Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Low

Let's be honest: I am a huge klutz. I don't fall much, but I trip quite a bit; I run into doorframes and doors as I try to walk through them; I drop stuff. A lot.

This problem is exaggerated at work, because I'm always moving and always carrying things. (The very essence of my job is to take books from once place and to put them in another place.) The soundtrack of my shifts at the library is liberally punctuated by the BLAM of books hitting the floor, the CLANG of movies falling over on metal carts, and the occasional KR-THAP-THAP-THAP of items tumbling across a computer keyboard. But today, for the first time, I accidentally threw some stuff at a baby.

Here's what happened. I was putting childrens' DVDs onto the cart where they go between getting checked in and getting put on the shelf. Behind the cart, a little girl who, I'm guessing, was maybe 15 months old, toddled over toward me. I smiled, because I smile at babies and at library patrons, and she was both. What I intended to do was use my hands to grasp about 4 DVDs and then place said DVDs gently onto the cart. What actually happened was that I picked the DVDs up, and then they shot right out of my hands, first up into the air, and then down into the immediate vicinity of the aforementioned baby. Probably three of them grazed her arms and legs. She looked at me with an expression of surprise and betrayal, and I apologized profusely. Her mom came over and was like, "Oh, it's fine." The baby did not cry, but it looked like she was considering it.

So as far as work-klutzitude goes, it's a new low. I hope not to match it anytime soon, but I can't promise anything.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NFL Surprise

There's still a lot I'm learning about pro football. I've never followed it as closely as I have this season, so I often discover things that are brand new to me. But none have surprised me as much as what I found out just now.

So, I've been hearing and reading quite a bit about Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. Here's what his deal his: he's super-rich and he's over-involved. What everybody says about him is that he acts like a fantasy football owner, thinking that if he throws enough money around and hand-picks a bunch of big-name guys, his team will automatically be awesome. However, since he's his own general manager, he can't get quality coaches because he won't allow them any real power. And since he's his own general manager, he won't fire his general manager, who is not very good at running a football team.

When I hear about this guy, I am always reminded of those other too-visible, too-powerful owners, Al Davis*

and Jerry Jones.

What I did not know about Snyder until I read this article this morning is what he looks like.

What?! He's just some nerd?!? Call me shallow, but I think my perception of him has changed. In my mind, he who once was a power-mad ogre is now a power-mad dweeb. (No wonder he likes his real-life fantasy football, right?)

*When you type "Al Davis" into Google Images, the third suggested search is "al davis crypt keeper."
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Third Molars

Tomorrow, I get my wisdom teeth yanked right out of my head.

People keep asking me whether I'm nervous, and before yesterday, my answer was "no." These teeth have taken it in turns to be slightly-to-very annoying for a sporadic week or two at a time for the last few years, and it will be nice not to deal with the occasional problems. So awesome! Getting my wisdom teeth yanked out of my head!

But then yesterday, I watched The Wisdom Tooth Video. This is a "service" provided by my oral surgeon--just go to their website and watch an educational film strip about your upcoming surgery! Of course, there's a whole section about "problems and concerns," which warns you that you may get dry socket, or a breach between your mouth and your sinus, or damage to your mouth's primary nerve--maybe even permanent damage! It doesn't help that the video emphasizes that these problems are more likely and more severe the longer one waits to get one's "third molars" out. (As you age, the roots of your teeth get longer and longer, leaving bigger and bigger holes in your head once they're gone.)

So you may be asking, as one of the librarians I work with did, "Aren't you supposed to get those out when you're a kid? Like, an old kid?" And the answer is, why yes. Yes you are.

Here's what happened: I went to the dentist when I was, let's say 16 (it was in that general era, anyway). This visit was during the very brief window when my Trusted Childhood Dentist had taken on a partner in his practice, and I happened to get seen by the new guy. This new guy checked out my x-rays and suggested that even though my wisdom teeth weren't close to the surface yet, I should get them surgically removed. He even made an appointment for me with an oral surgeon, during the summer so I wouldn't even have to miss any school. Now, you're probably not seeing why this plan didn't come together, but that's because I haven't mentioned two important factors. First of all, we hadn't heard of getting wisdom teeth out that early before. (It turned out that several people in my class ended up getting the procedure done, but they all ended up puking from the anesthetic, and since I was in the midst of my vomit-free streak [11 years, that's right, 11 years without throwing up], I was just as glad I'd avoided it.)

