Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!

I didn't get around to writing a Christmas post, and New Year's Eve is now upon us, so I'll take the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May this year be a good one for you and your loved ones!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quote of the Day: Jacob Riis

"When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

Blood is not funny

Monday, December 1, 2008

Washington Sports ... Lets just hope 2009 is better

It wasn't too long ago when the Mariners and Seahawks were good. It's honestly only been three years since the Squawks were in the Super Bowl getting hosed by the officials.
The baseball team tied an American League record for wins in 2001, and they have had some successful seasons since then as well. In fact, I think ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg predicted prior to the 2008 season that the M's would win the World Series this year. Hmmm...
Ichiro: a rare athletic bright spot in Washington
If you're a twentysomething sports fan in the Northwest, you've been around long enough to see the Sonics in the Finals, WSU in the Rose Bowl and UW sharing a national championship with Miami.

Nice knowin' ya, Ty. No one surves a completely imperfect season

Those days seem oh-so-long ago.

A recap of 2008: Even with Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant, the NBA's Supersonics went 20-62, good enough for the 29th-best record in a 30-team league - and that was their highlight. The lowlight came later when the new ownership moved the team to their home in Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. The Mariners were 61-101, which was worst in the American League, and, like the Sonics, second-worst overall. The Seahawks are 2-10 and mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with four games left to play.

How high will Durant fly in the NBA? Seattle fans will no longer be able to see it firsthand

That brings us to the Grand Daddy of them all - the college football seasons of U-Duh (misspelling intended) and Wazzu. With a loss on Saturday at Cal-Berkeley, the Dawgs will finish the season 0-12. The Cougars, unfortunately, had to play an extra game - 13 in all - and finished 2-11. Nevermind that the first victory came against FCS opponent Portland State, and the final one was against the arch rival Huskies. That Apple Cup game sure was a barnburner - it went into overtime with the Cougs winning, 16-13, but the quality of play wasn't the greatest in the rivalry's history (although both teams would surely relish a win versus their hated rival under any circumstances).

The Apple Cup: A rare moment of jubilation in Martin Stadium
About the only thing we can hope for now is some good college basketball from the aforementioned universities, among others.

Go 'Zags.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Church vs. State

It's November, and news reports say some folks in Utah - including Mormons - are openly complaining about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its influence in the state and/or nation. This can only mean one thing: it's time for "The Holy War," the nickname given to the BYU-Utah rivalry football game, pitting a church school against a state school.
This is the time when the reddest city in the Union, politically, turns blue, and the school up north supports its troops wearing red and white.
In addition to being the biggest annual sporting event in Utah, this year's game has added some national interest. With a potential BCS bowl game and a conference championship on the line, the #7 and #14 teams in the BCS will go at it today, sporting a record of a combined 21 wins and one loss.

Sorry, no predictions on this one.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Unusual combinations- Brat Tail: a maple bar and bratwurst

No, I'm not making this up. At BYU football games, you can get something called a brat tail (that's brat, as in bratwurst - not a spoiled, whiny person), which is one of the stadium's extra long maple bars, or "Cougar Tails," sliced down the middle and used as a hot dug bun for a 1/3-pound bratwurst.
A Brat Tail. That's what it's called and it really must have some of the most interesting combinations of flavors you'd never want to try. On second thought, maybe it's no more strange than those peanut butter-and-pickle sandwiches I ate as a kid (no joke!).

MORE LINKS

Check out what this food critic has to say about the Brat Tail on video.
Photo, video, and further description of the Brat Tail experience can be found here.
Amazingly, Average Joe's Sports Blog calls the Brat Tail "excellent."
Another Brat Tail article

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 4-They're good guys

Every year ESPN publishes results from some survey called "ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings List" which ranks all the big-league teams in American sports (yes, that includes the NHL) according to what they do to satisfy their fans. The composite score comes from a load of categories including the affordability of attending games, winning, fan relations, and so on.

For 2008, the Spurs were number one in the NBA and number two out of all 122 "major" professional teams (again that included the NHL, but not MLS). San Antonio is the only team to rank in the top three for all six years of the survey's history.

Spurs players ranked second (behind the NFL's Patriots) in a category determined by on-field effort and off-field likability, which shows their commitment to community. The team ranked first in fan relations for "ease of access to players, coaches & management." Ownership ranked first for "honesty; loyalty to players and city," and the coach was third for strong on-field leadership.

The survey "aims to quantify the unique relationship between fans and their favorite teams by determining which MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises establish and maintain the most overall reward for their fans," according to a press release on the Spurs Web site. Individual categories factored into the survey are Bang for the Buck (how much the team wins for the amount of money pouring in from fans), Fan Relations, Ownership, Affordability, Stadium Experience, Players, Coaches and Title track (recent championships or those expected in the near future).

So despite the team's ironic identity change from "soft" to "dirty" - which took place in only slightly more time than it took Robert Horry to hip-check Steve Nash - there is plenty of evidence to suggest the players and management are good guys. Bruce Bowen - probably the team's most questionable on-court character based on (possible) cheap shots taken at other players - gets involved with kids in the San Antonio community with his Bruce N Buddy's fitness program. Many other Spurs are similarly involved in good works, but I'll spare you the details.

Lets just say you won't see Spurs players giving interviews like this one from Mike Tyson ...

Sure the Spurs have had some characters like Dennis Rodman and Stephen Jackson, but most of their issues took place while they played for a different team.

