January 30, 2009

How to have a Superbowl party

I've been hosting Superbowl parties for the last 4-5 years and they've always been a blast. This year Ina and I are going much smaller because our place isn't nearly as large as my old place, so we've reduced our party size significantly.

I read this blog entry about how to have the perfect Superbowl party. Just a warning, it's a little vulgar, but hilarious nonetheless. They've got a pretty good looking chili recipe somewhere near the middle too. I've included some of my favorites below, and tried to clean it up a little.

If there are people at your party who don’t know (crap) about football, they better (effing) be all be women.
People who come to watch the game are here to watch the game, not explain what's going on for every play!

You must have a high definition television.
Check. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't watch the game from home if we didn't have high definition!

You must have enough seating for all guests, and clear sightlines to the screen.
Ina and I debated for awhile because she wanted to invite more people and I just didn't think there would be enough space. We estimated the seating and in the end we both agreed that 6 people (plus us 2) was the absolute max that our place and setup could handle.

Do not mix partisan guests and nonpartisan guests.
Last year we had the perfect setup with an entire room full of people cheering for the Giants and quite a few of us who hated those cheating Patriots. When David Tyree made that catch off his helmet, my living room absolutely exploded. This year, I'm not sure who will be cheering for whom. I personally don't mind seeing the Steelers win (it's not like it would be unexpected) but I think most people who don't know who to cheer tend to cheer for the (heavy) underdogs. Go Cardinals!

Make the volume of the TV loud enough to shut down any potential conversation.
This one is huge for me. I hate it when people talk during anything I'm watching, even if it's about the show we're watching. Wait until a commercial break or something. I need to here *everything*. Plus I just love listening to John Madden's cliche commentary.

Mandatory food items: Wings, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Nachos, chips and salsa, guacamole, pizza, popcorn, jar of Nutella with spoon in it (for me only).

Have weed handy in case the game goes to (crap).
No weed, but we do have Wii, PS3, XBOX360 and board games just in case.

January 26, 2009

In the news: Batman, Blow outs, and TAs

Apparently people are upset that The Dark Knight didn't get nominated for Best Picture. I don't know about that one... I saw Dark Knight and I enjoyed it and thought it was a good movie. But did I think it deserved to be nominated for Best Picture? Did I think it was a special film? I think getting a nomination for Heath Ledger, that was deserved. Dark Knight was a very good action film, easily the best Batman film to date, and thoroughly entertaining. But Best Picture? C'mon.

About the only argument I can give for Dark Knight, is that since getting hitched I haven't really been too active in trying to catch all the nominated films like in previous years (sorry KL). So maybe it's been a weak year for films and therefore, maybe it DID deserve to be nominated. But if I were to put it up with previous years where I did watch most of the nominated films, there is no way Dark Knight gets nominated.

I have however, found time to watch Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I enjoyed both movies. In terms of the Button film, I wonder if I could have had a little more respect for the film if I hadn't already seen Forrest Gump (and considered it to be one of my all-time favorite movies). It's hard not to compare movies like that. I would imagine that being an Academy Award judge could be very difficult after you've seen as many movies as they have, and being that so many films are similar, how do you make an objective opinion? As much as I enjoy watching movies, that doesn't sound like a very easy job to me. Btw, I loved Slumdog Millionaire.

I read this article last week about a girl's highschool basketball game, where one team absolutely destroyed another team 100-0. Even if you ignore the fact that the losing team was comprised of students from a school of students with learning disabilities, you can't not wonder how it came to that score. I mean, if you're up 30-0, wouldn't you let up at that point? Scoring 100 points in no easy task, even most college basketball games end up with teams scoring somewhere between 60-80 points. What made this story worse was that the winning school was a Christian academy. Apparently the coach refused to apologize for allowing the game to get out of hand the way it did, and he was fired as a result. The school said this in a statement: "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition."

I'm guessing that statement would fall on deaf ears in the CCSA.

Another bit of news I found interesting was the York TA Strike. And by interesting, what I really mean is "stupid". Keep in mind that I have very little understanding of this situation so take whatever I say here with a grain of salt. I read this article about how this guy was making just $14,000 per year and the author made it a point that this is well below the poverty line. As well, the person talks about how he is supported by his parents, and that they own a store and are struggling too, so that makes it difficult for the family.

Don't get me wrong.. I get that this is a tough economy. But aren't we talking about a part-time job here? Can you really be complaining about being under the poverty line when you're not making a full effort to make money? I mean I can totally feel for a person working 60-70 hours per week doing various jobs to feed their family. But aren't we talking about a bunch of grad students who are basically working part time to pay for their tuition? At the end of the day, staying in school is a choice. If you can't afford it, why not quit your job and join the workforce like the rest of us?

And how is it that we're always hearing about strikes at York University and not at other schools? Are they being paid significantly less than TAs from other schools? What is the average salary of a unionized TA? Google says approximately $20-24 per hour. What is that, like 15 hours per week? Below the poverty line my ass. No one is forcing you to get another degree.

