Don’t Worry

I did not have this affect me. To be quite frank, I don’t twitter anyway and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. I do have a Facebook page, but I’m pretty much never on it during the day. Apparently, the whole episode is related to global politics. In a perverse way, I suppose this could be a clever way to silence dissent. Of course, I hope web security continues to improve so nothing like this happens again for a while. It will eventually, in my view. Just like steroids in sports, it’s hard to stay one step ahead of the people who are concocting whatever schemes we try to stop.

Anyway, the real reason I was away from the blog for most of the week is that I have been interviewing for potential new work opportunities- right now I only do some limited part-time stuff, so I am looking for a bit more steady work. Outside of that, I try to mix in blogging and hard work finding those job advertisements. We’ll see how that all shakes out going forward. I do have one strong possibility I will be mulling over during the coming weekend (possibly out here) Since the unemployment rate dropped slightly, I guess things can only get better than, at least the markets think so. Quite a few economists and/or pundits, however, think otherwise, and at the moment, they’re probably right. Even the President seems to acknowledge that the rate is probably going to head up unless either a lot more people stop trying to work, job cuts suddenly stop for one reason or another, or something else happens to confound current projections.

Whatever. It’s Friday, so we’ll cut the gloom for a couple of days at least! Enjoy Yankees-Red Sox instead.

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A Day at the Races

Somewhat on the spur of the moment this past Saturday, I decided to make the short trip to Belmont Park for this year’s Stakes Day. Actually, it wasn’t so short after a couple of train changes, and going home, I got a small taste of the dreaded “Change at Jamaica” in trying to make the necessary connections. But no big deal, a small price to pay for having a good time and not having to fight traffic on the local roads.

Belmont is a bit of a throwback to an earlier time in sports. The general admission charge was $10 (less for most days of the meet, more for reserved seats and the Clubhouse) and there are obvious signs of aging in the main building. Still, it’s certainly a more than functional venue. Once inside, you have license to walk around most of the place, except the track, barns, and seating areas. Basically, I went to place bets with the help of muddy-old television screens, a program, or the Daily Racing Form which could be purchased. A little instinct and luck helps too. You can also go to the track’s backyard, where fans scarf down food and drinks- unfortunately for modern-era prices- and watch for horses to take the ceremonial march to the track. After that, they either queue along the front stretch for a view of the race (and during the Stakes itself, the crowd was several people deep) or watch from benches inside. Either way, you have to watch most of the race off a TV since you can’t see much of the track unless you’re in one of those premium reserved seats/boxes higher up. When the horses arrive “down the stretch,” man do people scream, hoping to cash in big. In an era of all-seat stadiums (or at least benched bleachers) with direct views of the playing field, horse racing is a taste of what it might have been like to watch outside the ropes at old-time baseball parks, which sometimes were literally all that separated fans from the outfield or foul territory.

Belmont Park Finish Line

How did my wagering fare? Not so well. There was one consolation prize. I managed to get close enough to the winner’s circle during the Belmont Stakes to see Summer Bird cross the line and then get someone else to take a few pictures of the celebration. Oh, and I was just about face-to-face with the Governor, in a cheerful mood on this occasion, as he shook hands and autographed programs for everyone who could get close to him. Hey, with the specter of a tough reelection campaign and maybe even a party primary next year, who could blame him for trying to work the crowd a bit. Of course, he wasn’t so jovial after yesterday’s chaos… What a mess in Albany. No leadership, no ideas, and not much else to write home about either.

David Paterson at the Belmont Stakes

Good way to spend a perfect summer afternoon. Next time though, I seriously gotta do more homework on the horses so I can actually win money!

Belmont Stakes Winner's Circle

There Are Two Places…

Thus begins Walter Cronkite’s supposed quote about Colgate University. He might have said and meant it, or maybe he didn’t, just as Yogi Berra joked about his infamous quotations (and later titled a book in the same manner). Doesn’t matter to us Colgate-types who actually lived the school. We wear it like a badge every time Spring Party Weekend comes around. Is it as crazy now as it supposedly was “back then”? I’d have no way to tell you; nobody else in my family has gone there and I don’t know too many older alums.

