5:00).
Now, I've stood in line for basketball tickets before, and for entrance to events. But, never to buy an item and fight a huge crowd once inside a store. We got the desktop, just barely. We're friends with one of the employees, and he helped us out as soon as he saw us. The computers were all sold out by about 5:05am.
We also got good deals on a wireless router & adapter combo for just $15.00, and other things. (We're taking the router/adapter back to exchange).

After this success, we were out of the store at 6:30am. Plenty of time to do more shopping! Hastings opened at 8:00am, so I stood in line there while my wife went elsewhere. Hastings was selling all of its used books for $5.00, CD's for $3.99 and 30% off all of their used DVD's. It's kind of like a Barnes & Noble, but with a huge selection of used items.

While standing in line at Hastings with the other psychopaths, I heard the following stories:
There were so many people at Wal-Mart that those who had started waiting at 2am still didn't get the computer they were hoping to get. It was pandemonium there.

At least 3 people were arrested at Circuit City after fights broke out over the $199 laptop they were selling. This place was apparently also mob-rule. Can you imagine waiting in line all night for a computer, and then getting hauled away in handcuffs and still not having a computer?

So, after spending a couple hours at Hastings, I came home and passed out. Why do we do these things to ourselves? Oh, because there are gifts to buy for other people who are out braving the same crowds to buy gifts for us. This is why I don't like Christmas so much. I'm a Grinch about it. Let's just all eat dinner with each other on Christmas and then send gifts to each other throughout the year, when we see something that the other will need. Let's not make them go without it for 6 months saying "Just wait 'til Christmas!"

Yes, we in America are fanatics and psychopaths. Oddly enough, after Friday I feel like I accomplished something. If nothing else, I got some good books to read.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Win is a Win is a Win

Here's a good Andy Katz article on the Cats' 2 games. (Andy Katz is one of the few guys at ESPN I still respect.

While I was unable to watch the game yesterday, I have to say I'm impressed with the stats that I saw. Sparks having 6 assists and really opening the game up for everyone is really nice. Rondo averaging 12 rpg is crazy. He'd better be considered an All-American by the end of the year.
Who needs 7 footers? Tubby's faith in Jared Carter is really promising, too. One day he'll be considered better than all the others.

Gotta love both the name and game of Pittsnogle. It's like something out of Harry Potter. Good line for him, too: 27 points, 10 boards and only 1 turnover. He's the High Fiving White Guys' best shot at the NBA.

Happy Thanksgiving, boys! Thanks for the win! WVU: Beat Louisville.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nothing Matters Until March


I enjoyed getting to watch the Wildcats on TV for the first time this season. Props to Sean Barr and his magical HDTV for letting me partake of the sweet goodness that is college basketball.

I was disappointed, but not really surprised, that we were overcome by Iowa. My thoughts on the matchup:

1. I'm perplexed that these players get older, but they don't get smarter. Same silly mistakes and turnovers.

2. Finish this sentence: Sheray Thomas is good at ________? I'm having trouble putting anything in that blank.

3. Joe Crawford is in the doghouse (again).

4. Did you see Brunner for Iowa? I mean, the guy's like 40 years old. He's the crafty old man you play at the church gym. The guy had 17 points, 12 rebounds, and dominated us. His next stunt will be to appear on "The Contender."

5. A team full of veterans who have run the same offensive sets together for years will probably always play us tough, no matter what talent they have.

6. Ramel Bradley has been taking lessons from Patrick Sparks. What was with that bad attempt at a three-pointer (turnover) at the end that cost us a good chance to take a lead?

7. Sims is freakin' awesome. I'd like to see him grab 19 rebounds some day.

8. West Virginia should change the name of their team from "Mountaineers" to "High-Fiving White Guys." They'll be fun to play and hopefully won't pull a Hoosiers remake on us.

9. Even with Randolph Morris this game would have been close.

10. Rondo, keep taking it to the hole. You're the shining light.

11. Was it just me, or did Brett Musberger (ESPN commentator) sound drunk last night? Quote of the night for him: "You're my Orbzut guy!"

Let's win tonight, boys. It'll make Thanksgiving a little easier for all of us.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mohler vs. Carter

vs.
Long-time readers of my blog (check out the July archives) will remember that I promoted Jimmy Carter for President as a good answer to our nation's political problems and to the deep division that exists between the "right" and "left" in America.

Al Mohler apparently disagrees with me. He has critiqued Carter's new book: "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis" on his blog.
Carter has written an eloquent response to Al Mohler (thus increasing my admiration of Carter's character) in an article for the Christian News.

Mohler says this: "Mr. Carter blames conservative evangelicals in general - and the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention in particular - for his devastating loss to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election."

Jimmy Carter says "I have never believed such a thing, nor expressed this opinion." He knows why he lost the election. Why would Mohler make this sort of heavy-handed comment/accusation? It's based on nothing Carter says or does.

I think that Al Mohler doesn't listen, and I think Carter agrees: "I read Albert Mohler's column ... and found it difficult to relate his distorted comments with the actual text that was published."

I think Mohler often hears what he wants to, and smears who he sees as a threat. Instead of fostering more discussion on the issue as Christians, Al's post seems to me to say (my words here) "Carter is wrong and doesn't know it, and we should watch out for and reject people like him because they're a threat to us."

Carter's problem is with the SBC's changing of the "Baptist Faith and Message" back in 2000 but also with the move of the Bush II administration's unilateralism away from international agreements, environmental action, and acceptance of things like torture of prisoners and violations of civil rights (certain clauses of the Patriot Act). Mohler doesn't mention these in his post as important.

If Al Mohler wants to defend these policies of the Bush administration, then he'll put himself at odds with plenty of evangelicals, including myself.

I don't agree with Jimmy Carter about everything, and I agree with Al Mohler about plenty. But, I embrace more of Jimmy Carter's mission of fostering discussion about the issues, and finding common ground that we can stand on in peace. I reject Al Mohler's ways of polarizing people.

Friday, November 18, 2005

OUTRAGE!!!

