Baseball Preview 2013: What To Watch For

November 30, 2012

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The 2013 baseball season is just around the corner.  At some point in the coming months, I’ll delve into each league in more detail.  Today, however, we’ll just take an overall look at things to watch for in 2013.

Players to watch

Mike Trout – Trout’s season was a historically great season.  He hit .326 with 30 homers and 49 steals in just 139 games, and also provided great defense at a premium position, center field.  It’s very possible that Trout will never again have a season as good as his 2012 season.  In fact, this is pretty likely.  If Trout averages .300 with 20 homers and 30 steals for 15 more years (he’d be 36 at the end of that span) while playing above average defense in center field, those numbers would most likely get him into the Hall of Fame.  Don’t engrave the plaque yet, though – a lot can happen in 15 years.  Some are worried that Trout’s body type (stocky) won’t be able to retain his blazing speed for very long.  This could be true, but it might also be true that he’s just a freak.  Trout still is several years away from a player’s traditional peak years, so it’s possible that he might actually get better …

Bryce Harper – Harper was a far more highly touted high school player, but he was completely overshadowed by Trout in 2012.  However, Harper still had a very good season, hitting .270 with  22 homers and stealing 18 bases.  He’ll need to kick those numbers up a fair amount to reach the potential people see for him, but the fact that he was able to hold his own in the majors at age 19 is extremely impressive – this is a rare achievement.

Jurrickson Profar – The top prospect in baseball was promoted by the Rangers at the end of the year.  He had a cup of coffee in the majors and put up fairly bad offensive numbers in the very limited action.  If Profar can hold his own in 2013 – and I think he can – this will create an excess of middle infielders for the Rangers.  The smart move would be to trade Elvis Andrus.  They could also trade Ian Kinsler and move Andrus to second base, but this would actually destroy value.  Shortstop is a more valuable position than second base, and converted Andrus to a second baseman would make him a less valuable player.

Shohei Otani – Otani announced that he wanted to sign with a Major League team out of high school rather than a Japanese professional team.  He was then drafted by the Nippon Ham Fighters, which could put a wrinkle in the plans.  The consensus seems to be that Otani is still free to sign with an MLB team, although this might straning relations between MLB and the Nippon Professional Baseball League.  Otani is 6’4″ and boasts a 100 mph fastball.

Josh Hamilton – Hamilton is a free agent and will get a lot of money from somebody.  There are a couple of things that should scare some teams.  First is the history of off-field problems, most notably with drug abuse.  Everyone is cheering for Hamilton to stay clean and sober, but realistically, Hamilton’s risk is greater than that of some random player (Peter Bourjos, for example).  A related concerns is whether the drug abuse in his earlier years have caused damage to his body that will cause him to break down in a few years.  Major League contracts are fully guaranteed, which means a team could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars if something bad happens.

Teams to watch

Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays made a trade with the Marlins that netted them Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes.  This is a big influx of talent and I’d expect the Blue Jays to make a big jump in the standings.

Florida Marlins – The Marlins won just 69 games last year … and then dumped most of their good players (with the exception of Giancarlo Stanton).  This could be a historically awful season.

The 2012 playoff teams – The Yankees are getting older.  The Orioles have a great bullpen – but can they sustain their incredible record in one run games?  Can the Nationals close the deal with Strasburg pitching an entire year?  Are the A’s for real?  Can the Angels avoid digging a big early hole again and win the West?

 

 

A New Religion – And Obama Is Their Profit

November 29, 2012

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I totally flubbed up my election prediction last month. I don’t feel bad, GOP’s experts who are paid millions totally flubbed up too. Nearly all of their polls were wrong on battleground states. Half of the Democrat Obama voters I knew we’re voting Romney this time around and I didn’t even have to give them the ‘vote your values’ pitch.

Jamie Foxx’s recent praise service to Obama is quite indicative of neo-American Culture which many credit to Obama’s win. I always assumed “Hope and Change” was faith and expectations in the Obama policies. How in the world could Obama win after breaking every campaign promise? The only promise I can think of that he’s kept is universal healthcare (AKA Obamacare). I remember George HW Bush, our 41st president, only breaking one campaign promise “…no new taxes” and he lost. Learning from his father’s mistake’s, George W. Bush our 43rd president, worked quickly to fulfill campaign promises his first term and won reelection.

