Thursday, December 13, 2007

Players listed in Mitchell report

CNN and Sports Illustrated have put together a preliminary list of players cited in the Mitchell Report. You can find it here:

A little rundown on some of the players, with my take on their involvement. I'm only going to comment on a handful because, let's be honest, does anyone really know much about players like Larry Bigbie and Jack Cust?

1. Barry Bonds - well, duh.

2. Kevin Brown - Since 2002 (the year MLB had steroids testing), he hasn't quite been the same pitcher he was in the handful of years leading up to 2002.

3. Roger Clemens - I wonder if Mike Piazza had any thoughts on Clemens and roid rage?

4. Chuck Knoblauch - Evidently steroids must enhance your ability to bean Keith Olberman's mom sitting in the stands.

5. Tim Laker - um, who???

6. John Rocker - Another side effect of steroids: it makes you a bigoted redneck.

7. Benito Santiago - I wonder if he would still be able to throw out base stealers from his knees if he wasn't on the juice?

8. Gary Sheffield - Often known for controversy, Sheffield once said something like there are more Latino players in the game than black players because you can't control black players. Maybe you can't control Sheffield because of his dependence on steroids?

It's also interesting to note how many players on this list are current or former Yankees players. On this list, I can include:
Kevin Brown
Roger Clemens
Jason Giambi
Glenallen Hill
David Justice
Chuck Knoblauch
Hal Morris
Denny Neagle
Andy Pettitte
Gary Sheffield
Mike Stanton
Randy Velarde
Rondell White

And that might not even be a complete list. I'm just going off of my memory here. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a Mets fan and I do realize that there are some former Mets on that list too. But there's no former Mets player on that team that was highly instrumental in their history, and I enjoy criticizing the Yankees any chance I get.

The Mitchell Report

Today is the day that the Mitchell Report is set to be released. The Mitchell Report is the report on the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, and this research was headed by George Mitchell (hence the name). Its been nearly 2 years in the making, and one would think that would be plenty of time to gather the dirt and compile a thorough report. Rumors lately, however, have suggested that the report might not be what it seems, with allegations that the investigation has made a number of mistakes along the way. I don't know what these mistakes might be, so I'm really not any type of authority on the subject, but at face value it kind of sounds like a desperate attempt by some guilty parties to cast doubt on the report.

No one can honestly deny that there has been (and continues to be) steroid use in professional baseball. In fact, I'm sure there is steroid use in practically every sport. Even Carl Edwards of NASCAR fame has been accused of using steroids. I'm not quite sure what advantage you'd get by using steroids in NASCAR, but this guy is pretty built.

There have been a number of developments leading up to the steroid investigations, most notably the increased power numbers of some players. Back when I was a kid, it seemed to be a big deal for a player to hit over 30 home runs in a season. The single-season home run record stood at 61 home runs since 1961, and even this record was just 1 home run above Babe Ruth's previous record of 60 home runs in 1927. So it seems that this mark of 60 home runs should be pretty hard to break. This came into question in the summer of 1998 when both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were in a race to break the record. It was really and exciting summer for baseball, and it was something that the game desperately needed to get people interested in the game again after the strike of the early 1990's drove people away. At the end of the year, both players broke the record, with McGwire hitting 70 home runs and Sosa hitting 66. Certainly it was remarkable to have 2 players break the record in the same year, and it seemed like it wouldn't happen again any time soon. But what happened the next year? McGwire came back with 65 home runs and Sosa hit 63, both besting the record of Roger Maris again.

McGwire's performance dropped off after that, but Sosa followed up those seasons with 50 home runs in 2000, and 64 in 2001. That 2001 season was also notable for another reason. Just 3 years after the record-breaking season of 1998, Barry Bonds joined in on the action and hit 73 home runs in one season. In my opinion, it was around this point that people started taking notice. How could it suddenly become relatively easy for players to hit so many home runs? It also was about this time that a reporter noticed a bottle of androstenedione in McGwire's locker. Androstenedione is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen, and was marketed as a "supplement" in the 90's. I'm not a biochemist by any means, but I'm assuming that an excess of androstenedione, or "andro" for short", would likely be converted to testosterone in males rather than females, and hence the increased performance. The curtain was lifted at this point, and people began to take notice. This was followed by revelations by certain players that they had used steroids. Former MVP Ken Caminiti was among the first to admit to steroids use, and this was soon followed by Jose Canseco's admission and his suggestions of many other players that were using steroids.

A question that remains is whether or not these players actually "cheated". Sure, steroids can improve performance, but exactly what constitutes "cheating"? At the time, Major League Baseball did not have any rules against it, and there was no drug-testing policy in place. By no means am I advocating the use of steroids, but I don't see any rule that these players broke at the time. Also, I don't believe that the use of steroids is the kind of huge difference-maker that people seem to think it is. Take a look at the list of players that have tested positive for steroids since testing began in 2002. We're not exactly talking about an all-star roster of players here. So while I'm sure that steroids can provide some boost, it's not going to turn a sub-par player into an all-star.

Preliminary discussion about the Mitchell report lists some of the usual suspects as being named. Its a virtual certainty that players like Bonds, McGwire, and Jason Giambi (who has also admitted to steroid use) will be named. Early leaks have also indicated that Roger Clemens will also be named in the report. A common criticism against players like Barry Bonds is to look at how much bigger he's gotten during his career, using pictures like before and after. If that's the case, I'm surprised that the same hasn't held true for someone like Clemens. He has also gone from rather small to pretty large, and his performance hasn't really shown any sign of decline after he turned 40. Steroids might also explain his episodes of "roid rage", such as a couple of incidents when he beaned Mike Piazza in the head, or when he threw part of a broken bat at Piazza in the 2000 World Series. This leak of Clemens' name also makes me wonder about certain other players that have only performed better with age, and also seem to have quite a temper. Does the name Kenny Rogers come to mind? I wouldn't be surprised. It will be interesting to see who is named in the report, and how this report will impact the game.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Heisman Hype

With the Heisman trophy presentation tonight, the sports stories today have been focusing on the four candidates that will be in New York. At the beginning of the season, would anyone have put together a list of Heisman candidates that include Chase Daniel, Colt Brennan, Tim Tebow, and Darren McFadden? Okay, well that last one would certainly have been included but not too many people would have picked the first three. The names being tossed around in the early part of the season included names from the big football programs, such as John David Booty from USC, Mike Hart from Michigan, Colt McCoy from Texas. Funny how it seems that people didn't really know what they were talking about back then, and just picked their favorite big-name school and chose a player.

