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Archived Entries from February 2008


Unofficial St. Patrick's Day

Background: About ten years ago our University scheduled Spring Break so that St. Patrick's Day would fall during that week--that is, when students weren't here. Well, one of the local bar owners, not wanting to lose the revenue that often comes with celebrating St. Patrick's Day created something called "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" and scheduled it (I think) on the Friday before Spring Break.

It was a modest success, and in subsequent years--even those in which students would be on campus for the actual St. Patrick's Day--the event grew and grew to include other bars on campus as well as house parties and anything else alcohol-related that people could come up with. In the past few years it has started to get somewhat out of hand, depending on who you talk to. A few years back several classes were disrupted by intoxicated students. Two or three years ago a girl was killed when she fell off the back of a moving motorcycle (although it was later determined that the driver hadn't been drinking, and while she had been, she wasn't intoxicated...).

Cops are out in force and every year they arrest more and more little leprechauns.

This year the mayors of both Champaign and Urbana, as well as just about every important University administrator, has once again come out in the days leading up to this event and criticized it. They want the bar owners to voluntarily stop advertising it every year, and I think they expect the students to stop celebrating as well.

Part of the problem, they claim, is that more and more students from off-campus are making "Unofficial" a mecca of sorts. Police released statistics last year that showed that more than half the kids arrested didn't even go to college here. And of course the local hospitals were inundated with kids with alcohol poisoning and other alcohol-related injuries.

The more the administrators and mayors complain, the bigger this mess is going to be. I'm sure Scott Cochrane laughed out loud when they announced that liquor stores in town couldn't sell kegs this weekend. It's like when the cops cut the power to the Nakatomi building in Die Hard which removed the final security feature that was keeping the bad guys out of the building's vault. "Ha ha! Now all the students have to come to me to get beer this weekend!" I'm sure the folks at Friar Tuck in Savoy, which is about 50 feet outside of the Champaign city limits, were laughing as well. It's not like none of the students have cars or anything.

The fault, as far as I'm concerned, lies squarely with the Mayor of Champaign and the members of the City Council.

The bar entrance age on campus is 19. Yep. You only have to be 19 years old to get into the bars.

Now, wink wink, that doesn't mean you're allowed to drink while you're in the bars. In fact, the police raid the campus bars, oh, once or twice during the school year. That sure keeps the 35,000 undergraduates on their toes!

If the City of Champaign is truly serious about shutting this thing down, they need to be like the rest of the world and make the bar entrance age the same as the legal drinking age, which is 21.

If they were really concerned about this, they'd have been talking about this for months. But it's only in the few days leading up to Unofficial that they start moaning and groaning and whining about what an evil, awful person Scott Cochrane is for trying to make money under the rules that the City has set forth.

The City and University moan and groan about how much money it costs to pay all the extra police officers. Why do they not do anything about it other than complain?

Because the City makes tons and tons and tons of money because of the taxes on all that beer that the evil Mr. Cochrane is selling to 19-year olds.

If they make the bar age 21, I'd bet half of the bars on campus would simply shut their doors. I guarantee you that it would be the end of C.O. Daniel's and probably Kam's too (and would have been the death knell of my old bar, Cochrane's, as well, but we've all seen that they tore down my old bar....). And that would be the end of the bars advertising for Unofficial--an event that most kids wouldn't be going to the bars to celebrate.

The City has brought up changing the bar entrance age probably a dozen times since I came here in 1987. And it has never come close to happening.

Since the City doesn't want to lose its precious bar and beer revenue, what can they do?

For starters, they could start fining the bar owners when underage kids get busted. Right now the kid gets a ticket and every now and then the bartender--if they are caught in the act of serving someone underage--might get in trouble, but not the bar owners. These kids drive nicer cars than I do--you think they care about a $75 ticket for underage consumption? It's not even a misdemeanor. It's essentially a really expensive parking ticket. You pay it, and never hear about it again. I'd raise the ticket amount to, oh, say, $1,000 and make it a misdemeanor. That might have some teeth.

And while we're at it, start fining the bar owners as well. $500 an incident. The little kids driving the BMW that their rich suburbanite parents bought them isn't going to care about a $75 ticket, and probably not even a $1,000, but tell Scott Cochrane that he faces a fine of $10,000 because 20 kids got busted on Friday night, and I promise you he'd stand up and take notice.

But as it stands right now, how can anyone fault the guy for trying to make a living? He's a bar owner. Bar owners make money by selling beer. And if you present them with a lousy set of rules, and they follow your lousy set of rules, how is it their fault that kids get drunk and in trouble? News flash! Kids at college drink beer! LOTS of beer! Whether they get it from a bar, or from someone in their fraternity or dorm that has already turned 21, or whatever, kids drink. Some drink too much during college and do stupid stuff like drop out of college and work at a bar for several years, but we're talking about my old boss, not about me.

