Monday, August 31, 2009

ABC & ESPN College Football TV Schedule & Coverage Map 2009

Updated: September 16, 2009

The Elusive and Inconsistent ABC/ESPN Coverage Map seems to live here for now:

Without updating in Week 2 (the page automagically updated today from Week 1 to Week 3), here's hoping things stay more up to date from here on out.

The TV Schedule lives here:

Damn this page has been elusive.

Amid their raging torrent of web traffic, the world wide leader probably doesn't notice that the above linked-to page has some serious SEO issues. For college football fans it holds some of the most precious and relevant information for planning your Saturdays throughout the fall, yet it is buried obscurely within the architecture of

Furthermore, it is very hard to find using routine Google searches such as: 'abc college football map,' which currently yields archived copies from November 26, 2008 and some weird ass page from 2002 as the top two results.

Methinks this preventable situation is largely due to the the terrible URL structure of the genuine site, versus the two currently showing in its place in the rankings.

So this is my little experiment to see if I can index and drive some traffic on that frequently sought information. As well, there's dim hope this might work its way up to the brass who should generally make this information more readily available by better SEO and more prominent guidance on the website.

In the meantime, I'm pointing users to the correct clearing house for this information.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Housewarming to Hospital Visit in 30 Seconds

Friday we closed on the new place and before moving in and cluttering it up with our junk, we decided to throw a little housewarming party for the new friends and family we have in Philadelphia.

At 6pm, just as guest were starting to arrive Jill showed up in the pouring rain with all of the food and drinks for the party. Since our young newphews were attending, some fun drinks of the non-alcoholic variety were also procured - notably a carbonated pink lemonade that comes in a carafe resembling a wine bottle.

On her way out of Whole Foods it started raining and before Jill could get all of the groceries into the car, she and the bags were soaked.

In our driveway she went around to the back of the car to get out the groceries. As she yanked out the first bag, the heavy bottle of lemonade tore through the soggy paper bottom of the bag and exploded on the cobblestones at her feet like an IED.

I was watching from the porch, with the gaseous burst of noise and broken glass ringing in my ears, as a thin dark ribbon of blood cut horizontally across Jill's right calf, then made an abrupt downward turn, gushing down her ankle. I told her she was bleeding a lot and ran down to help her into our apartment.

A trail of blood and mud and rain water followed us in to the couch, where I sat Jill down and told her to hold a washcloth against the wound, which was deep and yawning like an imp's mouth. She clearly needed stitches, but it wasn't emergency mode just yet and I was thinking, we'll still get to party, maybe.

Then I noticed Jill had dropped the washcloth and her hand was hanging limp at her side. I watched as her eyes went glassy, crossed and unfocused and the color drained her skin. She was lifeless, waxy, my zombie bride, as she slumped lower into the couch and unconsciousness.

Now I really freaked out and punched 911 into my cellphone. Then I was alternating between barking at the poor lady on the 911 dispatch line, and helping our friend Shelley as she tried to wake Jill, while our nephews burst into tears thinking (and justifiably, given what we'd just witnessed) that she had died. Because that is what it looked like, though I knew better from her short breathing - it was damned scary all the same. Peter, at 6 years old, got so upset that he ran out of the house and sat in the car in the human approximation of an ostrich's head-in-the-sand response. Thomas, not even 4, still thinks he witnessed a miracle, recounting the story that Jill died, but came back to us.

About 30 seconds in she started snoring, then began some light convulsing as she came around and her systems came back online. She appeared confused and asked us what had happened. Seeing her back in the land of the living, I haven't felt so much relief ever.

We got immediate returns on the dread Philadelphia Title Transfer Tax we'd just paid earlier that day as the paramedics arrived within 5 minutes of my call and dressed the wound, before advising that it made no difference whether they or I took Jill to the ER.

So I scooped her up and put her gingerly in shotgun and drover her down to the ER at Penn Hospital. There, we were treated to the excellent experience afforded by our premium health insurance which included a surly intake employee, a threat of a $200 parking fine for leaving my car in the ER driveway for 5 minutes, and a 3.5 hour wait to see the resident.

We got to watch 2 episodes of the Simpsons, 1 episode of Seinfeld and half of the Dallas Cowboys/Tennessee Titans pre-season game before the resident arrived to clean the wound, re-dress it and order X-rays to ensure no glass was still inside my wife.

