Friday, December 31, 2004

Old No. 7 Comes to NASCAR

NASCAR driver Dave Blaney Posted by Hello

I think I may have found a new driver to root for. As a result of NASCAR's decision to allow distilled spirits to advertise, Jack Daniel's has decided to sponsor a car. The car's number, 7, is a reference to Jack's label number. While my interest in NASCAR has lessened over the years, I will check in each and every week to see how the number 7 car finishes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Week 16: Picks Summary

My record:
Week 1: N/A
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 7-7
Week 4: 6-8
Week 5: 8-6
Week 6: 9-5
Week 7: 7-7
Week 8: 8-6
Week 9: 7-7
Week 10: 8-6
Week 11: 13-3
Week 12: 12-4
Week 13: 10-6
Week 14: 14-2
Week 15: 11-5
Week 16: 12-4

Total: 141 W, 83 L, 63 %

Green Bay 34, Minnesota 31 L
Kansas City 31, Oakland 30 W
Denver 37, Tennessee 16 W
Indianapolis 34, San Diego 31 (OT) W
Houston 21, Jacksonville 0 L
Cincinnati 23, New York Giants 22 W
Detroit 19, Chicago 13 W
New Orleans 26, Atlanta 13 W
Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 7 W
Buffalo 41, San Francisco 7 W
New England 23, New York Jets 7 W
Seattle 24, Arizona 21 W
Carolina 37, Tampa Bay 20 W
Dallas 13, Washington 10 L
Miami 10, Cleveland 7 W
St. Louis 20, Philadelphia 7 L

Monday/Tuesday Happenings

Monday night, we had another poker night at the Sias residence. An upset occured this time as Matt won the first place prize, defeating Zach with K8 over A9. It was about time Zach finally lost a game. Unfortunately, I finished last. I made a few mistakes and didn't time my all-ins properly. By the time I finally was able to exercise my all-in powers, I was left with only 19 chips.

During the middle of the game, Zach got a call from his 17 year-old (I think she turns legal age in a matter of days, if not already) sister Jessie, asking if he'd be home. Zach said that he'd be home late, but before he hung up noticed the sound of a party in the background. When he asked if there was a party going on, she simply hung up the telephone. After the game ended, we all went over to Zach's residence in the Palm Beach Country Estates to check out the situation. It appeared that a small gathering was taking place. We decided to let it slide and go on our merry way.

We ended up going out for a late snack at the Denny's Restaurant. Per the norm, it was substandard. Each of us put in for a sampler platter which included approximately three mozzarella sticks, two chicken tenders, and some onion rings. It was one of the worst $2 investments that I've ever made. Since the waitress did a poor job, we decided to leave her a tip of only 70 cents.

Finally, around 4:00 am we all got back to my house. Eric and Matt went home, while Zach and I went back to check out the festivities at his house. When we walked in the door, there was this pungent odor permeating the house. I'm surprised his bird survived the foul odor that had taken over the room. I still have no clue what it was. There were these two questionable gentlemen sitting on Zach's couch. From Zach's bedroom, I heard the giggles of two evidently drunk teenage girls in the bathroom. I'd like to think they were having a pillowfight, or perhaps engaging in some sort of erotic sexual acts. Anyway, Zach knew he wouldn't be able to get any sleep there, so he went back to my house. I'm sure that at least one of the guys ended up getting laid that evening, probably on Richard Spencer's bed. Dick would be very displeased if he knew his bed was being used for that type of act. Richard, nor I, will ever know what really transpired after we left that night.

We played poker until around 5:00 a.m. Zach took a nap, planning to get up to play a silver match at 6:00. Sprinked in were a few episodes of 24: Season 2. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get him up in time for the game. I had to fend for myself, eventually finishing 6th out of 10 competitors. I finally decided to sleep on the couch, letting Zach take my waterbed.

I didn't get up until about 3:00 Tuesday afternoon. Zach was nice and decided to let me sleep and didn't wake me for a ride. After I finally awoke, we watched more 24. I think we must have seen four or five episodes in the last day. After that, we went to the Ale House and ate some dinner. I had the mushroom cheeseburger, while Zach had the chicken tenders.

We capped off the evening by watching the movie "Rounders", starring Matt Damon. Without spoiling much, the movie was about a guy who played Texas Hold 'Em poker. I'd say it was a good movie, even if you don't like poker. I'd give it 7 stars out of 10.

Had some success at Jim Feist Poker. I won another gold bar, meaning I can compete in a Stage 4 tournament tomorrow afternoon. We're hoping to get a black pearl so we can go for the $1000 prize.

I saw something I'd never seen before in all my months of poker. I was playing a Stage 1 game while waiting for my 4:00 am Stage 3 event. The five community cards were 10,J,Q,K,A of hearts. Of course, that is known as a Royal Flush. The royal flush is the absolute best hand that can be made in Texas Hold 'Em. Since it was all in the community cards, the players split the pot. I wish I would have stayed in so I could say that I competed in a royal flush hand. I doubt I'll see more than one or two of them in my poker playing career.

That's a recap of my last few days. It's been fun hanging out with friends, playing poker, eating, and threatening to break up parties.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Eve

Today was the day that our family celebrated Christmas for the year 2004.

Christmas Eve began with me having to spend 10 minutes just to find a spot at the Gardens Mall. Then I go in to by some gifts for my Mom. When I'm in the store trying to find the proper lotion or whatever crap I was looking for, I lose reception on my cell phone. I have to walk out side to clarify. Finally I got some phone service.

Then we went down to Boynton Beach and had dinner with the family. I was sort of tired, since I had only slept three hours the night prior. We went through the gifts, which seemed to take forever. I was pleased with receiving "America: The Book" (Jon Stewart's book) from my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

I received a few other gifts. My Mom gave me The O.C. Season 1 DVD along with a couple of CD's I wanted. In addition, she got be a few Miami Dolphins t-shirt. Gary gave me the Season 3 24 DVD set. Overall, I received $700 cash. That'll keep me afloat for this semester. I'll probably have to get a job this summer to pay for Fall 2005 Semester.

I met up with Zach a little later and we had Christmas Eve dinner at the IHOP. That was a total disaster. To begin with, he was charged nearly $3 for a glass of orange juice. In addition, they served his pancakes cold and put butter on top, when he specifically instructed them to serve without butter. Then he was a piece of bacon short, which we construed as meaning that our fat waitress had eaten a piece too many. When the extra piece finally came out, it was cold. To cap it off, Zach couldn't get a refill on his orange juice. He repeatedly kept on saying "Excuse me, Excuse me" perhaps ten times. The old guy sweeping the floors did not acknowledge us. Zach remembered the gentleman as the guy who accused him of trying to pass a counterfeit $100 bill only a few days ago. Since it was Christmas Eve and we were feeling generous, we decided to leave a tip -- of four pennies. In retrospect, I kind of feel bad. I can only imagine the kind of lives that these IHOP employees are going home to on Christmas. They'll probably be home alone with only a bottle of scotch whiskey.

We were both tired, so we only hung out for a little while longer. I put in the tape of 2002's second fight between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, which was one by Barrera. We agreed to play a Stage 3 encounter of Jim Feist Poker at 2:00 am. There was good news and bad news on that front. The bad news is that I overslept 30 minutes and wasn't able to call Zach and wake him up. He was at $500 by the time I finally joined the game. The good news is that in my first hand back, I was dealt pocket aces and won a big pot. I went on to emerge triumphant in my Stage 3 match. I've got another one coming up at 4:00. I'm hoping to get at least 3 gold bars so I can play each of the Stage 4 matches on Christmas Day. It'll take a lot of hard work and committment to defraud Jim Feist out of his hard-earned $1000.

Once that's over, I'll try to watch my tape of Friday's NFL game between Minnesota and Green Bay. I had to turn it off at halftime when Minnesota was leading 21-14. I hope to learn that Minnesota wins, making me 1-0 for this early Week 16.

Merry Christmas Everybody!


Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Plans

In case anybody cares, and I doubt they do, I'll briefly outline my plans for the Christmas holiday.

Christmas Eve, I still have some last minute shopping to do. I need to buy something for my Mom's birthday, which comes two days after Christmas. I'm sure the malls will be hell tomorrow with last minute shoppers. I've been instructed to go to some store called Bath & Body Works. It sounds only marginally better than Crate and Barrel. Anyhow, I'll try to make it as painless as possible.

Later, I have to get my haircut at noon. Hopefully that won't take me more than 15 minutes.

The family is celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve this year. We'll meet down in Boynton Beach and gather with relatives. Nothing particularly noteworthy, but it should be enjoyable.

My Mom works on Christmas Day and it looks like most of my friends will be out of town. I might offer to go with Gary and see his family in Winter Haven. Either that or I could sit at home and enjoy Heat vs. Lakers, Raiders vs. Chiefs, and Tennessee vs. Denver. I think I'll choose the latter. I'll add in some Jim Feist Poker and it'll be the greatest Christmas ever!


Week 15: Picks Summary

My record:
Week 1: N/A
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 7-7
Week 4: 6-8
Week 5: 8-6
Week 6: 9-5
Week 7: 7-7
Week 8: 8-6
Week 9: 7-7
Week 10: 8-6
Week 11: 13-3
Week 12: 12-4
Week 13: 10-6
Week 14: 14-2
Week 15: 11-5

Total: 129 W, 79 L, 62 %

Pittsburgh 33, New York Giants 30 W
Washington 26, San Francisco 16 W
Atlanta 34, Carolina 31 (OT) L
Houston 24, Chicago 5 W
Buffalo 33, Cincinnati 17 W
San Diego 21, Cleveland 0 W
Minnesota 28, Detroit 27 W
New York Jets 37, Seattle 14 W
Philadelphia 12, Dallas 7 W
Kansas City 45, Denver 17 W
New Orleans 21, Tampa Bay 17 L
Arizona 31, St. Louis 7 W
Jacksonville 28, Green Bay 25 L
Oakland 40, Tennessee 35 L
Indianapolis 20, Baltimore 10 W
Miami 29, New England 28 L

I've Polished the Pole

Festivus, a holiday made famous by the television show "Seinfeld" was celebrated on December 23. There are three distinct elements that characterize this holiday. The first is the unadorned aluminum pole that is displayed as a substitute for the Christmas tree. Secondly, the family gets together at the dinner table and airs their grievances. They discuss the various ways in which family members have disappointed them over the past year. Finally, there is the Feats of Strength. The head of the family tests his or her strength against one participant of the head's choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned. A participant is allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the family only if they have something better to do instead.