In the end, it came down to these 4 players that all had amazing seasons. As a Mizzou fan, I'd like to see a Missouri player win, but I don't think Chase Daniel has much of a chance. Sure, he put up ridiculous numbers like 4100 yards en route to leading the Missouri team to its best season in recent history and a temporary #1 ranking in the BCS. On the downside, he never really had much of a "Heisman moment", that kind of play that get shown all year long in the highlight clips that really impresses you. He was just very consistent each week an put up great numbers. Secondly, I think that their humiliating loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship pretty much eliminates his chances, just as Missouri's chances of a BCS bowl were eliminated with that loss. I don't think that's much of a valid reason, but that's just the way it seems to be.

Colt Brennan, the quarterback from the University of Hawaii, also had an excellent season, putting up over 4100 yards with 38 touchdowns, en route to leading his team to an undefeated season. In my opinion, Hawaii should have been selected for the championship game. They are the only undefeated team, so how could they not be there? Well, I think the same reasons that keep them out of the BCS championship will keep the Heisman away from Brennan. First, Hawaii isn't a traditional football powerhouse so he automatically doesn't have the same recognition as a player at a school like Michigan. Secondly, its always tough for Hawaii to get good teams to play them. They aren't in a great conference, and when the Hawaii team is good, other strong teams are hesitant about playing them in a preseason game. Plus, the distance doesn't help either. This distance also means that a bunch of their games are on tv much later than most people will be watching, so Brennan loses exposure. So while he might be deserving, I don't think he'll get the Heisman either.

As much as it pains me to admit it, I think the Heisman will go to an SEC player. That brings it down to Tebow or McFadden. Tim Tebow seems to be the favorite right now. He's playing for Florida, perhaps the strongest football school among all of the current candidates. He was the first player to put up 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns (he actually had 29 and 22, respectively), including 3900 passing yards, and he really helped to carry his team. He also has the coolest Heisman website of the 4 listed above. In the end, he does have some negatives too. First, he's a sophomore. Its a stupid reason, but no underclassman has ever won the award and this might keep him away from the award. If you don't fit the mold, then its tough for you to go all the way. Much like how the Missouri team was bounced from the BCS entirely a day after they were #1 in the nation but lost to Oklahoma. Also, some people wonder if his rushing touchdowns should really be much of a consideration. Should other quarterbacks that have a legitimate running back be penalized because they utilize other players? Its an interesting point and although it doesn't make Tebow any less exciting, it might keep him from the Heisman. Also, he's playing on a team that had 3 losses.

Finally, there's McFadden (Highlight video). An excellent running back from Arkansas that finished second in the Heisman voting last year. He's definitely the spark in the Arkansas offense and really helped carry his team at times this year. The knock against McFadden, however, is that he didn't have a very consistent season. He kind of slumped in the middle of the season, and his team had its ups and downs too. The team ended with three losses on the season, which always makes it tough for a player to be truly Heisman-worthy. Also, he's a running back. The Heisman typically goes to a quarterback. Not that its a requirement, but its usually much easier for a player to be considered a leader of his team when he's a quarterback. For example, McFadded had 20 touchdowns on the season, which is GREAT for a running back, but really doesn't compare to the touchdown totals of the other 3 candidates, especially Tebow's 51 touchdowns.

In the end, I think that the award will go to Darren McFadden. Despite the facts that he slumped for a little while, his team had 4 losses on the season (and didn't make it to the conference championship), and that he's not playing for one of the big-name football programs, it just seems that he has less to overcome than the other players. Like I said before, all 4 players had great, award-worthy seasons, but in the end McFadden has fewer obstacles to overcome. Plus, I think he had the biggest "Heisman moment" of them all, when he carried his team to a 3-overtime win over then-number 1 team LSU. If it was up to me, I think McFadden gets the award, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't end up that way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


It may barely be December, and winter doesn't officially start for a few more weeks, but you wouldn't be able to tell here in Wisconsin over the past few days. On Saturday, we got about 6 inches of snow, followed by several hours of hail and freezing rain. It made for some real treacherous driving, but it was kind of fun to see snow again. Fortunately, they know how to clear the roads pretty well here, so things were relatively back to normal in a day or two. Not to be outdone, Mother Nature must have decided that she likes snow-covered roads because she decided to dump 5 more inches of snow on us yesterday. Driving home from work last night was less than enjoyable.

Today is a nice and sunny day, although I think the forecast is for a high temperature of about 24 degrees (Fahrenheit). And tomorrow? Oh, just 3-4 more inches of snow. I wonder if I could find a job where I could spend my summers in somewhere like Wisconsin, but then spend winters in somewhere like San Diego.

I've also been messing around a little lately with YouTube, as you may remember from our trip to San Diego about a month ago. Anyway, I've been taking some pictures of our backyard lately and it kind of became a cool little time-lapse showing the transition from fall to winter. Thought I'd share it here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What its like to be a Missouri fan

1. Football team has one of its best seasons in ages.
2. Finish the regular season by beating arch-rival Kansas to make it to Big 12 championship for the first time in history, and hand Kansas its first loss of the season in the process.
3. Get catapulted to the #1 position in the BCS poll.
4. Lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
5. Likely miss out on a BCS bowl despite #1 ranking, while Kansas is projected to go to the Fiesta Bowl.

Even when Missouri beats Kansas, they still find a way to lose.

And I should point out that it seems that I was right about Mizzou's defense needing to step up. Didn't seem like they ever got the chance to put any pressure on Bradford, and couldn't seem to make a tackle without Oklahoma picking up a few extra yards.

