Thursday, September 30, 2004

St. Ralph comes to town

Tuesday night, I broke curfew to see one of the most inspirational and confrontation figures of the past forty years. Speaking at the Carefree Theater on South Dixie Road was Independent presidential candidate “Saint” Ralph Nader. For starters, I am not a supporter of Nader’s 2004 campaign. Nor was I a supporter in 2000. My allegiances are strongly with the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards. The motive of my visit was to hear what Nader was saying, along with evaluating his band of loyalists.

I have a sordid confession to make. If you run an audit on my checking history, you will find a $5 contribution to “Ralph Nader for President 2004”. I will forever be ashamed of this stain on my finances. I did not realize that a $10 fee, $5 for students, would be assessed at the door. I figured that it was worth paying a couple of bucks, since I was already down there.

Signs of liberalism were all around the Carefree Theater. Outside were trashcans adorned with old “Dennis Kucinich for President” bumper stickers. When I walked in, there were four tables set up. The first was a group handing out a flier reading, “Bush isn’t the problem”. They were self-described anarchists whom are upset with the modern political system. Farther down, they were selling Nader for President t-shirts. For $75, I could have been the proud owner of a personalized copy of Nader’s book, “Crashing the Party”. I declined to purchase one, as it would have signified a higher donation to Nader’s candidacy than I have given to Kerry’s. I approached the door and bought my ticket. I had forgotten my student ID in the car, but the guy let me in with a student discount. I thought he might decline, as I was wearing my Democratic Underground shirt. Democrats have fallen out of favor with Nader and his supporters.

Around 8:00, there was this creepy band playing. The lead singer was wearing a multicolored t-shirt. At first, he wasn’t that bad. But as time went on, the quality went down. He started singing the children’s songs that he had written. The man appeared to possess the qualities of the hippie of the 60s and 70s. He was a nice guy and all. I’d hate to put him down. He was just so stereotypical of what people think of a Nader voter. He went on about 15 minutes longer than he had planned for. Eventually, he forgot all the lyrics and was trying to banter with the audience.

The preliminaries began around 8:40. The local organizer stepped up to the podium and talked about how Nader was her hero. She had been galvanized by a speech Nader gave in Tampa four years ago. She professed Nader to be her hero and political idol. I have no reason to doubt her sincerity. I question her choice of candidate, but not her commitment to progressive ideals. One of Nader’s campaign workers came on and gave a recap of ballot access issues. Basically, the Democrats have orchestrated a coordinated effort to keep Nader off the ballot in as many states as possible. In some cases, it has worked. In many others, Nader is still on the state ballot. This is one issue where Ralph and I agree. I believe he should be allowed ballot access as long as he reaches the requisite signatures. The Democrats should not look to force him off the ballot on technicalities. I don’t care if Republicans are the ones who want him on the ballot. Challenging his access to the ballot does nothing but reinforce the negative opinion of Democrats that Nader supporters have.

The lord and savior himself spoke around 8:50. If nothing else, I was impressed with his command of issues. This was the kind of speech that I wish Kerry would give. He spoke for a little over one hour. Presumably due to time constraints, an average Kerry stump speech lasts less than thirty minutes. I’m not saying that Kerry couldn’t go on for that period of time, but a busy campaign schedule allows only for a brief discussion of issues. Nader’s biggest complaint is about the corporate control of America. He must have used some variation of the word “corporate” or “corporation” at least twenty times throughout the speech. It was bordering on the ridiculous. I believe in a lot of what he was saying, but the repetition was a bit much.

I’ve got five pages of notes and quotes, but I’ll sum up his comments briefly. He began by talking about health care and how the HMOs have destroyed the system. I didn’t know that 640 lobbyists from drug companies gathered on Capitol Hill to help pass the Medicare bill. That’s more lobbyists than there are members of Congress. It’s hard to argue against Nader’s premise that powerful HMOs are running the health insurance industry. However, there were many Democrats, a majority IIRC, that actively opposed the Medicare/Prescription drug bill of 2004. Nader continued to harp on the financial inequities plaguing America. He was very succinct on the state of the poor in America. “If you can’t pay (for health care), you die,” asserted Nader. Ralph is correct when he notes that 61 percent of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1996 and 2000. Furthermore, 70 percent of foreign corporations operating within the U.S. paid no taxes in that time period. This was under a Democratic administration, not George W. Bush. The government is out of touch if they consider $18,000, the poverty line, to be enough to support a family. Nader touched on the $2 trillion in tax relief that went predominantly to the top one percent of wage earners. Nothing that Nader said was anything different than I’ve been saying for years.

Nader saved much of his harshest criticisms for the Democratic Party. Of his decision to run, Nader said, “How much of our Democracy do we have to lose to stop settling for the least worst?” Nader obviously believes that while Kerry is better than Bush, he is not an acceptable alternative. Fortunately, most liberals disagree with Nader’s assessment and have decided to support Sen. Kerry. Nader asserted that, “Both parties are more and more controlled by corporate lobbies.” On that statement, it’s hard to argue. Republicans, and to a lesser extend Democrats, are controlled by their corporate daddies. Nader did save some criticism for the Republican incumbent, George W. Bush. He called George W. Bush the worst U.S. president in 100 years. Nader opined, “(Bush) combines various degrees of ignorance and callousness.”

Nader continued to rail about the “liberal intelligencia”. For a moment, I wondered why he used that term. It’s right out of the right-wing playbook. But Nader continued, “They make no demands on Kerry. They are disgracing themselves by blocking the only candidate that advances their agenda (the Nader/Camejo ticket).” Nader was right on another key point, “67 percent of the American people say Bush cares more about corporations than the American people. This is George W. Bush’s Achilles heel, but they aren’t shooting arrows at him.” Ralph was surprisingly making a lot of sense. I wonder to myself why it is that Sen. Kerry is having such a difficult time defeating this very vulnerable incumbent.

Nader put the blame for the election 2002 Congressional results at the foot of the party itself. “Democrats lost the 2002 election by giving Bush a pass. They anointed him a wartime president (with the IWR). He was untouchable because he was a wartime president, beating the drums of Iraq. No WMDs, no Al-Qaeda. He (Hussein) was a dictator with a dilapidated army,” said Nader. Nader pointed out a recent Washington Post article that wrote about chief Kerry strategist Bob Shrum, whose record in presidential elections is 0-7. “Losers hire losers. If Kerry loses, it will be because he let himself lose,” said Nader.

Nader still resents being blamed for Al Gore’s loss in 2000. Nader said Democrats lost because, “a decadent, Democratic Party didn’t properly oversee a super-decadent Republican Party”. Nader continued, “ten times more Democrats deserted for Bush than for me. Decadent parties need a scapegoat.”

Continuing on the humanitarian front, Nader said, “We could be known as a humanitarian superpower, not just a militaristic one. We could show the world how to eradicate TB and AIDS.” Nader put the blame on the pharmaceutical industry, which makes more profits in treatments than by vaccines.

Nader came to a close by rallying his troops. Nader said, “We grew up feeling powerless. If five million of us got together, people could make a difference.” The quote of the night came when he referred to corporations as “electronic child molesters”. He insinuated that corporations want to make us silly so that they can perform their dastardly deeds.

This speech was interesting in how it went back and forth between criticizing Bush and the Democrats. He gave enough anti-Bush barbs to make the experience somewhat satisfying. On Bush, Nader said, “He’s the opposite of a compassionate conservative. Clear Skies Initiative makes the clouds less clear. It’s like 1984, with Orwell.”

Let me add some of my analysis. I realize this isn’t a true news article. I have no plans on submitting it for any newspaper or academic course. I agreed with the majority of what Nader said. But like Bill Maher said, Nader is “correct but not right.” While we admire Nader for his lifetime of benevolence, his decision to run in 2004 is an unfortunate one. His supporters are committed progressives, but many of the financial and signatory backers are anything but. The conservatives are using him in order to assist George Bush in his reelection efforts.

One reason I went was to try and dispel the myths about Nader supporters. Those on websites like Democratic Underground want to portray them in the worst possible light. They did not smell or dress badly, as suggested by some posters. Some were definitely a bit odd, but not that much different than many Democrats I see. I didn’t see any George W. Bush stickers on cars in the parking lot. I didn’t see anybody that looked in any way conservative. These are people who truly believe Nader’s candidacy is advancing progressive causes that they support. I will never use my blog to bash Nader or fans of his. Nader is addressing issues that John Kerry or George Bush either can’t or refuse to talk about. I’ve never heard Kerry talk as eloquently about the “War on Drugs”, as Nader did. Nader was forceful in his opposition to the Israel’s “Security Fence”. Kerry has been known to support the so-called “Apartheid Wall”. I don’t want to put all the blame on Kerry. He’s doing what it takes to win a national presidential election. Nader doesn’t work with the same hindrances. He’s basically unaccountable in an electoral sense. Kerry must win the votes of centrists and conservatives in order to have a realistic shot at the presidency.

I still would hope that Ralph understands the harm his candidacy is doing. The polls show that the majority of Nader voters would be inclined to vote for the Democratic candidate. In some states, even a thousand votes could be enough to swing the race. I don’t think his run truly advance the causes he supports.

I hope that people can get past the Ralph of today and remember all the good that he has done. It’s a shame that even progressives now view Nader in an unfriendly light. He is doing what he feels is best for the country, despite the protests of Democrats. I recommend reading his new book, “The Good Fight”. He really has done a lot of good for America. Unfortunately, his most enduring contribution may be aiding and abetting George Bush’s eight years in the presidency.

Presidential Debate Drinking Game

Tonight was one of those nights I wish I could partake in some of the Jack Daniels, Tennessee Whiskey. Alas, circumstances will prevent me from engaging with my favorite alcoholic beverage. Nevertheless, it might be fun for those capable of drinking to add a little enjoyment to the debate experience.

Take 1 shot every time Bush mentions "September the Eleventh", "9/11", or some variation of that fateful day.

Take 1 shot every time Bush talks about "how the world has changed" since the terrorist attack.