Simply put--if the cities and the University wanted to make this go away, they could do so easily. But they don't want to give up 364 days worth of tax revenue to prevent one day of idiocy. And if that's how they want to play it, I say "advantage--Mr. Cochrane."

I'll have my green t-shirt on tomorrow. I wish I knew where my Cochrane's hockey jersey was (complete with a capital "C" on the shoulder, since, of course, I got to be the captain by virtue of being the boss...). Now, I'm not going anywhere near campustown tomorrow, but I'll wear my green.

Drink 'til you're Irish, me little leprechauns! (And please try to be safe....)

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2008, 9:04 pm
Mood: Happy | 4 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Stereotypes

So the redhead and I are going to violate the number one rule of marriage tonight--don't go to bed mad.

Actually, I'm not mad and I'd bet a lot of money she's not mad.

But we, as we're wont to do, because we're both very passionate individuals, had a bit of a disagreement that escalated somewhat.

We were watching some silly "Dateline" show (or one of the ten other shows that is essentially the same thing) and they did all these public situations where someone bullied someone else and then gauged the reaction of the general public.

After two or three they did the muslim woman in the donut shop and the guy behind the counter wouldn't serve her. And nobody in the general public complained much.

The worker wanted her to remove her burqa. She refused. He refused to serve her.

It's America. Sorry, but he's right.

He owns the business. He can refuse service to anyone he wants.

If he says that he won't serve anyone that isn't wearing a suit and tie, like many fancy restaurants do, then it isn't discrimination. If he says he won't serve anyone that wears a yellow shirt, then it isn't discrimination, as long as he refuses to server anyone wearing a yellow shirt under any other circumstances.

Bars, restaurants, and most other places of business are private property.

Just like my house. If I don't want to let you in, I won't let you in.

Businesses have a bit more of an obligation, but people need to realize that a business in the United States can disallow whatever they want, as long as they disallow it from everyone. If you don't like it, don't go there. Capitalism is still the best model on the planet.

My wife, even if she doesn't believe me, could be jailed in Saudi Arabia (one of our "allies," even) for not wearing a black towel over her head. Jailed.

Don't even start on me that a private business owner can't decide what he does and doesn't allow in his business.

If you are accused of stealing something in Saudi Arabia they cut your hand off. They cut your freaking hand off.

Again, don't start on me about discrimination in our country.

I don't dislike muslims. I don't treat them any differently than anyone else. I'm more irritated with redneck electricians than I am with muslims. But if a business owner in the United States wants to require that people in his or her business don't wear facial coverings, that's their "right".

Okay, let me put it this way.

I belong to the University of Illinois employee credit union.

They have a sign at the front door of the building that all "customers" are to remove hats, hoods, sunglasses, etc., etc.,

Nobody is being racist. They want to see who is who.

Sorry to bring out the angry Republican in me, but if you don't like it, then leave.

I don't think every muslim in the world is a terrorist. I think they're misguided, of course, but I think most christians are misguided as well. But our "customs" (which we don't kill people for not accepting) are a bit different. You're not in "arabia"--you're over here. Lose the damn head scarves.

And if you refuse to do so, don't be surprised if independent business owners refuse to to business with you.

I meant to mention a time when I was running "my bar" (sigh) and we had a policy that we didn't allow people to wear tank tops--they had to either have a t-shirt or a polo shirt--and a loser named Jim Cuthbertson showed up with a friend and they were both in tank tops, and Sweetwood wouldn't let them in.

Seriously.

I watched the whole thing. These two white guys showed up and were refused entry for not following the dress code of an establishment that was owned by a private party. Just because you can enter somewhere doesn't mean it is a "public" place. The bar I ran was private business as far as the law was concerned.

What was even better was that I knew Jim. We played little league together. Years ago. He was a typical "coach's kid" bud I won't even go there. Unless you've experienced this baloney in a Chicago suburb you have no idea.

I knew him when I saw him. And he was a pain in the neck to my very, very polite doorman.

I never had to step in. He was wearing a tank top, and we didn't allow entrance to people dressed that way, and it wasn't a racist thing, and that was the end of that.

Until his mother called the following day.

I answered the bar phone, in the morning (we didn't open until 6:00 p.m. or so, but I had to be there for deliveries, etc., and to get griped at by the main office for whatever drawer was 75 cents off...) and this woman went crazy on me. He son was discriminated against. (Did I mention that he was a white suburbanite like me?)

She was going to sue. She told me! I told her to go ahead. Well, I told her that I knew her son and that he was being a pain in the neck and that yes, we had a policy and that her son was no following our dress code.

