Thursday, March 30, 2006

Couple interesting links

Note 1: For once, I agree with the French -- Apple should shy away from such proprietary music formats . Although I don't necessarily support the government passing a law to BAN this format, I'd like to see the industry trend towards a universal digital music format in the near future. WAV, MP3, RealPlayer,'s all a little much for me. I don't really blame the company for trying to get ahead of the curve and basically to pull a Microsoft on the industry. I just have trouble figuring out how the ITunes music format works in turns of burning CDs, putting it on non-IPod players. Part of this is that I simply don't have time to figure out digital music software, since the only time I mess with it is when I need new tunes to listen to while traveling.

I considered getting a IPod video this spring when I thought I was going to be traveling for work about a third of the time, but ultimately I decided they were overpriced and after some discouraging reports about battery life, I decided I'd rather have a player where I could just pop in a AAA battery when my juice ran out. I bought a SanDisk 512MB player for about $60, and I haven't had any problems yet.

Note 2: South Park last night on hybrid cars and the smog/smug associated with them was pretty darn humorous. At one point the smug from San Fransisco, hybrid-friendly South Park, and George Clooney's Oscar acceptance speech all came together to form a "perfect storm" in the west. Iain Murray has a great description of the episode and some commentary on the problems with expecting everyone to drive a hybrid at this point, noting that low-tech non-hybrid cars also play an important role in helping the poor enter the labor market and evacuate in the face of disasters.

Interesting thoughts for the evening...signing off. Between work and school, I'm a bit strapped for energy lately.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Assorted thoughts....

Reviewing the blogs of PeoriaIllinoisian and Polly Peoiria this evening, I discovered a couple posts worthy of mention.

1) Visual proof that Bradley's NCAA tournament run may be over, as the Sports Illustrated cover jinx strikes again. Of course, Dee Brown had the cover all to himself last year, and Marcellus Sommerville is sharing it with players from a few other Cinderellas like George possibly its effect will be lessened. I know a couple analysts have them picked to beat Memphis, and my husband had the Tigers going down already. Go Braves!

2) Great post linking to some of the rather amazing pictures of Springfield's tornado damage last weekend. (Then they got 10 inches of snow yesterday; bet those folks are loving Mother Nature right now). For readers familiar with this area, it ripped into the strip malls by White Oaks and Wabash road beyond it. The head was ripped off the Paul Bunyan like Lauterback man statue and the Barrelhead lost its roof. This picture might look familiar to some of my childhood friends and associates: the torn up signs for the Pasta House/old Fuddruckers and Best Buy. What is it with tornados ripping the roofs off electronics stores? If I recall right, a tornado in Bloomington did the same thing to Best Buy there about two years ago.

And as PeoriaIllinoisan notes, don't bother worrying about Governor HotRod! He wasn't in Springfield when it hit. Surprise, surprise.

3) As for Edwin Eisendrath, he may have only garnered 30% of the populace vote, but he's provided me with some amusement this evening. Check out the Blago Game. Can we leave this up until fall to help educate the people of Illinois? Hat tip to Polly Peoria as noted.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Still Reeling

Both my brackets and my Illini pride are still reeling from this weekend's NCAA events. There are plenty of articles out there (Illiniwonk, Tupper) analyzing the foul disparity in the Washington game. I don't think that takes much away from Washington, they played a good game and made the necessary plays down the stretch. However, I was pretty sad to see James and Dee end their careers that way in a game that was less than a hard-fought, evenly-officiated battle.

Also, major props to Bradley and Wichita State for winning their way into the Sweet 16 today and doing their conference proud. These teams have played hard and exceeded their potential the past few days, and it's nice to see someone from the area doing that at this point in time. As for my Illini, there's always next year (or more likely the year after that). I am a Cubs fan after all; I know how this part works.

I hope to post more on the matter after I've had a day or two to digest, but I also have a massive midterm coming up early this look for me Wednesday or later.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just a Game

While I realize that the NCAA tournament is just basketball and theoretically all in good fun, reading all the rabid Jayhawk fans commentary about rock-chalk and jayhawks at the Peoria Journal Star site has me rooting for an upset this evening. Go Bradley Braves! Do the Missouri Valley proud!

Have I mentioned this is my favorite weekend of the year? Tip-off starts in an hour again. Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!

Updated 11 pm CST: Booyah Braves! Bucknell Bill has transformed into Bradley Bill and his team has made its exit at the hands of another intrepid mid-major. Heck of game there Bradley. You can lose to Pittsburgh next round if you must, but you've done the Missouri Valley Conference proud and made a few alumni I know very happy campers this evening!

Although, I must note that this killed one of my brackets tonight. I very nearly put Pittsburg to the Sweet 16 in both sets, but I changed my mind in the more important one and changed it to Kansas losing in the Elite 8...because after the Missouri Valley tournament championship I was not very confident in BU's chances. But hey in this case, I can deal with being wrong even if it costs me bragging rights.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Anticipation and frustration

Just spent forty-five minutes writing a nice long post on my brackets and finalizing them...and had it eaten by Blogger. Frustration. Too late to recreate the whole thing, but I will offer a Cliff Notes summary of what my post was about.