Take 1 shot every time Bush uses the word "madman" to describe Saddam Hussein.

Take 1 shot every time Bush alleges that Kerry is a flip-flopper, or changes his position. Use your own discretion. Bush might not use the exact word "flip-flopper" (but if he does explicitly, add another shot), you can understand his intent.

Take 1 shot every time Bush says the economy is growing or expanding.

Take 1 shot every time Bush mentions Al-Qaeda.

Take 10 shots every time Bush mentions Osama Bin Laden. I place the number high, since I highly doubt he wants to bring attention to the fact that OBL is still at-large.

Take 2 shots every time Bush pronounces the word "nuclear" as "nucular".

Take 2 shots every time Bush uses the word "liberate" or "liberation".

Take 2 shots every time Bush uses the phrase "Iraqi people".

Take 3 shots every time Bush mentions "God".

I could go on and on. Bush is so predictable. We won't see anything new in tonight's debate. I'm wondering how many times Kerry will mention Vietnam. I think he might do less of that than he would have three months ago. Kerry will try to put emphasis on America's future, not our past.

Maybe I can tape this debate and engage in the activity myself at a later date. I'll be back home with a full report, most likely around 12:30 ET. I'll also be on AIM (if I can get it working) to talk, if anyone is interested.

Go Sen. Kerry!!!

The Rumble in Coral Gables

Tonight marks the occasion of the first Presidential “debate” between incumbent George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John F. Kerry.

I strongly feel that tonight is Sen. Kerry’s last chance to turn the momentum of this race back to his side. The 90-minute debate is on the subject of foreign policy. Conventional wisdom says this favors Bush. He holds a significant lead in regards to who can better handle America’s struggle with terra. Kerry must close this deficit to around ten percentage points. If Kerry continues to lag by 30 percent on the issue of terra, there is no chance he can win on Nov. 2.

There is a 32-page set of rules for the “debate” this evening. Even Kerry’s height advantage has been nullified by the use of podiums. The podiums are of equal height, creating the impression that both candidates are equal in stature. That is not the case. At 6’4”, Kerry is taller than Bush. And the taller man typically wins the presidency. Also, candidates will not be allowed to act direct questions. They can only engage in rhetorical questions. For instance, Kerry cannot ask, “Mr. Bush, why did you lie about WMDs?” Kerry would have to phrase it like this, “Suppose a sitting president led us into a war under false pretenses. What would he say if asked about that?” We see how infantile the debate process has become. The Bush campaign is trying to stop television networks from using cutaway shots. The cutaway shot proved fatal for George H.W. Bush in 1992, when a camera showed him glancing at his watch twice during his debate with Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot. The networks are currently defiant and say they will act as they please. However, Bush has the prerogative to back out of future debates if rules are infringed upon. There are 32 pages more of this crap. Suffice to say this is not a debate, rather a sound-byte telethon.

I cannot overemphasize how important tonight is for Sen. Kerry. Around 50 million people will be watching this debate. That numbers goes consistently down in subsequent debates. By all accounts, Kerry is trailing this race, although not by as much as Gallup would have you believe. When the polls come out next week, Kerry needs to be within the margin of errors of reputable polls. Kerry has proven to be a solid debater. He performed very well in his series of eight debates in 1996 with Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. However, never before has Kerry’s entire being been so distorted by an opponent. It’s hard to tell if Kerry can come back this time.

By 2:00 this morning, I’ll be able to say who wins this election. If the media all trumpet a triumphant Bush performance, then this race is all over. On the other hand, if Kerry performs well and gets favorable news coverage, then the ball is back in Kerry’s court. As long as he can change the downward momentum of the past six weeks, Kerry will be fine and ready to pounce until Nov. 2 .

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

PBCC's still closed

Much to my surprise, I arrived for my class at PBCC this morning to discover that classes were still canceled. I didn't even think to look online to check the status. I just assumed that everything was back to normal. All FAU campuses were open by Tuesday. That English Literature class has been a disaster. I don't think I've been there more than four times this semester. He canceled class three times, along with the four days missed for Hurricanes France(s) and Jeanne. I've been absent twice due to Kerry events and overnight intoxication.

I did read that power is restored and classes will begin tomorrow. Fortunately, I'm only there for an hour on Monday and Wednesday. I swear, that place can be depressing. It's only a slight improvement over William T. Dwyer High School.

Dolphins message board

I found this site just the other day. While not the biggest site, it looks to be a friendly place for Dolphins fans to wallow in our collective misery. I registered today and posted a link to Dave Hyde's latest column. I got very friendly welcomes from a couple of members.

I'd recommend anybody who cares about the Dolphins to sign-up and take a look around. The sentiments expressed are similar to those of most Dolphin fans. They think Wanny needs to go, and that the team is a complete disaster. I look forward to riding out the hard time and maybe, two or three years from now, enjoying Miami's resurgence to prominence.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Dolphin Notebook

Sources (Writing is mine)

News out of Miami is not good today. Prize RB Lamar Gordon's shoulder injury will likely force him to miss the 2004 season. That makes three RB's hurt in the first three regular season games. Travis Minor and Sammy Morris are still infirmed. Today, the Dolphins signed some guy named Brock Forsey. As devout as I am a football fan, I have no clue who this guy is. I'm starting to wonder about the durability of this team. At the RB position, we're left with Leonard Henry and Forsey. Even our emergency Tailback, Rob Konrad, is injured.

Some good news to report. It looks like QB Jay Fiedler has unseated incumbent A.J. Feeley, at least for Week 4's encounter with the Jets. I do like this decision. If nothing else, a win against the J-E-T-S would appease the fanbase. I'd be satisfied if we were able to beat New England and the J-E-T-S this season.

Still, one has to wonder how Miami can compete with the Jets. For the first time in 2004, I could see Sunday's game get ugly. There's only so many weeks that this defense will continue to hold up. Once the D folds, the scores will get worse and worse.

Song of the Day- "Only Wanna Be With You"

Bonus points to anybody who can identify why I posted this song. A line or two is really does express my emotions at the moment. I guess there could be a few reasons, but I think one should jump right out at you.

Performed by Hootie and the Blowfish

You and me, we come from different worlds
You like to laugh at me
When I look at other girls

Sometimes you're crazy and you wonder why
I'm such a baby
'Cause the Dolphins make me cry
Well, there's nothing I can do
I been looking for a girl like you

You look at me, you got nothing left to say
I'm gonna balance you until I get my way
I won't dance, you won't sing
I just want to love you
But you want to wear my ring

Well, there's nothing I can do
I only wanna be with you
You can call me your fool
I only wanna be with you...

Put on a little Dylan, sitting on a fence
I say that line is great, you ask me what it meant by:
"Said I shot a man named Gray, took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks, and when she died
It came to me, I can't help it if I'm lucky"

I only wanna be with you
Ain't Bobby so cool?
I only wanna be with you

Yeah, I'm tangled up in blue
I only wanna be with you
You can call me your fool
I only wanna by with you

Sometimes I wonder, if it will ever end
You get so mad at me when I got out with my friends
Sometimes you're crazy, and you wonder why
I'm such a baby, yeah, the Dolphins make me cry
Well, there's nothing I can do
I only wanna be with you

You can call me your fool
I only wanna be with you

Yeah, I'm tangled up in blue
I only wanna be with you
I only wanna be with you
I only wanna be with you

Building the suspense

I'm hoping to have a second news article up and posted by late tonight or tomorrow morning.

A very prominent national figure is coming to town today. I'll withhold his name for the moment, but here are a few clues. This man is perhaps the most hated man, with the exception of George W. Bush, at the Democratic Underground. His critics claim that he's an out-of-touch has been. They think he was once a good man but has been led astray in recent years. Opponents suggest that his only purpose in life is to help Republicans secure electoral victory. Although not technically a Republican, many believe his loyalties may lie within that party. (2nd Hint: It's not Zell Miller)

Progessive supporters think he's the last true believer left in the country. They think Democrats have sold out and become too much like Republicans. His loyalists feel that Democrats have unfairly targeted their man.

Full story to come...

Monday, September 27, 2004

We survived Jeanne

Whee! Another hurricane hit South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

Fortunately, our home made it out okay. I spent the weekend at my cousin's house. I cleaned my uncle out on a game of no-limit Texas Hold 'Em. A two pair was enough to catapult me to victory. For the rest of the weekend, we sat around with little to do. We caught a little of the FSU/Clemson game when power was on.

Late Sunday night, we got power back. I returned Monday morning after the Steelers/Dolphins game. I'm at my aunt's house tonight because she has a fully functional computer and an ample supply of hard liquor (or liquer as the fancy-panced might spell it).

This storm was much nicer to us than France(s) was. France(s) left power out for ten days. Jeanne caused an outage of only 24+ hours. No further damage was done to our roof and since removed carpeting.

Zero Beach and Martin County got the brunt of Jeanne's fury. I'd hate to be living there at the moment. Soule's Point got hit with their second hurricane in a matter of three weeks.

Overall, it wasn't a bad experience. I can't wait for the beginning of November when hurricane season unofficaially ends. It doesn't terminate techincally until November 30. Nothing serious has ever hit past Nov. 1.

The Democratic gods must be seriously pissed at us for our shenanigans during the Election 2000 recount.


Dolphin Debauchery

Sorry for the delay in posting. I had to go get another touch of Scotch Whiskey.

The Dolphins stink! Nobody would argue that point. I've paid my $500 and plan to attend the rest of the season's six home games. There's something about football that makes attending games so much fun.

Last night, my cousin Shaun and I went to the Pittsburgh game. I noticed that as time went by, our discussion turned to less pure matters. It began when we stopped at the Pompano Beach turnpike service plaza. We discussed the rather attractive female J-E-T-S fans that were stationed at the Sbarro's. If I were feeling like I do tonight, I'd have gone over and worked my magic. Unfortunately, I was only able to utter some nominal pleasantries.

