Saturday, December 30, 2006

Book Review: "Mac's Boys" by Jason Hiner

I can't recommend this book enough for Indiana fans, especially those like me with no memory of the 1953 championship. It was incredibly well-researched, with great information about the state of the game at the time (coming off the point-shaving scandals at CCNY, LIU, and Kentucky), the opposing teams and coaches, the individual players on the team, and the play-by-play action of each of the games. The play-by-play was especially exciting for me, because I went into the book without knowing which games we'd won and lost, so I didn't know the outcomes until the final whistle sounded. It is full of quotes by the players, coaches, and the press articles of the time. Buy it and read it - you won't be disappointed.

Here's a few anecdotes to whet your appetite:

- Indiana lost 3 games that season, and each of them were lost on the last-second shots.

- Branch McCracken told his players at the beginning of each season to avoid "drinking, smoking, and gambling." This worried the players, because they knew these were three of Bobby Leonard's favorite things.

- The Minnesota coach was Ozzie Cowles, who went to Minnesota from Michigan, where he led Michigan to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance. After returning from the NCAA tournament, here's what Cowles had to say: "We'd been gone for a week, but no one seemed to notice. A couple of days after we got back, Fritz Crisler [UM AD and head football coach] stuck his head in my office and asked me where I'd been. That was when I decided that Michigan was no place to coach basketball."

- Because of the draft for the Korean War, there was an exemption that allowed freshmen to play in 1951-52, which allowed Don Schlundt to play as a freshman. He was a sophomore in 52-53, and (answering my trivia question below) he broke the all-time B10 scoring record a bit more than halfway through his sophomore season. Remarkable.

- Though IU beat Kansas in the championship game, it was that Kansas team that really changed college basketball in the years that followed. Kansas had lost Clyde Lovelette the year before and weren't considered contenders. But they changed the way they played defense and adopted Iba's Oklahoma A&M pressure defense that Iba played in the final few minutes of the game when down by less than 6 points. This was a pressure defense that played passing lanes and guarded players without the ball (and new concept). That year's Kansas team decided to play that way for the entire game and almost road their defense to the title.

- Kentucky was banned from playing the entire 52-53 season because of recruiting violations and point-shaving. Kentucky chose not to penalize Rupp, though. At all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Transferring?

No sooner did you mention the posiblity that Xavier Keeling would be a likely transfer, he suddenly appears out of nowhere. Initially, I thought he was quite awkward looking out on the floor, but last night against Southern Illinois he almost appeared nimble. Sampson must think he can play some "D" or he wouldn't be out there. He might just be a better option inside than Ben Allen. What do you think? SI reminded me of Keady's Purdue teams of the past...the second tier recruits who knew they had to play ferocious defense or had no chance of winning. Those teams always finished near the top of the B10. No one looks forward to playing that type of team...you can't dribble without some guy in your face and can't pass (or can't wait to pass). SI anticipates the opponent will eventually wither and cave, but IU surprised then with an even more tenacious defense...COOL. It's like having a wisdom tooth pulled watching such a contest, but you can't fault the result.
Cookie Maker.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wow, what a frustrating Kentucky game

This was probably the first game this season where I felt emotionally attached to the outcome. I wanted to beat Duke, sure, but I didn't think Indiana really had much of a chance and losing at Duke is not a big deal. Kentucky isn't that good this year, and this was a very winnable game. Plus, it's KENTUCKY. I really wanted Indiana to win.

And what did Indiana do? They played hard. They took care of the ball (11 turnovers is pretty good against UK's defense). They played great, inspired defense (I love seeing that kind of perimeter pressure). They rebounded like demons. DJ White finally looked like an All B10 player offensively. It was a picture perfect game.

Except they couldn't buy a freaking basket. Aaaaurgh!

Stemler, Basset, Ratliff, and Calloway were 0-14 from the 3 point line. But never mind the 3 point line, other than DJ we couldn't make a layup either.

I wanted to throw things.

But it felt good to care. And one thing is for sure - if we continue to play defense and rebound like that, we're going to win a lot of games.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Duke games are kinda meaningless

Just like last year's Duke game, I don't think there's a lot we can take away from last night's game in terms of getting a better read on where this team will eventually end up. This is especially true of last night's game because we also don't know how good Duke really is. They certainly didn't look like the 10th best team in the country, but this time of year it's tough to know.

The thing is, Duke plays such a weird style of basketball, particularly on defense, that it's dangerous to read much into it. How many teams will try to deny every perimeter pass where both players are 30 feet from the basket? Duke's defensive philosophy is simple and effective: you have to drive to the basket on us and make good decisions to beat us. That's harder said than done. That's why Wilmont played 10 minutes last night - he doesn't have a great handle and he doesn't make good decisions. The things Wilmont does well, like shooting 3s, are almost irrelevant against Duke. What makes Duke's defensive philosophy successful is the same thing that makes Temple and Syracuse's matchup zones effective -- it completely removes a team's ability to play their regular offense. It gets teams outside their comfort zone. Teams have to improvise offensively for basically the entire game. It works.

