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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for 2012

Angels with smokin’ hot bats

So far, it’s a pitcher’s year in major-league baseball. Not on my team, however.

I pass the first monthly milestone with massive advantages in hitting, due in part to Matt Kemp, who leads the National League in batting average, home runs, RBIs, runs, and hits. David Wright, with the second best batting average, and Jay Bruce, with the second most homers, are a capable supporting cast.

My pitchers are also bucking the trend somewhat, unfortunately. Mat Latos has been almost as bad as Matt Kemp is good. My relievers have had some bad outings and I’ve lost for the year a back-end starter, Chris Narveson.

Yet I find myself in third place at the end of April. I dropped Narveson and picked up Marco Estrada, his replacement on the Milwaukee Brewers. Estrada will get more strikeouts.

.284 batting average (1st by .013)
46 HR (1st by 16!)
146 runs (1st by 2)
145 RBI (1st by 13)
20 SB (5th in the middle of a pack)
3.68 ERA (7th)
1.28 WHIP (6th)
145 K (9th, ten out of 7th)
10 wins (tied for 6th but two out of 4th)
6 saves (tied for 6th)

Remember how I estimated 46 points of hitting? Right now, I have 46 points of hitting. I estimated totals of .275, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. On a pro-rated basis, I have .284, 276 HR, 876 R, 870 RBI, and 120 SB. Of all my estimates, I’m only really off in wins and strikeouts, and with seven active starters (Chris Luebke and Estrada qualify as relief pitchers, and if Chris Carpenter starts, he would make it eight), those numbers should start to climb.

Fox backs down

On March 24, YouTube sent the following notice about the half-minute “Futurama” clip I had uploaded to illustrate my point in “Futurama commits clownslaughter“.

Dear 101Webs,

Your video “Futurama commits clownslaughter”, may have content that is owned or licensed by FOX. As a result, the video has been blocked on YouTube.

This claim is penalizing your account status. Visit your Copyright Notices page for more details on the policy applied to your video.

– The YouTube Team

When this happens to you, you have two options. You can succumb to the man and take down your video or you can contest the accusation at risk of losing your YouTube account.

I contested. In my reply, I claimed fair use of the clip for illustrative and educational purposes.

What do you know – FOX agreed. I got this today:

Here we go again…

Over the past year, I’ve added several fellow managers in the Irrational League to my Facebook friends list. Doing this little monthly updates may expose my position, but so what.

We held our draft last Saturday. As a reminder, we’re in a ten-team NL-only 5×5 league with 25-man rosters and four reserves apiece. We start with six keepers (new) and over five hours scrape every last dreg out of the pot.

This year, I had some choices to make. I had eight protectable players: Matt Kemp, David Wright, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Jay Bruce, Mat Latos, Corey Luebke, Chris Carpenter.

Chris Carpenter’s neck injury quickly whittled the list down to seven, and as much as I love fellow Rice alum Lance Berkman, he was the oldest of the bunch. Bye, Lance.

I went conservative this year. Last year I finished in the money by the hair of my chinny chin chin, with Chris Carpenter’s masterpiece edging me in. A lot went wrong with the draft, as several of my hitters fell off the face of the Earth. This year, I went with more reliable choices… I think. We’ll see. I did take a chance on Chris Carpenter, but that was a late pick and he’s deep in my reserves. And my only first basemen are both question marks, but how hard is it to find a first baseman?

My 2012 hitters and projections:

C: Yadier Molina: .290, 10 HR, 50 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
C: Miguel Montero: .285, 15 HR, 60 R, 70 RBI
1B: Bryan LaHair: .270, 15 HR, 45 R, 50 RBI
2B: Aaron Hill: .245, 20 HR, 70 R, 70 RBI, 15 SB
SS: Jason Bartlett: .255, 5 HR, 55 R, 45 RBI, 20 SB
3B: David Wright: .285, 20 HR, 80 R, 80 RBI, 15 SB
CI: Justin Turner: .260, 5 HR, 45 R, 45 RBI, 5 SB
MI: Omar Infante: .290, 5 HR, 55 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Holliday: .300, 25 HR, 75 R, 80 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Matt Kemp: .290, 30 HR, 100 R, 100 RBI, 30 SB
OF: Jay Bruce: .255, 30 HR, 85 R, 90 RBI, 5 SB
OF: Nyjer Morgan: .280, 5 HR, 55 R, 40 RBI, 20 SB
OF: Chris Heisey: .260, 20 HR, 55 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB
UT: Jim Thome: .240, 15 HR, 35 R, 35 RBI
UT: Gerardo Parra: .290, 5 HR, 45 R, 35 RBI, 5 SB

Adam Kennedy and Josh Hamilton have bench spots. Hey, if the Rangers tank, Hamilton will be on the move.

