Friday, December 31, 2010

Another year gone by

Wow, they seem to go faster and faster.  Sarah and Sam are far along in their college lives; Abby is getting closer to the end of high school, and is now starting to consider where she might head off for college.  And Karen and I are contemplating places to retire, though we aren't quite ready for that.

Plus, today is post number 365 for the year.  Yikes.

Best wishes to all for a very happy and prosperous 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who killed the Disneyland Dream?

I am not sure I agree with everything in this commentary from Frank Rich of the NY Times, but I found it to be very thoughtful, and worth reading:

OF the many notable Americans we lost in 2010, three leap out as paragons of a certain optimistic American spirit that we also seemed to lose this year. Two you know: Theodore Sorensen, the speechwriter present at the creation of J.F.K.’s clarion call to “ask what you can do for your country,” and Richard Holbrooke, the diplomat who brought peace to the killing fields of Bosnia in the 1990s. Holbrooke, who was my friend, came of age in the Kennedy years and exemplified its can-do idealism. He gave his life to the proposition that there was nothing an American couldn’t accomplish if he marshaled his energy and talents. His premature death — while heroically bearing the crushing burdens of Afghanistan and Pakistan — is tragic in more ways than many Americans yet realize.

But a third representative American optimist who died this year, at age 91, is a Connecticut man who was not a player in great events and whom I’d never heard of until I read his Times obituary: Robbins Barstow, an amateur filmmaker who for decades recorded his family’s doings in home movies of such novelty and quality that one of them, the 30-minute “Disneyland Dream,” was admitted to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress two years ago. That rare honor elevates Barstow’s filmmaking to a pantheon otherwise restricted mostly to Hollywood classics, from “Citizen Kane” to “Star Wars.”
“Disneyland Dream” was made in the summer of 1956, shortly before the dawn of the Kennedy era. You can watch it on line at or on YouTube. Its narrative is simple. The young Barstow family of Wethersfield, Conn. — Robbins; his wife, Meg; and their three children aged 4 to 11 — enter a nationwide contest to win a free trip to Disneyland, then just a year old. The contest was sponsored by 3M, which asked contestants to submit imaginative encomiums to the wonders of its signature product. Danny, the 4-year-old, comes up with the winning testimonial, emblazoned on poster board: “I like ‘Scotch’ brand cellophane tape because when some things tear then I can just use it.”
Soon enough, the entire neighborhood is cheering the Barstows as they embark on their first visit to the golden land of Anaheim, Calif. As narrated by Robbins Barstow (he added his voiceover soundtrack to the silent Kodachrome film in 1995), every aspect of this pilgrimage is a joy, from the “giant TWA Super Constellation” propeller plane (seating 64) that crosses the country in a single day (with a refueling stop in St. Louis) to the home-made Davy Crockett jackets the family wears en route.
To watch “Disneyland Dream” now as a boomer inevitably sets off pangs of longing for a vanished childhood fantasyland: not just Walt Disney’s then-novel theme park but all the sunny idylls of 1950s pop culture. As it happens, Disney’s Davy Crockett, the actor Fess Parker, also died this year. So did Barbara Billingsley, matriarch of the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” whose fictional family, the Cleavers, first appeared in 1957 and could have lived next door to the Barstows. But the real power of this film is more subtle and pertinent than nostalgia.
When the Barstows finally arrive at the gates of Disneyland itself and enter its replica of Main Street, U.S.A. — “reconstructed as it might have been half a century earlier,” as the narration says — we realize that the America of “Disneyland Dream” is as many years distant from us as that picture-postcard Main Street was from this Connecticut family. The almost laughably low-tech primitivism of the original Disneyland, the futuristic Tomorrowland included, looks as antique in 2010 as Main Street’s horse-drawn buggies and penny-candy emporium looked to the Barstows.
Many of America’s more sweeping changes since 1956 are for the better. You can’t spot a nonwhite face among the family’s neighbors back home or at Disneyland. Indeed, according to Neal Gabler’s epic biography of Disney, civil rights activists were still pressuring the park to hire black employees as late as 1963, the same year that Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington and Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique” started upending the Wonder Bread homogeneity that suffuses the America of “Disneyland Dream.”
But, for all those inequities, economic equality seemed within reach in 1956, at least for the vast middle class. (Michael Harrington’s exposé of American poverty, “The Other America,” would not rock this complacency until 1962.) The sense that the American promise of social and economic mobility was attainable to anyone who sought it permeates “Disneyland Dream” from start to finish.