Now, I'd like to air one of my grievances. There was an incident that took place last Monday afternoon on the way to Monday Night Football between Miami and New England.

The car ride down to the game was disturbing to say the least. Perhaps somewhere near the north end of Broward County, the topic of pornography entered the car. Gary was bringing up this guy he knew and referenced his collection of soft-core and hard-core pornography. I simply asked if he owned DVD's other than pornography. It wasn't meant to be a wiseass inquiry. Gary replies and the subject turns to my collection of adult material. I'll admit that I own a few videos. I won't lie about that. I seriously haven't watched them in a long while, but I make little efforts to hide them. They're in with my collection of boxing videos in the cabinet.

Here's where it got upsetting. In the car with my friend Eric, my Mom talks about how I "share" my pornography with her. There was a grain of truth to that, but mostly fabrication. I've known for a while that they have been taking my films and using them for recreation. The strong implication was that they were not being viewed simply to monitor my habits, but rather for some more sinister purpose. The bottom line was that the videos were being taken without my permission. I knew for a fact who the culprits were, as I found them in the other bedroom. And then comes the kicker. My Mom tells me that it's "completely heathy" and inquired if I had any more movies to share with her. Gary capped it off my suggesting that I rotate hands while engaging in self-gratification, if you catch my drift. To put it more bluntly, he was making a reference to MASTURBATION.

The whole incident was among the most bizarre and horrifying encounters of my life. I don't consider myself that private of a person. I don't try to hide that many things from anybody. Had the subject been brought up with the three of us, I may have been able to laugh. For about the next ten minutes, all I could do was smirk in the back seat. Since I was wearing my sunglasses, nobody could look straight into my eyes. They could only see the continued laughter that ensued for quite some time. IMO, there is a certain line that people should try not to cross. The whole subject of sex is something that is awkward between a parent and child. To discuss it in such a public and explicit manner was more than I could take.

Hoping the subject of pornography is not broached in the future. I think the whole incident was inapproritate. It's one thing to take my things without my permission. That doesn't really upset me. As long as they're returned, I'm surely not going to be the one to ask about it. However, there's no reason for it to be raised in a public conversation. I'm considering relinquishing all the vidoes and donating them to the pornographically underprivileged. I don't enjoy watching them anymore and certainly don't want them to fall into the wrong hands.

I doubt I'll ever publicly air this grievance outside the privacy of my Live Journal. Overall, I have very few gripes in regard to my close friends and family. I can't think of too many instances where they've disappointed me in the past year.

I hope everybody had a Happy Festivus! I could see this being a cathartic experience, especially in families where disputes take place regularly. It can't hurt to express your feelings and try to work through them as a family.


Poker Nights

Quickly, I should recap the last two nights of poker.

On Tuesday, Zach's girlfriend Karen joined myself and Eric for a friendly game of poker. I knew beforehand that Karen had never played poker before, so I jumped on her and raised the first two hands. I did make some small winnings, but my success would be only temporary. She caught on better than expected, amounting a huge lead and eventually winning the top prize. Since both her and Zach were payed for by the same person, they decided to give us back our $5. As usual, I finished second. I did fairly well in coming back from virtually no chips. Unfortunately, it was too big a deficit to overcome. The problem with going all-in repeatedly is that a single mistake or bad break can expedite the game's conclusion. I think I ended up getting beaten because I had an Ace and a lower kicker.

Tonight we played again with Karen, Zach, myself, and Zach's friend Matt. The game went similarly to Tuesday's game. In the spirit of Festivus, I must air a grievance against Matt. On the very first hand, he went all-in. While he had fairly nice cards, nobody was going to call him. His grand opening netted him all of six chips. I think that got him feeling cocky, thinking that he could bully us with the all-in. About 20 minutes in, Matt was still in the game despite being down slightly in chips. He was in no way at "all-in" level. Suddently, he goes all-in. Possessing two very low cards, I automatically folded. So did Zach. Karen was left and contemplated whether or not to call. Eventually, she decided to call. I was astonished when I saw what unfolded. Matt had went in with a 3 & 5 of clubs. Karen, IIRC, had an ace and 8. Long story short, the hand played out and Karen won. Winning such a big early hand made it very difficult for anybody to come back. It pissed me off that the dynamic of the game was changed on the basis of such an irresponsible and reckless move. I'd have understood if he had high face cards or even a pair. But to risk all his chips on a 3-5 suited is a bad move that early in a game.

Two hours later, I finished my trademark second. Zach got 3rd place. I feel like I've been playing better and could have won were I not faced with unmanagable chip deficits. I had a good time in spite of coming up short.

I'm trying to organize another poker night or two in the next week. I'm going to work the phones and try to plan in advance. I know I can get one game planned with an old friend of mine. Hopefully we'll get one or more of the Barans to join us before New Year's. Stay tuned for more adventures from my world of poker.


NFL: Week 16 Picks

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings… Minnesota (1)
Playing at the Metrodome, Minnesota comes in with a big advantage. Green Bay, off a bad loss last week to Jacksonville, is already in the playoffs and fighting only for the NFC North divisional title. Due to the home field advantage, I like the Vikings in this one.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs… Kansas City (2)
If the Chiefs played any defense at all, they would have been a playoff team this season. It would seem that Kansas City has the ability to outscore mediocre teams like Denver and Oakland.

Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans… Denver (2)
Despite Denver’s recent struggles, they are good enough to beat Tennessee. I’ve finally figured out a way to pick Titans games. Go against home field advantage. Tennessee is 1-5 this season at home. If this game were being played in Denver, I’d go with the Titans.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions… Detroit (2)
Joey Harrington showed last week against Minnesota that he’s capable of leading his team to victory in the last two minutes. Neither of these teams have much to look forward to this year, meaning almost anything could happen in this game. Fifteen weeks into the season, Detroit’s shown them to be slightly better than Chicago.

San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts… Indianapolis (1)
On the artificial turf in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning should finally break Dan Marino’s single-season TD mark of 48. Most likely, we’ll witness an offensive shootout. San Diego has a hard time defending the pass, while Indianapolis can’t seem to tackle anybody. Whoever wins this game is a lock for the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs. However, the Colts weak defense could be cause for concern, especially against the balanced Charger offense. Overall, this one’s a toss-up.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars… Jacksonville (2)
The Jaguars win over Green Bay combined with the Denver and Baltimore losses put them back in the playoffs with the 6th seed. Now it’s up to them not to lose focus and take care of business at home. The way Fred Taylor is running the football, I like Jacksonville’s chances.

New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals… Cincinnati (2)
You have to wonder what might have been had Tom Coughlin decided to stick with Kurt Warner at QB. Looking at the weak state of the NFC, Kurt Warner would likely have won an extra game or two and led New York to the playoffs. Anyhow, I remain impressed with the Bengals, even after getting crushed by the surging Bills last week.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints… New Orleans (1)
Atlanta has reached the point in their season where nothing they do will advance their seeding. As a result, coach Jim Mora Jr. has decided to sit star QB Mike Vick for this game. Consequently, a hungry Saints team should have enough to win this game and remain in the playoff hunt.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers… Pittsburgh (3)
Baltimore desperately needs a win to get into the playoffs. Their loss to Indianapolis knocked them out of the playoffs and propelled Jacksonville into the last wild card. This should be a low-scoring, defensive oriented game. Last week was Pittsburgh’s one slip-up, and they managed to survive with a victory. They should come out ready, considering home field is still on the line.

Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers… Buffalo (3)
The Bills are right back in the playoff race. All SF has to do to get the #1 draft pick is lose to Buffalo and New England in Week 17. Buffalo should win this game by a very large margin.

New England Patriots at New York Jets… New England (2)
In games against the very elite teams (Pittsburgh and New England), the Jets have consistently come up just short. Despite losing to the Dolphins on Monday night, New England remains a team that knows how to win. The Jets are still learning how to perform in the big spot. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots losing two straight football games in December, knowing that a collapse could allow San Diego to sneak into the #2 seed.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks… Seattle (2)
The Cardinals are an entirely different team playing on the road. Their only road win this year was against the putrid Dolphins. I hate to pick the Seahawks anymore, but I will this week.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers… Carolina (1)
After struggling through a dismal start to 2004, Carolina has turned their season around and is in the playoffs with a record of 6-8. They showed heart last week, orchestrating a 4th Quarter comeback only to succumb in OT to the Falcons. I’d call this a “do or die” game in the NFC playoffs, but it seems that even the most mediocre teams can stay in the playoff hunt.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys… Washington (1)
The Cowboys quarterback situation is a mess. Is it Henson, Romo, or Testaverde this week? The Redskins superior defense will cause problems for whoever is taking the snaps and should contain Julius Jones.

Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins… Miami (2)
I’m going against a promise I made a few months ago. In this one, Miami will likely enter the game as a slight favorite. It seems like Miami’s been playing a bit better and Cleveland has regressed greatly. The Browns have yet to win a road game this season. The Dolphins would surely like to end this miserable season with a big victory at the Pro.

Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams… Philadelphia (1)
The Eagles took a hit last week, losing WR Terrell Owens for the season. St. Louis comes into this game having looked horrendous in their last two football games. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the Rams are able to rebound and save their season against Philadelphia.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Poker Night Extraordinaire

Last night's poker night at Eric's house was one that will go down in the record books. Unofficially, the game lasted just under seven hours. We arrived a little after 7:00 p.m., and the game ended shortly before 2:00 a.m. Unfortunately, after a grueling effort, I succumbed to Zach and finished my usual 2nd place.

There's got to be some way for me to get over my string of 2nd place finishes. It must mean something good that I always finish second and outlast almost all of my competition. However, Zach always manages to find a way to take advantage of my weakness.

I look back at a couple of mistakes I made. First, when he'd go "all-in", I should have called him when I had the second highest pair. There was one time where I had the 10s, but was afraid Zach held the Q's. Had I been presented more outs, I may have called him. Secondly, I let him bully me in taking my blinds. When blinds are 20/30, a couple of consecutive losses can be deadly.

I must extend some kind words to Eric, who was our permanent dealer for what must have amounted to five hours. I don't think I'd want to subject him to that ever again. The whole night was simply bizarre (not in a bad way). Every time the game appeared to be over, one of us would get an improbable hand and win an all-in. Then it would take five minutes to count up all the chips. I thought I played fairly decent, although I possessed a number of glaring weaknesses that Zach exploited. If I had even a modicum of one on one tutoring, I would easily have won that game.

After the game, we went back to my house and watched the Light Heavyweight Title fight between Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. The assembled audience at my house felt Tarver won clearly, but the judges gave it to Johnson by Split Decision. I need to watch the fight again to judge it closely. My initial take was that Tarver won 8 rounds compared to Johnson's 4, which would have made the fight 116-112. However, two of the judges gave Johnson 7 rounds. I can't say I'm necessarily outraged by the decision. If judges scored only 2 rounds differently, it accounts for Johnson's victory. And if anybody had the "connections", it was Tarver. Johnson has been screwed out of many victories in his career, accounting for his 7 losses. I think the judges gave Johnson too much credit for his ineffective aggression. While Johnson came forward and punched, Tarver was the one landing the clean blows. This decision will end up being good for both fighters. I'm sure HBO and the fans will be eager to see a rematch between the two. They earned career high purses for this fight. Tarver earned $2.5 million, Johnson $1.5 mil.

I've had enough poker for at least a few days. It looks like we might have founded an extra player to join us in a game next week. I always enjoy seeing new players and analyzing their styles.


Jim Feist Poker

Recently I've picked up a new addiction. A little while ago, I was introduced to an online poker site called Jim Feist Poker. From what I've gathered, Jim Feist is in the business of gambling. Whether he plays poker or not is questionable.

Anyway, I've been playing a lot recently. I haven't timed it, but I'd assume it's over two hours a day. Some might say that's a bad thing, others would say it's too short a time to improve.

Nevertheless, I really should cut down to an hour or so a day. When I play so many tournaments a day, it's hard to bring my "A" game each time. Instead, I should play two tournaments and give it my complete focus. Quality is better than quantity.

I'm not sure how much it helps my real-life playing abilities. In some ways, I think it may hurt. When you play online, it's easy to take a game lightly. Even if I go all-in and lose on the first hand, I still have the opportunity to play 9 more games. IRL, a game comes once a week and you want to cherish the time you spend at the table. I try to play more conservative in real life.

I stand by some of my other acquisitions. The poker chips I recently bought from Wal-Mart were well worth the expenditure. The case makes it easier to sort chips. Now if I could only get the dirt off of the chips. They may have been defective.

I like the poker books I've gotten from the library. There's only so much that can be learned under the tutilage of Zachery Spencer. In most of those books, only a chapter is related to Texas Hold 'Em. I ignore the other 90 pages on Omaha and Five-Card Draw.

I'm going to remain celibate from poker until our scheduled meeting on Saturday around 7:00. I might play one serious game in the afternoon in preparation.

I've really enjoyed trying to learn the game better. My philosophy is that I want to learn to play this game at the highest level possible. I need to elevate my game from simply "playing the cards" to the status where I can compete with moderate or bad hands.

Hopefully I find a way to balance my new found love of poker with my other responsibilities.


NFL: Week 15 Picks

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants… Pittsburgh (3)
The Giants have so many problems. Eli Manning is already completing less than 40 % of his passes, and the Pittsburgh blitz won’t make things easy. Ben, Duce, and The Bus roll right through the Meadowlands.

Washington Redskins at San Francisco 49ers… Washington (1)
Despite a poor record, new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has really turned around the Redskins defense. QB Ken Dorsey doesn’t have a strong arm, and Washington will try to force him to make mistakes. While San Francisco did pick up a big win last week in Arizona, I believe Washington has a slight edge in this one.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons… Carolina (1)
Momentum means everything in this game. Atlanta has pretty much wrapped up the NFC South and is playing out the string. Carolina is a red-hot football team and still needs another win to secure a playoff spot. The loss of RB T.J. Duckett will hurt the Falcons in short yardage situations. Warrick Dunn is not physical enough to carry the load. TE Alge Crumpler is absent as well for Atlanta.

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears… Houston (1)
This season, the AFC has generally performed better in games versus NFC teams. Other than that, this one is a toss-up. The Bears play bad at home and the Texans are poor on the road. Who knows?

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals… Buffalo (2)
This might be the toughest game to pick this week. For a while, I’ve been hesitant to pick Buffalo on the road. Also, the Bengals have been playing good football as of late. However, the Bills have been able to put up a ton of points recently. And the Bills desperately need a win to stay in the playoff hunt.

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns… San Diego (3)
Cleveland is flat out playing bad football these past two months. San Diego is quickly becoming one of the safer picks in all the NFL. Cleveland is starting the inexperienced Luke McCown at QB. Even though William Green is a decent RB, the Chargers are very good at stopping the run.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions… Minnesota (1)
It’s sad to say, but even with another loss the Vikings would still be in playoff contention. Lets hope Mike Tice doesn’t include the Randy Moss option pass in the playbook this week.

Seattle Seahawks at New York Jets… Jets (1)
The Jets have struggled this year against good teams. Fortunately, the Seahawks are anything but quality at the moment.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles… Philadelphia (3)
Dallas’s slip playoff hopes evaporated when they lost to New Orleans last week. The emerging Julius Jones won’t be enough to compete with the 12-1 Eagles. Philadelphia loses only if they treat this as a meaningless late-season game.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs… Kansas City (1)
The Broncos have struggled against some very mediocre teams recently. At home, the Chiefs are a pretty good club. Kansas City could spoil Denver’s season with an upset here.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers… Tampa Bay (2)
Believe it or not, both of these 5-8 teams remain in playoff contention. Once and for all, the loser should be eliminated. New Orleans can have their good days, as evidenced by their win in Dallas, but I still think Tampa’s the better team and the correct pick this week.

St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals… Arizona (1)
Chris Chandler cannot be trusted to win a football game on the road, or even at home for that matter. Arizona finds a way to win, even after last week's loss to SF.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers… Green Bay (2)
The Packers are very tough to beat at home in December. The warm-weather Jags will finally be displaced from the playoff race.

Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders… Tennessee (1)
At this point in the season, games like these are impossible to call. Mainly because the Titans offense is clicking and the Raiders secondary is shaking, Tennessee pulls off the road upset. My guess is that we see an explosive game similar to last Monday’s Chiefs/Titans tilt.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts… Indianapolis (2)
Peyton Manning looks to break the TD mark against a very good Ravens secondary. He might not get the TD passes, but Indianapolis will win the game.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins… New England (3)
I’m tempted to take Miami just for the hell of it. Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to this game. Beating New England would at least provide some satisfaction for this season. That being said, it’s hard to imagine New England blowing home field by losing to a two-win Dolphins team. Miami’s biggest problem is that even when they were a winning team, they always turn the ball over at inopportune times versus the Pats. A.J. Feeley has to avoid those crucial interceptions and fumbles.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Assorted updates

It's been a few days since my last entry.

To summarize, I've been playing a lot of online poker and hanging out with some friends. Yesterday was great when I was reunited with the Poker chips I couldn't afford the night prior in Wal-Mart. While a little bit dirty, they're a step up from the Bicycle Chips I've been using.

I've gone into my fight collection and pulled out some of the classic fights between 2000 and 2004. Some fights we've watched were Arturo Gatti vs. Mickey Ward, Lennox Lewis vs. Hasim Rahman, and Felix Trinidad vs. Fernando Vargas, among a few others.

Jim Feist Poker gave me fits today. The cards were really not going my way. I maintain two silver rings that I plan to use later tonight or tomorrow. I try to play when few people are online, giving me a better chance of reaching the Top 2. I'm trying to save up as many golds and coppers as possible. Stage 1 games are a bitch. I've run into some morons like coacher and Budd22 that have no idea how to play poker.

Today was a relaxing day. I went around town shopping for Christmas gifts. I found the O.C. Season 1 DVD for $55 at Best Buy. I gave it to my Mom to give me for Christmas. That's the way things work in my house. I buy the gifts for myself and am reimbursed later. I still might buy the Jack Daniel statue and possibly the "Outfoxed" DVD.

Zach went back to Orlando today and won't return until Saturday. The big poker extravaganza is planned for Saturday with the Dads supposedly joining the festivities. I will be ready to take on any challengers.

Not much else to say. I've been posting less over the Christmas holiday. I'll be back with football picks by Saturday.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Fight Picks and Recaps

My Record:
Week 1: 4-0
Week 2: 5-0

Total: 9 W, 0 L, 100 %

Vitali Klitschko vs. Danny Williams
My Pick: Klitschko by 3rd Round KO
Result: Klitschko by 8th Round KO
Comment: Only surprise is that it lasted so long. The contest was over within a few minutes.