Actually, I do have one piece of anecdotal evidence to at least put Colgate up there with anyone else’s springtime festivities. Last year, my brother was a freshman at another prestigious liberal arts school (actually, it’s more of a small ‘full-service’ university). His version of SPW was the same week as ours. More students, more endowment, and arguably bigger-name musical acts, all over there, halfway across the country. And when I asked him how it was going early on the Saturday night, he and some of his friends were just about done. Some wouldn’t even wake up for the big concert.

I laughed. That would never happen at Colgate. From mid-afternoon Friday until the bars closed early on Sunday morning, it always was and still is pretty much non-stop anything and everything goes. Somehow, I only really experienced one SPW in this vein- last year. Not much of anything doing my first couple of years (to be fair, the event and Colgate’s social scene generally were undergoing some renovations), then I was abroad as a junior. Maybe it’s a good thing, as I’ll carry some distinct memories for a while to come of times and drinks shared just before the final push to graduation and real life. If that last point’s true, then when someone asks me about Colgate and SPW before experiencing it, my description won’t be a blurred compilation of years or complaints about the event getting worse as my four years progressed.

Of course, I’ll still start him or her off with Walter Cronkite’s quote. After all, he did give us a near mythological reputation to live up to.

Apologies for my relative lack of stories or specificity. Maybe I’ll do that later, but for now, I think that in an era of loose talk on facebook or the blogosphere frequently carrying unanticipated consequences, it’s probably better to keep the details private!

Game, Set & Match (NCAA Championship Instant Reaction)

Ty Lawson celebrates a good play

Ty Lawson celebrates a good play


Source: UNC’s Athletic Department website.

Wow, North Carolina made that look easy.

55-34 at the half, the highest point total and lead any team has ever had in the title game. Michigan State had more turnovers (14) than field goals (12) in the first half, and for the game it was 22 field goals to 21 turnovers. Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe, and Travis Walton all held to under five points apiece. A double-digit UNC lead from virtually the first TV timeout-on. Boom. Good night; the 89-72 score being mostly window-dressing and an opportunity for players to pad their stats in the final period.

Seriously though. You gotta give the Tar Heels credit for this performance. Everybody stood out tonight. Ty Lawson had to be stopped for Michigan State to contend. Result? 21 points, a final game record eight steals, six assists, and one turnover. MOP (aka “MVP”) Wayne Ellington- 7-12 on field goals and 19 points total. Oh, and that Hansbrough kid? Yeah, he signed off on college pretty nicely, grabbing 18 points. He also leads a class of seniors that won a school-record 124 games. Thanks to Lawson’s spectacular performance (and you could have made as good an argument for him as MOP as for Ellington), he was once again not very many people’s focus. A reality which pretty much tells you how close to unstoppable North Carolina was in this one- and throughout the tournament. They won every single game by double figures; uber-rival Duke was the last team to do that back in 2001. As Jim Nantz said near the end of the game, North Carolina trailed in games for less than 10 minutes total. Both of those stats are mind-boggling in a tournament known for parity, close games, and upsets.

So let the coronation begin of a team that actually lived up to the hype, both prior to and during the season. And as I write this, wild parties and street celebrations have broken out in Chapel Hill which undoubtedly will last into tomorrow and maybe beyond (update: they actually cleared out around 2 or 3 AM, per local police). While President Obama picked the ‘Heels, and I didn’t on my facebook bracket, I did have them in The Beer Lodge league and made a late rally to finish second, two points behind. As for facebook, I finished in the Top 14% but unfortunately outside the top-50,000 people. All things considered, I guess my friends are right about me having decent sports knowledge, at least compared to most Americans. But obviously I still have a long way to go! And based on percentile, Obama only finished in ESPN’s top-20%! Okay, I don’t think I could fare as well as him at his day job.