January 19, 2009

Second post about broccoli

I posted about broccoli a couple of years ago and here I am doing it again. Broccoli is one of my all time favorite vegetables. I like them raw or cooked, however, I do not like them mushy.

I could never figure out why grocery stores would sell broccoli for the same price as broccoli crowns. Now I know why. Found this on the web.


Does the stem of broccoli have the same nutritient content as the florets for those people who prefer to eat only the stems?


Thanks for your question. The stems of broccoli are a good source of insoluble fiber, but do not have the same beta-carotene, potassium or vitamin C content of the florets.

So basically the stems are junk and worthless to farmers, otherwise why charge the same price?

January 12, 2009

Another weekend of football

I just noticed in the news that Tony Dungy retired from coaching the Indianapolis Colts. That's sad news coming from a Colts fan. The NFL needs more guys like him -- great role models, guys with integrity and strong character. It's unfortunate but probably for the better. He's young enough that he can still work on the many ministries he's involved with, and of course spend more time with his family.

Ina and I watched approximately 14-16 hours of football over the past two days and to be honest, as much I enjoyed watching these games, my eyes were getting pretty tired from staring at the television last night.. especially since there was an additional 2 hours of 24 tacked on after the Steelers/Chargers game.

In the first game, I thought Tennessee would be able to hold off the Baltimore Ravens in a matchup of two of the most unforgiving defenses in the league. These two teams had played before and I guess the matchup had ended in not-so-friendly terms. The two teams appeared to hate eachother.

I told my brother before the game that I thought the Titans would win it because the Titans possessed the only play-maker on the field -- Chris Johnson. There was never any doubt that both teams had strengths and weaknesses, but overall they were pretty evenly matched. What it came down, at least for me, was the presence of one Chris Johnson, the rookie runningback for the Tennessee Titans.

So for the first half, I was proven right. Chris Johnson led the way, moving the chains and pretty much making the Ravens defense look human. But then he hurts his ankle and he's out for the second half, and the Ravens claw back and win it. Titans were completely useless on offense without Chris, which is not surprising since he was pretty much all they had going for them in the first half.

The second game I expected to be a blowout. I was telling my friend from the States (who was cheering for Kurt Warner) that Carolina had Arizona dominated in pretty much every statistical category there was. I told him that the only chance Arizona had was if they were to run the ball effectively; and their run offense was the worst in the league. The chances of Arizona winning this game was close to nothing.

Arizona did everything that I thought they couldn't pull off. The stars aligned and Warner used Edgerrin James like during his glory days with Marshall Faulk and got the offense running on all cylinders. Further, they took an early lead preventing Carolina from using their dominant running game.

Throughout the 3rd and 4th quarters I felt that Carolina should have just run the ball down Arizona's throats. Forget the conventional wisdom of airing it out when you're down and just run like hell. If they had started doing this earlier in the game, there would be no reason to force the ball to Steve Smith or worry about running the clock down. Instead, Jake Delhomme throws 5 interceptions on his way to quite easily one of the worst performances of his life.

The Saturday games were more exciting than the Sunday games, even though I thought Sunday's games were more important.

Next up were the Giants against the surging Eagles. I told my brother that this game was going to go either way, McNabb had been playing well and the Eagles' defense had been very, very good over their last few games. But the game was being played in the Meadowlands and I just didn't think Philly would be able to stop all 3 of Bradshaw, Jacobs and Ward -- the Giant's 3-headed running force.

I was proven wrong though as the Eagles were able to stop them from running and then it came down to Eli trying to beat Eagles' secondary. Eli just was not on his game, at all, throwing inaccurate passes on his way to an unimpressive day. I thought the Giants did a good job of limiting Brian Westbrook and had a fair shot to win this game if it weren't for Eli's uninspiring performance. Any time your defense plays great and you still can't win the game, it's easy to point fingers. They lost this game because of Eli and that hurts, especially after his back-to-the-wall performances in the playoffs last year.

In the final game was Chargers vs Pittsburgh, and I have to admit at this point I was pretty football'ed out. Ina was cheering for Pittsburgh and I cheered for the Chargers which in all honesty came down to me just wanting to see an offense-heavy team win over a superb defense. I saw no reason they could win except through some freakish luck or tragedy from the Steelers' side. I thought even if they had to go with their backup Byron Leftwich, the Steelers should still win this game handily.

Vincent Jackson has had a great year, which surprises me because I never expected that he would be. In previous years, the #1 WR in SD was always the 3rd option on offense after Tomlinson and Gates, and even so I thought Chris Chambers was their best WR. Philip Rivers has had a fantastic year, and has really grown into a good leader of the team even if he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Looking back I'm not even sure Vincent Jackson was even drafted in either of my leagues. I guess the minute we heard Tomlinson was iffy I should have went out and grabbed him.

Somehow I can never get fantasy football out of my head. Okay, back to the game. The Steelers dominated this game because the Chargers had no running game. I hope that all the talk about Darren Sproles being good enough to be a starter, or that he is anywhere nearly as good as Michael Turner can finally stop. The guy is fast and quick, but he's too small and outside of a couple of big meaningless saving-face plays towards the end of the game, when Pittsburgh was just going through the motions and looking towards next week, he was a non-factor in the game.

