Sunday, September 26, 2010

September Grass

This past summer my lawn got toasted. It was bleached white and it crackled under your feet when you walked on it. It killed me to look at it because I spend so much time and effort on the yard, but I had faith that it would return, and it has. A little rain combined with the cool days and cooler nights of September have returned it to its glory. There are still a few ugly spots in the front and out by the pool, spots where the sun is especially intense and the soil is still cracked and dry, but the back yard is perfect. It gets shaded by the house until midday, and it’s a thick, lush swath of emerald green.

Last night before supper I edged it, and this morning I mowed, cutting a nice pattern of stripes into the lawn. When I was done, I sat down on the patio and just drank in its beauty. Nature is an amazing and prolific multimedia artist. The colors, the smells, the sensory input of the gentle breeze carrying just a hint of the rain to come, all combined to create a living, breathing, 3D panorama that was both intensely beautiful and supremely serene. Great artists have captured its beauty, but nothing compares to the real thing. No man’s palette contains enough colors to match what’s in nature’s paint box.

I was hypnotized by the beauty of the moment, and it stirred a myriad of images in my mind. Images of the sunny but cool days of fall, the turning of the leaves and their vibrant colors, the trips to orchards and fairs, and the long lazy afternoons hanging at the local fields watching the grandson play football, thoughts made all the sweeter by the knowledge of the coming winter. I had to pull myself away as I had things to do, but the buzz of the moment stayed with me for quite a while, and that was a good thing.

Be sure to take some time out to soak up some of the sights and sounds of the fall season. Ogle its beauty, peep at its leaves, carve its pumpkins, whatever floats your boat, just be sure to do it.

What The Faulk…

happened to my Patriots?

Last Sunday started off well, with the Patriots performing as expected in the first half, kicking butt and taking names. I felt so confident that I started catching up on chores during halftime. I settled back down to watch about 10 minutes into the 3rd quarter and it was like I was watching a different game. I was in Bizarro World. Sanchez was looking more Brady-like than Brady, and the momentum had swung to the Jets.

To top it off, my all time favorite Patriot’s running back, Kevin Faulk (actually, it’s a coin toss between he and Mosi), was down and out with what looked like a serious injury, and was in fact a season ending torn ACL , but that last strip sack of Brady was the dagger in my heart. No last minute heroics, just the Jets squatting on the ball to run out the clock.

As I sat there fuming, one thought kept muscling its way to the forefront of my mind;

“This is just like last season. They hang in there against the cream puffs, but cough it up late against the tougher teams.”

What’s up with that? Are they poorly conditioned and unable to sustain the intensity for a full game? Is the team so predictable that the opposition can adjust at the half and just shut them down, and if so, why don’t the Pats have a plan to deal with that? Is Bill trying to do too much? The whole; no offensive or defensive coordinator thing doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. That’s a lot of ground to cover for one man.

Maybe it’s Brady. Does he feel like he has to shoulder the load, and consequently puts too much pressure on himself? Some of his decisions towards the end of the game were definitely questionable, like jamming the ball in to Moss when there were other receivers open. Was he trying to feed Moss in an effort to help him prove that he could beat the Jet’s coverage? I hope not, but whatever the reason, it just wasn’t working. I’m still surprised he didn’t see Jason Taylor bearing down on him. I know it developed quickly, but he’s usually more aware of what’s happening on his periphery, always ready to duck, or slide forward for one more quick look. Not this time. He was blindsided by Taylor, BLAM, and didn’t even have a chance to secure the ball.

Most likely, their problems are a combination of all of the above, served up with a large side of poor blocking and a heaping helping of suspect defense. Whatever the reason, they need to pull it together this week. They have to beat the Bills. They’re not gonna get too many bunnies like this, plus it’s a divisional game, so they can’t afford to squander the opportunity.

Their biggest problem going forward, aside from choking, that is, is the loss of Faulk. The man has been a first down machine, and someone has to step up and fill that role. With Taylor doing the bulk of the running, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis should be able to fill the void on third down, but God help them if anyone else gets dinged. Dumping Maroney for a draft pick to be named later doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore, I guess.

So, they need to come out firing on all cylinders today, and they need to keep the pedal to the metal until time runs out. 60 minutes of hard fought football. Not 30, not 45, 60, that’s all I ask, and if they provide it, they should be able to steam roll over the Bills. A Patriots romp, followed by a sweep of the Yankees and seeing the Jets get pounded by the Dolphins would be the ultimate Sunday for me, but I’ll settle for just a win from the Pats.

Come on guys, time to step up.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Football... I'm So Glad That It's Back

I was a glutten at the trough this past weekend, gorging myself on football. It wasn't easy, either.