ESPN.com is having a "tournament" of the all-time greats. 32 teams' all-time great players vs. eachother in a fictional matchup. Then, two Page 2 writers decide how the game would have been played in their minds. Fans vote.

First of all, Kentucky was given an 11th seed! Are you crazy???
Second of all, they have us losing to Houston in the 2nd round!!! Voters picked Houston over Kentucky 82% to 17%.
Scoop Jackson pretends to know something about basketball, and some idiot named Eric Neel says that our all-time team is inferior to Providence's!!! What the crap???

First of all, the 7 "all-time greats" they picked for UK are:

Rex Chapman
Louis Dampier
Jamal Mashburn
Dan Issel
Sam Bowie
Kevin Grevey
Jack Givens

I agree with 4 or 5 of these. But, what about Kenny Walker? What about Frank Ramsey? Tony Delk? Antoine Walker? Kyle Macy? Others from the 80's like Winston Bennett. Older guys like Pat Riley? (If LSU gets a very high seed with the likes of Bob Pettit, surely you can figure out some of our old guys who could play).

ESPN PAGE 2 IS STUPID. ANY OF THE OLD GUYS SUCH AS DICK VITALE, RICK MAJERUS OR EVEN DIGGER PHELPS WOULD HAVE PICKED BETTER TEAMS THAN THIS.

I'm asking everyone to write in and voice your complaints. This is truely a mockery of basketball.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New Toy for Christmas


The Magic Bullet

So, watching infomercials on Saturday may not be healthy for your wallet. My wife and I finally decided to order a Magic Bullet as a Christmas gift for each other this year.

It can chop and make most anything I want it to in 5 seconds. It's very cool. For salsa, smoothies, guacamole, milkshakes, alfredo sauce. It's all right here, baby. And it takes no more space on your countertop than a mug of coffee.

But wait, there's more!
You also get a free blender and juicer attachment with your Magic Bullet! That's a $250 value!

But, hold on, there's even more!
If you call in the next 15 minutes, you get a WHOLE OTHER SET for FREE! That's 2 for 1!

So, tonight is its maiden mission. I'm making some chicken curry and am going to chop & grind up my spices and vegetables with the Magic Bullet.

So, that's what we got for Christmas. We haven't figured out who we're giving the 2nd one to yet. Christmas in the grown-up world.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Winners & Losers on the Weekend

Losers:
Alabama
Baylor (no bowl for you)
Texas Tech (losing to Oklahoma State is like Auburn losing to Kentucky).
Kentucky football(You gave up 32 points and almost lost the game in the 2nd half. You claim a "huge" victory over a team that has won 4 games and is a traditional SEC whipping-boy. What a joke.)

Winners:
Oklahoma (your season wasn't a total disaster)
LSU
Vince Young
Rajon Rondo

Bad Coaching Decision of the Week:

Remember last week when I praised Guy Morriss for not playing his starting QB (Shawn Bell)against Texas so he could have a week off and not get killed? Well, Morriss made the bonehead decision to leave him on the bench for the Missouri game. The result? Missouri took a 24-0 lead with 3:00 to go in the 3rd quarter. Morriss then put Shawn Bell in. Result: Bell immediately led 3 quick scoring drives to make it 24-16. Baylor's defense then held Missouri to a 4th and 1 on their own 44 yard line. Mizzou went for it, and scored a touchdown. Bell got the Bears back to the red-zone twice more, but couldn't make touchdowns.
My point: If Shawn Bell plays, Baylor is much more competitive. You do the math:
Backup Terrance Park's line: 42 minutes, 9-21 passing, 0 TD's, 1 INT, 5 sacks
Bell's line: 18 minutes, 18-29 passing, 209 yards, 2 TD's, 0 INT's

Good Coaching Decision of the Week:
Everything Steve Spurrier did.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

How Do You Feel About James 5:14?

James 5:14-15
“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church over him to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”

So, how often does your church’s elders (leaders) anoint a sick person with oil and pray over him for healing? Why does this not happen much in most churches? It seems like a clear command to me.

Joni and I finally joined Highland Baptist Church on Sunday. We attended the orientation class and had our questions answered about the structure and ministries of the church. The pastor later told us that “The main difference between us and a typical SBC church is that we take James 5:14 seriously.” Somewhere around 50% of the congregation of the church has no Baptist background. An interesting blend.

So, how do you feel about speaking in tongues, performing miracles, and prophesying? (A typical question from the spiritual gifts survey we took before joining: “Have you ever shared Christ with someone in a language you have never learned?” “Do you enjoy interpreting for people who speak in tongues for the edification of the body of believers?”).

Dave Blake used to argue that miracles, healings, speaking in tongues found in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 don’t exist on the earth now (I don’t know what you believe now, Dave). The pastor spent some time going over this also. I agree with our pastor that there is no Scriptural basis for believing that miracles have decreased or don’t exist now. We just don’t see them much in America. But, I’ve known enough people who were healed of diseases, or could speak a word of prophecy to let me know that the gifts are just as manifest in certain parts of the world as they were in the 1st century church.
I’ve also heard of enough people being healed, and being raised from the dead to let me know that miracles still happen.

I feel glad to be a part of a church that takes Scripture literally enough to believe in and to pursue God in these things. I’m glad the church encourages spiritual growth through small groups of believers. I hope to learn things and be a contagious Christian again.

Today (11/13) is the “Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.” Take a minute to think about and pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ who risk death by proclaiming Christ and sharing Him with others.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Motivation for Production

One of the great pioneers of “business management,” Peter Drucker, has died at age 91. This helps give me motivation to write about something other than sports for a change, and get back to the real reasons that I started this blog in the first place.
I think Peter Drucker agreed with empowering employees by giving them more decision-making power. “Employees are a resource,” he said. He’d agree with giving some employees the opportunity to figure out incentives to help them work. That’s what this post is about.

