Aug 312008

Sunday is always my favorite day of a three-day weekend.  It feels the freest.  It feels unusually open for things I’ve been meaning to get around to but haven’t—not chores, but enjoyable things that take a little time.

I started setting my larger saltwater aquarium back up this afternoon.  I’ve kept tropical fish pretty much since I could walk, but I only first tried a marine environment a couple of years before Lea and I got married (so, about 1995).  I had good success with it.  My charges included a marine betta and a regal tang that lived for more than five years.  I kept a flame angel happy for a couple of years, but she really did well only as long as I kept buying her live rock to graze.  When I decided that was getting too expensive, I traded her in.

My star attraction was my lionfish.  As spectacular as lionfish are to look at, they’re among the most undemanding of saltwater species to keep in aquaria.  The only real trick is to teach them to take dead food, which you can accomplish with a feeding stick and a little patience over a few days.  After that, make sure they get a decent meal a time or two a week, keep some water changed regularly, and enjoy the show.

I kept my last lionfish in a 29-gallon, which was on the small side.  This time I’m giving one the run of my 55-gallon.  I’ll post some photos in six or seven weeks.

 Posted by at 7:41 pm
Aug 312008

Wow.  Alabama had paralyzing run defense, effective and controlling offense, no turnovers, few penalties, and mostly solid special teams play.

Can you ask for anything more?  That’s how games are won.  Play in the trenches like Alabama did tonight, and you just about can’t screw it up.

Of course, the maddening thing about the first game is that it’s hard to tell how much is really learned about your team and their opponent, because you’re operating without context.  I really hope Clemson is the solid ACC contender everyone says they are.

Great job, Alabama.  Keep the train rolling.  If you execute like this consistently, it’s going to be a mighty fine year.

 Posted by at 12:36 am
Aug 302008

Everybody sing with me:

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Heh.  I turned the mojo on last night and finished all of the yardwork I had to do both at church and at home, so I had an opportunity to sleep in this morning.  Well, I woke up at 6:30 and was too excited to go back to sleep.  Have I mentioned that I love college football?

My Work Picks
We have an annual tailgate party at work that culminates with making picks for SEC champion and national champion.  I like to use my work picks for dark horses.  I try to select teams that probably won’t make it, but it’s at least somewhat plausible that they will.  (You know, picks that make you look like a genius if it works out.  I selected Georgia and West Virginia last year, which wasn’t looking ridiculous even into November.)

For national champion, I picked Arizona State.  They have questions on the offensive line, which is generally the last place you want them.  However, Dennis Erickson is already a champion, and his team won 10 games in his debut with the Sun Devils last year.  Plus, they host Georgia September 20, who will almost certainly still be #1.  That’s a chance to make a huge statement entering the heart of conference play, and if they get some jelling on the O-line, who knows?

For SEC champion, I picked Alabama.  Naturally I’d love to see this happen, but it’s not a heart pick—they’re simply the only plausible dark horse candidate in the conference, in my view.  Georgia and Florida are loaded and getting most of the love.  LSU won it all last year.  Auburn should be quite good, and they have three games to work out any offensive glitches before LSU comes to town.  Somebody said Tennessee.  Well, they won the East last year.  (Didn’t remember that, did you?)  I briefly considered pulling the lever for the Nutthouse in Oxford, but in the end, it was the Tide.

My Real Picks
I think Georgia’s press is a little too adulatory, and their schedule a little too tough.  Florida’s out-of-conference schedule includes Miami and Florida State, each of which may be a little better this year, but they’re still shells of their former selves.  (Naturally non-conference losses have no effect on the SEC, but they do have potential to get into players’ heads, hence the mention.)  Plus, Tebow will have some running help in the backfield this year, and the defense should be improved.  Finally, they have Richt’s celebration to avenge at this year’s World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (and no, I’m not ever calling it whatever the wussy politically-correct name is for it now).  I think the Gators win the SEC.

For national champion, I have Oklahoma defeating USC.  I know Ohio State would like to get back to the title game for their eighth third try in a row to close the deal, but I think the Big Ten is going to be tougher top to bottom this year than anyone is talking about.  Throw in a trip to USC, and I think they could lose three times.  I think the SEC will beat itself bloody, and nobody gets out alive.  (Yes, LSU won it all with two losses last year, but we won’t see that again anytime soon.)

