Monday, March 14, 2005

The Weekend in Review

Norcross Edition

Well, I finally remembered to do a running diary of the ND men's game, but I think I'll scrap that for now. Here's my rambling story on the rest of the weekend in the north Atlanta suburbs:

So last week was trip #1 to Atlanta. Norcross, actually. Apparently, Norcross is a place where everybody works because that's where all the businesses are, but nobody lives there because it's too expensive. So, there wasn't much going on - especially for someone without a rental car. They do have a metro system, but it was a $15 cab ride to get there. Oh well. I did do some quality random wandering along the side of the road. That's right, there really weren't any sidewalks - it's like this suburb was anti-exercising. There were Wachovias as far as the eye could see (and three Waffle Houses!), but not much in the way of pedestrian pathways.
The first night, I walked over to this little Italian place that was part of a shopping plaza. I had the lasagna, of course, since I'm by no means creative, and always get the lasagna at Italian places. The walls had autographed pictures of all of last year's SEC football coaches - including Lou Holtz in his ND gear. Nice. The people there were almost too friendly. My waiter did the whole "do you need anything else?" about five times. Meanwhile, while I was waiting for my food, another waitress who wasn't busy saw I was alone and brought over free copies of two local small-town newspapers.
The next night, I went back to the same shopping plaza (did I mention there wasn't much in walking distance?) to a place I thought was like a BW3's. It wasn't - it was more like a family lunch diner that only served hamburgers. My supervisor actually encouraged me to go to places with fancy $25 dinners every night, so I actually thought of ditching this place when I saw that all they had were $6 hamburger combo meals. (Unfortunately, unlike band trips, I didn't get to keep the expense money after the trip was done.) But, it was too late, as once again the people there were too nice and I was waited on as soon as I picked up a menu. So I had a triple pickle BLT or whatever.
Tangent time: My classes were with five other people: two women from North Dakota, two from a small town in Illinois, and a guy from Bradenton, Florida. I was waiting for a "don't cha know" from the North Dakotans, but I wasn't that lucky. The Bradenton man, however, had a bit of a southern drawl. To top it off, he kept wanting to talk about the new lockbox software his company just got (even though it didn't come from the company whose training classes we were at). He must have said "lockbox" 100 times... in a souther drawl... I kept wanting to stare him down and shout, "strategery." On day 3, my class ended at 4, and my flight didn't leave until 10:30. Fortunately, I was near the northernmost stop of the metro, and the airport was the southernmost. The women from Illinois - Pana to be exact - took me to the metro, saving First Federal $15 in cab fares. Since you can get from any point on the metro to any other point for only $1.75, I decided to stop in downtown Atlanta on my way to the airport. There, I saw the Coca-Cola Museum. Emphasis there on "saw," as in "from the outside," since it was $9 to get in. Right next to it was this place called "The Underground." Here's the story as I picked it up: In the early 1900s, with all the people and horses and streetcars, the streets were getting really crowded. So, what Atlanta decided to do was build a whole new set of streets 20-25 feet
off the ground, above the existing streets (it looked a lot like a parking garage). The "old" streets on the bottom would then be used for trains. Nowadays, since they don't need the trains any more, the underground area is now a shopping area/tourist attraction... named "The Underground." There, I saw a restaurant called the "Irish Bred Pub." Now, I've come to the conclusion that as an ND grad, I'm not allowed to pass up a place like this. I perused the menu, and saw something called "Irish Beef and Guiness Stew." (That is, Irish beef stew made with Guiness.) Now, I KNEW that the members of KankaNation would never let me live this down if I passed it up, especially since I have the tendency to run my mouth when I drop the ball. The Irish Beef and Guiness Stew wasn't quite the big meal I hoped it to be - it was a small pot not much bigger than a coffee mug. But, I was amused to find all the Guiness settled at the bottom.
Now, the Underground was only so big, so there was still almost 3 hours to go before my flight when I got to the airport. This turned out to be a good thing, as you'll soon see. I used one of those ticket kiosks that look like an ATM machine. I didn't have a Delta whatever club card, so it said it could read my name from my credit card. So, I stuck it in and pulled it back out, even though the fit was a little snug. It didn't read the card, so I put it back in, and kept pushing until... it got stuck really good in there. Genius. They had to call over a "Delta Technician" to fix it. While I was waiting for the "technician," I noticed that the machine had a barcode scanner, and that the online receipt I printed the other day had a bar code on it. So, I asked someone behind the counter, "Could I have avoided all of this just by scanning my receipt here?" I sure could have, and the woman took my receipt and checked my in in about 3 seconds. Dah. While I'm still waiting, I'm thinking to myself, "Hey, maybe they'll give me some free miles, and I'll be able to fly to see Dave and Ellen this year." As the technician came over and, instead of taking the machine apart, simply yanked my card from the slot, the woman from Delta came over and said, "I tried to get a $50 travel voucher for you, but they were all out. So, I got you these 3 drink coupons instead." The good news is that they are valid for three years. The bad news is that those three years are 2003-2005. Good good. So, I still have 3 coupons sitting on my desk at home which will probably never be used - unless someone wants to volunteer to take them off my hands.The flight home was uneventful, but when I got home, there was snow on the ground. But hey, I'm from Ohio, so that didn't really bother me.


