Monday, September 22, 2003

I saw a commercial calling The Rock's new movie the best action comedy since 48 Hours and Midnight Run. Doesn't that just make it the best action comedy since Midnight Run?!

I went to the Charger game today with Gourab, and it was a fun afternoon of football and objectifying women. The Charger cheerleaders are high-quality, although it should be noted that just because the Bolts wear the powder blues, that doesn't mean the cheerleaders also need throwbacks. Fortunately, they came out for the second half in modern gear. Good stuff. Much better than a very ugly game.

Random thing that's been bugging me: In the Kim Wilde song "Kids in America", why is the new wave that she's warning us about coming to "New York to East California"? For one thing, who divides California East and West? Do only Needles, Barstow, and Truckee need to worry about this wave? And what about West California? Don't we have to worry about this new wave too?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

While reading a very tangential part of our case this morning, I came across a minor witness whose last name was Forgue. So of course I've been thinking about this all day...

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I know the line about damned lies and statistics, etc., but I got a couple of statistics today that I like.

I wrote here a while back--probably six months ago now--that I had gotten a 170 on a practice LSAT, and I had solicited (successfully--thanks, readers!) some advice on what that meant. So this fall I've been teaching two LSAT courses, in large part to prepare myself for the October 4th test. So I thought all was well and good, but then last Monday night I sat for a practice test and got 165. I was pissed--I've been doing a lot of work that I thought was preparatory, and then it turned out I was actually doing worse.

So I decided that teaching alone wasn't enough, and that I needed to start practicing some sections on my own, reading explanations and all, and being more methodical. So I took another practice test on Saturday and got the results back today.


You can't see it, but this is Joe doing the happy dance.

Equally happily, I had my last introductory training session at the gym tonight. I've been so-so about food, but really good at getting to the gym for cardio and lifting every morning, for two and a half weeks thus far. Tonight, we redid my measurements: I'm only down one pound, but I've lost a full inch around my chest and half an inch around my neck, waist, and thigh. The computer estimates that I've lost five pounds of fat and gained four of muscle, and that I've lost 1.2 percentage points off of my body fat percentage.

These, friends, are some statistics I can truly get behind!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Entertainment is making me sad nowadays. Let's take these in reverse order. John Ritter will mostly be remembered of course for Three's Company, which (amazingly) was once a vanguard show in some ways, pushing the boundaries of the sitcom. But I'll remember a couple of other, supporting performances by Ritter much better--his eye-opening performance in Sling Blade, his guest appearance on "Buffy" as a robot dating Joyce (a fun episode), and most notably for a very strong performance as J.D.'s father on "Scrubs". In that role he reminded of largely of my own father, which is probably why I remember it fondly.

(In other news, BTW, Joyce DeWitt wants to know if you're finished eating that.)

Warren Zevon's death was not unexpected, as he had been making "farewell" TV appearances for nearly a year, but it's still vey saddening to me. My screen name was Mr. Bad Example for a while, after all. I was introduced to him in college by two people--a professor and a fellow student (Jim Malloy and Ben Jackson, respectively) about whom I had not thought og in a long time before this week. I'm sure they're not having the best week either.

Mostly, though, I am really bummed out about Johnny Cash. I was going to make my blog black for a while in his honor, but then I was afraid I couldn't remember how to switch it back. Cash was one of the great country singers of all time and an icon for several generations, but you knew that already. What really sticks out for me about Cash, however, is that he was one of the great protest singers of the last 50 years, even though you might not think of him that way.

I did wear all black today to my LSAT class (OK, I thought the shirt was black but it turned out to be navy). As good as Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, and others are, this will always be the quintessential Johnny Cash tune for me, and it's also one of the most poignant statements of personal ethics that I know of:

The Man In Black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

It is time to start talking football. I was thinking about this on my drive to Pasadena for LSAT class this morning: I often make the crack that I am unavailable for work/obligations/whatever because Sundays are my day of worship--but only from September through January. As I got to thinking about it further, I realized that in pure anthropological terms, football actually is the closest thing I have in my life to religion. If you believe people actually need rituals of some sort, then you would have to see Sunday afternoons that way for me. It is communal, it is emotional release, it is putting my faith in powers out of my control--or in this case in Cowhers out of my control. Have I mentioned that I'm very serious about football, especially NFL football, and particularly Steeler football? During grad school, Steeler Sundays were the one time I got away from grad school to hang out with a different group among whom I found legitimate community--ex-patriate Pittsburghers. As much fun as I had last season watching the games with The Good Doctor, making Eddie George/David Byrne jokes and the like, I haven't had my ritual in a year and a half, and I'm Jonesing for it in a huge way. (BTW, if you're a Steeler fan Jonesing fcr the ritual, go here.) I'll be at the Shark's Cove in Hermosa Beach tomorrow, and I can't wait.