So yeah, the Spurs have character. They'll even help a former teammate up when he gets knocked down on his keister.
Stephen Jackson writhes in pain while former teammates Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan offer him an ice pack. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frank Caliendo

I've been planning on posting some Frank Caliendo video for a while. The man is a master at impersonating politicians, athletes, broadcasters and celebrities. He does President Bush, President Clinton, Al Pacino, Charles Barkley, Bill Walton and Robin Williams. But I'd have to say his signature character is John Madden.



(Click here for a clip of the real John Madden talking. Note the similarities?)

Here is a crazy mix of impressions from an appearance on WGN.

And more on David Letterman as he goes presidential.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In light of the election of a new president...

...let's take a humorous look at the president whose time in office is in its final months.



For me, posting this video is an appreciation of humor, not a put-down on the prez. Besides, as my uncle said, the video has stuff for people who hate Bush and for people who love him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wyclef for President?

This one is interesting.



Election time is coming. Who you gonna vote for?

2008-09 NBA Individual Award guesses

MVP - LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Watch out for: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant
Last year, Kobe won it as the game's unofficial "best player to never win an MVP." If that form holds true this year, LeBron is the man. Team success will be necessary for whomever wins MVP.

Rookie of the Year - Michael Beasley, Miami Heat
Watch out for: O.J. Mayo, Greg Oden, Kevin Love, Rudy Fernandez, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose.
The award will probably go to whoever puts up the nicest stats, although they may be on a bad-to-mediocre team.

Defensive Player of the Year - Ron Artest, Houston Rockets
Watch out for: Kevin Garnett
One of the best defensive players in the league, Artest is now on one of the best defensive teams. Will he avoid suspension and help Houston finish near the top of the league?

Sixth Man of the Year - Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers
Watch out for: Leandro Barbosa, Andrei Kirilenko
Manu's injury helps open this race up, as we'll see if new 6th men Odom and AK-47 stay in their positions for the entire season. Barbosa has a shot at his second win in three seasons.

Most Improved Player - Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons
Watch out for: Thaddeus Young, J.R. Smith, Ronnie Brewer
A product of Eastern Washington University, Stuckey broke out in the playoffs last season, showing poise under pressure as a rookie. Brewer was my pick last year, and I might as well put him on the list again, right?
Coach of the Year - Rick Adelman, Houston Rockets
Watch out for: Nate McMillan, Byron Scott, Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, Maurice Cheeks
If Yao, McGrady and crew stay healthy - a big "if" - the Rockets should win a lot of games. Team improvement and total wins are the big factors. Jerry Sloan, consistently one of the best coaches in the NBA, could become a sentimental favorite.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008-09 NBA Preview

The time has come (and almost gone) for me to look into my ... well, I don't have a crystal ball, but it's time for me to throw some darts at a dartboard and make semi-educated guesses at what will happen this season.
Without further ado...

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Divsion
Boston Celtics - The defending champs look for their first back-to-back titles in 40 years.
Philadelphia 76ers - Elton Brand joins a playoff team. Are they now legit Eastern contenders? (Hey, here's a video of a nice Andre Iguodala dunk, with Charles Barkley actin' a fool as a commentator)
Toronto Raptors - Key moves include adding Jermaine O'Neal and freeing up more minutes at point guard for Jose Calderon - although it came at the cost of losing T.J. Ford. (Bosh vid)
New Jersey Nets - With Jason Kidd in Dallas and Richard Jefferson in Milwaukee, Vince Carter is the lone man remaining from the Big Three of the past few years. New York Knicks - Things might be looking up in New York ... then again, probably not. At best, they'll finish in fourth in the Atlantic - which would be an improvement.

Central Division
Detroit Pistons - Six years in the NBA, six conference finals appearances for Gumby. Is another one coming?
Cleveland Cavaliers - Some people think this team can go really far. It's hard to doubt the King.
Chicago Bulls - Coming off a majorly disappointing season, these guys could break into the playoffs after a one-year sabbatical - you wouldn't hope for any less from a team with nine lottery picks on its roster.
Milwaukee Bucks - Exit Mo Williams, Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. Enter Richard Jefferson, Luke Ridnour and draft pick Joe Alexander. It will be interesting to see how the pieces fit together on this team.
Indiana Pacers - At least one writer calls Danny Granger the most underrated player in the game.

Southeast Division
Orlando Magic - Superman, Hedo and 'Shard want to improve on last year when they advanced to the second round - it won't be easy though.
Washington Wizards - They'll have to survive a good chunk of the season without Gilbert Arenas once again.
Atlanta Hawks - I almost put them behind Miami, but decided last season's playoff experience and a talented starting lineup put them over the top.
Miami Heat - Looking for big production from Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Udonis Haslem and rookie Michael Beasley. They don't have much else.
Charlotte Bobcats - This division might be the toughest to predict because all the teams have legitimate hope for the playoffs on some level, but you don't see a single one of them as a Finals contender. It wouldn't be a shock to see the 'Cats have a decent year, at least by their standards; they've never won more than 33 games in a single season ... Uh, how about a J-Rich dunk with more crazy announcers?


Western Conference
Southwest Division
New Orleans Hornets - One game away from the conference finals last season, they look to go even further this year.

Houston Rockets - Add Artest to Yao, T-Mac and a solid complement of players, and you should have a good team. However, Ron-Ron is combustible and Yao and T-Mac are fragile.
San Antonio Spurs - Some people would like to see the end of their run, but they're still a contender for now. They need to stay afloat 'til Ginobili returns from injury, but don't count them out yet.
Dallas Mavericks - Things have really unraveled for them in the playoffs since '06, but they still have enough talent to return to the postseason.
Memphis Grizzlies - Simply building for the future with some unfortunately named youngsters - Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo.

