Friday, December 31, 2010

Though Often Adrift, I've Always Remained Afloat...

So here I stand, at the brink of yet another new year, the 29th new year to be exact. As I conjure memories of the past year & how certain events impacted my life & way of thinking, I'm proud to say that I haven't quit on life yet - nope, not even close...

When I first started this blog back in July, I had no idea where I was going with it. After months of experimentation, I've decided to pretty much make this an all-inclusive blog focusing on nothing in particular, but rather the entire scope of news & events that I encounter.

In November, I made it my personal goal to hit 50 posts before the year was up. Appropraitely, this post makes number 50 & I'm rather pleased with what it's becoming. It gives me an entirely new appreciation for anyone who spends much of their time blogging about this & that. Especially those high traffic bloggers who actually have a following!

While I'm pleased with the amount of time I've found to blog here & there (considering all I do), I can't imagine blogging about content that would require me to post within hours (minutes even) of an event occurring. With that being said, I definitely don't see myself breaking any news in the future - think I'll stick to my random thoughts & post on my time.

I'm definitely enjoying the experience though & can see myself blogging far into the future, so certainly look for this to continue into 2011 & many thanks to anyone who's taken a moment to put up with any of my nonsensical posts, lol - Happy New Year people, it's been a blast...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just When You're Least Expecting It...

Earlier in the evening while leaving work, I bumped into an ex-girlfriend, or rather, she nearly ran me off the road as I crossed the street, lol. Upon passing me, she realized it was me & stopped about 50-feet ahead of the direction in which I was walking. After approaching the vehicle, quite an awkward moment ensued as realized just who was in the driver's seat. Neither of us had reached out to communicate with 1 another since the last time we spoke, more than 6 months ago.

The pleasant, albeit, brief encounter was a nice way to close-out 2010. It's never good to start a new year with grudges, so it was nice to at least somewhat discover that there really wasn't much ill-will, if any harbored by either party at this point. We exchanged pleasantries, kept the talk small & that was that. I told her how appropriate the chance meeting seemed to me, gave her some quick directions to her intended destination & we both continued on with our lives.

As I rode the subway home, I thought of her - she wasn't at all the fixed image of a presumptuous, bitter & out of control individual burned into my mind 6 back. I haven't a clue as to what she's been up to since that time, but she appeared to being doing well & I was happy for her. With that being said, there still time left in the year to try & repair any failed friendships that you value, if the spirit moves you, of course. Honestly speaking, I should probably be taking my own advice here, but the truth is that I don't want to risk ruining what could end up being the final lasting images that she & I share of 1 another.

Before this evening, my memories of her were filled with strife, misunderstanding & what must have been a feeling of resentment on my part. While I can't speak for her thoughts at the time, I'd like to think that she too left with, a sense of hope. She definitely wasn't the worst girlfriend I'd ever had (those honors currently belong to another woman whom I no longer speak of, lol). With she & I, guess it was just the all-too-typical story of the unstoppable force meeting an immovable object & for that reason, I no longer stand in front of trains.

Perhaps your situation is a bit less complicated than mine, if so by all means, extend the olive branch 1 last time if you've got that special someone who's been estranged in your life (vice versa) as of late. Who knows? He or she might just feel the exact same way about you...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Devin Album? Oh Shit...

Fellow Devin Aficionados: I know, I know - I'm super-late what can I say, this 1 got by me. But thanx to my boy Boone, I eventually discovered that Devin the Dude had a new album drop in November. I took a good listen to the album over the past 2 weeks & I'm pretty pleased with the product. Scarface & Devin are my 2 favorite rappers, so I always get a lil' amped when I hear that either of the 2 has new shit on the street!

The new album, entitled Got Be Me has the standard weed, fuck you, & sex-laced tracks we've come to expect from him over the years, so it's quite an entertaining album - you won't be able to help crackin a few laughs at the honest, comical 'regular dude' happenings often depicted in each of his previous works.

I went to check him out in a live show months back when he was in DC & he put on great show! It was a mixed crowd of many ethnicities who all quite obviously had 2 things in common - a strong affinity for Devin music & marijuana, lol. Turned out to be a wonderful "session" that went down without incident - mission accomplished.

He & Scarface always made it a point to crank with the go-go bands here, so my next goal is to get to Houston, so I can catch Devin & Face at a show & return the luv. Anyways, if you're somewhat into any of his previous shit, I'll say I ended up with 7 tracks that were divinely chosen to be included in the all-important iTunes library, so it's definitely worth your time in my opinion...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Man They Call "Breesus..."

Gutsy performance by Drew Brees last night. When the defending champion Saints most needed their quarterback to rise to the occasion against the division leading Atlanta Falcons, he did just that! Overall, it was certainly a sub-par performance (when factoring-in 2 interceptions in addition to his lone touchdown passs) by Brees.

That being said, a below average day for Brees equates to a tolerable game by far for most other quarterbacks in the league. With time running out in the regular season & a potential playoff birth on the line, Brees overcame 2 horrible 4th quarter passes, both of which were intercepted by Falcons defensive ends (Chauncy Davis returned the 1st 26 yards for a touchdown, John Abraham snatched the 2nd pick right out of mid-air but was luckily tackled by Brees, otherwise that would have been returned for 6 points as well).

At the time, it appeared as though the 2nd turnover might have been the final death-blow to an already up & down season for the Saints. It was at this point, that the Saints defense came up with a much needed stop to give their Super Bowl MVP a chance to make up for his earlier struggles. The next offensive drive by the Saints literally saved their season (at least for another week anyway).

