Is Steve Jobs really sick?

Okay, so compare these two photos. The first one is from Macworld, in January 2007. The second is from yesterday, at WWDC. It would appear that Steve Jobs is wasting away. Tell me it doesn’t strike fear into you. I mean, aside from the personal issues that Steve and his family must be experiencing with his health…

Steve Jobs at Macworld 2007Steve Jobs at WWDC 2008

I have always known that I would live to see Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm (actually, I did live through the Gil Amelio days, just barely), but the thought of it actually happening frightens the bejeezus out of me.

Anyone else find these pictures striking and worrisome? Anyone know any details?

A taste of the good life

For the first time in years, maybe five years, I spent fifteen minutes lying in the grass this weekend, just enjoying the weather.  It’s what I call a “hammock moment,” if I had a hammock.  And yesterday, my wife, the college professor, worked at home, all day.  She wore jeans, didn’t go to the office, got good work done.  It is a taste of the good life.  The life that was promised to us by an .edu lifestyle.  I am encouraged.

Detective Goren was Thor!

Holy crap! I just found out, not thirty seconds ago, that Vincent D’Onofrio, actor who is currently knockin’ em dead as Detective Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and whom I love in the first Men in Black movie, also played Thor in one of my favorite movies of all time, 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting! (Weird tribute on YouTube)  That movie just gets awesomer and awesomer as the years roll by.

Can haz weather, plz?

One of these days I will be glad we have a weather radio.  But in ten years of being woken up by the piercing warble of the weather alarm (a delightful feature that has no volume control) I have yet to experience that gratefulness.  

Last night we had a tornado warning.  The weather radio shocked us out of our slumber sometime after midnight to warn us of that tornado warning.  There was no tornado.  We probably could have stayed in bed.  Though our neighbors, about fifty feet up the hill over there to the left, had a tree go through their roof.  Here’s the article (jump to “The Loud Boom”). Wherever it says, “Brandenburger” you just read, “Danny’s neighbor.”

At 1:15 am, about the time their maple tree was meeting their living room, we were all huddled in the basement bathroom, feeling a little silly, tired, and worried that Oliver would not go back to sleep easily.  He did though, and we count ourselves lucky.

I do not regret getting the radio, nor do I regret using it.  But I am not yet thankful for it.  I am thankful, however, that the dulcet sound of chainsaws in the morning was not coming from our front yard.

Wrapping up the sports season of a lifetime

Now that college basketball is over, I can mark the end of the most amazing sporting season I am likely to ever enjoy.

First the Red Sox win the World Series (again).  Then KU’s woeful college football program pulls the most amazing performance ever out of its collective bum, ends the season 12-1 with a victory in a BCS Bowl… probably the best KU football season ever.  Then the Patriots make it all the way to the Superbowl (where they lost, sure, but it was a fun season to watch).  And finally, the KU men’s basketball team goes all the way, winning the National Championship, and possibly completing the best season ever for KU’s storied basketball program.

It has been a lot of fun.  It’ll never happen again.  (Possibly because I’m trading my baseball fandom for a return to soccer…. baseball has lost me with all the scandals.)

Thoughts I had while watching Kansas win

Watching the game last night, there were a lot of non-game related things I wanted to touch on.  This might be of more interest to those of you who haven’t been following KU basketball all season.

