Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BCS: Beauty Contest Session

Well it's true. You know it, I know it, and EVERY SINGLE DI-FBS school, administrators, atheltic director and coaches know this. They all signed on completely aware of the flaws, the inequities, and the ugly truth that it is nothing but a giant cash grab for the most popular teams. The system is designed to make money for itself. If your school and fanbase is deemed to not be profitable and there is another choice that would provide a bigger crowd, more hotel rooms sold, more merchandise and better TV ratings guess what; you're getting bounced!

The only ones who are satisfied with the system are those who are currently profiting from it hansomly. Well, at some time down the road they will get screwed over. The time will come.

So my frustrating is now boiling over with a certain school and it's fan base. Yes, you did get the shaft on this one. However Michigan State fans need to leave Michigan out of their mouths right now. Michigan did not curse you, they did not cause you some mystic harm. You beat them four years in a row. The University of Michigan did not create the BCS, not the circumstances that have prevented you from getting a rightful invite the last two seasons. Just like UofM, you Michigan State, signed on the line which is dotted. You went along like the rest of the FBS programs, like it or not.

There has always been a thing with Michigan State fans (see: massive generalization) and a complete fixation and obsession with the University of Michigan. Despite beating the Wolverines four years running now, there are two things that prove to me that Sparty has not yet "arrived" as some believe. One; you still talk constantly about the school in Ann Arbor. It is THE most important game on your schedule. You could go 1-11, but if you beat Michigan it was a good year dang it all! When you were left out of the BCS schedule this year, you immediatly deflected all of your anger and frustration toward Michigan. Two; despite winning the Legends division and losing to Wisconsin by only three points you were STILL the ugliest of the three sisters. Despite beating UofM four years running, the BCS still grabbed the Wolverines in a no-brainer financially.

Someone posted on their Facebook Sunday night "Don't thank your coach Michigan, thank your fan base...". Well...he's partially right! Michigan's fan base is partially what got them that bid with the system being what it is. Come on Sparty, get your fans out of the tailgating lot when the game starts and into the stadium. You can't even sell it out every game now! No wonder a profit-based system looked you over twice.

Chris Petersen, I wholly agree with you! If you want the system changed you have to speak out and ACT. If not you have no right to complain. YOU signed on for it.

Just thought this was funny:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Their Own Worst Enemy: Michigan State

I know I'm going to take a lot of heat for this, but it's how I feel. It's my opinion. I don't want Michigan State fans I know to take this personally, because it's not personal, it's what it is. So sit back, and enjoy.

So yesterday 6th ranked Houston was upset at home by #24 Southern Mississippi, ruining the then undefeated Cougars chances of going to a BCS game. As expected, #1 LSU destroyed 12th ranked Georgia in the SEC title game. Third-ranked Oklahoma State embarassed #10 Oklahoma in the bedlam game in Stillwater last night 44-10. Why does any of this matter so heavily to Sparty-nation today? Well last night 13th ranked Michigan State had a 36-28 lead going into the 4th quarter of the inaugural BigTen(12) Championship game against 15th ranked Wisconsin. The Spartans had already beat the Badgers earlier in the year on a last-second hail-Mary in East Lansing. They had also beaten Wisconsin last year, gotten a piece of the BigTen crown title. Well last year Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl, and MSU got left by the side of the road with the Capital One Bowl. The discontent in East Lansing was growing, especially after getting railed by Alabama in that game.

Now going into the innaugural conference championship game in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Spartans took the first ever Legends division title and beat Michigan for the fourth consecutive year. On top of all of this was an added pressure. The Michigan Wolverines had a 10-2 record, and were ranked 16th in the BCS listings as of Dec. 3rd. Yup, they were right there, the BigTen's only other ten-win team, so close that MSU could feel them breathing down there neck, despite having beaten them 28-14 back in October. What if MSU lost? They were a 9.5 point underdog going into the game despite having beaten Wisconsin the last two times they faced them. Sparty was feeling disrespected and they had every right to be. On ESPN's College GameDay all four anchors picked Wisconsin to roll the Green and White.