The other thing Duke was doing is fronting DJ White in the post - completely fronting him, not 3/4 fronting, for the most part. For 99% of the teams out there, this would be a stupid thing to do, IMO. But because Duke puts so much pressure on the perimeter, the IU guards were 30 feet from the basket so throwing over the top means a loooooooong throw, and Duke's helpside defense is very quick. Again, Duke was basically daring Indiana to drive to the basket. They effectively shut down all the other offensive options, wriggled their fingers with their thumbs on their noses and said "Betcha can't beat me to the basket!" To their credit, Basset and Suhr did a pretty good job of meeting that challenge.

So how is the offense coming along? We have no idea. What does this game say about Wilmont and Calloway's future playing time? We have no idea. What does this game say about DJ White's future NBA prospects? We have no idea.

A few more miscellaneous thoughts:

1. Indiana played terrific defense all night. Holding Duke to 21 second half points is pretty remarkable. Holding ANY team to 21 points in a half is pretty remarkable (unfortunately Duke did it to us in the first half).
2. The team seems to be starting to display some of Sampson's trademark toughness. It's fun to watch the hustle.
3. Is it just me, or is Mike White about 5'11"? I swear I saw Suhr towering over him in the huddle.
4. The officiating in the second half was much better than the first. That is setting a pretty low bar, though.
5. Mike White and Ben Allen are exactly the type of interior players that struggle against Duke's defense, IMO. Lance Stemler is the exactly the type of "interior" player that thrives against Duke's defense. We missed him.
6. Joey Shaw is a remarkable bundle of kinetic energy. I'm really looking forward to watching him develop over the next 4 years.
7. How many times last night did one of IU's inside guys dribble into a Duke double-team and lose the ball off a Duke player's stomach? I stopped counting at 87.
8. So far, this team looks nothing like the team I expected. I'm not even sure what I expected, but I know it wasn't big minutes and contributions from Basset, Suhr, and Shaw. It's kinda fun to have know idea what is going on. You'd think I'd be used to that by now.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Basketball recruiting budgets

I got my Rivals.com Recruiting Yearbook in the mail yesterday, and I found something in there that absolutely SHOCKED me. They have a little blurb on page 161 about basketball recruiting budgets at public universities (for 2004-05). This does not include anything but basketball (they have a separate table with football recruiting budgets). For the B10, they have information on 9 schools (sans Northwestern and Penn State). Here's the list:

1. Illinois ($230,904)
2. Purdue ($145,395)
3. Michigan State ($132,370)
4. Ohio State ($129,923)
5. Minnesota ($124,374)
6. Michigan ($122,389)
7. Iowa ($99,219)
8. Indiana ($79,645)
9. Wisconsin ($43,309)

So first off... holy crap, Illinois spends WAY more than anyone else. They spend nearly THREE TIMES as much as Indiana, and there's a big dropoff between them and #2. Wisconsin clearly flies coach.

So that was interesting, but not shocking. Here's the shocking part. Here's the same list for the SEC:

1. Auburn ($837,005)
2. Arkansas ($504,564)
3. Tennessee ($460,491)
4. Georgia ($444,861)
5. Florida ($378,256)
6. Alabama ($342,585)
7. South Carolina ($339,328)
8. Kentucky ($297,725)
9. Ole Miss ($286, 630)
10. LSU ($266,360)
11. Mississippi State ($257,797)

$837,005!?!?! What the...? Illinois stomps the rest of the Big Ten, but they come in last in the SEC, and aren't even close to most of the conference.

Let me repeat, Auburn spends $837,005 in ONE year on basketball recruiting and Wisconsin spends $43,309... and Wisconsin is a Top 10 team.

I'm racking my brain trying to come up with an explanation for the differences between conferences on this (and... duh... no, it's not cheating... that comes out of a completely different budget). So far, I haven't been able to think of anything. Anyone?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

To Hell with emotional detachment!

(This is a repost of something I just posted on Peegs forum -> HERE )

Like most of the other fools on Peegs', I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to Indiana basketball. Being an IU basketball fan is part of what makes me who I am. I live in Durham, North Carolina, and I have quite a few casual acquaintances who know me as "that Indiana guy." You don't need to spend a lot of time with me before Indiana basketball somehow comes up in the conversation. ("You barely managed to stuff the turkey into the turkey fryer, huh? You know, that reminds me of a story about A.J. Moye, an Indiana basketball player, and Carlos Boozer....")