We never got sued. I've sometimes wondered what happened to that dork.

But yes, as long as a private business owner makes it clear that they have a dress code, patrons have to abide by that dress code.

And if they don't like it? Go to a different business--one that "economics" will surely make appear.

My "unofficial" rant will probably happen tomorrow or the next day.

.....

Barack did great tonight! And you could tell when Hillary got incensed each time he hit home with her.

It looks like Barack is starting to take the lead in Ohio. Let's hope it really goes that way....

I'm going to quit ranting and go back to watching the dudes on television. What a great "debate" it was tonight....

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 4:29 am
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


School and Such

Well I'm kind of proud of myself. I submitted my application for graduate school back in December, and don't find out whether or not I'll get accepted until the middle of March--a few short weeks away.

And I haven't been freaking out about this. Well, or at least not as much as I have been know to freak out about stuff. I think I've done a pretty good job of just forgetting about it. A few more weeks to go...

Well it looks like the downward spiral of the software start-up that the redhead works for is gaining speed. They're now giving up the leases of all their separate offices and moving into one room. We're expecting that she'll get let go in the next few weeks, if not this Friday (end of the month and payday). Sorry, not let go. "We'll get you back as soon as business picks back up." Don't hold your breath.

And it's all good!

Several weeks back she took "the test" to "get on" at the University, and kicked its butt (she did very well). We have several people looking out for her, but everyone involved is pretty sure that she'll get snapped up pretty quickly one way or the other. And then the final puzzle piece will be in place.

There are people that do well in our University system, and there are people that don't. And it has taken a bit of convincing to get it across that if you try hard and keep your eyes open and your nose to the grindstone and aren't lazy and overly content, that you can move up the ladder rather easily. And maybe in five or six years she'll be an administrative secretary making more money than I do. I'd love it for that to happen.

The most important part of all of this is that the University is not an "at will" employer. Once you're here for six months or a year, you pretty much can't lose your job at the drop of a hat. The Big U isn't going to go out of business any time soon.

I'm excited to get this stage of our lives started. I just hope she gets an offer from the Big U soon so that she can have the satisfaction of quitting before getting let go (although she doesn't care about that sort of vindictive stuff quite as much as I do...).

Well the kids went and saw real live alligators yesterday in Florida. They went to some nature preserve or something and said that at one point there was a mother alligator about 20 feet away and then a bunch of baby alligators swimming in the pond beneath the bridge thing they were standing on.

And then they went swimming again. Meanwhile, back here it is snowing again, with freezing rain coming later today. Lucky little snot rockets.

So when I typed "Meanwhile" just now I instantly thought to type "back in Gotham," like they used to say in the old Adam West/Burt Ward Batman show, but of course, that wouldn't make sense as we're neither near New York nor Chicago. Which got me thinking about something that has bugged me for some years now. I've always thought that Metropolis was New York and Gotham was Chicago, but I think there are some in the DC Comics world that consider Gotham to be New York as well. If both exist in the DC Comics world, how do both get to be New York? Like Metropolis is New York by day, and at night they re-name it Gotham? It's not fair. Gotham should be Chicago.

Anyway.

Jeffy just dropped by to tell me that he's not getting kicked out of his Ph.D. program because of the whole drug bust at the fraternity house situation. Have I blogged about that? Maybe I'll do that later today if I haven't already.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 3:13 pm
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Some Pictures

Well the redhead and I are still adjusting to not having kids around. It's really weird.

Monday is garbage day for us and I went to get the big tote thing and drag it to the street and it was really light so I looked inside. There was one bag of garbage in there. One bag. Normally the big tote thing is full and almost overflowing. No kids? One bag. How funny.

I actually got a couple of good shots of the lunar eclipse that happened a few days back:

While the kids were swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, we got another snow storm. I always joke to the redhead about how weather forecasters always overestimate (or report) anything that has a numerical value. When they say we're going to get a foot of snow, we get an inch. Any time there's a storm with hail, they always report it as golf ball-sized, even when all I ever see is pea-sized hail. "We've even had reports of softball-sized hail." Seriously? An ball of ice that size falling out of the sky would at the very least damage every roof that it hit, and would probably kill anyone that was unfortunate enough to not be inside. Softball-sized hail. Der, okay.

Anyway, last week they reported that we were going to get an inch of snow.

And for once, they were wrong the other direction.

Sorry, I didn't have a ruler handy but I did have a beer can and figured that would offer enough perspective for our "inch" of snow.

As long as I'm going through digital photos, I may as well share a recent picture of the puppy, since most people apparently like puppies and such and don't think it's weird to publish pet pictures on the Internet.