College Gameday: Mizzou vs. Oklahoma

It's been a busy week here with a lot of writing going on, so sorry about the lack of posting. Its not that I haven't been excited about the game tonight. I've been watching and reading everything I come across that talks about the game. For those that don't know, Missouri and Oklahoma play tonight at 7 pm central time for the Big 12 championship. This is really nothing new for Oklahoma, as they seem to be in this position just about every year. But for Missouri, they have never been to the Big 12 championship and haven't won their division since the 60's. So you can say its kind of a big deal for the Tigers.

There isn't nearly the rivalry between these two team as there was leading up to the game last week. Missouri and Kansas are true rivals and have been that way for a while. Also, Missouri and Kansas football programs are usually sub-par (to put it nicely), so they usually get blown away against the big boys of Oklahoma. I guess its hard to establish any kind of rivalry against a team that beats you year after year. I heard that Missouri hasn't beaten Oklahoma since 1998.

This year is different, however. Its true that Oklahoma is the sole loss for the Missouri football team, but it wasn't really a blow out. The game WAS in Norman, Oklahoma, so there was clearly a home field advantage. Also, Missouri had the lead into the 4th quarter, when their play got really sloppy and they turned over the ball a few times. They were also without their top running back, Tony Temple, who will be active for today's game. So I think that Missouri has a legitimate shot at beating Oklahoma today and advancing to the national championship for the first time ever. Who would've thought it?

To get to that point, I think that the key for Missouri is their defense. Missouri has a great offense, with quarterback and Heisman candidate Chase Daniel leading the way. Jeremy Maclin is an amazingly athletic wide receiver who can really change the pace of the game, and Danario Alexander made a big splash last week against Kansas after missing much of the season. And this doesn't mention future NFL tight ends Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman. So why is the defense so important today? Well, I'm pretty sure Missouri will be able to put up some serious points. Their lowest point total of the season is 31, which coincidentally was against Oklahoma. I think their defense will be key because they'll have to stop another great offense of the Oklahoma Sooners. Led by freshman phenom quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma is able to put up some serious points too. I also think they have a better running game than Missouri. Fortunately for the Tigers, Oklahoma's #1 rusher, DeMarco Murray, is out for the game. But they certainly have some depth. Their #2 back, Allen Patrick, is actually their leading rusher on the season, while their #3 running back, Chris Brown, ran all over Missouri earlier this season en route to a 3 touchdown performance. So I think its up to the defense to keep the Oklahoma offense contained as much as possible. As long as they keep the score relatively low, Missouri has a good shot at winning. A performance like the first half of last week's Kansas game would be nice, where they held KU scoreless.

There's a lot on the line today for both teams, but probably more for the Tigers. Not only are they in a position they've never been before, but they also control their own destiny for the bowl season. A win today and they can start making their plans for New Orleans to play in the national championship game in January. It seems like most people are divided on who they expect to win this game. Lee Corso from ESPN's College Gameday picks Missouri to beat Oklahoma, while this guy goes and picks Oklahoma. Who would you believe?

As for my prediction? I foresee a high-scoring, but close, game. Mizzou 45, Oklahoma 42.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Big Time

In terms of blogging, we are certainly the new kids on the block but I feel like we just got a bunch of street cred because it seems that we've been linked to by AOL News. I guess they liked one of our posts about the Mizzou/Kansas game!

To check it out, just click on the image above and scroll down to the section at the bottom that says "Read Related Blogs and Articles" and click on it. Kind of makes me wish I hadn't been a bit crude with the post title, but its still cool.


Who knew this would happen at the beginning of the season... it has only been 47 years!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

VICTORY! Mizzou 36, Kansas 28

What a game tonight! That screen shot above with a piece of the Arrowhead turf stuck in Reesing's helmet is just PRICELESS! Just as you think that Kansas might come from behind and break the hearts of Missouri fans, the Mizzou defense comes up HUGE with a safety that will be remembered for years to come. Missouri is now an incredible 11-1 on the season, with a rematch against Oklahoma to decide the Big 12 next Saturday.

It was really a great game and at the end, either team could have won. I was a bit surprised to see Missouri hold Kansas scoreless through the first half, but then again I think Mizzou got a little help in the first half from the KU kicker, who happened to miss two field goals. Just when it seemed like Missouri was going to run away with this game, Kansas came running back and I think Missouri fans around the world held their breath and thought "here we go again", just like a basketball game. But those same fans were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. When Kansas got the ball back with about a minute left, I jumped up and started screaming as the defenders chased after Reesing in the end zone for a game-ending safety!

So where does this leave Missouri? Well, I'd say with a heck of a chance to be ranked #1 once the new rankings come out tomorrow. I guess none of this was too much of a surprise to the experts though. Lee Corso was yet another expert to call this game correctly on College Gameday this morning:

Rock Chalk Chickenhawk, Screw KU

As a Missouri fan, it is really no big surprise to me that when Missouri football is having one of its best seasons in history, the true success of the season has to come down to a meeting with Kansas. The only real surprise is that either of these teams has actually put together a Top 5, BCS-worthy season.

Unless you're from the area or have ever lived in the area for any amount of time, its unlikely that you understand the true hatred that these two schools have for each other. The Jayhawks and Tigers trace the roots of their feud all the way back to pre-Civil War days on the Western frontier when free state Kansas warred against slave state Missouri and each side piled up atrocities against the other. Missouri was known to have burned the city of Lawrence, Kansas, while Kansas residents were no angels themselves. They were guilty of burning to the ground the town of Osceola, Missouri and in the process, killing 9 of the town's residents. This latter event inspired the Clint Eastwood film "The Outlaw Josey Wales". I'm not sure why they chose the town of Osceola instead of Columbia. Maybe they were just too lazy to make it all the way to Columbia? Let's hope that same attitude applies in today's game. Anyway, even the local businesses are cashing in on the rivalry:

Both teams are led by excellent quarterbacks that have just a bit of "little man syndrome". Both are from the state of Texas (along with about half of the collegiate football players in America) and were thought of as too small to play quarterback for Texas schools, particularly the Texas Longhorns. It's made for quite a storyline lately as both MU and KU have put together excellent seasons....the two players that were overlooked by their home state schools go on and prove the big guys wrong.

