Who says golfers aren’t athletes?

January 24, 2011


I rarely talk about anything specific at our own school, but this was kind of neat.

For about 4 years, Buffalo Wild Wings has sponsored contests across the nation at high school and college basketball games:  hit a free throw, lay up, three point shot, and a half court shot in 20 seconds, and everyone in the house gets free wings!

In four years, this has been done twice.  Last year at Ohio State, a fan did it and won himself a year’s tuition in addition.

Time #2 was at our venerable high school during half time of a girls basketball game.  One of our golfers managed to do this with 7 seconds to spare!  Sadly, he only got free wings with the rest of the crowd, no year’s tuition to a college.


Why soccer is for primitives

January 24, 2011


A recent study suggests that the act of throwing (as in a baseball or football) was an important step in human evolution … the logic being that it was linked to improved hunting behavior.


Apparently kicking a ball into a net had nothing to do with human evolution.

Carry on.


January 19, 2011


The original American detective and horror writer, Edgar Allen Poe, despite being dead from alcoholism for over a century, has long enjoyed a coda to his death.

Since the 1940s, in classic Poe tradition, a strange visitor, known generally as the “Poe Toaster” has paid a midnight visit to Poe’s grave on the writer’s birthday.  Traditionally, he left roses and cognac.

The appearance of the mystery person was generally:  black, white scarf, wide brimmed hat to conceal the face.  By the 70s, Poe fans took notice, and began holding vigils on the eve of Poe’s birthday to catch a glimpse of the stranger.  Out of respect, very few photographs exist of the brief tribute.  The watchman of the cemetery knows there is a particular signal that distinguishes the real Toaster from occasional fakers who have showed up.

In 1993, the whole thing took a strange turn when a note was left, indicating that the Toaster was near death, and that his duties of paying tribute would be passed on.  Another note in 1998 confirmed that there was a new toaster, a son of the original.  More notes started getting personal, such as in 2001 when the visitor left a note hoping that the Baltimore Ravens (named for Poe’s most famous character) would lose the Super Bowl (held a few days after the visitation) and in 2004 a letter was left taking shots at France for not backing the United States in the War on Terror.

2009 was a special year:  the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth.  The visitor came and went … but in 2010 …. for the first time in 60 years, he was a no-show.

That takes us to today.  Last evening was the eve of Poe’s birth, and again, the Toaster did not appear.  The speculation is that the new toaster may have decided to call it off after the bicentennial of Poe’s birth.

A tradition, befitting a great author, goes by the wayside … a real shame it couldn’t be kept going.

The state of Illinois

January 12, 2011

Illinois, particularly the Chicago area, is long known for harboring generations of the most corrupt and incompetent politicians.  In my lifetime, there are no more than a handful of politicians in this state that I could point to and think “that person’s probably honest”.

Last night, as the Illinois General Assembly came to a close prior to swearing in its newly elected members (aka, the “lame duck” session), two major pieces of legislation squeaked through.

Illinois has abolished the death penalty.  You may recall that currently imprisoned former governor George Ryan earned himself a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize when he commuted the death sentences of the entirety of death row a few years ago.  Since then, a few people have found themselves on to death row.  They may still face execution since they have not had their sentence commuted, and the new legislation is not ex post facto.  That will be up to Governor Quinn to decide.

Illinois also just saw a 67% jump in the state income tax.  The tax bill only lasts four years, and then must be renewed, however Illinois now has an income tax that is more comparable to other states who charge income tax.  The new Joseph McCarthy wannabe-governor of Wisconsin immediately rolled out the welcome mat to any Illinois businesses who would like to relocate.

I don’t like the way Illinois squanders its money.  I don’t like the political landscape of the state.  We are at least 10-15 years past the point of being able to offer simple fixes for this.  Both Republican and Democratic governors and controlled legislatures repeatedly increased spending and refused to raise taxes.  Now, instead of small gradual raises, we are saddled with a mammoth jump.  Now, instead of small cuts hear and there, a great deal is about to be cut (and frankly even more should be cut).  However, the tax increase was most definitely needed.

Many would point out that the Democratic controlled General Assembly likely signed their collective death warrants.  However given that the city of Chicago can be assured of continuing to exclusively elect democrats no matter who is running, and that one of the orders of business that this legislature will have to take care of is reapportionment, there is an even money chance that the Democrat dominated General Assembly and Congressional delegation is not as in danger as some would imagine.

New laws, new looks …. same old politics as usual.

The 12th Man and Seismology

January 10, 2011


I have heard stories that some fans at various sporting arenas are capable of making the stadium sway … I sawa  few Jordan-era Bulls games at the olde Chicago Stadium, and swore that the place was about to crumble from the pounding and hollering after a signature Jordan air and dunk run.

In Seattle … home to to the hapless Seahawks who somehow managed to get another win in … apparently the fans (aka “The 12th Man”) really did make the Earth move in a measurable way.

During a particularly memorable and dramatic touchdown run for the Seahawks, the seismometer located at the nearby ruins of the Kingdome recorded localized, yet measurable seimic activity.  It was not measured at other locations, confirming that it was a very local event.

The Seahawks next travel to Chicago … less likelihood of anything seimic there to support them.