In a hostile environment where the Falcons had not lost a home game since 2009, Brees marched the Saints down the field with a time consuming, 13-play drive which ate up 6 minutes & 37 seconds of clock - leaving the Falcons little time to respond. The Falcons were eventually unable to do so & the Saints came away with a crucial victory which seemingly announced to the league that the Saints were still relevant, indeed.

Off the field, he seems to be a pretty stand-up dude as well. After watching him address the media in the post-game press conference following their loss to the Ravens 2 weeks back, I took notice of the way he took absolute responsibility for the opportunities his team left on the field. I took specific pleasure in observing the way he respected his opponents (even in defeat).

Most fans of the sport are well aware of the rejuvenation Brees & the Saints provided for New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - initially, I chalked Brees' humility & leadership up to the standard public relation protocols, often taken by organizations such as the NFL in response to tragic events such as Katrina, but his continued involvement in the community (even today) seems genuine & I definitely respect that.

Apparently, the editors of Sports Illustrated, who named Brees it's 57th Sportsman of the Year earlier in the month, respect the guy as well. Who knew his 2006 arrival in New Orleans (a city ravaged by instability, violence & crisis just months earlier) would be the start of such a tremendous experience for victims in such desperate need of uplifting? Even still, Brees insists it's the city that saved him, & not the other way around.

The 2 seasons that preceded his arrival in the Buyou were tumultuous campaigns to say the least. The San Diego Chargers who drafted Brees in 2001, benched him repeatedly & then acquired Phillip Rivers in 2004, following a catastrophic shoulder injury to Brees that many feared he wouldn’t fully recover from. The deal for the rights to Rivers in the 2004 NFL Draft essentially cemented the idea that Bress was NOT the QB they wanted to lead their team, still, he had quite the successful lame-duck season (throwing for over 3,500 yards & 27 TDs) during his final year in San Diego.

Brees continued to excel & threw for more than 4,400 yards each of his 1st 3 seasons with the Saints in a still recovering city, all the while pledging full support to the same community that accepted him with open arms, but the tough times were not yet done for Brees In August of 2009, his estranged mother died (her death was eventually ruled a suicide), even with this, he managed to lead the Saints on a tear through the league, which culminated with the franchise’s 1st Super Bowl win. Fittingly, it appeared that at this point the residents of the city were on their way back up as well. In the article honoring Brees as Sportsman of the year, he told SI's Tim Layden that "People in New Orleans needed someone to care about them & it was the 1 place that cared about me."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

An 18-game NFL Season, Why Not?

So I've been listening to the talk about the proposed 18-game NFL season & I've tried my best to hear out all valid reasoning for not moving in that direction, but even after listening to concerns of the players, coaches & fans alike - don't see what the big deal is.

If they're only shaving 2 games from pre-season & adding them to the regular season there's really no significant increase in exposure to injury to players, so I'm really not buying into the whole 'safety of the players' argument. The way I see it, their salaries ( comparison to the typical person) more than covers for hazard pay & unlike soldiers, they don't even have to duck bullets.

Plus, they're even talking about giving teams a 2nd bye-week & additional roster spots, so really - what the fuck is the problem? I'll bet hockey players all over the world are getting a kick out of the soft nature of the the NFL nowadays - from skirts on quarterbacks to players crying about how adding 2 more games to a 16-game season will significantly affect quality of life moving forward. Fuck-outta-here....

Bottom line, it's going to happen, so hopefully all of the infighting between the NFL, team owners & the NFL Players Association will soon cease long enough to get a collective bargaining agreement hammered-out soon (like BEFORE the draft), but the NFLPA isn't helping the pace, by trying to prevent a longer season - it's inevitable my friends...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reindeer Games...

As I sit here at Ma's house watching my beloved New York Knicks battle the Chicago Bulls on this Christmas afternoon, I'm also scrolling through the guide looking at all of the Christmas Day sporting events on the docket.

According to my rough count of the televised games scheduled to be played today, we'll see 5 games in the NBA today & 1 in the NFL. So of the 4 major professional sports in this country 2 are in action, leaving just the NHL with no games scheduled today (MLB is presently in their offseason).

It's not like I'm a super-religious person (more spiritual than anything), so the more games the merrier (pun intended). But seriously, since the majority of the country seems to fall in-line with the Christian faith, you'd think there'd be more reverence shown towards such a holy day.

I guess I'm just wondering, how much is too much as clearly, there's no longer much concern for players & the Christmas traditions they normally share with their families, which could further be evidenced by the fact that even the NCAA has 4 basketball games scheduled to air today.

So much for being student athletes, geez - I don't know any students forced work on Christmas, so it's rather strange that you'd require a young adult, who might only be months removed from his family, to travel cross-country to play a game on Christmas.

A professional adult or athlete having to work on Christmas for my enjoyment as a consumer is 1 thing, but a kid? Perhaps it's time for the NCAA to be real & just drop the word student from the term 'student-athlete.' It's an absolute hypocrisy the way the NCAA profits so much from these kids, but comes down on 'em with the wrath of God when someone gives 'em an extra benefit.

At the end of the day, increased commercialism of the Christmas holiday has shown us that nothing is truly out of bounds anymore when it comes to turning a profit. So, why would a lucrative field like sports & entertainment be any exception Anyways, just an observation - now LET'S GO KNICKS, lol. Merry Christmas all...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thompson Gets POSTERIZED, Lol...