So here we sat at the beginning of the final quarter of play. Sparty has the lead and the chance to end all criticism, end all curses, end the disrespect and shove everything down the media's throat. It was there, for the taking. The next fifteen minutes the Spartans would have only themselves to blame for how it all ended.

First task: All MSU had to accomplish was stop a driving Wisconsin team. Russell Wilson and Monte Ball drove down the field and pulled within two, 36-34. Showing signs of hope that things would break their way, Wisconsin's two point conversion attempt failed. the feeling that this would haunt the Badgers later hung heavy in the air.

Second task: Respond. Kirk Cousins and his offense had to answer the Wisconsin score in like-fashion. Not only that, but they needed to grind some time off the clock. They ate up 4:57 off the game, but having gotten down to the Badger 8-yard line and facing a 3rd and 5, Cousins threw an incomplete pass to KeShawn Martin. 4th And 5, eight yards away from six points and a two-score lead a decision had to be made. Do you take the points with a field goal and trust in your defense, or go for it and have good field position if you fail? Coach Dantonio and Sparty went for the points. An easy FG made the game 39-34 8:28 remaining...an eternity.

Third Task: Stop Wilson and Ball and the Badger offense. Prayers were not answered on this drive and MSU could not stop the Badgers on two third down plays and they converted a fourth down play which set up the go-ahead score with 4:43 remaining. Wisconsin 42, MSU 39. Still tons of time.

Fourth Task: Respond again. :54 Seconds later the Spartans had only moved the ball two yards in three plays. Stuck on their own 39 yard line facing 4th and 8, they seemed to have capitulated the game and punted with 2:51 remaining. Sparty-nation fell silent and ill.

What happened next brought renewed hope for MSU. With just over two minutes left, the Badgers had been stopped cold! The MSU defense has risen to the occassion! Had they been given a last breath? Was this the epic final turning point? Was this the legendary drive that would propel MSU into the history books??

At about 1:57 Wisconsin punted the ball away from their own 24 yard line. The next few seconds witnessed Sparty-nation explode into a frenzy of exuberance. They had taken the kickoff and returned it all the way to the Badger 10 yard line!! the script for Michigan State's coming-of-age was being written. A sure ESPN Classic was in the making. Only ten yards for all the marbles!! Then yellow was spotted on the field. Silence among the green and white...a block in the back? Holding on the return team? A late hit??? Worse...Michigan State's Isaiah Lewis broke through the line on the kickoff and his momentum carried him into the kicker. Whether purposeful or more likely on accident, a roughing the kicker call was issued. That was it...it was over. From exhaltation to sheer pain and shock. It was over. Wisconsin was going to the Rose Bowl and Michigan State had no one to blame except themselves.

Sparty-nation's anger and pain was evident in the minutes that followed on Twitter and Facebook. "The kicker flopped!!" "He dove!!" "Total B.S.!! The refs decided the game!!"...all sentiments were flying fast and furious. Right or wrong, you have to admit, that if the setup was revered MSU's kicker would have done the SAME THING.

What could be worse than this?? There is something that East Lansing fears that may be brewing tonight. Remember all those other scores I layed out at the start of the story? Here's where they matter. They matter because along with a Michigan State loss, those were all things that needed to happen to help MICHIGAN possibly move up in the rankings and snag an at-large BCS birth, while MSU is left with possibly the Outback Bowl, or worse, the Insight Bowl. The biggest insult could come around 8:15 tonight. The final pound of salt into an open, bleeding and festering wound. What was a wonderful opportunity for MSU might actually set the program BACK if their nightmare scenario is played out tonight. Michigan waits...and licks it's chops.

Such is the backwards world of the BCS. It's a beauty contest they've put together. The prettiest, wealthiest and most popular profit from the system designed to keep any smaller programs from eating at the dining table of FBS success. That being said, Michigan State has no one to blame but themselves. Michigan State hasn't been to a BCS bowl since 1987 when they beat USC 20-17. That 25-year streak will very likely continue tonight.

Best wishes to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Into The Depths of Winter

Hi there blogging friends, it's been a while hasn't it.

I've been randomly drafting lots of different things this week but haven't been happy with enough of it to throw it on here. I figured I needed something so I guess you could call this the usual comment on the current state of affairs.

A month ago the weather was amazingly warm, sunny and dry for October in Michigan. We're talking 70's and even 80's here kids. I was a month back into subbing, yes I am still in that occupation and wondering if I will ever get a job other than that *shakes head*.
A month ago GVSU football was still in some forms in dire peril. My wonderful and amazing girlfriend still had a month left in the GR metro before she moved back to Holland. That move came and went like a flash in the pan.

A month ago Artprize was still going strong. We now have a winner for the third year of the event and almost all remnants of the 2011 showing are gone. Downtown is now back to it's normal self for this time of year.

In the span of time since my last entry here, MSU pulled off an incredible last second win against Wisconsin, the 2012 Presidential campaign has become even more flustered and confusing, the economy is still weak, OJ is still free and in the past few days Penn State and Joe Paterno have succumb to the worst tradgedy in college football history. Oh and by the way the hockey season has started and instead of being 2-3/3-3 GVSU football is now 7-3. It is pretty much assured that even with a blowout win (which likely won't happen) the Lakers will miss the post-season for the first time in 10 years. How slim the margin of error...how cruel the mistress of fate. The hated and worthless SVSU Cardinals come to Lubbers Saturday for the last regular season game on real grass at the stadium before artificial turf is installed as part of a stadium expansion after the 2011 season.

It makes one think back to my first ever GVSU football game in 2002. That was the home opener...the #1 ranked Lakers squared off with the then ranked #2 UC-Davis Aggies (they are now DI-FCS/DI-AA). Next year will mark a decade and a coming full circle in a sense. It's really weird to acknowledge that landmark, as it's one of the things that I mark my age with.

I guess I should stop rambling randomly tonight. It seems like it was just summer, and yet it's two weeks from Thanksgiving and there are snow showers over Lake Michigan tonight...Time is a cruel mistress.

Goodnight All.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Founder's Releases Statement Concerning Specialty Ale Canadian breakfast Stout

This is taken from MLive and the Founders Blog and is written by Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing Company President and CEO. This article addresses mounting concerns over availability of the product, state-by-state distribution, and retailer price gouging of CBS.

From our company president and CEO, Mike Stevens:


We feel that it’s necessary to address a few of the concerns surrounding the release of our Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). We understand the frustrations stemming from the lack of availability of this beer and are looking forward to the day when we can produce much more of our specialty brands. As some of you are aware, we have been undergoing constant expansion for the past few years and have been working toward a master plan that will increase our annual brewing capacity by four times our current level. We are happy as hell to share that our new brewhouse is now on line and that we just recently started brewing into the new system. We plan to use this new system in 2012 to increase production of our specialty items to better service the demand for them. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the next couple of 750ml (Backstage Series) releases as well as the 2012 KBS release will still be scarce, because these beers were brewed on the old (smaller) system. But after that we should be off and running toward much greater availability.

On another note, there seems to be some concern or confusion on how are beers are allocated per state. We are proud to be a Michigan-based brewery and all specialty releases take this into consideration. We at Founders will never forget our home state market. In terms of CBS, the state of Michigan received an allocation of 21% of the entire batch of CBS. No other state saw more than 12% of the total availability. That being said, no state is treated more fairly than another (including MI). Distributor allocations are simply based on a representation of total number of accounts they represent for Founders. Should rumors of this exist to the contrary, know that they are just that: rumors.

Lastly, we’ve noticed that retail price gouging is also being discussed. I can only give you the brewery’s position on this, but please know that, legally, once we sell our products to our wholesaler, they in turn sell it to retailers throughout our states of distribution. We have no control over what this retailer will charge for the beer. We do establish our suggested retail pricing, but we cannot enforce this whatsoever. When we hear of retail price gouging, it annoys us as much as it annoys you. Our recommendation to our wholesalers in dealing with retailers that are gouging is to communicate that, if the retailer does not stop overcharging, they will jeopardize their ability to receive Founders specialty items in the future.

In short, we just want to set the record straight on these few items floating around on the blogs and make everyone aware that we are working day and night to fix the capacity concerns with our specialty products. We make this beer because we are extremely passionate about creating the best liquid we know how to produce. We started this business as home brewers and still look at ourselves as such. We know that some of you might never get your chance at a CBS bottle, but we feel it would be a greater disappointment to have never shared this product at all.


Mike Stevens | President & CEO

To me, this is one of those "good problems" to have. Props to Founders for being classy and addressing something that they really didn't have any obligations to talk about in the first place.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The More Things Change...

The more they stay the same! A year ago today things in my life were eerily similar in a lot of ways, including my job, the sunny, warm weather and the fact that I had an inadvertant day off work. Yet so much has changed in that time. My outlook on life, my relationship status and how busy my schedule has become day-to-day.

Take a look back today. 365 Days ago how was your life similar and different?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Effects of 9/11 on NYC

Here's a short clip from the Associated Press talking about the new Ground Zero memorials and the effect that the attacks had on NYC, and some of those who were involved.

Obviously the numbers mentioning the population in the one square mile around Ground Zero are awesome, and it proves that the resolve and will New Yorkers was not only un-hurt after 9/11, but it was strenghtened in many cases.

Now there is one example where it is apparent how profound the fear was and is that was created from that day. After 9/11 many of those who were present during the attacks and survived needed to leave New York City to mentally cope and move on. However in Janice Collins' case I totally disagree with her fear of her kids being victims of a subway terrorist attack. The chances of them being killed by cancer, or killed in a traffic accident driving in their suburban community is far higher.

Living your life in fear of even stepping outside your door is a terrible way to go about after an event like that. What's worse is "cities are dangerous places" message she seems to be passing on to her kids. Sheltering your family in hopes of keeping them safe, I don't know how I feel about that.

My own opinions aside, it just goes to show how traumatic those events were on those involved, and the extremes people will go to in order to mentally cope.

Monday, August 29, 2011

SF to Division Ave.

No, I didn't go to San Francisco, never have been. I have however seen close to a dozen shows and films documenting the scene in the Mission District and "The Haight", or Haight Ashbury as it's properly called. These areas were "hippie" enclaves in the '60's and beyond, and evolved into having seedy, homeless populations permeating they're existance. Despite the fact that both have a growing underground, hipster gentrification scene, the seedy underbelly side has remained giving the districts a very unique, edgy and in some lights dangerous atache.

In 1996 the Van Andel Arena opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan's Heartside district. This entire area had been beaten down for several decades, was in complete disrepair, and while not quite to the "Bronx is burning" stage, was home to mainly the homeless and drug-addict population of downtown. In fact, the night before the first act at the arena, the Grand Rapids Police did a complete sweep of the area to "move" all of the "undesirable" (homeless) populations out of the area so the white suburban populace would not feel threatened. Yes, that's a little known fact of GR history for you.

A decade and a half later that very arena is still at the top of it's game, and is continually ranked the number one mid-sized entertainment venue in the country. What has happened in downtown Grand Rapids in the decade and a half since has been breathtaking. Rarely does an arena spark a total revival and rebirth, but in GR's case, it did. Downtown GR is now THE place to be and THE place to be seen in West Michigan. It's a beautiful mix of occupied classical buildings housing offices, apartments, condos, restaurants and bars, with glassy, modern new motel, office and condo buildings fill in the mix. Gentrification to the Nth degree. From September to April, college students flock downtown. In the summer, the mix is just as heavy and palpable. The growth and gentrification has stretched all bounds of downtown Grand Rapids, and that includes Division Avenue. Yes, THAT Division Avenue.