I was in a daze for several days after Indiana lost to Duke in the Final Four in 1992. It wasn't just the Valentine-induced manner in which they lost, it was that I just couldn't believe the season was over. At the time, I thought it was all about the loss, but in retrospect I now believe that even if Indiana had won the title, I still would have felt a little empty for a few days afterwards... because I loved that team so much that I simply didn't want the season to end, for good or for bad. In some sense, 1993's loss to Kansas in the Regional Finals was even worse, because that was the end for Greg Graham (my all-time favorite Hoosier) and Calbert Cheaney (who is in my Top 5).

A cynic might say, "Well, duh! So you get excited when IU is ranked #1 and you really like IU's greatest players?! Whoa, stop the presses!" Cynics are annoying like that. But it's not true, my bleeding crimson did not end in spring in 1993. Or 1995. Or 1998. And other players on my list of favorite Hoosiers includes guys like Lyndon Jones and Micheal Lewis (good player, but certainly not all-time greats). The point is that there was a day when the team's performance would affect my mood for days afterwards. Actually, there were a lot of those days.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I'm not like that anymore. It started before Knight got fired and it continued throughout the Davis era. Emotional detachment. I think it basically was a means of self-protection. And primarily, I think it was self-protection from 3 things - the team, the coach, and the forums.

First, much to my surprise, late in the Knight era I realized that I was starting to not enjoy how the team was playing (though ironically the 99-00 season was an exception to this rule). I thought our defensive effort was generally poor, and surprisingly I thought our teamwork was suffering as well. I thought we had good kids on the team, but that doesn't mean I liked watching them play basketball. It was hard to watch significant minutes from Larry Richardson, William Gladness, Richard Mandeville, Rob Turner, etc., and not lose a little attachment to the outcome of games. And even our marquee players like Luke Recker, Neil Reed, Charlie Miller, Jason Collier, and Andrae Patterson oftentimes made it difficult to let myself become emotionally invested in the team. When Davis took the job, I really enjoyed watching our defensive effort the first couple years, but the offense was inmmediately and consistently painful. And here was the worst part - even when the team was effective on offense, it didn't make it enjoyable. Jared Jeffries was a wonderful player, and feeding the ball into him and letting him make decisions with his back to the basket was a winning offensive strategy... and it was hopelessly boring. Again, we had good kids on the team, guys who (if she were 12 years older) I wouldn't mind dating my daughter -- like AJ Moye, Dane Fife, Kyle Hornsby, JJ, Marshall Strickland, and Tom Coverdale. Actually, maybe I wouldn't want Dane Fife dating my daughter (he's crazy), but you get the idea. The last 3 seasons, things got progressively worse, because even the defensive aggressiveness stopped being a motivation to watch. And it's not that the teams weren't very good. I've developed strong emotional attachments to mediocre teams - what generally matters is the perceived difference between how good the team is and how good I think the team ought to be - and style of play. Obviously, I get more attached to great teams (I'm human), but it's not the only factor.

Second, there's the coach. I'm going to basically leave this one alone, because I don't want that to become what this post is about, but in the interest of honesty... late in the Knight era and throughout the Davis years I grew increasingly tired of having a coach for whom I didn't have a lot of respect. I often defended both, but (for mostly completely different reasons), I had trouble coming to grips with the notion that either of them were supposed to be My Guy. That's all I have to say about that.

Then there's the forums. I love the forums. Look at my post totals. But there's a weird sort of dynamic for me on here. I get tired of reading critical posts about the team or the coaches... even when I agree with the criticisms. Actually, especially when I agree with them. If I disagree, I can leap to the team or coach's defense, and obviously defending MY team or MY coach is something I enjoy (though, in the case of the coach, I'd like to have less opportunities to leap to his defense). If agree with the criticisms, then it just seems to double how I'm feeling about the situation. On the bright side, the forum also increases my enjoyment of the good times. Basically, the forum accentuates my emotions in either direction, and when the direction is generally negative, the forum can become unpleasant for me. This is why each of the last 3 seasons I've spent at least part of each season away from the forums and I've stopped watching games. Because I simply got tired of being pissy all the time. I'm guessing I'm not alone in that regard.

But you know what? I've had enough of self-protection. I've had enough of guarding myself against my own fandom. I miss the days when I couldn't wait for the season to start and got depressed when the season ended. I want to live and die with every 3 pointer, every rebound, and every turnover. I want to rattle the house when we hit the game winner, and I want to commiserate with my forum buddies when the other team hits it. I want to passionately dislike our opponent again, and I want to believe that Indiana fights for the glory of the entire state again. I want to defend our team and our coach with reckless abandon, and not try to concede that maybe the other guy has a point. I want to be relentlessly positive, even when maybe the situation doesn't warrant it. In other words, I want to be a fan again, through and through.