<-- This photo to the left pretty much says it all as far as the title of this post & although this particular play wasn't made by my favorite team (but rather against it,) it definitely deserved some face-time! I'm positive it's been all over SportCenter as well, lol.

Hollis Thompson will likely find a new place to camp-out near the basket from this point & guard-forward D.J. Stephens certainly didn't mind demonstrating why when he received a pass from a Tiger teammate & elevated before slamming the ball through the hoop with authority - knocking a flat-footed, stationary Thompson to the hardwood I'm shame.

To make things even worse, upon returning from a commercial break, the camera's caught Hoya guard Austin Freeman & Stephens laughing about the play - that's pretty cold when your own teammate can't even hold the laughter in, lol. But I have to admit that I got a pretty good chuckle out of it as well. They're gonna hound him all season long for this one - I know I sure would if he were my teammate.

As for the game itself, the #10 Georgetown Hoyas cruised to another impressive non-conference road victory over #16 Memphis to improve to 10-1, the final tally was 86-69. The game served as the final tune-up for the start of Big East Conference play - Wednesday the Hoyas will travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on Notre Dame.

As has become typical, Freeman led all scorers with 24 (shooting 66% from 3-pt land), while guard Chris Wright (19 pts) & forward Julian Vaughn (15 pts, 10 rebs & 4 blks) had strong performances as well against a talented, but young Memphis team. It was just the kind of game the Hoyas needed to finish off what as been a grueling non-conference schedule.

Hoya reserve center Henry Sims provided a little more presence in the low-post tonight, he managed only 2 points scoring-wise, but in 17 minutes he blocked 3 shots, had 5 assists & brought in 2 rebounds. He displayed more athleticism tonight than he has in many of the previous games, hopefully it's a sign of his future involvement in G'town's game plan moving forward.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wizards, Arenas Finally Move-on with Life...

In a deal that was long overdue in my opinion, the Washington Wizards finally completed a deal to move the oft-injured guard, Gilbert Arenas to the Orlando Magic in exchange for forward, Rashard Lewis this past Saturday. Even amid the rumors, the deal was somewhat of a surprise to me as I was under the impression that his 2008 contract extension (worth $111 million) would prove just too hard to pass on to another team.

Fortunately, I was wrong about that & the team freed up a reported $30 million by trading him. Some might recall Arenas arriving in DC to much fanfare following the departure of Michael Jordan (which still burns me to this day) in 2003. The 3-time all-star went on to average just under 22 points per game during his time in the District, but constant injury and ill-timed controversy plagued his final 3 (full) seasons as a Wizard.

In return, the Wizards get the services of Lewis, who spent the 1st 9 years of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder), where he was drafted out of high school in the 2nd round of the 1998 NBA Draft before landing in Orlando in 2007. The 2-time all-star has averaged over 16 points per game during his 13 years in the league, but brings with him just 12.2 point per game this season (his lowest ppg avg since 1999).

I think the trade will make the Wizards a much more competitive team, Lewis won’t be expected to be such a scorer here in DC, so the fact that his production has slowed shouldn't diminish the value of the trade much. The table is now officially set for the NBA’s top overall draft pick (John Wall) to claim his team.

It seems to me that both teams will benefit from the trade & while I haven’t heard much reaction from Lewis regarding the trade, I’m sure Arenas (who has a home in Orlando), is very happy to have fresh start – as are the rebuilding Wizards, specifically their president Ernie Grunfield, who was primarily responsible for the aforementioned contract extension in 2008.

Feeling the Itch Again...

About 2 months back I decided I’d take a break from any social networking (outside of this blog of course) until the new year & over the past few days, I've been really anxious about getting back into the swing of things.

Twitter has been my networking drug of choice over the past 2 years & I’ve missed shooting off my random tweets here & there. I've been keeping up with the various tweets of people close to me during my hiatus & it’s killing me not being able to respond to so many post, lol.

Above all, I've missed my Twitter fam & the various thoughts that make up each individual I follow. My tweeps entertain me so much throughout the course of any given day, so I look forward to the constant interaction upon my return to the scene.

I'm not too sure about Facebook though, I've really come to loathe the social networking giant over the years & haven't missed it a bit. I can say with confidence that I won't be toggling on any mobile alert notifications for Facebook come January 1st.

Incidentally, I think you guys can look forward to my 2 cents on why I prefer Twitter over Facebook in the coming weeks. In other news, I've been very productive at work since maintaining radio silence. I hadn't realized so much of my day was being spent fucking around with 1 or the other.

Less than two weeks remain before my triumphant return – so gas up the executive transportation, lol.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Apparently, He's Not Impressed (lol)...

I'm actually not a Redskins hater, so in an attempt to maintain a little journalistic objectivity, I typically don't blog about the Redskins, but after viewing the FOX footage of Donovan McNabb yawning during their 33-30 loss in Dallas yesterday, I thought I'd die from laughter!

Most fans in the region have a pretty decent idea of what McNabb's thoughts must have been after being benched, yet again, by coach Mike Shanahan, still his various expressions as his replacement (Rex Grossman) struggled at times were priceless!

I'm not sure what the hell is going on with this team, but they're certainly 1 of the biggest soap operas in the league, again. It's very strange to see a team go out & trade for a player like McNabb & then bench him, not once, but twice in the very same season they re-signed him to a multi-year/million dollar contract.