Miguel Cotto vs. Randall Bailey
My Pick: Cotto by UD
Result: Cotto by 6th Round KO
Comment: Cotto won this with his body shots. The destruction was more thorough than I could have predicted.

Carlos Hernandez vs. Juan Carlos Ramirez
My Pick: Hernandez by UD
Result: Hernandez by SD
Comment: I thought Hernandez would win by a wider margin.

Carlos Navarro vs. Agapito Sanchez
My Pick: Navarro by UD
Result: Navarro by 11th Round KO
Comment: The move up from 122 to 130 was too much for Sanchez to handle.

Manny Pacquiao vs. 3K-Battery
My Pick: Pacquiao by 2nd Round KO
Result: Pacquiao by 3rd Round KO
Comment: Battery needs some recharging after this effort.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Antonio Tarver vs. Glen Johnson... Tarver by UD
Tarver is clearly the best in the division. Johnson, apart from beating Jones in September, is a fairly ordinary fighter. With a victory, Tarver makes a solid case to win Fighter of the Year honors for 2004.

Sunday Football and Debauchery

As is usually the case the day after a big fight night, I didn't awake until 1:30 Sunday afternoon. I wasn't hung over or anything, just tired since I didn't go to bed until 5:30 in the morning. I only had a shot or two of the JD the night before.

I went out to Duffy's for lunch with my Mom and this gentleman Larry. I don't know about this character. He's a member of the Moose Lodge but spends frequents the Eagles (another local watering hole) more often. I didn't really eat much. Only got a few mozzarella sticks.

I ran around town a for an hour or so doing errands. When I was in Sports Authority, I was astounded by all their poker products. There was a great set of chips for $100. Also I saw some DVD instructionals that I might request for Christmas.

I really wanted to catch the Steelers vs. Jets game at 4:00. Since the Dolphins/Broncos affair was the televised CBS game, we had to go to the Quarterdeck Restuarant to watch it. I was joined by Tim and Larry (not the Larry I referenced earlier). Pittsburgh ended up winning by a comfortable margin of 11 points.

Pool is free at the Quarterdeck on Sundays. Larry, Tim, and I must have played five games. I was lucky enough to win one of those games.

Larry was cool and gave me a couple of beers for free. My neighbor, who is the manager at Quarterdeck, couldn't be happy to know that underage drinking is transpiring at his restuarant. I'm surprised nobody gave me any trouble. Larry bought a pitcher and poured me a few glasses. I consider drinking in a fine estbalishment like Quarterdeck to be a watershed moment. The only thing that would have made it better was if it was Jack Daniel's instead of beer.

When I got home, my poker luck had turned around. I won my first two games and had a few thousand chip lead in the 3rd. Suddenly, I made a mistake or two and found myself bereft of money. In poker, a game can turn sour very quickly. On the bright side, I acquired two copper coins and hopefully I can get a silver ring or two out of it.

Not much else to report for this Sunday. I'm trying to think of ways to occupy my time over the next four weeks or so. Going through my list of contacts to find a poker player or two. The consensus is that Tim is barred for life from poker games. Either that, or keep him away from the Jack Daniel's. Preferrably both. I could handle Larry but not Tim.

Really should be off to bed now. I'd like to keep on a schedule where I'm up by at least 10:00.


Week 14: Picks Summary

My record:
Week 1: N/A
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 7-7
Week 4: 6-8
Week 5: 8-6
Week 6: 9-5
Week 7: 7-7
Week 8: 8-6
Week 9: 7-7
Week 10: 8-6
Week 11: 13-3
Week 12: 12-4
Week 13: 10-6
Week 14: 13-2 (through Sunday's games)

Total: 117 W, 74 L, 61 %

Jacksonville 22, Chicago 3 W
Baltimore 37, New York Giants 14 W
Indianapolis 23, Houston 14 W
Buffalo 37, Cleveland 7 W
New Orleans 27, Dallas 13 L
Atlanta 35, Oakland 10 W
Seattle 27, Minnesota 23 L
New England 35, Cincinnati 28 W
Pittsburgh 17, New York Jets 6 W
Denver 20, Miami 17 W
Green Bay 16, Detroit 13 W
San Diego 31, Tampa Bay 24 W
Carolina 20, St. Louis 7 W
San Francisco 31, Arizona 28 (OT) W
Philadelphia 17, Washington 14 W
Kansas City at Tennessee... Monday

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Saturday Night Recap

Another night of world class boxing has come and gone. Last night's World Heavyweight Title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Danny Williams did not exhibit signs of a competitive fight. It wasn't 1/10 of the fight we witnessed two weeks ago between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. Klitschko, the champion, had Williams hurt from the first round. We were amazed that Williams survived seven more rounds. Finally, a merciful referee stopped the fight after a knockdown in the 8th Round.

For the rest of the night, Zach and I dabbled in online poker. It was a very unsuccessful night for both of us. My opponents kept on getting very lucky on the river. I was all set to win a gold bar when I lost on an all-in. I think I played it fairly well, yet luck got the best of me.

Zach stayed up watching this Bruce Lee movie called "Enter the Dragon", while at the same time playing hands of online poker. Wanting to add to the overall experience, I drank two and a half shots of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. I did not break the seal of the new bottle, though. I didn't want to get drunk. I just think every good night deserves to have some Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey inluded in it.

By 5:00, everyone was real tired and headed for bed. Zach, although he hadn't been drinking. didn't want to drive home. So I let him sleep on my waterbed and I took the couch. Frankly, as of late I've been sleeping on the spare couch more often than my bed. Zach was still asleep when I awoke at 11:00, but gone when I awoke for the second time at 1:00.

There might be one more boxing night in store for the 2004 year. Next week there's a free HBO fight between two men who have beaten Roy Jones, Jr. this year, Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. I'll write up my recap of my fight picks for this week at a later time.

Last night kicked off what hopefully will be an entertaining winter break.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Commentary on the Media (Part II)

Background: This is the research paper I wrote for my Mass Communication Theory class. Somehow, I earned a 96 % on this paper. It's amazing considering the great number of grammatical and APA citation errors. Furthermore, I wrote this ten page paper in just over three hours the morning it was due.

Don't read this unless you have nothing better to do. If you really care about the topic of media and the perceived liberal bias, I wholeheartedly recommend you read Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media?" It does a better job of explaining the situation than I ever could. I own a copy if anyone's interested.

Is There Really a Liberal Media?
By Taylor Sias
November 30, 2004

For years, the left and right have debated whether or not the media is slanted towards one particular ideology. The conservatives claim that outlets like the big three news channels, major national newspapers, and National Public Radio are consistently pushing a liberal agenda on the public. Liberals counter with claims that talk radio and the FOX News Channel are more blatantly conservative than any of the supposed liberal media outlets. Groups like the conservative “Media Research Council” and its liberal counterpart, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) have made their livings chronicling instances of alleged bias in news coverage. The evidence suggests that while liberals tend to be more prevalent in newsrooms, there is hardly a solid case in favor of bias. If anything, the news has become corporate and focuses more on making money rather than pushing any political ideology. In addition, claims of bias are likely the result of cognitive dissonance and selective retention on the part of those making the assertions.

A cognitive process called selective exposure is at play in the increasingly fragmented world of news consumption. According to University of Colorado’s Bob Craig (n.d.), selective exposure is “the tendency to avoid information inconsistent with one’s beliefs or attitudes.” Selective exposure follows Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance (p.4). Individuals on both sides of the political aisle practice this. For instance, conservatives proudly claim that FOX News is the most balanced news network. Recently, United States Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky was caught off-guard by a story coming out of Iraq. According to an article in the Courier-Journal (2004) newspaper of Lexington, Bunning said, “I don't watch the national news, and I don't read the paper. I haven't done that for the last six weeks. I watch Fox News to get my information.”

In addition, those on the right tend to take the word of radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. This idea of cognitive dissonance and selective exposure isn’t exclusive to conservatives. Liberals have picked up on this and decided to create the Air America Radio Network in 2004. The network was founded to provide a home for liberals who were seeking a similar voice over the airwaves.

Instances of alleged bias can also be traced to selective retention. According to authors Werner J. Severin and James W. Tankard (2001), selective retention is “the tendency for the recall of information to be influenced by wants, needs, attitudes, and other psychological factors” (p.80). If one looks hard enough, it is easy to find one or two things that would lead them to reinforce their already formed judgment. It’s ironic that two groups of people can watch the identical program and come away with such varied opinions. In one hour of “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, the right comes away thinking Matthews is a left-wing shill while liberals categorize him a lackey for the Bush Administration.

Conservatives point to studies that suggest journalists identify themselves as more liberal than conservative. According to a Pew Research Group (2004) study taken in May 2004 found that 34 percent of journalists were liberal, compared to 7 percent who leaned conservative.

Joe Conason, author of “Big Lies” disputes the claim that the media is biased in favor of liberals. Conason (2003) recalled a 1995 quote from Bill Krystol, editor of the conservative publication “The Weekly Standard”. Krystol said, “The liberal media was never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures” (p. 34). Conason (2003) asserts that conservatives institutionally “work the refs”, so to speak (p.35). Conason (2003) points to a 1992 quote by Rich Bond, former chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). “There is some strategy to it (bashing the liberal media). I’m a coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs’… Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack the next one” (p.35). Conason makes the point that conservatives have made an art of downplaying the importance of the so-called mainstream media.

Conason argues that conservatives and their wealthy contributors have created an extensive infrastructure with which to assail the liberal media. Conason (2003) writes, “Even more important than the inherent media bias in the favor of conservatives is the huge financial advantage lavished on right-wing propaganda over the past twenty years by major funders” (p.33). He’s referring to the numerous think tanks and conservative foundations that have been pivotal in publicizing the conservative message. Some of these groups include the Heritage Foundation and the economically libertarian Club for Growth. Conason (2003) continues, “Coordinating their expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, the directors of those four foundations (along with many others) have underwritten a formidable infrastructure of think tanks, magazines, publishing grants, media programming, and academic research, all of which promote conservative ideas” (p.34).