Reader Tara sent some updates on former ND footballers. Here they are with their new teams:
Lance Legree - Jets
Mike Gandy - Bills
Javin Hunter - Panthers (NFL Europe)
Allen Rossum - Falcons (re-signed)

You may or may not know this, but the Ravens tried to move Javin Hunter from WR to CB before releasing him. It looks like Hunter will play WR in Europe.

In basketball news, Niele Ivey is playing well in Spain despite injuries. Also in basketball news, you'll notice that I added a link to the Senior CLASS voting at the top of the page.

Adding to Tara's updates, Matt Carroll was signed by the Charlotte Bobcats, and is actually getting decent playing time. Don't believe me? Check out this story from

MVP Baseball 2005

The new features that may be the reason why I've been playing this way too much lately.
  • Managers can now argue close calls. If you do well, the team gets fired up and actually gets an "attribute boost." If you don't do well, you get kicked out of the game as the manager. Now, most umps work really hard with little respect, so I normally wouldn't promote including blown calls in a video game. But here's what's great about this feature - if your manager gets thrown out of the game, the computer takes over as manager. You still control the pitcher, hitters, defense, etc., but only the computer can put in pinch hitters and make pitching changes on your team.

  • MVP Baseball only has the actual names and pictures of players in the MLB Players Association. For the rest (including most minor leaguers, but also former "scabs" like Damien Miller and Kevin Millar), they do the college game thing and give fake names to players who otherwise have the same look, number, and attributes as a real person. Why is this important? This year, the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects are labeled in their player profiles. Don't count out a guy like me starting a franchise in the game and trading for all 100.

  • There were two things most noticeably missing (to me) from MVP 2004. Number one was the pitcher covering first. In 2004, if you told the first baseman to throw to first, he would hold the ball until the pitcher got to the bag. This year, he hits the pitcher midstride on the way to the bag. Now, MVP's defensive animations impressed the heck out of me last year - adding the fluid toss to first is icing on the cake.

  • Now, you have to be a big baseball nerd to appreciate this last one. Not a fat, sit in front of your computer and slam real players type of baseball nerd, but a Frank Catalanotto student of the game type baseball. When you're hitting, you try to read the spin on the pitch to pick up what type of pitch it is (and therefore it's speed). A fastball will just look white, while a curveball's spin will cause the seams to form a circle effect (the tighter the spin, the smaller the circle, therefore the harder to pick up as a curveball). But, how do you pick up the speed or type of pitch in MVP. Enter 2005's key feature, the "Hitter's Eye." Now, my TV doesn't quite have the resultion to pick up the seams on a small white pea. But, I don't have to do that. With the Hitter's Eye, the ball will flash a certain color for a split second as it comes out of the pitcher's hand. Each color represents a different pitch. Brilliant.

Due up this week: Tuesday night is NSS meeting night and Thursday is St. Patrick's. I think I'm going to put off the AL Central preview a week so I can do a Transaction Wire Wednesday. Also Wednesday, if I'm so motivated, I'm going to do a "fun feature" on what it would take for all 32 (33?) NCAA first round underdogs to pull off an upset.