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.