David Brock, author of “Blinded by the Right”, detailed the role of these groups in investigating the Clinton Administration. Brock discussed the Arkansas Project, an investigation that went into Clinton’s background in Arkansas. Brock (2002) said, “I also learned how, for all their seeming eccentricity on the right-wing fringe, the Arkansas Project gang – whether angry, greedy, or as it sometimes seemed to me even then, emotionally disturbed – was able to move the debate in Washington” (p.198).

Perhaps a more telling statistic relates to media ownership. There are a total of six major corporations that own the majority of the media outlets. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, they are Advance Publications, Disney, General Electric, News Corp., Time Warner, and Viacom. General Electric owns the television networks of NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo, along with a share of Vivendi Universal’s entertainment holdings. Jack Welsh, the Chief Executive Officer of General Electric, contributed to the 2000 Presidential run of George W. Bush along with the 1992 re-election campaign of George Herbert Walker Bush. In addition, Welsh gave a $4000 donation in 2004 to the Republican National Committee. It is arguable that Welsh’s political contributions mean far more than whether Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann voted for George W. Bush or Sen. John Kerry.

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp., also made numerous campaign contributions to Republican candidates in 2004. News Corp., which owns FOX News and many media outlets worldwide, also has a share in the HarperCollins publishing company, which releases books. According to, a website that tracks political contributions, Murdoch gave $2000 apiece to the Senate campaigns of John Thune (South Dakota), Doug Jones (California), Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), Jack Ryan (Illinois), and John McCain. His lone campaign contributions to Democrats was a $2000 donation to incumbent New York Senator Chuck Schumer. In addition, Murdoch gave $25,000 to the Republican National Committee in April 2004. Many on the left claim that the FOX News Channel is blatantly biased in favor of conservatives.

Many members of the FOX News Channel have ties to Republican campaigns and Administrations. CEO Roger Ailes was a chief campaign strategist for Bush/Quayle 1988. According to James Hall (2003) of the American Partisan, Tony Snow, who hosted the FOX Sunday morning program, was a speechwriter in the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Eric Alterman, author of the book “What Liberal Media?” further asserts that the media is predominantly corporate in nature. Alterman (2003) writes, “Consider the following: When AOL took over Time Warner, it also took over Warner Brothers Pictures, Morgan Creek, New Regency, Warner Brothers Animation, a partial stake in Savoy Pictures…” Alterman continues for ten more lines about the acquisitions made through this single acquisition (p.22). Alterman (2003) concluded, “The situation is not substantially different at Disney, Viacom, General Electric, the News Corporation, or Bertelsmann (p.23). The point of what the above listings, according to Alterman (2003), “is to illustrate the degree of potential conflict of interest for a journalist who seeks to tell the truth, according to the old New York Times slogan, ‘without fear of favor’ about not only any one of the companies its parent corporation may own, but also those with whom one of the companies may compete, or perhaps a public official or regulatory body that one of them may lobby, or even an employee at one of them with whom one of his superiors may be sleeping, or divorcing, or remarrying, or one of their competitors , or competitors’ lovers, ex-lovers, and so on” (p.23).

Alterman’s point contradicts the view that individual journalists have a great impact on what is covered. Those who disagree with the notion of a liberal media would assert that the editors and publishers, not assignment reporters, have more say on what makes it onto the air or into print.

Although many have certainly made claims, few have been able to make a clear case for bias in the media. According to the Everrette Dennis (1997), in an article published by American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), evidence of bias in coverage is lacking. “While the political affiliations and leanings of journalists hardly seem in doubt, there is no convincing evidence that journalists infect their stories — intentionally or otherwise — with their own political prejudices. While a few studies suggest such a link, most are the handiwork of right-leaning groups and critics whose research methods can’t withstand scrutiny.” ASNE would suggest that it’s the conservatives, not the media, who are biased in their studies.

Dennis (1997) says that traditional news values are more important than any single reporter’s biases. “The fact is that accuracy, impartiality and fairness are at the very core of the journalistic craft.” Rather being liberal, former New York Post editor Jerry Nachman said that if anything, reporters are anti-establishment and inherently skeptical of government. Nachman once asked the question, “When will people realize that the common theme in journalism is stories that prove again and again that government doesn’t work?”

Appearing biased is bad for business and goes against the media’s main motive of making money. According to Dennis (1997), “media organizations, as a profit-making businesses, naturally seek economies of scale, are responsive to the largest possible audience and are leery of upsetting any substantial segment of their potential audience.” Maintaining a liberal bias would be bad for the media, according to Dennis, because the country may in fact be trending conservative. “If all of this is true, news organizations would be shooting themselves in the foot by producing a politically-charged, left-leaning product certain to offend more than half their audience. Politically tainted journalism is simply bad business.”

The topic of media bias is one that is unlikely to go away. There is no shortage of individuals on both sides with an axe to grind. It surely pleased many on the right to see Dan Rather come under fire for his role in CBS’s “60 Minutes” story on Bush’s Texas Air National Guard (TANG) service. Rather’s tenure as anchor of CBS’s nightly news program will come to an end next year, as he announced his retirement in November 2004. The evidence shows that individual’s own biases in perception and retention are in large part responsible for claims of bias. The studies do support the claim that more journalists identify themselves as liberal than conservative. This does go against most national studies, which show more Americans identifying themselves as conservative. The main motive of the media is to make money. As long as the dollar is the bottom line, ideology will have little impact on what is seen on television, heard on the radio, or read in the newspaper.

Works Cited

Alterman, E. (2003). What Liberal Media?. New York: Basic Books

Brock, D. (2002). Blinded by the Right. New York: Crown Publishers

Conason, J. (2003). Big Lies (Thomas Dunne, Ed.). New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Craig, B. (n.d.) Selective Exposure. Retrieved November 24, 2004, from

Dennis, E. E. (1997, January 1). The liberal press? Liberal reporters, yes; liberal slant no! American Society of Newspaper Editors. Retrieved November 26, 2004, from

Hall, J. (2003, April 2). Fox News: Fairly Unbalanced. The American Partisan. Retrieved November 24, 2004, from

Loftus, T. (2004, October 22). Bunning Unaware of Iraq Story. The Courier-Journal. “Campaign Contributions of Rupert Murdoch”. Retrieved November 28, 2004,

Pew Study Finds Moderates, Liberals Dominate News Outlets. Editor and Publisher. Retrieved November 25, 2004 from

Severin, W.J. & Tankard, J.W. (2001). Communication Theories. New York: Longman.

Fall 2004 Grades Are In

I'm sure this matters little to anybody except I, but I will post my grades for the Fall 2004 term.

JOU 3101- News and News Reporting: A-
MMC 3403- Mass Communication Theory: A-
POS 3033- Issues in American Politics: A
ENL 2022- English Literature After 1800: A

GPA for 2004 Fall Term: 3.8
Cumulative GPA: 3.6

I must admit that I am pleasantly suprised by this development. While I would have preferred an outright A in my Communication classes, an A- is better than I expected. It's still good for 3.67 GPA points, which is better than the 3.3 that I expected for a B+.

Briefly, here is where I stand after 5 semesters of college. I'll be honest and say that my grades have been a mild disappointment. Today, when I finally took the time to check, I discovered my GPA was at 3.6. That's lower than I would like it to be. Hopefully I can eventually get my GPA into the 3.7 or 3.8 range. The main culprit for that were the grades of C+ and C I earned in my second semester of college. Besides that, the last three semesters, I haven't earned anything less than an A-.

I'm energized by the grades I received this term. I'm confident that I can achieve similar success next term and perhaps raised my GPA another tenth. In addition, I might be able to retake the Liberal Arts Math course, which I got a C in. I'm sure I'd get an A or B if I retook it at PBCC this summer.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

NFL: Week 14 Picks

Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars… Jacksonville (2)
Don’t be fooled by Jacksonville’s loss to Pittsburgh and Chicago’s victory over Minnesota. The Jaguars continue to play very good football, but have run into some difficult teams in the past two weeks. Chicago exploited a Minnesota team that has a very poor defense. If Jacksonville’s Fred Taylor runs like he did against Pittsburgh, it should be enough to win.

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens… Baltimore (2)
A very good Washington defense made life hell for the Giants last week. It looks as if the Giants collapse is in full swing. On the other hand, one more embarrassing loss like last week’s upset to Cincinnati and Baltimore will be in meltdown mode. Score one for the desperate Ravens.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans… Indianapolis (2)
The Colts will continue to roll over the mediocre teams of the AFC. Still, it doesn’t prove that they will be equipped to compete with New England and Philadelphia when it really matters.

Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills… Buffalo (2)
I’ll say what I’ve said about Cleveland all season. On the road, the Browns have yet to win a game. Mike Mularkey’s Bills, having started the season 0-4, have climbed back to .500 and generally play good football at home.

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys… Dallas (2)
It seems like Julius Jones, drafted in the second round, is coming up big for the Cowboys. Believe it or not, Dallas is still in the NFC playoff hunt. It’s only a matter of weeks until Saints Coach Jim Haslett gets fired.

Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons… Atlanta (3)
Another case where a team that plays good at home squares off against a squad who under performs on the road. The danger for Atlanta, though, is that the rest of their regular season is basically moot. With their loss to Tampa Bay and Philadelphia’s win over Green Bay, it’s implausible that Atlanta gets the 1st seed in the NFC. But with Green Bay’s loss, Atlanta is almost assured the 2nd seed and a 1st round bye. Jim Mora, Jr. must find a way to keep this Falcons team focused for the last four weeks of the season.

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings… Minnesota (2)
It’s looking like Mike Holmgren is on his last legs in Seattle. Minnesota’s usually a reliable pick at the Metrodome.