It's an unlikely mix in a conservative, right-wing portion of the Great Lakes. Homeless, down-on-their-luck, recovering drug and alcohol addicts, missions and shelters and clinics. In their midst the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids and Catholic Central High School, and of course Van Andel Arena and what it has spurned. New bars, clubs, restaurants and apartments mix with the old population on a daily basis. Suburbanites, college students, and the new (and growing) young urban residents mix with the underbelly that city leaders sought to hide so feverishly just a decade ago. Hipster vinyl record stores, tattoo parlors, a modern Goodwill store and even a bank branch. Division Avenue is a force within a region of total change. Completely repelling change, while begrudgingly welcoming it at the same time.

The second decade of the 21st century will tell if the changes continue and push out the seedy underbelly of West Michigan in favor of a more commercially lucrative venture. Until then, the balance that has been struck in the past couple years has a striking resemblance to something that only San Francisco could offer up. Is this our gray area? Is this where our line blurs from the predjices of old generations to the more adventurous ones of the new in West Michigan? Is this a temporary arrangement, set merely for a few years to one day be talked about in local hostory books? Or is this our worm hole. Our visible and invisible zone where the total have-nots and haves mingle side-by-side with predjudices aside? Do we momentarily tolerate each other enough to have this mixing in our midst? Is this a flash in GR's evolutionary pan, or is this our Haight Ashbury and Mission District? Time will tell.

The UICA (Urban Instituate for Contemporary Arts) just opened it's new location on the corner of Fulton and Division, and September is two days away. What does that mean? ArtPrize #3 is a month away. Is there a breaking point, or simply co-existance?

Let's pray for co-existance.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

9-11 - A Decade Later

Has it really been that long? What's happened in that time, that ten year gap from that shocking day to the ten-year memorial. In the time since that day a lot of things have happened. I've graduated high school as well as college, had a couple internships, witnessed two wars, two elections, two presidents, numerous scandals, 1.5 economic depressions, a massive power blackout, Katrina, the tsunamis in South Asia and Japan, the near death of the Big Three in Detroit, the Lions went 0-16, the Red Wings won two Stanley Cups, the Tigers went to the World Series, and Grand Valley becaome the predominant athletic powerhouse in Division 2. Wow has a lot happened! Let me hear your memories from the last decade since one of the most defining moments in our generation's existance.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ron Paul 2012

I like Ron Paul's responses here. He seems even less of a conservative than Obama does. I do hope he can get some backing, but unfortunatly I see Bachmann, Perry and Romney getting backing before Paul does.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Perfect Weekend for Planespotting

This past weekend's weather was superb, and in-lieu of our beach plans (which deteriorated due to to-do lists) my girlfriend and I hit GRR for some fun planespotting. What a great couple cloudless late-July evenings with the my better half.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Unholy (Savings) Angel.

So what makes this angel so unholy? A mixture of unrealistic expectations for the normal person's schedule, and the lack of actual product on their own website.

What does this mean? Well it means that Savings-Angel does not actually contain the coupons that they advertise. Once you have spent 45 minutes to an hour searching the list(s) of specials they have, you can create your "list" and print it. Have you actually printed any coupons however? No, not a single one. You now must need to go out and subscribe to the publications, newspapers and websites/email lists that contain these coupons simply to get them. If you have the time and patience to do this, then it may work for you. The normal human being in this country is not a stay-at-home mother/father, so the time needed to invest is rather unrealistic for anyone who works a normal schedule, let alone the person who works more than 40 hours a week. In only 15 minutes my girlfriend was able to clip 8-9 "normal" coupons from a weekly ad mailer. Having paid $5 for a two-week membership and invested three to four times the actual time and effort of "normal" coupon clipping, we were empty handed.