But an hour later, after the x-rays came back negative, we were treated to the real highlight of the visit when the resident felt compelled to demonstrate the surprising depth of the wound by sinking his finger up to the first knuckle in Jill's leg and asking, 'hey, wanna see something cool?'

It was 11pm when I helped Jill hobble out and we retreated to our empty apartment and ordered a pizza. Our party ruined by the freakiest of freak accidents, we reflected on the dangers of carbonated beverages in glass containers and the sequence of odd events that led up to the injury by gas-propelled glass shrapnel. Don't underestimate that stuff.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wawa Coffee

Slate recently did an unscientific review of the mass-market cups of coffee and missed the mark by crowning Dunkin' Donuts their champion. I realize they were going for a broad, nationally appealing contest, but Dunkin's kind of a regional player compared to McDonalds and Starbucks, so why not consider Wawa too? They're not so small-time, selling 195 million cups of coffee each year. Perhaps Slate is too highbrow for gas station coffee?

Which is sad, because Wawa is doing something so right with gas station coffe at the in-store coffee hot-pot kiosk they refer to as Coffeetopia. Coming from the West Coast I had little previous experience with Wawa, but was first drawn in by the no-fee ATMs they sport, which are also really awesome considering my bank's ATMs don't line the freeways of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Like any naive, recent arrival on the East Coast, I was on a dangerous Dunkin' Donuts bender which bore the mark of nacent, longterm addiction as the daily injection of blistering-hot, coffee-scented syrup yielded quickly diminishing returns. A little used to do it, as they say, plus there was the growing donut side-effect. I needed an intervention of variety without the expense of Starbucks.

So I gave Wawa a shot and have been pleased by this discovery of the true nexus of cost, quality and variety in coffee. Just this morning, I enjoyed a cup of 100% Colombian Supremo with a splash of Irish Cream non-dairy creamer and was instantly transported to misty, old Dublin. Who knows where this adventure will lead next?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wikipedia's Random Article Link

It was pointed out to me by the great Ben Felix that this would be a cool way to find your band's name. And even if that's not your particular use case, you can enjoy by clicking repeatedly for one of the Web's most illuminating, non sequitur experiences which yesterday took me on a journey from Norway's tallest structures to the Five Pure Lights followed by a brisk dip in the cosmic flow of the Mindstream.

To blow your own mind wide open:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Imeem's Shot in the Dark Advertising

When I logged into Imeem this morning to add music to my 'Relaxin' Vibrations' mix and pulled up the lite '70s classic 'Sweet City Woman' from Canadian rock trio the Stampeders (currently playing for the dual purposes of your enjoyment and illustrating the irony of this juxtaposition), I was a little surprised at the agro advertising that interrupted my early-morning mellow not only with its image, but a recorded vocal track saying something to the effect of hey man, you into goth?

I'm not sure if this is what GothScene signed on for exactly, because it sure seems like a shot in the dark and Imeem could probably do better to psychographically target the ads they serve based on the music. This ad might be a little more appropriate along side a Mars Volta track, for example.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One Bad Friday, Twice a Victim of Mistaken Identity

Friday was a weird day. Of let's say four major transitions in my life at the moment, two errupted into chaos late on Friday afternoon and sent my pre-weekend buzz into the toilet.

First, and most gravely, I'd been expecting to close on a house next Friday. Yesterday my loan officer calls after days of radio silence, during which I had to prod her for information just to make sure things were going smoothly, to tell me that my loan approval is in jeopardy because the FHA thinks the place I'm buying is in a another building with a similar name. I assure that it is not the building in question, where several FHA loan applications have been deemed too risky, but another building a short distance away (hence the similar names). Oh, yeah. Well, now we've got to convince a federal agency of the difference in time to save this deal and its 4:45pm on Friday, so we're pretty much screwed until Monday. When discussing it later on, my father in law advised me to be careful that this isn't one of those obscure tricks that mortage people, car mechanics and others with esoteric knowledge use to fleece the layman out of more money. I'm leery, but hopeful.