The Barstows exemplified that postwar middle class. Robbins Barstow’s day job was as a director of professional development for a state teachers’ union. His family wanted for nothing, but finances were tight. Once in California they cheerfully stretch their limited expense money ($300 for the week) by favoring picnics over restaurants. As they dive into the pool at the old Huntington Sheraton, the grand Pasadena hotel where they’re bivouacked, they marvel at its reminders of “bygone days of more leisurely and gentle upper-class style and elegance.”
The key word in that sentence is “bygone.” The Barstows accept as a birthright an egalitarian American capitalism where everyone has a crack at “upper class” luxury if they strive for it (or are clever enough to win it). It’s an America where great corporations like 3M can be counted upon to make innovative products, sustain an American work force, and reward their customers with a Cracker Jack prize now and then. The Barstows are delighted to discover that the restrooms in Fantasyland are marked “Prince” and “Princess.” In America, anyone can be royalty, even in the john.
“Disneyland Dream” is an irony-free zone. “For our particular family at that particular time, we agreed with Walt Disney that this was the happiest place on earth,” Barstow concludes at the film’s end, from his vantage point of 1995. He sees himself as part of “one of the most fortunate families in the world to have this marvelous dream actually come true” and is “forever grateful to Scotch brand cellophane tape for making all this possible for us.”
Only 15 months after the Barstows returned home, America’s faith in its own unbounded future, so palpable in “Disneyland Dream,” would be shaken by the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the first Earth-orbiting satellite. Could it be that America, for all its might, entrepreneurship and brainpower, was falling behind its cold war antagonist in the race to the future? It was in that shadow that John F. Kennedy promised a New Frontier that would reclaim America’s heroic destiny, and do so with shared sacrifice and a renewed commitment to the lower-case democratic values central to both the American and Disneyland dreams of families like the Barstows.
This month our own neo-Kennedy president — handed the torch by J.F.K.’s last brother and soon to face the first Congress without a Kennedy since 1947 — identified a new “Sputnik moment” for America. This time the jolt was provided by the mediocre performance of American high school students, who underperformed not just the Chinese but dozens of other countries in standardized tests of science, math and reading. In his speech on the subject, President Obama called for more spending on research and infrastructure, more educational reform and more clean energy technology. (All while reducing the deficit, mind you.) Worthy goals, but if you watch “Disneyland Dream,” you realize something more fundamental is missing from America now: the bedrock faith in the American way that J.F.K. could tap into during his era’s Sputnik moment.
How many middle-class Americans now believe that the sky is the limit if they work hard enough? How many trust capitalism to give them a fair shake? Middle-class income started to flatten in the 1970s and has stagnated ever since. While 3M has continued to prosper, many other companies that actually make things (and at times innovative things) have been devalued, looted or destroyed by a financial industry whose biggest innovation in 20 years, in the verdict of the former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, has been the cash machine.
It’s a measure of how rapidly our economic order has shifted that nearly a quarter of the 400 wealthiest people in America on this year’s Forbes list make their fortunes from financial services, more than three times as many as in the first Forbes 400 in 1982. Many of America’s best young minds now invent derivatives, not Disneylands, because that’s where the action has been, and still is, two years after the crash. In 2010, our system incentivizes high-stakes gambling — “this business of securitizing things that didn’t even exist in the first place,” as Calvin Trillin memorably wrote last year — rather than the rebooting and rebuilding of America.
In last week’s exultant preholiday press conference, Obama called for a “thriving, booming middle class, where everybody’s got a shot at the American dream.” But it will take much more than rhetorical Scotch tape to bring that back. The Barstows of 1956 could not have fathomed the outrageous gap between this country’s upper class and the rest of us. America can’t move forward until we once again believe, as they did, that everyone can enter Frontierland if they try hard enough, and that no one will be denied a dream because a private party has rented out Tomorrowland.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Awaiting the Nissan Leaf

The electric car is not here yet, but it should not be too long now.  I was originally told December; now it's been pushed to "January/February."  Waiting patiently.