I'm still finalizing my brackets this evening and second-guessing my earlier picks. I'm having trouble picking upsets and who will make it to the Final Four. It seems like there are far too many teams this year that either could choke and fizzle out in the second round OR make it to the Final Four if they come to play. Duke, Villanova, Kansas, Texas, Gonzaga, and North Carolina are all giving me some fits.

My sister's boyfriend is headed up to Rochester Hills tomorrow to watch his alma mater try for the second-biggest Kansas upset of the century. Let's go Bradley Braves! I must confess that I have Kansas in the Sweet16 in the most of my brackets, but I will not be sad if this doesn't happen...the same way I will not be sad if Illinois advances past the Sweet 16. At this point, my Final Fours look like this: Duke, Pittsburgh, UConn, Villanova/Ohio State. I'm still mulling changing one of the Pittsburghs to Kansas or Gonzaga though. Or maybe UCLA or Memphis. See the trouble I'm having?!? The Oakland region clearly looks the weakest to me though - perhaps that's why I'm having such a hard time picking a winner for that.

Back to my dear Illini, I would not be surprised if Dee Brown and James Augustine come out like men on fire, playing to keep their NBA draft hopes alive. If everything clicks at the same time and the offense actually gels (like it had been doing decently in the Minnesota and Michigan State road wins at the end of the season), I could see Illinois edging Connecticut. That being said, I'd say the odds are 80%/20% against it happening, and my bracket reflects that fact. I'd be happy if my boys in orange proved me wrong!

Finally, I was recently made aware of Bracketography, a really cool site run by two old high-school acquaintances that was recently featured on ESPN2's Quite Frankly. While they didn't have a great year predicting the seeds and brackets, I think many of us will agree with them that the committee had to be smoking something this year when it made some of these decisions. Great place to consult for some last minute insight though, and I know that it's run by a few good people. Keep an eye on it, and remember me when you're rich and famous boys!

Friday, March 10, 2006


I wouldn't mind being wrong about this one (like the Arizona miracle performance last year), but I'm close to giving up on the game this evening. My hubby likes to talk about how hard it is to beat a team three times in a year (let alone two times in a week), but this is still pretty disappointing. He's hollaring at the TV at the moment, but all Big Ten officiating stinks according to him.

Illinois has played a stellar game defensively, but this is the worst I've seen them look offensively (at least in the second half) in quite some time. While Michigan State is playing better than I've seen them do in a while, Illinois basically gave this game away with their freethrow missing and lack of good rebounding. While Dee has run the team well, you can't just offensively opt out for 90% of the games when you are the offensive firepower on the team.

Disappointing way to head into the NCAA tournament, but maybe this will help them to focus in the big dance. It's going to be tough filling out a bracket though, as I really don't have a clue where I think the Illini will exit. I could have sworn they would come out ready to play and had a decent victory this evening...because James and Dee have to be worried about their draft status at the moment. One thing's pretty much for certain...I don't plan on being in Dayton this next weekend, as I think there's about a snowball's chance in he-double-hockey-sticks of securing a #2 seed after this.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hey, I sat there and enjoyed it!
Big Ten Wonk / Nittany Lion lover David Jones: "Kudos to oracular Nittany Lion observer David Jones for coining the definitive term for today's festivities in Indy: for the first time in the conference tournament's history, Michigan State has indeed been 'forced to sit at the dork table in the Big Ten cafeteria.' The Spartans are playing on Thursday."

Penn State, Minnesota, and Michigan State have escaped today, while Northwestern, Purdue, and Michigan (bubble team so possibly) may have played their final game of the season. It's a bittersweet time of year here for Illinigirl, as the only sport I enjoy watching is about to wrap-up. But you know what that means! March Madness pools start Monday! I may set one up on Yahoo or CBS Sportsline and link to it here, so if you are inclined dear readers, fill out a bracket and play along!

On the other hand, we eagerly await tomorrow's Illini-MSU game. My husband is a bit anxious, as he thinks it's virtually impossible to beat a team three times in one year. However, I think the Illini deem this touranment title important in getting a good NCAA seed (perhaps a #2 in Dayton), and I think they will come out playing that way tomorrow. Only time will tell if my MSU-fan co-worker is bringing in the doughnuts for the fifth consecutive time in a row next week!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Political catch-up

I had a challenging yet friendly comment on my Oscars post from Douglas early Monday that I feel compelled to respond to this evening. He'd been reading some of my posts back from 2002 and particularly noticed this comment:

"I think the vast majority of Americans respect Bush's presidency and will reward him with another term in two years."

He went on to ask if I still feel the same sentiment behind it, specifically the following: "Do you still support this man after Katrina, the Iraq fiasco, the ports give-away, the give-away of nukes to India, etc.?"

I thought it was an interesting question that deserved a response, as I do generally enjoy thoughtful debate of the issues. This blog used to be much more political in nature than it has been the past year or so. I will admit that I am less keen on this administration than I used to be. I've lost a lot of the fire in my belly over the past couple years, and I believe a lot of this is because I think they could have done things better. If not in execution, at least how they communicated their decisions and rationale to the nation. Most importantly, I don't feel like the president has tackled issues that I feel are important, such as Social Security and making permanent earlier tax reflief & reform.

