Tuesday, September 9, 2008


On Saturday, Carrie and I went to the Salvation Army to find some costumes for the party we had to go to that night. See, we had to dress up as something that started with the letter 'B'. (I went as a bowler, Carrie went as Bob's Grandson. I'll explain.) I really wanted to find a bowling shirt to go with my bowler outfit, since I already had the shoes and the bowling ball case. Carrie was still trying to figure it all out.

In case you have never been to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or whatever, let me try to explain the experience. First of all, if you want to meet gay high school boys, this is your place. I guess the whole goodwill look is in still (Carrie said she used to go clothes shopping there in high school too). Also, if you want to find any equipment for any out of date electronic equipment, look no further. The music area had a Barry Manilow album which oddly overlooked the whole store. There were tapes and CDs (including Billy Gilman's One Voice), VCR tapes and even some DVDs, a whole bunch of iPod covers (for some reason), about a dozen VCRs, a dozen TVs (maxing out at 17 inches, tops). Every game or toy you played with as a child was there in the kids section. Well, most of them had some parts missing. There was some terrible artwork, a bed even, some furniture, a whole bunch of books that you might have bought in the 80s or 90s but now have no use for (go there if you are looking for a copy of The South Beach Diet). The kitchen equipment was suspect at best, but still surprising - not just snow cone makers, but a toaster oven and a blender among others. The sports section had some wooden tennis rackets and various random parts for every sport you could think of. There was even a poker chip case, without any poker chips of course. You could decorate a kitchen with the knick knacks and cups and plates that were there. Carrie even found a table lamp she had when she was a child and even wanted to buy, even though I told her it probably wasn't the same one.

As for the clothes, well, we had one rule - we couldn't buy anything we had donated. Finding a bowling shirt was daunting, but we found something that passed. But the shirts - really, everything you could ever expect. I found some Structure, Gap, Old Navy - you name it. Some of those country shirts that Garth Brooks used to wear. Flannel robes. Mom jeans. Silk, sateen, denim. I sadly found a shirt that I wear to work twice a week. (Even more sad - I wear the same shirt to work twice a week.) They had a big and tall section. There was even a section with bridesmaid dresses and prom dresses, and some shirts that might have been seen at a table you waited on at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon at Grady's. Despite all my prodding, Carrie refused to go as a bridesmaid (starts with a B, only $12!!).

The T-shirt aisle was where we spent most of the time, looking for something for Carrie. (I wanted a "Bikini Inspector" T-shirt, which would have been the awesomest costume ever.) There were many options - a Blue Cross Blue Shield employee, someone on the Belleville Denistry softball team. We even found one that said "Jerry's gang", but it didn't start with a B. Then Carrie found it - a T-shirt that said "Bob's Grandson". First of all, Bob's grandson sucks, because if my grandpa made me that shirt, I would wear it all the time. Also, who makes a shirt that reads "Bob's grandson"? But, it was Carrie's size, and really kinda funny for the party, so it was decided. Really though, looking at the shirts, they all seemed funny in a "I just got this at goodwill" type of way. But when you think about it, if you hadn't bought one of those shirts from goodwill and just had it, then were seen out wearing it, it wouldn't be that funny. And really, you can't tell that if you see someone just wearing a tacky shirt like that. Maybe they are being ironic, maybe not. I guess if they are a gay high school kid, they are being ironic.

Really, as weird as the experience was, and the feeling that we buying clothes better suited towards keeping Washtenaw County's homeless population warm this winter, I also felt that if my house burnt down and I had to refurnish at a minimal cost, I could fill up my place with crap from goodwill. But still - first thing we did when we got home was to wash those shirts before we wore them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

NFL Predictions

Out of sheer boredom from the fact that I just finished the book I was reading, Carrie was asleep by a quarter to 9, and I am postponing writing a cover letter for a job at Google, I am going to do an NFL preview. I know less than half of you will care, but I figured why not?