Reason #2 was that New Dentist Guy did not . . . project trustworthiness. That is to say, he both looked and comported himself like a thirteen-year-old. And during the same visit, he advised me to get my teeth whitened because, and I quote, "With that hair and those eyes! Oh! Melrose Place!" (I should probably mention that he had the aura of a cartoonishly-super-gay thirteen-year-old. I was basically getting dental advice from Justin on Ugly Betty.)

So we bailed on my teeth-out appointment, and I just never bothered to make a new one. When my teeth first started to grow in, I mentioned it to a hygenist, and he said, "Eh, they're growing in straight." And my Trusted Childhood Dentist (for he and the young one parted ways very quickly) didn't really bring it up.

Then about a month ago, I had The Worst Canker Sore There Ever Was, Ever. Because, despite the he-genist's assurances, upper righty was growing right out into my cheek and scraping my cheek and allowing the canker germs to flourish. So I found a local dentist and, to my surprise, he did not think it was stupid to go to the dentist about a canker sore, and he wrote me a note to give to an oral surgeon to get my wisdom teeth yanked out of my head.

And now we've come full circle. And I'm getting kind of nervous, not just because of sinuses and nerves and dry socket, but because this is my first surgery ever, you guys. I've never had anesthesia before. How do I know if I'll have some sort of adverse reaction? And one of my friends was telling me today that she had a bad time with her wisdom tooth recovery because she couldn't handle the pain meds. I've never had serious pain meds before either! Also, I am totally going to look a like a chipmunk for the next two days! I don't know if I'm prepared for chipmunkism, much less getting chemically passed out for a while and waking up with parts of my mouth missing and drowning the pain for a few days with still more mysterious chemicals.

One thing I know for sure is that I'm not watching that video again.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unwelcome Company

This guy showed up my work yesterday.

I'm told he's a werewolf and, further, that his new haircut probably signals the beginning of his transformation from were-boy into were-man.

Yesterday, he was set up right by the circulation desk, meaning that everyone who came into the library saw him first thing, and that I kept getting startled when I looked up because I thought an unknown person was standing right there. But then today, Jacob got moved back to (appropriately enough) the teen section. And taking his place was someone much worse.

For whatever reason, Edward doesn't fake me out as much as Jacob does. Most of the time, I don't notice him. (Although just before we closed, when many of the lights had been turned out, somebody knocked him over, and as I turned I got freaked out because I thought I saw a person falling.) On the other hand, every time I turned that corner, I got sneered at.

Yeah. Right back at ya, jerk. (Seriously, that's supposed to be attractive? I do not understand These Kids Today.)

On the bright side, the costume party that Edward and Jacob are around to advertise takes place Thursday night. (As one of my co-workers pointed out, how does one dress up for a Twilight costume party? Or more accurately, if one is already an Average American Teen, how does one not dress up for a Twilight costume party, each and every day?) So at least I don't have to put up with them much longer. Maybe they'll end up as door prizes at the party?
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tournament of Tears

People who write and talk about football for a living all seem to agree--there are a lot of really bad teams in the NFL this year. Let's continue Bad Football Day here at Wisconsin Adventures by taking a gander at them.

Trying to keep Detroit company?
There are still three winless teams, and they've all looked bad enough that it just might be possible that they'll stay that way all season. Let's try to figure out who has the best shot!

Tennessee Titans: Hey, guys. What's going on? You were good last year, your team barely changed, and now you're doing things like losing by 59 points. Seriously. What are you doing? I think you'll win eventually, because sooner or later, you're going to remember that there's no reason for you to be awful.*

My favorite thing about you is the name of one of your cornerbacks, Corteland Finnegan. On the strength of his name alone, he is truly The Fanciest Lad in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You almost won today! Way to go. Unfortunately, your schedule is not congenial. You won't play any of the other teams appearing in this entry; it's really too bad you lost today and when you played the Redskins, because those were your best chances. Sorry, dudes. Maybe you'll surprise Green Bay week after next--my being a fan of them gives you a fair chance. Or maybe you'll get Carolina next time you play them! I hope so. I like you a little bit because you're pirates!