The faith of liberals is not in policies and campaign promises but in the cultural change of President Obama. Nominating Romney fulfilled the doctrine of the New Religion. A rich white male is the antithesis to the New Religion and is, symbolically, the devil. Obama has it out for the rich and the successful. Obama’s followers worship at the same altar. Obama doesn’t have to succeed today or keep any of his promises as long as the rich suffer. Obama doctrine is that it is better that all suffer if the rich suffer more. It is not allowed for all to succeed if the success is unequal. That is the first commandment:

“There is a certain point where you have made enough money.”

-President Obama

Congressional Democrats are on board with this and certainly approve of taking from the rich so the poor can stay home.

“Unemployment benefits are creating jobs faster than practically any other program.”

-Nancy Pelosi

Sounds nice don’t it? None of the government programs have created jobs including unemployment benefits but what she says is good doctrine because it punishes the rich. All this spending and debt will force the hand of conservative to raise taxes to pay for it. Guess who Obama wants to tax. Everyone! Tax everyone but start with the rich they must suffer more.

Harry Reid and others are doing their part by pushing UN treaties like UN Agenda 21 whose purpose is:

“…to promote patterns of consumption and production that reduces environmental stress and meet the basic needs of society.”

– Agenda 21 Chapter 4 Objective 7(A)

I added emphasis because it is the New Religion’s doctrine that “basic needs” are provided for by the government after wealth is confiscated from the rich. Agenda 21 is anti-capitalist and fits nicely with the New Religion. The UN is a perfect vehicle for limiting wealth, production, consumption, and destroy capitalism. This is why Harry Reid pushes UN treaties so hard in the Senate. Watch the Senate this next week on the UN CRPD treaty Harry is bringing to a vote. If the US enacts UN treaties our standard of living will decline but the rich people will suffer more.

Romney and others said the “47%” will vote with their pocket books. Conservatives have said The People have voted for free stuff. That is half the truth. The People voted to punish the rich, for free stuff, and ‘basic needs’ taken care of by the government. It is the only thing the Obama administration has succeeded at in the last four years.

NaNoWriMo success

November 28, 2012

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Yes, that is right, I have successfully completed the 2012 National Novel Writing Month challenge. I have captured 50,000 words of a novel titled “Return to Normal: Volume 1 of the Holleran Chronicles”. I know that this is a pretention title, presuming that there will be additional volumes, but I do have plans to keep writing on this theme. I have a long way to go to actually complete this novel. My first NaNoWriMo attempt took an additional two years to get into a form to publish. That book, “A Changed Man” is available on Amazon – free until the end of the day on Friday.
 

 

It was important that I finish the challenge early if I was to finish at all. We had guests in for Thanksgiving, which had me worried, and my work schedule is going to be crazy the rest of the year. I was lucky in that my guests let me write every day, in fact they encouraged it. I had all of my duties for the Thanksgiving meal completed by mid-morning. I have to set the formal table and make the dressing. Once the dressing is in a dish ready to go in the oven, I am no longer welcome in the kitchen. Too many cooks are a bad thing.

So, here is a synopsis of the book. The main character, Cole, is released from the army and sent out to grow crops and grow children and protect the roads. After exploring the country, he finds a location to settle down. He meets a woman, first known as Ish, later as Hon, and gets married. Ish/Hon’s past is left nebulous intentionally as I plan on making her the main character of volume 2. They have children and have to interact with people moving into the area, some with good intentions, some with bad. A settlement is started near their home as others try to fulfill the kings command of being fruitful and multiplying.

This work differs from my first work, which was a romance, in that there is a lot of violence and no sex. Obviously there are relations as they have children, but I did not include any descriptions, only innuendo. This was actually a lot of fun to write versus the detail of a man and a woman together. The action scenes were also fun.

I attribute my success to several thing. First, this was not my first attempt. I avoided the urge to edit and rewrite, I will have time enough to do that later. Second, I have been thinking about this story for almost a year. Third, I set aside time to write and since I have been under a lot of stress (work, kids in college, election, etc.) I have used the writing as a method of relaxation and transfer of emotion (you know you just cannot pull out a sword at work now-a-days).

I don’t know if writing can be used as relaxation for everyone, but it sure works for me. My wife prefers exercise which would be my last choice. That is one reason she is healthy and slender, while I, though health, am far from slender, can we say obese?

A note on statistics: 50,000 is about 75 pages of 11 point text in MSWord. The plan to follow is about 1,667 words per day to finish in 30 days. Here is a graph of my progress this year.

What you get if you succeed is a printable certificate and a selection of Icons to use in facebook, in your book, on your web page or on emails. Here is one of the icons that I got for completing the event.