In the meantime, a nice cartoon forwarded by my mother:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I am reading right now

Four (?!!?) different books:

Monday, December 27, 2010

As the year comes to an end, it's a good time to look back on the things we for which we should be grateful.  I was reminded of how much we have by the beginning of this story in the NY Times:
African Huts Far From the Grid Glow 
With Renewable Power
Published: December 24, 2010 
KIPTUSURI, Kenya — For Sara Ruto, the desperate yearning for electricity began last year with the purchase of her first cellphone, a lifeline for receiving small money transfers, contacting relatives in the city or checking chicken prices at the nearest market. 
Every week, Ms. Ruto walked two miles to hire a motorcycle taxi for the three-hour ride to Mogotio, the nearest town with electricity. There, she dropped off her cellphone at a store that recharges phones for 30 cents. Yet the service was in such demand that she had to leave it behind for three full days before returning. 
That wearying routine ended in February when the family sold some animals to buy a small Chinese-made solar power system for about $80. Now balanced precariously atop their tin roof, a lone solar panel provides enough electricity to charge the phone and run four bright overhead lights with switches. 
“My main motivation was the phone, but this has changed so many other things,” Ms. Ruto said on a recent evening as she relaxed on a bench in the mud-walled shack she shares with her husband and six children.
Can you imagine living like this?  Really, we have so much for which to be thankful.  But it's nice to see that people living like this woman and her family are getting some small chance to improve their lives.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quite a way to debut in the NHL

On Dec. 10, Linus Omark of the Edmonton Oilers scored his first NHL goal ever, in his first NHL game ever, in a shootout, to win the game.  

Watch this great shot, spin-o-rama and all:

(The announcer's passing reference to "Dean Youngblood" is to a goal scored by a crazy-young Rob Lowe in the hockey movie "Youngblood.")

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas, one and all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Harrier - Up and Down Jet

The British Harrier flew its final flight recently.  It's a plane that I always found remarkable - able to lift off straight up, like a helicopter, but then fly like a fighter jet:

Now the flight manual has been declassified, and it shows how amazing the jet really is. Wired has put the flight manual online:

If you'd like your own copy, the entire manual can be downloaded here.

Very interesting.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harsh justice

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan is currently serving a 6 1/2 year prison sentence for corruption in office, and is not scheduled to be released until 2013.  He recently sought to have his conviction set aside based on a Supreme Court decision involving former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling.  As part of that motion, he requested bail, asserting as a primary reason that he recently learned his wife of 50 years is dying of cancer.

The trial judge who had sentenced him denied the motion to set aside his conviction.  She wrote a long, detailed ruling explaining why he was not entitled to have his conviction reversed based on the Supreme Court.  Since she ruled on the merits of his motion, she also ruled that bail was not appropriate, and denied that request as well.

But her language in discussing the bail motion was pretty harsh:

Ryan has also moved to set bail pending the resolution of his § 2255 motion. (Mot. to Set Bail.) Ryan submits a number of factors for the court’s consideration on this motion, including, most recently, the sad news that his wife of more than fifty years is suffering from a terminal illness. 
The Ryans’ advanced years and their obvious devotion to one another were significant to the court at sentencing and remain so, and the court recognizes that Mr. Ryan poses no risk of recidivism nor danger, were he to be released. 
In deciding a motion for release of an individual who has been convicted and sentenced, however, the most relevant factor must not be his or her personal circumstances, but instead the likelihood his § 2255 motion will succeed.  . . . .
This court takes no pleasure in depriving any defendant of his or her liberty. The court has had the painful duty to take such action in circumstances more compelling than these—where a young defendant with little education or resources is the sole support of small children, or is the only caregiver for a disabled relative, for example. Any sensitive judge realizes that a lengthy prison term effectively robs the convicted person of what we all value most: months and years with loved ones, some of whom will no longer be there when the sentence has been served. 
Mr. Ryan, like other convicted persons, undoubtedly wishes it were otherwise. His conduct has exacted a stiff penalty not only for himself but also for his family.. . . . 
Ryan’s motion to set bail is . . . denied.