When we arrived at the game, it was pouring down raining. We eagerly awaited the well-endowed females to arrive. Preferrably, they'd be wearing white colored tops. As a result, we could better observe their amble busoms.

I'm wondering if that makes me a bad person. Am I perverse to notice attractive women, even the kind that would never talk to me in a million years? If they wear such flattering outfits, isn't their lust what they truly desire? They want to taunt me, pointing out the lust of my desire. I try not to appear too obvious, although the high-fives with my cousin Shaun might have been a bit much.

It's the one saving grace of this Dolphins season. Here in South Florida, there is never an absence of females willing to show off their goods. For now, I'll keep up the lewd thoughts and inappropriate gestures until an angry significant other comes and puts me in my place.

Don't think I've ever written such a thoroughly disorganized post. This could have been so much better an exposition had I put more time and sobriety into it. Maybe I'll explore it more at a later time, possibly after the J-E-T-S game.


Sorry about not getting Part II up yet. Still working on it.

This evening, I decided to try drinking once again. I dabbled in Jose Cuervo Tequilla and Absolute Citron vodka. I measured out the 1.5 ounces that equals a shot. In the course of about 20 minutes, I drank four shots. I figured that was a good medium number. Enough to stay awake for the game, not enough to fall asleep drunk. I might try some more later this evening if the effects begin to wear off.

I have to thank my buddy Eric for introducing me to the wonders of alcohol. Sorry to Jack Daniels that I couldn't partake in her wonder tonight. I have not strayed. JD is very close to my heart and I eaglerly await more encounters with her.

I can't believe, for so long, I feared alcohol. What a heel I was. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two (or five) on a weekend, or while watching Monday Night Football. All those CONservatives who decry alcoholic beverages are wrong, dead wrong I tell you.

Look at me. I'm still able to write coherently. I'm not stumbling around the house. I'm in total control of my facilities. All it does is slightly lower your inhibitions. I'm not going to go vote Republican, or anything stupid like that, while in an altered state.

Bless you, great JD, JC, and AC. I'm getting better at drinking you without immediately having a gag reflex. Before you know it, I'll be enjoying you like I do a Pepsi Cola or Sunkist Orange. The momentary pain is far surpassed by the enchanting effects of intoxication. 10 minutes of discomfort for hours of ecstacy.

Updates coming later this evening. Blogging while Intoxicated. Don't try this at home.


Wanny the Motivator

This has to be the funniest thing I've read in quite some time. Thanks to the proprietor of for pointing out this Herald article. I just love the sixth paragraph that I cited. The players obviously have little respect for Wannstedt and his methods.

Likewise, Wannstedt uses gadgets, such as mouse traps and lobster traps, to warn his players of complacency when they are winning.

The downside is that Wannstedt's message has often been ignored as so much Pollyanna. Players have privately rolled their eyes at Wannstedt's power of positive thinking.

Such as the time last year when Wannstedt spoke to the team and used a basket and four props, a family photo, a Bible, a football and a brick with the word ''distractions'' on it.

Wannstedt's point was that if you concentrate on family, faith and football, everything would fit neatly in the basket. Add the ''distractions'' and it doesn't fit.

Nice message, but when Wannstedt fumbled with the props and couldn't get everything back in the basket, it was a comedic flop.

When Wannstedt put the basket and the props in the locker room, one prominent player threw them away in disgust.

Thus, you have to wonder if the players will take him seriously now, or whether it's simply too late. Too late for a man who really doesn't believe in doing it in the first place.

Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Miami Dolphins 3

Most Florida football fans had the good fortune to miss last night’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those who did have power, and lived in the greater Miami and WPB area, were subjected to another abortion of a “professional” football game. Even a Shakespearean vocabulary could not do adequate justice to the wholly derelict Miami offense.

The game was tight through three quarters of football. Two Pittsburgh Field Goals and one by Miami was the only offense on the board. A 4th Quarter TD reception by Hines Ward was enough to catapult the Steelers to a 13-3 victory.

Miami’s offense continued where it left off with 5:00 to go against Cincinnati. Miami rallied to make the score respectable, but the overall offensive performance against the Bengals was putrid. From literally the opening minute, the offense was an abomination. I’m not lying when I recite the turn of events. Exactly like Week 2 against Cincinnati, the Dolphins were called for a false start on their first offensive snap. On the next play, only seven seconds into the first quarter, Donald Lee fumbles the ball and Pittsburgh recovers. With 14:53 to go in Quarter 1, Miami committed their first turnover. Fortunately for Miami, Pat Surtain picked off Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass and gave Miami possession again. Six plays later, Ike Taylor intercepts QB A.J. Feeley. Only 2:00 in, Miami now had two turnovers. In part because of good field position, Pittsburgh is able to capitalize with a Jeff Reed FG. Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead. With conditions getting worse, it was entirely possible that a 3-0 lead would hold up for Pittsburgh. The coup d grace came when Feeley was intercepted for a second time. 7:00 played, three turnovers by the Dolphins.

I won’t go much past the first quarter. The Dolphins did begin to take slightly better control of the football. The fourth turnover came on a fumble in the final minutes of regulation. That doesn’t mean Miami improved offensively. They ended the game with a mere 169 yards of total offense. Leonard Henry carried the ball 21 times for 41 yards. A RB with a 3-yard average is considered mediocre. No Miami RB has been able to get much more than two yards per carry. This isn’t an indictment on Henry. Actually, he was the best back I’ve seen all season. Lamar Gordon was knocked out with a shoulder injury during the first quarter. Sammy Morris, Travis Minor, and Rob Konrad were all inactive. Henry was the only ball carrier after Gordon’s injury.

One awful moment came with 10:00 to go in the 3rd Quarter. Miami had gone from their own 8 yard line to the 47. On 3rd and 1, Henry was unable to pick up the first down. Originally, Matt Turk was coming on to punt the football. After an unfavorable reaction by the fans, Miami called a timeout and decided to go for 4th and short. The play call was a Feeley sneak. The O-Line totally collapsed and Feeley lost yardage on the run. Wannstedt said after the game that it was inexcusable.

Pittsburgh went on to score three more points in the 3rd and a TD in the final period. 13-3 was the final score of this contest. Some notable numbers for this affair. Miami turned the ball over four times, making it 10 for the season. A.J. Feeley was unable to complete 50 % of his passes, going 13/27. In an amazing turn of events, he surpassed Fiedler’s abysmal QB rating of 8.0 for the first half versus Tennessee. In the first half of last night’s game, Feeley earned a rating of 6.8.

There is one positive to take from last night. Miami was only penalized 6 times for 33 yards. That was one notable improvement. Rookie KR Wes Welker made errors in catching punts, but at least he held on to the football.

Another Dolphin fan made some points on another website. I figured I’d expand on his main points, most of which I concur with.

The first point was that Miami’s 2004 season was essentially done. You can’t argue with that. At 0-3, they would have to go 9-4 to even have a shot at the playoffs. The Dolphins will be lucky to win half that number of games. These first three games were entirely winnable. Tennessee and Cincinnati are both 1-2 for the season. Their only victories came against Miami. Pittsburgh was a team that Miami should have beaten at home. There is no excuse for this 0-3 start. If the Dolphins won six games for the year, it would be a success.

This Dolphins team will be dismantled piece by piece. I noted earlier that the Thomas/Taylor Era is over. Miami should get draft picks and young talent for the likes of Thomas, Sam Madison, and Pat Surtain. The problem is that these guys have big contracts and could be hard to trade. Miami needs the 2005 draft picks desperately. I’d like to see Zach Thomas yield a 1st and 2nd Round pick. The future of the Dolphins defense will be centered around Morlon Greenwood, Will Poole, Antuan Edwards, and possibly Jason Taylor. It might take two years, but the defense will be thoroughly disbanded.

Coach Wannstedt will get fired. I don’t know if it will happen next week or after Week 17. Suffice to say that Huizenga will have to eat the big contract that he gave Wannstedt last off-season. It doesn’t matter whether Wannstedt leaves now or in January. If Wannstedt were to be let go, QB’s coach Marc Trestman would be the likely interim coach. I doubt Trestman would do anything tangible to improve the team. Huizenga is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. Even he can see the disaster that has been brought forth by Hurricane Wanny.

The point about Fiedler is dead-on. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I don’t think Fiedler would make us a playoff team. However, we would be respectable under his guidance. With Jay, we win six or seven games. An A.J. Feeley incumbency brings maybe three or four victories. Fiedler can scramble and pick up a blitz package. The theory behind starting Feeley is that Miami wants to know whether he was worth the investment. But Wannstedt will not be around to see Feeley possibly blossom into an adequate QB. If Miami wants to have any shot at beating the rival Jets this Sunday, Fielder must be behind center.

Dolphins fans are already upset at this team. The crowd was sparse last night. I’ll never betray my Dolphins. I’ll be at every home game and watch every away one on television. Fans will come back after Huizenga decides to fire Wannstedt. A new coach will bring new optimism to South Florida.

Rebuilding is inevitable. I touched on it in suggesting that we trade our prize defensive pieces. If Miami plays it right, we could get the 1st or 2nd pick in next year’s draft. We could begin to build around a superb offensive lineman or even a blue-chip QB. It’s hard to tell who will be the best player available in April 2005’s NFL Draft. This is why Wannstedt needs to go in January. Give a new coach and GM four months to prepare for the draft. If they pick the right players, Miami could be a force in 2007.

The offensive numbers will be futile. We’re already ranked dead last in defense. I’m wondering if we have a chance to go 0-16. Don’t say that it’s not a realistic expectation. If the offense continues to self-destruct, the defense might begin to quit on the team. The only barrier might be our Week 9 game against the Arizona Cardinals. It’ll be a challenge, but if we work hard enough a loss to Arizona could be in the cards.