NFC East:
Philadelphia 12-4
Dallas 10-6
NY Giants 8-8
Washington 6-10

Philly - McNabb will have another year where everyone wonders why they didn't take him higher in the fantasy drafts. Until he gets hurt. Weak receivers though, but Westbrook is awesome. Defense will be great this year.

Dallas - Romo won't be as good this year. Barber/F Jones will be productive at RB, TO will have a big year, and Pacman will have a return to glory. Tough division though, and tough schedule to end the year. O-line is overrated. I should be watching them on that HBO show! I keep forgetting.

Giants - (Yes, I know they have already won tonight.) Super Bowl hangover - may not make the playoffs this year. Really overachieved last year, and lack of depth on the defensive line will hurt them. Eli is the backup on my keeper team, so I hope he starts off by tearing it up so I can trade him.

Redskins - Campbell is just not good enough. He will lose his starting job to Colt Brennan, who will lead them in a late season charge. Made an emotional playoff run last year, but I don't see them repeating.

NFC West:
Seattle 11-5
Arizona 8-8
St. Louis 5-11
San Francisco 5-11

Seattle is always good and gets no credit. They have Hasselbeck and a bunch of talented wideouts, then some solid RBs. Their O-line needs to play better than last year - losing Hutchinson hurt them, but Walter Jones is still one of the best in the game. Their defense is solid up front. But they have made the playoffs for something like 5 years in a row, but don't get any televised games this year. I don't get it.

Arizona - maybe this is the year they finally deliver and make the playoffs. I don't see it with Warner, and Leinart is in danger of becoming a fluke. He still gets laid more than I do, and I am a newlywed. Their receivers are awesome, Pope could have a big year at TE, Edge needs to put up 1000 yards and 7 TDs for me to be competitive in my keeper league, and their defense will be a surprise this year if they can stay healthy.

St. Louis - where the gun play ring all day. They will score a ton this year and give up even more. Start your offensive guys against St. Louis but not your defense. Especially if their O-line can stay healthy for once. Their points for and against will look like the Texas Rangers this season.

San Francisco - They are starting JT O'Sullivan, Bryant Johnson, and Isaac Bruce this year. Patrick Willis is a beast on defense though. I really got nothing to add here.

NFC North
Green Bay 12-4
Minnesota 10-6
Chicago 6-10
Detroit 4-12

Green Bay - I think Aaron Rogers will be fine, but not stellar. He won't lose a ton of games, especially with the weapons he has around him. Their defense is kickass, and they might get 6 wins against the division. They only allowed 19 sacks all of last season!

Minnesota - Awesome defense, offensive line, and running back. Really, a Super Bowl contender if they had a solid QB. Or even a good backup QB. I just don't see their QBs winning any games for them this year, but the rest of the team is so talented. I wouldn't start my offensive guys against this defense if I could help it.

Chicago - No depth at all. QB situation is whatever, and they have no discernible wide receivers. Sure, they have good players here and there, but still. They would finish at the bottom of the division, if not for...

Detroit - What can I say? I only follow the Titans more than these guys, but yikes. They do have some quality guys here - Kevin Smith will be solid, and their WR duo is among the best in the league. But their O-line allows too many sacks, their defense is more porous than it should be, and they are just not well coached. I am glad the Mike Martz era is over, but our passing is our strength now! Kitna might be the first QB ever with 30TDs and 30 INTs.

NFC South
New Orleans 9-7
Tampa Bay 9-7
Carolina 9-7
Atlanta 3-13

New Orleans has tons of offense. I like them to return to form this year. That is, only if the secondary can stop the pass at all. They might be one of those teams that scores a lot and gives up a lot, but still wins 34-31 each week. This will be the prediction that you laugh at me for at the end of the year.

Tampa Bay - Probably will win the division, but Jeff Garthia is underwhelming. They are young at o-line and d-line, but their secondary will carry them.

Carolina - Will actually win this division, but whatever. Delhomme is solid, WR and RB are good, and their defense will return to form. Should have picked them.