The long-time readers of my blog might remember my observations from my time on the assembly line at Allergan. There, temporary workers were pushed to perform tasks quickly to meet the demands of managers. No incentives were given to them, they just simply worked harder because they were told to. They actually had a disincentive to work harder. If they got the job done faster, it meant that they would be sent home, or there wouldn’t be work for them later in the week. I was quite amazed and baffled at how hard they worked for no apparent reason.

(I should note that many of these temps have left the factory, because they got tired of showing up at 6:30am and being sent home because there was no work that day. They helped work themselves out of jobs).

I’m no longer assigned to Allergan, but have a temp job in corporate America. Again, I work on a team of temps assigned to do a menial task. We’re asked to do it quickly and efficiently. The incentive might be the chance of being hired on full-time with higher wages and benefits (401k and such). (This incentive doesn’t apply to me because I’m leaving in January to start school anyway). I do an honest and good job here because I feel I’m honoring God, myself, my commitment to ethics, and also I really like the folks this particular company.

Now, I have co-workers who understand that the completion of our assigned task means they will be again unemployed. We don’t punch a time clock, so there is no incentive to come to work exactly on time. We’re not under constant supervision, so there isn’t always a reason to perform. Our pay isn’t based on performance. So, plenty of reasons not to work. I should mention that we have our own workstations connected to the Internet, so there are plenty of available distractions also (you can surf the Net while pretending to work. I heard on NPR a few weeks ago that a recent study says that more and more hours are spent in the workplace looking at blogs instead of actually working, but I digress…)

The managers who originally hired us on expected our entire task to take about 6 weeks. I’ve been there 8 weeks, and know that in reality, our task will probably take another 4 months.

We’ve recently been given a new phase of our assignment. The job is very tedious, unexciting (long hours looking at things on a computer screen and clicking), and mind-numbing. We were given the same bad estimation for the project 3-4 weeks. On Friday, I did some number crunching and figured out that this task alone will take 2 months to do.

I was asked by my immediate supervisor to think of ways of motivation. How can we motivate the temporary employees to work more hours (most have never logged 40 hours in a week)? How can we motivate them to work better/faster? What tools can we give them to help them?

The goal: Take a 2-month job and somehow get it done in 1 month.

I came up with a couple of ideas right off the bat:

Idea #1: Set a goal for the project to be done by, say 1 month. If we perform the task in a month, give us all a bonus. You calculate the amount of this bonus by figuring out how long it should have taken us to do the job with our current efficiency, and how much that would have cost the company in salary by having us hired that long. For increasing our efficiency, the company should give us a bonus slightly less than what it would have cost us at our previous level of work.

In other words, this job would take us 2 months at our current level of work. This would cost the company $2000 (for example) for our salaries.
If we can be motivated to work faster, and get the job in a month, we’ll only cost the company $1000. The company should then give us a bonus of slightly less than $1000 so that it still profits more than it would have otherwise (it pays less than the $2000 it would have paid us if we'd done it in 2 months). Make sense?

Idea #2: Our task is kind of production-oriented. We have a total number of “projects” to be done. Why not set a high daily goal of projects to be done? If we need to do 100 projects a day to achieve the task in a month, then make that our goal. If we meet that goal, buy us lunch the next day. (Lunch at the downstairs cafĂ© is exactly $5.00. So, $15.00 for the 3 of us).

There are other ways to increase production: Add some software that might help us to work together easier, or hire more workers. Each of these require expenses that go well beyond the $15.00/day of lunch, or the bonus money I mentioned earlier.

Are there any sociologists, managers, economists, psychologists, or other folks out there with ideas/input/stories? Let’s put them on the table. What motivates you?

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Tribute to Ashlie

Every year McDonalds, corporate sponsor of UK Athletics, gives out little pocket schedules for men's basketball. You can only get these in Lexington, or by ordering them from the UK athletics office. I've had one in my wallet for every year since 1995. They're my identity, my good luck charm. Nope, no pictures of my wife in my wallet. But, I do have Tubby, Tayshaun, and Chuck.

Both years that I lived overseas, Dr. Ashlie Sykes sent me the latest schedules to keep me going. She has just sent me the new ones, and one to share with another big UK fan here at my office (without asking me for oatmeal creampies or anything else, unlike some others who frequent this blog!!).


So, this post is dedicated to Ashlie and all the reasons she is cool:

1. Ashlie lived next door to my old grade school friend Liz in Donovan hall. Liz is crazy, as you can see from her blog, and so Ashlie is cool because she's friends with her.

2. Ashlie spent several years in school to be a pharmacist. She's definitely one of the most educated women that I know.

3. Despite her high education, Ashlie is very down-to-earth. She's also a good cook.

4. Ashlie has always driven a pretty-new SUV since I've known her. She dominates in traffic.

5. Ashlie lets people use her house as a free Wi-Fi hotspot.

6. Ashlie is in an all-single-girl Lifegroup at Southland. This means she's around like-minded females that will actually help her grow spiritually.

7. She also sent me a UK snowman for Christmas when I was overseas. It's cool.

So, here's to you Ashlie, Princess of Pikeville. Know that I and my co-worker Sean really love the schedules. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Get On the Bandwagon!

This is the last I'm going to talk about this. I'm glad it's basketball season. I'm listening to Rekalin Sims drill 3-pointers in disbelief.

So, it seems that all of the Lexington Herald Leader's sportswriters have jumped back on the "Save Rich Brooks" bandwagon. This is unbelievable. John Clay says it's "fair" to keep Brooks. Chip Cosby quotes brooks as saying "We should be (better), and it should significantly show in the win column. I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility to think we'll have the opportunity to go to a bowl game next year."
Cosby also writes that this is "good news for recruits."

So, all is hunky dorey. This from the very people who 2 weeks ago were selling this man and the team down the river.

My prediction: UK will look better next year. I bet they win 5 games. After which everyone will say "Wow, look how much better they are! Next year we'll go to a bowl!" And, we might eventually go to a bowl game. But, then we'll go back to 3 wins or so with our old ball coach. Sub-Mediocrity.