In honor of the start of the Steeler season, I give you this work in progress, with deep deep apologies to Concrete Blonde, and also to anyone who happens to read it:

Joey, Porter, your season, got shorter
Contract's expensive, but our team's less defensive
I know you've heard them all before
So I won't make the jokes no more
I just lay off and hope you're back in two to four
And though I used to wonder why
Our defense needed 55
I just watch Haggans play and heave a deep deep sigh
Oh, Joey if you're hurtin' so am I...

Friday, September 05, 2003

A couple of points to refute Mr. Hyde (regarding baseball, not TV dinners):
1. I will agree that a direct comparison of today's OPS (and components) is not fair. But I do not grant the idea that OPS is more valuable today than it used to be. It's just somewhat devalued, in the sense today's average or replacement value is higher. In other words, I think OPS was as important from 1960 to 1985, but the standard for what was a good OPS was somewhat lower in that period than it would be today. So comparisons to today's stats are at least flawed, if not outright useless. That said, I've also seen stats that suggest that park factors worked heavily in his favor, and if you remove them statistically, he never had even on season over .800 OPS. Not one!
2. Given that, the stats in comparison to the rest of the Big Red Machine are more telling. Pete Rose spent over 80% of his career as a corner outfielder or a corner infielder. In spite of that, he had the 6th best OPS on his own team in that era. His OPS was lower than that of the team's 2B and C (though admittedly, two all-time greats--but isn't that what Rose allegedly is?), as well as two other corner outfielders who are not Hall of Famers (Griffey amd Foster).
3. Runs scored are a counting stat, and by my premise less useful than an average. Runs are also a more valuable team stat than individual stat, becase they're highly dependent on the talent around you rather than merely your own performance--and that's even truer if you're not a home run hitter. Rose looks like a much player because he was surrounded with high-caliber talent on the Reds and, to a lesser extent, the Phillies.
4. Sadly, no, I have not read the James Win Shares stuff, nor do I have an extensive stats libray. But I do have high-speed internet, so I have lots of stats at my fingertips.
5. Regardless of all this, thanks for the cheerleading, and keep up the good work yourself!

Thursday, September 04, 2003

So I made two simultaneous decisions that will most definitely hamper blogging for the time being. One is that I agreed to take on a second LSAT class which had started and was abandoned by its original teacher. So I'm now teaching Tuesday through Thursday night and Saturday morning until October 4th. At least I'm getting paid for all that.

The second decision has been a long time coming. For those of you who don't know me, some background. I have been fat as long as I remember. When I was 6 I was fat. When I was 4, I'm not sure. So somewhere in there. I have been literally obese for over 20 years. Three years ago I decided enough was enough and I started working out with a trainer. After two years of hard work, I was somewhat less obese. When I was done I weighed 360 pounds, which was an improvement, but it's not clear how much of one, because I wasn't weighed at the start. Suffice it to say I had put on a lot of muscle weight, lost a lot of fat weight, and the difference was probably 30-60 pounds. When I moved back to PA, I was depressed and broke, so I had neither the motivation nor wherewithal to continue training, and I fell into sloth and bad eating. That lasted a year. When I came back to L.A. last month, I quickly joined a gym, and my membership came with 6 training sessions. Over the past two weeks I have done 5 of those sessions, mostly 2 nights a week. I asked the trainer early along to set me up on a program that I could do myself once the sessions were done. On Monday night he did that. That plan is much more intense than my previous plan, but I feel that I'm ready for it. Oh yes, and the semi-good news was that beformy first session I weighed in at 361 pounds. Good news that I didn't gain much of anything, but scary in terms of how much muscle I must've lost in order to gain as much fat as I did and stay at the same weight.

So anyway, the decision is that for the foreseeable future I will be getting up at 5 a.m. and doing cardio and lifting every day before work, and 6 days a week total. Like I said it's more intense than I've done before, but enough is just simply enough. I want to get in shape and do it as rapidly as possible, and so that's what I'm going to do. If I could get up at 5:30 for a hellish commute, I can get up at 5 for legitimate, major self-improvement.

Between these two things, I just don't know how much I'll be blogging. I know I've threatened as much in the past, but the big difference is that I do not have internet access or time at work any more. I certainly still like blogging enough that I will keep it up, but it may be sparse for the next month or so. After the LSAT cycle, I should actually have more free time again. In the meantime, watch this space and I'll pop in as I can.