Thursday, March 19, 2009

Funny Advert, NCAA picks and the Tokyo Marathon

I'm a member of the "League of Reason" forum online ( and under one of the discussions about "evolution and creationism" I saw this very interesting advert below the main banner:

You don't say...very interesting.
NCAA Picks (Yes, I know...very, very, very late)
MIDWEST Bracket:
(1) Louisville X (16) Moorehead State: Louisville
(8) OSU X (9) Siena: I don't like OSU, but of course, they get a free home game. Siena is tough, but OSU has the unfair home advantage. OSU.
(5) Utah X (12) Arizona: Hmm, toss up, but I guess Utah, no Arizona, no Utah, no Arizona, no Utah...okay Arizona.
(4) Wake Forest X (13) Cleveland State: I like Cleveland State, and WFU has been pretty inconsistent since Feb.
(11) Dayton X (6) West Virginia: WVU
(3) Kansas X (14) North Dakota State: NDSU beat Wisconsin two years ago in Madison. These guys have been playing together for four years. Kansas is young but very talented...with a good coach. I has Kansas getting to the Elite Eight until I thought about it for five minutes. NDSU in a shocker.
(7) Boston College X (10) USC: USC got the hot hand at the right time-swept through the PAC-10 tourney and although Boston College gave Dook fits in the ACC tourney, I'm going with USC.
(2) Michigan State X (15) Robert Morris: I would love to see MSU lose, but they'll win this one.
WEST Bracket:
(1) UCONN X (16) Chattanooga: UConn...
(8) BYU X (9) Texas A&M: BYU
(5) Purdue X (12) Northern Iowa: Purdue...although they won only the Big Ten Tourney (supposedly that means you won't get past the second round or Sweet 16), but they have a good basketball team (pains me to say as a UW alumnus...and how I joke about the smelly Wabash River).
(4) Washington X (13) Mississippi State: Okay, I saw parts of this game on TV...and MSU was losing. So why bother?
(6) Marquette X (11) Utah State: So losing their leader has caused the team to the hyper-insanely-tough Big East. I think they can get past Utah State, despite the size of Utah St.
(3) Mizzou X (14) Cornell: If this was an academic competition, I'd say Cornell in a blowout, but its basketball, so Mizzou, but all the Cornell guys graduate and earn higher salaries.
(7) Cal X (10) Maryland: Maryland. ACC bias I guess, but Maryland's got a great PG...that always counts for something in basketball.
(2) Memphis X (15) Cal St. Northridge: Memphis (but I think they already played this game.)
EAST Bracket:
(1) Pitt X (16) East Tennessee State: Pitt. 16 seeds continue their "Oh fer..."
(8) Oklahoma State X (9) Tennessee: Yah, OSU did well this year, but I don't tend to go against Bruce Pearl. Tennessee.
(5) Florida State X (12) Wisconsin: I am pissed at my alma mater, but I can't help but see the quaint story of Wisconsin's two premier programs (basketball and football) having their season ignomoniously ended by Florida State. But knowing Bo Ryan, he'll actually have a game plan and have his players ready and be able to make adjustments (unlike some other expanding mass of a coach) and could pull this one out. But I'm still going with FSU.
(4) Xaiver X (13) Portland State: I know nothing about Portland State, but I know Xaiver has a good coach and good players, so that's enough to give this poorly researched pick: Xaiver.
(6) UCLA X (11) VCU: VCU was able to knock out Dook in the tourney two years ago. They have a good PG. UCLA has NCAA experience from the past three Final Four runs and Ben Howland...UCLA in a tight one
(3) Villanova X (14) American: You can't pick against America! No really, when I think of 'Nova, I think of the great Kerry Kittles teams in the mid 1990s that never quite broke through in the tourney. He was one of my favorite players in college basketball along with Lou Roe, Marcus Camby et al. Villanova.
(7) Texas X (10) Minnesota: Minnesota
(2) Dook X (15) Binghamton: Who? Oh yeah, Binghamton in a run away. Wait, I mean Dook.
SOUTH Bracket:
(1) North Carolina X (16) Radford: Although everyone is bagging on Ty Lawson now for sitting out of the game, I think UNC has more than enough to beat Radford.
(8) LSU X (9) Butler: Butler; and its not that LSU has been up and down since beating Kentucky to wrap up the SEC a few weeks back, I just like Butler. Sue me.
(5) Illinois X (12) Western Kentucky: Western Kentucky in a semi-shocker. But I wouldn't be shocked.
(4) Gonzaga X (13) Akron: LBJ sneaks in the second half and records a triple double to beat Gonzaga. I think Akron has a chance. Akron.
(6) Arizona St X (11) Temple: Well...I flipped a coin and Temple came up, so I have to go with the best 2 out of 3...which Temple lost. ASU.
(3) 'Cuse X (14) Stephen F. Austin: 'Cuse, although everyone is concerned that they have nothing left in their legs.
(7) Clemson X (10) Michigan: Both inconsistent teams. Both started well and stumbled down the stretch. I flipped a coin again and Michigan won.
(2) Oklahoma X (15) Morgan State: OU and Blake Griffin announces that he will be entering the NBA draft after dropping a 30-10 in this game.
Round Two:
Louisville X OSU: I don't like Ohio State, and niether does Rick Pintino. He runs a full court press all day and Louisville blows out OSU. Louisville.
Arizona X Cleveland State: Ennie, Meenie, Miney, Mo...Cleveland State is a Cinderella.
WVU X NDSU: I don't go against Huggins in the tourney. Boy does Cincy look stupid for firing him.
USC X MSU: So sorry Tom Izzo...USC (okay, I don't feel sorry for putting that there)