Mizzou fans love to knock the Jayhawks for their weak schedule. They really played no one of significance in their non-conference schedule and I bought into this argument for a while, but they have gone undefeated in the Big 12. The argument against this, of course, is that they didn't have to play Oklahoma or Texas, two traditional powerhouses in the Big 12. I've also noticed lately that Texas Tech has come on quite strong lately too. Texas Tech was able to knock off Oklahoma last week and guess what? KU somehow avoided a game with them too.

On the other side, KU fans will point to MU's loss to Oklahoma and the fact that Chase Daniel has thrown 9 interceptions this season to KU's Todd Reesing's 4 interceptions. But compared to the 30 touchdown passes each player has thrown, I really don't see this as much of a strong argument.

Both offenses are certainly capable of putting up big numbers. In my opinion, it will come down to two aspects of the games. One will be the defense of each team. Both have had their moments this season, and both have also had some moments to forget. Its really too difficult to pick a winner on this part. The other aspect of the game that could be the difference-maker is special teams and/or the "big-playmaker" type of player. I just don't see Kansas having an answer to Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, and with all other things being equal today, I think that he could be the difference that puts Missouri on top.

But can you really make ANY predictions in this college football season? Each week, at least one Top 5 team falls to a lesser opponent. Ohio State was on top for a while, before losing to Illinois (and I have to thank the Illini for that one!). Oregon and Oklahoma were ranked 2 and 3, respectively, last week before both of them lost to a lower opponent. And this week? Well, #1 LSU lost last yesterday to Arkansas, and obviously another Top 5 team will lose today in the MU/KU game, where KU is ranked #2 and MU is ranked #4. What does this all mean? Well, at this point, it puts West Virginia in quite a position to jump up to the top of the rankings, assuming they take care of business. And given the lunacy of this season, Ohio State still stands a good chance of making it into the BCS championship. At #5 in the current BCS poll, they are certain to move upwards after the LSU loss and either a Missouri or Kansas loss. So what does this all mean? Well, it means that I really can't make any projection myself. All I know is that it should be one heck of a game for a Missouri fan like myself. But if you're interested in what the experts seem to think:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Virtual Aquarium (and beach)

I've figured out the whole YouTube thing and got the videos uploaded that I mentioned when I posted about our San Diego trip.

We took a bunch of video (and pictures) from our excursion to the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute:

After our trip to the aquarium, we also spent some time around the beach in La Jolla:

Monday, November 19, 2007

San Diego

It's been a little while now, but we've been meaning to post some pictures from a recent trip we took to San Diego. This was a few weeks ago now, and it was the reason for my post about Kansas City way back when. That post was made while I was sitting at the airport during a layover on my way out to San Diego.

The original point of the trip was the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, but we made a little vacation out of it. I know that the meeting sounds incredibly dorky and well, it is. But that doesn't necessarily mean that a group of neuroscientists are all that smart, or even that they know how to spell.

Anyway, we went out to San Diego a few days before the conference started. We have been there several times before for various reasons. I guess we're frequent enough visitors to San Diego that some people have asked me if I've lived there because I tend to know enough about the place that it seems like I might have lived there. Our visit happened to be right after the southern California fires that threatened San Diego in late October, but fortunately the fires never got anywhere near the city.

We have seen many of the sights of San Diego and southern California in the past, so we tried to see some sights that we've missed in the past. Our first full day was spent in La Jolla. We went to the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute in the morning and saw a bunch of cool exhibits. Its not the biggest aquarium out there, but they had quite a collection and it was well worth the nominal entry fee. If you're interested, you can see a bunch of pictures we took here. You can see that we went a bit photo crazy and seemed to be taking pictures of just about everything. I also got some video which seems to have come out pretty well. I'll have to try to post those later.

We spent the afternoon in the town of La Jolla, having lunch in a little Thai cafe and then walking around the shore to do a little sight-seeing and picture-taking of the ocean. Even though I grew up in New York and spent quite a bit of time by the ocean, its a completely different situation in La Jolla. We're not really talking about sandy beaches, but rather a bit of a rugged, rocky shoreline that is constantly being battered by the sea. The tide certainly comes in fast too. While we were walking around a small beach area, the ocean almost caught me. I had to run up into a little cave to avoid some of the waves. We did seem to get a handful of cool pictures, which can be viewed here.

During our visit, we also got the chance to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant, the Old Town Mexican Cafe. Besides the food being amazing, the ambiance is top-notch and don't even get me started on the tortillas! I think we were too busy eating to take pictures, but we did manage to get a few, like this one and this one.

We also had a chance to walk along the water in downtown San Diego, visiting Seaport Village and checking out some of the ships docked in the area. Among the ships docked there are the USS Midway, which has been decommissioned and has been converted into a museum. What I considered even more interesting, though, were some of the older ships that make up the maritime museum. It was yet again one of those things we had to take many pictures of. Around the area was also a pretty neat World War II memorial, including this statue based on a famous photo. It was a little unfortunate, however, that this area seemed to be a haven for drunken homeless people that like to scream somewhat obscene comments. I also found it a bit weird that there were a bunch of Japanese tourists that seemed to love posing with the statues of the WWII-era soldiers.

Unfortunately, at some point I had to actually go to the conference so our sight-seeing had to come to an end. It was a fun trip overall.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

College Gameday: Mizzou at K-State

It comes as quite a shock that at this point in the college football season, the Missouri team is being mentioned in discussions of the national championship and their quarterback, Chase Daniel, is being considered for the Heisman Trophy.

It all comes as a bit of a surprise because Missouri football is not exactly a traditional powerhouse, and the past several years have been mired in mediocrity. Back when I started grad school, an unknown by the name of Kirk Farmer was the quarterback. It became a semi-big deal when Darius Outlaw became the quarterback with Justin Gage as wide receiver. I even recall lame promotional items hyping the "Outlaw with a 12 Gage".