Bill Curry took us to a bowl too. Everyone expected UK to stay on top back then. And then we had the worst seasons in several years. It took him forever to get fired. I guess the same will be true of Brooks. UK football = mediocrity at best. This is sad and unacceptable in a world where we could dominate football.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More disrespect

FoxSports has just come out with their NCAA Basketball Top 25 Poll. Kentucky is once again rated BELOW teams like Alabama, Boston College, Stanford(!?!?), Iowa, and of course Louisville.

I can't wait until UK plays Texas. They'll likely might meet up in the Guardians Classic. I can't wait to rub it in on some of the UT folks here, who feel they know what basketball is. Even Texas A&M figures to be ranked and competitive this year.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good Coaching Call of the Week

Instead of just normal "winners and losers" like I usually do on weekends, I'm going to add a feature to highlight good coaching decisions I saw during games.

This week's "good call" goes to Guy Morriss. He knew his team was going to lose to Texas, and probably lose very badly (62-0, which mean I was correct last week by saying Texas may hang 70 on the Bears. I was also correct that Vince Young would not get 267 yards of rushing again this week).

He gave his starting QB the week off.
He said he did it to spark the struggling offense. In reality, he made this decision to keep his starter from getting hurt, while giving playing time against a powerhouse to a younger guy who will start one day.

Shawn Bell, the starter, is usually pretty careful with the ball, and doesn't throw interceptions often. However, against Texas Tech, he threw 2 costly ones and seemed discouraged after being unable to put any points on the board (TT won 28-0). Good call to give him the week off so that he didn't feel the pressure of playing Texas, and wouldn't worry about getting hurt.

Terrance Parks, a sophomore QB, had nothing to lose and everything to gain out there. He could bring a new spark to the offense, and maybe score some points. He was 10-23 with 89 yards and 2 INTs. He took the pounding, but learned valuable lessons.

So, Bell can start fresh again next week against Missouri as Baylor tries to get Win #5.

BAN THE POLLS AND THE COMPUTERS

Just saw the new AP Poll. Since 7-1 Miami hammered Virginia Tech, the voters decided to rank them ahead of 9-0 Alabama. This is ridiculous. Virginia Tech hadn't played anyone and obviously were overrated. Alabama has beaten all comers, but probably won't make it to the BCS Championship because they're from the SEC. It's nearly impossible for a team from the SEC to go undefeated, because all of the teams in the conference are so good. Bama is still undefeated, and yet gets no respect. C'mon!

Biggest Losers on Saturday:

1. Virginia Tech

2. Phil Fulmer (wow, the vultures have increased exponentially over Knoxville!)

3. UCLA

4. Philadelphia Eagles. So, you've got different players saying different things about each other to the media, T.O. already had half the team ticked off, and now he's not part of the team... your QB is playing hurt, and people are starting to question the coach's playcalling. Um, how long until this train completely derails?

5. Florida State

6. Vanderbilt (49-42 loss to Florida in 2 OT). You were sooo close to doing the impossible and forever ruining Urban Meyer's reputation! Kudos to Jay Cutler (28-42 361 yards 4TD's 2 ints).

The winners this week:

1. Notre Dame (i got to see the scoring frenzy in the 4th quarter).

2. No one else who won big this week deserved it. That's my call, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sports Predictions

Okay, since I made a good prediction last week (the Texas Tech vs. Baylor game) I thought I'd go ahead and make some more for this week. If you took my suggestion last week, you won some money. Maybe you can do the same with some of these...

While I'm very pleased with UK's talent this year, and am not worried about them peaking until February/March, I make the following predictions:

1. I predict Wukash Orbzut won't dominate at center this season. In any game.



2. I predict that Brandon Stockton will do something in a game this year. A game. Maybe it's an exhibition game, so get ready! I predict he will score 12 points and be a hero one time this year.

I also predict that in a game soon, Rondo will get in foul trouble and Stockton will be called on to save the day at the point guard spot. (I make no predictions on how he does in that situation, though).

3. I predict that Tubby will get angry in several games this year. He'll get mad at his team for their lack of effort in rebounding. He would have last night, but it wasn't worth it.


4. I predict that Vince Young will NOT get 267 yards rushing against Baylor on Saturday. Dude got 267 yards rushing against Oklahoma State last week. That's like a Tecmo Bowl stat.
Guy Morriss will not let that happen. Texas might score 70 points, but Vince will not score them all.


So, take these to the bank, or Vegas, or to Buffalo Wild Wings. Whatever makes you feel good, because that's what matters when you're right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What Halloween Means To Me

Yes, it's that time of year when kids dress up in fanciful form and go begging for a hand-out. Many cultures around the world have things similar to Halloween, I've found out. Kids just love days when they can get free candy.

My wife and I carved this pumpkin with our church lifegroup. Actually, my wife found the design online and did most of the carving. It didn't win overall, but won "Most Religious" (or as I prefer to say "Most Non-Pagan").



The best part of my day was taking out my frustrations on our pumpkin. Call it a stressful workweek. This is the best part of Halloween. Parents wish that rowdy teenage punks would steal their jack-o-lanterns off the front porch and smash them before they rot (they don't tell their kids that, though). So, do you neighbors a favor; set their pumpkins free!
Remember, nothing feels better than smashing a pumpkin, and that's what Halloween means to me.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A difficult Sunday...

University Baptist Church is a church that centers mainly around Baylor students. David Crowder is the worship leader there. This morning, while performing a Baptism, their pastor Kyle Lake died. Apparently there was an accident involving his microphone hitting the water. This apparently happened in front of the whole congregation.

It was announced at the end of the service we were attending at Highland Baptist. The church prayed for University and Pastor Lake's family. One thing I like about Waco is there is a general sense of unity among the Baptist churches. The pastors went to school together, hang out together, and are supportive of each other.

I can't imagine going to church, worshipping and enjoying a baptism, only to see it take the life of my pastor. If you're so inclined, lift up a prayer for the congregation at University Baptist.

Here's the article in the local paper

Friday, October 28, 2005

Why TV is worth watching (sometimes).