  • God.  In all the player interviews before the game, during all the plays of the game, during all the celebration afterwards, in all the articles about the game, and even in what I saw of the post-game pressers, God was mentioned three times.  Just three times.  I find that surprisingly low.
  1. Mario Chalmers pointed to the sky a little while after his game-tying three point shot.  This is the classic, “Thank you, God” gesture used in sports all over.  Or maybe he was pointing to the Jumbotron.
  2. Ronnie Chalmers, Mario’s Dad, carried a little bit of scripture in his pocket ((Source: Luke Winn’s ESPN Tourney Blog, about halfway down the article)), and read it to himself quietly towards the end of regulation.
  3. Calipari, the head coach of Memphis, told a reporter right afterwards that he told God, during Derrick Rose’s one-of-two final free throw appearance, that if they both went in, it was meant to be, and if they didn’t, it was not meant to be.
  • Ed Hightower was the Referee for the game.  I remember him well from our seven years in Iowa City.  His main stomping grounds is the Big Ten, though he’s doing more games in the Big 12 (where we are now) lately.  Incidentally, he was also the Ref for the last time KU won the Big Dance, in 1988.
  • When they set out the ladders for the net snipping, the ladder was rather modestly emblazoned with the company’s name, Werner.  They did get a Greg Gumbel announcement as the Official Ladder of the NCAA Tournament, but really, I would have made sure the cheap seats knew who made the ladder.  And nobody fell off.
  • Related question: who makes the scissors that are used?  Those things are sharp.
  • Another related question: Do the ladder/scissor companies cheat?  Like how burgers in commercials are faked up to look better than they are in reality.  Are the steps gummed up to ensure nobody slips?  Are the scissors ground extra-sharp, to a level no homeowner would be allowed to have?
  • Bill Self, the KU coach, is reportedly going to be offered the Oklahoma State coaching job (his alma mater) for something like $3.5 million a year with a $6 million signing bonus.  That’s $10 million for showing up for a year.  Most people seem to believe he will stay at Kansas, but get a nice salary bump from his current $1.4 million annually.
  • How classy is Roy Williams (coach of Carolina, former 15-year coach of KU)?  He stuck around for this game, and even allowed a Jayhawk sticker be stuck to his black sweater.  He even wore it during a halftime CBS interview.  I think any animosity Lawrence had for him is gone now.
  • It took a little while for articles about the game to get published, but several were out within hours of the end of the game.  Which means these sportswriters must have notes, ideas, even partial articles written before the game even begins, right?  A collection of these “What if” drafts could be fascinating for a sports fan to read.
  • There’s only one Luther Vandross song I can stand ((Official CBS crappy controller with commercial, or Unofficial YouTube sure to be pulled edition)).
  • We will probably pick up some sort of Championship DVD Commemorative Video Package Season Thing when they come out.  I never did understand that.  But having watched these kids for two years, having watched every game this season, knowing their stories and watching them play last night, I think I’d like to watch it again in five, ten, fifteen years.

We watched KU win the National Championship

We watched the game at home, live (not delayed via TiVo), as it tipped late enough that we were done with all parenting duties.  Our boys were tucked safely in their beds, dreams of Jayhawks dancing through their heads.  They both wore their new KU shirts to school, and the littlest one (he’s 22 months old) insisted on showing everyone his “J Awk,” even if that meant taking his hoodie off repeatedly.

We were hoping to watch in HD and listen to the local guys on the radio, but when we started the game, the video was behind the audio by almost five seconds.  That means the “shot was good!” before the play had even been set up on screen.  Something happened at half time though, and it was all synced up, so we got local color for the second half and the overtime.  The local announcers are so delightfully biased (and I still believe Packer and Nance were entranced by the idea of Memphis) that it makes up for their being further from the floor/booth stats.

Watching this game was awesome.  It was just the two of us, Sweetie and I, but we were up and down, nervous, groaning, I know I cursed at the screen repeatedly, Sweetie was tense, literally on the edge of her seat.  We could hardly believe it when Chalmers’ shot went in, and when it was all over we rushed outside to hear the screaming and honking and fireworks from downtown.

Then we watched it over again (thanks to TiVo) with the TV audio, just to see it once more.

Here are my thoughts on the game.  Please note, you may have to know something about basketball, college basketball, and/or KU basketball to grok much of this.  Sorry.

  • Here in Lawrence they are calling it “Mario and the Miracle,” a reference to KU’s last championship team, dubbed “Danny and the Miracles” after Danny Manning (now a KU assistant coach).  But I much prefer the simpler, more apt, “Super Mario.”  In my two paltry years in Lawrence, I’ve seen Mario Chalmers take a clutch shot like that a number of times.  And not one article before the game, not a single one from the National Media, singled him out as anything other than part of a guard foursome.
  • All season, Hell, all of his two years, Darrell Arthur has been hailed as this great, athletic, wonder boy.  All of his two years I have failed to see it.  Some games he has been good, even great.  Most games he lets balls slip through his fingers, he fouls a lot, he contributes a few points.  But this game he was excellent.  20 points and 10 rebounds, and a cool hand from start to finish.  His potential is so high that he’ll probably jump to the NBA, but this was an excellent parting performance.
  • Sherron Collins, instrumental in the game, is a player I love and hate.  I cussed him up and down the floor both in this game and the Carolina game on Saturday.  He is maddeningly bullheaded, but mad-skilled, and for every time he drives the lane against four guys and loses the ball, or passes to nobody, or dribbles it off a teammate’s foot, there are those times he strips the ball, weaves the trees for a score, or drains a  three at the crucial time.  One more year in school and he will be something to see.
  • How important was the review of that three-pointer?  If the officials didn’t have the ability to go back and examine that play, KU loses and the game gets a huge asterisk (at least, here in Lawrence).
  • Only one analyst gave KU the nod before the game.  Jay Bilas, of ESPN, has been picking KU since October.  Every time he was asked about it during the tournament, he reaffirmed his pick.  Right before the game, he said it again, though he hedged his bet a little.  Hats off to him.
  • They are calling this team the best team KU has ever produced, and they are calling KU “Basketball’s most storied program.”  That makes this the best team ever from basketball’s most storied program, in case you were wondering.

This may have been the most fun I have ever had watching sports, right up there with Argentina’s win in the World Cup Final in 1986.

Preparing for the Big Game

Tonight is the Final game of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  The University of Kansas, where I live (and where I am newly employed!) is playing in this game, against the University of Memphis.  Tip off is at 8:21 pm, our time.  That means the boys will be in bed, and we can watch it live, with the radio guys announcing alongside.

I am terribly nervous.  Our game on Saturday was awesome, and frightening, and shows exactly what our team can do, both good and bad.  We need the good to show up tonight, not the bad.

I am doing what I can to help them.  I am wearing a new t-shirt today, but I’ll put the other one on before the game.  That’s the one I’ve worn for each game this Tournament.  The boys both have new t-shirts they are wearing (I think I have yet to see a single person today who is not wearing some sort of KU merchandise).  We have our flag out front (the house came with a flag socket).  I have a new hat (one that fits, yay).

It’s all I can do, except wish them luck.

KU plays the game of its life to get to the NCAA Final

Best headline so far this morning is from the local guys, “KU cools heels.”  Followed closely by the subhead, “Kansas beats tar out of UNC.”  I’m sure sportswriters who cover Carolina all the time have used these before, but this was my first exposure to it.

In case you missed it, read this recap of the game by Stewart Mandel of SI.  And this article by Pat Forde of ESPN is an excellent summary of the good and the bad of the game.

We could hardly believe it.  Those first fifteen minutes were pure agony.  Kansas ended that run up 40-12, and Tiffany and I were horrified.  All season we have had a way of blowing huge leads like that, of getting incredibly sloppy and nearly losing games.  Of showing how terribly immature we can be.  So a lead like that terrified us.  And rightly so.

But unlike all those years at Iowa, when Steve Alford would take a bad situation, coach his guys, and make it worse, Bill Self is actually a good coach.  He reset the game after UNC’s stunning comeback, and had the guys playing well again.

I admit that I have not seen Memphis play all year, but from what I read and hear, they can beat us.  And maybe they even should beat us.  Just like Carolina.

On the “We Hate Roy Williams” front, even after being beaten by his former team, he reportedly spent a while on the River Walk in San Antonio last night, posing for pictures with Kansas fans and even spending a little time at a Kansas-fested restaurant, chatting with any and all.  If nothing else, that shows the idiocy of this supposed bitterness.

See you Monday night (or Tuesday morning, more like).