But fast-forward about 6 or 7 years now, right past the moderately successful Brad Smith era, and we now have a more complete team largely due to the excellent play of quarterback Chase Daniel.

Also of importance are tight ends Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker. And keep an eye on freshman WR Jeremy Maclin. He's arguably one of the best players on the team already and he's only getting better The offense ranks among the top in the nation, largely due to Daniel's 26 TD passes and approximately 3300 yards so far. Some might say Daniel must be putting something on the ball.

Today's matchup against the Kansas State Wildcats really should NOT be much of a problem, but I've learned not to take anything for granted. Missouri enters the game at the 5th ranked team in the country, while Kansas State is on a bit of a downward spiral after some recent big losses, none worse than the 73-31 whooping handed to them by Nebraska last week.

Missouri is in a position now to control their own destiny. I would be surprised if Missouri did make it to the national championship but just the fact that its a possibility at this point is a bit exciting. As the #1 ranked team, LSU is nearly a lock to make it to the championship. But with #2 Oregon losing a couple of days ago (and the loss of Heisman candidate Dennis Dixon for the year), it sets up the likely scenario of a Big 12 team in the championship game. Oklahoma, as the current #3 team, is probably the most likely, but it should come down to whoever wins the Big 12 championship. To get to that point, Missouri needs to win today and then set their sites on #4 Kansas team at Arrowhead Stadium next weekend. Kansas is an even more surprising 10-0 so far this season (must be nice to not have to play Oklahoma or Texas) and any true Missouri fan has to despise anything Kansas. Like many others, I'm just waiting for the Kansas team to choke, perhaps on one of their coach's cupcakes? Anyway, I seem to be overlooking today's matchup against K-State but I sure hope that the Missouri team doesn't do the same. Gametime is in just a few minutes, so I'm going to have to wrap up this posting.

Go Mizzou!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Democratic debate

I was watching the Democratic debate on CNN last night. I'll admit that I'm pretty much the average American when it comes to these debates because there have been a bunch already and this was the first one I actually watched. That's not to say that I haven't been paying attention to the campaigns though. I decided long ago that I can't vote for someone that seems to disregard any domestic issues for the sake of foreign wars because I think that far too many domestic issues have been ignored for several years now and they need attention. That pretty much eliminates any Republicans from my consideration, with the exception of Ron Paul I suppose but he's another story entirely.

You would think that the Democrats could provide some legitimate alternatives, but I think that the Democratic constituency is about as clueless as the Democratic leadership. I cannot understand how Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are leading the polls by so much. Obama has perfected the art of never answering a question. Sure, he responds when a question is posed to him and he'll even talk for a long time to make you think that he's giving a long, insightful answer. But he never ANSWERS the question! If someone can actually tell me what the positions are that he's running on, I'd be impressed.

Hillary isn't any better either. She'll easily be labeled as a flip-flopper just like Kerry was, although her opponents will come up with another term that means the same thing. Beyond that, she's far too divisive to ever be able to get anything done. I heard a figure the other day that says that nearly half the country would not vote for Hillary under any circumstances. With that kind of divisiveness, how could she ever get any kind of bipartisanship efforts?

Anyway, back to my point of the debate last night. I have been throwing my support behind Joe Biden. I realize that "my support" is worth about as much as one of those grocery store coupons (about 1/100th of a cent), but he's the only one out there that seems to have the experience to lead the country and is able to balance the importance of both domestic and foreign affairs. It occurred to me while watching the debate that all of the candidates seemed to agree with anything that Biden said, and all of Biden's responses seemed to get quite an applause from the audience. I thought I was the only one that might have noticed this because if you watched the post-debate analysis with Anderson Cooper and his collection of talking heads, you'd think that the Democrats had only Clinton, Obama, and Edwards running for the presidency. I truly don't think that they ever mentioned another candidate's name. Its almost like some kind of reality show/popularity contest. Old white guys aren't given any attention because we've got a woman running for president! And an African American! Biden who? Dodd who? Who cares about experience? We've got a WOMAN running for president!

But of course, I wasn't quite as observant as I thought. Seems that the Biden campaign picked up on the fact that the other candidates kept pointing out how Biden is right on just about every issue:

Perhaps I should be working for the Biden campaign???

I took a look around the Biden website and also found another short video clip I found amusing. Its this kind of wit and stage-presence that appeals to me, along with his decades of experience in Congress....all the while appearing that the mega-corporations don't have (relatively) much influence in his decision-making.

Saturday, November 10, 2007



Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kansas City

"I'm going to be standing on the corner,
the corner of 12th street and Vine.
I'll be standing on the corner,
12th street and Vine.
With my Kansas City baby,
drinking my Kansas City wine."

-"Kansas City", sung by Willie Nelson

Just passing the time here making use of the free wi-fi at the Kansas City airport. Haven't been to this airport in a while, but it seems like they still haven't done much to make it a bit more exciting.

They do have a pretty good looking BBQ restaurant just down the way there. Walked past it earlier and had to resist stopping in for a bite. Funny, I don't remember that place being there previously.

....and there's the announcement for my flight. Will try to post more later.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Pharyngula mutating genre meme

So we've been called out. A southerner now in England has thrown down the gauntlet and has questioned our ability to maintain a blog. The last time I knew a southerner that talked smack while pretending to be an Englishman, I was a sophomore in college taking a British literature class. The professor was a guy from Alabama that spoke with a really fake British accent. But unlike the aforementioned literature professor, this blogger I speak of doesn't speak with a fake accent (as far as I know) and he doesn't wear cheap tweed jackets with elbow pads.

Anyway, the challenge it to answer the questions in this meme. Now, most people wouldn't know what a meme is. Heck, I don't even know quite how to pronounce it! But from what I can tell, it's defined as "A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another." Or in more layman's, blogger terms, its a way to get something posted on your blog for the day while also getting other people to visit your site. Clearly, we might be in need of something like this as our last post was almost a week ago.