I know DO know 1 thing, I would NOT have gone out as a captain for the coin-toss! That was definitely another smack in his face. He's definitely taking all of this bullshit in-stride. As if the season-long nightmare involving (the now suspended) Albert Haynesworth & the Skins' coaching staff weren't enough, now this! Sadly, Skins fans have gotta be used to this by now.

It appears as though the 1 season that Redskins owner Daniel Synder chose to hire a big-time GM & coach (to relinquish personnel management control to) is the very season he needed to step-in & override his coaching staff. It's clear it was Snyder's approach to remain hands-off this season, but damn - the team's 2 biggest investments aren't even starters on the squad anymore, geez...

Losing to Dallas today certainly won't help win Coach Shanahan any new fans in DC. Skins fans can only hope his "my way, or the highway" approach pans out by next season. If not, I highly doubt Mr. Snyder has developed enough patience (nor will he) in such a short span of time to allow Shanahan to get into year #3 of his contract. Be sure to tune-in next season for the league's #1 day-time drama!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

So I Hear the Champs are In-town...

Today the Ravens square-off with the New Orleans Saints & ever since Hurricane Katrina, I always root for the Saints - but not today. The Ravens are home today, so me & Pops are headin up to B-more in a few hours. I wont be bringing any moral victories back home with me today, lol. Fuck that, I want this win!

It's a crucial game & if they don't wanna end up sweating out the final weeks of the season, they have to win this game. I tell ya, I love the hell out of this game! There are so very few things that both capture & hold my attention like the NFL on a weekly basis.

That gets me to wondering what the hell is going on with this damn collective bargaining agreement. Are they serious? Some are playing-out the end of their contracts with the uncertainty of whether they'll get any checks after the final one rolls in. I hope those rookie workshops & symposiums made more NFL players cognizant of the proper financial planning.

But getting back to today's game, the defending champs don't appear to be in quite the same form as they were when they made their Super Bowl run last year, nonetheless they remain an offensive juggernaut, so the defense will have their hands full for sure.

The Ravens will need the offense to show up today, hopefully the offense can figure out a way to put together 2 complete halves of football for the 1st time this season. Almost every game has gone to the wire this season, so a decisive victory would be well received by all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Art of Compromise...

Compromise — A settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.

Conflict — A disagreement between two or more people over values, needs, beliefs, perceptions, or expectations. It can lead to relational stalemates.

In the hours that passed between my falling asleep last night & awaking this morning, I learned something about myself. I'm not happy in any situation that requires me to over-compromise who I am (even on a rare basis) for any person who needs constant validation for what simply amounts to appropriate behavior & decorum.

Rewarding people for expected actions never really made much sense to me & I don't see how others can so easily sweep the complete & utter bullshit of others under the rug time & time, again. I'd also add that it really bothers me when people's apologies are always followed by a 'but.' The instant you attempt to justify your reasoning for doing whatever you've done, you've devalued the apology.

Sadly, I guess I don't possess the ability to ignore (for lack of better words) 'stupid shit' just for the sake of a friendship or relationship as I sometimes secretly wish I could be as forgiving (or ignorant) as those who are quite willing to compromise their ultimate happiness for a 'sense of general security.

What's even more interesting to me is how those, well-versed in the art of bullshit, actually think its you with the problem because you won't subscribe to their backward way of thinking. To me, the bottom line is when you're wrong, your excuse is unimportant, at best.

Anyone who openly decides they can't or won't change regardless of how others are impacted, must in the same line of thinking, be bold enough to accept that others reserve the right to walk away from what they perceive as a no-win situation. Any failure to recognize the validity in such a philosophy would certainly qualify as the quintessential double standard in my mind & I've been on both ends of the spectrum, so I'm definitely speaking from experience here.

Looking back, I can honestly say that anyone who chose to walk away from me completely in the past, did so for what was most likely a good reason & I'll never question it. Consequently, I've got no issue with doing the same to anyone who shows any similar lack of regard for the proper way to treat those whom they claim to care about.

We're all left with 2 options when dealing with people who maintain extremely stubborn and/or highly volatile states of mind. Either resign one's self to constant attack or defeat at the hands of a hypocrite, or remove one's self from the situation altogether, thereby eliminating any ill-fated destinies that would surely accompany yet another obscene compromise on your part.

The moment I lose confidence in your ability to demonstrate general reasoning skills, or (at the bare minimum) think logically, you've lost me. That being said, I'll leave you guys with a favorite quote of mine by the Roots. I found it to be very appropriate for this post:

"I'd die in a bed I laid, before I'd lay with a love I loathed."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just a Little More Red Field Talk

Incidentally, I was watching more NCAA FCS playoff action as Eastern Washington University played a semifinal round game on their red home field. Last night's game was presented in a "true" high definition format on ESPN (unlike the standard definition feed that MASN attempted to pull-off as HD on their Hi-Def channel last week) & EWU wore their all-black uniforms (instead of their red pants & jerseys).

The black uniforms popped against the brilliant, bright red playing surface & looked tremendous on television. I think we'll definitely see more of this from teams in the coming years as the recent practice is far too marketable to outlaw...

Btw, EWU defeated Villanova 40-31 to advance to the FCS Championship where they will play the winner of the Deleware State/Georgia Southern game IN TEXAS & NOT on their red field :-(

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wait, a Red Football Field?

It was only last week that my brother and I were discussing Boise State University's blue turf football field & why no other teams had followed suit with a colored field of their own. While watching some college football Saturday afternoon, I ran across a game that featured a red football field. Eastern Washington University hosted & defeated North Dakota State University on an electric red football field in a NCAA Division I FCS quarterfinal playoff game.