UConn X BYU: UConn. Thashem Shabeet blocks 20 shots and the Mormons pray for Joseph Smith to smite the heathens, but since he's just worm food now, nothing happens.
Purdue X Washington: Purdue. Again, good basketball team.
Marquette X Mizzou: I think Marquette is still good enough to get past Mizzou and Mizzou does not fare well away from their home building.
Maryland X Memphis: Memphis proves that just because they play in Conference USA does not mean they cannot beat up on ACC teams. Memphis.

Pitt X Tennessee. Pitt's tough. Bruce Pearl wears a bright orange blazer. Pitt's still tough in the inside. Pitt smash. Pitt win.
Florida State X Xaiver: And Xaiver keeps going. But at least Florida State blew out Wisconsin by 20 for my viewing pleasure.
UCLA X Villanova: I struggled with this one. But I just think UCLA is going to tease us all with a hint of being able to make a 4th straight Final Four. UCLA just edges 'Nova.
Minnesota X Dook: Tubby Smith is a great coach, despite what the loud mouthed, mouth-breathing morons in Kentucky think (and should realize now since they are now in the NIT...never went there with Tubby...hmmmm). But Dook still has a bit more talent to outshine Minnesota. But I think Tubby can pull this one out. He's got Ralph Sampson (the III). It's gotta count for something! I think. Minnesota in a semi-shocker since Dook never gets past the second round these days.

UNC X Butler: Well, I'm going to say UNC and Dook will be watching the rest of the NCAA tourney. Butler.
Western Kentucky X Akron: I flipped a coin again and Akron came up. Again. I think LBJ is really going to suit up for them and average a triple double in one of his LeBron's alter egos.
Arizona State X 'Cuse: I like Syracuse in this game.
Michigan X OU: OU isn't going to get upset yet, not until the round of sixteen or so. OU

Sweet Sixteen. I call it, Sixteen teams better than the NIT Winner.
Louisville X Cleveland State: Louisville. Rick Pintino manages not to wear the horrific white suit.
West Virginia X USC: John Denver's Country Home defeats Paris Hilton with a offensive surge in the second half and good hands-up defense.

UConn X Purdue: Gene Keady never made it to the Final Four. But I don't think they can get past UConn, but it's a tight one down the stretch. UConn just squeaks out.
Marquette X Memphis: Memphis continues to prove they belong among the top teams in the US.

Pitt X Xaiver: Pitt strong. Xaiver not mid-major. Pitt smash. Xaiver not mid-major. Pitt strong. Xaiver not mid-major. Pitt can't get past the Sweet 16. Xaiver go to Elite Eight.
UCLA X Minnesota: Kevin Garnett, though an alumnus of the Timberwolves, was not a Golden Gopher. UCLA gets lucky because Dook lost. UCLA.

Butler X Akron: The Battle of the Mid-Majors, a clash in Memphis with Elvis watching. Butler wins.
'Cuse X OU: To prove that they still have stamina, 'Cuse beats OU.

Elite Eight. Sounds kinda pompus eh?
Louisville X John Denver (er, I mean West Virginia): Louisville wins another Big East game.

UConn X Memphis: Memphis wins by 15 and later states that UAB played them tougher.

Xaiver X UCLA: So close, so close to a fourth straight Final Four, but I think Xaiver breaks through.

Butler X 'Cuse: Butler continues to shock the world, while I am not surprized at all.

Final Four:
Lousiville X Memphis: I thought about this one for a bit. It reminds me of 1996 when Kentucky faced off with UMass in the Final Four. I thought it should have been the Nat' Championship game. I'm not sure how to pick this one. Both teams play suffocating defense. I just think this is Lousiville's season.

Xaiver X Butler: In the undercard, the mid-majors, although Xaiver is not a mid-major, battle it out. Between these two teams, I see Bulter taking them down.

National title game:
Louisville X Butler: A great game, but Louisville has too much for the mighty Bulldogs. Hopefully, Rick Pintino avoids wearing a white suit again.

Of course, I know that there is a 100% chance I am wrong in these picks. I'm willing to boldly state that I can 100% guarantee that I will be at least 90-100% incorrect in my picks. But that's the fun of the NCAAs.

Tokyo Marathon:
I know I have not even mentioned anything about the Tokyo Marathon: it was not until last week that I knew I was going to be able to run the race, based on my work schedule. It's pretty exciting to think about actually doing this, after losing about three and a half weeks of training because of an injury. Moral of the story: I should have just gone with Mizuno or Asics right off the bat. Nike shoes are good, but I like Mizuno and Asics better (I tend to think they are the best running shoes in the world). The only reason why I stuck with Nike was because of the Nike+ system.