Yikes.  That is a serious judge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

200 countries, 200 years

Changes in health and wealth, shown across centuries and countries, in a remarkable way:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My newest gadget

In a world of gadgets, this one stands out:

The Nexus S - the latest Android phone, designed by Google.  Who would have thought I would get things like this by working for a software company?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Candied pecans

My friend Alice gave us a beautiful bag of homemade candied pecans as a holiday gift:

According to her blog, she has been making these for four years straight (I got some last year, too).

I say, keep it up. Delicious!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The repeal of DADT

The U.S. Congress yesterday repealed the idiotic "don't ask, don't tell" policy imposed on the U.S. military by none other than Bill Clinton.  This is a historic, but overdue, step, and one that should be entirely unnecessary.  It is 2010, for God's sake.

My daughter told me that she heard someone say, when Prop. 8 was passed in California, that those who voted for it were "living on the wrong side of history."  Yesterday the Congress moved one step closer to the right side of history, though it appears most of the Senators from the south don't get it yet:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

You can't handle the truth - in the geek world

One of the great movie speeches in movie history is Jack Nicholson's courtroom tirade in "A Few Good Men:"

It turns out the geeks at Zappos made a pretty good imitation:

Very nicely done.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Under the weather

To say that someone is "under the weather" is to say that they are not feeling very well. Example: "What's wrong?" Answer: "I'm a bit under the weather." They probably have a simple cold or flu which will go away quickly. Example: "It's nothing serious; I'm just a bit under the weather." Being "under the weather" reminds us that a quick change in the weather can affect our health and the way we feel.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An update about what I am working on

Posted yesterday to the Official Google Blog:

An update on Google Fiber
 12/15/2010 09:04:00 AM
Earlier this year we announced an experiment we hope will help make Internet access better and faster for everyone: to provide a community with ultra high-speed broadband, 100 times faster than what most people have access to today.
This week I joined Google as vice president of Access Services to oversee the Google Fiber team. Over the past several months I’ve been following the progress the team has already made—from experimenting with new fiber deployment technologies here on Google’s campus, to announcing a “beta” network to 850 homes at Stanford—and I’m excited for us to bring our ultra high-speed network to a community. 
We had planned to announce our selected community or communities by the end of this year, but the level of interest was incredible—nearly 1,100 communities across the countryresponded to our announcement—and exceeded our expectations. While we’re moving ahead full steam on this project, we’re not quite ready to make that announcement. 
We’re sorry for this delay, but we want to make sure we get this right. To be clear, we’re not re-opening our selection process—we simply need more time to decide than we’d anticipated. Stay tuned for an announcement in early 2011. 

So we keep working, and we continue to be excited.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jeopardy and computers

IBM has a new computer to test against humans, this time on the tv game show Jeopardy.  It's Watson computer will appear on Jeopardy for three shows in February, competing head to head against two of the most successful champions who have ever been on the show.

Jeopardy is a fascinating test for this, as the clues are tricky and require a lot of unusual thought.  I find it hard to believe a computer can even solve them, much less do it in the reflexive way needed to beat other contestants.  It  will be interesting to watch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Channeling Smokey Robinson

While in Half Moon Bay, we walked by Ocean Books, a nice local store.  The store had a great sign in the window:

That made me want to step right in.  Good marketing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Minnesota vs. California

My sister-in-law is a professor at the University of Minnesota.  Saturday they had a huge blizzard there; here's a photo of people trying to get to a basketball game on her campus:

It was bad enough to cause the roof of the stadium where the Vikings play to collapse, and the temperature in Minneapolis yesterday hit a high of 3 degrees.  Regina told me she was keeping her frozen food on the back porch since her freezer was not working.