Last but not least... It's taken me a month to compile them and get them in proper chronological order (gee, think you spend too much time writing shell scripts when you write "cronological" and can't for the life of you figure out why Safari is marking it as a misspelled word...).

I mentioned a while back that my awful neighbor cut down a 30-year old redbud tree. Well, he made several attempts to burn the sticks and logs from it, and his final method at achieving success was, well, rather amusing. Check out the other Burninator.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008, 4:35 pm
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


The Final Frontier

What a fun 24 hours to be a nerd!

First I got to watch the space shuttle landing live over the Internet, which was totally cool. They showed the tracking of it, and it really is amazing how much ground it covers in just a few seconds. 15,000 miles per hour--how is that even fathomable? So you've got this brick traveling 15,000 miles an hour, 43 miles high in the air, a few hundred miles from Florida, and you're telling me that you're going to simply land it on a runway? Good luck with that.

I know they've done it hundreds of times, but it is still really awe-inspiring to watch. They had video of the shuttle as soon as it crossed over the coast of Florida, and switched back and forth to the heads-up view from inside the cockpit. Up until a few seconds before landing all that was visible through the front window was clouds. I've looked out the window of a plane before when landing and seen nothing but clouds until right at the end, but the shuttle is no airplane.

They had all the communication between the shuttle and and Houston as well. Everyone was totally calm, like what they were doing was no big deal.

So that was cool. And then last night we had a lunar eclipse. I took a bunch of pictures, but I'm guessing none of them will turn out. If the flash is on it returns a white blur and if you shoot in flash-less mode it keeps the shutter open for a lot longer and unless you're perfectly still you get a big blurry line.

And then I heard on the radio this morning that they successfully nailed that old broken spy satellite with a missile on the first try. Which, of course, is why they landed the space shuttle yesterday instead of a few days from now. "Uh, you know that the space shuttle is up there, right? Do you suppose we ought to bring it back to earth before we start firing missiles willy-nilly at satellites?"

Well the children left for Florida yesterday afternoon. I stopped on the way home and picked up another 1 gig secure digital flash media card for the digital camera I bought the kids (back before they went to Colorado) so that they won't have to share the one that is in Em's video camera. (I had originally purchased a 2 gig card for the digital camera before reading the directions which said it can't use anything bigger than 1 gig--oops...).

I think the redhead is going to have a hard time with the kids being gone. I think it is weird not having them around too (and it's only been a half of a day...) but I think we'll get through this.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2008, 1:55 pm
Mood: Elated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Shields! Shields!

So the local news media is doing everything they can to keep the NIU shootings in the spotlight. And of course, everything they do has to have a central Illinois "connection."

Last night on the news they were interviewing U. of I. students and asking them what could be done to prevent a similar attack from happening on our campus. And we got both sides. One side, the gunssavelives.com people, want every student to be packing heat so that way when a bad guy shows up on stage, three hundred kids can all whip out their Glocks and hopefully only the bad guy will get shot. The other half wants to have metal detectors installed in all buildings.

Sheesh. How many buildings are there on campus? Foellinger Auditorium, our huge main lecture hall, must have 20 ways to get inside. And people realize that metal detectors aren't "gun detectors," right? They detect everything that is metal. Keys. Belt buckles. Coins. Flown on a plane lately? Have fun getting to class an hour early.

Not to mention the fact that these are isolated incidents. Yes, I realize that they do seem to happen frequently because when they do happen it is on the news for weeks and weeks. And yeah, it hits home more since I work on a University campus. I even know someone who was all but in the crossfire of one of these incidents (thankfully not injured or killed). But when compared to shootings in Chicago, or L.A., or New Orleans, these are very, very rare on campus. Read the Chicago Tribune--there's a story of someone getting shot just about every day of the week.

So what do we do? Completely panic because there's a one in a million chance that the next time this happens in the next ten years it happens here? You know, there are 5,236 near-Earth objects out there in space around our planet. 919 of them are classified as "Potentially Hazardous Asteroids." Scary stuff.

Do we build a missile defense shield on the quad on the off chance that an asteroid is going to come tumbling out of space with the message "Chief Supporters Are Racists" carved into the side of it?

Heck with all the kids walking around with iPods (and, well, a lot of kids that are just spacing out) there's probably a better chance of getting killed by an MTD bus than there is from a crazy person shooting spree.

Again, these were awful incidents--I'm not trying to make light of them. I cried. I felt helpless and scared.

But thousands of metal detectors (and the thousands of people who will have to monitor them, of course) aren't the answer. And no, I'm not even going to get into the "everyone should have a gun" argument. I've argued with wild, wild west proponents before. I may as well have been arguing with a wall.