I'll try to take as many pictures as I can while trying to maintain my pace and post them as soon as I can on this blog. Maybe I'll give a running commentary from what I can remember as well after the race.

Lastly, I hope that the weather (which was nice all week) holds up on Sunday. The torrential rain today is causing just a little concern now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bumbling Badgers

Indeed, I find more reasons as to why not to support the UW Athletic Program with P.J. Hill's latest antics. These days I could care less about how many games the Badgers win in any sport (actually, I root against the Badgers these days. I'm tired of hearing the boorish idiots in the student section at Citi presents Camp Randall on Qdoba Field. Plus, I can't find any alumni pride in a University that feels compelled to have luxury box seats at a college football stadium.).

They can build an expensive stadium, and pay a coach 1.6M USD per year (okay, so its probably only 950,000 USD after taxes), but I get a cheap ass Kinko's style diploma. I guess this is where one is supposed to start listing radical proletarian revolutionary rhetoric railing against the bourgeoisie.

Yes, I am aware that the athletic department is self sustaining these days, but I feel that its at the expense of the University. I recall that my senior year, the University was having to make budget cuts here and there all over the campus. Letters and Science, mostly the Letters part took the brunt of the cuts. But the Athletic department and the University itself felt that the money available in the athletic department coffers were probably best funneled into an egotistical renovation of Camp Randall. I wont comment on the football obelisk or self-aggrandizing statue of Barry Alvarez. Normally you unveil statues of people if they are effective leaders, win wars and end slavery or social inequality, create something useful for all society or cure a disease...or are a fictional boxer who goes the distance against the World Champion, not a football coach.

But hey, they have a great graduation rate for the football team. Well, 63% is about a D, so that's good enough for a degree! Good enough for me! Somehow, I think that should be around 90 or so, seeing that it is job of the coaches and the athletic department to make sure these undergraduates earn a degree. But maybe I'm way off. Probably because I don't believe in Bucky anymore.

Pointless Rambling

I recall a moment many years ago where my brother (I know he's going to want to kick my ass now) crying his eyes out because my dad bluntly stated that he did not believe in god, and therefore did not worry about eternal damnation or eternity.

The thought sticks with me as I think about how children are indoctrinated into any societies cultures, mores etc. As children, god, satan, heaven and hell were as real to us as the Gary dump two blocks down from the house and the abandoned house that would catch fire every two weeks. To a child who hears about the fires and damnation of hell, the sight of the collapsed remains of a house next door engulfed in soaring flames is a jolting reminder of what may be one's fate in the future.

That night in particular, my brother and I were sleeping soundly in our rooms, completely unaware of the situation unfolding less than one hundred feet from our bunkbed. No smell of combusting material, no sting of searing heat, no sight of the dancing tongues of fire; instead it was our mother excitedly bursting into the room telling us to put on our clothes and shoes quickly. Niether of us were aware of any impending disaster until I looked out the window.

I watched with curiosity at the surrealistic sight of the fires reaching to the apex of the highest trees in the nieghborhood. It was as if I were detached from the whole scene, as if this were on television and if I felt that the flames were starting to threaten, I could always switch the channel to Channel 50 or Channel 66. In the moment, I wondered why the house caught on fire and wondered if my father and the nieghbors spraying down our yard with the garden hose was a futile effort. Being as young as I was, I didn't think of the word futile, but wondered how you could fight such a huge fire with a small hose that leaked at the connection to the house with a consistent drip, drip, drip.

As we stood on the opposite side of Colfax Street in our nieghbor's driveway, the following thoughts meandered through my mind, sometimes catching on in my consciousness: would our house catch on fire?; what would happen to us if the house burnt down?; what would we wear to school?; where would we go?; why would the abandoned house catch on fire?; would someone set the house on fire?

In retrospect, maybe if the house had caught fire, that would have caused my father to move to another nieghborhood; he may have not taken the promotion to LaCrosse, WI; we would have gone to a different school; I would have taken a completely different path and may have ended up somewhere completely different. I tend not to think about a hypothetical alternate relatity, as I'm sure that the anti-particle me probably has taken a divergent path from my own in its own anti-particle universe and its best that I don't meet the anti-particle me because I have no desire to disappear into a flash of light. No thanks. But I do realize a couple of things: 1) that these constant fires made it easy for my father to take the promotion to LaCrosse to "get the fuck out of this shitty nieghborhood" and 2) there was probably a wonderful human being who felt compelled to set the abandoned house next door on fire at a regular interval.

Oddly, I don't recall hearing about the abandonded house catching fire when we lived in LaCrosse. Not once. Apparently someone either felt a sense of excitement setting that house on fire to scare our family or worse, had calculated to terrify our family by setting that house on fire. When I think of that nieghborhood, I'm not surprised. While it was not the most dangerous location in Gary or the world, Black Oak was not exactly a location you would want to raise a family.

Well, a pointless ramble to eat up bandwidth. Hooray.