EWU played their 1st game on the red playing surface back in September & have been the recipient of rave reviews & public ridicule alike since that time. Nothing quiets a critic like a winning team as the Eagles are 8-0 their inaugural season on the red turf. Boise State University was the 1st team to install such a playing surface in 1986 when they went with their blue field. Likewise, they too enjoy what has been perceived by some as a competitive advantage as their record on (what has since been dubbed) "smurf turf" is currently 114-30.

Boise State remains the only NCAA Division I FBS team with a non-green paying surface. After a little research, I discovered that the University of New Haven (
Division I FCS
Division II) joined Boise State when they installed a blue turf football field of their own in 2009. I can only assume that their field hasn't gotten more notice in the year that has since passed because it's neither an original idea, nor color, coupled with the fact that they don't play in
the FBS
Division I.

From a fan's perspective, I actually like & welcome the idea of other teams at all levels to doing the same (provided they keep the field dimensions & yard-line markings within the prescribed guidelines of any football league's rule-book). I can see those traditionalist, old-school athletic directors & league commissioners across the country scurrying to create new language addressing what color a team's playing surface must be, lol.

Currently, there is no NCAA rule that addresses the color a team's playing surface must be & in case you're wondering, yes the colored football fields have found their way into the high school level of play as well. West Hills High School (of Santee, CA) installed a blue turf football field this season as well. Their version IS however more original than the University of New Haven's field as their version features an alternating, two-tone shade of blue pattern every other 5 yards of field.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Could it Be?

As a lifelong New York Knicks fan, I'm cautiously impressed by their play so far this season (especially on the road, where they've now piled up 10 wins to improve to 15-9). Tonight's road win over the hometown Wizards could be further indication that maybe (just maybe) this isn't a fluke. Nonetheless, I'll reserve my excitement for a point later in the season, when I can be sure.

You see, they haven't exactly given me or any other Knicks fan a lot to cheer for over the past 15 years. The offseason additions of Amar'e Stoudemire (36 pts, 10 rebounds) & Raymond Felton have proven to be just the shot in the arm that this franchise & it's fan base needed. This was both the 7th consecutive win & game where Stoudemire scored at least 30 pts. The Knicks have won 12 of the past 13 games suggesting that there may be something to this.

I'm searching my mental database trying to recall the last time the Knicks were a viable threat to make any real noise in the East & I'm not able to come up with much. In my lifetime, they've only appeared in 1 NBA Finals series which went the full 7 games in 1994. As it would turn out, I wasn't able to enjoy the final game of that series since most of the 2nd half coverage was interrupted while the nation watched Al Cowlings drive a suicidal OJ Simpson around LA in the infamous white Bronco slow-speed chase.

NBC's coverage resumed just in time to witness John Starks miss 3 consecutive 3-point shots in one possession in the closing seconds of the game & the Houston Rockets went on to claim an NBA Championship. How great would it be to somehow become the team to beat while everyone else has done nothing but talk about the Miami Heat & Boston Celtics as favorites to represent the East in the Finals. I'm just super-glad to see them playing competitive, consistent basketball once again, as my loyalty has certainly been tested (but not compromised) over the years.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not My Problem??? Nope, it's OUR Problem...

When temperatures drop below 25 degrees, I’m always reminded of the countless homeless individuals who often have no recourse other than enduring the bitter cold. It’s this group of men, women & (sadly) children who always get the bulk of my charitable donations during any given year.

I often wonder of the various personal battles with family, society or drug usage that landed each in such a low position in life. Is someone looking for them? Were they abused? How do they feel about the situation? I often hear talk of how children need our protection the most, but one could easily argue that the group most deeply need of such protection is our homeless community.

Just how many laws & ordinances are created (& funded) to assist with an issue that seems to get more & more serious by the day? Nowadays, there’s an advocacy group for just about anything you can think of yet the plight of the homeless remains 1 of the most understated ethical dilemmas in our nation. I’m fully aware that 3 to 6 very bad months could easily land me in such a situation, so I’m often thankful for the support of my family & friends & would be remiss not to share some of my fruits.

For me, one of the most frustrating things is the powerless feeling that often accompanies my compassion for those affected by homelessness. No matter how many checks I write, soup kitchens I volunteer at, or conversations I hold with those affected will ever make a dent in the problem without the massive, overwhelming support of the community.

At this point in time, our nation struggles with how to even define the term ‘homeless,’ & I’m positive that the recent trend of job-loss over past few years has depleted most of the funding currently available to combat the issue. Here in DC alone, it’s estimated that family homelessness increased 37% between 2008 & 2010.

I implore you to do whatever you feel appropriate during this season of giving in regard to assisting with such an effort. Above all - keep in mind that it could be you…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Kids on the Block...

After watching the NFL's Monday Night Football game last night, I longed for even more pigskin action, so I watched a United Football League (UFL) game & followed that up with a Lingerie Football League (LFL) game. I've actually enjoyed the 2 alternative leagues thus far & thought I'd share my thoughts on each this afternoon.

Though many aren't yet aware of either of the 2 leagues, the NFL has definitely found a little extra company within the sport over the past 2 seasons as the LFL & UFL are doing their best to command a bit more attention from those either looking for an alternative to the NFL, or those die-hard football fans (such as myself) who simply desire MORE football action.

