One year with the Nike+ SportWatch
A year ago for my 25th birthday, my sister bought me a Nike+ SportWatch to use to track my running. I was a mild to intermediate runner at the time, running a couple miles a few times a week just to stay loose, but I had plateaued; I wasn’t consistent, and I wasn’t improving. Adding the watch to my running routine has nearly tripled my average distance, taken a good 30 seconds off of my average pace, and makes me look forward to getting out and running five or six times a week. In short, the watch and the data it collects and presents has changed my life.
The rise and fall of The Office
The cynics among us would probably say The Office was over as soon as Michael Scott shed his microphone, uttered a final, muted “that’s what she said” and boarded a flight to Colorado and left Dunder Mifflin for good. They might say that although we didn’t know it at the time, The Office needed Michael Scott. Bringing Will Ferrell in as a short-lived replacement was only the writing on the wall, bringing in James Spader was the nail in the coffin: there would be no one who could tread that line between painfully awkward and painfully funny as well as Steve Carrell did as Michael Scott.
The ninth and final season of The Office just wrapped up shooting. It’s hard to remember a time when The Office wasn’t on, and although the last two seasons have been lackluster, The Office will be remembered as one of the best sitcoms of our generation and certainly one of the defining shows of the early 2000s.
A preview of the 2013 Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians, to say the least, had an atypical offseason. During most offseasons, Indians fans gaze wistfully and briefly through the toy store windows at high priced free agents who are being wooed by richer teams, before coming back to reality and settling for secondhand free agents who are longshots at best. To the credit of the Indians scouting department, some of those longshots actually do pay off (Derek Lowe in 2011 springs to mind), but many of them don’t (Grady Sizemore, Mark DeRosa, David Dellucci. I had abusive nicknames in mind for Dellucci, but in light of the coming baseball season, I’ll hold back). But this offseason was different. Not only did the Indians land Nick Swisher after a somewhat-touching, somewhat-pathetic courting process, but they also landed Michael Bourn (how long until the Indians PR team makes their first Bourne Identity joke?), Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs, and a plethora of other players on minor league contracts like Daisuke Matsusaka, Scott Kazmir and Jason Giambi.
It was really nice to see how Indians fans reacted to the Indians investment in their future. But will it be enough? Is this team good enough to contend? I’ll preview the 2013 Major League Baseball season, with particular emphasis on the Indians, after the break.
I finally saw Lincoln tonight. It’s been in theaters for more than two full months and I’ve wanted to see it since it came out, but work, the holidays and other movies kept coming up and I kept putting it off. But finally, tonight, I saw it, and it was worth the wait. And even though the movie is two months old and most people are done talking about it, I haven’t written in a while and it seems pretty relevant in this climate of political divide and identity crisis. Fair warning: I’ll be writing about a movie you may not have seen. While the plot isn’t much of a mystery, you might prefer to be surprised by the director’s and actors’ interpretations. If that describes you, read with caution.
It’s been one week since an unthinkable tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. It’s one of those events that seems to transcend the normal rules of space and time: the emotional wounds are still fresh and raw, like it just happened yesterday, but at the same time, it’s hard to remember what normal American life was like before it happened. I’ve been in a funk since last Friday, unable to think about anything for long without my thoughts drifting towards Newtown. I’ve been searching for words to say, to write, but I keep coming back to “what is there to say?” So as a fair warning, I probably don’t have anything new or profound to add to the discussion. But I think it’ll help me to write some of these thoughts down.
Why Mike Bloomberg actually does know what's good for you
On September 13, 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved legislation that banned the sale of large sugary soft drinks at restaurants. Spearheaded by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the move was predictably met with some controversy. While one side claimed that the ban of soft drinks was the first step on the road to the Fascist States of America, the other claimed that desperate times called for desperate measures. (I can’t find a quote, but I guarantee you someone used the phrase “with great power, comes great responsibility” at some point.) The controversy was even spoofed on an episode of Parks and Recreation. And in fact, if it weren’t for the cancelled New York Marathon that almost wasn’t, this would have probably been Bloomberg’s most controversial action all year.
