Tuesday, August 20

Draft Day Approaching!

For many years (so many that I can't remember how many) I have enjoyed football season more because I have been the owner of a Fantasy Football team. I first heard about Fantasy Football when I was working at Kings Dominion (thank you Bill Fecke). The concept is easy: you and several of your friends sit around and "draft" NFL players for your teams (a player can only be owned by one team in a league). Then during each week's games you create a starting lineup from your roster. How the player performs in the NFL game determines the number of points that he scores for your team. So - if Peyton Manning throws a touchdown, you get 2 points for your fantasy team, if Emmitt Smith runs in a touchdown then you get 6 points for your team. (yeah, I know that Emmitt will have to run it in from the announcers' booth).

Way back in the day - our Commissioner Bill Fecke had to spend every Monday morning looking at the box scores in the newspaper to add up our scores. Now there are websites to take all the hard work out of being a commissioner. I remember the days of adding scores when I started a fantasy league in my family. Sometimes I even had to call the newspaper's sports desk to get an obscure player's stats. My sister Susan loved drafting very obscure players. One year she even drafted Boomer Esiason - the year he began as color commentator for ABC's Monday Night Football. If memory serves...it took her about 4 weeks to get around to dropping him from her roster. Maybe she was hoping for another comeback season!

This Sunday 10-12 of my family and friends will sit around a giant draft board in my back yard to choose our teams for the 2013-2014 NFL season. We will draw numbers to see who gets first pick. The first few rounds will go pretty quickly. There will be cries of "I was going to pick him next" and "oh, is he already gone?" Sometimes I take it all pretty seriously and actually prepare for the draft - sometimes I pick directly from the hundreds of cheat sheets available on the Internet. One year I drafted only players named Johnson and Jones (my kickers were Hanson and something similar...which I declared to be Swedish for Johnson). It took quite awhile before any of the other team owners caught on to what I was doing. My sister Karen (who is very attached to her cheat sheets) kept saying "I can't find that guy! What page is he on?" My current co-commisioner Melva (a former sportswriter for the Washington Post...I mean the Bedford Bulletin) was the first to figure it out.

Melva LIVES for draft day. I think that if she had to rank her favorite days of the year it would be Christmas, Birthday, Draft Day, Thanksgiving and the church family camping trip in the top slots. She is so prepared that she requires no cheat sheets. She rarely takes any of the 60 second time limit to make a pick. And many of us wait for her to say "Good Pick" after one of our angst-ridden choices. When Karen gets a "good pick" from Melva she just beams.

This year I have the pleasure (?) of passing on the trophy to last year's league winner. The blue football will reside with Mr. Carl Howell - owner of the Hogtown River Rats. My team, The Hamster Beaters were victorious in 2011-2012. And if I take some time away from Candy Crush for a little draft preparation, perhaps they will be victorious again!

Good luck to all of the teams in our league.

Even Melva's Froot Loops. For someone who prepares so much, and actually pays attention to her team - it is kind of sad that she's never won. Not even close.

So sad that I'm chuckling to myself a little bit.

Friday, August 16

Something Stupid

I am feeling a need to post - but feeling the need to make it a very silly post. I've just had a pretty heavy week and I want to be goofy. Or Goofy. Or Pluto. (Disney conundrum: Why did Goofy walk around on two legs and wear clothes while Pluto gamboled about on four legs stark nekkid?) Therefore I am going to wander around the random conversation starter until I find something I can be un-serious about.

1st question posed: Is it harder to exercise more or eat healthier? Nope...too serious. Spin again.

2nd topic posed: Describe your favorite type of pizza. Too depressing, my favorite pizza was called the He-Crab pizza at Bistro 151, and it is closed. But it had alfredo, crabmeat (real, not Sea Legs), mandarin oranges and some crispy spinach. I miss it. Spin again!

3rd try: What is the biggest thing you've ever won? My first response to that is "that's what she said" - I think I'm getting punchy. I remember winning a ceramic Christmas tree in high school. I gave it to my grandmother and she loved it. She said it was the perfect size (she lived alone and came to our house for Christmas so she had stopped having a live tree). I wonder what happened to it? Gonna try the random topic one more time:

4th random conversation starter: Where did you go on your last vacation? OBX. vacation before that? OBX. Before that? OBX. I love the Outer Banks. But this points out that I'm probably in a rut. Does going to New Jersey to see a friend for two days count as a vacation? Is a vacation to New Jersey better than being in a rut? Alright - if this try isn't silly then I'm going to fetch some comic strips to entertain you. Or a piano playing cat.

5th and final try: What is your favorite ice cream flavor? O M G - the silliest thing about that is that my favorite flavor could NOT be any less silly! It would be amusing to have my favorite be Tutti Frutti (does that still exist?) or Cotton Candy (eww...too sweet) or something boozy like Rum Raisin (which I like, but it doesn't have enough rum!). But my actual favorite flavor is vanilla. Dang. I am not amusing tonight.

