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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Baker's Dozen

Why is a baker's dozen 13 of something? I think it should be 11. I realized this today as I was making cookies...for every 12 I put into the oven, only 11 made it into the cookie jar. Warm and gooey cookies are just too good to resist, and I wouldn't blame any baker for eating a few of them soon after they come out of the oven. Finishing with groups of 11 is easy - put 12 on the cookie sheet (which fits really well, 3 rows by 4 columns), bake them, take them out, eat one, and put the other 11 in the cookie jar. How could you end up with 13? Put 14 on each cookie sheet? What's that, 2 rows by 7 columns? That wouldn't fit most cookie sheets very well. A checkerboard pattern of 3-2-3-2-3 might fit pretty well, but that is exactly 13, so then you can't eat any of them. As the baker in this case, I find this unacceptable. I suppose you could just make as many cookies as the batch allows, then eat however many it takes to leave youself with a total that is a multiple of 13 - like making 60 cookies and eating 8 of them for 4x13=52 cookies. But to do that you'd probably have to wait until all the cookies are baked, and there are all sorts of reasons for this being a bad idea: 1) You might be eating way too many cookies all at once. 2) If by some chance you make 13 dozen (or some other common multiple of 12 and 13), then you wouldn't get any cookies. 3) You don't get to sample one from each "sub-batch" that comes out of the oven. 4) You're never more "the baker" than while you're actually baking, and if it's "your" dozen, you shouldn't have to wait for the final count. Wouldn't this all be easier if baker's dozens were groups of 11? Maybe we could call groups of 13 "eater's dozens", since that's who they really seem to benefit in the first place. Or maybe I should just find something productive to do while making cookies instead of counting and overanalyzing...

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

State of the Union

When you read, watch, and listen to as much daily news as I do, things like last night's State of the Union address take on an increased importance. Not so important that I missed any of "The Shield", but important enough that I recorded the last few minutes of the speech, the Democrat's response, and the ensuing debates on MSNBC's Hardball. So after watching Vic Mackey rough up the bad guys, I got caught up on all the stuff I missed. I'm not really into sharing my own personal political opinions, but I do enjoy the rhetoric of politics and the news.

I've always been a fan of NBC. I don't know if it makes much sense to have an allegiance to one network over another, but I'm sure there are a lot of advertising and marketing executives counting on just that. Maybe it was because I was a child of the original "Must-See-TV" (Cosby, Family Ties/Different World, Cheers, Night Court, LA Law), or because Tom Brokaw is my favorite of the nightly news anchors, but I like NBC. While I'm sure Brokaw and the gang had excellent coverage of last night's speech, I usually choose to watch NBC's second-stringers on MSNBC. The best of those second stringers were on last night for a special version of "Hardball", hosted by Chris Matthews. Matthews was joined by Howard Fineman, who usually gives pretty solid commentary, and Pat Caddell was there for his opinion and comedic value. Caddell looks like that neighbor who wouldn't let kids play in his yard, and even though he's there because of his previous work in the Democratic Party, he's not afraid to point out his party's faults, and he usually does so the way most of us would - by using words like "stupid" or "failure". Oh, don't worry, there are others on the show to make the Republican Party look equally foolish - Dick Armey was interviewed last night and he took to calling the Clinton/Gore administration the "Clinton/Gore Axis". That's one of those moments where somebody's party loyalty reaches a level where you question their loyalty to the American people, or at least their choice of medication. Ted Kennedy made an appearance on the show, and his off-the-cuff reaction to President Bush's speech was 10 times better than the canned response that followed the speech.

I don't really have any conclusions about last night's events...maybe like a lot of people, I'm still looking for more information. That's fine with me, because that's exactly what I like about news - it's a constant stream of important and not-so-important information, and you've never heard it all. In my opinion, it's still the best reality programming on TV.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Sports Roundup

Anybody see the Texas-Kansas game last night? By far the best basketball game I've seen this season, especially after watching that 37-point turnaround that Arizona had on Kansas just last Saturday. Yes, I'm a Kansas fan. I remember rooting for Danny Manning back in 1988, and although my dedication has wondered, they're still my favorite college basketball team. I'm from the same hometown as Nick Collison, so I pay more attention now than ever, and last night he played the game of his career - 24 points and 23 rebounds against a very good Texas frontcourt. Kansas isn't nearly as consistent this year as they were last year, but come tournament time I don't think any team will want them in their bracket. (The same can be said for about 15 other teams...isn't college basketball great?)

Big win last Sunday for the UNI wrestling team as they beat Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum. ISU isn't exactly having their best year, but it's a high-quality win for UNI in any case. I remember taking that road trip with the UNI wrestlers back during my freshman year of college (I volunteered as somewhat of a team manager) and I think it was my sophomore year when Bobby Douglas (the ISU coach) yelled at me for having problems with the scoreboard at UNI's West Gym. I have a lot of respect for Bobby Douglas, but when he's fired up he can be pretty intimidating. Anyway, we lost both of those duals to Iowa State, and all of them since then...until Sunday. If UNI wrestles extremely well we may have a shot at #1 Oklahoma State this next Saturday. It might be a bit of a long shot, but wrestling's a funny sport...

What other sporting events have happened in the past couple of days...oh yeah, the Super Bowl! I wasn't too much of a fan of the teams this year, and the game wasn't all that good, but I had a good time nonetheless. Madden and Michaels always do a good job in the booth, and as I get older I realize how the broadcasters influence my enjoyment of the game. I probably didn't give that sort of thing much thought until Harry Caray died, but now I definitely have my favorites and ones that I'd rather not listen to. This was the first time in a long time where I watched all of the performances along with the game, and even though it involved some artists I wouldn't normally listen to, I thought it was a pretty good show. Maybe choosing Celine Dion (a French Canadian) to sing "God Bless America" was a questionable choice, but stuff like that (the irony, not the music) can help liven up the experience.

By the way, if anybody is looking to hire an entry-level office linebacker, feel free to contact me...