To get back to the point, this one should be particularly appealing to us as it has something of a biological theme...albeit a loosely biological theme. Being a developmental biologist, I'm familiar with the term "pharyngula" but I'm not sure that most people would. Basically, its a very early stage in vertebrate development at which time all vertebrate embryos pretty much look the same. Do a google image search and I bet you'll see that this is true. The relationship to this posting is that all of the people that have done this before have all started with the same basic format, but they have then made a minor change or two to a question. Not enough to drastically change it, but just enough to distinguish it from the other posters.

Here's the deal:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

•You can leave them exactly as is.
•You can delete any one question.
•You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.
•You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.
•You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

The Lineage:

P: Pharyngula.
F1: Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
F2: Flying Trilobite.
F3: A Blog Around the Clock.
F4: archy.
F5: Why Now?
F6: Rook’s Rants.
F8: Kathy F.

The Questions:

I'm going to have to make a few changes here because otherwise I wouldn't be able to answer much here. Sorry, but alien encounter songs in sci fi? Anyway, here goes.

The best recent skit on Saturday Night Live is: “The Barry Gibb talk show"

The best “bad” movie in chick flicks is: “Blue Crush“.

The best non-pop song in pop is:
Well, I'll take this to mean a song that's played on the pop stations that doesn't bear any resemblance to Britney Spears or Fergie. Lately, I've really enjoyed the song "Teenagers" by My Chemical Romance.

The best flavor filling in sandwiches is: Grilled cheese with tomato and onion, otherwise known as "The Sconnie" at the Old Town Pub in Madison, WI.

The best beer is: Madtown Nutbrown from the Ale Asylum.

The Victims:

Well, we're not really established in the blogging world and as such, we haven't really known other bloggers much. Jenelle recommends we tag her high school friend Jamie.

Know someone like this?

I have to admit to some of my guilty pleasures....
I watch WAY too much TV, especially reality shows like Hogan Knows Best, Scott Baio is 45 and Single, Rock of Love, The Real World, The Hills, Meerkat Manor, America's Next Top Model.... the list could go on and on.
Something else that I do on a regular basis is read advice columns, especially when they are a headline on Here is blurb from 'Ask Prudie' earlier this week. I think I was rolling on the floor I was laughing so hard. We all know people like this but even worse most of us, at some point in our lives, have BEEN a person like this.
Hi Prudence,
I'm an office manager at a very small company, where I work with three other girls. In short, I am much smarter than my co-workers. When one of them asks a dumb question (i.e., "What's so bad about Fox News?"), I try to be sensitive and explain without making them feel stupid. Sometimes, though, I get very frustrated, and it's difficult to hold my tongue. Yesterday, my co-worker's sister came in to visit and announced shamelessly that she had never heard of Craigslist. After she left, I exclaimed to my other co-workers, "I can't believe she's never heard of Craigslist!" My co-workers defended her, saying they had never heard of Craigslist until they moved to New York City. I find this preposterous. I didn't say anything else because I didn't want to come off as a snob (which is probably how I'm coming off in this e-mail; my apologies). How does one handle working with people like this? I could keep my mouth shut and go with the flow, but it makes me feel dumb when I don't speak up—I feel that if I don't acknowledge their stupidity, then I'm not doing my duty as an informed young woman.
—Dumbed Down

Dear Dumbed,
Since you're so knowledgeable, I'll leave it to you to answer the following letter:
Dear Prudie,
The three of us work in a small office with an overbearing braggart who thinks it's her job to constantly tell us how smart she is and how dumb we are. If we say something that indicates we don't agree with her political views, she rolls her eyes and gives us a lecture on how to think. If it comes up that we don't know about some Web site she's familiar with, for example, she sighs and tells us it's impossible to believe that we could be that unsophisticated. Her attitude almost seems to be that she feels it's her obligation to point out how superior she is. In some small way, we feel sorry for her because she's so unlikable, but mostly we just can't bear the sight of her. How do we get her to shut up?
—Sick of the Show-Off

Good for you Prudie!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Presidential Candidates

The other day, Jon Stewart compared Fred Thompson to the breakfast cereal cartoon character Frankenberry. It was never something I considered I guess, but the resemblance is certainly there and it definitely garnered a laugh.

After the laugh, it also caused a little thinking. With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries coming up in just under three months, I wonder if any of the other candidates bear any resemblance to other cereal cartoon characters. Who could play the Count Chocula, for example, to Fred Thompson's Frankenberry? Could it be Mike Huckabee?

Now, as to not seem biased against either of the political parties, I absolutely had to turn my attention towards the Democrats. Is it just me, or does Dennis Kucinich just a little TOO MUCH like "Pop" of Rice Krispies fame?

How about John Edwards? With his goofy smile and $200 hair cuts, he's just asking to be made fun of. Which cereal cartoon character could he resemble? The last poll I saw had him in 3rd place trailing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Edwards chasing after Clinton and Obama seems kind of analogous to Lucky the Leprechaun chasing after the kids that stole his Lucky Charms.

Back when I was in college, my favorite cereal was probably of the Pebbles variety, either the fruity or the cocoa. Could any of today's presidential candidates possibly fill the shoes of Fred Flintstone? While it would seem appropriate for Mike Gravel to fill this spot because of his famous commercial where he throws a rock into a lake and because, well, his name IS Gravel, I'm going to have to give this honor to Bill Richardson.

But I don't want any Mike Gravel supporters to feel left out here, so let's see if we can come up with any cereal cartoon characters that he resembles. Seems to me that if you put a big, poofy chefs hat on Gravel's head, he would look a lot like the chef mascot for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Caramel Chip Bars

1/2 c butter
32 caramels
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg (18 1/4 oz) yellow cake mix
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 c miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla or white chips
1 Heath candy bar (1.4 oz) chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, caramels, and milk; cook and stir over medium low heat until smooth. Cool. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, oil, and eggs; mix well. Stir in chips and chopped candy bar (dough will be stiff). Press 3/4 into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 min. Place on a wire rack for 10 min.
Pour caramel mixture over the crust. Crumble remaining mixture onto caramel layer. Bake for 25-30 min or until edges are golden brown. Cool for 10 min; run a knife around edges of pan. Cool 40 minutes longer; cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

This is a recipe from the November/December 2002 issue of Quick Cooking. I have to admit that I didn't wait for all the cooling for a taste test. It is SO good!
I figured that it was about time to post another recipe. I have made this numerous times in the last few months. Once to test, once for a shower, once for Jason, and most recently I made 3 pans of them for the grand opening of my parents' new store. They always disappear very quickly!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Walls of the Cave

"I'm leaving you a message,
I'm leaving you a trace,
I'm leaving thoughts for you
I hope that time will not erase.
And when the moment comes
To read the words that I engraved,
You'll find them on the walls of the cave,
Of the cave."