Anyone see The Apprentice last night? The Donald fired 4 people at one time last night because they lost so bad. Really, I think this was just to provide gender equity (he fired 3 guys and 1 girl) because up until this week the girls' team was getting slaughtered. No one said a word afterwards. "Life goes on," the Donald said stoicly. Classic.


Anyone watch The CBS Evening News earlier this week when Bob Schieffer's closing line was "I'm not your Sudoku daddy!" This guy is in his 60's. I guess someone put it on his teleprompter, but it was funny as crap. He chuckled at it too.


Thoughts for the Weekend

So, rumor has it that Vegas has set the Texas Tech-Baylor line to favor Tech by 11 points. Um, the Red Raiders have set offensive records and scored 80 points in a game this year. Baylor hasn't set any records other than getting their first road wins in forever this year. Yes, Baylor has improved and almost beat a very weak OU squad in 2 OT, but can their defense match up to Tech? If I had any spare change, I'd seriously consider this an investment opportunity, and not a bet. Tech by at least 3 touchdowns.

Maybe Randolph Morris shouldn't play. In today's paper all of the SEC coaches are making smoke like he's not eligible, shouldn't be allowed to play. Suppose the NCAA clears him. This cloud of suspicion will hang over the team all season long. Maybe years later Randolph will admit he lied to the NCAA about hiring an agent, etc.. Then, they'll just strip us of all our wins this season...
The more I think about it, the less I like him playing in this light.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pruett interested in UK?

This from the Lexington Herald-Leader:

"A column in yesterday's Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail threw out former Marshall coach Bob Pruett's name as a potential candidate to replace Brooks.
Pruett, 63, retired as coach of the Thundering Herd last spring after leading them to a 94-23 record with five Mid-American Conference championships and five bowl wins during his nine-year tenure.
While Pruett wasn't quoted directly in the column, Daily Mail sports editor Jack Bogaczyk wrote that Pruett would take the job if offered and bring some of his former Marshall assistants with him."

I say, what do we have to lose? My only beef with this is he's 63 years old, but surely his assistants all weren't so old.

This is the same guy who brought Marshall to Division 1 status and brought us Randy Moss and Chad Pennington (okay, maybe Pennington isn't a great example but he's lasted in the NFL longer than Tim Couch).
He passes the ball and tries to dominate on defense. I say let's do it.


Ordinarily, I wouldn't care who we hire. I'd just give up. But, I guess living in Texas naturally makes me demand more from my alma mater's football team.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thoughts of the Day

ESPN.com is running a poll for which team NOT in ESPN's Top 10 is the NCAA title sleeper. Kentucky leads with 52% of the vote (56,180 total votes in the poll so far). The next-highest vote getter is West Virginia at 17%.

Scoop Jackson has written an article on the "cultural impact of the Fab 5" (Michigan's Fab 5, not Kentucky's from the 50's). The article glorifies Michigan and the "Fab 5." I don't like the article, and would like to point out that if you look up the seasons from '91-94 when the "Fab 5" played in any official NCAA or University of Michigan media guides, you will not find any statistics or wins. Not only did these guys not win a championship, but they were paid to play and got all of their wins and the school's $ earnings from their wins forfeited and erased from all records.

Scoop, what's the cultural impact of that?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Why Men Make More $ Than Women

I’m going to take some motivation from my friend Captain Capitalism and tell the truth about women for a post. There are a couple of exceptions to this post: 1. My wife, who is a very hard worker and earns her pay. 2. Dr. Sykes, who makes more money than any woman I know.

When I was in college, I took Family Studies 252, a big university studies credit in a large lecture hall. The professor teaching us about “Marriage and Family” was in her 3rd marriage, and her husband divorced her shortly after the semester. I learned a lot of valuable things in the class, but was also forced to listen to some very feminist diatribe (All of the TA’s who graded our essays were also female).

Among them was the “women are worse off than men because we make less money. Equal rights do not exist for women” farce.

I’m here today to explain these reasons, from my own TRUE work experiences at my current office. But, first, the numbers:

A 2002 GAO study showed that, on average, women make about 20% less than men do. A couple of good statistical reasons were given (I made some Excel charts with this, but couldn’t figure out how to convert them to a JPEG to post here).

Average # of Hours Worked Per Year
Men: 2,147
Women: 1,675
Conclusion: Women work fewer hours. Men might make more $ because they’ll earn their salaries by working more hours.

Average # of Weeks Spent Outside the Labor Force (i.e.: not working)
Men: 1
Women: 3
Conclusion: Women have babies, and need maternity leave. Managers don’t want to pay women as much because they know they’ll have to hire and train someone else to replace them because they’re much more likely to leave because of their kids. Men work more hours and take less time off. Companies reward such loyalty with better salaries to keep their workers happy.


But, holding these variables constant, there hasn’t been a “good” explanation of why women make less than men, according to USA Today.

True stories from my work experience:

I was a member of a team of 4 people who showed up for our first day at the office; 2 men & 2 women. Within 30 minutes of being there, one of the women starts having contractions and goes into labor. Her day lasted 30 minutes. Why bother showing up, and why should the company pay her?
By lunchtime, the second woman had gotten a call from her son at school saying he was sick. She had to go take him home. She never came back, and they couldn’t track her down.
The only people to survive Day 1 were the 2 guys.
A week later, we get a woman replacement. She sits down, and after 10 minutes on the job gets a call on her cell phone and says she has to leave. She never came back.
Since then, a woman was added as a replacement. Last Monday, she informed us that she would be “sick” the following Friday, and would need a day off. “I know my body that well,” she said.

Biggest reason that men make less money than women: On average, men are more productive than women.

Examples of Women Being Unproductive:

1. The "urgent conference."
At work, any new information (i.e.: gossip) requires an immediate conference in the break room. These meetings are handled quietly and secretly, and often take up to an hour. That’s an hour that the women’s pile of work sits on their desks untouched.

2. The "morning discussion."
Anything said or done by a spouse or boyfriend the previous night immediately requires a “morning discussion.” Anything interesting on television the night before requires the same. This usually occurs right when work starts, and may last 30-45 minutes.

3. The extended lunch.
The “hour lunch” is optional. While men in the office may come back from lunch early, or even do some minor work while eating at their desk, women require a mandatory trip to a deli or restaurant, where they then change their minds about what restaurant they want to eat at, and after they eat lunch, a trip to Starbucks is required. Lunch is 15-30 minutes longer for women than men.

4. The "I'm sick" excuse.
Any illness requires “rest.” This either means the woman will be an hour late coming in for work, or that once at work she needs to sit at her desk and play Solitaire. Or, maybe she needs to have a private one-on-one meeting with another female for an hour or so until she “feels okay.” If you know anything about the anatomy of a woman, you know that there's going to be about a week every month where she's not feeling so well...

So, in an 8 hour work day, a woman may come in late, then partake in a “morning discussion,” and later an “urgent conference” in the break room which takes them up to the lunch hour, which will last a lot longer than an hour, and probably require another break room “conference” in the afternoon. The woman will likely leave early to pick up her kids or because she’s “ill,” and thus work about 3 hours in an 8 hour day.

But, you won’t see this on their time slip. No, they’ll demand pay for 8 hours, and equal pay with a man who actually showed up on time and didn’t partake in any break room conferences.

So, next time you hear a woman complain about her pay, ask her how many hours she really worked in the last month. Don't believe everything she says...

This is the Truth, brought to you buy yours truly.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The dumbest fan ever?

I like Larry Bird, but this is ridiculous...

Man requests longer prison sentence to match Bird's jersey number
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A man got a prison term longer than prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed to -- all because of Larry Bird.
The lawyers reached a plea agreement Tuesday for a 30-year term for a man accused of shooting with an intent to kill and robbery. But Eric James Torpy wanted his prison term to match Bird's jersey number 33.
``He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey,'' Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said Wednesday. ``We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.
``I've never seen anything like this in 26 years in the courthouse. But, I know the DA is happy about it.''

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dress Codes

I apologize for the lame post content today. I'll do better soon, I'm working on a really good one.

So, the NBA has a new dress code that everyone is talking about (just go to ESPN.com). The big issue? During all official league events (press conferences, league-sponsored autograph signings, getting off the team bus, etc.) players must wear "business casual" attire. No shorts, or jerseys, or t-shirts, or even jewelry over your clothes.
If you're sitting on the bench you have to wear a sportcoat, too.

No sunglasses indoors, no headphones unless you're on the bus or warming up in the locker room.

They might as well just call this rule the "Iverson" rule, because he seems to always be in violation of every part of it.

While, I think some of it is understandable, other parts are ridiculous. Plenty of injured guys sit on the bench in a nice button down shirt and khaki pants, it's cool. But, now they have to wear a sportcoat (which means you need a tie, too).

I like what Iverson wears. I like seeing him in shorts and basketball jerseys all the time, sporting his chains. It's casual, it's cool, it's how he rolls.

I'm alright with the rule, if that's how you want to do it, but why don't you make guys like Mark Cuban obey it? Cuban gets more publicity and camera shots during the game than guys on his bench do. But, he can come wearing cut-off jeans and a t-shirt that says "Superfreak" or "Your boyfriend likes me," and such. He can even walk out on the court with it after the game.


Would you work for this man?

Why not make the freakshows like Cuban dress up nice too? I think it's silly that players have to look their best while the owner that pays their salary can look however freakish he wants.

Check out Cuban's blog to find out how he feels about the dress code. Cuban understands the dress code to a point. "NBA players are not thugs" (my paraphrase).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My Favorite NFL Player

I've always liked this guy, even before I moved to Waco. Now, I drive past his alma mater, University High School every day on the way to work. There is a big Nike billboard on the way that says "This is University. Just Do It." and shows his picture from his high school days.

I first heard of him his junior year at TCU, when he led the nation in rushing. He did it again his senior year with 2,158 yards. He ranks 6th all-time in NCAA rushing. He got tons of awards, but many wondered if he'd make it in the pro's (I hate it when people do that). He should have won the Heisman.

"LT" has rushed for at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first four NFL seasons. Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson are the only other players in league history that can make the same claim. His career high was 1683 yards in 2002.

He's a good guy, reaches out to the community here in Waco and in San Diego. He gives tickets to each Charger game to 21 underpriveldged inner-city kids every week. He buys them dinner and gives them school supplies after the game. He puts on camps, and has scholarship funds.

This season he has rushed for 652 yards in 6 games, and has already scored 10 touchdowns. He is also 2/2 in pass attempts for 2 TD's (thus making him cool). In 133 attempts this year he has only fumbled once.

I like watching him and Drew Brees. I like Brees because he came into the NFL highly touted and struggled, in part because he was lazy. The Chargers went out and drafted (via trade) Phillip Rivers to be their new QB. Brees got mad, started working out and watching film like crazy, and had an awesome 2004 season.

People ask me "who's your team?" I used to pull for the Bears growing up, but they've been awful for a long time. Cincinatti was even worse from 1990-2004. Sure, we all like the Patriots, but I can't really say I'm a fan. So, I root for the guy whose huge Nike billboard reminds me that Nike and running backs are cool.

LaDainian Tomlinson, this post is for you.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Thoughts on the weekend

You remember that locker room scene at the end of Friday Night Lights, where the coach tells his players: "I want you to look your teammates in the eyes. If you can look them in the eyes at the end of this ballgame and know for sure that you did everything you possibly could to win this football game, that you gave your absolute best, then no matter what the score says, you're perfect."

I thought about after the Notre Dame game. They fought hard, did all they could. They stopped Matt Leinart on the goalline to end the game. But, the ball flew out of bounds on the impact and thus stopped the clock, giving USC one final chance to make a goalline plunge. Probably the best college football game I've ever seen.

Notre Dame didn't win, but they certainly didn't lose, either. They played their rag-tag guts out against all of the All-Americans of USC, and came within a second of a win. Charlie Weis did a great job. Amazing. Reggie Bush is also amazing, I've never seen any college back with speed and moves like his except maybe Barry Sanders. 28 straight wins, what in the world?

