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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Mr. Potato Rats?

Quiznos owes us some sort of explanation, and I guess this is it. This is at least 10 times more disturbing than the Goldfish "until we bite their heads off" jingle...

Cassius Clay ---> Muhammad Ali

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of Cassius Clay defeating Sonny Liston to become boxing's heavyweight champion. If my Ali history is correct, then that makes today the 40th anniversary of Cassius Clay publicly announcing his joining of the Nation of Islam and becoming known as Muhammad Ali. It wouldn't have meant much without winning the title, but in hindsight it is the event that now allows us to see Ali as an icon - something much greater than boxing or of sport. Feelings about the Nation of Islam aside, Ali's step into the civil rights controversies of the 1960's, his refusal to be drafted into the Army on the basis of his religious beliefs, and the faith he still carries with him today puts him into rarefied air. Some suggest his lifelong contribution is equaled only by Nelson Mandela, and most agree that the fact Ali was never assassinated is a miracle. For a time Ali was one of the most hated sports figures in American history, but attitudes toward Ali, just like attitudes towards Vietnam and our own country, quickly changed as we moved into the 1970's. Ali fought the good fight and proved he was untouchable - just like his fight against Sonny Liston.

The Bartman Ball

Thanks to Harry Caray's Restaraunt in Chicago, the infamous ball from Game 6 of last year's NLCS has been destroyed. I watched it live...didn't you? At least nobody is suggesting the Cubs blow up a billy goat...

Interesting that the billy goat article was written right before Game 6. Okay then, at least nobody's talking about blowing up Alex Gonzalez...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Maddux

I'm guessing that I"ve checked ESPN.com 20 times a day the past month (I know that sounds like a lot, but when I'm home hitting the refresh button is somewhat habitual) and the first thing I've looked for is the news that Greg Maddux was going to the Cubs. I just got my wish! Yeah, he's in the twilight of his career, but there aren't too many other guys out there who can almost guarantee you 15 wins a year. This offsets Houston's acquisition of Roger Clemens and relieves me of the grief I'd felt had Maddux gone to the Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees, I think their trade for A-Rod is a good thing for baseball based on the fact that it puts one of the best players in a major market and frees up a lot of money for the Rangers. There might be reasons to hate the Yankees, but when it comes down to deals like this I agree with what Jason Giambi said after he went to the Yankees - "The boss wants to win." Hard to argue with that. Now the Yankees need a second baseman...why, look here...the Cubs have two,Grudzielanek and Walker. Walker's an ex-Red Sox...I'm sure Boston would really like seeing him in pinstripes next.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Rebuild Finished

Last night was one of those nights where you just start working on something and then suddenly realize, "Wow...is it 5 am already?" I finished all my major code alterations today and got everything uploaded. Like I said, it doesn't look all that different, but I'm much happier with what's going on behind the scenes. It didn't all go perfectly, of course - I broke some links by moving and renaming my archives, but it wasn't all that often that I linked to myself anyway.

I've spent a little time rebuilding the pages for my 1998 trip to the Superior Hiking Trail. That was my first real web project - I remember being in the dorms that summer, scanning photos and making the pages in Word. I figure that if I'm choosing to rework the code from my trips because I'm not satisfied with the job done by Word and FrontPage, then it's only fair to remove all the Microsoft-generated graphics as well. I have to admit that some of the sites look pretty decent, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Be prepared for a lot of plain black text on a white background.

I'd also like to get some new content up - I took canoe trips to the Boundary Waters in 1993, 1994, and 1995, and I imagine I could dig up some pictures from those. I took a very short trip to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in 2002, and last October I climbed Humboldt Peak and got some great looks at the Crestones. Now that I live in Colorado I'm not sure what will constitute a "trip" or "adventure", so perhaps that means I'll place more emphasis on building the photo pages.

Speaking of pictures, anybody want to buy me a Canon Digital Rebel?

Site Progress

The improvements to this website that I mentioned a few posts ago are going pretty well. All my pages are PHP and XHTML 1.0, I've stripped out the layout tables in favor of CSS positioning, and the main task that remains is to polish this page and the archives. My moving the archives to their own directory I may be creating a number of problems, but those will just have to be dealt with. Perhaps the most visual change to the site is my changing of font sizes - now, instead of specifying fonts in pt values, I'm using the generic "medium", "large", "x-large" values in CSS. Anybody using Internet Explorer will certainly tell a difference - your fonts are now bigger and their size is controllable by your browser. Oh well, you should be using Mozilla anyway...

Monday, February 09, 2004

Thoughtsbrief

Meet The Press - On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say President Bush's performance Sunday on Meet The Press ranked about a 5. I can't say I really learned anything, or have a keener insight into our president's decision-making processes, but it was good to see him take the questions. His responses were consistent, if not repetitious, and his appearance took back some of the attention lost to John Kerry and the other Democrats trying to put him out of a job. He may have survived Tim Russert, but he'll have some work to do when real debates come around.