Second, I'm applying to an evening program at Penn and just got my application finalized yesterday. No sooner had I gotten off the phone with my Loan Officer than the admissions office calls with a problem concerning my college transcript. Apparently I only earned an Associates Degree and that will be a problem. I assure them that I did indeed get a Bachelor's and that they can call Dartmouth if they need to verify this. For more background, I let them know that for reasons of tradition, Dartmouth lists their Bachelors' degrees as AB (artium baccalaureus) rather than BA and that this might be the source of confusion. Looking at a list of Associates Degrees now I can how this might happen and want to put the word up to anyone in the Registrar's Office at Dartmouth if they read this to be prepared for this kind of confusion. Just when I started to get testy, and thought of reminding her that Dartmouth doesn't even grant Associated Degrees, I stopped and tried to claw back some good will by being polite, because even though I'm right, they could still reject me for being an asshole.

But all in all, ARGH! What a one-two sucker punch to drown the weekend with doubt.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Traffic Reports Are Bull Shit

In the days since I've dismissed my driver Jenkins and resumed schlepping my own ass back and forth to work, I'm listening to tons of NPR and all the Cokie Roberts' and Robert Siegles' with their voices sounding like rich drinks and dark, grained wood and generally feeling edified about things distant and abstract like Ugandan subsistence farmers' struggle (yes, it's unified) against weeds.

A fact about NPR is that no matter where you are, in the morning and in the evening they assume their listeners are either in the car or about to be, so they interrupt the broadcast every 15 minutes or so with the 'Shadow Traffic Report,' which is strangely at home amongst the other abstract news they consider important on NPR, because it's depressing and unavoidable and you can't do a damned thing about it.

And that's how I started to question the whole enterprise of the Traffic Report. What good is it doing? Clearly it's not making traffic any better, because every morning and evening it's more or less the same, though inevitably, imperceptibly, creepingly worse than the day before. Traffic is just one of those horrid snowballs of a problem that is certain to eat the world if given enough time. I saw a glimmer of hope in the economic meltdown, when suddenly public transit got crowded, but then the bottom dropped out of oil, cash for clunkers came along and we're back in the business of mushrooming motor cars covering the globe.

But back to the question, why does NPR persist with this enumeration of life's suckier side? Is it because there's some naive hope held that we might change our behavior based on the Traffic Report? Like, well, dang, WHYY says the traffic's bad, I guess I'll go another way to keep things from getting worse. I'm like 95% rational, and that's not how I work.

So it must be that they, or we, humanity man, gets some pleasure or comfort from knowing that everyone's in this shit together. Well, eastbound Schuylkill's jammed at the curve and crawling, but at least we don't have it as bad as those suckers on 276 West where a four-car fatality has emergency response vehicles on the scene and all four lanes closed. Sucks to be them. Hey! I have it pretty good!

And they don't neglect to rub it in by having no sponsorship scruples and reminding the screwed lot of us that 'today's traffic report is brought to you by Preparation H' or, indirectly, the collective hemorrhoids that are just one of the many collateral problems we can look forward to after too much time in traffic. What a neat little package.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Road Trip: Bringing the Ill to Philly

It was coolish, clear and bright in Southeastern Pennsylvania when we woke up and drove the remaining 70 miles of our Road Trip into Philadelphia to deliver me to my destination and btw, spend Independence Day, in the experienced old city where it all went down over 200 years ago.

I've taken all kinds of approaches to the 4th of July, but generally skewing away from any challenging pursuit in favor of drinking and relaxing. As I've got older, fireworks even, have taken a back seat to the aforementioned lack of effort. Really, what better way to commemorate the legendarily dire struggle of our ill-equipped forefathers, facing the longest of odds against the world's greatest army, for the dream of a freedom we now take for granted, than barely lifting a finger?

But then we were in Philadelphia and I thought, well, this is an opportunity for a new, high-minded kind of Fourth of July. And we went for it and 'did our thing out front,' per the advice of living-in-the-moment master Ken Kesey. The result was a steaming-rich slice of Americana you can't get outside the 215.

Being that we needed our beauty rest and we're late to rouse after a large day of driving on the 3rd, we didn't get into Philadelphia until around lunch time, which was fine because the day's first priority was cheesesteaks and the first decision was Pat's or Geno's?

We weren't alone in this determination and found ourselves in a busy Italian Market neighborhood with both Pat's and Geno's sporting horrendous, multi-corner lines. Some clown from a local radio station was broadcasting Pointer Sister's tunes at ear-wrecking volumes in front of Geno's, so we retreated to Pat's and braved the line. 15 minutes later, we were mowing down steaks 'whiz wit,' spicy cherry peppers, fries and cokes. Satisfying. Delicious.

And perfect brain food for the introspective afternoon that followed, where we found our way north and east up to Independence Mall to soak up some meaningful history. We'd missed the parade (probably a good thing) but there was still plenty of historically-themed stuff going down around Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center, which offers a pleasant and educational stroll through an air-conditioned glass corridor with more than you could ever want to know about the Bell.

We did the tour, marveled at this Bell which has achieved more as an inanimate object than most of us could ever hope to, including serving as an inspiration to nascent democracy around the world, and then posed with this awesome Colonial American to capture the moment.

By this time our feet and brains were aching, and I had a lump in my throat from all the nostalgia being a lot to handle and making me feel sad and guilty for the comparatively little that I've sacrificed for this country besides tax money. My grandfathers both answered the proverbial call of duty and spent their lives battling America's foreign enemies. What proxy in my modern life is there for this kind of sacrifice? I thought about it for a second and remembered the call to arms of late is simple: consume, for the benefit of America, consume. And away we went to the bar at Jones, where the 4th of July as I know it officially began. I started to cheer up as we drank American beers from local brewers like Victory, Yards and Yuengling and watched the Phillies stick it to the Mets on tv.

From there the only thing we could do was eat and drink some more to kill the time until the free Sheryl Crow concert and fire works at the Art Museum at 10. So we decided to take advantage of Philadelphia's fantastic BYOB tradition and drop in on the Jamaican Jerk Hut where ridiculous island-style decorations and a reggae band stand liven up an empty lot next to the restaurant with rastamon vibrations. The chicken's ayrie and so is showing up with your own bottle of Mount Gay and ordering cups of juice alongside dinner.
Them belly's full, we joined the throng in the streets headed for the Art Museum and caught the tail end of Sheryl Crow's free set culminating in an encore, which I called, of 'All I Wanna Do.' But then she tacked on a second song in the encore and wrapped up her show with a Zeppelin cover, 'Rock 'N Roll,' which, alright, I dig it, but shouldn't any musician prefer to close with their own material? Or was Crow really saving the best for last?

After fireworks the crowd of probably 250,000 (since I'm really good at estimating large crowds in the dark you can trust that stat) dissipated back into the City and we along with them headed to South street to close out the night with yet another Philadelphia tradition, 'the special,' at Bob and Barbara's. The Special, at any Philly bar that honors this savvy order, is an ice-cold can of PBR accompanied by a shot of Jim Beam, and at $2.50 per Special at Bob and Barbara's it's an economic way to get your drink on.

There we spent the rest of the night, jamming on with the house band and their slippery smooth instrumental grooves on old '70s hits from Stevie Wonder and Al Green to the Chi-Lites. God Bless America.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Magistrates! Make this Work

It's good to know that in this slick, overly-produced and auto-tuned world (but shit, I still love you T-Pain) there's an audience for simple, raw rock and roll. Which is why I can't stop listening to the Magistrates, and this tune in particular, 'Make this Work.' Don't say I never gave you nothing. Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Road Trip: Country Roads, Mountain Mama

It was hot and sticky in Nashville as the power of Big Mo's sloppy burger and fries crept from my belly, into my blood and then spiked joyfully in my brain. High on a flood of sweet, sweet dopamine it was time again to hit the road. So I gassed up the hog, handed the map to Blake, donned my road fadora and put the rubber to the road pointed East on I-40.

With 800 some miles to go until Philadelphia, the route of the day was a northeasterly winding cruise along the spine of the Appalachians. There is some beautiful country between eastern Tennessee and western Virginia, with rolling hills, lush forests and the bucolicly hazy vistas of the Smoky Mountains which that certain, fuzzy gold light in the late afternoons that you don't get elsewhere. Throw in picturesque red-barn farms and the murky presense of colonial and Civil War vibes and it begins to feel like the mythical America of history books that you suspected never really existed. I put it up there with the Rockies, rugged spots of the Pacific Coast, and Northern New England in the fall, in my list of favorite American landscapes.

One thing you'll learn is that, like Colorado, there's a lot of Tennessee east of it's major city. So the journey to Bristol at the Virginia border is more of a slog than the map foretells. To break things up, we stopped in Knoxville to visit Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee. (Blake and I both being rabid college football fans, we made every effort to visit the the football shrines we passed on our journey and worshipped in person at the stadiums of the Boise State Broncos, Wyoming Cowboys, Tennessee Volunteers and Virigina Tech Hokies.)