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots… New England (3)
It is one thing to beat a Ravens team with little offense to speak of. The task of taking on the defending Super Bowl champions is too much for Cincinnati to take on. I’ll venture to guess that New England has few problems in taking care of the Bengals.

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers… Pittsburgh (1)
Say what you want about the Steelers, somehow they find ways to win football games. If you like watching good running backs, this is the tilt for you.

Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos… Denver (3)
I can’t rationalize even contemplating picking a Miami team that turns the ball over seven times in a single football game.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers… Green Bay (2)
Don’t read too much into the Pack’s loss to Philadelphia. The Eagles are the dominant team in the NFC, and frankly, I don’t see Green Bay or anyone else stopping them in the NFC playoffs. Brett Favre is professional enough to bounce back from a tough loss and lead Green Bay to victory over a wholly mediocre Lions squad.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers… San Diego (2)
This isn’t an easy task for Tampa Bay, traveling nearly 3000 miles to California. By defeating Denver, San Diego has proven them worthy of calling themselves the 3rd or 4th best team in the AFC.

St. Louis Rams at Carolina Panthers… Carolina (1)
Somehow, Carolina has rebounded and is marginally in the playoff race. I’ll reiterate a common theme when it comes to the Rams. On the road, I’ll never be confident predicting a St. Louis win. Combined with the sudden resurgence of the Panthers, look for the Rams to come up short.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals… San Francisco (1)
Arizona is shaky at QB and SF is due a victory sooner or later. Hopefully a 49ers win gets Miami back in contention for the #1 draft pick.

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins… Philadelphia (3)
When these two teams met three weeks ago in Philadelphia, the Eagles won by 22 points. Following Philadelphia’s thorough dismantling of a hot Green Bay team, it’s hard to imagine this one being any different.

Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans… Kansas City (1)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through 13 weeks, it’s never to pick the Titans to win at home. The Tennessee secondary remains decimated and Trent Green should have a big game.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

2004 Fall Semester has reached its end

As of noon tomorrow, the endeavor of Fall Semester will have officially reached its culmination. Today I took my Mass Comm Theory final and handed in my final News Writing project. Tomorrow is the day to hand in my last English Literature paper. After that, I'm done until January 10.

I'm happy about how this semester went. I think I'll get an even mixture of A's and B's. I was very happy to learn that I'd earned a 96 % on my Comm Theory term paper. It's good considering I only spent a few hours working on it. If I did really well on today's test, it might be good enough to get me an A.

I'm fairly certain that I got a B in my News Writing course. All of my grades in the class fell around 88-90 percent. If I'm lucky, that'll come to a B +. The way it works at FAU, as well as other universities, is that letter grades are assigned with the option for a + or -. Frankly, it's sort of annoying.

I know I'll get an A in my Lit class. Professor Peck likes me, so if I'm anywhere near close, he'll bump me to an A. I'm doing some final touches on a paper due tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, online poker has stunted my progress this evening. "The Dumb Waiter" is the drama piece that I have to work on. Really, a B should suffice in earning me that coveted A.

I'll also get an A in my Poly Sci class.

Today (or yesterday, as it may be), I had to give a presentation in my News Writing class. I started stammering and it wasn't a pleasant experience. I have a difficult time giving speeches and the sort. It may have helped had I actually prepared my delivery beforehand. Nevertheless, I got the job done. The speech isn't a big part of the paper grade.

Next semester will be a bit tougher. Fortunately, I have the same teacher that I had for all of this term's journalism couses. Without putting in a lot of effort, I got fairly good grades. If I really commit myself, I have no doubt I can get more A's.

Fall 2004 is a semester that may or may not require a more detailed post. The academic year was disrupted by the two hurricanes that came through Palm Beach County. On a more personal note, I set out this semester to be more outgoing and talkative in class. I feel I made strides and have grown as a person since my Freshman year. I feel fortunate to have come across a number of very nice people, some of which I'll remain in contact with after the semester has terminated.

Funny story to end with for today. As our News Writing class was nearing its close, this rather good looking girl came over and wanted to talk with me. I assumed it was something about the presentation I gave, which was on Ralph Nader's visit to Florida. To my surprise, the girl is actually a member of the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad. She noticed that I was always wearing my Dolphins jerseys and hats. So she had the cheerleading unit sign a picture and personalize it for me. It's sort of a little thing, but it was a nice gesture. She was appreciative that people are still showing support for the spiraling franchise.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Weekly Fight Post

Last week, I began to pick the bigger boxing fights of the weekend. In case anybody cares, I went 4-0.

Rocky Juarez vs. Guty Espadas
My Pick: Juarez UD (Unanimous Decision)
Result: Juarez KO2 (2nd Round KO)
Comment: Surprised that Juarez won by such an easy KO. Rocky isn't known as a big power puncher.

Jermain Taylor vs. William Joppy
My Pick: Taylor by UD
Result: Taylor by UD
Comment: Taylor won every round and completely dominated the fight.

Jose Luis Castillo vs. Joel Casamayor
My Pick: Castillo by UD
Result: Castillo by SD (Split Decision)
Comment: Very close fight. IMO, Castillo edged it out by a round.

Jeff Lacy vs. Omar Sheika
My Pick: Lacy by 9th Round KO
Result: Lacy by UD
Comment: Lacy barely survived this one. Five of the first six rounds were all Sheika. The last six were Lacy's. Hence the 115-113 scorecard.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Gary St. Clair
My Pick: Pacquiao by 2nd Round KO
Result: Apparently, the fight wasn't until this weekend. And the opponent is some guy named 3K-Battery.

For anyone with fight knowledge, this wasn't a tough set of picks. The only toss-up was Castillo vs. Casamayor.

Now, onto this weekend's fights.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Vitali Klitschko vs. Danny Williams... Klitschko by 3rd Round KO
Anybody who's in the area and wants to watch this fight, I'm getting it on PPV. It's always a special night when the true, legitimate Heavyweight Championship of the World is on the line, as it is in this fight. I really don't see Klitschko having too many problems in this one. Danny Williams' claim to fame is beating up an old Mike Tyson. The one thing Williams showed is that he could take a punch. Although I'll be rooting for Williams, I expect Klitschko to take care of business early.

Miguel Cotto vs. Randall Bailey... Cotto by UD
Cotto has to be careful. Bailey always has that puncher's chance. Other than that proverbial puncher's chance, Bailey hasn't been at world class level for quite some time.

Carlos Hernandez vs. Juan Carlos Ramirez... Hernandez by UD
Hernandez isn't enough of a puncher to score the KO. Still, he's enough of a boxer to take care of the aging Ranchero Ramirez.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Week 13: Picks Summary

My record:
Week 1: N/A
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 7-7
Week 4: 6-8
Week 5: 8-6
Week 6: 9-5
Week 7: 7-7
Week 8: 8-6
Week 9: 7-7
Week 10: 8-6
Week 11: 13-3
Week 12: 12-4
Week 13: 10-6

Total: 104 W, 72 L, 59 %

St. Louis 16, San Francisco 6 W
Buffalo 42, Miami 32 W
Carolina 32, New Orleans 21 W
New York Jets 29, Houston 7 W
Tampa Bay 27, Atlanta 0 L
Cincinnati 27, Baltimore 26 L
Chicago 24, Minnesota 14 L
New England 42, Cleveland 15 W
Detroit 26, Arizona 12 W
Indianapolis 51, Tennessee 24 W
Kansas City 34, Oakland 27 W
San Diego 20, Denver 17 L
Washington 31, New York Giants 7 L
Philadelphia 47, Green Bay 17 W
Pittsburgh 17, Jacksonville 16 W
Dallas 43, Seattle 39 L

Saturday, December 04, 2004

My Family Part I: Tim

The title of this post might be a little misleading. As of now, this is my first and only installation of “My Family”. While I may have more to write in the future, there are no other stories currently in reserve.

I post about Tim primarily as a follow-up to the story about last Friday’s poker night. Overall, my post and that experience placed him in a relatively unfavorable light. Although I didn’t distort anything I said, I hope I didn’t come off as overly angry or petty. Yes, I was upset that night over the damage inflicted on my beloved bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And I felt he did renege on a deal that would have paid me an additional $5. I won’t rehash that night. Inquiring minds can look a few posts back and see the full account of the evening’s happenings.

Briefly, for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’ll sometimes refer to Tim as my stepbrother. Technically, he’s the son of my mother’s ex-boyfriend Gary. No legal marriage ever took place so there is no legal relationship between myself and any members of the Fultz family. Not that I don’t think of them as family, but he’s not my stepbrother. Enough with the technicalities.

Tim entered my life around my 5th Grade year in elementary school. That means I’ve known Tim for about ten years now. When I first met him, he was a rather belligerent kid. He was in his early teens and took great pleasure out of annoying me. I remember all the times he’d run in the house quickly just to sit in my preferred chair. For a year or two, he was a real son of a bitch to me. It was Tim’s personality to try and be as aggravating as any human being could be. Even though he is three years older than me, I always had him beat in maturity.

Of course, we had some good times. My earliest fond memories were of us playing “Mario Andretti Racing” and “Coach K Basketball” on the Sega Genesis system (or at least I think it was Sega, maybe Playstation I). I know it’s a little thing, but there were times when he was really good to me.

To understand who Tim is, one must look at his upbringing in life. Since I’ll probably end up making this a “friends only post”, I’ll share the tragic loss that he had as a child. His mother died in a car accident when he was just entering his teenage years. I’ll never forget something Gary told me long ago. Gary talked about having to notify Tim that his mother had been seriously injured and her chances of survival were nil. In the end, it was Gary who made the decision to pull the life support from his wife. Tim told Gary, “You know I love you Dad, but she was my favorite person in the world.” I think that sums up how most young boys feel about their mother.