I estimate totals of .275, 225 HR, 910 R, 900 RBI, and 140 SB. That’s less than I normally draft, but I think that’s a function of last year’s overall reduction in hitting. By last year’s stats, those numbers are good for first in average, home runs, and RBI while well above average in the other two categories. Let’s call it third. That’s 46 points, which is amazing, but I think it’s an exaggeration.

I like my pitching, especially Luebke, who still qualifies as a reliever. There are very few decent starters who qualify as relievers this year. I can think of one, and I have him. There are others, but I don’t like their chances.

SP: Mat Latos: 14 W, 175 K, 3.45 ERA; 1.20 WHIP
SP: Ted Lilly: 12 W, 145 K, 4.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
SP: Jordan Zimmermann: 12 W, 140 K, 3.60 ERA; 1.25 WHIP
SP: Jhoulys Chacin: 12 W, 145 K, 3.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
P: Erik Bedard: 9 W, 135 K, 3.90 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
P: Chris Narveson: 11 W, 130 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
RP: Corey Luebke: 12 W, 145 K, 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
RP: Sean Marshall: 30 Sv, 4 W, 70 K, 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
RP: Eric O’Flaherty: 5 W, 60 K, 2.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
RP: Bill Bray: 3 W, 55 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Chris Narveson is the only guy I can’t stomach, but he’s only holding a place for Chris Carpenter. I also have Francisco Rodriguez on the bench for emergencies, or if John Axford goes toes up.

I figure I’ll get 30 saves (good for sixth), 94 wins (second), 1195 K (third), an ERA of 3.65 (fifth), and a WHIP of 1.27 (sixth). That’s 33 points in total, which is weak on its own. Combined with the 46 hitting points, though, the total of 79 points should be enough to win. It should take 76 (I had 70 last year).

Mysteries of the ancient world

I’m back home now, but I still have a few photos to share. It took three full days, but I finally managed to clear out my dad’s office and closet – only to fill the closet again with stuff Brother Two wants to keep but couldn’t fit in his suitcases.

I found a Mac PowerBook 1400C in the closet, deep in the strata. I think in total, my dad had 11 computers, of which two were hooked up. I cleaned up a clamshell iBook and then plugged in and powered up the PowerBook. As you can see if you click on the thumbnail to the left, it booted into System 8.6 as perfectly as possible. I think my dad last used it in early 2003, judging by the dates on the files. Good thing he kept it around.

We also found a brass case. We have no idea what it is. Other than the photos below, here’s what we know…. The “fan” folds open and closed and rotates freely. The axle fits into some sort of plastic apparatus that barely resembles a small electric motor, although there is no resistance to rotation. There is no place for batteries, and since the entire case is made of metal and there are no wires, we doubt it is an electrical device of any kind, or any sort of motor for that matter. But of what use is a manual fan or propellor?

The bottom of the device opens up. Is something supposed to go in there? Take a look, and please guess – or even better, inform.

The inscription on the bottom of the case reads: “PATENTS PENDING / DON QUIXOTE / MADE IN BRITAIN”. Don Quixote is a cigar company and I suspect this has something to do with tobacco, but I’m stumped.

Speaking of mysteries, this video has me, an avowed skeptic, stumped:

Bonus l33t CSS skillz:

I’ve been struggling with getting slideshows to center. I’m using a WordPress plugin called Portfolio Slideshow, which is easy to use and format, but which is inexplicably impossible to center on a page.

Many people have the same predicament, but the developer’s only official response is that the Pro version ($9) has the ability to center the slideshow.