Northwest Division
Utah Jazz -Gunning for a third straight division title.
Portland Trail Blazers - A young team on the rise. Will they make the playoffs for the first time since 2003?
Denver Nuggets - They literally gave away Marcus Camby in a cost-cutting move. Could A.I. be next?
Minnesota Timberwolves - See Memphis Grizzlies, but a little bit better.
Oklahoma City Thunder - I promise this ranking is not based on bitterness over the move from Seattle.

Pacific Division
LA Lakers - It's kind of scary to add a healthy Andrew Bynum to a Finals team and to have the luxury of bringing Lamar Odom off the bench.
Phoenix Suns - Similar to Dallas, it appears the window for winning a championship has closed, but they are still capable of a good season - by most teams' standards, anyway.
LA Clippers - Al Thornton should be a rising star and Baron Davis and Marcus Camby help cover for the exodus of long-time Clips Elton Brand and Corey Maggette.
Golden State Warriors - Along with LAC, this team had some of the highest volume of transactions in the past offseason, losing star Baron Davis, but nabbing Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf and Marcus Williams, drafting Anthony Randolph, and resigning Ellis, Biedrins and Azubuike.
Sacramento Kings - Hey, they have Kevin Martin, right?

Playoffs
First Round

West: (1) Lakers vs. (8) Trail Blazers
(2) Hornets vs. (7) Mavericks
(3) Rockets vs. (6) Suns
(4) Jazz vs. (5) Spurs

East: (1) Celtics vs. (8) Hawks
(2) Pistons vs. (7) Wizards
3) Cavaliers vs. (6) Raptors
4) Magic vs. (5) 76ers


Conference Semifinals
West: (1) Lakers vs. (5) Spurs
(2) Hornets vs. (3) Rockets

East: (1) Celtics vs. (4) Magic
2) Pistons vs. (3) Cavs

Western Conference Finals: (1) Lakers vs. (2) Hornets
Eastern Conference Finals: (1) Celtics vs. (3) Cavs

NBA Finals: Lakers defeat Celtics
So there you go; I'm predicting a Finals rematch, only with the other team winning it this time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 5-Diversity

Previously we alluded to the fact the Spurs were trendsetters in the field of international scouting. And let me tell ya, these guys come from around the globe.

Currently the roster includes Emanuel Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto from Argentina, and Tony Parker and Ian Mahinmi from France. Tim Duncan - who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands - could be considered a pseudo-international player, and American Ime Udoka, whose father was born in Nigeria, has played for Nigeria's national team.
In recent years, the team was more international, with Rasho Nesterovic and Beno Udrih of Slovenia reppin' the squad, as well as Dutchman Francisco Elson and Kiwi Sean Marks. All of these players were with the team in 2005 or later ... oh, and who could forget the stellar career of Romain Sato, a 2004 draft pick from the Central African Republic?

The Spurs also have a pet project of drafting players from overseas and letting them stay there until they're ready to play in the Association. As John Hollinger of ESPN said, "They were the first team to think of using its second-round draft picks to build up a base of players in Europe who could develop on somebody else's dime. They were also the first ones to realize there were perimeter players from overseas good enough to be NBA stars, and stole Parker and Ginobili in the draft because of it."
Their current stash includes Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter and Lithuanian Robertas Javtokas.

Only recently has this trend backfired, as Splitter was able to command a much higher salary playing for Spanish powerhouse Tau Ceramica than he could as a late first-round pick under the NBA's rookie salary scale. The team could sure use Tiago agora. Also, trading away Argentine baller Luis Scola after letting him develop in Spain - he played in Europe until 2007 after being drafted by San Antone in 2002 - didn't turn out so well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 6-Teamwork

Share the ball. Cover for each other on defense. Don't worry about who gets the credit for the team's success.
These might as well be lines from Gene Hackman in "Hoosiers." And I'm sure many a high school coach has extolled these virtues to young athletes. But this could never happen with multi-million-dollar professional athletes. Unless they really bought into what their coach and management told them...

A lot of pundits and fans thought the 2005 NBA Finals between the Spurs and the Detroit Pistons were a bore. I, for one, actually enjoyed it. Why? First of all, I probably need to get my head checked. Secondly, both teams had a tremendous amount of talent, combined with unselfishness, high basketball IQ and effort. Maybe the rest of the world wanted more slam dunks, or an in-team soap opera with guys like Kobe and Shaq who are practically tabloid material, but as for me and Hubie Brown (who was broadcasting the series and is old enough to be my grandfather), we'll be just fine, thank you, with some team basketball.

On a side note, you should have heard Hubie go own about the "defensive rotations" and other little things the teams were doing so well. It was kind of funny, but the retired coach certainly knows what he's talking about. Regardless of how old school he may be - he's the human equivalent of a one-room red brick schoolhouse ... really "old school" - he knows hoops.

(And here's a funny link about Brown's penchant for going into unnecessary detail about a simple play.)

Back to San Antonio: For a cohesive team like the Spurs that always talks about "flying under the radar" - and enjoying it - spotlight hogs are something to make fun of.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweet 16 ... but not 17

If you had the chance to have the best 16th birthday ever, but you wouldn't be guaranteed a 17th, would you take that?
No?
Me neither.

But since we're talking about football here, how about this example: you're told your team will win 16 games in a row, but not a 17th. How does that sound?
Most people would be cool with that, I think.

But some of the extreme BYU faithful seem to think the end of their longest-in-the-nation winning streak is the end of their lives season. The loss to TCU is probably the end of their hopes to get into a BCS game, although if they win out (perhaps a dicey proposition at this point), who knows what could happen?