Of all of these, Neyland was probably the biggest in our minds before the visit, but failed most spectacularly in living up to the hype. Admittedly, we didn't get inside, so I can't say what it's really like on game day, but the impression from outside is underwhelming as the stadium is buried within a fortress-like complex of other campus buildings as well as being hidden under a rector-set of scaffolding doing some kind of external repair work. Rather than imposing sports edifice, Neyland from the outside looks more like the Coney Island Cyclone. Which, like, is about as intimidating as a corndog.

So disappointed with that side show, I was a little skeptical when, hours later, we made an extensive (10 mile one way) sojourn off I-81 into Blacksburg, Virginia. The sports complex at VA Tech was more of a pro-style affair, but isolated by several miles from the campus. So they lose points there.

Fortunately, we had a secondary motivation for visiting Blacksburg. It was dinner time and in the pursuit of eating, Blacksburg exceeded expectations - namely in the barbecue department. You must forgive the Log Cabin BBQ for its completely contradictory tenancy in a strip mall because the dry-rub barbecue is simply that good.

I quizzed the girl at the counter on the state of the economy, and she insisted that, surprising to her, the barbecue segment was still holding strong. Then she loaded up the half-rack plate I ordered with a full-rack of ribs and I became a believer. This was literally the most meat I've ever seen on a rack of ribs, and it was moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. There were 8 choices of delicious home made barbecue sauces that made each bite an agonizingly difficult but rewarding choice. Sides of cole slaw, baked beans and Blake's mac 'n cheese also satisfied in the extreme.

Between Virginia and Pennsylvania, the eastern flange of West Virginia delicately spoons the western flange of Maryland in a symbiotic ying yang of mid-Atlantic statehood. This strange area comprises all of twenty-five miles of freeway and brings the outsized roadtrip joy of three-border crossings in little more than half an hour. It may seem a small achievement, but after enduring the West, where state crossings down give themselves up easily, this felt awesome.

We were racing to join an ongoing party in Lancaster, Pa. where the Special Lady was holding court. Being that we had heroic visions of reinvigorating the party, and because I remembered Pennsylvania's got the bluest liquor laws, we commenced the festivities in Winchester, Virginia with a couple of Dunkin' Donuts coffees for immediate consumption and our first sixpack of Back East's Best Beer - Yuengling - because you don't show up to a party empty-handed under any circumstance.

The only hiccup was a second encounter with the fuzz in West Virginia. I should have expected one of the two flanges to be a speed trap, but dammit, the barbecue made me careless and the next thing I knew there were the flashers in my rearview again. This time, and not to betray my preconceptions about West Virgina cops, he was cool and understanding. Agreeing that it looked like we were moving across country and late to the party, he let us go with a warning. Thanks dude!

We entered Pennsylvania near Gettsyburg in the deep darkness, and jammed on east on the Turnpike into Lancaster, arriving a little after 1am. Though we held out hope for the hero's welcome at the party, we arrived to a quiet house where the Special Lady was keeping watch and welcomed us with a fresh-baked cherry pie.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Cowboy Poet's Weather Alert

There must be a real cowboy poet working at the National Weather Service in Idaho considering the lonesome, introspective flourish of this recent 'Local Weather Alert' for Boise:

The recent reappearance of El Nino... And the often-discussed topic of climate change... May prompt the question... Why are we having this storm? Scientifically... This particular storm cannot be tied to any one process. For most of this warm season... Up until about three weeks ago...The Northwest United States was in a persistent pattern of below normal temperatures and above normal rainfall. This storm signals a return to that pattern. It appears likely that this pattern will dominate the summer of 2009. This is not to say we will not have another hot spell... But overall this summer will end up being relatively cool and wet for most folks in our part of the country.

Not only is our man reporting on the strangeness of observable weather conditions, he's tying it all back to larger concerns like man's vain attempt to classify and make meaning of the events surrounding us. Ultimately he asks, why it is; only to conclude that the feeble scientific tools at our disposal may never be up to the task of unraveling the mysteries of the world, like El Nino and the dread spectre of global warming. And we are left with our strange weather, our faith, and the familiar feeling that we may all be little more than victims of a world we can't control.