Baylor fought hard and lost, too. Nebraska has played a west coast offense all season, but chucked in the 2nd half of the Baylor game. "Smashmouth" read the headlines the next day. They ran all over the Bears in the 2nd half. Take away the 5 turnovers, and the 11 penalties, and Baylor may just have made some magic.

Texas will run over an overrated Texas Tech team. Tech threw for almost 700 yards in their win, that's insane! They look like a Hal Mumme team with maybe more consistent defense.

I think if Texas played Tennessee, Georgia, or maybe even Florida they'd lose. I have to watch Texas games every weekend on ABC because I live in Texas. Vince Young is incredible, and they have a couple other good players on their team, but they WILL NOT win a championship.
They hardly play anyone else the rest of the season. They'll probably play Colorado in the Big XII championship game, and that's also just silly. Big XII is weak. Pac-10 is weak. SEC is so much better than any other.

RIP Jason Collier of the Atlanta Hawks. I think last time KY played Ga. Tech in Atlanta, Collier was their starting center. I liked him because he defected from Bob Knight at IU.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tapp University

Principle of Domination #3: Come Early and Stay Late (The John Starks Story) is now posted at Tapp University.

I encourage everyone to check it out and further your inspiration for Domination.

I'm also on a quest to have someone mail me an official UK basketball pocket schedule (the ones you can pick up free at McDonalds, the same ones they give out at Big Blue Madness). I've had a schedule in my wallet for every year since 1995. Even when I was overseas, Dr. Ashlie kindly sent me some to keep my wallet up-to-date. Who in Lexington wants to help a brother out?

There will be some sort of reward, I assure you.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekend Anticipation


My wife and I could go with some other couples to visit the Waco Zoo tommorrow, but I've pretty much told her "no way" and that I've roped off Saturday for exciting football action. At 3:30, time will stand still when USC goes to South Bend to face the revitalized Irish. We already know how good a guy and coach Charlie Weis is, having taken this team w/out even a full roster or even a lot of blue chippers to a top-10 ranking having knocked of several ranked teams along the way. Next comes the Juggernaut Dominator of USC. I'm totally pulling for the Irish in this one. It'll take a miracle for them to win, but with Touchdown Jesus looking down on your field you can't go wrong. GO IRISH!!

The other game takes place in the evening, and I haven't scored tickets for it yet. Baylor's biggest game in a decade. Nebraska comes to town. If Baylor wins, they'll be 5-1 and will get ranked. If Baylor doesn't win another game this season it'll still be their best record since 1998. That's amazing. Sic 'em Bears!!!

The other excitement comes tonight knowing Rupp Arena will be packed for "Midnight Madness." I miss camping out for Madness back in the really old days when they didn't have advance tickets. I miss camping out for tickets when they gave them in advance. I miss that anticipation, standing in line waiting for the doors to open. The line slowly moving towards ecstacy. I miss when it started at midnight. I miss when it'd be on a Saturday night, and people in line were eagerly listening to UK play down-to-the-wire in their football game (a couple times we actually won those games). I miss that invincible feeling when you walked away from it going "Oh, yeah, baby, this is our year!"

Fall is here. Let's get it started.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Congratulations!


Congrats to Scott and Alisa Dishong, almost proud parents of a 5-month old Kenyan child! Here's a picture of "Martin."
It's hard for me to imagine Scott as a dad, changing diapers, spoon-feeding a toddler, etc. I think this is a really cute kid, and already shows a real spark of intelligence and personality in these pictures. A very beautiful baby.

Congrats to you guys. Joni and I have talked some about adopting kids (after we have kids of our own, and NOT in the very near future). I have a tough time putting myself in Scott & Alisa's position, though. Props to you guys for answering the call and making a huge difference in someone's life!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Thoughts of the Day

Did you watch The Office on NBC last night? Another classic episode. The office caught fire.
Favorite line from the boss in the episode about why he sprinted past all of his employees to evacuate the building:
"Yes, in the past people would have said 'Women and children go first.' But, we don't have any children working here. We are not a sweatshop. And, because of legislation passed in recent years women are now equal with men in the office. So, if I were to let the women go first, then I'd have a lawsuit on my hands."

So, I've been pretty pleased with U.S. media outlets' coverage of the earthquake disaster relief.

Did anyone hear Condoleeza Rice (my secret crush) in Kyrgystan yesterday? She was speaking Russian, or at least trying to. She sounded real nervous. She's so great.

Here's a link to a good BBC News article on the disaster relief. BBC News is 100 times better than CNN and Fox News TOGETHER.

Here's the amounts that donors have put in so far:
Kuwait: $100 million
UAE: $100 million
US: $50 million
Canada: $20 million
Japan: $20 million
World Bank: $20 million
ADB: $10 million
Australia: $7.6 million
China: $6.2 million
EU: $4.4 million
UK: $3.5 million
South Korea: $3 million

Since we probably borrowed our $50 million from a country like China, can they count that toward their donation?

I'm working on the next lesson at Tapp University's Principles of Domination. It will be out this weekend. It has been refined by working with some un-dominant co-workers at my new job.

Here's a fun article by John Clay about why we should be optimistic about things like UK basketball and ND football. Yes, indeed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A good apology

Mark Story doesn't believe UK football is cursed (as I do), so instead he just wrote apologies for 50 years worth of mistakes. A fun article. (worth pointing out that Guy Morriss' success at Baylor is mentioned).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Katrina in light of Kashmir

I'm going to go out on a possibly offensive limb here and write about a pet peeve of mine: Americans complaining, asking "Where is God in all this suffering?", and pointing blame at authorities. I don't like sitting through a church service where a pastor tries to answer peoples' questions of "Why did God allow this to happen?" when it comes to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Oh, woe are we.

While we complain about 1,300 or so dead and a few million homeless in the South (and these are worth mourning over and giving aid to, I'm not arguing against this), let's put this into perspective:

On Saturday 40,000 people died in an instant, and many millions were left homeless in Kashmir. There are no hospitals, no Red Cross, no FEMA, very little infrastructure. The people who are wounded right now have almost no hope of survival. People without homes will have almost nothing to rebuild with. There is no homeowners insurance in these countries. Many of these people will starve.