The point is, Cougar fans, to be grateful for the team's success. We all know you/we wanted more, but this team just isn't up there with the elite teams (Texas, Oklahoma, etc.). So take a time-out and consider how much the team has accomplished these past three seasons.

(AP Photos/Donna McWilliam)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daily Herald updates

More links to stuff I did for the Daily Herald (I might not keep posting these, except for maybe the Daily Wrap videos, because the articles will be easily accessible at this link. I will put the link on the right side of this blog under the heading "Favorite Web Sites"):

Daily Wrap video
BYU student wins $20,000 on Regis and Kelly show
Nebo School District makes the grade
Organ recipient gets ATV from Make-A-Wish Foundation
Youth hockey team helps out special needs team
Utah County Sheriff Dept receives grant money to stop sex predators
Fall weather coming to Utah County

Governor Huntsman and power companies celebrate wind power project
Daily Wrap video
MP3 players and social isolation
others I contributed to: Daily Log 10/9, Daily Log 10/10, Transportation open houses

Food bank donations start to rise, more still needed
Springville High monument to honor alumni who lost their lives in battle Jolley's Ranch gets ready for winter with outdoor activities
Salem seeks fire and ambulance volunteers
Daily Wrap video
Salem library expanded, reopened with state certification
BYU study shows infants note difference between happy and sad music

(Fall weather and iPod photos: Craig Dilger/Daily Herald. Baby pictures: Mark Philbrick/BYU)

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 7-Lack of ego

When Michael Finley signed with San Antonio in 2005, he was not far removed from a starring role with a prominent NBA club. At this point, you may think of Findog as the guy that fires away - and fades away - with heavily-contested jumpshots from the left elbow, while the only thing he hits frequently is the rim.

But three years ago, Finley was a vet near his prime with several championship-contending teams lining up to sign him. Phoenix and Miami were able to offer more money, and likely more playing time, than the Spurs. What convinced him to sign with the Silver and Black? He thought it was his best shot at winning a ring - which he won in 2007 - and he liked the idea of being part of the Spurs' organization and team culture.

Two years later, Ime Udoka signed for about $1 million per year. Now that may sound like some serious scratch to you or me, but believe me, in the NBA, players coming off a season in which they started 75 games, played good defense and made 40% of their 3-point attempts generally earn much, much more.
But perhaps no one embodies the team's unselfish ways more than Manu Ginobili, an All-Star-caliber player who has won just about every major basketball tournament in the world and has garnered his share of individual accolades as well.
Alternating between go-to-guy and complementary player from game to game, Ginobili has accepted the role of coming off the Spurs' bench with open arms - in spite of being one of the team's stars (there will be much more on Ginobili later on in this countdown).

This is what Brent Barry (no longer with the Spurs) had to say about his then-teammate coming off the bench:

"We've gotten to the point in professional athletics where we just expect somebody to be upset with that role or automatically assume it's a demotion of some sort.
"Ultimately, I think that's what people assume it comes down to: saying you're in the starting five, as opposed to not being announced in arenas around the country. ... I don't know how much importance there is in that for guys on our team.
"He's a starter in a substitute's role. He's Clark Kent, then he checks in and gets his Superman cape on.''

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why it's good to be a Spurs fan: Reason No. 8-The Organization

Remember this list? Of course you don't. But I figured I would continue the list I started last year. The timing is right, now that a new season is coming upon us.

The No. 8 reason on my list of what's good about the Spurs is the organization. What do I mean when I say organization? Basically, I'm referring to the management team and the culture created within the team. So the owner (Peter Holt) and general manager (R.C. Buford) are the ones I'm referring to first, but also the head coach, Gregg Popovich - who also happens to fill a management role - and whoever does the scouting.

ESPN's John Hollinger wrote this one year ago: "The Spurs are the best-run organization in sports, hands down, and this grows more evident by the stampede of owners from other teams racing in to mimic their methods - in many cases by hiring directly out of the Spurs' organization."

The Spurs were the first team to make a habit of finding diamond-in-the-rough players overseas. Now all NBA teams are sending scouts to Europe and other places.

The Spurs have created an environment where people can fit in, plugging in players with specific skill sets to complement their stars. Except the stars don't always get the royal treatment. Popovich is not above chewing out, say, Tim Duncan. And the fact that Timmy doesn't take it personally or act like a prima donna lets everyone else on the team know they're not above the occasional (or frequent) scolding they'll get from the coach should they mess up.

Popovich told Sports Illustrated, "We try to spend as much time to bring people to the program who have, quote-unquote, gotten over themselves.'

The Spurs organization has been successful to the point that other franchises have modeled their style after them. It's no wonder the Seattle Supersonics Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers have taken their current head coaches and GMs from San Antonio. Mike Brown and P.J. Carlesimo were assistant Spurs coaches directly before landing their current gigs, and Danny Ferry and Sam Presti were front-office executives.

And the culture/atmosphere created among the players? Let's just let James White tell you how it is (yes, this James White). And if you don't know White's history, he played a handful of games in the Spurs 2006-07 championship season, but never suited up in the playoffs that year.

"It was a very cool experience going through the playoffs with the Spurs even though I didn’t play at all. Just living in that atmosphere, watching how the veterans were able to handle all types of different situations. … It was great. You learn a lot just being around. No matter how tough it was when they cut me, I’m going to keep good memories from my time there."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thrown into the fire ... and liking it

I started working at the Daily Herald on Monday. It wasn't one of those things where the whole day is filled with listening to orientation and mindlessly filling out paperwork. In fact, as soon as I entered the building I was given an assignment for a story. I was to write about a new show to air on BYU Television called "Real Families, Real Answers." I spoke with the program's producers and the article made the front page of the paper the following morning. Click here to read it.