St. Louis Rams: Oh, you could have won today, too. Bless your hearts. You are so bad. Now that the Lions have won a game, you are clearly the worst team in football. A -115 point differential on the season! Oh goodness. On the bright side, of the three winless teams, you have the best schedule going forward: you get to play Detroit and your fellow flailers, the Titans. Um, but they are, as everyone is, better than you. I think you just might join the '08 Lions as an 0-16 team. Good luck!

One-win wonders
Detroit Lions: I'm very happy or you guys that you won a game this year. I'm happy for you that you've put up a good fight in all your games (except for today against the Packers. Thanks!) And I'm happy for you that you get a week off to prepare the Rams. In fact, since you also get to play Cleveland, you may get three or even four wins this year! Congratulations in advance.

Kansas City Chiefs: Hey, you snapped a losing streak by beating the same team as the Lions! (We're getting to youo later, Redskins.) You've proven that it's very difficult to go winless in the NFL, because if you can win, anybody (except, perhaps, the Rams) can.

On the other hand, I'm sorry, Matt Cassel. Too bad that Denver trade didn't work out, huh?

Back on the first, optimistic hand, at least you guys are in the same division as the Raiders (see below)! That's a glimmer of hope!

Cleveland Browns: So that whole Eric Mangini thing wasn't a good idea. I think we can all agree on that. Heck, he isn't even nice, like Jim Zorn.

Lackluster repeat winners
All the winless teams and all the one-win teams are obviously terrible. When we get to the two-loss guys, we've got to make some judgment calls. Seattle, San Diego, and Miami seem more "mediocre" than "atrocious." But these teams are atrocious:

Washington Redskins: You fellows aren't the worst team in the NFL, but the odds are quite good that you'll be the first team to get your coach fired. (Mike Lombardi from the National Football Post thinks the front office will pull the trigger after next week's game, because there's a bye the week after--it would give the interim coach a little time to adjust.) And it's hard to argue with that--the longer Jim Zorn is the head coach, the worse your team gets. I keep hearing Mike Shanahan's name thrown around as your next coach, but he and Jerry Jones are best friends, so I still think he'll be coaching Dallas next year. But we'll see!

Oakland Raiders: This morning on a pregame show, Howie Long got asked how he would fix the Raiders. His reply was, "Well, first I'll fix health care." Ha ha! It's funny because the entire Raiders organization is riddled with insurmountable problems!

Buffalo Bills: I already busted out "bless your hearts" for the Rams, didn't I? Good for you for winning today (I guess the Jets weren't as good as some of us may have believed, eh?). Sadly, it will not prevent you from going 0-for-the-decade on playoff appearances, or keep you from being sold to Canada someday.

Carolina Panthers: Hi, Carolina. I debated whether or not to put you on the list--do you really qualify as bottom-of-the-barrel terrible, or are you just kind of lame? You squeaked in on the strength of two factors: your only wins have been close ones and against fellow bottom-dwellers Washington and Tampa Bay; and you have Jake Delhomme as your quarterback. Jake, you've gotten a little better since your jaw-dropping performances in last season's finale and this season's opener (11 turnovers in two games! By one person!), but your 3:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't exactly erasing those games from our memories.

So! There are our contenders--who will take home the hotly contested title of Worst Team of 2009? We'll continue to follow this ten-team showdown throughout the season. (The regular season, of course, since this third of the league has pretty much already disqualified themselves from the playoffs.)

*In Bill Simmons' column this week, he shared a theory that one of his readers emailed him: "Counting last year's playoffs, Tennessee has lost six straight ever since fat LenDale and the boys disrespected the Terrible Towel. This follows Carson Palmer's total knee blowout and failure to return to form along with two atrocious seasons for the Bengals after they stomped on the Towel (they're just coming back)." I find that very convincing. Clearly, the Aggies just need to get their opponents to trample on Twelfth Man towels, and we'll be all set.
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I've seen, listened to, or simply read the post-mortem of many terrible Aggie games in my time.

The Texas Tech game in 2002, an overtime loss 48-47 caused by two missed extra points (one to send it to overtime and one to lose in overtime), stands out for me because when I was yelling as part of the Twelfth Man, I'd usually lose my voice a little bit the next day; after that game it was gone for most of the week. But that was a loss of the "heartbreaker" variety--it hurts because your team was so close to winning instead of losing.