At 4:15 next Sunday, Miami hosts the New York Jets. This could be a horrendous experience. New York’s had two weeks to prepare for Miami. Pride is the only thing that could save us from a massive blowout at the hands of Pennington, Martin, and Moss.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Week 3: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins (9/26/04)

As of 9:15 a.m. Saturday morning, the Miami Dolphins are expected to host the 1-1 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at the Pro. Hurricane Jeanne may force a postponement to Monday or Tuesday evening. Nevertheless, I wanted to continue my tradition and write a preview for this game. Admittedly, it won't be my best analysis. I've got to be out of Jupiter within a few minutes, but I wanted to talk about the basics.

The number one question pertains to the improvements, or lack thereof, of the Miami Dolphins. Since last Sunday's abortion of a football game, Wannstedt and the coaching staff made some alterations. KR Lamont Brightful was cut after his disastrous kick returning follies. The decision was made to stick with QB A.J. Feeley, at least for Week 3. My suspicion is that Feeley keeps the job unless he gets hurt or plays beyond awful. Damion McIntosh replaces Wade Smith at the LT position. Hopefully this gives Feeley slightly better protection than he was getting from Smith. Offensive Coordinator Chris Foerster has decided to implement the shotgun in this week's gameplan. We learned that the shotgun was simply not in the gameplan for the Cincinnati affair. Injuries still loom large for Miami. DT Larry Chester was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. That makes him ineligible to return this season. Both FB Rob Konrad and DT Tim Bowens remain doubtful for Sunday. Travis Minor is already listed as OUT with an ankle injury, not that anybody will miss him.

It's actually amazing, considering how bad the team has performed, that the games have been relatively close. I simply do not see much improvement being made since last week's debacle. That isn't to say that Miami can't win. The Dolphins could be 1-1, or even 2-0 if Feeley hadn't had INT's returned for scores. Miami's banged up defense has performed admirably. It's hard to count them out of any game.

Pittsburgh comes to Miami off a 30-13 thrashing last week at the hands of Baltimore. They have questions at the QB position. Veteran Tommy Maddox is out for 6 weeks. The reigns have been turned over to rookie Ben Roethlisberger, out of Miami (Ohio). Like with Carson Palmer last week, the chance is that he'll make a big mistake that leads to Miami points. Unfortunately, it's been our QB making the crucial mistakes. Duce Staley gives this team a big upgrade at the RB position. Jerome Bettis still sees time in short yardage situations. In a bizarre statline, in Week 1 vs. Oakland, Bettis scored 3 TD's with only 1 yard gained. Through 2 weeks, Hines Ward has been the only receiving weapon utilized. He has 13 catches. Plaxico Burress and Antawn Randle-El have a combined 7 receptions.

My Prediction: I will be at this game whenever it's played. If the roads are able to be navigated, I'm driving down there. My guess is that it'll be hard to play tomorrow afternoon. Expect to see it played Monday or Tuesday. See my Week 3 picks for my official selection.

Sweet JD, TW (Part I)

When I last left you, I spoke of my limited exposure to Jack Daniels, Tennessee Whiskey. See enclosed link:

Since that day, I fell back into the loving arms of my sweet Tennessee Whiskey. During the early morning hours of September 22, I encountered her in an Orlando apartment complex. The hour was around 3:00. My friend Eric and I spent the prior six hours going and returning from a John Kerry rally at the TD Waterhouse Center. I only wish I’d have had some of the JD during the nearly four hour wait.

I went with a friend, Zach, to play pool at the River wind clubhouse around 12:30 a.m. After that, we were rebuffed entry into TGI Friday’s and the Orlando Ale House. Finally, we settled on the Steak and Shake. Those details are not germane to the story at hand.

We arrived home at Riverwind around 2:30. Zach followed Eric and I up to his apartment. Clearly, Zach was anticipating some level of inebriation to commence. Eric’s roommate Evan was sitting on the couch watching television when we walked in. Briefly, I walked into Eric’s room and we caucused for a few moments. I asked him to serve me one or two shots of Jack Daniels, Tennessee Whiskey. He agreed to that arrangement and we seated ourselves in the general area. Eric cleaned out a cup and made me a mixed drink of Pepsi and JD. In retrospect, that was not the best idea. I think it took me about 15 minutes to get down one shot of the JD. I was feeling sort of awkward. We had Zach sitting next to Eric on the couch, with myself seated at a table. They could see me visibly struggling to consume the drink. Eventually, I was able to get it down. I hardly noticed that I’d drank about 30 ounces of Pepsi Cola in the process. Eric gave me another shot, but this time I drank it straight. It took about five sips, but I got the JD down. I was beginning to feel more comfortable.

I began to feel a sense of relief after drinking the two shots of JD, TW. I thought that the experience for that night was over with, and I would go to sleep in preparation for my 11:00 a.m. class the next morning. I managed not to make any giant scene, similar to the one that transpired in April 2003. I did feel like I would throw up, but that got better as time progressed. Anytime you drink something foreign, something so undesirable, it takes a while to get used to.

I tapped Eric on the shoulder and ordered him to join my in the bedroom. Sorry if that sounds more elicit than I intended. Zach followed us and we had a three-way caucus in the bedroom. I asked Eric if I had drunk enough to experience any meaningful effects. In his assessment, there was too much time taken (~30 minutes) and too much of a chaser. I was driving a hard bargain at the beginning. But deep down, I was more open to the experience than I had been 18 months prior. I was legitimately ready to drink some portion of alcohol, whether it be tonight or when I returned in October. I had honest concerns about my class the next day, along with having to drive so early in the morning. In my heart, I knew that I would be drinking more that night.

Part II… The Bargaining Process (absent a filibuster this time)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne

Residents of South Florida are bracing for their second hurricane in the span of three weeks. Fortunately, the devastating Hurricane Ivan left my area of Florida unscathed.

Three weeks ago to the night, we were preparing for the landfall of Hurricane France(s). Tonight, I am having to make plans to avoid a direct hit from Jeanne. Everywhere from Boca Raton to the Treasure Coast is under the threat of Hurricane force winds. I'm told that residents of Central Florida, including tourist haven Orlando, are also in danger of experiencing effects of Jeanne.

I'm waiting until the last possible minute to make my plans. I could go back down to my cousin's in Boynton Beach. At least I would be with a few other people. The other option is to stay at my Aunt's house in Jupiter. She's chartered a jet to New Orleans and won't be back for days. The power situation has been better in her area than it was in ours.

We're still unsure about the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins game, scheduled for 1:01 Sunday afternoon. There is no feasible way for this game to be made up during a later week. I can't see how this game comes off Sunday afternoon. The NFL's actions lead me to believe that they want to play this Sunday, if at all possible. It's unfair to give Pittsburgh and Miami only a few days to prepare for Week 4. Unfortunately, the game will have to be played either Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Barring a total catastrophe, this game will be played sometime during the next four days. I actually would like to see a Monday Night game.

Hopefully our house makes it out allright. The roof is already compromised from France(s). One good thing is that our carpet is gone, so we won't have to worry about that. Power was knocked out for ten days in the aftermath of Frances. This semester at FAU and other institutions has been a disaster. I could see another week lost if Jeanne makes landfall in PBC.

I'll update my blog as Internet access permits. To all my Florida readers (all one or two of them), be sure to stay safe.


TV Review: 8 Simple Rules

The third season of ABC's "8 Simple Rules" premiered tonight, September 24, on its new time and day. James Garner and David Spade, who joined the cast after Ritter's demise, remain in leading roles.

The new time demonstrates the lack of confidence ABC has in this program. During its first season, the show had the potential to survive on Tuesday nights. The second season dealt with the passing of Ritter, giving it some insulation from critics. This season, the show will have to perform better or risk being cancelled by season's end. ABC's Friday Night TGIF, once reserved for perennial hits "Full House", "Family Matters", "Hanging with Mr. Cooper", among others, now is home to lesser programs such as "Complete (Michael) Savages" and "Hope and Faith".

Down to the details of "First Day of School". While in Europe, Kerry (Amy Davidson) met another guy and realized she no longer wanted to be involved with Kyle. She was hesitant to break the news, but her family was all to eager to reveal her intentions. First, it was Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) who broke the news to Kyle. When Kyle arrived at the Hennessys to confront Kerry about the breakup, cousin C.J. (David Spade) revealed that she had met someone else. Kerry, experiencing second thoughts, came down, only to see Kyle exit after Grandpa Jim (James Garner) continued to break the bad news. The story line ended for this week on good terms, with Kyle and Kerry vowing to stay friends, considering they have four classes together.

Cate (Katey Sagal) was propositioned by Principal Gibb to become the school nurse at the local high school. She is mulling over the decision, but it's pretty clear that she'll take the assignment. Assuredly, the kids will be horrified to have Mom working at their school. The romantic flirtations continued between Cate and Ed Gibb. Last season ended with Cate refusing Gibb's romantic overtures, feeling it was too soon to date. I expect to see them become involved throughout the season.

Rory (Martin Spanjers) experiences his first day of high school and is hesitant to take showers with the older boys. By the end of the episode, he is saved by the fact that his sister, Bridget, is adored by all the gentlemen. They see him as an opportunity to connect with hot Bridget. Honestly, this plot line totally sucked. It was so cliche and nothing new was added through this dialogue.

Incidentally, there were no references to Paul's character. At various times last season, they would make reference to their father's departure.

ABC ordered a standard 24-episode order for Season 3. Next week's episode, titled "Changes", airs October 1.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

NFL: Week 3 picks

Last week, I went a respectable 9-7. Including my Week 1 pick of Miami, I'm 9-8 for the year 2004.

Here are my Week 3 predictions:

New Orleans at St. Louis... St. Louis
Pittsburgh at Miami... Miami
Chicago at Minnesota... Minnesota
Cleveland at Giants... Cleveland
Arizona at Atlanta... Atlanta
Baltimore at Cincinnati... Baltimore
Philadelphia at Detroit... Philadelphia
Jacksonville at Tennessee... Tennessee
Houston at Kansas City... Kansas City
San Diego at Denver... Denver
Green Bay at Indianapolis... Indianapolis
San Francisco at Seattle... Seattle
Tampa Bay at Oakland... Tampa Bay
Dallas at Washington... Washington

Kerry vs. Bush at College

Currently, Kerry is leading 57 to 34. Beware, some of the posted pictures could leave you a little, lets say, limp.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Dolphins are lost from top on down, By Dave Hyde,0,3308218.column?coll=sfla-dolphins-front

There's not much new here for fans of the Dolphins. Most of us understood that Eddy Moore was a bust. We all knew that Wade Smith couldn't block any D-Linemen. One good thing to hear is that Lamont Brightful has been cut.