Nine bucks? I didn’t teach myself CSS for nothing! Here’s my custom Portfolio Slideshow CSS code for WordPress. On your Dashboard, open Appearance > Editor. Click on the Stylesheet link at the bottom right. (I ignore the stylesheets for IE6 and IE7. Screw ’em.) Add the following code to your stylesheet and save:

div.portfolio-slideshow {margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto; width:60%; margin-top:20px; border: solid 1px #d4d7ca;}
div.slideshow-nav {text-align:center; margin-bottom:20px;}

You may want to play with that width percentage to get it perfect on your layout. The margin-top and border styles are optional, as is the entire .slideshow-nav class.

This only works for one specific size of slideshow image. In my case, I’m using 400-pixel-wide images.

Dogs and the family

We never knew this story until Tuesday, when we cracked open a scrapbook that once belonged to my grandfather’s brother, Max.

When Jacques (my grandfather, although he went by “Jack”) was a kid in the Netherlands, he owned a small dog. His father, Bernard, thought that a big photo of their boys and the dog to hang on the wall would make a great present for his wife, Josina.

The photograph was taken, blown up, framed, and presented to Josina. She took one look at it and exclaimed that there was no way she could hang that in her house. She pointed out the dog, which had an erection that the males had somehow overlooked.

That’s one well-endowed terrier. Jack is on the left, Max on the right.

The gift was modified by the 1920s’ version of Photoshop – that is, an artist – and the final product, um, hung in their home for 50 years. I don’t know what happened to that, but thank goodness we have a print of the original. Jack was born in 1914, so I estimate that the photo was taken around 1925.

The dog’s name, even before this photograph, was Dickey.

But 1925 wasn’t Max’s last appearance in a photo with a strange dog.

That’s a trained dog, allegedly, but the look on its face says, “If you take my picture, I’m going to kill somebody.” This has meme potential.

Bonus schadenfreude:

That’s a lot of caulk

In a previous blog, we established that my dad hoarded junk. He also hoarded useful items. Elvi was working on the garage, and she came across my dad’s caulk.

She couldn’t believe how big my dad’s caulk collection was. It was massive: enough caulk for three houses.

Here’s a pic of her and my dad’s caulk:

Elvi needs more than two hands to handle my dad's caulk.

I swear this post was her idea.

Fashion and faux pas

Much of Sunday was spent going through Dad’s clothes with Brother Two. Brother One (both are younger than me, by the way) wasn’t yet in Freeport and the clothes wouldn’t fit him regardless.

We found a lot of clothes… – from the ’70s, let’s say to be charitable. And what better way to celebrate the ’70s than with a slide show!

You may have noticed that I put a modern twist on the jeans. I think my favourite bit of these photos is my brother’s hands clasped with glee in the first picture.

That wasn’t all the clothing-related hilarity. After some delicious snapper and cracked conch (best I ever ate) at Billy Joe’s on the beach, Elvi bent over to wash her hands in the ocean. Two ladies and a man walking by in the right place at the wrong time got an eyeful of her underwear as her shorts ripped from stem to stern. The man cracked up – you can’t blame him – but the helpful ladies gave us a towel to keep.

I used the towel to highlight the damage.

Elvi, learning from my father’s poor example, did not keep the shorts.

Bonus observation:

If you think I’m fat, check out this curly-tail lizard.

At least I signed up for flag football this spring and summer.

Dealing with the hoard

Elvi and I landed in the Bahamas yesterday afternoon and immediately started helping my sister, Brother Two, and Marion (the widow Nyveen) to clean up my dad’s house.

While my dad never hoarded enough to make reality TV, he rarely threw anything out. That’s now our job. For example, there are four fax machines, three printers, and an eight-track player (see pic) occupying shelves.

I spent most of Friday emptying the attic while my brother piled the stuff on the patio. A lot of it was Quorum products (a multi-level marketing scheme) left over from the early 1990s. You never know when old electronics will come back into fashion.

We’re throwing them out. The old phones, too (see other pic)- although I wold have kept a rotary-dial phone had there been any. All we found was a dial.

The photo below shows about three quarters of the attic contents on the patio. Unfortnately, you can only barely make out the five different briefcases we found. They are at the back of the pile.