Just last year, there was the Arkansas State game, where we got beaten by a team that we really should have outclassed. That was an "unpleasant surprise" loss, because there shouldn't have been a reason to doubt that your team would win.

But of course, there was also the King of Hideous Aggie Losses: Oklahoma '03. That game lives in infamy among Aggie fans as "0-77." That's one that experts agree falls into the category of "humiliating."

So where in the Horrible Aggie Loss pantheon does last night's humiliating surprise in Manhattan belong?

Look: I wasn't wrong about K-State being bad. They're real bad. Two of their wins are over FCS (I-AA) teams--nobody else even schedules two FCS teams, because only one counts as a real "win" when it comes to being bowl-eligible. Their other win before last night was by one over perennial Big XII bottom-dweller Iowa State. As for their losses, they managed to lose to a cupcake Louisiana Tech team, only put up three field goals against the mediocre UCLA, and got destroyed by Texas Tech. They are who we thought they were.

And this is why I'm not "angry," per se, about what happened when the Ags played K-State yesterday. I'm . . . I'm super confused.

I don't believe that that game was representative of who the '09 Aggies are, either. They took care of business against non-BCS teams, and they lost to their two previous BCS opponents, which is exactly what I expected. The loss to Arkansas was pretty bad (although the Ags put together an OK first quarter), but it turns out that Arkansas is pretty good. Did you notice they were within reach of beating Florida yesterday? They were. And even considering the big-name players Oke State was missing, the Ags' performance against them was surprisingly good.

So what turned last night's game int a swirling vortex of horror? A few things to consider: it was the Aggies' first true road game, which might have been unnerving for a team as young as they are. It was a little colder than they're used to . . . maybe that hurt? The Wildcats were playing with hurt feelings after their Tech beat-down, so they probably took it out on the Ags. And maybe our special teams just aren't any good--most of what went wrong for the Aggies, if it wasn't about turnovers, was caused by bad field position.

But, to be honest, I think a lot of it was luck. Luck is always important in football; usually it splits about 50-50, but sometimes one team is demonstrably luckier than they other team, and so wins the game. Last night, the luck was 100% in K-State's favor and 0% for A&M. They started the game making weird mistakes and having things go totally wrong, and it just didn't stop.

I read a blog entry last night entitled "In the name of all that is decent, how can Texas A&M go on?" It's a pretty fair assessment of how awful that game was, until the end where he decides that the A&M team has given up on the season. Obviously, the Ags gave up at some point last night. With how badly the game started, I can't even blame them. But it's too soon to say they've given up on the whole season. Even if you disagree with my luck theory, it's clear that last night's game was an aberration. Now, the Ags may yet give up on the season, I don't know. (The temptation may be all the greater if the Texas Tech game is equally horrible, which given that it's Tech, is very very well could be.) We won't know, though, until we see how and if they recover going forward.

My verdict is that the K-State game of '09 was worse than every other loss that's happened since I've been following Aggie football--except for Oklahoma '03. That's right, second-worst. But I remain cautiously optimistic that the '09 team will bounce back better than the '03 team did.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Rushed Summary

I really want to do my annual Big 12 predictions post, but I let today creep up on me and now I also really want to go to bed. So!

Oke State: loss. I don't care that they're missing guys.

K-State: win. They blow chunks.

Texas Tech: loss.

Iowa State: win. Chunks 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Colorado: I'm much iffier on this one, but I'll go ahead and say . . . win. The entire half of the Big 12 North that we play is just horrible. We aren't good, but they're horrible.

Oklahoma: loss.

Baylor: without Robert Griffin, I'm going to embrace optimism for the second time in these predictions and say win. Keep the streak alive! No Baylor wins at Kyle Field since 1984!

texas: loss.
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Here's the thing about . . .

. . . Ellen on American Idol. I can't imagine her and Simon Cowell in the same room together. Much less on the same show, much less sitting next to each other on the judging panel and interacting. It's just weird. They're opposites, and not in the way that Simon and Paula are opposites, where it's like they're opposite sides of the same coin. It's not black vs. white opposite where it's two versions of the same thing, it's like table vs. the abstract concept of human dignity opposite, where they really have nothing in common. I mean, I feel like the only thing Ellen and Simon would have in common is agreement on the hotness of Portia di Rossi. And seriously, who would that exclude? (What? I'm just saying, Portia di Rossi is objectively very pretty.) It's going to be weird.