My Crimson Tide
Alabama will be better this year.  There will be no late-season collapse including a loss to a cupcake, and there will be no third-in-a-row loss to Sly Croom.  If freshmen come online in a big way, and if injuries don’t badly cripple an already dicey defense, I think 9-4 or 10-3 is a reasonable expectation.

As for tonight against my friend Cheryl’s Clemson Tigers, and hopefully as a tone-setter for the season, I offer my single favorite moment of Alabama football since the ’99 season:  the first play on offense vs. Florida in 2005.  Folks, 2008 can be like this.  Let’s go!  Roll Tide!

 Posted by at 9:03 am
Aug 292008

Yeah, I didn’t know anything about her either.

As I’ve had a minute here and there to learn more today, I’ve become more and more impressed with McCain’s selection of Alaska’s current governor as his running mate.  She’s a smart bomb.  As a gun-toting pro-lifer, she’ll quell a lot of social conservative unrest.  As a governor, she can legitimately claim more executive experience than either Obama or Biden.  As a fiscal conservative, she is brutal and unyielding.

And hey, those three electoral votes in Alaska are in the tank, baybee.  (Like they weren’t already.)

By the way, you may have noticed that Sarah Palin is a woman.  Quoting an email on NRO’s Campaign Spot blog:

“The Democratic National Convention was a woman-palooza.  Hillary’s speech celebrated women’s progress. Michelle’s speech celebrated Hillary shattering the glass ceiling.  Talk talk talk.  Guess which party has a woman on the ticket.”

I think this is a political master stroke.

 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Aug 282008
  • I adore autumn.  When I get the first little hint of it, it’s amazing what it does for my mood.
  • I haven’t been back to the Anniston area since March 2005, and I’m going next month.  I’m going to have lunch with a classmate I haven’t seen in more than 28 years, and then attend Oxford High School’s homecoming football game (with the people who would have been my class had I remained there and graduated).   Some of my favorite childhood memories are of marching in Oxford’s band, and I’m looking forward to returning.
  • I took Brenna, our 13-year-old Lab/chow/German shepherd mix, to have her teeth cleaned today.  She’s in reasonably good health, but she’s slowed down a lot.  She has arthritis, and she’s been blind for three years now.  Suffice to say she’s tentative about unfamiliar places, and she looked positively pitiful on the way in and out of the vet’s office today.  It’s hard to watch her now against the backdrop of remembering how she used to be.
  • I read an editorial today—can’t find where just now or I’d link it—about college football officials being told to crack down on unsportsmanlike conduct this year, particularly excessive celebration.  Folks, come on.  What’s wrong with a kid being excited about a touchdown, or an interception, or a big sack?  Now there should be limits—I can see a case for penalizing the throat slash, the jump on the logo, and the sustained taunt—but there should be no crime in a little exuberance after a big play.
  • My latest weight loss strategy is to bet our sysadmin $100 that I can lose a larger percentage of my body weight than he can between the Tuesday after Labor Day and the middle of December.  I’m going to try my damnedest to stay this course and make a extra C-note for the holidays.  It won’t be easy.  He’s a monster in these competitions.  (I scored a Wii Fit yesterday, by the way.)
  • Speaking of video games, my Xbox 360 decided to stop outputting video earlier this month, a mere 12 days from warranty end.  (Whew, that was close.)  Called Microsoft, sent it in, and they replaced—not repaired—the unit in a week and a half, shipped free both ways.  Given the Xbox 360’s dismal reliability record, it’s clear to me that it was released several months earlier than it should have been, and that’s a black spot for Microsoft.   However, their amelioration effort has been stellar.  They’ve lost no points with me.
  • For the second month in a row, I’m having trouble getting into the Dark and Stormy selection.  I’m going to try to muster some power and get through the enthusiasm threshold this weekend.
  • I guess Obama’s speaking about now.  Part of me wishes I were more excited; the shank of me is settling into what feels like a lifelong conviction that anyone who succeeds in Washington is doing so at my expense.
  • I’m pretty sure I saw a Google car today.  About 8 this morning, I saw it turn from I-565 west to Sullivan St. north to Madison Blvd. east, and into the Chevron at that intersection.  It was a tealish 4-door Chevrolet Cobalt with a California plate and some sort of vertically-oriented apparatus on the roof.  When it pulled into the Chevron, I could see that it had a white (probably magnetic) something on the right-side front door, but I was too far away to read it.  We’re already on Street View, so I don’t know.  Maybe it was batting cleanup.
 Posted by at 9:46 pm
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