This season the United Football League consisted of 5 teams, each of which played an 8-game schedule. League ownership (which include the likes of Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban & Google IPO, Bill Hambrecht among others*) strategically placed each of it's professional football franchises in cities that currently lack an NFL presence. The rules of the 11-on-11 league closely mirror those of the NFL & provides players (who were unable to secure NFL franchise roster spots) an opportunity to continue playing the game.

UFL rosters feature a unique blend of rising stars & former NFL castaways that still have something to prove – either to the world, or themselves. The 1st 2 seasons of UFL games were aired on Versus & HDNet, respectively. In 2011, the league expects to add a 6th franchise & increase the length of the season to 10 games after beginning with just 4 franchises which played a 6-game season in 2009. With far more recognizable former stars from college & NFL teams, I found it more exciting to watch than Canadian Football League games (even with just 5 franchises currently in operation).

The UFL most definitely isn't a threat to the financial viability of the NFL & though this is hardly the 1st crack at developing an alternative professional football league (aimed at capturing some of the NFL's loyal fan base), I do believe that the business model of each could easily co-exist as an extension of the NFL to some degree.

It's long been rumored that the NFL has been exploring the idea of a developmental football league, akin to the NBA Developmental League (NBDL) & it seems to me that the UFL might be providing the perfect model for such a concept (even though that's clearly not their intent). UFL ownership groups have stated their vested interest in operating as a league independent of NFL involvement, but the reality is that there's only room at the top of the mountain for one king.

In stark contrast, the Lingerie Football League boasts 10 (all female) teams which only play a 4-game season**. The LFL got it's start almost 7 years back during halftime of the NFL's Super Bowl XXXVIII (between the Panthers & Patriots). It was then that the 1st 7-on-7 LFL game debuted on pay-per-view. Ironically, this is also the Super Bowl where Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake had the infamous wardrobe malfunction. The LFL continues to airs it's championship game during the Superbowl, thusly giving viewers two meaningful games to look forward to on Super Sundays.

Popularity of the original annual Super Bowl halftime game, gained more & more traction with each subsequent Super Bowl, so much that the idea was raised that the annual game be broadened into a true league of it's own (no pun intended). As the name of the league suggests, participants wear revealing football uniforms (incl. the traditional shoulder/knee pads & helmets) in an attempt to lure those who enjoy the combination of sex-appeal, physicality & raw competition alike. League rules most closely resemble those of the Arena Football League** (AFL), which briefly ceased operations in 2008.

In 2009 LFL games were aired on a limited basis, in syndication, before MTV Network purchased rights to air 2010 LFL games; presenting a condensed game format reducing the televised length**** of games into 30-minute segments, perfect for MTV2's Friday night 11:00p - 11:30p time slot. MTV 2 markets the games as "True Fantasy Football," which I personally found to be a nice play on words.

As one might imagine, the LFL has been the subject of much controversy due to the misogynistic overtone & outward appearance***** at 1st glance but in it's defense, it doesn't take long to appreciate the athletes as such & not the sexual objects many portray them to be. Each of these women of the gridiron leave it ALL on the field each & every game, earning my respect in doing so.

Just last night I witnessed a violent crack-back block (helmet-to-helmet at that) & an outstanding one-handed touchdown catch - much like what you'd see in any men's professional league, so if you've got any notion that the participants in this league don't take their craft seriously, you're sorely mistaken. I'll most definitely be attending 1 of the Baltimore franchise's home games next season (assuming there will be a 3rd season of course, lol).

[*] Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite & Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL complete the UFL’s current ownership group. The Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) sold their ownership stake in the league following the 2009 season.

[**] The LFL however stretches the season over 20-weeks, utilizing a clever, multiple bye-week format.

[***] The Arena Football League (acquired by AF1) reorganized & resumed operations in 2010...

[****] Full-length games can be viewed on the LFL website in high definition...

[*****] League founder Mitch Mortaza says the league is intended for "mostly beer-drinking college students aged 21 & up..."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Rivalry Renewed...

There are few things in sports better than December football & tonight my favorite NFL football team (the Ravens) will face-off with the big, bad Steelers on NBC's Sunday Night Football. This year, the road to the AFC North Division title runs through Baltimore, (as always) Pops & I will certainly be in attendance!

It always seems to come down to these two foes who are both 8-3 coming into the matchup, & I'm very excited to see how things play out. Both teams will likely qualify for the playoffs regardless of who wins, so it's hardly a make or break situation for either squad. But let's face it, these teams don't like each other very much & neither wants to lose.

Baltimore won the 1st game earlier this season, but both teams teams were playing without 1 of it's biggest stars. Safety Ed Reed of the Ravens was still on the Physically Unable to Perform list & Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger was still serving a 4-game suspension (stemming from sexual assault allegations earlier in the year). Most fans, pundits & other talking heads are expected to turn their attention towards tonight's contest as it will go a long way towards assessing the future climate of the AFC playoff picture.

I'd love to attend a home playoff game in Charm City this post season & if the Ravens have any desire of doing the same, they'll need to take care of business early & often in the game. The last thing they'd want to see Big Ben late in the game, with the ball in his hands & with an opportunity to win it all. I know I definitely don't want to see that, so hopefully the sentiment is shared in the locker room as well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gift ideas

Still trying to come up with a few gift ideas for that special tech loving guy & don't wanna resorting to the standard gift card as result? Here are a some ideas that might give you some thoughts on how to jump-start your holiday shopping:

This 1st one is probably the most common idea, so I’ll get it out of the way with right now… it’s of course, the all important Apple iPod. There are several versions of iPods available, so the 1 you’d want to target would certainly depend on the intended use of the device. But for any tech geek in training such as myself – the iPod Touch ($230 - $400), is the best option as it boasts the most features of any current iPod model. The iPod Nano starts as $140.