. . . Jon Gosselin. Not since Britney have we seen someone so utterly destroy natural public opinion in favor of them against their ex. Nobody liked Kate, she's mean. (Although I never liked Jon, either. Their relationship reminds me of that line from Knocked Up: "You think that just because you don't yell, that you're not mean." Jon was just passive-aggressively mean. [While Kate is aggressively mean.]) So you would have assumed that when (not if, when--those two were never a good couple, and I don't believe for a second that it was the fame that ruined their marriage; it was pre-ruined) they broke up, everybody would sympathize with Jon. But no! Jon has gone out of his way to be a sleazeball, to the extent that TLC dumped him, announcing they were changing the show to Kate Plus Eight. But now, COINCIDENTALLY, Jon has decided that having their lives filmed is harmful to his kids, and he's not going to allow it.

I hope that TLC throws up their hands and gives in to him, ending the show. This is an instance where the ends justify the means--yes, Jon is just continuing to be a petty, self-centered sleaze, but it's worth indulging his fit if it means that those poor little moppets don't have to be on TV all the time anymore. It's just not good for them.

. . . Jerrod Johnson. In case you didn't see my link on Facebook, here it is again: I really want you to read this story about Jerrod, even if you're not an Aggie football fan. It'll warm your heart, I promise. Anyway, the Facebook link got me into a couple minor debates, which I will elaborate on here. They are both on the same subject: do Jerrod's current stats mean anything? Here are the stats in question:

Comparisons? He averages twice as many passing yards (320.3 to 160.7) as Tebow.

He has three times more rushing yards (196 to 61), more rushing touchdowns (4 to 1) and a higher passer rating (167.0 to 150.9) than McCoy.

He's thrown more touchdown passes (9), with a higher completion percentage (67.5), than Ryan Mallett, Jacory Harris and Terrelle Pryor.

He averages more total offense per game (385.6) than Taylor Potts, Jimmy Clausen and Todd Reesing. His passer rating is higher than Case Keenum's, Zac Robinson's and Max Hall's. He accounts for more points per game (26.0) than any other player in America. He ranks in the top 11 nationally in every passing category, as well as in total offense (third behind quarterbacks Greg Alexander of Hawaii and Case Keenum of Houston).

Now, since all these impressive numbers have been put up against decided non-powerhouses New Mexico, Utah State, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham, can they really be meaninful? My answer, in response to some "no"s, is a cautious "yes."

First of all, since it's so early in the season, many of the quarterbacks Jerrod's being compared to have also played easy schedules. Yes, Colt McCoy has played Texas Tech, but he's also Louisana-Monroe, Wyoming, and UTEP. Tim Tebow had to play Tennessee's tough defense, and down-year but SEC-member Kentucky, but he also got to rack up numbers against Charleston Southern and Troy. Case Keenum has had much tougher opponents than Jerrod, but Greg Alexander has faced teams just as weak as Jerrod has.

Secondly, if you compare how the Aggies' three opponents have done against their other opponents, the Aggies still seem to look pretty good. Unfortunately for this exercise, only one member of this group of "opponents' opponents" is also a member of the set of "teams the Aggies could aspire to be like," and that's Utah. Utah won't have another undefeated season this year, but they're pretty good; after last week's loss to Oregon, they're no longer ranked, but are still receiving votes in both polls. Utah and Texas A&M have both played Utah State. The Utes put up 519 total yards with 286 yards passing. Their quarterback, Terrance Cain, threw two touchdowns and one interception. The Aggies put up 573 total yards with 322 yards passing; Jerrod threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions. I know that Terrance Cain isn't in the Heisman discussion. I'm not saying that these stats mean a lot, I'm just saying that they don't mean nothing.

Finally, and most importantly for me, Jerrod's (and by extension, the Aggies') excellent offensive numbers at least mean that the Ags are far beyond where they were last year. Last year, the opening loss to Arkansas State defined the whole season. It showed that the Ags couldn't be relied upon to beat the little guys, much less avoid embarrassment at the hands of the big guys. This year is already different. Beating up on the little guys doesn't mean we'll beat any of the big guys, but in instills a legitimate hope that we won't get humiliated playing the likes of t.u. and Oklahoma. Right now, that and having a shot at a bowl berth are all I'm really hoping for.
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