I found this to be an interesting read. At this rate, I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where Miami wins more than 4 games this season. The offense isn't getting better, while the defense is falling apart by the week. Look who we don't have anymore: Ogunleye, Chester (for the year), Surtain, Bowens (date of return unknown). This could turn out to be the worst season in franchise history.

The Wannstedt defenders remind me a lot of Bush supporters. Even as intelligence reports paint a gloom picture for Iraq, Bush continues to label questioners as "pessimists". El Gropenfuhrer points to the "economic girlie-men". Wannstedt's people will tell you that everything is fine. The line will come together, Feeley will develop, Lamar Gordon will finally learn how to run. Wanny's loyalists will be there until the day he's finally run out of town for good.

I have a feeling I'll stop writing game commentaries after a few more weeks. Not because I don't like writing them, but because every game is the same. There's only so many times I can write about shitty blocking and incompetent QB play. I might just use the same article each week and plug in different names. For instance, I could have a standard template. Wade Smith lets ______ get _____ sacks on QB A.J. Feeley. One week it'll be John Abraham for 3. The next it could be Richard Seymour for 2. Definitely makes the writing process less painful.

Can we all agree that a complete overhaul is needed? Tell me, who on this offense is worth keeping. Maybe Feeley, and that looks questionable. Lamar Gordon is unable to even run towards a hole. Wade Smith hasn't improved a lick in two years. Is there any reason to expect he'll magically learn how to block a Right End? Chambers and McMichael are the only two on offensive worth a damn. Wannstedt and this regime has to go. I'll keep writing, every day if need be, until management finally gives Dave the boot.

Important Television Reminder: CBS Wednesday 8PM ET/PT

TV Host Phil McGraw, on left Posted by Hello

Television legend Dr. Phil McGraw hosts his first primetime special this Wednesday on CBS.

I first heard about this program while watching Tennessee/Indianapolis Sunday afternoon on CBS. I cracked up when Dr. Phil’s face came on TV. I heard him say to an upset parent, “Of the 14 signs for being a serial killer, your son has 10 of them.” I went to the CBS website and looked up the other cases. One will be about a teenage daughter who’s drinking and having sex. I thought about a couple of things. First, how is this out of the ordinary? And secondarily, is she hot? I really hate when I watch “Maury” and all these ugly girls think they’re all that and a kettle of corn.

Guest appearances are expected by Will Smith, Amy Brenneman, and Robert Redford.

I don’t know what to think of Dr. Phil. I recently confirmed that he is likely a Republican. McGraw supported the Senate reelection campaign of Phil Gramm. I also think Dr. Phil is a native Texan. I tried to read a few chapters of his weight-loss book. It seemed to be targeted at the more morbidly obese. I’ll give the man credit in that a lot of people have been helped by his advice. On the other hand, I find Dr. Phil to be overbearing and arrogant at times. I can’t for the life of me comprehend how Dr. Phil got to be so famous. I’m sure there are thousands of comparably educated psychiatrists out there. Maybe it’s his flamboyance and douchebaggery that’s earned him such accolades.

Be sure to catch this riveting two-hour documentary on CBS, Wednesday night at 8:00.

P.S.: I could have made a number of CBS related jokes, but I refrained from doing so. I maintain the belief that Dan Rather was snookered by a right-wing conspirator, not some shadowy one of the liberal variety.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Moore to speak at UF

This was very good news to hear. It looks like Michael Moore will be coming to UF on the first Monday of October.

A few years ago, Moore promised to speak at UCF in Orlando, but later backed out on the engagement. Lets hope he keeps his word this time.

The article doesn't disclose it, but I'm sure MM's getting a great amount of money to speak. The address is at the O'Connell Center, home of the Gators basketball team. I'll bet the arena holds over 15,000 people.

Moore to talk at UFBy BRIDGET CAREYAlligator Writer
One of today’s most controversial political voices and filmmakers will speak at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Oct. 4.

Accent, UF’s speakers bureau, will bring Michael Moore, a liberal author and award-winning director of the documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

“He understands Florida is a swing state,” Accent Chairman David Buchalter said of Moore’s incentive to visit UF. “He’s a huge name now. He’s one of the most original and controversial political voices.”

Moore’s speech will be free and open to the public. It starts at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for students with their Gator 1 ID Cards and at 7 p.m. for all others.

“He’s explosive. He’s dynamic. He’s going to be surprising - I’ll guarantee you that,” Buchalter said.

Moore will be speaking about “Fahrenheit 9/11” and the November presidential election, Buchalter said. He added, “The security will be very tight.”

The DVD of “Fahrenheit 9/11” goes on sale Oct. 5, the day after Moore’s visit.
Accent would not disclose Sunday how much Moore would be paid for his appearance at UF.
Accent, a division of Student Government, works to bring the most controversial speakers to UF, Buchalter said.

As for bringing a controversial conservative speaker to UF, Buchalter said no one has been booked yet, adding: “We’ve considered all of our options.”

So far, Moore is not scheduled to speak anywhere else in Florida. Moore probably chose Gainesville for its grassroots activities, Democratic support and location between large cities such as Orlando and Tallahassee, Buchalter said.

Moore, in a press conference in early August, said that he will “put a huge spotlight” on election officials and bring his cameras to Florida during the November elections.

Earlier this month, Accent brought Lou Ferrigno, who played the original Hulk in the 1970s television show. Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern is scheduled to speak 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the University Auditorium. The speech is free and open to the public.

Accent has contacted the campaigns of President Bush and Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry to bring the candidates to UF but has not secured either candidate, Buchalter said.

A.J. Feeley

Miami Dolphins QB A.J. Feeley, on left (with Mrs. New Jersey) Posted by Hello

Dolphins vs. Bengals (Part II)

There is so much blame to go around that one post simply doesn't suffice. Last night's performance was truly one of the worst in the Dolphins long history. Though the score was close, it was an abysmal performance by this abomination of a football team. I put it down with the 62-10 loss to the Jaguars in 2000.

First, a comment about the defense. After thinking it over, I need to clarify my criticism of the defense. I did not emphasize enough that coaching, not just a bad effort, is partly to blame for the last 2:00 of the Cincinnati game. Simply put, the team choked. It can't be attributed to fatigue or anything like that. This defense was performing very well in the prior possession. This defense lacks the killer instinct of the 1985 Bears or 2002 Baltimore Ravens, two teams that Miami's D is often compared to.

Before everybody gets excited about the late 10 points, think about a few things. The TD was more the result of good receiving rather than competent passing. Randy McMichael made the big play to get us in scoring position. The Chris Chambers TD pass was deflected before being caught. McMichael was right to verbally lambaste his teammates on the sidelines during the 4th Quarter. He showed his teammates the venom previously reserved only for his spouse. These two men can make plays, but there is nobody to get them the ball on a consistent basis. The second FG was a result of a good punt return by Lamont Brightful.

Now, about Lamont Brightful. The Dolphins can't keep letting this guy return punts. He flubbed two returns last night and one last week. All the solid returns in the world doesn't make up for the inability to catch and hold onto a football. His performance last night was a disgrace.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss Jay Fiedler as starting QB. That's not to say Fiedler is good. He's not. But I've never seen Fiedler play as bad as Feeley did last night. Jay would make two or so bad plays a game. Last night, there were about 8 passes that should have been intercepted by Feeley. If I were Wannstedt, I'd have pulled him after that bonehead INT in the 3rd Quarter. The Dolphins would have likely won the game if not for the change of momentum perpetrated by the Simmons TD return.

I keep hearing people saying that we can build on this performance. My question is this: What is there to build on? Has A.J. Feeley improved at all since training camp opened? Reporters were saying then that Feeley wasn't performing very well. The same mistakes that he made in training camp were made this week versus the Bengals. The Eagles have to be laughing all the way to the bank on this one. There's a reason this guy never made 2nd string in Philadelphia. He wasn't even a reliable starter in the Pac-10 at Oregon. We invested a second round pick on a guy who is not ready to play in this league, and may never be. Fiedler at least has the mobility to avoid the inevitable pass rush. Honestly, we should start Fiedler and clean house completely after the season. Use our top 10 pick, if Wanny doesn't trade it away between now and then, to get a young QB. Get a Jeff Garcia or Mark Brunell type to tutor him for a year or two.

I keep going back to the poor O-Line play. There is no excuse for the mistakes that were made last night. I don't think Wade Smith has improved any since the Indianapolis and Tennessee disasters of last season. The offensive penalites are killing any chance we have of getting first downs. 1st and 10 is enough of a challenge. Feeley can't start with 1st and 20, 2nd and 15. Eventually, these guys need to learn to execute simple tasks. The offensive line isn't that new. They have had a month of training camp and two weeks of regular season games. It's not really that difficult. I don't see anybody on that line who can block or refrain from committing false starts. Then there's Donald Lee. When will that guy ever learn to stop holding? I swear, when they actually decide to give a little effort, they can't play within the rules. Miami was spoiled for years with a great coach in Don Shula. Those Dolphin teams were consistently the least penalized in the NFL. It provides a stark contrast to the inadequate coaching of Mr. Wannstedt.

I can't see one worthwile thing to take from this performance, at least offensively. The defense is falling apart by the day. Reggie Howard, Pat Surtain, and Will Poole have all been injured. Now I'm hearing that Larry Chester is out for the year. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Zgonina is starting at DT before the end of this year. Besides Chambers and McMichael, there is nobody on offense worth keeping. I've been disappointed with the performance of Marty Booker. I'm beginning to think he wasn't worth trading for Adewale Ogunleye. Nothing makes me believe that this group improves with time. Unfortunately, there are so many holes offensively that it might take years to fill. Wannstedt, over the course of 4 + years, has destroyed any offensive credibility this team once had.