Please enjoy a couple of entertaining comic strips. I will try to be humorous or pithy or deep later this weekend. To randomize the comics - I am going to pick comics from 11/11/11.

Darn it - I love Bloom County, but that one doesn't make sense unless you go read the whole series on GoComics. Here's one that is funnier:

Monday, August 12

Rushing isn't Reporting

Warning - rant ahead...

There is something wrong with a society that wants information and news so fast that they don't care about accuracy. It is bad enough that there are no statesmen left in America - it is horrible that journalists are a dying breed too.

Here in Central Virginia many of us have been praying for the safe return of a young woman named Alexis Murphy. She disappeared over a week ago. Yesterday there was an arrest made related to her case. Today one of our regional news bureaus posted on their official Facebook page that she had been found. Apparently one of their reporters misheard a statement during a press conference and posted the misinformation. To their credit - WSLS has taken responsibility for the error and apologized.

What they fail to recognize is that the error was NOT the posting of wrong information. The error was rushing to be first with the "news" and failing to check their facts. Many of the comments on their Facebook apology are followers of the site that say "mistakes happen...we're all human" - WRONG. Yes, WE are human. THEY are journalists. They have a responsibility to present accurate information on all of their news outlets - even their Facebook page.

It brought back the moronic error by KTVU in San Francisco when they read that the pilots in the Asisana Airlines crash were Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow. SERIOUSLY? You shouldn't be that damn stupid and be allowed to anchor the news. They were in such a rush to report something new in the story that they not only didn't fact check - they apparently never read them aloud before taking it on the air.

I think that John Chancellor, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite are spinning in their graves.

Let's get this straight. You are NOT bloggers. You are NOT just informing your friends. You are reporters. You get paid to report the news. And we would prefer facts that have been vetted (look it up if you don't know what it means) than speed. If you want to spend your time speculating on what might be true - or if you want to be an opinion writer - do us all a favor and get a job at Entertainment Tonight.

Reporting isn't a race. Stop treating it that way.

Friday, August 2

Stealing my nephews soul

As I understand it - there are tribes in the outback of Australia and in Africa (and probably other places) whose members believe that photographs steal a piece of the subject's soul. I got my information from the movie Crocodile Dundee, I think. But regardless, I believe that my nephew Jacob may be aboriginal. Because I've never met a young man who hates having his picture taken more than he does.

He recently returned to Montana after visiting Virginia for a month. I didn't know I would miss him as much as I do. He brings with him all the challenges of an 8 year old boy - an impish delight in driving the adults around him crazy, seemingly endless energy, a puzzling sense of humor. But he also has a charming smile, a love for adventure and one of the most infectious laughs I've ever encountered.

The month flew by.

Some of the things I'll remember most? Camping at Jellystone with the church family is high on the list. Even though I didn't get to see him very much - he spent as much time as possible enjoying the water slides, pool, jumping pillows and running amok with friends - both old and new. And even though he told me that he didn't sing during devotions...he did seem to listen! And when I asked for input, he was one of the few who spoke up (including the adults). The boy played hard and slept even harder.

One evening I decided to take him out to dinner - just the two of us. It is an activity that I did with my nephew Jack (now 18) when he was about that age. I was reminded of the fact that each of my nephews and niece are individuals. Jack always favored a restaurant with "waiters and real forks" - and we tried a lot of new and different foods together. When I asked where Jacob wanted to go to dinner, he decided on Chik-fil-a. Well, if that is what he wanted...who was I to argue? We enjoyed (?) dinner, he got chicken grease on my phone, spilled my drink and played in the playground. After that we went to Peaksview Park where I got to see another aspect of his individualism. Whereas Jack (at that age) always wanted to hang out close to me...Jacob departed the car, saw some boys playing, and took off to join in the fun. After they left we spent a few minutes playing tag, just the two of us...but headed to meet my sister for shaved ice pretty quickly (I was worn out!!!). It was pretty neat to see how played with the other boys - making sure that everyone was involved. One boy was a little shy, but Jacob made sure he was included.

But I think that the evening that I will remember most is our evening at Tiny Town golf. Mom, Dad, Denise (aka Aunt Moe), Jacob and his Dad (my brother Gordon) all met to play. Since we thought 6 people would be too many...we split into two teams. I was excited that Jacob picked me and Aunt Moe to be on his team. Although he could have picked more talented players, we lost miserably to the other team...I was happy to be able to spend an hour enjoying his company. I even got two hole-in-ones! And a whole lot of 5s...I am an inconsistent player.

We wrapped up the evening (and our month together) back at The Sweet Spot for ice cream and shaved ice. It was excellent. The next day when he and his Dad headed to catch his flight to Montana...I shed some tears that I hadn't expected to shed. He is far from me geographically, not far from my heart.

But I still don't know why farts are so funny...