Friday, December 26, 2008

What are you doing here?

You should be enjoying the vacation season, if you're lucky enough not to be working between Christmas and New Years. Catch some of the holiday sales, as I did. (I bought blankets for the spare bed, but no shoes. Why are there umpteen gazillion pairs of black shoes, and no navy ones?) Sit around and watch movies at home, as we've been doing. (Currently Boy is watching one of the great classics of modern cinema, "Animal House.") Eat all the treats you got for the holiday, as I can't stop doing. (We finish one batch of gift cookies, and someone gives us another. It's nice to be loved, but my waistline has its limits.) Do some of those little projects around the house, as I'll being doing later. Take a nap and enjoy feeling snuggled into your house during the nasty weather.

Don't waste your time coming here. I got nothing. Everyone in the house is on vacation, and so my brain has decided it's joining in. That assignment due in three weeks can wait. So can the blog. Maybe tomorrow my brain will wake up.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rain, rain, go away!

It can stop precipitating up here for a few days. Really. I mean it. Boy got his snow day last Friday, so according to him, any other snow is wasted. We all got the chance to try out the new snow shovel with the fancy handle, so really, we don't need any more snow. And I'd rather it not rain and erase all the hard work shovelling that we've done over the past week. That's just wrong. Besides, this looks so lovely:

Have a happy and joyous Christmas, if that's what you celebrate; if not, celebrate the fact that the winter solstice is over and every day brings more light from now until June!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finally a champ!

Most of you probably know I'm a huge football fan. I bleed Maize 'n' Blue (and there was a LOT of bleeding this year), and I've already written about how being a Lions fan has prepared me for the publication search. Sunday afternoon means my workroom TV is turned to NFL football. When we were living in London, I listened to Michigan games live on the internet, and taped Monday Night Football so I could get my fix. I subscribed to the premium sports channel in January just so I could watch the playoffs and Super Bowl. I even turned a trip to Scotland into an opportunity for football, taking the boys to an NFL Europe game. (Watching football in a soccer stadium half-full of Scottish fans is a mind-trip deserving of its own post someday, but not now.)

The final sign I've gone completely cuckoo for football was joining a fantasy football league a few years back. You may have heard something about fantasy football—it's gone from a weird hobby to a real money-making business over the past few years—but if not, I'll just explain the basics. Essentially, you pick your own "team" made of the basic positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, and defense. Your players can come from a dozen different teams if you like. When they play, you score points for each yard gained, touchdown scored, or fumble recovered (or lost). So every week, you see whether your players earned more points than your opponents'. Based on your performance head-to-head, you get wins and losses; you even have playoffs during the last two or three games of the year.

It sounds crazy, but the NFL loves it—it gives fans who might ignore the sport once their team is out of it* a reason to keep watching. I now pay more attention to all games, hoping to see how my players are doing. And I seemed to do okay with my picks. In my first year, 2005, I finished third in the regular season (thanks to Pats QB Tom Brady and the Indianapolis defense), but I tanked in the playoffs and finished last in the league. In 2006, I again finished third in the regular season (Brady again), and third in the playoffs. Last year, I finished first in the regular season (Indy QB Peyton Manning), but tanked in the playoffs, again finishing third.

But finally, in a year when I got no pleasure from local teams, my fantasy team came through. I got the jackpot #1 draft pick, so I not only got Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, but also Peyton Manning and Bears RB Matt Forte. (Consistent RBs are the key to fantasy success, I've decided.) With some luck in the draft, and some smart pickups, I finished first in the regular season. I squeaked by in my first playoff matchup, and only needed 8 points from the Monday night game to win the championship. I spent last night glued to the Chicago-Green Bay game, muttering "rush Forte!" through three quarters as Chicago's offense went nowhere. Finally, they listened, Forte broke through for some yardage, and eventually scored a TD. And I am now a fantasy football champion.

So I'm happy, even if the whole idea is a bit sad. (Even sadder: I'm trying not to think about how there's only one more month before football is done and I must endure the gloom of winter with nothing but hockey and basketball.)

*Not me, I was still listening to the Lions on the radio Sunday, hoping they might get that first win. They lost. So who's more pathetic, them or me?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Photo of the Week--12/15/08

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you: that church really is a little off-center. This is the Oude Kerk, or "old church," of Delft, the Netherlands. And it is a very old church, founded in 1246, with the lopsided tower completed around 100 years later. It was later superceded by the Nieuwe Kerk, or "new church," which is taller and serves as the burial place of many Dutch monarchs. (And just to give you an idea of what "new" means to Europeans, the Nieuwe Kerk was begun in 1396 and finished 100 years later.) So who can resist taking a photo of a building that is so obviously battling gravity, and winning?