Next week is Pittsburgh against Baltimore, which I think Pittsburgh should take because they have an offense, and then the more interesting matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the upstart Arizona Cardinals.

I'm going to be cheering for the Cards next week, but looking at the way the Eagles contained the Giant's runners, I don't really see how the Cards can run. I would be just as happy to see the Eagles make it.

January 08, 2009

Wildcard Weekend

A friend showed me this site, AdvancedNFLStats.com, which I've spent quite a bit of time reading over the past few days. The author takes a lot of misconceptions in football and clarifies them with statistical analysis. Being a numbers guy I'm fascinated with the stuff he's got here, everything from debunking things like "establishing the run", to whether or not defenses truly win championships, or his take on Spygate.

A lot went on last weekend and I just wanted to weigh in on the weekend of exciting football.

The first game we watched was Atlanta in Arizona. Right off the bat Matt Ryan threw an interception and I thought oh boy, this rookie needs to settle down, which he did. What shocked me early on about the Cards was how much they were running the football in the first quarter, and then why they abandoned the run thereafter. It's a wonder to me how such a potent aerial assault remained successful with no running game whatsoever, unless you count goal-line plunges/dives by Tim Hightower.

Even though Atlanta lost, you'd have to be pretty satisfied and if anything, vindicated, if you're a Falcons fan after the Michael Vick fiasco. This team is headed back in the right direction. Matt Ryan easily had one of the best rookie seasons for a QB since, well, this season's MVP Peyton Manning. And his team certainly had a far better record to show for.

Arizona faces Carolina next week in Carolina, where they face very steep odds of upsetting a team that pretty much dominates them in every facet of the sport. My advice for the Cards is to run, run, and then run some more. Edgerrin James is a fresh after having done almost nothing this year! USE HIM! If there is one thing Carolina isn't so great at, it's stopping the run.

The second game we watched was a heartbreaker. My brother says he hates being a Colts fan in January, and I can see exactly what he means. They break your heart.

I'm not going to say much about this game because it was too close to my heart. Neither of these teams were headed to the Superbowl anyway. Anyone who watched it knows why the Colts lost. Bad defense, terrible tackling and an ineffective running game. Why the Chargers won? Darren Sproles. Their offense sputtered and their backup runningback stepped up against one of the worst run defenses in the playoffs to win it. The Chargers are gonna get demolished by the Steelers.

What I do want to talk about is two things. How in world does an 8-8 team have home field advantage over a 12-4 team? Where is Mark Cuban when you need him most? Mr. Goodell, I propose that you change the rules: Divisional Champs can still make the playoffs, but the seeding needs to change. Home field goes to teams with better records.

Second thing is the overtime. The coin toss that has decided 60% of all overtime games in the past 8 years. Did you know that 99% of all team who won the coin toss in overtime have elected to receive? And 60% of those teams who got the ball first won the game? 30% of all overtime games ended in the coin-toss loser having never touched the ball on offense.

My proposal is this: Have a 5th period that is not sudden death, teams just play another 15 minutes to decide the game. If the game is still tied by the end of the 5th quarter, then play college style where one team tries to equal or better the other as they take turns on offense. Loser of a coin toss tries first. It's a shoot-out of sorts, football style.

I missed the Baltimore Ravens against the Miami Dolphins because I was watching the Raptors beat the Magic at the ACC. Joe Flacco won that game Trent Dilfer style, by doing nothing and relying on blistering defense. The NFL's Most Improved Player Chad Pennington decided to kick it "old school" and reminded the league of why the Jets gave up on him in the first place, throwing 4 interceptions in a 35-9 drubbing.

The Ravens will have to show a lot more on offense against the Titans in Tennessee. I believe in Joe Flacco more than Kerry Collins, but I think the Titans can take this simply by shoving the ball down the Ravens' throats with Chris Johnson and Lendale White. I am hoping Jeff Fisher has dissected every second of the Giants' win over the Ravens back in November. In that game, the Giants attacked Ravens' formidable run defense and found a way to get through. Lendale White is built like a tank, similar to Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. And between you and me, there is no comparison between Chris Johnson and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Titans have what it takes to win this one.

The final matchup was between the Eagles and the Vikings. I've never been a huge fan of the Eagles, or Donovan McNabb but I thought this game was the Eagles to lose. Even though they squeaked into the playoffs having had pretty much every impossible scenario fall into place, I honestly thought they were the better team even coming into it. Tavaris Jackson was replaced for a reason. He's young and raw and given that he didn't have the entire season to develop confidence, the minute he started to thwart, it was all downhill and you could feel it happening right before your eyes. There was no way this team was going to go deep into the playoffs with an inexperienced quarterback. McNabb is the QB that Tavaris Jackson hopes to become in 5-6 years.

The Eagles at the Giants game this week is the one to look out for. I think it is the most evenly matched.