People like to post long missives when they decide to leave the forum. This is the opposite. =)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jay Bilas on Sampson's illegal phone calls

Jay Bilas (IMO the best college basketball analyst in the business) had this to say in a recent Insider article on ESPN previewing the Hoosiers:

The penalties that were levied on Sampson as a result of the phone calls are still being talked about, and my sense is that they will be talked about all season. Here is the final word from me on the phone call rule, and Sampson's violation of that rule:

I have seen much written about the situation, and precious little of it accurate, in my judgment. While I respect any informed opinion on the matter, it seems like too many are too quick to repeat what they have heard or what has been reported rather than to undertake some independent investigation of the matter. Here is what I know: Sampson has been reported to have made 577 impermissible phone calls. What is not reported is that the 577 calls were for Sampson's entire staff, and they were made over a 48-month period. That adds up to 12 phone calls per month, or three phone calls per week for the whole staff. Less than half of those calls (233 over a 48-month period) were made by Sampson himself. That adds up to five extra calls per month, or just over one per week.

Remember, Sampson and his staff recruited dozens of players. Some of these calls were when there was a lack of communication between staff members, some of them were when a cell phone call was dropped and the call was resumed, some of the calls were when the recruit called Sampson and Sampson called back, and some of the calls were from a lack of attention to detail. Instead of sending a text message telling a recruit to call him (which is permissible), Sampson just called the recruit. It was a violation of the rule, and that is not to be taken lightly, but it was not the sinister plot it is made out to be. This is not to excuse the violation of the rule, but to explain it.

My point is this: These phone calls were not part of some evil effort to cheat. Those who want to cheat the phone call rule will never be caught because they use a cell phone that is not in their name, or phone cards that are not traceable. If the NCAA looked into any program, it is likely that a violation of the phone call rule would be found, perhaps just in lesser numbers. This was a minor violation that has been overblown. The way the NCAA handled this matter had less to do with the violation of the rule than with how Sampson and Oklahoma responded to the matter. Instead of dropping to their knees and giving the NCAA a tearful mea culpa, Sampson defended himself. That is a no-no in NCAA territory, and the Association hit him hard for it. This is not the last time you will hear of this rule; others have violated it, and we will see whether those cases are handled in a similar fashion.

Interesting take from a guy whose opinion I respect -- and who certainly doesn't have a history of looking the other way when he thinks something unethical is going on.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Camping with the kidlets

The kids and I went camping at Jordan Lake this weekend, and I snapped a few pictures. As always, just click on the picture to view the full-sized image.





































Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tyler's Knight


Everyone should have a life-sized knight in their room. It's like khaki... it goes with everything.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Eric Gordon will play for the Indiana Hoosiers!

I have nothing more to add.

Except maybe a Yeeeeee HAW!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wet Blanket: It's hard not to be jaded about pre-season articles

I'm enjoying the pre-season articles, as usual, but with each passing year I get more and more jaded about these. It's fun because everyone's optimistic and everyone talks about how this season is different/better than last season and how great all their teammates look and whatnot. But it's the same thing every season, and it's the same thing for every team. Have you ever read a preseason article where a player said, "It's a relief because our conditioning drills are so much easier than last year." Nope. But if conditioning is always harder than the season before, isn't there a ceiling effect at some point? And of course everyone raves about the new guys (like Stemler and White) and raves about the guys who need to improve (like Ratliff)... but c'mon, I remember the glowing Cem Dinc articles a year ago as well.

It's even hard for me to get excited about the players talking about how much more disciplined Sampson is than Davis. For example:
"I think that is what last year's team lacked, discipline," said Ratliff. "Last year anybody could say something to Coach Davis and he might kick them out but they would be back the next day. I don't think anybody is going to do that to Coach Sampson."


While that's certainly nice to hear, IMO it says a lot less about Sampson than it does about Davis. In other words, it's not Sampson's behavior that's notable in that quote, it's Davis's. While it's certainly a good feeling to know that we have a real coach again, not allowing players to backtalk doesn't exactly make Sampson a strict disciplinarian. It just makes him competent.

Of course even apart from these articles, we fans are the same way. We start to think, "Well, if AJ and Ben Allen play really well... and Mike White and Lance Stemler are big contributers... and Wilmont and Calloway have great senior seasons... and DJ White is an all-american... and everyone stays healthy... man, we could be really good!!" Well, sure, that's true. And while we're at it we could also wish for a pony.

Yeah, I know, I'm a wet blanket.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pictures from St. Kitts

So St. Kitt's was even better than we hoped it would be. The resort was beautiful, it had a wonderful italian restaurant, the weather was perfect, and we spent an entire week during very little and enjoying every minute of it.