I didn’t post that to elicit sympathy from Tim or to rationalize his failings in life. Many people have had terrible upbringings and found a way to succeed. It’s only to give background information and try to paint the picture of Tim’s life. I’ll refrain from psychoanalyzing, but the subject of his mother comes up a lot, especially when he’s been drinking.

Tim’s life wasn’t great leading up to his legal problems. He did very poorly in school and made life hell for teachers and students alike. One of Gary’s failings as a parent was allowing Tim to remain in school when he clearly was unwilling to commit to getting even passing grades.

When Tim was 16, he and his cronies broke into an abandoned house in Jupiter Farms. There’s no disputing the fact that he and his buddies were in the wrong. Unfortunately for Tim, he messed with the wrong guy. The victim of his aggression decided to seek justice and Tim received ten years probation along with one-year house arrest. I think that the sentence was overly harsh. To this day, his legal conviction is something that causes Gary great guilt. Confident that the system would go easy on Tim, Gary didn’t seek out the best legal advice. Without a solid legal foundation, he got a sentence that wasn’t commensurate with the crime committed.

This was a turning point in Tim’s life. He faced a decision as to whether he’d accept his fate and try harder, or simply rebel even worse and face unpleasant consequences. Tim took the latter road. Even though the terms of his probation forbade it, Tim decided that he’d keep on smoking marijuana. Each month he’d get tested, and if he failed it would be prison. That happened on one occasion. In another instance, he took off his ankle bracelet and left the neighborhood. The probation officer was none to pleased and sent him back to the pokey. All in all, Tim probably spent three years in jail or prison at various times in his teens. The moral of this story is that Tim refused to comply with authority even when doing so took away his freedom.

No story about Tim is complete without discussing his girlfriend Loren. She’s been with him for over four years now, beginning during the days he still frequented prison. This is a love story gone tragically wrong. I’m not lying when I say that the police have visited Heather Street six times in the past year on account of her theatrics. One time she was Baker Acted and taken to a psych ward for observation.

The event that stands out in my mind the most was the night of January 26, 2002. That was the infamous day when the much ballyhooed French windows came crashing in. For years, nobody believed that it actually happened. Tim and Loren began quarreling that night and it transpired for hours. I was sitting in my living room watching the Shane Mosley vs. Vernon Forrest boxing match, which Forrest won by shocking Unanimous Decision. Shortly after the fight, I heard this loud scream and a portable telephone came flying through the windows, nearly hitting me. Tim and Loren did their best to clean up the mess, but it wasn’t soon enough. Gary and my Mom were on their way home from a Toby Keith concert at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre. It wasn’t a pleasant scene when they walked in the door and saw Tim and Loren with a broom cleaning up glass.

I wish I could more vividly bring to life this story of a troubled family member. I think you kind of have to live it to understand it. The most recent years of Tim’s life have remained troubled, although free of legal entanglements. Two years ago he moved out of our residence and currently resides in an apartment off of Northlake Boulevard. He’s had various jobs off and on, but rarely keeps a steady one. It’s only because of Loren that he doesn’t go broke and have to come begging to Gary for help.

The personal relationship between Tim and I remains cordial. He’s not the kind of person I want to be closely involved with. Evidenced by some of his dealings last Friday, it’s probably best to keep a certain amount of distance. I’d hate to be present when the inevitable shit hits the fan. And it will, some day, at some time. I try to keep in contact at least once a week. I’ll call him on the holidays and get together every few weeks or so. I believe that Tim does care about me and would be there if I ever needed anything. I wouldn’t categorize the relationship as exceedingly close, but there is a genuine amount of respect and compassion for one another.

There is a certain amount of sadness I feel when looking at Tim’s life. I know for a fact that he is a very smart man. In addition, he doesn’t have the exterior of a convicted felon. This is a person who, if he put his mind to it, could do almost anything he wanted to in life. I believe Tim has never gotten over what happened with his mother over a decade ago. Some would argue he uses it as a crutch, but I genuinely feel he was never able to work through his feelings.

I recall something that happened this past 4th of July. For the first time since her death, Tim was able to go out to the cemetery and visit her grave. This took place with Loren around 4:00 in the morning. I wasn’t aware that he had never once been to the gravesite. I remember to this day listening to Loren tell me this story, with tears flowing down her cheeks in the Quarterdeck Restaurant. Selfishly, I wish I had been there to see the first glimpse into the real Tim. He does a great job at hiding his feelings and making people feel distant from him. Sometimes, it takes years to get a look into someone’s heart and soul. I believe that moment came on the 4th of July when Loren witnessed Tim approaching the headstone.

In all my relationships, I try to see what I can learn from the mistakes of others. The biggest thing I’ve learned is the importance of dealing with one’s feelings. I could talk about the pitfalls of a poor work ethic, or the fact that Tim believes the world owes him something. However, that ignores the biggest culprit behind Tim’s shortcomings as an individual. The inability to deal with his feelings is something that scares me. I write on this Live Journal in large part to deal with my thoughts and feelings. Tim dealt with his feelings by putting on a gruff exterior and refusing to let anyone penetrate his guard. It’s why I can’t say that I know the real Tim, although I’ve seen bits and pieces of it. Nobody, no matter how strong they are, can ever “get over” a traumatic event like the premature death of a parent or close relative. On the other hand, it is possible to work through these things and try to emerge a better and more resolute person.

So, there you have it. I felt it important to take the time to write a little more about Tim. Besides my father, Bob, Tim is the most puzzling figure in my family. It would take a degree in psychiatry to work through the complexities in their lives. The most interesting aspect of our relationship is how our differing lives converged. Tim is the kind of person I would probably never associated with if we weren’t related. And Tim could say the same thing about me. I’m a fairly reserved and quiet individual, while Tim is more on the wild side. Though our personalities couldn’t be more different, I’m proud of the relationship we have forged. No matter how upset I might get with him, I take a step back and say to myself – Tim is Tim. I can’t blame him for being who he is. So when he drinks ¼ of my bottle of JD or shows blatant disregard for the rules of poker, I don’t hold him accountable. I am the one culpable for putting me in that kind of situation.

I’ll conclude by reiterating a theme I referenced earlier. In the (extended) Sias family, Tim is the black sheep. In the (extended) Fultz family, that black sheep would be I.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Sports News

Usually, I try and refrain from posting a lot about sports. Sure, I do my weekly NFL picks and recaps, but I keep other miscellaneous entries to a minimum. However, there's a lot of big news this week that I wanted to comment on. Instead of writing a few little entries, I've combined my thoughts into a single post.

Barry Bonds/Jason Giambi - Jason Giambi, a day ago in the spotlight, has taken a back seat to the allegations against Barry Bonds. Coming as a surprise to few, Bonds admitted that he used a steroid cream during the 2003 season. Frankly, I don't believe for a minute that Bonds "unknowingly" used the steroid. At the very best, Bonds is guilty of gross negligence. It's implausible that Bonds, an admitted health junkie, would be unaware of substances he put into his body. I see two scenarios. One, Bonds was aware of what trainer Greg Anderson gave him and is lying about it. Or secondly, he knew something was fishy but never inquired about it. He may have been trying to allow himself plausible deniability were this ever to be revealed. My take is that Bonds, while a tremendous athlete, knowingly gave himself an unfair advantage. I consider him a con of the worst kind and should retire in disgrace. Because of his disregard for the game, the whole 1994-2004 Era will be looked at as suspect. Finally, it's a shame that Bonds faces no penalty from baseball even if he knowingly took steroids. It takes five positive tests to even get suspended for a year. It goes something like 2 positive tests - 15 day suspension + fine, 3 positive tests - 30 days. Reprehensible.

Urban Meyer - This is a big coup for UF. Meyer spurned Notre Dame, which was considered his dream job, to come coach in Gainesville. For those who don't know who Urban Meyer is, he's the coach who's led the University of Utah to a perfect 2004 regular season and a likely appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. It won't be easy for Meyer in Florida. Coming in, the expectation is that he'll immediately contend for the SEC Championship. The Gators, with a returning Chris Leak at QB, have the talent to compete with Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn in the SEC. I have no clue how good this guy will actually be. I have read up on him a little bit in the past month. It became clear that new University President Machen, the man who hired Meyer when President at Utah, would go after Meyer to replace Ron Zook. I can't wait for next November to see Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks take on Meyer's Gator team.

College Football weekend - Last weekend of the regular season. It looks likely that one undefeated team may not make the Orange Bowl (this year's BCS title game). If USC beats 6-4 UCLA, they are guaranteed one of two spots in the title game. #2 Oklahoma has a relatively easy Big XII title game against 7-4 Colorado. If they beat Colorado, it would take a lot for them NOT to make the title game. However, remember that a favored Oklahoma got blown out 35-7 by Kansas State in last year's game. #3 Auburn has much ground to be made up. They take on Tennessee in the SEC Championship game. Their problem is that a win won't be enough. If Oklahoma wins, Auburn's ONLY chance is to win by a ton of points and hope Oklahoma barely squeaks by. Even if all of that takes place, Auburn still has only a slim hope of getting to #2. My prediction is that all of this is rendered moot when Tennessee beats Auburn and both Oklahoma and USC are victorious. That sets up a USC vs. Oklahoma title game in early January. Another good game is Miami vs. Virginia Tech. I'm hoping that Virginia Tech wins and goes to a BCS bowl game. If Miami loses, they would likely go to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and face the University of Florida. It would be great for Zook to have a chance to go out with wins over both FSU and Miami.

NFL - Two great games this weekend. Green Bay at Philadelphia is a rematch of last year's NFC Divisional playoff game which Philly won in OT. I'm picking Philadelphia but wouldn't be surprised to see a GB win. Whatever happens in this game, Green Bay has the best chance to win in Philadelphia come playoff time. I like how Green Bay is used to the cold weather. I could see them meeting again in January. Pittsburgh at Jacksonville is also a good game. The Jaguars are very desperate, needing a win to save their season. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, I don't think they're good enough. The team that stops the other one's rushing game will be the one to take this game. Personally, I like Jerome Bettis/Duce Staley over Fred Taylor.