For the first time ever, we have left the children under their own supervision. The girls have checked in.

Child Two:

Everything’s fine. No problems yet.

Child One:

Nothing much has changed since this morning. I made lunches, we all went to school. Child Two is over at a friend’s for some amount of time, so I’m having a drunken orgy. Other than that, all clear.


Tomorrow, I’ll have pics of Brother Two and I getting jiggy with Dad’s wardrobe. Even more awesome.

My Groupon addiction (and a poll)

I love shopping, and I love shopping for bargains even more. Back in California once, my college friend Alex commented on how nice my suit looked. I told him I found it for only $200. Elvi reproached me about talking cost rather than gracefully accepting the compliment. Had I learned my lesson, I wouldn’t have written that just now.

Groupon has found itself in the news over the past year, mostly due to its failures. I still don’t think it has much of a business model, but great googly moogly, the deals are fantastic.

I was initially lured in by the offer of four 60-minute massages at a reputable spa for a mere $100. Talk about happy endings! After that, I couldn’t turn down a comprehensive auto-detailing package for $85. Nothing polishes off winter like detailing.

I realized I had a problem when I found myself considering a diode-laser hair remover for $200. That’s 80% off retail. No, I let that deal pass.

What I didn’t let pass, at one-tenth the cost ($19 after delivery – there I go again) and 1,000 times the fun of laser hair removal was a VooMote One. Former FCC chairman Michael Powell once called the TiVo “God’s machine“. The VooMote is God’s remote control.

The VooMote One is an infrared device that when couple with an iPhone or iPod Touch turns the latter into a universal remote. It is amazing.

Granted, I could have bought a universal remote but that doesn’t solve my problem, which is that the everyone in my house loses or breaks remotes. This way, I have my VooMote at my desk and I can slip it on when needed.

You can program the VooMote by brand of equipment and a quick test sequence or by teaching it with your remote. It works as advertised, and have I said it is amazing yet?

Not all is perfect, however. I have three issues. Firstly, the app had to attempt the VooMote firmware upgrade three times before it was successful. That happens occasionally, and the company advises you to stop the process and try again if it happens – although the app itself tells you you can ruin the equipment if you do that. Mine is fine.

Secondly, the matte-black plastic case holds onto fingerprints. Mine already looks grubby. It’s not a deal-breaker for me.

The final problem is not the fault of the VooMote. We have an old Sanyo CRT television that the VooMote does not recognize – and I can’t teach the VooMote from the TV remote since the kids have lost it.

Bonus poll:

Buoyed by the success of Nibbler’s teeth, I am considering further customization. I’m thinking of ordering magnetic vinyl decals for the front fenders. On one side would be Nibbler and on the other would be a 101 Squadron badge. Here are the images and a mock-up of what each side would look like. Ignore the positions of the decals for now. We can discuss that later. (I had no side photos with the teeth installed.)

Which, if any, badges should decorate the Mazda?

View Results

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I nearly killed myself

Late last night, after everyone else was asleep, I was leaning back in my chair when I heard a resounding crack and all the lights went out. More worrisome, I smelled smoke.

My biggest fear was that the iPhone had blown up due to a power surge, but I had not connected it to its USB cable. It was working fine. Using the trusty Flashlight app on my iPhone, I investigated all major electronics and outlets in the vicinity: iMac, router, modem, external hard disk, printer, throttle, joystick, and rudder pedals. I found nothing wrong or warm.

I went downstairs and discovered that the downstairs was not affected. Only one circuit breaker had tripped. I flipped it on and went back upstairs. There, I noticed a grey patch on the white extension cord that leads to the printer. The cord was sliced down to the copper wire inside.

I examined my $16 folding Home Depot chair. The plastic foot is missing from one of the legs. (I should explain that I hate chairs on wheels. They distract me and are no good for flight simming.)

I conclude that the leg of the chair was on the extension cord and when I leaned back, it cut into the insulation and shorted out the circuit. The insulation melted or burned a bit, but the voltage passed harmlessly through the chair’s metal leg.

I suppose I was in no real danger, but would have read this lame excuse of a blog post if I hadn’t sensationalized the title? Are you even reading it now?

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