Only one problem - we left our fancy-schmancy digital camera at home and had to make do with a couple disposable cameras we bought (for a magnificant sum) at the resort. Which means the pictures are a little fuzzy and some of them didn't turn out very well but we didn't know it until we got back. I love digital cameras.


Here's a picture of Karen learning how to scuba dive in the resort pool. I ended up going scuba diving in the caribbean a couple days later. Karen got a massage instead.








Here's a picture I took from the ocean looking back at the resort. Then I dipped underwater...













... and took this picture.













Here's a poorly-lighted picture of Karen feeding a monkey at the Turtle Beach Bar & Grill. Karen gently touched one of the monkeys and it smacked her. She screamed. Everyone enjoyed it.









Here's Karen and I on top of one of the mountains near the resort. Behind us on the left is the Atlantic ocean and on the right is the Caribbean.







Here's the view from our resort suite. The hill across the bay on the right is the hill we're standing on in the previous picture.







Here's a gratuitous picture of Tyler and Carson (and Sheila) in front of the house after we returned.














And this is me, bald.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

One week away from St. Kitt's!






Not that I'm looking forward to lounging on a beach while people bring me drinks or anything.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

"The Wicker Man" is good for a laugh

Unfortunately, it's not a comedy, and the laughs are unintentional responses to a profoundly bad movie. It's one of the worst movies I've ever seen. The only reason I sat through the whole thing (other than feeling I was obligated because it cost $8.25 to see it), was because there was an almost perverse appeal to its badness - like watching a train wreck in slow motion, I was almost looking forward to next excrutiating scene. The acting was terrible (even though good actors like Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, and Leelee Sobieski were in it) -- the plot was irritating, implausible, and poorly-paced. And it was directed by Neil LaBute, who directed the wonderful "Nurse Betty" and "In The Company of Men". It makes you wonder how this sort of thing can happen - it's not like this was a B-movie that everyone knew would stink from the beginning. Good actors, good director... awful movie.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Big Ten Wonk interrupts his hiatus

Big Ten Wonk has broken his summer hiatus to post some numbers about pace of play across major conferences, using only inter-conference games in the calculation. Go read it first.

Obviously, given Indiana's coaching situation, there's nothing here specific to Indiana that's particularly interesting, other than noting that Oklahoma (63.7) played at a significantly slower pace than Indiana (66.4). Last season Indiana actually played at an uncharacteristically fast pace for a Mike Davis team.

The Big Ten continues to play at the slowest pace, while the ACC continues to play at the fastest pace (though not nearly as fast as the season before). Also interesting is that neither Florida or UCLA played fast.

Wisconsin's reputation for slow play appears to be overblown.

Now I have a second blog

As if one weren't enough!

Actually, this is a multi-author IBM blog that I helped setup called the WebSphere Community Blog. I'm looking for to it - I think it'll be interesting if enough of the authors participate.

Now you can go read me talk about my job... and get bored out of your skull.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How's it going, eh?



So, I'm in Toronto for a conference and Hertz gave me a Lincoln Towncar to drive around.


This thing is a monster. I don't know why anyone would buy a car this size -- I have to do a 3 point turn everytime I pull out of a parking space. It's longer than our minivan, and has the turning radius of a space satellite. Ugh. As if that's not bad enough, it gets 17 miles to the gallon, so you get to have that on your conscience each day as well.

It's clear I don't know what driving big cars is all aboot.

Speaking of being out of town, we've starting using Skype with a minicam so that I can videoconference with Karen and the kids -- cool! The kids get to make funny faces at me (which apparently never loses its luster), and (other than some audio problems last night) it's a lot easier for the kids to talk to me in front of a computer than on a phone (though Carson seems to have picked up on the whole phone thing quicker than Tyler). And, of course, it's completely FREE, even for international calls. Looking forward to using this in St. Kitt's.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My list of the Top 10 video games of all-time

My opinion only - doesn't include any great games that I haven't played myself. And obviously I don't play every genre of game -- for example first person shooters and team sports games hold no interest for me, yet they are probably the two most popular genres overall. I'd rather mow the lawn in August than play Madden NFL 2006.

1. Fable (XBox)
It's hard to put my finger on what exactly made this game such a blast. The thing that made the game unique was that you decided whether your character was good or evil based on the decisions you made throughout the game, and that was certainly cool. But it still would have failed if they had don't basically everything else right in the game - the visuals, the voice acting, the pace, everything. I've played it all the way through 3 times, and I'm sure I'll be playing it again. Bring on Fable 2!