Obama won Wisconsin handily last night and thumped ol' Hillary in Hawaii (the only state name ending in three vowels, by the way). I hope that we're seeing the beginning of the end. I'm not politically savvy enough to be making predictions, but I bet if she doesn't win both Texas AND Ohio in a couple of weeks that she's going to lose, no matter how much cheating and rule-changing she's planning on at the convention. And if the planets align and Barack wins both those states, she will truly be crazy if she doesn't give it up.

It looks like McCain has all but won the Republican contest over Huckleberry, so that's good. Voting for Romney or Huckleberry instead of Clinton would have been irritating (but I promise that I would vote for anyone instead of her--I'm not kidding). I wouldn't lose sleep voting for McCain.

I think I might e-mail the Chancellor with that missile defense shield idea....

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 1:37 pm
Mood: Happy | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Basketball

Well we had what are (we think) the final basketball games of the season yesterday. First our son played down in Arcola yesterday morning. Luckily for us, they are one of those teams who is even, well "worse" seems like too strong of a word because it implies that their team, and ours, isn't very good. Let's just say that neither their youth basketball program nor ours starts earlier than fifth grade, unlike the teams from some of the other towns around here that are a bit more uber-focused on sports. And when we play those other schools, that becomes pretty obvious.

But yesterday we were the better team. And Alex actually played most of the game, including from about halfway through the third quarter all the way to the end of the game. The best part? He scored. Yep, the first time all season. He was under the basket and got the ball and shot a perfect lay-up and it went in! I leapt to my feet and threw my fists in the air. "Woo hoo!" Several of the parents of the other kids looked back up at me with grins on their faces. "That's my kid!" What a great feeling!

Later, in the fourth quarter, he went up for a shot again, but was fouled. Two shots from the free-throw line and he made both! It was great--his whole team on the sidelines was cheering for him, because he doesn't really ever get much of a chance to shoot (and I won't go into, well, some of the reasons for that which don't involve him...).

After the game we hurried back home so Al could change before we went to Em's game up at the school. Em had a great game as well. This was the second time they had played their opponent this year--the first time was one of their earliest games. While the other team only has six players total, they whooped us something like 28-4 in the first outing. Yesterday was a whole different story. Our girls looked like they knew what they were doing,. They didn't turn the ball over (which was probably 24 of the 28 points in the first match-up). And they won, and won by a lot! Em's coach already knew that Em was going to be gone for the end of the season, and I had feared that she wasn't going to get much playing time, but that wasn't the case--she played about half the game like she normally did throughout the season.

All-in-all both games were great, and it was perfect that Grandpa Don picked yesterday to come down and see the kids play.

And I'm glad Coach Palmer wasn't upset that we gave him such short notice for Alex being gone for the last game or two of the season as well as the year-end tournament.

Oh, I almost forgot--duh. The kids are going to Florida for two weeks starting on Thursday with Papa and Gwammo. They're driving down to visit Budge and will probably visit whatever local attractions and parks and such that are within range as well. Alex was initially worried about flying (I know--probably my fault) but they are going to drive because the high school boys' Regionals start on Tuesday and obviously Coach can't leave town until they are eliminated from the tournament (we're all pretty sure that if they manage to win their first game that there's little chance they'll win the second game against the number one seed...) so making plane reservations probably wouldn't have been prudent.

So yeah, the redhead and I have no idea what the heck we are going to do with ourselves without the kids for two weeks. I guess they were gone for a little over a week to Colorado last year, but this is going to be a full fourteen days. Yeesh.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2008, 7:14 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Take That, Uncle Bill!

I made the Dean's List last semester.

Hee hee.

Less than a month to go before finding out about grad school!

In other news, Grandpa Don is coming down today to see the kids' basketball games. Unfortunately he can't stay the night because we have yet another midwestern winter storm on the way for later today.

Is Spring here yet? Oh, just check the little counter to the left!

Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2008, 2:07 pm
Mood: Excited | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


NIU

What the #$%& is going on with the world?

40 years ago parents insisted their kids go to college to avoid getting drafted and getting killed in the war in southeast Asia.

Now kids go to school and seem to be in more danger there than anywhere else.

And I was just thinking of Virginia Tech yesterday morning, for whatever reason, as I was walking from the parking garage to the office.

My mom and dad both went to Northern, although neither of them finished (my mother later finished college a few years before she died...). Both my sisters went to Northern (both graduated elsewhere--Megan from Illinois State and Bridget from San Jose State).

I know that full details haven't been released yet, but it appears the shooter used to be a graduate student at NIU.

I don't get it. And we wind these kids up so tight and put so much pressure on them and then freak out when they party too much or whatever.