There are a few major administrative accomplishments that please me. Numero uno -- the fact that we have not been sustained a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. Dos -- the fact that we have two new, extremely-qualified Supreme Court justices that I believe truly are concerned with upholding the Constitution as it is written.

As for the points that Douglas outlined, those are not major points of contention with me, as I'll outline below.

Katrina: Emergency response fell first within the jurisdiction of state and local authorities. I do think response could have been better executed on a federal level, and I hope planning for future disasters is improved in the future...but Bush or Michael Brown could have stopped the outdated levees from breaking. I was down there 18 months ago, and New Orleans knew it was horribly at risk when Ivan missed. I feel the biggest fault lies with evacuation plans and emergency response horribly executed at a local level.

Iraq: I am discouraged about recent events in Iraq, but more in the respect that I'm not sure that we get these people to accept democracy and modernity and quit viciously attacking one another. I realize it has been a costly effort both in terms of dollars and sacrificed lives, but I think the motives and intentions of the mission were good. If successful, I do feel this effort will benefit the world in the long run. Only time will tell.

Ports giveaway: I felt this story was an unfortunate entanglement, but partially the result of living in a global economy. UAE-owned DP World bought British Peninsular & Oriental. I'd be very concerned with screening the workers in case radicals slipped in under the original proposal. I'm actually feeling fairly comfortable with the turn-it-over-to-a-US-entity resolution that was reached today.

Nukes to India: Outsourcing the nuclear power that no Americans want in their backyard, helping power India's economy...doesn't bother me. India is our friend and ally, a great nation that peaceably blends Hinduism, Islam, and several other religions. I think they will do their best to protect the technology. In my opinion, they're one of the more trustworthy nations out there right now.

So overall, do I still support this man? I guess my answer is a qualified "sort of." I haven't changed my political stripes or beliefs, but I don't believe the administration has handled everything as well as they could. I'm not alone in that belief -- Red State and other seem to harbor many with similar sentiments. Do I believe we are better off than we would have been under a Kerry administration? Personally yes. I know others will disagree, but that's how I feel.

End of political post -- I've more than made up for my silence lately this evening.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Billy in the Court of Law

"Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Cited as a footnote by an actual judge in Texas bankruptcy court recently -- one of my favorite quotes from Billy Madison's "Jeopardy" sequence. I wasted far too many hours watching this movie the summer before I started college; it's nice to see that I'm not alone.

And if you need more SNL-related funnies this evening, may I suggest SNL's digital short of Natalie Mathers from Saturday evening. (Warning: lots of satirical bleeping ahead). Could Andy Samberg be the next Adam Sandler? Discuss.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sad Day for Twins Fans

I was a big tomboy back in elementary school, a died-in-the-wool Cubs fan who watched as many games as she could. But occasionally I would find myself rooting for other teams stars, and Kirby Puckett is one that I for some reason always remembered fondly. Puckett's death at 44 today following a stroke seems somewhat unfair, perhaps because he was so young, but it's a reminder of the fragility of our lives and that we should live every day to its fullest.

Updated: Okay, I had no idea that Puckett was of questionable character off the field until today, and I in no way endorse what was described in the allegations in this article. However, he did good things for his team and gave twelve year-olds like myself someone to root for...and I will remember him that way too.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Red Carpet

I really don't care much about the Oscars this year. I don't think I'm entirely alone in this sentiment, at least not in this neck of the woods, red-county-within-blue-state middle America where we are unhappy that Greys Anatomy has been pre-empted this evening for a night of self-congratulatory back-slapping by Hollywood. This Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn writer captures my sentiments on this Oscar night quite well, albeit a bit snarkily.

Part of this is because I haven't seen any of the Best Picture nominees. I basically quit caring after Walk the Line was shut out of the Best Picture race. I found that movie enjoyable and inspiring and thought-provoking, unlike much of the propaganda (again imho) nominated this year. My husband is more upset that some of his blockbuster favorites like The Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars Episode III were shut out entirely. But we're both rooting for Reese Witherspoon to win best actress, so we may have to turn it on for a bit towards the end. I'm watching a bit E! at the moment, as I like seeing the dresses.

I was mildly interested in seeing Munich, but several of my Indian friends from work advised against it, saying it was violent, depressing, and lacking a point (in their opinions). I might see Brokeback Mountain once it comes out on video and I can fast-forward through certain scenes, but that's just the part of me that squirms at all graphic sex scenes in general. I am kind of rooting for Michele Williams to win best supporting actress. I always thought she and Josh Jackson were the creme de la creme of Dawsons Creek acting...although gosh I really do not love her pumpkin-dijon frock they just flashed onscreen.

But anyways, I do have an exciting evening planned regardless -- cooking a great dinner and watching my freshly-purchased Walk the Line DVD. So I'll at least be celebrating this year's best picture according of the illinigirl household!