2. Civilization (PC))
The original turn-based strategy game and still the best. This is the kind of game where you'd find yourself muttering at 3 a.m., "...just one more turn...just one more turn..." The sequels have also been excellent, but there's still a special place in my heart for my first time.

3. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (XBox 360))
Wow. The scale of this game is simply massive, yet unlike the previous Elder Scrolls games, you don't ever feel lost and aimless... and it also seems to be much less buggy. I would find myself exploring the mountains in the game just because you never know what you're going to see around the next vista, and yet the combat and quests are engaging as well. Only a couple minor warts kept this from being #1 on the list.

4. Shining Force II (Nintendo NES))
This was an old school RPG in the mold of Final Fantasy, yet superior in every way, IMO. In particular, the turn-based combat included moving characters around the field of combat, which was shockingly addictive. I discovered this game in grad school and I remember playing it 18 hours a day through Christmas break. To this day, I still haven't found a similar game that is as good.

5. Warcraft II (PC))
I thought this was a pretty good game... then I started playing it online and lost several months of my life. I literally had to give the game up because it was affecting my performance in grad school. Complete obsession. I was in California and I'd partner with a buddy in Indiana to go up against other teams, and every time out it was a thrilling experience with the outcome in doubt. I got really, really good at it (I once took on five newbies single-handedly and they didn't stand a chance), yet there were still plenty of guys online who could crush me without breaking a sweat. The range of skill from newbie to master was enormous.

6. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2))
Forget all the silly media attention this game got because it dared to be unrepentently targeted at adults - this game was successful because it was fun. Tons of missions that were actually challenging, tons of cool stuff to explore, tons of interesting characters... I was disappointed when I completed the game because I didn't want it to end.

7. Master of Magic (PC))
Another Civilization-style turn-based strategy game, it had crappy graphics and no story to speak of. But it was still loads of fun because it had a bunch of different races to play, each with special abilities and armies, and as soon as you finished one game you couldn't wait to start the next one with a different map and a different race to see what would happen next. It caused me to pull many all-nighters.

8. Might & Magic V: The Darkside of Xeen (PC))
In retrospect, this is kind of a hokey game. The graphics aren't 3-D, the story lines and quests were often silly, but this was the first computer RPG game I played that I really enjoyed. I played D&D when I was a kid and loved it, and I thought CRPGs were going to rock. But mostly they stunk... until I discovered M&M, which managed to be cheesy and enjoyable at the same time.

9. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 (PS2))
This is the TW that introduced the Game Face feature, as well as tons of great courses to play. Developing your golfer was endlessly satisfying, and I feel like I know every nook and cranny at Pebble Beach. I recently got TW PGA Tour 2006 for the XBox 360, and what a disappointment -- there's only 8 courses now to choose from, and the Pro Shop system makes no sense. At least I waited till it dropped in price to $40 from it's original $60. I hope the 2007 makes up for it.

10. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP))
Okay, so this game is mostly a replay of GTA III, but what causes this to make the list is that I played it on the Sony PSP, and it's simply amazing to me what that little handheld machine is capable of doing. Obviously, given how much I loved GTA III, the idea of doing a sequel isn't a bad thing to me, and I would have paid money to play this on the PS2. But instead they did it on the PSP and it looks just as good as the original did on the PS2. I wish the PSP had more good games available, because functionally it's an amazing piece of hardware.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck

We watched "Good Night, and Good Luck" last night. It's the story of Ed Murrow taking on and helping to bring down Joe McCarthy. It's a really good movie, mostly because it's so incredibly relevant to events that are taking place right now. It's almost frightening to watch a movie about Joe McCarthy accusing newsmen of being communists and then read an article the next morning about Republicans (including the President of the United States) attacking the NYTimes for being on the side of terrorists because they published an article about a secret program of questionable legality intended to monitor "terrorists". They are even suggesting the the NYT editors should be prosecuted. Scary. Really scary.

Anyway, I highly recommend the movie.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Back to work!

*sigh*

The kids had a great time with their friends at the beach.

Me? I think I need a vacation.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

To the beach!

We're leaving later this morning to go to Emerald Isle for a week. Yee haw!

And I need it. I've been working my tuckus off the last couple weeks on an urgent project -- nights and weekends included. A week lounging on the beach is just what I need.

And the kids'll be in heaven. First, the house is right on the beach AND it has a pool -- their two favorite activities. Second, they both have friends coming. Tyler has two friends, Miles and Brandon, who are going with us today. Brandon is staying the whole week and Miles is staying till Tuesday. And then Carson has Morgan coming up with her family later tonight, though it's still unclear to me whether Morgan will be there the whole week or not.

Should be a lot of fun. And completely unrelated to work.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Carson's dance recital

Carson and her best friend Morgan at their dance recital. We also have video, but haven't been able to figure out how to upload it to the blog yet. As always, click the pictures for the full-size image.





