This story isn’t new. What is new (or at least, newer) is the cover story in the November 2012 issue of The Atlantic. Mike Bloomberg is on the cover, with a grimace reminiscent my dentist looks at me when I tell him I don’t floss every day, with a caption of “Mike Bloomberg knows what’s good for you”. And for me, it’s a lot like the smoking ban laws passed in several states (including Ohio): I think Bloomberg might be on to something.
How the front office can fix the Indians this offseason
The Major League Baseball playoffs started over the weekend, which means that despite the fact that the Indians season has been officially over for a little less than a week, you could say that the Indians have been in offseason mode for months now. So rather than review this season, I’ll just jump straight into what the Indians should do in the offseason, after the break.
The state of the 2012 campaigns
It’s interesting to me that exactly one year ago today, Michelle Bachmann, while far from a shoo-in, looked a lot closer to the White House than Mitt Romney. On August 13, 2011, Congresswoman Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll, an unofficial kickoff to the primary season and an interesting look at what Republicans think of the field.
Needless to say, times changed. Michelle Bachmann barely made it past the Iowa caucus, as she suspended her campaign the day after a disappointing finish there. Other candidates like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum had their time in the drivers seat, but eventually faded. Whether or not the Republican primary was a war of attrition probably depends on who you ask. But whatever it was, Mitt Romney endured and at the end of this month, will become the Republican nominee for President.
On Saturday, Romney announced that Paul Ryan would be his running mate, which ended a bad week on an extreme upswing. Many analysts have stated, and I agree with them, that Ryan’s entry represents a fresh start to the campaign for Romney, and should really reboot the campaign as a whole.
A case for a more secure Facebook
This past week, a few of us at the office logged into Facebook to discover our accounts had been locked. A few months ago, this would have been a bigger issue for us, but this week the two times we were all locked out were mild annoyances and an opportunity to change our passwords.
The reason our accounts were locked weren’t apparently clear. Facebook blamed “a cybercriminal”, but speaking for myself, I knew I used a very secure password and even if someone had managed to crack it, it was unlikely they’d have been able to crack the rest of our accounts simultaneously (twice, no less). Eventually, we were able to narrow it down to one of our pages sharing politically controversial content, which was being reported as malicious by people who didn’t agree with the content.
But despite the fact that our passwords were safe the whole time, we all had to change our passwords (twice) and before we knew what was going on, there was some tension that someone had actually gained access to our accounts. So it brings up a good opportunity for me to discuss something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while.
Secure passwords aren’t cool. You know what’s cool? RSA Tokens.
Day 3 of the Lake Erie Baseball Odyssey
This past weekend, I went to three different baseball games in three different cities featuring six different teams. There’s a story with all of them, and since my trip took me around the perimeter of Lake Erie, I’m making this a series of posts called the Lake Erie Baseball Odyssey. Click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.
Despite winning back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays are a bit of a cursed franchise. They have three big issues, two of which are that they’re in Canada, and that they’re in the American League East. Canada’s national pasttime isn’t baseball; it’s hockey. Any baseball team in Canada has to be at least as good as the worst hockey franchise in the area, or there’s not much interest. The Montreal Expos, for example, had too many losing seasons and were forced to move. The Blue Jays have been playing well for the last few years and have won two more World Series than the Expos did, not to mention a few pennants and division titles, so they’ve been able to stave off attrition. But their task seemingly gets continually harder, as they’re in the same division as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and recently, the Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles. There’s not a weak team in the division, but someone has to lose, and the Jays, who haven’t made the playoffs since 1993, have just as much a shot to win the hotly-contested division as to lose it.
The Blue Jays’ third problem is their stadium. The SkyDome was completed in 1989, and despite being only twenty-three years old, is the seventh-oldest active stadium in baseball. Of the stadiums that are older: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium are classics; Anaheim Stadium and Kauffman Stadium have aged well; the Athletics have been trying to relocate from Oakland Coliseum for years. The SkyDome (now called the Rogers Centre) is in that unlucky middle area between outdated and in need of replacement. As a twenty-three year old stadium, the Rogers Centre will probably not be replaced for many years, but because it was completed just before Camden Yards started the ballpark renaissance, the stadium looks and feels dated.