Atlanta - Matt Ryan will struggle, Michael Turner will suck to the point that he will cost me 3 different fantasy leagues, Roddy White will be okay at WR, but the rest of the team is whatever. Their O-line used to be dominant, I don't follow them enough to figure out where that went wrong.

AFC East
New England 13-3
NY Jets 8-8
Buffalo 7-9
Miami 5-11

New England - No way they go undefeated again. I don't know who will beat them, but whatever. Bound to have some injury issues. But they will probably win it all.

NY Jets - On the verge of the playoffs without Favre. Now, on the verge of the playoffs with Favre, but their WR will have better fantasy numbers. Especially Cotchery. Have rebuilt beautifully over the last 2 drafts.

Buffalo - No solid QB, and no defense. Other than that, they will be fine. O-line is solid and consistent. Defense will have Posluszny back, but that's about it. Honestly, I don't even know who their starting QB is.

Miami - Rebuilding well. Jake Long and Chad Henne will lead the resurgence. Henne throwing to Ginn next year makes me feel weird. But still, 5 wins is a kind prediction by me.

AFC West
San Diego 12-4
Denver 9-7
Kansas City 6-10
Oakland 5-11

San Diego - Still awesome, year after year. Will lose again in the playoffs, like they do year after year. The whole Merriman thing blows my mind - playing football on 2 torn knee ligaments? Yikes. Rivers is overrated.

Denver - Should have put 8-8, but they have KC and Oakland to play twice. Weak O-line, weak defense. I mean, comparatively weak. Anyone of them could kick my ass. Plus, their O-line intentionally tried to cause knee injuries, so now they can't stop Merriman who has nothing left in his knee to lose.

KC - LJ will get hurt, I don't know their QB, and they traded away a dominant young defensive player in order to rebuild, which makes no sense.

Oakland - I hope JaMarcus does well at QB, but the rest of the team leaves a lot to be desired. And their fans freak me out.

AFC North
Pittsburgh 9-7
Baltimore 8-8
Cleveland 6-10
Cincinnati 6-10

Pittsburgh - I hope they do well. Big year for Big Ben. Talented young receivers. I worry that the division will play them tough, and that their offensive line will not be good this year. Their defense is solid, but weak on depth. I still predict that Big Ben will have close to 40 TDs this year.

Baltimore - I really just hate this team. I don't know why - I like a lot of the players. Probably that playoff defeat of the Titans a few years ago. But their offense will not be that good this year. Their defense will be insane, but will wear down as they play 40 minutes a game.

Cleveland - Nice steal of Shaun Rogers from the Lions, but no way they repeat last year's success. They should have traded Derek Anderson while they had the chance. They gave up too many draft picks for a backup QB, and then Bodden will shine in Detroit this year. Their offensive line can't repeat last season's awesomeness.

Cincinnati - Just a train wreck. Palmer will still post big numbers, but as much as I love Chris Perry, he is no better than a couple of free agents available right now. No way to predict what will happen with their new defense this season. I do hate the state of Ohio though.

AFC South
Indianapolis 10-6
Jacksonville 10-6
Houston 8-8
Tennessee 7-9

Indy - Really will have a down year this year. Too many injuries - they need to hire a new medical and conditioning staff. Manning will be solid, as will Wayne, Gonzalez, and Addai. They get good karma for drafting Mike Hart. But too many injuries.

Jacksonville - The team everyone is picking this year. Just don't think that Garrard is all that. WR are pretty good I guess, but RB situation is awesome. Good O-line, but overrated defensive seven. Secondary will be helped with that draft pick, but I just don't see them running away with the AFC this year.

Houston - I wonder if Mario Williams watches coverage of the 2006 draft and laughs when people doubt him being chosen over Bush, VY, and Leinart. DeMeco Ryans is a beast, but there is not a lot of depth at defense. If Schaub and Andre Johnson play the whole year, they could legitimately contend for a playoff spot. They need to draft more defense next year. But they might finally have an offensive line this year!