Friday, May 26, 2006

Sampson

Did you read Bob Kravitz's column this morning? Quite scathing assessment of Greenspan and Herbert. Course the whole article is based on the assumption that we could have had any coach we wanted to.
Mom

Saturday, May 20, 2006

They say admitting you have a problem...

...is the first step to recovery.

Well, we have an XBox360...


... and a Sony PS2...


... and a Nintendo Gamecube...


... and a Sony PSP...


... and a Nintendo Gameboy...


... and a Nintendo DS...


... and we have two laptops and a desktop computer that also get used for games.

Clearly, we have a problem. What problem, you ask?

Why is it taking so long for the Sony PS3 to come out!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Worth two minutes of your day

Click here:

http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/honda.php

Here's the background on the commercial:

People that set up roomfuls of dominos to knock over have great patience. But how about this: a two minute Honda advertisement that doesn't use no computer graphics, digital tricks or fancy film editing. Everything you see
happened in real time ... exactly as you see it.

The film took 606 takes. Usually, on the first 605 takes, something very minor didn't work. The film crew and engineers would then have to set the whole thing up again. The crew spent weeks shooting night and day. By the time it was over, one would think they were ready to change professions.

The cost to film this ad ran six million dollars, took three months to complete (including full engineering of the sequence) and lasts two minutes.

Every time Honda airs the ad on British television, they're shelling out enough money to keep any one of us in clover for a lifetime.

However, this Honda Ad is fast becoming the most downloaded advertisement in Internet history. Honda executives figure the ad will soon pay for itself simply in "free viewings" because Honda doesn't paying a dime to have you watch this commercial on the Internet.

At the time of filming, there were only six hand-made Honda Accords in the world. To the horror of Honda engineers not working on this project, the filmmakers disassembled two of these priceless cars to make this film.

Everything you see in the film (aside from the walls, floor, ramp, and one complete Honda Accord) is parts from those two cars.

When the ad was pitched to senior executives, they signed off on it immediately without any hesitation and commented on how realistic computer graphics have become.

When they found out the entire ad was real (i.e. no editing, computer generated graphics, or trick photography of any kind) the Honda execs were stunned! They had to watch it again and again to see how amazing their product and this commercial really were.

And how about those funky windshield wipers? On the European Honda Accords the windshield wipers have sensors designed to start working automatically as soon as the sensors detect water. (There's a cut off switch to use when entering a car wash).



Monday, May 15, 2006

Home page

I just added Blogzeffer to my home page. Aren't I the technological wizard? Have you tried Zillow.com yet? It's a lot of fun if you can overcome your guilt about being so snoopy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Football game and basketball practice

Still no definitive word on when we're going to the beach.

On a separate topic, we're thinking about flying up in October for the first basketball practice and the Indiana-Iowa football game. As luck would have it, this year's midnight madness is on the same weekend as a home football game, so I figure we should take advantage of that and come up to see Josie as well.

Sound good? Anything going on in October that would make that a problem? (Like a fishing trip)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Carsie's 6th Birthday Party






We had it at Build a Bear. Good times.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Rebuilding Indiana - Part 2

Here's a link to "Rebuilding Indiana - Part 1" from awhile back. Basically I laid out what I thought it meant for Indiana to be considered "rebuilt". My summary was this:

Based on the above, being the best team in the B10 means:
- Winning B10 titles about every other year
- Making the NCAA tournament every season (with perhaps a once-a-decade miss)
- Making the Sweet Sixteen about every other year
- Making the Final Four every 4 seasons or so
- Winning a title every decade or so


I expected to get to Part 2 much quicker, but hey, I've been busy.

Anyway, the second part is asking how long it should take for Indiana to get there. The first problem with the question is that being the best team in the Big Ten is something that you measure over time - not in a single season. So no matter how well Indiana does the next two seasons, we won't be able to conclude that we're back. But since this is all conjecture anyway, I'll just blaze ignorantly along, as usual.

First, what's in store next season.

My guess is that Calloway, Wilmont, AJ Ratliff, DJ White, and Ben Allen will start. That's a decent lineup, but not great. Calloway showed flashes last season, but didn't even play starter minutes consistently until the last 3rd of the season. Wilmont is tough, inspiring, and streaky. Ratliff struggled a LOT. DJ is the star, but obviously we have to worry about his health. Allen didn't play much and was a big defensive liability.