While the South is getting nearly $100 billion in federal aid, plus countless more in private donations, Kashmir will get almost nothing. $50 million from the U.S., $100 million from Kuwait, $20 million from the World Bank, $10 million from the Asian Development Bank.

99.9% of the people in the Kashmir area do not know Christ. Think about that stat. Think about 40,000 or so folks dying in an instant.

Did I hear about this in church on Sunday, or in Bible study? Is this getting major news coverage from American outlets? No. Why not?

We spend more in 2 weeks in Iraq than we give in aid to all of Africa in a year, and more than we've just given to Kashmir relief. We've pledged to do much more around the world. We've pledged (along with the rest of the western world) to give 0.7% of our GDP to the Millenium Development Goals of poverty-eliminating programs, but we give about 0.25%.
Imagine being the richest person in town, having all you could ever want or need and imagine you get a paycheck of $100. All you need to give from that paycheck is 7/10 of a penny to make a real difference, but you won't even give that, you give 3/10 instead. That's sad.

I like to ask this question so, think about it and see how you really feel about it deep down:
Is the life of a Pakistani or an Indian worth the same as the life of an American?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Winners/Losers

Biggest winners on Saturday:

Guy Morriss and the Baylor Bears
. They got their first road win EVER in the Big 12, over once-ranked Iowa State, and are now 4-1. Had they not lost in overtime AT Texas A&M last week, they'd probably be ranked heading into their home matchup against Nebraska this week.
Things are definitely feeling pretty good down here.

The Georgia Bulldogs. You DOMINATED Tennessee and are now in a position to compete for the BCS Championship.

Biggest Losers on Saturday:

Rich Brooks. 3 straight fumbles on offensive plays, and Steve Spurrier ended up spanking you after all. Your career at UK is done. You might beat Ole Miss and Vandy, but who cares? Your team is awful.

Phil Fulmer. You got beat handily by Florida and were dominated by Georgia. Um, you need to win at least one of those games to get to the SEC Championship. 1 more loss, and the vultures will circle in and demand your head. Gotta love that pressure.

Any other votes for biggest winner or loser this weekend?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dr. Pepper's Impact on World Trade

Today, Baylor’s School of International Business hosted the Free Trade in the Americas Conference. Attending were some big-time economists, a Federal Reserve Bank head, and other ambassadors and dignitaries. I got to meet and mingle with some of these folks, and attended their lectures all day. I learned a whole lot, and had a great time. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the outgoing President of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and new Secretary General of the UN Council on Trade and Development was a keynote speaker. He’s from Thailand, and a great down-to-earth guy.

During one of the breaks I was getting some snacks from the buffet line when I saw Dr. Supachai grab a Dr. Pepper. Now, I’ve been lots of places in the world and I know that Dr. Pepper is really hard to find outside the U.S. (Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco, TX by the way).
I got the chance to ask him about his taste in soft drinks (while sharing an elevator):

Me: “Dr. Supachai, I noticed you were drinking a Dr. Pepper earlier. I know they can’t have those in Thailand, and in my travels I’ve noticed that they’re really hard to find outside the U.S.”

Dr. Supachai: “I know! I was just telling some people about this. I can only find them in London! We don’t have any in Geneva, and I have to either come here or London to get Dr. Pepper!”

Dr. Pepper. One thing America does right, and the WTO and UN appreciate it. Now if we can just export it a little better....

I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi’s a Pepper too!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why John Wiley is wrong.

Yesterday, John Wiley (I can’t make a link to his blog because he doesn’t have one) made the comment that Brett Favre shouldn’t be mentioned in the same class as John Elway or Johnny Unitas. A bold statement.
Being the aspiring economist that I am, I decided to look at the data to see if John was right or wrong. John was very wrong.
(note: I’m leaving Unitas out of this because he played in a different era and his #’s don’t match up well to either Favre or Elway’s).



John Elway played 16 seasons. Favre technically is in his 15th (his first season he threw 4 passes in 2 games, hardly defined as “playing.”) so we can almost say Favre is in his 14th season. The numbers don’t lie:

Elway played in 234 games.
Favre has played in 213 games, but hasn’t missed a game in 12 years. Top that stat, he’s the Iron Man. Elway only played a full season 7 times, less than half his career.

Completions:
Elway: 4,123
Favre: 4,407
Advantage: Favre

Completion %:
Elway: 57%
Favre: 61.5%
Advantage: Favre

QB Rating:
Elway: 79.9
Favre: 87.2
Advantage: Favre

TD Passes:
Elway: 300
Favre: 385
Advantage: Favre

Passing yards:
Elway: 51,475
Favre: 50,775
Advantage: Favre (because Favre will pass him this year in many less games than it took Elway to get to 51,475).

MVP Awards:
Elway: 1 (1987)
Favre: 3 (1995,1996,1997)
Advantage: Favre

Conclusion I reached based on the data: Favre has broken a lot of Elway’s NFL records and holds a clear statistical advantage.

John might point out that Elway went to more Super Bowls (5 to Favre’s 2).
Elway won 2 and an MVP, while Favre won 1 (and his receiver got MVP).

I would simply point out that both won Super Bowls, and both had decent running backs to help them do so (Elway had an NFL MVP in Terrell Davis to win his).
They played head-to-head in Super Bowl XXXII.
Elway: 12/22 123 yards and 0 TD’s and 1 INT.
Favre: 25/42 256 yards 3 TD and 1 INT.

Favre also clearly has the edge here, but Terrell Davis wins the game for the Broncos (by a TD).

Let me also point out the score of a couple Super Bowls Elway played in, and you can tell me if it really matters that he played in them:
Redskins 42, Broncos 10.
49’ers 55, Broncos 10.

So, John Wiley, you’re clearly wrong about Brett Favre. Or maybe you had it just opposite: maybe it’s Elway who shouldn’t be mentioned in the same class as Brett Favre?