This is it. I'm done picking the Dolphins to win anymore games. I'll go on record now in picking Pittsburgh to win next week in Miami.

You know who he is by now Posted by Hello

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Cincinnati Bengals 16, Miami Dolphins 13

Despite a late rally, the Miami Dolphins were defeated 16-13 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Read the AP Bulletin if you want a news story.

This game signifies everything that is wrong with this team's defensive core. I know people will castigate me for daring to criticize our heralded defense. My answer to them is this. Miami's defense did not play well when it mattered. I mean when the game was truly on the line. I've said the same thing about this defense for years. There are certain times in a game when the defense just has to make the stop. I began seeing it in the final 5:00 of the 2002 season finale in New England. I saw it in the MNF Philadelphia game last December. As great as these guys are, I can't see this group succeding in the clutch.

Now that my critique of the defense is over with, lets go to the more pressing matter. The Miami Dolphins utterly failed to upgrade their biggest weakness. This offensive line is worse than the one that took the field last year. At least Todd Wade was a high-level, established Right Tackle. Tim Ruddy, Todd Perry, and Jamie Nails were an experienced bunch. They were awful, so Wannstedt and Spielman decided to make a change. So what do we get? Wade Smith, our biggest liability last year, continues to get our QB's destroyed. Jeno James, Taylor Whitney, and John St. Clair frankly suck. Seth McKinney, our center, is the only decent player there. I don't care about losing Williams or Boston. The way our O-Line played for 3 1/2 quarters, no QB could do much offensively. At the games, it's almost impossible to watch the Line play. On TV, I could see crystal clear the ineptness of LT Wade Smith. Ends were blasting by him with impunity. It's astonishing to contemplate the fact that management did little to improve this glaring weakness. For that alone, people need to be fired.

Where does this leave the Dolphins? For all intents and purposes, this team's going nowhere. Two late drives doesn't change the fact that this offense is putrid. There is no way that the Dolphins can run the ball anymore. I can't say that I blame Lamar Gordon. Announcers were commenting that he wasn't hitting the hole. No matter how hard he tried, there simply wasn't an opening. I'd be flustered if I saw Smith, James, and McKinney blocking for me. This loss places them two games down in the division. I'm finally realizing that 6 wins for the season is a realistic expectation. We've got Pittsburgh, J-E-T-S, and New England over the next three games. I hate to say it, but we could be looking at an 0-5 traveling to Buffalo on October 17.

I have to wonder how long Wanny will survive. Clearly, this team had holes before Ricky went down. And news reports indicate that off-season turmoil, in part, contributed to Williams' decision to depart South Florida. Pressure will continue to mount for Wannstedt's prompt firing. Wannstedt was lambasted by fans after two 10 win seasons. How will he survive if that total doesn't exceed 6 for the season.

The first offensive play summed up the fate of this football team. Referee Walt Anderson put it this way, "False Start, on everybody but the center." See, 4 of the 5 O-Lineman couldn't keep their stance and execute a simple snap.

Maybe I can comment more tomorrow. Believe it or not, my original text was much harsher. I began writing when the score was 13-3 in the early 4th Quarter. I stopped writing after the Dolphins closed it to 13-10, and then 13 all. The close score doesn't change that the Dolphins are now 0-2 and are flawed in so many crucial areas.

Next Sunday: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Week 2 Picks (9/19, 9/20)

First, here's the proof that my picks were made last night. Those of you familiar with DU's software knows that any edits are made known with red text. These picks have not been modified since Saturday night.

Now that the validity of my pics are indisputable, here they are.

Ravens over Steelers W Ravens 30-17
Colts over Titans W Colts 31-17
Broncos over Jaguars L Jaguars 7-6
Raiders over Bills W Raiders 13-10
Jets over Chargers W Jets 34-28
Dolphins over Bengals
Cowboys over Browns W Cowboys 19-12
Pats over Cardinals W, Patriots 23-12
Chiefs over Panthers L Panthers 28-17
Lions over Texans W Lions 28-16
Saints over 49ers W Saints 30-27
Packers over Bears L Chicago 21-10
Redskins over Giants L Giants 20-14
Rams over Falcons L Falcons 34-17
Bucs over Seahawks L Seahawks 10-6
Eagles over Vikings

As of 5:30 Sunday, I'm 4-5. Not very good. I can say that my 4:00 picks aren't looking bad. The only one I'm pretty concerned about is Tampa/Seattle.

I'll continue to update as results come in. Honestly, I'll be happy if I come up even.

The Bears/Packers game shocked me. So did Redskins/Giants. Washington looked so good under Gibbs last week.

UPDATE 7:30 Things are looking up. After the 4:00 games, my record has improved to 8-6. If the two nationally televised games go my way, I could win 10 games. I honestly thought I was headed for a bad day after my 4-5 start.

Week 2: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (9/19/04)

ESPN broadcaster Pat Summerall (in middle) Posted by Hello

ESPN Tonight, 8:30 ET.

Tonight’s edition of ESPN’s Sunday Night Football showcases two teams going in opposite direction. Despite their 31-14 loss to the J-E-T-S last week, Cincinnati is a team on the rise. Coach Marvin Lewis turned Cincinnati around last season, barely missing the playoffs at 8-8. During the off-season, Cincinnati dumped serially disenchanted RB Corey Dillon. This move could go a long way to improving club camaraderie. On the other hand, Miami is not looking very promising this year. It’s hard to see what has changed since last week’s shellacking at the hands of Tennessee.

Cincinnati comes in a comfortable 4.5-point favorite against Miami tonight. That doesn’t mean Miami can’t exploit Cincinnati’s weaknesses. Unlike Steve McNair last week, Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer is relatively inexperienced. His first NFL start came last week against N.Y. Miami’s front four will have to fluster Palmer in order to have any success. Look to see a lot of running by 4th year back Rudy Johnson. Offensively, this team has talent. Peter Warrick and Chad Johnson are both very adept WR’s.

I’m going out on a limb again and say that Miami wins a very low scoring affair. Last year, Miami was defeated opening week against Houston. In Week 2, they were able to rebound on the road versus the rival J-E-T-S. I liked what I saw of A.J. Feeley last week. With a full week of preparation, I think he can salvage the offensive gameplan. We should have Rob Konrad to help out of the backfield. Feeley showed a great ability to find TE Randy McMichael, who caught 8 passes last week. The key to this week will be mistakes. Tennessee was too veteran a team to allow themselves to hand Miami the game. One defensive TD could be enough to carry the Dolphins to victory.

Finally, for those of you watching tonight on TV, I have some disturbing news. ESPN’s regular play-by-play announcer, Mike Patrick, is on leave after heart surgery. Veterans Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire are still in the booth, but one addition does trouble me. He’s a Texan, an alcoholic, a George W. Bush supporter, an unparalled orator, and John Madden’s life partner. Of course, I am referring to Pat “The Pats have won the Super Bowl. Unbelievable!” Summerall. It’s painful to listen to him call a game. He’s always getting the spots wrong and has to be corrected by the analysts. I’ll probably listen on WQAM 560 with Jim Mandich and Howard David on the call.

My prediction: Miami Dolphins 10, Cincinnati Bengals 6
Record for year: 0-1 (.000)
Next week: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (9/26)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

12th Grade: Part V (Newspaper)

Finally, I’m ready to complete my overview of 12th Grade Periods 1-7. I’m actually surprised at how much I’ve been able to recall. I didn’t expect that I’d have been able to write this much.

Newspaper class was my favorite experience of 12th Grade. The most enjoyment I had came out of this failed expedition.

A week before school started, I received a message on my answering machine at home. It sounded like a Spanish lady. She introduced herself as “Beneet”. That’s how it sounded phonetically. Her real name was Mae Bennett. Ms. Bennett wanted us to come in and get familiar before classes opened. Reluctantly, Eric and I came into school the Wednesday before. Incidentally, it was the same day that Ronald Reagan’s daughter Maureen succumbed to cancer. Don’t know why I remember that fact, but I do. Nobody else from the staff bothered to show up. The newly appointed Editors-in-chief were nowhere to be seen. In the end, all we did was carry a few English books and chat with Bennett.

The entire year was one of my biggest High School failings. I wasn’t at fault for the shortcomings of the paper. Its decline had been coming for years. I think we ended up publishing three or four papers for the year. That was comparable to the 11th Grade output. I feel that I made a number of mistakes and miscalculations. One was in not questioning the editor-in-chief hierarchy. In retrospect, I should have told Bennett that the election was a complete farce. We had people voting that had little or no input on the newspaper. Most weren’t even back from 11th Grade. Even the little Hawaiian girl from Blackmon’s class betrayed me and my associate, Mr. Cioffoletti. I can’t be 100 % certain if supposed loyalist John Hyne voted in our favor. I would have immediately called for a special election. Bennett deserved to hear our vision for the newspaper, compared to that of Megan Greathouse and Jen McLarty.

The second major catastrophe came when I backed the wrong horse. Mr. Cioffoletti and I reached a strategic decision to back the campaign of Jessica Burke to be a 3rd co-editor in chief. Burke joined the class about a week after the start of school. My confidant new a lot about Burke from the Literary Magazine a year prior. I have a great deal of respect for Ms. Burke. She wasn’t always the most talented or smart, but I’ve never seen such a hard worker in all my years at DHS. Burke wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with. I envision her having a nervous breakdown by the time she’s 25, but that’s another story. Burke is an individual that I maintain an immense amount of respect for.

However, Burke’s vision did not fit in with that of McLarty and Greathouse. Megan was a very cute and nice girl. I have nothing bad to say about her, personally. McLarty was a protégée of the legendary Aimee Thornley. Megan had a decent amount of skill, but not the type of vision needed to lead a newspaper. The same goes for McLarty. They wanted to take the paper in the direction of sports and entertainment. Cioffoletti, Hyne, and myself wanted to be more news and commentary oriented.