Off the bench we'll have Armon Basset and Erek Suhr as ballhandlers -- Basset is a frosh and Suhr is a former walk-on. I think both will be positive contributers, but not major contributers. On the wing will be Joey Shaw and Xavier Keeling - both freshman, and neither should be expected to be difference makers their first season. In the post we'll have Mike White and Lance Stemler -- both are JUCOs and it'll be a bit disappointing if both of them don't see plenty of minutes inside with DJ and Ben Allen. Which is fortunate because we desparately needed depth inside (kudos to Coach Sampson for effectively filling that hole).

I'm really excited about next season, but mostly just because it's the start of the Kelvin Sampson era, and that'll make it interesting. But I really don't expect Indiana to be anything more than "pretty good". I think we'll make the NCAA tournament, but we'll spend some time on the bubble and I don't think we'll really be in the hunt for the B10 title - or a danger to advance much in the NCAAs. In other words, Indiana will not be "back" next season.

Given that we'll be starting two seniors in the backcourt and our other guard/wings are not especially well-regarded, I suspect that the following season will not be a B10-title-type season either. After that, it comes down to recruiting, and if Indiana is ever going to be back, Sampson has to recruit well. Assuming he does, I think we'll start to see the Indiana teams we desire in Sampson's third year. If not, I'll start to wonder whether we'll be back anytime in the next decade.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A word from our sponsors...

And just when I thought my punk rock music days were over, Green Day puts out American Idiot, which is absolutely brilliant. Idiot is one of those rare albums that is so incredible that it leaves you in awe that such a thing was even possible.

Like Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Everclear's Sparkle and Fade, or U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind, it reminds me that there's still a lot of great music left to be made.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Big Three-Seven

Okay, so that was sarcasm. On the list of notable birthdays, 37 is pretty close to the bottom, I'm guessing. Other than being a prime number, 37 is as forgettable as, um, you know... whatchamacallit? Hold on, it'll come to me.

On the other hand, I'm at an interesting stage in my life. At work, I've finally reached the point where advancement is not given. Throughout my time at IBM, my strategy has been simple. I figure out what is expected of the band above me and I try to do that job. Eventually IBM realizes that I'm performing at the next band level and they promote me. But now I look at the people in the bands above me and I'm not sure how to do that job. Those folks can be pretty amazing. They are either smarter, more driven, more knowledgeable, more politically savvy, or better leaders than I am - and sometimes all of those things at once. Plenty of good employees end their career at my current band level. To be honest, it's kind of a nice feeling. If I do make it to the next band, it'll be an accomplishment that I'd be genuinely proud of.

(Aside: Speaking on dangling prepositions, it reminds me of a good story. A freshman at Harvard stopped an upperclassman and asked, "Excuse me, can you tell me where the library is at?" The upperclassman sneered back at the frosh and replied, "This is Harvard. We do not end our sentences in prepositions here." The frosh thought for a moment and said, "Okay, well, can you tell me where the library is at, asshole?")

And of course in Real Life, Tyler and Carson are both in school now, which is an exciting and scary time. Exciting because you can see them growing by leaps and bounds, and scary because it's relinquishing a level of control over them, and we all know that kids can be mean to each other (except our kids, who are angels, needless to say). Tyler is almost 8 years old. In another 8 years, he'll be driving. That's hard to get my head around. Time to start saving for the 2014 Volvo Impervio.

So 37 might not be noteworthy, but it's not a bad place to be.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Las Vegas!

There are worse places to be sent for a business conference, no doubt.

My room at the Rio is approximately five times as big as my room in Lisbon. I love America. Live free or die! Live mostly free or get a bad cold!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Your pictures are great!

Did you eat at McDonald's? I checked the weather for Lisbon before you left and was surprised at how cool it was (60's all week). Was it really that cool? If so, I wonder why, cause it is farther south than most of Italy. Maybe the Atlantic Ocean current there is cool? Did you send those pics from Portugal or are you home for a day or two? Good news, I received a ad for a promotion for DSL from A T & T Yahoo - I guess cause of this blog - . $12.99 a month for the first year and a full rebate for the high speed modem. The best part is, according to two checks I ran from the ad, our phone line now supports DSL. I've tried to order DSL several times in the past three or four years and each time was told our line would not support it. I hope the internet check is correct. I signed up! It probably will take a couple of weeks to happen. MSN has been getting slower and slower lately so I was really getting disgusted with it. Hurray in advance!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The Castelo de Sao Jorge up on the hill. I was too tired to walk up there. It was "rebuilt" in 1930. Posted by Picasa

Hmmm, something doesn't quite fit in here... what could it be? Posted by Picasa

A statue of Christ. A really BIG statue of Christ. If Jesus had really been this big, he could've kicked Pontius Pilate's butt. Though, needless to say, he would've chose not to. Posted by Picasa

I think this is King Jorge I but I'll need to check my guidebook to make sure. From what I understand, he wasn't green in real life. Posted by Picasa