Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I thought football was a game of inches

Apparently the inches add up in baseball as well. From the paperback edition of Game of Shadows, differences in Barry Bonds when he joined the Giants in 1993 and last year's spring training.

Hat size 1993 (28): 7 1/8
Hat size 2006 (41): 7 1/4

Jersey size 1993: 42
Jersey size 2006: 52

Shoe size 1993: 10 1/2
Shoe size 2006: 13

Human growth hormone, anyone?

Want to see it again?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Did anyone else sniff today's garbage? And I thought yesterday's garbage smelled good. Bobby Hill

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just what in the world is Google up to?

Ah, only taking it over. That's what it seems to me. Have you ever clicked more at google? Then did you click even more? Let me show you what it looks like.

Google is no longer a small, upstart search-engine company. They've become very large and their aspirations have likewise grown. I'm not sure if a friend's observation or talk at work first prompted my wondering, but I've been a while trying to comprehend Google's aim and I'm pretty sure it's big.

In 1999 they began to dominate internet searching and shortly thereafter a new phrase was coined ("googling"). That you know. What may be missed about googling is how it has affected internet advertising revenue. You should pay attention to how many and what sort of websites have google ads on them and how many and what sort have banner ads. As I can figure it, only websites hosted by large (well-funded) companies keep banner ads, though even has resorted to google-style advertising at the bottom of the page.

I don't know what came next, maybe Google Mail? If you've never used gmail, then you're missing out. The more complex life has become for me, the more I've come to admire innovations that are so clear and simple you almost don't recognize them as genuine. Sometimes they're so intuitive you think that you could have suggested them (or maybe you did) and may not give them full credit. Firefox's tabbed browsing is one of them. Gmail is chock full of simple innovations (like conversational threading).

Then there's Google Desktop and Picasa, which re-think the way you organize (or need to organize) files on your computer. And Google Earth and Google Maps, which have effectively helped put Microsoft in a re-thinking frenzy. [This blog, by the way, is brought to you by google.]

But Google's real aim is elsewhere: Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. That's a seemingly small statement with a wide range of possibilities. If you look at the even more on Google's home page, you'll see that Google Documents are available to "create and share your projects online and access them from anywhere". That's code for dumping the desk from desktop--a thing that Microsoft should (and is, I think) afraid of.

Not that Microsoft didn't have any idea. They had this idea first: Remember Bill Gates saying, 10 years ago, that traditional software was dead and that all software would eventually be delivered over the Internet? Well, I think Google was listening.

Google was listening. Not only are google documents avaialable from the home page, gmail can download your files as google documents. And now Google has become host to Disney's and Pixar's work environment, beginning with the email and calendar products vital to any large business. But Google won't stop there. Certainly Microsoft won't let them run away either; not at least without a fight. But will that be enough?

One of Microsoft's strengths has been their incompatibility with other programs. You've got to buy microsoft because that's what everyone else uses. [That, by the way, is not true but the perception holds.] If Google is successful, which I think they will be, you'll be able to do your work anywhere on any computer, no matter what brand or operating system. Even if Microsoft is able to keep up with Google, will that be enough if we no longer believe the lie that Microsoft holds the keys to using a personal computer? I don't know, but it will be interesting to watch.

Monday, February 12, 2007

And now for something completely different

A lighter observation to strike a balance with my previous musing, if you call it that. (You may not give these thoughts much credence either). This morning I was reading the weather forecast for Shreveport and observed something unusual. Actually, I had seen it before but never yet thought it odd. Tell me what you think.

Weather for pilots is abbreviated greatly. RA means rain and SH means showers. +RA means heavy rain and -RA means light rain. Heavy rain showers would be +SHRA. TS means thunderstorms, and right now the weather for shreveport is: TEMPO 0306 1 1/2SM +TSRA BKN007CB OVC013.

That means, between 3:00 and 6:00z (9-12pm central) the weather is forecast 1.5 miles forward visibility because of heavy thunderstorms/rain with cloud layers broken at 700 ft (cumulonimbus) and overcast at 1300ft. That seems like a valid prediction, so my ears tell me.