Here's a promotional video for "Real Families, Real Answers."

Also on my first day of work, they had me do the Daily Wrap, a short video with descriptions of some of the day's top stories. Watch it here.

Since then, I've also been assigned some other stories, which were deemed interesting enough to put on the front page. One was about an upcoming expansion project for I-15, and another was about the Utah Flash (a minor league basketball team) owner planning to build a new basketball arena, hotel and residential units in Lehi, Utah. The project's architect is Frank Gehry, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Experience Music Project in Seattle and more.

I actually had turned in my portfolio to apply for work at the Herald in May, but there weren't any openings, and it sounded like there wouldn't be for the foreseeable future. The boss said I could leave my portfolio there and if/when there was an opening they would have my contact info. I considered just picking up my stuff, but decided I would leave it for a while just in case something turned up.

Last month, I was contacted about an opening. After a pair of interviews and a little bit of waiting, I was offered the job, and that's where we stand now.

UPDATE: I'm adding links to more articles that I wrote during my first week at the job. I may just do a post every week or two listing what I've written. That would make it easier for people - including myself - to find the articles.

"Real Families, Real Answers" TV show
Daily Wrap video
I-15 expansion
30-year-old Utah Flash owner Brandt Andersen teams w/architect Frank Gehry in plans for large development ALSO: check out this TrueHoop article about Andersen, where he discusses taking his team to Iran
Plans for hiring new Utah Valley University president
Rowley's South Ridge Farm and Red Barn
APX Alarms employees volunteer for trip to Galveston to help Hurricane Ike survivors
I also contributed to this sad fatal car crash story

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why would someone change their last name to Ocho Cinco?

Cincinnati Bengals star Chad Johnson wears the number 85 on his jersey. He's referred to himself as "Ocho Cinco" - Eight Five. He seems to have fallen in love with the nickname so much that he wants to legally change his name to Chad Ocho Cinco. Seriously. And now he has succeeded. The state of Florida has granted Chad a legal name change. All of this, just so Johnson can have his preferred alias on the back of his jersey. So, besides the fact that he wants "Ocho Cinco" on the back of his shirt, why would a person do this? Here are three main reasons:

3. He's Crazy. You'd have to be at least a little loco to do something like this, wouldn't you?

2. Attention. Some people are always starving for attention, no matter how much they are in the spotlight. Chad Johnson is the prototype center-of-attention wide receiver that has been so common in recent years (think T.O, Moss, et al).

1. He wants to stick it to the NFL. Mr. Johnson Ocho Cinco does not want anyone - not even the No Fun League - to tell him what he can and can't do. If you can't beat the system...find another way to beat the system!

Finally something related to BYU football

Now that BYU has a 4-0 record and has outscored their last two opponents by a combined score of 103-0, it's about time I mention them - and put in a plug for True Blue Magazine. I wrote a preview for the issue that came out last month, researched the experts' preseseason rankings and bowl predictions for the team and proofread several articles as well. Pick up a copy at your local newsstand. You can check out some excerpts from this issue at the True Blue site (Rumor has it Madonna is also a fan of True Blue).
In the latest AP and coaches' polls, the Cougars have moved up to No. 11 - their highest ranking since 2001. The last time BYU finished a season in the top 10 was their 1996 season (No. 5). This year, the biggest regular-season roadblocks during their Quest For Perfection should be road games against TCU (Oct. 16) and Utah (Nov. 22), both of which are undefeated and ranked nationally at the moment.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Wife, the TV Star

Patricia was shown recently on an episode of BYU Weekly. The department she works for, Global Service Desk, was spotlighted for one of the show's segments. I've had difficulty uploading the video directly to this post, but I have found a link you can use to watch the video. Just click either of the hyperlinks in the previous sentence. When the Web page appears, there will be a green area that says "stories" in the top right corner. From the list of stories, scroll up from the bottom and click on "Global Service Desk" (about 1/5 of the way up). Click on the video in the green "Feature Stories" section. Patricia shows up at about 1:04 of the vid. She also is in the background at 3:17 (with pink shirt, and white coat on chair).

Trish was on some BYU Television International commercial(s) that we haven't seen, but people have told her they saw her in the commercial(s).

Are you a Twilighter?

The series that has taken the New York Times Bestseller list by storm (at one point, the four books in the series were all in the top five) and captured the attention of fans across the globe, including my wife - not to mention friends and family. Normally not an avid book reader, Patricia has had difficulty putting these stories down. It's a good thing she only found out recently about the books written by Stephenie Meyer. By the time she finished plowing through the first three books in a matter of just a couple of weeks, it was almost time for the fourth and final book of the series to be released. Imagine if she had to wait an entire year before each book came out!

In early August, fans anticipating Breaking Dawn were finally able to satisfy their vampire fix. The much-ballyhooed release was celebrated by Twilighters wearing "Team Edward/Jacob" shirts or vampire garb. As for my wife and I, we just stood in line at the bookstore (dressed normally) a little after midnight to buy the book within minutes of its release (I have not read any of the books; it's mainly young adult women and teenagers who have caught the Twilight fever).

Next up: the Twilight movie, to be released Nov. 21. I'm sure we'll be watching it not long after that date.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Recap of a few of the top Olympic performances

Alright, this might be my last Olympic post.

I say "might" because I may have something up my sleeve for another post if I can get some help.