We're in the process of tearing up the house (again), and I had to run cable to a new location late Saturday night, creating a temporary Mantown in my wife's beloved, and deliberately low tech, living room. The good news is, once she sat down on the couch in front of the Samsung, she was glad I did it. After all, she's a football fan too, and in the tighter quarters of the living room the TV looks even more impressive. Sometimes it pays to be sneaky...

So, we were all set for the feature attraction on Sunday, the Pats vs. the Bengals, and we weren't disappointed. Brady looked sharp, and Wes is back and in fine shape, how great is that? I was really pumped that he scored the first TD of the season, very fitting.

Another standout on the offensive side of the ball was Brandon Tate, talk about turning on the afterburners, and the new tight ends contributed much more than I expected, both from a blocking and catching perspective.

I was also reasonably pleased with the running game. Straight Ahead Fred and company performed well. It's more about just being able to run when you need to, than it is about breaking the big ones. On that count, I don't think we're going to miss Maroney very much, but this is an older group, and it's a very long season...

The defense started off ferocious. Guyton and McCourty contributed in a big way, and everyone was hitting like they meant it. The question is; can they sustain that energy and build on it? Cincy started gaining some traction in the second half, but you can chock some of that up to them being a good team who started off poorly. Only time will tell. Let's just hope a lot of that energy and momentum carries over into this week.

Speaking of this week, how bout them Jets?

They really stunk it up on Monday night. When the pressure is on, Sanchez is not "The Sanchise". Dumping the consistent Jones for LT, who can make big plays, but isn't consistent (Hmm, kind of like Maroney...), puts just enough weight on the boy wonder to tip the scales in a bad way. Did you see him sail those passes? Yikes!

Plus the whole "Hard Knocks" thing was a huge mistake for them. It may be compelling TV, but you can't mold a football team on a reality show. You can forge a few clowns, but they've already got their fill of Bozo's. Whoever OK'd that deal needs his head examined. Most memorable quote from the show, given by Rex after he excoriates them for not being serious;

"OK, let's go get some snacks."

All that being said, the Pats have to play hard and stay sharp tomorrow, because the Jets can be a tough team to play if they're on the mark. Their defense always matches up well with the Pats, think Revis, and the Jets will bet the farm and blitz right from the get go.

I don't want to see any of those QB sammiches like they layed on Flacco on Monday night to start the game off (or at all!). Gotta have Hernandez and Gronkowski in there to block on the first series. Gotta be the more physical team. Simple as that. If they control the line from both sides, they should crush them.

A good, quick, drubbing, that would be sweet. Then Rex can concentrate on getting some snacks.

That is all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

berryjooks: Just Snoozeling By The Pool.

The link below is to a post I did a few years ago on the subject of the Labor Day Weekend. There's not much I could add about this wonderful but bittersweet holiday, so in the time honored tradition of summer network television, I give you a repeat:

berryjooks: Just Snoozeling By The Pool.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Apple Revamps iPods... again

The buttons are back on the shuffle, and gone from the nano, replaced by a touch screen that allows it to be half the size of the last gen. Its kind of become a baby touch, and speaking of the touch, its gotten thinner and they've added both front and rear facing cameras.

They've taken the best features from their current star performer, the touch, and integrated them into the nano, and shifted some of the nano's features, the camera and the FM tuner, to the touch. Very nice.

The nano appears to be morphing into the shuffle of the future, as the smaller size and the built in clip make it a lot more functional for on the go activities. My wife loves her little pink 2nd gen shuffle for her walkabouts, but I could never get used to a device without a screen, I just don't like flying blind. My nano is my portable of choice, and if there was one thing I'd change about it, it would be to add a secure way to fasten it to my clothes.

The improvements to the touch, while great, are way overdue. The cameras and the tuner should have been added to the 3rd gen touch. The 3rd gen was basically a fix. When they released OS3, they turned on the hidden Bluetooth functionality of the 2nd gen touch, and quickly realized that it wasn't quite up to the task of supporting Bluetooth and running the new OS. It became a flakey battery hog, hence the new processor in the 3rd gen, but why did they stop there? A Wi-Fi device as slick and powerful as the touch cried out for a camera, skype anyone?, and not integrating a tuner was one of those mysterious Apple tics that you just can't understand. My theory is that at some early design review Steve Jobs said "Radio is dead.", and from that point on, talk of incorporating a tuner became a taboo subject.

So, with these latest changes, the touch and the nano are finally dressed properly for the occasion, so to speak, and the shuffle has reverted back to it's most popular form. All of the devices have become more functional in their particular niche, and that's a good thing. I give Apple a solid B for this new crop, I just wish they'd slow down a little.

Check out the video below for a "first look" at all the new iPods, plus a preview of iTunes 10 and the current top apps: