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Some rambles on football.

The good colonel's post on football vs. baseball got me thinking about writing up some thoughts I've had for years.

Fans will not be surprised to hear that I come down on the football side of things. I do enjoy baseball, too; those times when I find it suitable to have a TV on in the background, baseball is the perfect thing to have on. But I will never feel the passion for it that I do for the gridiron, and for the NFL in particular.

I made a point the other day in Ta-Nahesi Coates' blog. The thing about football is that it's still a young sport. In baseball, folks were excited last Thursday about Mark Buehrle pitching a perfect game; it was the 18th in MLB history. The 18th!

Can you name the 18th person to fly across the Atlantic? The 18th person to climb Mt. Everest?

That's how old baseball is: that something can still be noteworthy and yet have happened 17 times before. The only new things that are happening ... well, they tend to be tainted. How excited were you about Bonds breaking Aaron's record?

But football history is happening now. The sport changes every single year, because of what happened the year before. Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl, and suddenly the Tampa 2 defense is all over the place. Pittsburgh wins the Super Bowl, and everyone takes another look at the 3-4 defense. Kordell Stewart showed the world that a different kind of quarterback was an option, which paved the way for Vince Young and (off-field ignominy aside) Michael Vick.

Two years ago, San Diego was defending a long field goal near midfield, and went against convention by not only placing a returner in the endzone but actually returning it. They stunned the kicking team for a TD; that never happened! Now teams have to adjust for this possibility.

Back in 2000, Tennessee pulled off the Music City Miracle, scoring the winning touchdown on a last-minute kickoff return. Other teams have tried crazy runbacks with lots of laterals before (hello Cal-Stanford) but this was one of the first times that a team tried a planned crazy cross-field lateral ... and it worked! And it changed the game forever: teams try it all the time now.

That's history, right there. That's the football equivalent of the Shot Heard Round the World. But I didn't see it in a documentary; I was watching that game live. I saw it happen. My grandparents were physically at that game. That's something I'll never get with baseball.

I love football for many other reasons, too. I love how success in football requires not only individual feats of incredible athleticism, but also a solid game plan, and the team dynamic to adjust when that plan goes to crap in the heat of a snap. I also appreciate the structure of the NFL: the salary cap is much more even among teams than for any other sport, so you don't see a few rich teams buying their way into the elite. When a baseball team makes a trade late in the season for a big slugger, how excited can you get when they make the playoffs? The team that gets to the finals isn't the team that got them there. In football the only players you see traded late in the season are the kickers.

But mostly, I love football because it feels like a sport of Now.
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A weird little story I'm surprised I never heard:

Stalin’s youngest child (and only daughter) caused an international sensation when she defected to the United States in 1967.

In 1970, Frank Lloyd Wright’s widow became convinced that Alliluyeva was the reincarnation of her own daughter, also named Svetlana, who had died in a car crash in 1946. Wright persuaded Alliluyeva to visit her, and encouraged her to marry her daughter's widower, William Wesley Peters. Alliluyeva agreed. The couple separated after 20 months, and divorced in 1973.

At left, Svetlana with her father in Moscow in 1935.
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What you could be doing today

You could consider seeing Observe and Report. Or, you could just read:



The Legend Of the Mall Ninja


Also, someone said that my Tac Team doesn’t get training. Not true. We meet at the range every night and shoot 400 rounds each through weapons that closely resemble our duty setup. We also practice unarmed combat. I am a Master of three martial arts including ninjitsu, which means I can wear the special boots to climb walls. I don’t think any of you are working as hard as I am to be prepared. I asked a serious question about tactical armor and I wanted a serious response. If you want to laugh at somebody, try laughing at the sheep out there who go to the mall unarmed trusting in me to stand guiard over their lives like a God
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On a full weekend, on time, on pie

Friday night: pub run with billiards, and later dancing at Mighty. Bedtime: 2:30am

Saturday: helping colonelhandsome move into his awesome new digs, with late-night Watchmen showing after that. Bedtime: 2am

Sunday: challenging kung fu class, then long walk to store and back with heavy bags, then using contents of said bags to start making pies for my work group
*. Bedtime: 2am. Also: DST, ouch.

Monday: long day at work, 'craft raid until midnight, baking the rest of pies afterwards. Bedtime: 4 am.

Tuesday: pie eating with work group, muscle soreness, utter exhaustion, and the realization that I am a little older than I was the last time I had this same realization. Got me some pies, though.

*The pie thing: last year around April we were discussing a major update to the servers. The initial target date was the end of the year, which I thought was kinda nuts, and in a moment of rashness I said I would bake pies for the whole team (12 devs, 8 testers, 4 PMs, assorted others) if we hit it. Well, we shipped it, just barely, though it wasn't clear until a few weeks ago that it would really stick. This is why I am tired and currently have 3 pies in my office (2 apple 1 cherry) and 3 more in the fridge (pumpkin, chocolate custard, banana cream).