So, without further ado, here are some of the memorable images of the athletes of the 2008 Beijing Games:

Michael Phelps went into China with the goal of breaking Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics, participating in five individual events and three relays. Nine days, 17 races and 97 bajillion calories later, Phelps had eight gold medals hanging around his neck, bringing his career Olympic gold count to 14 - and he's only 23 years old.
Michael Phelps won an unprecedented eight gold medals in a single Games.

Usain Bolt was considered a a gold medal contender, but was expected to get some stiff competition from fellow Jamaican and former world record holder Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay in the 100 meters. However, Bolt turned the sprint events into his personal playground, showboating for the final 15 meters of the 100m - and setting a world record in the process. He went on to win two more golds and set world records in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay. Bolt's 200-meter time of 19.30 seconds eclipsed Michael Johnson's time of 19.32 - a mark that had not even been approached before or after those 1996 Games until Bolt's sensational race. The relay team, with Powell running the anchor leg, crushed the 15-year-old world record by a full .3 seconds, finishing in 37.10 seconds.
Contrary to popular belief, this pose actually was not made while Bolt was still running the 100-meter dash.



While the U.S. men's basketball team was seeking redemption for recent shortcomings in world competition, the women's squad was busy making its fourth straight undefeated run toward Olympic gold.
Lisa Leslie (center) starred for Team USA again and earned a fourth consecutive gold medal (delicious!)
The U.S. and Brazil dominated the volleyball competitions, with the Americans taking gold in men's and women's beach and men's indoor. The indoor team overcame the murder of their coach's father-in-law in China to come out on top. The women's duo of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor swept each of their best-of-three matches to earn a second straight Olympic gold. The U.S. added a silver medal in the women's indoor competition.
Brazil was golden in women's indoor - piling up a record of 8-0 in matches and 24-1 in sets - while the defending Olympic champion men's team settled for silver. Their men's beach teams won silver and bronze, while the women came in fourth place.
Brazil not only went undefeated in the tournament, they didn't even lose a set until the gold medal match, where they topped the Americans 3-1.
It was an emotional victory in the wake of tragedy for the Americans.

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopa is the world-record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. In 2004, he won gold in the longer race and was outkicked at the end en route to a silver medal in the 5k. Just a couple of months before this year's Olympics, the AP quoted Bekele as saying he did not want to run both races. Turns out, he went on to run - and win - both races in Olympic-record fashion.

Bekele ran for about 40 minutes to win two gold medals. Usain Bolt, on the other hand, ran for about 40 seconds to capture three golds.

And last, but not least, the Chinese national team, which led all countries with 51 gold medals. The host nation put on quite the spectacle with its opening ceremonies, as well.
Gymnastics was one of many sports in which the Chinese athletes made their mark.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Is it just me, or is Labor Day the most ironically named holiday?

...What do you think?

Either way, I'm not complaining because I didn't have to work today.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Olympic Moment with Billy Mills

Who is Billy Mills?



The man won the Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters in 1964. A movie, "Running Brave," was made about him.

When I was about the same age as some of the Chinese Olympic gymnasts, I was in the student leadership group for my school. We got to go to a couple of events and workshops with motivational speakers and teamwork exercises. Our advisor told us about an upcoming assembly where an Olympic gold medalist would speak to us. I hadn't heard of Billy Mills at that time, and I hadn't yet become a runner, but it still seemed cool that a gold-medal-winning runner would speak to us.

We attended the conference, and Mills told us of his upbringing as a part-Sioux American Indian and his experiences as an Olympian. He signed autographs - I still have that piece of paper at my parents' house. I don't remember a lot more details from that meeting, but I remember him describing his thoughts/feelings as he neared the end of his 10K race:

I won! I won! I won!
Looking at the video in this post, I am reminded that he first thought, "I can win! I can win!" Later, he took his positivity up another notch. Now I also remember Mills playing a clip of the announcer going bananas at the end of the race.

To call Mills' victory an "upset" would be a major understatement. From what I've read or watched recently, it's been said not a single reporter asked Mills a question in the days leading up to the race. He wasn't on anyone's radar.

But the rest is history.

If my memory serves me, when our group of students got back to school after the conference (which took place in a town about 40 miles away), I told one of my teachers we met an Olympic gold medalist. I didn't say the name initially because I didn't think it would be a name she would recognize. She asked who the speaker was, and, when I said "Billy Mills," she said, "Billy Mills! I think he is a real American hero."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Redeem Team lives up to name/Beijing Olympics monumental

When Jerry Colangelo was given the reins to the USA men's basketball program, certain changes were implemented with the intent of bringing the gold medal back to the United States. Colangelo asked for a firm, three-summer commitment from players who were interested in playing for the national team. Players were thus given more practice time to build team chemistry and become more familiar with each others' games. The athletes also grew in their knowledge of FIBA basketball and the style of play of their opponents. All of these developments led to the successful recapturing of gold at the Beijing Olympics.

When the U.S. Olympic team was hyped as the favorite going into the basketball tournament, someone(s) came up with a name that was a spin-off from the 1992 Dream Team moniker: The Redeem Team. This was supposed to be the team that atoned for the failures of other U.S. men's basketball teams who were unable to take home the gold medal in either the World Championships or the Olympics earlier this decade.

One question often asked now is who would win a game between the 1992 squad and this year's team. It may not be fair - or accurate - to state this year's team is more talented. However, based on the fact the level of competition has risen each successive year, it may be fair to claim the 2008 team's performance reached a higher standard than that of any of their predecessors.
Hats off to Team USA basketball for being gracious in victory, not getting involved in trash-talking matches with opponents and limiting their banter with referees, regardless of what they thought of the calls being made. Congratulations are in order to Spain for such a well-contested final game, and to all the Olympians, regardless of their sport or country, who helped make this year's Games a rousing success.