If “Mr. Man already has an mp3 player/iPod or mobile phone that he uses or music playback, a set of BT Headphones (which is NOT to be confused for a standard BT earpiece) is a relatively cheap gift for your favorite tech lover at $50, but can get as expensive as $300 depending upon how high-end the model/manufacturer is. A docking station is never a bad gift for any iPod/iPhone owner either.

If he reads or has the desire to do more of it, Amazon's Kindle e-book reader would be another great solution for such. The Kindle 3G retails for about $190, & there’s a non-3G (Wi-Fi only) version that starts at about $140.

Nowadays BluRay players are cheaper than ever before, I’ve seen many priced in the $120 range recently, so that’s another gift idea if he’s a movie watcher, especially if premium sound & graphics are at the forefront of his desired movie watching experience.

Playstation 3 video gaming consoles feature BluRay playback as an embedded option, so this too is a decent, albeit pricier idea ($250 - $400) if you have any thoughts of killing 2 birds with one stone.

Has he been super-good this year? If so, he might really enjoy the use of an Apple iPad. iPads feature a wide range of media, gaming, application & web browsing capabilities which are perfect for occasional or frequent use. Wi-Fi only iPads start at about $499, Wi-Fi + 3G iPads starts at about $629.

***Note: Anyone weary about buying an iPad 3G for use with AT&T’s data plan (in anticipation of the iPhone’s unveiling on Verizon in 2011) should keep in mind that Verizon already offers iPads with 3G data services & they’ve been available in their stores since about the 18th of this month, so you could always grab an iPad now & get an iPhone at some point in 2011.

If he’s an Apple product ‘head’ like myself, or simply uses his iPod or iPhone ALOT for music in the home, viewing videos, photos or YouTube, AppleTV is wonderful media extending device that combines the functionality of each of Apple’s device capabilities to create the perfect audio-visual multimedia experience & it keeps getting better with each update. Quite simply, it remains the best media extender on the market. AppleTV syncs with the iTunes library to stream media to any given TV/entertainment system.

Some of the many conveniences of AppleTV includes access to your iTunes library, the iTunes Music Store – for HD (& standard definition) tv show/movie rentals/purchases, song/music video purchases & more. It can be used to view sites like YouTube, Flickr & will even allow access to you individual account. It flawlessly handles online or streamed photos/video including internet radio & of course allow you to listen to/watch video & music from your own iTunes library. It’s not an expensive device either these days, as it’s priced at just $99 on Apple’s website. I bought one 2 years ago for $250 in comparison.

Lastly, does he have a billion components connected to the TV/entertainment sytem, complete with a remote for each device? A universal remote might be another good gift idea then, that way he can get rid of all but one remote. I use the Harmony 1100 Universal Remote Control which controls everything from my laptop to my PS3, to electric window shading (If I had those kind of shades, of course – lol).

The rechargeable remote (& included docking station) features a colorful, touch-screen & fully customizable design that can be used to display wallpapers, favorite channels & activity power-up/down sequences with the push of just one button. Updates to the remote (essential when new devices hit the market) can be found online using the included software & installed by syncing with any computer. It’s a pricey device, but he won’t need another one for 10 years - it can be found online or in major electronic stores in the range of $250 to $400, so shop around.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

iOS 4.2.1

Earlier in the week the most recent OS update to Apple's iPod & iPhone (& most importantly the 1st significant update for the iPad's operating system), iOS 4.2.1 was officially released & after a few days of playing around with the various new features, I'm pretty impressed with the direction in which the devices are heading. The iPad has essentially replaced my laptop as far as everyday use & each week it seems I find a new reason to use it even more.

I absolutely love the convenience that this device has given me since the spring of this year when the 1st shipments finally started rolling out. I carry it with me during my daily commute to/from work & at this point I'd be lost without it. Anyone who doesn't see the need for such a device clearly has no clue of all that it does. Between it's audio/video media playback & management, file storage, data & word processing, web browsing & advanced email capabilities, it does everything I need it to do as far as my day to day needs are concerned.

I'd highly recommend it to anyone considering the purchase of a conventional note or net book for similar uses. In conjunction with the use of any desktop or stationary computer in the home or office, most would be hard-pressed to find limitations to the overall functionality of this wonderfully designed tablet computer.

The following are the 3 are the upgrades to the OS I looked forward to the most (on the iPad specifically):

- Multitasking is now supported on the iPad & folders have finally been introduced as well (so no more swiping through page upon page of apps on the iPad).

- AirPrint is a pretty useful new feature to the iPad (allowing for printing to a wireless printer operating on the same network as the device).

- Far better mail & calendar support (including improved syncing between MobileMe & Google have also been implemented with the introduction of the update).

-Interestingly in a very uncommon move for apple, The OS update was used to make a slight change to the hardware itself. The page orientation lock swith now serves as the mute sound switch, the page orientation lock toggle is now found by swiping left within the multitasking dock (just like the on the iPhone after previous updates).

For the most part, all of the new iPad features unlocked by the new OS are available on the iPod & iPhone respectively, but most had already been implemented in previous updates to those devices a month or so back, so there aren't many brand new features that come to mind in that regard.