Another big problem was the lack of quality talent. Considering how few quality writers were in the class, I can remember most of them off-hand. That list consisted of Mr. Cioffoletti, Mr. Hyne, Ms. McLarty, Ms. Greathouse, and myself. Then there was Erik Wood, who was very talented. He reminded me a lot of Jason Morse, whom was absent for most of 2002. Compared to the general populace of Journalism II-IV, Kelsey Hoffman had decent skills. There, that is it. We had seven competent writers. The rest of the class consisted of clowns like Stuart and Matt, the kid who hit me with a projectile device. I think that was the only time I’d ever raised my voice in four years at DHS. I believe I called him a “son of a bitch”, or something to that effect. Bennett was not pleased with my outburst.

My position that year was News Editor. I was the editor, fact checker, and one of only a handful of news writers. I did a fairly decent job, all things considered. The biggest mistake I made was to ignore a lot of school news. I did national events, but didn’t talk enough about the goings-on campus. I should have done a better job at finding talent from outside my core group of Cioffoletti and Hyne. If I could have found one or two reliable writers, then things would have been much better. Instead, I kept with the same group of like-minded individuals.

Next, I have to give some much deserved shout outs. Eric Cioffoletti was a tremendous layout editor. He really knew what he was doing and had innovative layout ideas. In addition, he was a very solid and reliable news writer. If this newspaper had any success, he should get an enormous amount of credit. John Hyne was another invaluable asset. His work on the opinion page is to be commended. Unfortunately, I don’t think he gave it his full effort. The biggest problem was that he and I were the only opinion writers. I certainly would have given balance, but nobody else had much to say about anything. Finally, Burke deserves many props. She put so much into that final printing. Burke took the disks home and did pretty much everything herself.

What’s there to say about Mae Bennett? We speculated that she had just been released from a correctional institute. I believe she taught prior at an urban school somewhere in Palm Beach County. Although she tried, Bennett wasn’t much of a creative help to this enterprise. Any success can be directly attributed to our seven member staff. My favorite Bennett moment came when my friend Eric got a new haircut sometime during second semester. She made no pretenses about liking it. She said something to the effect of, “That hair, Eric? It’s not you.” He might have a more accurate account of that quote. I can’t confirm the mental sanity of Bennett, either. She was the polar opposite of Juanita Blackmon, the straight-laced, Condi Rice clone of 11th Grade.

The biggest criticism I have is that we didn’t do enough to turn the tide. We needed to look at what made schools like Spanish River and Forest Hill succeed. I went to both of the Palm Beach Post H.S. Journalism awards. We should have looked at every damn award-winning publication and thought deeply about how to improve ours. In fairness, I have no idea how well papers sold at rival institutions. The newspaper wasn’t very hip among students at DHS.

The low point came when we discovered that English teacher Boyd Allen had taken to creating a rival newspaper. The crew was livid when the revelation reached our desks. A few of us stormed down to Allen’s classroom and confronted him. This was a direct slap in the face to our work. He tried to claim that it was only a class project and he wasn’t trying to compete with us. I was polite, but steaming inside.

All that being said, we had a good time. On most days, we’d go into the back room and talk for almost two hours. I’ve had people claim illicit acts were performed in the back rooms of creative writing and journalism classrooms. Someone told me that former student Nick Ross exposed his genitals to a chorus of cheering females (and males). I’d like for that to be addressed directly, once and for all. If it really did happen, it would go down as a great moment in the history of DHS. I can attest that nothing like that ever happened when I was seated in those rooms. There was one time where Aimee Thornley was wearing a moo-moo, and I was unable to achieve an erection for weeks thereafter. Besides that, the talk was rather mild. The most heated debate was between the pro-choicers (myself and Hyne) and the pro-lifers (McLarty).

To conclude, there’s one person I forgot to mention. His name was Scott McLarty. He had an informal role on our staff, since he was the sister of Jen McLarty. To his credit, S. McLarty was a great technical asset. His work with computers went a long way to getting papers to print. We fear that he may have been brain damaged as a result of being kicked in the head by an angry horse. For that claim, I have no direct attribution. I do know a horse kicked him. The brain damage is disputable.

Postscript: I believe there is still a DHS newspaper in existence. That’s one of the things I do want to find out. The best source of DHS journalism info is According to him, a newspaper existed through the end of the 2003-2004 school year. If they once and for all gave the reigns to Boyd Allen, I could actually see the paper surviving. If not, it’s only a matter of time until Journalism succumbs to budget cuts.

12th Grade: Part IV (Letter to Tom Pagley)

Quickly: It was to my great surprise that I actually found this still on my hard drive. I referenced it in Part III, and would like to present it in its entirety.

Taylor Sias

Mr. Tom Pagley:

I am opining today to disclose my identity as co-author of a newspaper story that you were made privy to on Thursday, April 25. The article was a review on current television programs, and a segment of that piece was unfriendly to CNN. I am aware that you received an unpublished copy of an article from my editor, Jessica Burke, that was critical of the network’s “CNN Student News”, formerly known as “CNN Newsroom”. As a student in the AP Government & Politics course that you instruct, I know that this program is an instructional tool that you frequently employ. Using my position as resident news follower, I took the liberty of proffering my opinion to an audience. I would like to clarify that my criticism is not meant as an indictment of your credentials as teacher, but rather as an expose on an inferior television news show.

I wrote this because I feel that I had a mandate. In formal and informal discussions with pupils, a consensus against “CNN Student News” has developed. The writers of the show, and staff providing questions for your curriculum, are composing a product that is condescending to the target audience of AP Government students. A prerequisite for AP Government should be the knowledge of basic news, and this program is insulting to anybody possessing that trait. A large percentage of their segments are irrelevant to a person’s success in this course, and devoid of any tangible social significance. For instance, two gentleman waiting to see “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” should not qualify as newsworthy, when our president refused to support democracy in light of the Venezuelan military coup, overthrowing President Hugo Chavez.

As a journalist and marginal political commentator, I have taken a stance which includes a dislike of most television news networks. From my knowledge of the industry, their coverage is not objective, rather aimed at a large demographic of the nation. The instances of right-wing bias have become indisputable, and can be viewed on-line at sites such as “Con Web Watch” and “Media Whores Online”. The subject of media bias is one that cannot be ignored, neverthelss not germane to my thesis. My article praises the CNN program “Crossfire”, where hosts James Carville, Paul Begala, Robert Novak, and Tucker Carlson provide lively debate on truly relevant issues. As a fair-minded individual, I can offer praise for a job well done. The criticism is based solely on this specific product, “Student News”.

As a reputable publication, I feel that it is fair for me to inform you of my identity before the article is published. I would be glad to discuss the merits of the subject in an open or closed forum. I would even consider using your defense in my article, as I feel I have the facts on my side and am not trying to simply “whitewash” CNN.

In no way am I trying to be derisive to your educational capabilities. I do not have a degree from Columbia University, thereby excluding me from the right to question educational techniques. What I am authorized to do is offer my opinion on a matter of public concern. This is not merely an issue in academic institutions, as this program is also aired at 4:30 AM weekday mornings. Along with my colleague, co-writer, and friend Mr. Eric Cioffoletti, we extend you the courtesy to rebut us. Unlike the FOX News Channel, we are truly “Fair and Balanced” in our approach to journalism. Once again, I would be genuinely gracious for the opportunity to converse on the manner. In the article, I used sensationalism in an attempt to prove my position to my reader. I would like the opportunity to speak in a more serious tone.

I understand that you are a supporter of our newspaper, for which I am extremely humbled. I extend my thanks, as I was informed that you contributed a copy to your each of your 7th Period students. As the great comedian Dennis Miller always says, and is entirely relevant here, I say “that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong”.

The undersigned

Taylor Sias
Eric Cioffoletti

12th Grade: Part III

At DHS, 5th Period was the block that met for ~1 hour every day. I had the great fortune of having as an instructor Mr. Tom Pagley. The first semester, he taught Honors Economics. While all the really smart kids took Micro/Macro Economics with a college professor, I had the very basic form of Economics. Trust me when I say that the course was very easy. We had someone a guest speaker every week from the business community. Actually, it was the same speaker for the entire semester. She’d come in and tell us about the real world. I don’t think I really learned anything from her. It was probably an excuse for Pagley to waste one hour a week reading his newspaper and drinking coffee. The highlight of Honors Economics was Pagley’s legendary “bullet point” notes. Before the test, he’d hand out notes that basically answered every question. Then he’d even let us use them during the exam. It would have been one thing had the question actually required some critical thinking. You’d have to be a moron to get less than an “A”. The moment I remember most from that semester was the morning of September 11, 2001. I had just learned about the WTC attacks as I walked into the classroom. Right when the bell rang, he turned off the TV and handed out an exam. The guy never stuck to his guns on exam dates, but he made us take one on the morning of 9/11. Albeit, the test was laughably easy. Still, I don’t know why he’d give it to us while the nation was under attack.

I thought Pagley would raise the level of discourse when the class progressed to Advanced Placement American Government. I understood lowering the standards for an Honors course. But A.P. is the pinnacle of High School achievement. Sadly, the semester was as mind-numbingly boring as the previous one. For some reason, all he did was pound into our heads the 3 branches of government: executive, judiciary, and legislative. The sad thing is that probably only half of the class would remember that today. In part because of bad preparation, I only got a “3” on the A.P. exam. In contrast, I earned a “5” for my American History examination.

I hope I’m not seen as disparaging Mr. Pagley. Of all the teachers in High School, he was in my Top 5 hands down. There are times when I think of him as my favorite instructor. I learned later that he intentionally made the year easy for us. He understood that it was Senior year and didn’t want to put us under a lot of pressure. And another dirty little secret. Pagley acknowledged that many in the class were not worthy of A.P. status. When I spent a little time alone with him, I realized that he was a thoroughly decent man. I don’t believe Social Studies were his forte. He coached track and J.V. football. If he wanted to, I’m sure he could have stood up and lectured for the full hour. I know for a fact that he was a bright individual. You don’t graduate from Columbia without being intelligent.