I miss the Olympics already.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing Preview

Time Magazine came out with a list of 100 Athletes to Watch at the Olympics. At the top of the list is a certain U.S. men's basketball star.

Also on the list...Lopez Lomong, Liu Xiang, Marta and more.


And, as a big hoops fan, here is my prognostication for the men's basketball tournament:

12th place: Iran - They won't win a single game in this tournament. In fact, they lost two summer league NBA games (many of the players in those games are minor leaguers who won't be on an NBA roster when the season begins) at the Rocky Mountain Review by a combined 42 points, but Iran's victory comes just in competing at the Games.

11th place: Angola - The perennial African champion has made great strides since the days of being elbowed by Charles Barkley in 1992, but they still have a way to go before they reach the level of the elite teams.

10th place: China - The host nation is big on size, led by their 7'6" flag-bearer, Yao Ming, but a medal is out of the question.

9th place: Australia - The Boomers gave Argentina and USA a run for their money in pre-Olympic play, but just to reach the quarterfinals, they'll need to finish pool play ahead of either Argentina, Russia, Lithuania or Croatia.

8th place: Germany - They're led by superstar Dirk Nowitzki - with help from American-turned-German Chris Kaman - but this squad is a bit short on depth. Still, they were able to qualify for the Beijing Games and are strong candidates to reach the quarterfinals.

7th place: Croatia - This country has produced high-level basketball talent and should perform well enough to make the Croatian faithful proud.
6th place: Lithuania - After three consecutive Olympic bronze medals, they hoped to have taken another step toward gold when they beat the U.S. in 2004. They returned to play the U.S. again that year in the bronze medal match, but went home empty-handed. A medal will not come easily in China either.

5th place: Russia - They won last year's European Championships when they pulled off a major upset in rallying to beat Spain. The Russians were relatively competitive against the Americans in a pre-Olympic exhibition.

4th place: Greece - Winners of the silver medal at the 2006 World Championships, it seems unfathomable that a team this good won't win a medal. However, in a field of competition this talented, there are no guarantees. The top four teams may all have aspirations of gold, but at least one of them won't even medal.

Bronze Medal: Argentina - The gold medal winners of the 2004 Athens Games have their work cut out for them. They struggled a bit in the friendlies prior to the Olympics - losing to Spain twice and Lithuania once, and getting a better-than-expected game from some other opponents - so picking them ahead of Greece may show bias on my part. However, the Argentines have generally put their best foot forward when the games count most, and they could advance to the semifinals (or better) for the fourth straight time in major world competition. Miracles can happen when you have this man on your team.

Silver Medal: Spain - The defending World Champions are loaded with talent and should have a chip on their shoulder. Not only would they love to avenge their loss to Russia in the last EuroBasket, but they also were shafted in the last Olympic games. After going unbeaten in pool play in Athens, Spain ran into Team USA in the quarterfinals - on a day the Americans' outside shots were finally falling at a high rate. That left Spain to settle for seventh place, despite a 6-1 record. Spain actually beat the silver and gold medalists of that tournament (Argentina and Italy), but went home with nothing.

Gold Medal: USA - By no means is this a sure thing, and after dominating Olympic basketball for generations, the U.S. may never be a clear-cut favorite again. With that being said, they still have a good chance at the gold - it just won't be easy. Their players are trained for a different brand of basketball than what FIBA plays, and other countries' headlining players are more familiar with international basketball - and with their teammates (see this Kelly Dwyer column for more on the challenges the American team faces). However, if they dictate the tempo of their games, the Americans should stand at the top of the medals podium.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My neighbor is an OLYMPIAN!

Niklas Arrhenius, who lives a few steps away from me, will be competing in the discus at this month's Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Nik was the 2007 NCAA discus champion while at BYU. Although he is American, he will be wearing the blue and yellow colors of his father's homeland, Sweden.

Nik has been featured in recent stories in the Daily Herald and The Daily Universe, as well as other media outlets.
Congratulations, Nik!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The whistles go woooooo!!!!

Have you seen me in the last three years? Have you heard me say "Woo Woo?" If the answers to these questions are not the same, then something is probably wrong.

The "Woo Woo" comes from this video:


Plenty of remixes of this video were made, but I like this one that my buddy Brian sent to me. It's audio from Bubb Rubb and Li'l Sis matched up with Star Wars video.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Guess who got nominated for some college writing award

An article I wrote for BYU's The Daily Universe last year about some suspensions given out during the NBA playoffs was nominated for an award for college newspapers. The Universe staff made the nominations. I found out about this nomination about three months ago, but I assume I didn't win because I haven't heard anything else about it.

Keep reading to see what I wrote. The story was also linked (along with a bunch of other things I wrote) in this post.

Many people at BYU have conflicting feelings when it comes to "the letter of the law" vs. "the spirit of the law." The sports media has been no different lately, shoving this very topic down our throats in recent days.

The reason? The suspensions handed out by the NBA after a hard foul by the San Antonio Spurs' Robert Horry.

Near the end of game 4 of the Spurs-Suns series, Horry hip-checked Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash into the scorer's table on the sideline. A minor melee ensued and, in the process, Suns players Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw left the bench area to either check on their teammate or to participate in a brawl. No sooner did they set foot on the court than one of their coaches pulled them back to the bench.



