Monday, April 27, 2009

Milestone!: Made the 5k My Bitch

Please pardon the lack of substantive posting. I've been a little down recently amidst a series of random crappy events that somewhat tapped my urge to write much of anything worthwhile. Although I have a backlog of around 10-15 partially assembled posts in a cache (possibly never to be seen by anyone other than myself), I reached an achievement worth bypassing the cache and writing directly for posting.

A few months ago, I started a blog series on this health kick (see earlier posts 1, 2, 3, 4) and my quest to drop 32 pounds in six months. I haven't updated that series in quite some time (although there were two different posts in this often mentioned "cache" no one has ever seen). So here's the quick update - I made it to the halfway point after about eight weeks... when a series of minor injuries took me completely off the exercise schedule for recovery. I managed to hold the same weight from then until about three weeks ago when I restarted the plan. So, now with about eight weeks to go, I have about ten pounds left to reach the goal. I don't think it will be terribly difficult because I haven't tried that hard the last month... my eating habits have slacked, I'm not drinking enough water, blah blah blah... On to the achievement!

Tonight, April 27th, 2009, at approximately 9:45PM, I, Andrew Skaff, completed a 5k (3.1 miles) on a treadmill. Total time elapsed - 27'39", which is just slightly faster than a nine minute per mile pace. Considering I had yet to run more than two miles consecutively prior to today, I can't complain at all about being able to take out the full 3.1 miles. Now that I've cooled down (while writing this post)... I'm going to go pass out.

Quotes for the Week #20

"Hey, where are my Sno Balls? I was going to go the gym later, so I deserve a treat." - Liz Lemon

"Tommyboy. Let me tell you something, Tom. You suck at Scrabble. You're worse than my ex-wife and she's terrible at Scrabble. And she's a bitch. Her name is Terri Swanson and she's a serious bitch." - Ron Swanson

"I'm not an idiot. I know Tom has been losing to me on purpose. But I like Tom. He doesn't do a lot of work around here. He shows zero initiative. He's not a team player. He's never wanting to go the extra mile. Tom is exactly what I'm looking for in a government employee." - Ron Swanson

"These are our demands. This is what we want. Our balls are in your court." - Michael Scott

"Avast there mateys. Do you have a thirst for adventure on the high seas of life? Are you sick and tired of your parents and teachers telling you what to do all the time? Then join Captain Cartman's Perfect Pirate Club, argh. Just imagine it, me hearties, a life without rules, without homework and chores. You can live the pirate life in Somalia, me friends, even Kyle said so. The first official pirate meetin will be four P.M. today at Kevin Stoley's house. There will be refreshments served, so make sure your mom goes to the grocery store, Kevin. So, come one, come all. The invitation is open to any student who wants to be a pirate and who isn't Jewish, Mexican or Ginger. Argh!" - Eric Cartman

"Even Eddie Alvarez knows nothing strengthens a team more jack-booting a wedding with a tactical unit and putting a New York-style hurt on the bride." - Det. Eddie Alvarez

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quotes for the Week #19

"So few remember that the Boston Tea Party began when George Washington and his ragtag troop of Union soldiers holed up in the Alamo surrounded by Nazis. Luckily, before Napoleon could bring in his Terminator reinforcements, Hannibal saved the Patriot army with his elite corp of elephant men. To this day, we still rally around the cry 'Remember the Ewoks!'." - Stephen Colbert

"I spent a month putting that Roladex on his Blackberry... which he now uses as a nightlight." - Pam Beesly

"How dare you refer to this young lady as your possession. She's my possession. I abducted her fair and square." - Chancellor Dongalor

"Marshall, you're no Lily. Lily is a diabolical puppet master, subtlety manipulating every situation to get exactly what she wants. She's pure evil, Marshall. You've got a good one there. Hang on to her." - Barney Stinson

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quotes for the Week #18

"I've never been a kiss-up. It's just not how I operate. I mean, I've always subscribed to the idea that if you really want to impress your boss, you go in there and you do mediocre work... half-heartedly." - Jim Halpert

"Researchers in Brooklyn have recently developed a drug that is capable of erasing certain memories in animals. This replaces the old way of making animals forget something... waiting five minutes." - Seth Meyers

"I have my dignity. Now, will you please take me to the bathroom." - Lem

"I know what it's like to see the ugly face of discrimination. When I was 16, I was 5'9" and stunning. I mean off the charts gorgeous. At school, I was like a swan among ugly ducklings. All the other girls hated me, and like our light sensors are doing to you, totally ignored me. If it wasn't for the modeling contracts and the comfort of college boys, I don't know if I would have made it." - Veronica

"Well, my door is always open to you. Please close it on the way out." - Veronica

"I'm different than other women, Ted. And by different, I mean better." - Veronica

"I once had a dream that I was eating a peanut butter and tuna fish sandwich, and let me tell you something, it was delicious. So, the next day, I decided to make that sandwich. And in real life it is disgusting. It is a disgusting sandwich." - Michael Scott

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

2009 Kansas City Royals Preview and Prediction

Finally, after months of waiting, the 2009 Major League Baseball season is upon us. And with that, I feel obligated to write a Royals-centric post.