By way of contrast, Karen and I spent yesterday in Half Moon Bay, on the California coast.  It was sunny and in the mid-60's:

Here's Karen at the Ritz-Carlton:

I think we will take California for now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The top gadgets - and two top companies

Time Magazine has put out its list of the top ten gadgets of 2010.  No big surprise for the winner - the Apple iPad.  It is a huge success and I love mine.

The surprise for me was that each of the first seven gadgets on the list was either a device made by Apple or a device running Google's Android operating system (Google doesn't really make physical products):

Top 10 Gadgets
Not until number eight, a Toshiba laptop, did a non-Apple, non-Google product even crack the top ten list.

Where's all the innovation these days?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Chrome OS notebook

My company recently announced the Chrome OS notebook - a device that looks like a laptop computer, but actually is quite different.  That's because it doesn't have a hard drive, doesn't store any programs, and doesn't run anything but a browser.

It's a very well thought out concept.  In particular, because everyone who has a computer worries about it being damaged or lost or destroyed.  That doesn't matter with the Chrome OS notebook:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Really, really close

The Sharks played the Flyers the other night in a good game eventually won by the Sharks in a shoot-out.  But they almost lost the game in overtime.  The Flyers managed to get a shot by the Sharks' goalie as time ran out, but as you can see if you look closely, the puck was not quite across the goal line when the clock (counting in tenths of a second) ran down to 0.0:

In the NHL, it doesn't matter when you shoot - the puck must completely cross the goal line before time expires.

Good for the Sharks, bad for the Flyers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sleepy dog, multiple blankets

That's right, Daisy is lying on three (or maybe four, or maybe even five) different blankets:

At 7 pm in the evening.  Just like the princess and the pea.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards

I was saddened to learn of Elizabeth Edwards' passing yesterday after a hard battle with cancer. She seemed like a strong, well-centered woman who worked for good things and who suffered some very bad ones.

Two particular aspects of the news reports caught my attention.  The first was a statement by the President:
In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain.  Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up.  But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

The second was her own words, released the day before she died:
The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. 
But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.
Both comments were quite memorable.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The English Language

I once read a piece by William Safire in which he complained about the use of the phrase "from whence," which is wrong because "whence" means "from where," and about the phrase "it boggles the mind," which is wrong because "boggle is an intransitive verb, so the proper usage is "the mind boggles."

These have always stuck with, as have other examples of misuse of words.  But this recent (unattributed) email I saw takes the criticism of the foibles of the English language to a whole new level:

You think English is easy???

Read to the end . . . a new twist

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) A buck does funny things when does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England nor French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick' ?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this:

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP'.

It's easy to understand 'UP', meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake 'UP'?
At a meeting, why does a topic come 'UP'?
Why do we speak 'UP' and why are the officers 'UP' for election and why is it 'UP' to the secretary to write 'UP' a report?
We call 'UP' our friends.
And we use it to brighten 'UP' a room, polish 'UP' the silver; we warm 'UP' the leftovers and clean 'UP' the kitchen.
We lock 'UP' the house and some guys fix 'UP' the old car.
At other times the little word has real special meaning.
People stir 'UP' trouble, line 'UP' for tickets, work 'UP' an appetite, and think 'UP' excuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed 'UP' is special.
A drain must be opened 'UP' because it is stopped 'UP'.
We open 'UP' a store in the morning but we close it 'UP' at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed 'UP' about 'UP'!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of 'UP', look the word 'UP' in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes 'UP' almost 1/4th of the page and you can come 'UP' to about thirty definitions, and, if you are 'UP' to it, you might try building 'UP' a list of the many ways 'UP' is used.
It will take 'UP' a lot of your time, but if you don't give 'UP', you may wind 'UP' with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding 'UP'.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing 'UP'.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things 'UP'.
When it doesn't rain for a while, things dry 'UP'.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it 'UP'.