- Phish, "Walls of The Cave"

This past weekend, Jenelle and I went to explore the Cave of the Mounds. The Cave of the Mounds is a local national landmark and park that was surprisingly more impressive than I expected. I had heard of the park since around the time we moved here but just never got around to going to check it out. The caves themselves are between 1 million and 2 million years old but like many natural wonders, these caves were discovered accidentally. There was a long story to describe the history of the caves but to make a long story short, it was found when they were digging for the limestone in the area and when they blasted this area, they were amazed to find this huge series of caves below the ground. If you'd like to see some of the pictures we took, check them out here.

While I was looking through these pictures, this Phish song popped into my head. I'm not nearly the music expert that another particular blogger is, but I thought I'd start this blog post with a little excerpt from this song. Not only am I not much of a music expert, but I'm also not much of a fan of Phish. I probably couldn't even name half a dozen of their songs. But this song is one that stuck with me. Reading the lyrics, it kind of seems like a retrospective on one's life, almost something written with a postmortem perspective. But I also remember that there was a little controversy about the meaning of this song when it came out. An alternate theory held that this song was about 9/11, and the conspiracy theorists held that the abbreviated title for this song (WoTC) could also be an acronym for World Trade Center. I'm not sure if I believe this and I can't find any evidence that the writers of the song had this intent, but its an interesting meaning for the song nonetheless. I'm wondering if the people that believe this latter meaning of the song are also the ones playing Beatles records in reverse listening for hints that Paul McCartney was really dead.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Great American Pastime

Yesterday, Jason and I headed to Milwaukee along with some of his lab members to watch the Brewers take on the Padres. At first arrival, I was excited to take in the good weather with the roof open. Then I found out Greg Maddux was pitching for the Padres. But then, the best of all, we had a streaker in the bottom of the first inning! He jumped out of our section, ran behind first base, touched second and headed towards third,bounced off a ground crew member at third and made his way to home plate,where he slid in feet first and was tackled and arrested.Thanks to our great seats we got a bird's eye view of everything, even the sausage races. For more pictures click here

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I can't be sure, but you may have heard of a little new invention called the iPhone. It might have made a headline or two a little while back. I don't have one myself, but I think it is just about the coolest phone I've ever seen. Sure, other phones have had some of the features of the iPhone for a while now, but Apple just gets it. Things are just intuitive and streamlined with all Apple products. Let me correct that....the design of Apple products isn't really intuitive because that suggests you still have to do some work. Have an iPod you want to update? Plug it into your computer and then let it do the rest.

The iPod has been the predominant mp3 player on the market since it was first released. Every now and then a new "threat" emerges and eventually fizzles out. Remember the Rhapsody player by Real Networks? I don't think they make it anymore. Microsoft's Zune? I still haven't seen one of those. And have you ever thought about what the mirror-image of Zune would be? The iPod has been so successful because of its ease of use. Not only the iPod itself, but also because of the iTunes software that not only makes it easy to buy music and movies, but also to organize these files and upload them onto your iPod. My excitement for the iPhone is largely because I expect it to revolutionize the cell phone industry and actually provide features people will use.

With all of my excitement for the iPhone, you may be asking why I don't have one. Well, the answer to this question is really in three parts. First, I generally don't pay for cell phones. Maybe I'll pay a bit for one like I have with the Razr I currently use, but I just can't bring myself to spend any substantial amount of money for a cell phone that I will inevitably drop on the ground numerous times. Secondly, I think that the storage capacity of the iPhone is too small. They've recently eliminated the 4GB model, but the only option now is the 8GB model. For all that they advertise (music, photos, movies, etc), I just don't see the iPhone being able to handle all that. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the iPhone is only available with a 2 year commitment to AT&T. I'm currently under contract with AT&T and I'm practically counting the days until I can switch.

The people that just HAD to have an iPhone when it was first released truly amaze me. These must be some of the weirdest (and ugliest) people I've seen. The obvious is that I'm amazed whenever people wait in lines for hours, if not days, for a new technological device. But beyond this, they're also completely contradictory. When it was first released, the headlines were full of quotes like "I'd pay any price" and "Worth every penney". Now that Apple has reduced the price, as what typically happens with technology, people complain and demand a refund.

My other rant in this posting is for the people that can't seem to understand that Apple only makes the phone. They have nothing to do with the wireless service. This is best evidenced by stories such as this one. In short, this guy went on vacation with his family and the roaming charges racked up a $4800 bill. They weren't even using their phones, but a feature of the phone is that it will continuously check for new emails and when you're outside the country, you'll incur roaming charges. I feel bad for them. I really do. But I can't possibly see how their lawsuit against Apple will get them a single cent. The story states that this guy "filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status in New York State Supreme Court last week, alleging that Apple did not properly disclose the international roaming charges." At the same time, the article (and common sense) would tell you that he "received a 54-page monthly bill of nearly $4,800 from AT&T Wireless." The guy feels like he was cheated. I can understand that. He feels like he wasn't informed of the consequences of simply taking the phone outside the country. I can understand that. He gets an enormous bill from AT&T and then goes and sues Apple? I just don't understand that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Road Trip

I was driving back from Iowa to Wisconsin this past sunday and it made me think about how I've developed a bit of an enjoyment for driving on the open road. This hasn't been a joy of mine for my entire life. I imagine that it took a relocation to the midwest to begin fostering an appreciation for these drives. Growing up in NY, its really pretty hard to enjoy long drives because of all of the traffic. For example, it's pretty easy to be in the car for a couple of hours and yet still be within NYC limits. And its not because NYC is all that large.