What struck me as odd this morning was a forecast for -TSRA. Have you ever seen such a thing as "light thunderstorms"? Neither have I. I've got to ask Glenn Carrin about this one. Or I could just drive down to Alexandria tonight. Beginning at 10pm they should experience: FM0400 16012G20KT 5SM -TSRA BKN007CB OVC015.

If such does exist

I apologize for my leave of absence

The world moves and so must I, though what I think or say has no bearing on the world. And I'm convinced that I'm not allowed to take a leave of absence. I think that would be a bad thing--at least after what I heard on the radio this afternoon.

Andy Reid, coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, is taking a leave of absence from his job because of family issues. What really disturbed me was not so much the story, which is alarming and disheartening, but the ridiculous way in which this story is being covered.

It should be said that Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the NFL. His teams are disciplined, aggressive, and maybe even overachieving. Andy certainly has some good players, but management runs this business in a way that cuts the fat (older, more expensive players) to pad profits and although this is normal in today's NFL, few teams achieve the success that Andy Reid's Eagles have. In 8 years Andy has won 80 games with 8 post-season victories (80-48, 8-6). When you consider his two bad years as aberrations (his first year with the franchise and 2005 when Donovan McNabb was injured and Terrel Owens sabotaged the team) he has won, in this order, 11-11-12-12-13-10 games--and the 10 game season was an amazing turnaround this year. Having made the playoffs 6 of his 8 years on board, and being liked by both fans and players, Andy has done what few coaches ever have. Andy, you're a star.

At least on the football field. This week Andy Reid announced he was taking a leave of absence from his coaching duties to be with his family; last month the Reid family had a very bad day. One of his sons pointed a gun at another driver while the other was involved in a traffic accident after using heroin, both on the same day. What I heard said about him taking this leave of absence that family, after all, should be first and that this leave of absence is appropriate. Hearing this idea on the radio left me sad and stung, enraged and deflated all at the same time.

And still I'm dumb. Coaching football at the highest levels is indeed a demanding job and some coaches are known to live in their office during the busiest parts of the year. I don't doubt that. Raising children is no easy task either. I'm finding that out. Though parenting is directly reflected in children, children aren't always a direct reflection of their parents. I won't begin to suggest that. But all I can think about when I hear this story is how little time Andy Reid could have spent with these two men the last 8 (and more) years.

I don't want to use this as an opportunity to bash Andy Reid as a father. I don't think that the evidence supports that. What the evidence seems to support is that Andy Reid is careful and meticulous with his football team and it is hard to imagine them getting any by finding any fault in him. What the evidence seems to support is that if Andy Reid were being as careful and meticulous with his sons then his spending more time with them would be unlikely to produce results any better than these woeful stories.

Maybe what disturbs me so much about this story is why it's difficult for me to describe what seems wrong. Is it not obvious that Andy Reid's success as an NFL coach may have compromised the welfare of his sons, or is our culture so fixed upon success and glory that no cost compares to the end result? Or is this just some fluke occurrence that has no relationship to Andy's dedication to work? Is there any relation between the lifestyle of NFL success (and the American ideal of success) and Tony Dungy's son's death last year? No one doubts that Dungy is a great coach or a great man, but can a single man be great to all people in the same way?

I don't mean to fault Dungy or Reid in any particular fashion, but can't we just be saddened by these stories? Maybe this leave by Andy is simply stress or grief related. I sure hope so. And this leave is appropriate, after all, but I don't think we should congratulate anyone in this story. Leaving your job for one month because of family trouble is no big sacrifice--it's not even a small sacrifice. Not when the stakes are high. Winning a Super Bowl must be a super elation. I wonder would Tony Dungy give it back if he knew he could have done something different to help his son. Probably so. I wonder if Andy Reid would have spent more time with his sons these past eight years if he knew what a lack of attention might produce. Probably he would. And maybe he will now. Still all I can think about is how this story is really a non-story and how many fathers aim to be like Andy and commit to their children when in the future. How sad it seems that these men have no idea that time is now.