NFL Pro Bowl - I passed on the Grammys this year to watch the Pro Bowl, and I'm very glad I did. Instead of being the usual "Let's Hope Nobody Gets Hurt Bowl", this one featured some great individual performances and was a great game to watch. Plus, being an NFC fan, I was greatly pleased with the outcome. The NHL All-Star Game was also yesterday, but I'm just not a hockey fan. Given that the Avs are second only to the Broncos in popularity in the Colorado pro sports world, maybe that will change someday. Don't hold your breath.

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk - Watching Kansas on ESPN's Big Monday is a really nice replacement for Monday Night Football. Tonight should be a good game - taking on Oklahoma State on the road - and Kansas has a good shot to win if they play like they did against Texas Tech last weekend. If Keith Langford plays better than his sub-par performance Saturday, that good shot to win looks considerably better.

Snow In The Kingdom - I'm about halfway through Ed Webster's Snow In The Kingdom: My Storm Years On Everest and I'm very impressed. Webster's skills as a writer and photographer exceed those of most of his peers, and his era in climbing history (1980's) is one that has mostly escaped my reading thus far.

Website Reconstruction - I'm not planning a major design overhaul, but I have a week of break coming up and I'd really like to dig into the guts of this website. My goals are to improve the CSS implementation, move from .shtml to PHP (which will open up many more possibilities in the future), standardize and validate all the HTML (I'll probably go with XHTML 1.0 Strict, but we'll see), explore the use of Creative Commons licenses for my writing and photography, and maybe add some content. Going with W3C-validated code site-wide means redoing the trip sections of the site. Nearly all of them were created with Microsoft FrontPage (even one with Word!), and while it served its purpose for me at the time, knowing the kind of code it generated is nearly enough to keep me awake at night. This would be a lot of work and I'd lose all those fancy FrontPage-generated graphics, banners, and buttons, but if I work enough CSS magic I'll have a more consistent look and feel site-wide, better accessibility, while still maintaining some distinction between each trip.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Ah, so that's how you compete against the "Lingerie Bowl"...

The Super Bowl was a great game, but nevertheless overshadowed by the halftime show. I can add this incident to the already long list of reasons to dislike Justin Timberlake, N'Sync, boy bands, lip syncing, MTV, and The New Kids on the Block. (Yeah, I've been around this block too many times already.) All you need to know about Justin Timberlake's musical ability is that he cancelled a concert due to a sprained ankle. Bet that never happened to Al Green.

I came in dead last with my Super Bowl picks. Blame it on a "wardrobe malfunction", whatever that means. I got the dome being closed right, and then it kinda went downhill from there. Next year we'll have to bet on more non-game related items, like the over/under on the length of the national anthem and the result of the coin toss.

Since I'm not really an NBA fan, I don't find much to follow in the world of professional sports during the month of February. February is a good month for college and high school wrestling, though, and that seems to keep me going. Spring Training is right around the corner, and every time I refresh ESPN.com or cubs.com I hope to see that Maddux returns to Chicago. I think it's going to happen - he's not getting offers (at least publicized ones) from anywhere else, and he'll eventually realize he's not worth top dollar anymore. His agent, Scott Boras (who surely works on a percentage basis), will argue otherwise, but this will all work in the end and Maddux will get a respectable two-year deal. I haven't been good with my predictions, but let's hope this one comes true...

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Super Bowl Sunday

I don't have any particular interest in this year's Super Bowl, but you can bet I'll be watching. This will be the first year in a long time that I won't be watching with my college buddies, Chris and Ecker. Chris was my college roommate, and Ecker (that's Dr. Ecker to you) is a professor in the math department. Every year we'd get together for the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, and other random occasions, but now that I'm 800+ miles away that's not going to happen this year. We still keep in touch and make our sports picks, and I've put this year's Super Bowl picks for all to see:

ChrisEckerMe
First 1st DownCarolinaCarolinaCarolina
First FGCarolinaCarolinaNew England
First TDCarolinaNew EnglandCarolina
First PenaltyNew EnglandCarolinaCarolina
First TurnoverNew EnglandCarolinaCarolina
A Safety?YesNoNo
Total Punts131010
More Offensive YardsNew EnglandNew EnglandNew England
More Penalties New EnglandCarolinaCarolina
More TurnoversNew EnglandCarolinaCarolina
A Defensive TD?NoYesYes
Dome Open/ClosedOpenOpenClosed
Over/Under 38Over OverUnder
NE -7Carolina CoversNE CoversNE Covers
OT?YesNoNo
Best Commercial?BudBud
(or anything with
Cedric the Entertainer)
Pepsi
Bud Commercials1149
Team With More Punts Than PointsNoNoYes
Will QB Run For TDYesNoYes


Chris has made the best playoff picks so far, riding Carolina all the way to the big game. I've been picking against them consistently and am sticking with that strategy now. Oh well, it's not like there's anything riding on all of this - just a little fun and a reason to pay close attention to the game.