While driving along the highway in Iowa (or pretty much any midwestern state), it's pretty easy to let the mind wander. It's not too hard to figure out why. Long stretches of straight, open road, flat land filled with corn and soy beans for as far as the eye can see. I often think that one could just set the cruise control and not even think about driving, assuming your alignment is okay. Random things along the side of the road, or simply the view on the horizon make me think. It got me to start taking pictures along the way with my camera phone while cruising at 70 mph (hence the poor quality of the pictures). I don't recommend this for those driving through the city but when you're on highway 20 in northern Iowa, well its just a bit safer.

The first thing I think about is how different these areas are than any place I've ever lived. Certainly rural Iowa is in stark contrast to my childhood on Long Island. But beyond that, its also a lot different than living in either Columbia or Madison. Things like the old windmills along the side of the road make me wonder if they are still in use, and then I wonder what its like to be living in such an area. I'm in no way judging those that live in these areas and if I was, I think I'd be in trouble with the in-laws. Its just a different lifestyle than I'm accustomed to.

I also pay attention to the towns that I pass by. Sure, most of them have rather forgettable names. But plenty stand out in my memory. There are always a bunch of towns that seem to embody the American spirit. Towns with names like "Independence". I wonder if the residents of Independence are truly more independent than those in neighboring towns. Do children move out at an earlier age? Perhaps there is a lower percentage of people getting married? Of course, for every town with a memorable name like Independence, there are also plenty of towns with downright weird names. What do you suppose the women would be like in the town of "Dike"?

With any length trip, there are always sites to be seen. Some slightly famous like the Frank Lloyd Wright house. And then there's the more impressive national landmarks like the Mississippi River. Growing up in NY, the Mississippi wasn't much more to me than a geography fact and perhaps a spelling bee word. Living in the midwest, it comes to signify the westward expansion of the US and the pioneer spirit of the early settlers. There are so many sights to see, and each area of the country is so different. Even in the drive from Iowa to Wisconsin, the land changes quite a bit from the flat farmland of Iowa to the hilly and often rugged terrain of southern Wisconsin. Sight such as these make me think that it would be fun to just get in the car and drive. Go out and explore America. If only I had the time.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Football and shopping.

At this point, the Iowa game isn't over but with a score of 35-0 I am calling it done. Especially since I don't get to see the game thanks to the Big Ten Network. Although I am happy with the win, I am looking toward next week for the Iowa vs. Iowa State game. I don't have tickets to the game but I will find a place to watch it.
Today was another interesting day for college football. Georgia lost (sorry Chris) and the one-time football powerhouse of Michigan with Coach Carr and the Big House... has become, as one ABC announcer called it, Coach Carwreck and the outhouse. Oregon played a great game but no one expected Michigan to be as pathetic as they are this year, especially Michigan. It became even more obvious how big the stadium is in Ann Arbor when all of the fans booed the Michigan team to the locker room at half time.

Although shopping has very little to do with football... I like football and almost hate shopping...there is a connection today. When my parents and sister and I were at Kohls this evening a little boy about 3 or 4 was running down the aisle. A man who I am assuming was his dad was chasing after him and when the boy finally stopped his dad said... 'Man, you are faster than any Michigan quarterback' I had to laugh.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thank you Hannah

I don't know Hannah from Wisconsin but on Tuesday morning I received a text from her (I will keep her number confidential). It said:
Happy first day of school!
xoxo Hannah
I didn't think much of it. I know that Tuesday was the first day of school across all of Wisconsin and since I still have a Wisconsin cell phone number I figured Miss Hannah had mistakenly typed in her boyfriends cell number and texted me instead. I figured she would figure this out on her own.
I was wrong... at 3:30 in the afternoon, I received another text saying 'How did it go?'
By now I was a little irked. Her texts were costing me 10 cents a pop and although funny for a while I got this nightmare of some 16 year old girl, you know like the one who won the texting contest sending me 1000 messages in the next day or two.
So I contemplated calling her and letting her know that I am nearly 30 and no longer in school so I doubted I was the person she wanted to text... but I took the easy way out and texted her back. I simply said 'I don't know u.' Thinking this was done, I went home and made dinner, only to get another text at 8pm that simply said 'Awesome!'
I thought for a while about what awesome could possibly mean in this situation.

Awesome... Hannah just cost me $.40
Awesome... Hannah made a fool of herself self texting the wrong number all day.
Awesome... that guy she met last week at the bar gave her the wrong number (of course this would be a college student, not a high school one). Or possibly, she shouldn't have written his number on her hand, some of the number blurred this has happened to me before. One of my friends was going to help me move to an apartment in my college town. He was from a nearby town and his dad had a truck so he gave me his parents number. I called the next day and a man answered the phone. Sounded close enough to Eric's dad so I asked for Eric... there was a long pause and he said hold on a minute. Then a woman came on the phone (I assumed it was his mom), I again asked for Eric, she asked who I was.. I explained I was his friend from college and he was going to help me move today... she was silent for a minute and then said, 'Uh, Eric is 2.' That is possibly the longest wrong number conversation I have EVER had. Turns out, Eric wrote his parents' number on my hand. I think the number had an eight in it that I mistook for a zero. I eventually got in touch with the Eric I was looking for but I still freak out about calling people from time to time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Last weekend

Dinner at The Big Steer... $36 (thanks Mom and Dad)

Tickets to the fair... $12.

Seeing the World Super Bull (he weighed over 3000 lbs).. free

seeing the Big Boar.. free

foot long corn dog.. $7

egg on a stick while waiting to see the butter cow (and butter Harry Potter).. free

cheese on a stick... $4

bucket calf show.. free

taking a break next to a woman who didn't have much to say.. free.

Showing Jason around his first Iowa State Fair (even thought it was 100 degrees and we didn't eat pork on a stick or deep fried candybars).......... priceless.