I hope I covered all the big news. I like that there are three positive stories to compete with the sad state of the MLB.

Friday update

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days.

This weekend won't be as enjoyable as the preceding ones. Here is a basic overview of what's left for my semester:

News and News Reporting Final Project - I got really behind and I'm trying to catch up. Lacking a better event to cover, I'm going down to the Meyer Amphitheatre tomorrow morning to cover the "AIDS Walk". I'm not happy about getting up at a 7:00 on a Saturday morning, but I have no choice. It's the only decent event that I can cover. It's too late to get sources for other stories. Due: Tuesday (11/7)

Mass Communication Theory Final Exam - This is managable. I have eight chapters to study. I figure I'll do three a day up until the final on Tuesday.

English Literature After 1800 - I have to read "The Dumb Waiter" by George Bernard Shaw and write a four page paper. Of all the work, this one worries me the least. Due: Wednesday (11/8)

I guess it could be worse. I'm all done with my Political Science work. After this, I'm off for a solid month, not to return to school until January 10. There should be plenty of good times to be had over the holidays.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

NFL: Week 13 Picks

This week, I'm doing something I haven't done in a while. In parentheses, I will rank games in order of my confidence. 3 is a sure thing, 2 is moderate confidence, and 1 is a pick 'em.

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams… St. Louis (3)
After last week’s abortion of a football game, remind me never again to pick a team coached by Dennis Erickson.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins… Buffalo (2)
All hope is not lost for Miami. Even with two wins, San Francisco could still win a game or two and give Miami the 1st draft pick. It’ll take determination, but every remaining game this season is losable.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints… Carolina (1)
The Panthers are the hot team in this one, having won three straight football games. On the other hand, New Orleans is maddeningly hard to predict. The good thing is that after this game, one of these teams should be out of playoff contention. There’s not much else intelligent for me to add to this discussion, so I’ll stop.

Houston Texans at New York Jets… Jets (2)
Chad Pennington is questionable to make his return to the Jets lineup on Sunday. Either way, New York is a solid football team at the Meadowlands, losing only one game at home this season. More important than Pennington is the fact that Houston’s run defense is porous and that plays into the strength of this Jets offense. Look for Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan to have big games.

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers… Atlanta (2)
Atlanta scared me in the second half last week versus New Orleans. With their upset loss to Carolina, Tampa Bay has little chance of making the playoffs in the miserable NFC. Quietly, Atlanta is 9-2 and almost assured a first round bye.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens… Baltimore (3)
Think the Baltimore defense will allow Cincinnati to score 58 points this week? Didn’t think so.

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears… Minnesota (2)
While it hasn’t been easy, Minnesota somehow has found a way to win two straight. Moss gets healthier this week and Culpepper puts up big fantasy numbers.

New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns… New England (3)
Same comment at that for Cincinnati/Baltimore, except substitute the name Cleveland and the number 48.

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions… Detroit (2)
The story of this game is the return home for new Arizona QB John Navarre. Navarre was a four-year starter at the University of Michigan. Detroit benefits from having extra rest, since they played last week’s game on Thursday. Emmitt Smith is out as well for Arizona.

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts… Indianapolis (3)
This is the third of three straight AFC South road games for Jeff Fisher’s Titans. I can see this one getting ugly. Lance Schulters and Andre Woolfolk, two members of the Titans starting secondary, are out. Wonder if Peyton Manning gets 7 touchdown passes and reaches Dan Marino’s record in this game?

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders… Kansas City (1)
Just like Oakland was up for last week’s rivalry game versus Denver, Kansas City comes ready to take on their heated rival. I like Trent Green to take apart a mediocre Oakland secondary. Give Kansas City credit last week for hanging with a very solid San Diego team.

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers… Denver (1)
This one comes down to urgency. A loss and the Broncos playoff chances are in serious peril. Bad weather was an equalizer in last Sunday’s upset loss to Oakland. Denver finds a way to jump back into a tie in the AFC West.

New York Giants at Washington Redskins… Giants (2)
Eli Manning is maturing as a QB. Unfortunately, his first two games came against teams with a combined three losses. Washington allows him to get his first NFL win.

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles… Philadelphia (2)
I’ve stuck with Philadelphia every week and been wrong only once. They are playing like a team that will finally get over the hump in their 4th consecutive NFC Championship game. Green Bay, despite winning six straight, will have a hard time in a short week following their MNF appearance.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars… Jacksonville (2)
After a strong early start, the Jaguars have faded in the AFC South. Only with a big upset win here can they manage to stay in contention. Duce Staley should come back for real this Sunday, buttressing an already potent rushing attack.

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks… Seattle (2)
I know a lot of people will look at this as an upset possibility for Dallas. However, forget the fact that they beat a putrid Bears team on Thanksgiving. Dallas has played horribly as of late. The fact remains that after all of Seattle’s recent disappointments, they remain in the lead in the NFC West and are overwhelming favorites to at least make the playoffs as a Wild Card. If Mike Holmgrem is anywhere near the coach people think him to be, he’ll get his team back on track after last week’s embarrassing loss.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Study date with Jennifer

Honestly, I’m hesitant to post this today. I only make this public because some people have given me prudent advice and they deserve the right to know how things transpire.

I talked to her on the telephone for about 20 minutes yesterday. While it might break the bank on my cell phone minutes, it was worth the investment. We planned to meet and study after class today.

Things went kind of weird today. The short story is that there was an awkward moment for me and no formal proposition was made. The more detailed account is more interesting and revealing.

She was hungry, so we decided to grab some pizza at a nearby restaurant. I felt the pizza was mediocre. She liked it, therefore I didn’t complain. Things seemed to be going well at the time. Maybe I should have been a bit more outgoing, but I felt I handled myself well. I followed the advice I was given and tried to learn more about her on a personal level.

We went back to PBCC shortly thereafter to go over some note cards in preparation for Wednesday’s written evaluation. At that point, something happened that caught me off-guard and had me feeling mildly uncomfortable. Out of nowhere, she began talking about how lonely she felt. This was an opportunity that a seasoned pro would have bounced on. Being the relative novice that I am, I tried to respond yet should have been warmer.

The study session got cut short before it even began. I noticed she was feeling nervous and fidgety, judging by the fact that she opined, “I’m feeling nervous and fidgety.” For the life of me, I can’t figure out why things seemed to go downhill so quickly. I don’t think I said or did anything too creepy. I know she has been feeling sick. She told me that she had a headache. While that might be true, I can’t help but think she was blowing me off.

I realized that I was dealing with someone very similar to Jessica Burke, an infamous character from high school days at Dwyer. Jennifer appears to mirror Jessica in many ways, except for the fact that Jennifer is more benevolent and lacks the lust for power that Jessica held. Jennifer seems like someone who has lost themselves in endless years of club and SGA participation. The vision I had was one of the young girl in Kelly Clarkson’s music video “Breakaway”. I think Jennifer needs to stop working towards perfection and learn to enjoy herself more. In fact, my psychological recommendation is one to two shots, three times a week, of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey or a Kentucky bourbon substitute.

Today was an hour of contradiction. I didn’t notice the body language of someone who really liked me. On the other hand, the fact that we talked extensively yesterday and today has to mean something. For my part, I might not have displayed signs of interest either. I follow the old axiom, “keep it simple stupid.” I try to do my best not to do anything that screws things up entirely. But I could have come off as bored or uninterested. It’s all part of my problem of not warming up to people quickly. I feel very nervous and hesitant.

Now is the time to reassess what happened today and move forward appropriately. I plan to see if she wants to do lunch again Wednesday. If she agrees, I will finally go in, make myself vulnerable, and make a move. If she doesn’t want to, or refuses to show any interest, I’m calling it a day.


Fight picks

I've decided to begin picking boxing matches in addition to my normal weekly NFL picks. I was embarrassed last week when I erroneously picked Erik Morales to win a unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Barrera. Now I begin the long road to re-establishing my pugilistic credibility. I'll take a couple of big fights and comment briefly on whom I think will win.

If anybody cares to check me, a good boxing webpage is

Friday, November 3

Rocky Juarez vs. Guty Espadas... Juarez by Unanimous Decision
It's been three years since we saw Espadas nearly defeat Erik Morales. Since then, his career has been mediocre. Nevertheless, this is a step-up fight for Juarez. Since Rocky doesn't KO people, I won't predict that here. I expect Juarez to win a trademark comfortable UD.

Saturday, November 4

Jermain Taylor vs. William Joppy... Taylor by Unanimous Decision
Don't underestimate Joppy. Two of his three losses have come against Felix Trinidad and Bernard Hopkins in their primes. If this was anyone short of a Jermain Taylor level prospect, I'd give Joppy a chance. But of the 2000 Olympians, Taylor is special.

Jose Luis Castillo vs. Joel Casamayor... Castillo by Unanimous Decision
Very close fight. Castillo is naturally the bigger man in this contest. But Casamayor is a master technician. I think Castillo is simply too physical for the smaller Castillo. This one could be ugly with numerous fouls. In the end, Castillo finds a way to edge it out.

Jeff Lacy vs. Omar Sheika... Lacy by 9th Round KO
Sheika's best days are behind him. He'll be lucky to make it halfway without being cut. I'm no big fan of Lacy, but he has too much power and skills for a faded Sheika to handle.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Gary St. Clair... Pacquiao by 2nd Round KO
I just learned that 122 pound champion Manny Pacquiao is fighting this weekend in the Phillippines. It won't even be close. It won't take more than a couple minutes for St. Clair to hit the canvas.