Here are the five signs of the coming apocalypse... no wait... Here are the five reasons why the Royals can win the AL Central this season!

5. Trending upward - The Dayton Moore GM era has seen the Royals improve in each season under his guidance. The longer he spends here, the more he chips away at the prolonged period of idiocy being the Allard Baird era. The Royals are looking more and more like a franchise instead of a brand new team each year to "see what happens - we can always just start over next year" type of team. That old mentality appears to be long gone. Moore quite obviously has a plan and it is actually exciting watching it develop. The team is improving at all levels and there is realistically only one direction to go and that's up. Last season, the Royals didn't finish last in the division. Now it is time to keep the trend moving in the right direction.

4. Off-season moves - Moore traded away one of the major strengths of the team from the 2009 season in the the form of the solid bullpen for hitting. In order to shift the team's paradigm from just preventing other teams from scoring to just scoring more offensively, Moore traded away Leo Nunez and Ramon "RamRam" Ramirez for Coco Crisp (a legit lead-off hitter) and Mike Jacobs (a pure power hitter). I won't lie - I was worried after these moves. Yes, they look better offensively, but a strong bullpen is an absolute requirement. I should have had some patience because shortly afterward, in a stroke of genius, Moore picks up three relievers - Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth and Doug Waechter - and what looks like a severely weakened bullpen has suddenly become (possibly) even stronger than last season. Moore also did one more thing in the off-season that previous Royals teams never managed to do - re-sign the young talent to long term deals. Zach Greinke and Joakim Soria each signed multi-year deals after having breakout seasons. This, above all else, is proof that Moore is committed to building a long-term competitive franchise.

3. More talent - The Royals actually had to make cuts at the end of Spring Training this season. They had MORE talent than they are allowed to carry on their roster. Typically, just prior to Opening Day, the Royals are deciding how many rookies are going to be filling the ranks of the club to carry the team through this season into next year. This season, they traded their 2008 opening day starter at first base just to clear roster space. The 2009 Royals are a young club but are currently carrying ZERO rookies into opening day. They are young, but not raw. This is an improved team at almost every position through replacement or experience.

2. Better offense/Better pitching = more wins - The 2008 Royals went into the season with two solid starters (Meche/Grienke) and a pretty iffy closer closer Joakim "The Mexicutioner" Soria. This season they have three solid starters (Meche/Grienke/Davies) and slight improvement in the back end of the rotation. The bullpen is anchored by Cruz setting up the on-the-verge-of-being-a-star Soria. On offense, the addition of Coco Crisp as a speedy center fielder/lead-off hitter should result in more runs at the top of the order. Mike Jacobs gives a power tandem with Jose Guillen that opposing pitchers won't be able to work around. Consider this - last season's offensive breakout player, Mike Aviles, will be hitting ninth in the lineup. Amazing! They ARE going to score more runs than last season, the pitching staff should be at least as effective as they were last season. Scoring more runs will almost have to translate to more wins.

1. The analysts are still picking the Royals to finish in the bottom half of the division. Nobody outside of Kansas City expects anything from this team. There's still no pressure on this team from outside the organization. The team can have the mindset that they're out to prove themselves because they know they can win... they don't have to live up to the hype anybody is forcing on to them.

So, why might these five reasons lead to the Royals winning the AL Central this season? The other teams in the division haven't made drastic moves in any direction. The division is basically up for grabs, even by most "expert" opinions. The White Sox took the Central last season with 89 wins. If the Royals' improve by as few as 8-12 more wins over last season, they just might have a shot at the 2009 post season. A ten win improvement isn't absurd, the 2008 Rays improved by an unbelievable 31 wins over their 2007 season. The Royals don't need a fluke season to have a shot this year, it is a very real possibility.

Despite my lofty hopes of the Royals winning the Central this season, I am trying to keep myself and my prediction grounded in reality.

Season prediction: 83-79, 3rd place in the Central

For the record -
Last season's prediction: 76-86
Last season's actual record: 75-87
Not too shabby. Maybe, I just might know what I'm talking about... right?

With that final statement - I am off to "lunch". And by "lunch", I mean I'm going home to watch KC/Chicago opening day game. I love having a job with semi-flexible hours.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quotes for the Week #17

"Ah, the annual Quahog Star Trek Convention, where once a year, sci-fi buffs take their lips off the barrel of a loaded gun and spend half a day adjusting their eyes to sunlight." - Brian Griffin

"I trust you enough to worry about you, but I worry about you enough not to trust you." - Lt. Gene Hunt

"Wow. You two are a match made in a very frightening part of heaven." - Chuck Bartowski

"Lady, how many times does one guy have to crap on your head before you stop wearing it as a hat?" - Det. Ray Carling

"Any idiot can raise a baby which makes you more than qualified." - Gladys