There was one incident that brought Pagley and I together on a more personal level. Near the end of Senior year, I became incredulous with part of his daily class routine. He would have us watch a taped television program called “CNN Student News”. If you think regular CNN is crap, then just think about what the student version would be like. It’s unquestionable that for any well-informed adult, the presentation is a joke. It was probably arrogant of me to think that way. A lot of the students probably did get something out of that simplified news program. One day, myself and I believe my friend Eric signed on to a letter complaining about the assignment. I didn’t make things better by having a surrogate deliver the letter to Pagley, while I scurried off into the foreground. I don’t remember the specifics, but I lambasted the program. I refrained from saying anything personal about Mr. Pagley. On Monday, he came to me and discussed what I had written. Surprisingly, he didn’t take any umbrage. Deep down, he understood where I was coming from. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m sure Pagley would have loved for all the students to be as well informed as I. Not saying that I’m smarter than anyone else, but I do pay attention to news and current events. By the end of the semester, him and I developed a marginally good rapport. He’d josh me about my support of liberal ideals. I pretty well concluded that Pagley was a former Republican whom had switched to Independent. He confided that in 2000, he voted for Vice President Al Gore. I’d love to go back to DHS and see if he supporters Kerry this year.

I don’t have quite as much to say about 6th Period English IV Honors. English was always my strong suit, so two “A’s” was the only acceptable result. And I achieved them without much struggle. A lot of people thought Ms. Linda Friday was painstakingly boring. I have to agree with that assessment, even though I liked her immensely. We read through the classes like “MacBeth”. One enjoyable quarter was when we read “Lord of the Flies”. I was very honored when Friday awarded me the award for excellence in English IV Honors. Politically, Friday struck me as a conservative Democrat. I’m fairly certain that she was indeed a Democrat. She had the mentality of a woman raised in the heartland. I remember that her family was from Illinois. There were certain expectations that she had of teenagers. She was astounded at how many kids had cars. Back in her days, everyone had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I sort of felt bad for Ms. Friday. At times, it was literally impossible to stay awake during class. She’d get up and read from the various stories. Years ago, she might have been an acceptable teacher. These days, instructors make more of an effort to liven up the assignments. It’s a shame that she took so much grief from students, behind her back.

Part IV...

Period 7: Newspaper w/ Mae Bennett

I decided to make Newspaper a separate post. I was running a bit long and want to split it up a bit.

Friday, September 17, 2004

12th Grade: Part II (Katie Ricketts)

Okay, I know what you are saying. Why is Taylor continuing to obsess over this? First, I have to bring this up in order to put 12th Grade into context. There are too many references to her for me not to briefly recap things. I’ve done it before, and hopefully this is the last time I will do so. I feel that I have learned to put this in perspective with the rest of my high school years.

When I think of my days at DHS, there are two people that I remember most vividly. I’m referring to students and not teachers. One of them is Eric Cioffoletti. You’ll see him almost daily commenting on my posts. The other is Katie. Of course, there are other people that I remember, but not with the fervor of these two. There’s Zach Spencer, John Hyne, Aimee Thorney, Gurjot Kaur, and a handful of others. If I get the time, I might do a secondary post on those individuals.

Katie was somebody that I first met in 11th Grade A.P. History class. Mr. Brian Liebman had us sit alphabetically. Incidentally, I was to the seat directly left of Katie’s. I don’t remember feeling much for her that year. Not to say that we weren’t chummy. Honestly, I just can’t recall much of our relationship that year. The one thing I remember was, at the time, we were both fans of Mr. Bill O’Reilly. Hopefully, she has come to her senses, as have I, about the machinations of Mr. O’Reilly. It’s funny how some things can completely slip my mind. I remember thinking that she had brown hair early in 11th Grade and dyed it blond. It could be that I am thinking of another person. Nevertheless, I think I started liking her nearing the spring of 2001. It’s not like me to forget details like this.

We met again at the beginning of 12th Grade. By pure luck, we were in three of the same classes together. The courses were A.P. Physics, A.P. Calculus, and Spanish IV. I remember being a bit closer with her than the previous year. We would chat almost every day during these classes. I wouldn’t say we were “best friends”, but we had a very cordial relationship. We’d go outside sometimes during Spanish class and talk after we got all our work done. We shared many similarities. She is Catholic; I can still call myself Catholic if I want to. I discovered that we were both liberal Democrats. She was a self-professed “bleeding heart”.

I would intentionally get to school around 7:25 so I could walk with her on the way to 1st Period Physics. We would talk about upcoming assignments, political events, or goings-on in our personal lives. Any time that you can spend one-on-one with someone you really like is a very good thing. I remember how one morning, I was carrying our set of newspapers in from my car. The day prior, I had picked them up from the Lake Worth Herald. I think John Hyne and we were the only three people at the school to know about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Katie and I both were sympathetic to Chavez, while Hyne vehemently opposed him. Incidentally, by some stroke of luck, I had gotten the story of Chavez’s coup on the front page of “The Panther Prowler”. The Sunday prior, she had seen an interview with the beloved Chavez on “60 Minutes”. Long story short, I felt I could speak with her at a level above most of the other students at DHS.

Over the course of 12th Grade, I would do whatever possible to be around her. I’d go to Physics tutoring after class. I’d offer to help her run errands when the opportunity presented itself. She had a boyfriend, Ryan Schans, for the first part of 12th Grade. Around January or February, she broke it off with her. That is when I started to lose it. I knew exactly what I wanted but was woefully unequipped to do anything about it. For about a week, I was in a complete daze. I remember sitting and home and sleeping most of the time. It was easier when I knew there was nothing to do about it. But when prime time arrived, I was unable to come through. I kept telling myself that I would do something, but for some reason it never happened. I guess I procrastinated so much that I lost track of time.

I left DHS without even a valid email address or a phone number I could call. How could I be so stupid as to let even just the friendship evaporate? She was never much for school spirit. Therefore, I didn’t see her at any of the Senior Week events. That’s typically when everybody signs the yearbooks and give out contact information. I saw her for an instant on Graduation Day, but wasn’t able to catch her before she drove away. I went to Project Graduation that night hoping to see her there. A ton of graduates were in attendance, but not her. I tried emailing using an address listed from an old Thorne group email. Multiple tries yielded only returned messages. was not a valid address anymore. That’s pretty much where any hopes of contacting her ended.

The summer after, I did something that might be considered a bit creepy. I had an idea of where I thought she lived. At least where I thought her parents lived. I drove by a couple of times hoping to see her Green Nissan Sentra sitting outside. I didn’t want to call unless I knew that she had a residence there. I still believe her parents live at the location, but the time for that sort of reconciliation has passed. I did try and google her name, but to no avail. From time to time, I’ll check the AIM Find-a-friend hoping to find a Ricketts in Winter Park, FL. Nothing of any relevance has been found.

It’s my understanding that she’s in her Junior year at Rollins College in Winter Park. Originally, she was going to attend Davidson in South Carolina. Eventually she decided to go to the small private university in Florida. My source tells me that she’s currently dating Cheyne Seleski, one of the class of 2002 DHS graduates. I’m not aware if their relationship continues today. Not that it would matter anyway.

What do I think my relationship could have been, had I handled it differently? I believe that the distance would have killed any chance of a romantic relationship. I often wonder if she knew how I felt about her. My guess is that it would have been hard not to at least have some idea. I actually think I would have had a chance with her, were I more prepared to adapt to situations. Katie was a very beautiful girl, IMO. I think that the other person who knows of her would vouch for that. She could have been one of the most popular girls in school. It wasn’t that she wasn’t well liked. But she didn’t like the “popular crowd”. She didn’t go to Homecoming or football games. She liked to hang out with the people who weren’t as popular, me included. That included people like Tyler, myself, and Cheyne. I don’t think it’s that she felt sorry for us. Rather, she wasn’t drawn to people who were arrogant.

I often wonder about what happened with her and Cheyne. I know from firsthand and secondary accounts that Diana Seleski absolutely adored Katie. I think she wanted someone to be Cheyne’s second mother when he went off to the University of Central Florida. Mrs. Seleski, a known supporter of George H.W. Bush (41), really wanted them to eventually marry, in my judgment.

All of this leads up to my conclusion. In reality, I don’t think about Katie every night before I go to sleep. In fact, she crosses my mind only once a week, and I don’t give it much thought. Sometimes I might exaggerate for hyperbolic effect. There were times that I was obsessive, but they are in the past. I know what the reality is. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever see her face again. There’s always the opportunity that I’ll see her at a 5 or 10 year reunion. I do check the reunion websites to see if she’s registered. Up to now, she has not. I don’t plan to mention her again on my blog, once I get done recapping my high school years. I do wish that things had turned out differently. It would have been nice to maintain at least an Internet connection. But they didn’t, and the ship has probably sailed on that.

I hope that if this ever got back to her, perhaps by being found through Google, that she wouldn’t be offended by my writings. I am not a stalker or anything of the sort. She was simply the most beautiful and kind girl that I have met in my entire life. She’s the kind of person that made you feel good about yourself. She never gave the impression that she was better than anybody else. She is someone that I am proud to say I knew, even if it was only for two years. Above all else, she taught me a valuable lesson. When you meet someone that unique and special, it’s a tragedy to let them fall out of your life. I don’t care if it was as a girlfriend or a platonic pal. For having known her, I am definitely a smarter and more focused individual.

Part III…

I decided to interject Katie into Part II, and move what was Part II to Part III.

Part III will now be about 5th, 6th, and 7th Periods of 12th Grade.

I think Part IV will be on some of the other people I knew that year.

Part V is a general overview of what I learned (minus the Katie part, which was detailed rather extensively here in Part II).

There might be more, but I’ll let the writing process lead me in that direction. I have a big project, so I might not get to it all this weekend. I did touch on a large part of what I desired to chronicle.