For now my time is 'UP', is time to shut 'UP'!

Now it's 'UP' to you what you do with this email.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tiger Woods returns

I am what you would call a "pure golfer."  I really care about the substance of the sport, not the hoopla.  So I have been a great fan of Tiger Woods, and so I was greatly disappointed when the man turned out to be less than the golfer.

But I am rooting for his return, because he simply is the best golfer that ever lived - and I say that as a lifelong fan of Jack Nicklaus.

Yesterday Tiger had a four-shot lead headed into the final round of the World Golf Challenge, and he let it slip away, and then he fought back.  In the end, he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell not because he played badly, but because McDowell simply capped off a fabulous year with two pressure-filled birdie putts.

This was the best part for me, from a story at
Without a trophy for the first time since he can remember, Woods appeared ready to embark on a new chapter after a year of personal turmoil and shocking scores. A four-shot lead turned into a two-shot deficit. He rallied to tie McDowell, then watched the U.S. Open champion deliver the winning shots.
It was the first time Woods has lost a tournament when leading by at least three shots going into the final round. 
And it was the first time anyone could recall Woods feeling good after a loss.

That's right - he didn't complain or whine. He congratulated McDowell and he said that he felt good about how he had fought to win.  That's a big change from the Tiger of old.
I had thought his career might be over, but now I think it might be starting up again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

12 - 0 !!!!!

In all the years I have been a sports fan, I have never had one of my teams complete a perfect regular season run.  But yesterday Sam's Oregon Ducks won the "Civil War" against Oregon State, by a final score of 37-20.

This win completed a 12-0 season for the Ducks, winning the Pac-10 crown and sending them to the BCS Championship game in January against similarly undefeated Auburn.

Go Ducks!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The sign on my desk

This card sits on my desk - I see it every day:

So I always keep it in mind.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An inspiring story

So much of the news is bad; I like it when I come across good news.  This story in the New York Times caught my attention because it has a touching story about a high-school coach suffering from a terrible illness and one of his athletes struggling mightily to reach a goal for him.

Runner Crawls to Finish to Win Title 

for Her Ailing Coach

Robin Hauser Reynolds
Coach Jim Tracy with his University High cross-country team. Tracy's health has deteriorated visibly this season, but he kept coaching the team as it won its eighth state championship.