Right now we have an "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" on campus, because the University (purposely?) scheduled Spring Break one year to span the week of St. Patrick's day. A local bar owner (hint--I used to work for him, of course) realized that he'd lose a bunch of revenue normally generated on St. Pat's so he invented "Unofficial" for a day (I don't remember exactly which) the week before Spring Break.

Of course, like anything college-related, it totally caught on and now a few years later it is a HUGE deal. And kids start drinking in the morning, and get all wasted and disrupt classes and run through lecture halls and stuff. Childish, yes, but they're children.

So campus officials freak out and issue all sorts of warnings and threats and try to shut everything down, etc., etc. Because threatening 20,000 20-year olds works well. It just makes it more of a spectacle to be outdone the next year.

I don't know why I've chosen to gripe about that stupid situation in lieu of the shootings at NIU. This is just so crummy.

There's so much pressure in those years from being a kid to becoming an adult. I didn't cut the mustard (the redhead would note here that "I probably cut the cheese, though"--sorry, I couldn't resist). I dropped out. It was stressful. And I know I'm being a lot melodramatic but really.

I don't know. I really don't know what else to say.

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2008, 1:28 pm
Mood: Upset | 6 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Take That, Hoosiers!

Hey Kelvin Sampson, you need to go look up a guy named Earl and ask him about something called "karma."

I'll give a little bit of background just because at least one of my faithful readers is from out of state and might not know what the fuss is all about, so bear with me in-state readers (all three of you).

A couple of years ago, Indiana University hired a crook by the name of Kelvin Sampson, to be their head coach of men's basketball.

Previously he was the head coach of Oklahoma, where he got into all sorts of trouble for recruiting violations, etc. It's a shame that the NCAA doesn't make sanctions follow coaches--instead it allows them to come into a program, screw it all up, and then leave town and the University in question is stuck holding all the parking tickets. (Hey, wait, is Oklahoma in the Big 12? My out-of-state reader might know all of this part....).

So anyway, he ditches dodge and somehow the Indiana Hoosiers are stupid enough to hire him. I believe that Papa said "they never should have let him into the Big Ten."

Well, we here at the old U. of Illinois had landed a rather awesome recruit by the name of Eric Gordon. He made a verbal commitment to Bruce Weber a couple of years ago when he was still in high school.

Now I realize that verbal commitments are very technically worth the paper that they aren't written on, and that nothing is guaranteed until the recruit signs on the dotted line. But the Big Ten coaches are a different breed than, oh, say the coaches in the Big East or the ACC. These guys have been around for a while, and they care as much about being ethical, and getting kids to graduate, as they are about winning basketball games. Seriously. Take a look at guys like Tom Izzo at MSU, or Gene Keady at Purdue (who retired a few years ago).

The unwritten Big Ten recruiting rule is that when someone makes a verbal commitment to another school, you leave that recruit alone and go get your own players.

Kelvin, apparently, wasn't told about this whole ethical thing. So he shows up at Indiana, gets in touch with Eric Gordon's dad (who went to Indiana), hires Eric Gordon's high school coach (or something like that), and the proceeds to snatch Eric Gordon out of our grasp. All without letting anyone know that he was even interested.

Meanwhile, our recruiting process has stopped looking for point guards because, well, we'd already supposedly wrapped up one of the best in the country. So signing day shows up, Eric signs with Indiana, and now we don't have a point guard. Oh, and by the way, all the other good ones are taken.

So no, I'm absolutely 100% NOT embarrassed that the fans booed Gordon every time he touched the ball the other night. Throwing a cup or whatever at his dad might have been a bit much, but let's say that I don't feel sorry for that guy either.

Well, Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff violated telephone recruiting restrictions imposed because of his previous violations at Oklahoma, then lied about it to the school and NCAA investigators, according to an NCAA report released Wednesday." (ESPN.com)

They listed FIVE major violations. In addition to deceiving Indiana about his past cheating episodes, he also broke all sorts of recruiting rules in the past two years at Indiana.

Now, Indiana, remember that you're a Big Ten school. They fired Bob Knight, who I didn't like when he was at Indiana but have respected him very much ever since for some reason, just because he was, well, maybe too intense with his players and the media. Do the right thing here.

Fire Kelvin Sampson. Right now. And get rid of the stain he has plastered all over our conference. He's a crook. He cheated at Oklahoma, and he's cheating at Indiana. And Indiana should be above that.

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 10:24 pm
Mood: Ecstatic! | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Obama!

I think the momentum is approaching full speed at this point, thank goodness. He leads the total delegate count, even if the stupid, stupid, stupid "super delegates" are included (talk about taking democracy away from the people and giving control to a select few who "know better than we do"--how stupid).