Savings Angel presents itself as a time-saver as well as a money-saver. The first variable I would say is quite misleading. While it can save you some money, the amount of time and effort it seems one needs to invest is completely unrealistic. If you are a normal family of four, BOTH parents work at least 40 hours a week. In MOST cases, neither of those parents have the time to sit online for an hour or more to search for and print coupons. There are random exceptions, but if I had two kids, I don't think I would have much time to devote to a website that simply adds to the time it takes to search for coupons.

In my own opinion, if you require me to pay a membership to your coupon website, you'd better have all those coupons available on your site and let me print those coupons right from your website, other than that you haven't really done me many favors worth my money.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The District Through my Eyes.

Here's a small photographic sampling of my wanderings around downtown Washington D.C. during my trip. Remember, you can click on each picture for a larger, more detailed version. Thanks and ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Return Leg: AirTran BWI-GRR

So after a quick few days in the Washington D.C. metro region, it was time to return to 'The Mitten'. Good times, great family, amazingly delicious bbq and middle-eastern food and more than a few tasty East-coast craft beers were had.

On Sunday, July 17 we began our journey up the 295 Baltimore-Washington Parkway toward BWI about 1:15pm EST for our 3:30pm departure. Immediatly upon entering the parkway we encountered bottlenecked and clogged traffic travelling at only 5-10mph. My concerns began to grow each minute we were stuck in the mess with no forseeable end. Soon enough however (in about 15 mins) the clog mercifully cleared at the exit for the (now closed) Goddard Space Center. No accident, no construction, no lane closures. I guess beltway people like to gawk at off-ramps ;). At any length, we arrived promptly curbside about 2pm sharp. I immediatly got myself checked in at a kiosk and then proceeded to show my technology-deficient mom how to use the kiosks, haha. A small backup in the TSA lines were no problem, and by 2:30 we were walking toward gate D23.

Sunday, July 17, 2011.
AirTran Airways
Flight #484 BWI-GRR
Equipment: Boeing 717-200
Seat: 23A - Window
Dep. 3:33 PM
Arr. 5:06 PM

On time departure saw us launching to the West, which sadly meant no banking out over the Chesapeake. One could immediatly see the heat haze in the small-popping clouds as we ascended over the mid-atlantic toward the great lakes region.

Super-quick climb-out. You can simply tell how warm and volatile the air is from the clouds.

The last shot over Lake Erie really let's the viewer see the heat-haze I speak of. Pictured is the start of the Toledo River. Upon landing in GRR it was well above 90 Degrees F.

During the flight I would have said the load was only between 60% and 70%. We were seated in row 23 on the left side, right behind the second exit row. Behind us there were only 5-7 people. Both seats in the exit row in front of us was empty, so yours truly jumped forward and grabbed some extra leg room for a little bit.

All too quickly I recognized the Northwestern Ohio coast of Lake Erie below us, and soon after decent began. The quickness of that hop seemed odd to me, as all my travels in the last several years have taken me to California. It was however over all too soon and we landed parallel I-196 on rwy. 26L in GRR. A quick taxi in and my amazing girlfriend was waiting for us at the end of concourse B. I could not think up a better welcoming comittee!

As mentioned in the out-going trip report, the only flaw of AirTran was the dang destroyed arm-rest. Boarding was event-free and even though I was in zone 5, I was on in under 6 minutes! Now I use Delta (and formerly Northwest) for most of my flying needs. It seems as if on all of my Delta flights, no matter where, the gate lice and line-jumpers are everywhere. The gate dragon calls for first class only, and 40 people run to the gate, or during the call for those needing assistance four able-bodied business men/women head up. I don't know what the difference is, it might have just been random circumstance, but it was pleasant to see!

Apologies for the lack of photos on this leg, I think I was more focused on the chores to catch up on at home upon return, as well as being somewhat sad of the vacation's end.

I hope all have enjoyed, even though the experience is short and ordinary.

Thank you and happy travels!