SAN FRANCISCO — A top runner who hits the wall. A coach with a cruel illness. A state championship at stake.
Robin Hauser Reynolds
Holland Reynolds’s teammates joined her in the ambulance after her effort won the state championship. Reynolds recovered within a few hours.
Such was the situation last Saturday when Holland Reynolds, a star runner from a small private high school in San Francisco, collapsed at the state cross-country meet and crawled across the finish line to clinch the championship for her team.
Reynolds, 16, a junior, has been a distance runner since she was in third grade. She arrived at San Francisco University High School as a fast freshman in 2008, ended her first season as the team’s top runner and has been the lead runner for the cross-country team ever since.
Her coach, Jim Tracy, 60, arrived at University High School in 1994 and built both the girls’ and boys’ teams into perennial state champions.
Reynolds said Tracy was the best coach she had ever had. “He always tells the truth,” she said. “If you ask him, ‘Well, how do you think I did today?’ he’ll tell you, ‘You had a bad race,’ ” she said. “It’s because of his honesty that when you receive a compliment from him, you know you’ve done really well, and it makes all the runners want to strive to please him.”
Until three years ago, Tracy, an accomplished runner, could keep pace with his fastest runners. Symptoms of his illness began nearly five years ago, he said, when a muscle in his thumb stopped functioning. And last June, he was found to have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
But it is only in the past year that the disease has begun to debilitate him. A.L.S. patients, most of whom eventually lose the use of all but their eye muscles, typically live three and a half to four years after the onset of symptoms, but the range can vary widely.
At the beginning of this season, Jim Ketcham, the school’s athletic director, assembled the team and told the runners that Tracy was very sick. The news devastated the team. “Everybody was crying,” Reynolds said.
Since the start of the season, Tracy’s condition has grown visibly worse. “He’s been falling down sometimes at practice,” Reynolds said. “And he brings a chair to our workouts.”
Last weekend’s state meet in Fresno took place on a rainy, unseasonably cold morning. Reynolds, who was fighting a slight cold, was unaccustomed to such low temperatures, and said she might have misjudged how much she needed to drink.
Just before the 3.1-mile race, the team did its regular cheer, then Reynolds, who is the team captain, led a special cheer for Tracy. “I think that made the team really want to win it for Jim,” Reynolds said.
At the 2.5-mile mark, Reynolds was in third place, pushing for second, among the 169 runners. “I was going to make my move,” she said, “but for some reason my legs just gave out. I was confused, and I started to slow down.”
Tracy was at the team’s tent near the finish line, and he said he knew something was wrong when another University High runner finished before Reynolds. “I thought, ‘This isn’t right,’ ” he said. “ ‘Holland should be here already.’ ”
Tracy, who wears braces on his legs and his back and walks with difficulty, made his way to the course and found Reynolds, half a mile out, barely running and weaving across the course.
“She usually runs with a slightly bent upper torso,” Tracy said. “But this had twisted her over even more. It looked like she was barely able to keep herself stabilized. It was a grisly sight.”
Tracy said Reynolds looked at him out of the corner of her eye.
“But her vision was locked on her goal,” he said. “I’d never seen anything like it. It was like a mask of determination. I’ve seen that so many times when she’s in front, but this time she was getting buried. People were flying past her.”
Within two or three yards of the finish line, Reynolds collapsed, and a race official was at her side within seconds. He told her he could not touch her or help her, but to avoid disqualification, she would have to get over the finish line.
“I said, ‘Are you O.K., and do you want to finish?’ ” said Brian Weaver, the official. “She said ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘O.K., all you have to do is get your foot across the line, and you don’t have to get up, it’s O.K. if you crawl.’ ”
Reynolds started crawling.
“I was encouraging her,” Weaver said. “I said, ‘You can do this.’ She was nodding her head and crawling, and I was saying, ‘Nice and easy, don’t force it.’ ”
Tracy said, “It took over 20 seconds for her to crawl two yards.”
Reynolds said she did not remember collapsing but did remember crawling: “All I knew was that I had to cross the line.”
She finished in 37th place, with a time of 20 minutes 15 seconds, giving University the title it would not have won without her struggle over the line.
The instant Reynolds crossed the line, she was scooped up by Weaver, an assistant coach from the school and a trainer, who took her to an ambulance, where she was given intravenous fluids.
Weaver said that if Reynolds had appeared to be in immediate danger, he would not have let her continue. “I would have picked her up and carried her straight to the ambulance,” he said. “But she was able to make eye contact with me. Her body was tired, but she was mentally all there.”
Reynolds was still in the ambulance, unable to keep her eyes open, when she heard her mother tell her father they had won the championship. An hour later, her teammates were in the ambulance with her, and they gave Reynolds her medal. Within a few hours, she had recovered enough to go home. On Wednesday, she went for a 15-minute run.
Last Saturday’s race was the team’s eighth state championship, making it the most successful team in California cross-country history.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quite the (mosaic) tribute

Mario Lemieux was to Pittsburgh NHL hockey what Michael Jordan was to Chicago NBA basketball.  In an interesting tribute, the Penguins worked with the Mario Lemieux Foundation to create a tribute - a mosaic commemorating his great career:

The cool part is that this mosaic is made up of 21,000 individual photos submitted by Lemieux fans.  And it is online, in fully zoomable form.  Give it a try - the zoom feature is fascinating, as are the photos.

Not something you see every day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

When you do as much flying as I have recently, the oddest things can catch your attention.

I was stretching on a flight recently and noticed the following on the door of the lavatory:

That's right, there is a standard "no smoking" sign at the top, but at the bottom of the door, there is an ashtray!  An ashtray!

Either that plane was built a long, long time ago, or somebody really fouled up.