We watched a few clips of a talk that former Illinois governor Jim Edgar gave that was on the news a week or so ago. He talked about McCain and such, as he's a good Republican, and then a reporter asked him about the nomination for the Democrats. His reply was quick--he wanted Hillary to win. There was a slight murmur of astonishment from the crowd before someone finally asked why.

Because if Hillary wins the nomination he has no doubt that McCain will win the Presidency.

And I'm one of those people. I'm for Barack all the way, but I'd have voted for that worthless evangelical (or mormon or whatever other made-up religion he belongs to) Mitt Romney before I'd put Billary back in the White House.

And I need to quit harping on this, because I think I've done more than make it clear who "I'm going for" but is anyone else getting sick of hearing Hillary say that Barack doesn't have enough experience? 80% of Hillary's experience is from being first lady. Sorry, but that doesn't count. Both of them have been in the Senate or other state or local legislature for about the same number of years, and both have about the same number of years as a lawyer under their belt. Let's ask the redhead if she can boot one of my production servers into run level one and then change the root password. Oh? She's not qualified to do that, even though she's my wife? Anyway.

One more politically-related note and then I'll shut up about all of it. I trust all the "no war for oil" bumper sticker wearers in the parking garage are paying close attention to the situation with Chavez and Exxon in Venezuela right now. If Bush were really, really going to start a war for oil, Venezuela would be the place to start, not Iraq. Chavez is as crazy as Saddam was, if not more, but I think he truly hates the United States more than Saddam did. Chavez doesn't care about cutting off his nose to spite his face. Saddam was more worried about Iran than us.

So, to all the hippie, granola-eating, birkenstock-wearing "Bush lied, they died" idiots in the parking garage, when Bush announces that we're invading Venezuela then maybe I'll believe all of your "war for oil" crap.

Okay, enough politics. (Sorry....)

It looks like the kids are headed to Florida next week with Papa and Gwammo. Papa's basketball season will supposedly end with a first-round loss in the Regionals next Tuesday (or Wednesday?) and then they're loading up the Envoy and heading down to see Budgie. The downside is that they will be gone for two weeks and will both miss the remainder of their respective basketball seasons, including tournaments. The upside, for the redhead and me, is that we'll have to miss the remainder of their respective basketball seasons, including tournaments. (I'm awful, I know....)

Al was nervous at first because he thought they were flying, but he's okay with it now, even though he's a bit apprehensive about being gone for two weeks. He's such a goof. He started in the game Monday evening and played the entire first quarter, and for the first time actually looked like he knew what he was doing. He played his post (I think that's what it's called) position properly and was aggressive and kept his arms up and didn't "hide" behind the other team's defenders and caught passes and looked for the center and passed it back out--I only cringed the first couple of times he had the ball. I was very, very impressed with him, and told him so.

Saturday I have to tell the coach that he's not going to be around for the tournament. Yikes.

And Em had practice yesterday and her coach was trying to figure out who the starters were going to be for their season-ending tournament, and at some point during practice Em did something quite well and the coach looked at her and said "I've got my first starter!" Double yikes. We agreed, and you can all call me a bad team player if you want, that we'd wait until after this Saturday's games to tell both coaches, because we don't want to tell them now and have them then not play either kid in the games they have remaining before they leave for Florida. I know, probably selfish, but it's biddie ball so I'm not worried about it. And we only found out about Papa's whole plan in the last week or so.....

Okay, enough blogging. I need to get back to doing this more often so that I don't have so much to write about each time. Too busy with work and school. (School is almost unbearable this semester...).

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 2:56 pm
Mood: Ornery | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Vista

I'm so god damn mad right now I can't even think straight.

Well, yes I can, sort of.

WINDOWS VISTA SUCKS.

Everyone at Microsoft should (well, I'm not going to finish that sentence the way I just did to my wife.).

All I wanted was the wireless nic address. How hard is that?

Ooh. I'm mad. I'm so mad.

I'm no longer doing support for friends or relatives with Windows machines.

Under any circumstances.

I can fix (when necessary from unnecessary user error) my Dad's iMac from 250 miles away.

This Windows business is inexcusable.

"Do you really want to do this?"

YES. ALL I'M ASKING FOR IS A MAC ADDRESS.

Ugh. I think I'm going to become a Stallman codemunist. Or something JESUS.....

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2008, 3:27 am
Mood: Aggravated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Turbo Tax sUxx0rz

So Turbo Tax couldn't get my wife's debit card to go through, even after I spent a half hour on the phone with some woman in India.

So a couple of days ago I took our W2s and such to Myrna and Bobbi in Tuscola and they called me back the next day and told me the taxes were done and we'd have our return in our account by a week from today. Now that is service.

And then yesterday a charge for $47.95 from Turbo Tax appeared on our on-line bank statement.