The coach was aware of an NBA rule that states that any player leaving "the immediate vicinity of their bench" receives a mandatory one-game suspension. The players are also aware of this rule and should be able to exercise enough judgment to avoid hurting their team by forcing the NBA's hand and suspending the players.

As you probably know, Horry was ejected from the game when the foul occurred and was later suspended for two games. Stoudemire and Diaw were suspended for game 5. According to the league rules, the suspensions were justified.

Now what you are reading was written by someone who has openly rooted for the Spurs. However, this is not the point.

If the NBA failed to suspend the players, all you-know-what would break lose. Pundits, reporters and fans alike would rip the league for not sticking to its guns and enforcing the rule that has been strictly upheld for more than a decade.

Granted, nobody wanted to see it play out this way. Teams want to be at full strength against their opponents. The opponents also want the other team to be at full strength so they feel they are beating the best that team has to offer. It's hard to get motivated for a shorthanded opponent.

Not only do both teams "lose" in this situation; the fans also lose. They want to see the best players on the court.

The only suggestion I could make would be for the league to slightly amend the rule, making it possible for some interpretation. As it now stands, the rule is hard and fast, and the league's figurative hands are tied. There really isn't much decision making in the process, just the application of a rule. If league officials meet this off-season, they can alter the rule so that players who do not escalate an altercation situation may go without suspension.

Yes, the Suns were the team hurt more by the suspensions. And yes, a Spurs player, Horry, was most at fault for the incident. But this is not unprecedented. You basketball diehards may remember in 1997 when the Heat's P.J. Brown body-slammed the Knicks' Charlie Ward. Several key Knicks players were suspended for leaving the bench. The Heat ended up coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

So while the suspensions may not have been fair -- much less palatable to the average NBA fan -- they had to take place.

Maybe some rule bending will take care of this problem before next year's playoffs start.

UPDATE: This year NBA team owners had the option to discuss league rule changes; the owners, in effect, decided to uphold the rule requiring a one-game suspension for any player who leaves the vicinity of the bench during an altercation (as reported here).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Reflections on Independence Day - one week later

So, how was your Fourth of July?

The American Independence day is a holiday generally associated with family, fireworks and barbecue. Those are all things I enjoy - and they were all part of my Fourth again this year. However, I believe this holiday means something more. Just as it can be easy to forgot the real purpose of Christmas, it can be easy to forget what Independence day means. It means freedom from tyranny. It means having a nation to call one's own. It means stars and stripes and 13 original colonies that have now exploded and become 50 United States.
Here's an excerpt from The Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
Thank you, Founding Fathers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Six Months of Marriage!

On Sunday, June 29, Patricia and I reached our six-month anniversary mark, so that week we decided to celebrate in style. It started on Wednesday when we went to the Jordin Sparks concert at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre. They have a whole lineup of concerts, musicals and movies scheduled there for the summer. On Friday, we went to a dance at BYU that had Brazilian music. On Saturday, we found ourselves some good food and dessert and played mini golf. It was good that - despite our busy work schedules - we were able to spend time together, and also spend time with Luciana (Patricia's sister) and her husband. All in all, it was a good week.

Hangin' out at the concert

video

In the video, Jordin sings "Tattoo" (the girl on the right side of the stage was picked before the show to sing the song with Jordin randomly called up to the stage to sing with Jordin). Sparks closed the concert singing the hit, "No Air" (without her duet partner, Chris Brown). When she and the band were called out for an encore, Jordin sang "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder. During the concert, along with her own music, she also performed covers by Alicia Keys, Tracy Chapman and Pat Benatar. And some dude proposed to his girlfriend on the stage.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is the U.S. National Team capable of Olympic Gold?

USA men's basketball has announced its roster for the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Here's the roster, listed by their usual NBA position:
1 (point guard) - Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Chris Paul
2 (shooting guard) Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Michael Redd
3 (small forward) LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Tayshaun Prince
4 (power forward) Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer
5 (center) Dwight Howard

Not bad, eh? One thing: look at the breakdown by position. Is it just me, or does the team seem to be a little thin in the post? Only three big men? Granted, 'Melo is projected as the starting power forward, and LeBron may even see time at the 4 spot, allowing Boozer to get playing time at center, but don't we need more than 3 true post players? ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan pointed out the same thing here and here. What if one of the bigs gets injured? What about foul trouble? Will this doom the American side?

On the other hand, there probably isn't a team in the tournament that does not have a major issue confronting them. The following nine teams have already booked their tickets for Beijing: Angola, Argentina, Australia, China, Iran, Lithuania, Russia, Spain and USA.

The latter four teams and Argentina could be in contention for medals. However, the Argentines may not even have their usual complement of stars at the Games; Manu Ginobili's presence is questionable because of an ongoing ankle problem. Pepe Sanchez, the team's starting point guard in several tournaments, and Walter Herrmann, a valuable reserve on the gold-medal winning 2004 Olympic squad, are reportedly retiring from the national team.

Spain, the 2006 World Champion, might have injury concerns as well. Starting power forward Jorge Garbajosa may be unable to play because of a leg injury. Lithuanian center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was denied permission by his NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to play in the Olympics. The Cavs cited injury risk and insurance policy issues as reasons for the denial.

Three more teams will emerge from a qualifying tourney held in Greece, rounding out the Olympic field of 12 teams. The tournament features the following pairings for group play:

Group A: Brazil, Greece and Lebanon
Group B: Cape Verde, Germany and New Zealand
Group C: Canada, Korea and Slovenia
Group D: Cameroon, Croatia and Puerto Rico

Assuming they qualify for the Olympics, Greece could be another contender for a medal. They hauled in the silver medal from the 2006 World Championships.