Tennessee - I saved the best for last! Honestly, I will say they can contend for the Super Bowl. There, I said it. This is, of course, if VY gets injured or improves at a level unprecedented in football annals. Their Offensive Line is awesome, and is the only one in the league where I can name all 5 starters (plus some backups). If the rookies at DE can step up, then we can prove the doubters wrong! The secondary looks great, we have Kearse back at DE, Haynesworth needs to sign a big deal to stay in town. We just need a QB and some WR! Chris Johnson will be incredible this year going forward. Seriously - give me some wide outs! We could be a 13-3 team if we had someone like Garrard or if we had signed Culpepper! But I am more intrigued by these guys more than any other team in the year, because of their high ceiling and low floor. Really they could go 4-12 and I wouldn't be surprised, or they could go 11-5 and say that I knew it would happen.

Thanks if you read it, see you later if you didn't. PS - I even made sure that the records evened out to zero. Also, I did this more for myself than for anyone else. I want to go back at the end of the year to see how I did.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Things have been pretty hectic around here lately. Carrie started school this week, and is struggling to catch up on all the sleep she lost in anticipation. You know how the first day of school can cause you to lose sleep. That's not good when you wake up at 5. Last week was the last week of my month at work, so I was nervous about hitting my numbers (which I did).

But the weekend was awesome. It was our first Saturday since August 2nd that we got to stay at home. Of course, I went and ruined it by getting a ticket to go see the first game of the Rich Rod era at the University of Michigan. The game was weird - the offense was like nothing I have seen here. No huddle, no rushing game, a bunch of freshmen starting, low expectations. Very strange. As you know, we lost, but it wasn't as soul crushing as last year's first game. All in all, it was fun to actually be there from the start, but we really kind of sucked. It will get better.

I walked home after the game, which is about 3 miles. I felt pretty cool about it, but it cut into our night. We were still able to enjoy a cheese course with heirloom tomatoes and some spicy shrimp with our whites. Carrie did not get the first one right (she guessed that it was a California SB, when it was an Oregon PG - Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2007 $15, check it out) but nailed the second one. I tried to fool her by getting the 2006 Conundrum, but she got it (I didn't let her guess the vintage). I believe she said, "This is a California Chardonnay. Or wait, it is a blend. Hey, did you get me the Conundrum?" Then we had steaks with cheddar polenta and then Carrie made this ridiculous leeks and bacon dish. Seriously - it was made with cream, and the cream tasted like bacon. Then leeks are awesome - who knew? Another green for the rotation (green beans, broccoli, asparagus). We are to a point now where we take 2 canvas bags to the farmers' market. We are WHITE.

Oh, and with the main course we had this bottle of 2005 Chinon red something that WS gave a 92, but that was off the rack so no game playing. Only $18 at Whole Foods. Good times. (OK - I looked it up - it was the Couly-Dutheil Chinon La Baronnie Madeleine 2005. See why I couldn't just remember it?)

On Sunday we went to something called Arts Beats and Eats, which was basically the Taste of Ann Arbor on steroids. It was in Pontiac, which is an hour away. The whole downtown was closed off, and it was this huge street festival. You had to buy tickets which were in turn used to buy food from restaurants that had booths. Good stuff. The Arts part had a couple of booths that had some nude photography, making it far superior to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and no matter where you went there was always a band playing somewhere. We even went into a dueling piano bar to get out of the sun, and that was...fun? The high was 85 and there was not a cloud in the sky. Being outside was pretty unbearable, until I thought about what it is like in Memphis, and then it didn't seem so bad.

Labor Day itself was relaxing, as we went to the pool, then made burgers and watched BSG. (PS - Happy Birthday Hillary!) All in all, a fun weekend, except for the football loss, the heat, the hangover (only 3 bottles - we have become lightweights), being sore from the 45 minute walk home from the game, and Carrie losing sleep from being nervous. But it was fun other than that!