Since it is technically the redhead's debit card, she called Turbo Tax to, well, get our fifty bucks back.

And of course, the person on the other end of the phone wasn't a native speaker of English this time either. Groan.

I don't think I'm ever going to do business with another company from the United States that farms out its customer service to India. Seriously. Nothing against Indians--I'm sure they are nice people--but having a conversation with someone who doesn't speak English is as stupid as them calling my house to ask about some product that they purchased over there.

The fun started when he asked for the name on the account. The redhead said "Betsy or Michael" and was told that neither of those names were correct. "Can you guess a name that starts with a 'J'?" How about JACKASS.

No, there are no names on that account that start with J. So he argued with her for ten minutes about this and finally finished with "Why are you getting agitated?" Insert your own best Indian accent, of course.

When she finally got him to comply, the result was a refund to our account that will happen in 4-6 business days. Seriously? You didn't take 4-6 business days to incorrectly bill us.

Anyway.

That's the end of the Turbo Tax experiment. Sure Myrna and Bobbi are more expensive, but their customer service is infinitely better. "Can you guess a name that starts with 'J'?" Seriously.

And the worst part of all of this is that the only reason I gave Turbo Tax a shot was because my dad uses it and I figured that if he can figure it out, surely anyone on the planet can as well (no offense, dad, but really....).

I really need to finish compiling those pictures and comments from the latest pyrotechnical display that my moron neighbor made--he really outdid himself this time.

Come on, Spring--I'm ready for golf....

Posted: Friday, February 08, 2008, 3:47 pm
Mood: Semi-irritable | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Voted

And I even got a sticker that says so.

It's too bad that they don't have primary ballots with both parties on them (well, I guess "all three" since the Green Party has candidates this year). While I wanted to vote for Barack I frankly couldn't give a crap about the rest of the stuff on the Democratic ballot. Oh well. Go Barack!

I really, really, really hope Hillary doesn't do well today. We need some fresh blood--now more than ever. And being first lady for 8 years is hardly a qualification to run the country, IMHO. Anyway.

How frustrating that the good ol' Republican party has turned from a group of strong, reasonable people--ones who will bomb the $#!% out of you if they say they are going to, and ones who don't tax me to death for unnecessary social programs--into an ultra right-wing evangelical group that's more concerned about religion and "moral" issues than with being, well, good Republicans.

And even more sad that if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination that I'll have to pick one of those evangelical creeps for President. Ugh. Come on, Dems--vote smart. Kerry was a jerk and couldn't even beat George Bush. Al Gore was a pompous jerk as well, and look how he did (oh, wait, he "won"--just ask all the people that write on the wall in the bathroom downstairs...). Don't make that mistake again and try to elect Hillary. Seriously.

Anyway.

So I tried to do my own taxes this year for the first time in, oh, about seven or eight years. In the past we've always had Myrna (the woman who does the taxes for the farm) do them for us, because the redhead ran a daycare for a while and we had all sorts of deductions for that ("Business Use of Your Home," etc.) and then I was doing freelancing on the side for several years after that. Well this year is our first year with a W2 from me, a W2 from the redhead, a tax bill, a mortgage interest statement, and that's about it. My dad has always used Turbo Tax, and I figured if he can figure that out, surely I can as well.

Turbo Tax even sent me a CD in the mail.

So I loaded it up, entered all of my information, went through the multitude of screens, and then clicked on the button to pay the $45 to activate the software license and actually file my return.

And the screen came up and said to call a 1-800 number to activate it.

Seriously? I can't just enter my debit card number on a web site? I have to call them on the phone??

Grrr. So I called, and fortunately it was an automated thing so I didn't have to talk to anyone (yet). I punched in the debit card number, got my code, and hung up. I even listened to it three or four times to make sure I wrote it down correctly.

I punched it into Turbo Tax, and poof, not a valid code. Huh?

After waiting, and trying it again, and trying it in all caps, etc., I called back and pressed the button to talk to someone.

And guess what country this person was in? I cannot stand talking to customer service people who aren't native speakers of English.

So she says that the card never went through, so I give her the information and she tries it on her end. The problem? The debit card won't work. I don't wonder if their credit card processing thing is overseas as well and the bank bongs the transaction because of that or something. "Do you have another card you can use?" Nope. Just my debit card. Oh I was so aggravated.

So no Turbo Tax. I guess we'll be going back to Myrna after all. (And, really, she charges us "per form" on our return, and since we don't have all the freelancing crap I wouldn't be surprised if her fee is pretty close to what Turbo Tax was going to cost...).

Yikes. It's getting foggy again. Yesterday visibility on the way home was about two car lengths. That was a fun hour-drive to go twenty miles. Yuck.

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2008, 3:57 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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