I did however notice that the iPhones now have the native ability to have newly added sms/mms alerts assigned to specific contact entries, so u know exactly who is texting you by the sound of the alert alone (17 new sounds I believe), but I won't get much mileage out of this feature myself since my iPhone is jailbroken & I have my own custom alerts sounds anyway, but many non-jailbroken iPhone users should find a practical use of the new capability.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday...

Interestingly, both women & children seem have a way of deciding to show their ENTIRE asses right when the holiday season starts. You know, those crucial days/weeks before or after Thanksgiving when your busy deciding what you're gonna spend on who & more importantly — why. Have you been a good girl or boy this year? If not, you've got exactly 25 days to make amends for any recent misgivings, lol.

Many of you are out gettin your Black Friday shopping on today. So in that spirit, I'm at my desk at work & just completed my holiday shopping list & while there have indeed been some notable, last minute changes & omissions to this year's list, I remain confident that I've included all of those close to me who are deserving of such accolades & will complete my shopping accordingly.

I've always enjoyed this time of year, even upon becoming an adult when the amount of money spent on gifts began to exceed the amount of gifts received, lol. I guess I just love the act of gift giving and seeing the enjoyment that various people within my circle take from the occasion.

Aside from that, it's a special time of year when people seem more kind (in general) & generous just because. We live in such a self-absorbed society that it's almost a pleasant surprise each year to see that the holiday still exists. Despite the commercial extravaganza that this season has become over the years, there's still something special in the air during this time & I love it.

Hopefully, the up-beat spirits of the people roll right on into the new year! I've got big plans for myself in 2011, so I'd love nothing better than to finish-off 2010 on a high-note. Best of wishes go out to you and yours — Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Broke Another Mirror Today...

Apparently there's something about my personality that fosters a breeding ground for miscommunication & lack of understanding & though I've never tired of any opportunity for success in this regard, here I sit confused, exhausted & without a clue of where to go from here. If I fight to express that in which I believe is right, I lose. If I remain silent & allow certain beliefs or misconceptions to continue, I lose.

It's a shame that we're unable to really know the people we involve ourselves with until we're knee-deep in shit, but I guess that's the way life & love works - it's always a leap of faith! You just hope that the individual you find yourself involved with invests the same amount of time/energy as you have as far as understanding & respecting each other.

I haven't always gotten that effort from women, but to be fair, there were certainly times when I failed in this arena as well. Nonetheless, I can honestly say I have no problem forgiving a person who takes accountability for his/her mistakes, or actions but when there isn't even any willingness to recognize the fault - really what's the point?

With each day I learn that what I want in life may not be what God wants for me. Sometimes people are going to shit on you regardless of how thoughtful you are of them. The thing I've benefitted from most in life is knowing which personal bridges to cross & which ones I should burn. After all, a man can only take so much...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Earlier last week I finished playing the 7th installment of the Call of Duty video game series, Black Ops, for the Playstation 3 platform & I'm pleased to announce that the overall gameplay did not disappoint this particular gamer in the least bit.

Publishers of Call of Duty, Activision decided to use different developers than those of it's very successful & most recent predecessors, COD: Modern Warfare 1 & 2 to assist with the creation COD: Black Ops. While I did notice differences in the two gameplay experiences, that had more to do with the the fact that I'm comparing vastly different titles (in terms of storyline). Black Ops (developed by Treyarch) is NOT a sequel to Modern Warfare 1 nor 2 (developed by Infinity Ward).

Yet with Black Ops it didn't seem to me that there was any noticeable drop-off. My guess as to why they used another company would be that Activision wanted to ensure that there wouldn't be too long of a lag-time between the respective release dates of their various COD titles, so it makes sense to use more than 1 company for logistical purposes - that & the old adage of 'never putting all of your eggs into 1 basket,' of course — word is... there is a continuing beef among Activision & Infinity Ward.

In further comparison, the Modern Warfare titles featured a better variety of distinctly different battlefields & missions across the globe, while Black Ops seems to concern itself with fewer world-wide locales & focuses on the Cold War, so it seemed like I was fighting many battles in similar locations for much of the gameplay experience.

But again, to be completely fair, both Modern Warfare 1 & 2 were fruits far different from other releases in the COD series. Black Ops & most older COD titles involved more of a historical representation of World War II events, whereas Modern Warfare 1 & 2 had no such restriction during creation, so the sky was very much the limit. Modern Warfare 1 & 2 focused on more recent aspects of war during present time, so this isn't a criticism, but more of an observation rather.

I was slightly disappointed to with the rather short single-player campaign mode (much like Modern Warfare 1 & 2) & resulting ho-hum final battle, but giving rise to the extreme attention to detail required to produce such titles, I guess I can accept the somewhat flat ending of it all.

There are; however, other gameplay modes that become available upon the successful completion of a single-player campaign in addition to what has become customary for the COD series, a multiplayer mode which opens a new world of additional gaming to compensate for the shorter storyline of the single-player campaign.

Above all, I'm certainly glad I bothered to wait in line with at least a couple hundred other idots at midnight on November 9th, to pick-up my copy of the popular game. Initially, I planned to simply wait until getting off-work the following afternoon to grab my reserved copy (like the rest of the world, lol), but the closer it got to midnight, the more my anticipation grew...

It was worth the anticipation & any previous fan of this particular series of military based, role playing games should again, come away with a well-rounded (albeit virtual) sense of the battlefield experience & have tons of fun achieving each & every mission's objective. I eagerly await the release of the next Call of Duty title, Modern Warfare 3 in 2011...