Even if you do not get to 50,000 words, you still have the benefit of capturing your ideas on paper (or on your computer). Keep writing!

 

Big 10 Will Have 14 Teams

November 27, 2012

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Greedy Big 10

The news leaked out last week, The Big 10 with 12 teams is going to now have 14 teams.

Am I the only person that thinks someone needs some remedial math…..

Maryland and Rutgers were invited to join the conference. And by invited I mean, umm….tapping into the Northeastern Television Market required the Big 10 to add some teams that were geographically located there.

The Greedy ACC

I am guessing the ACC put this into play since they landed their “Big Fish” in Notre Dame, and wanted to make sure that if the Golden Dome ever left the confines of the ACC they would be leaving some of their pots of gold behind.

Earlier this year Maryland – along with Florida State – voted against raising the exit fee from $20 million to $50 million in September after Notre Dame was added as a member in all sports but football. This is a significant exit penalty and much much more than Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M or Missouri had to pay in comparison for leaving the befuddled Big XII a few years ago.

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh went on record earlier this year saying he did not think the $50 million Atlantic Coast Conference exit fee would hold up in court, but now the ACC has filed a lawsuit against the University of Maryland to protect their interest in a buy-out clause that was reconfigured just last year.

“We continue to extend our best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its exit fee obligation,” Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “On Friday, the ACC Council of Presidents made the unanimous decision to file legal action to ensure the enforcement of this obligation.”

Rutgers, by comparison, had to pay only a $10 million exit fee to leave the Big East. This seems like lunch money at this stage.

It will be interesting to see if Maryland is able to barter down the price tag, but I am guessing that this would have been happening behind the scenes, and well in front of any lawsuit being filed.

Looks like the Commonwealth and the League need to take this one outside and duke it out.

Late Season Craziness

Hold off on your early Christmas parties…. This could shape up to be a crazy bowl season, and a lot hinges on what transpires this week.

UCLA and Stanford play each other for the second straight week to decide who represents the Pac 12 in the Rose Bowl. Nothing like a rematch on back to back weeks.

Nebraska has a rematch with Wisconsin to be the representative of the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska won the first meeting. If Wisconsin wins, they will be 8-5 and representing in Pasadena.

As a side note, Nebraska lost to UCLA earlier this year in September in California.

I think the Rose Bowl Committee is pulling hard for the Huskers and Stanford, as that match up will be much more attractive Nationally and will also benefit the ticket sales much more than any of the other possible combinations of those four teams.

Alabama and Georgia play one another to basically settle who gets to go to the beach and play Notre Dame.

The Big East has three teams still alive depending on who beats who this weekend.

And a freshman Quarterback might actually win the Heisman Trophy.

Good luck to you and your sports teams and remember…Johnny for Heisman!

Until next time, stay classy Tyler, Texas

How Does James Patterson Write So Many Books?

November 26, 2012

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James Patterson comes out with a new book as often as some people change their underwear.  I won’t name any names, but you know who you are.  Calling him prolific underestimates the scope significantly.  He released 13 books in 2011 and is scheduled for a total of 13 in 2012.  Don’t worry, there are already 5 books planned for release in 2013.  By comparison, Stephen King has released two books this year.

How does Patterson do it?  I’ve been aware of his secret for quite some time, but Parade Magazine spilled the beans to a broader audience yesterday.  Patterson collaborates with a number of authors to co-write most of his books.  Grab a random Patterson book – most likely you’ll see his name at the top and the other author’s name lower on the cover.

The breakdown of work is essentially this:

  • Patterson comes up with the idea and generates an outline
  • The other author fleshes out the outline into a first draft
  • Patterson tweaks as necessary and hands off to the publisher

I’m not sure of the exact agreement between Patterson and the other authors.  My assumption is that Patterson gets the lion’s share of the money.  Is this a fair deal for the other authors?

It sounds like other authors are doing a lot of the work – and they are.  However, we shouldn’t underestimate Patterson’s contributions to the books.  Coming up with a good idea for a novel is hard, as is determining that path the plot will take.  Edison once said that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.  It’s important to remember that both aspects of genius must be in place for it to work.  Just as inspiration without perspiration will fail, so will perspiration without inspiration.

Most importantly, though, is the value of Patterson’s name.  Putting his name on a book guarantees premium placement in book stores, a huge number of sales, and likely a top spot on best seller lists.  This is due to a strong reputation Patterson has built up over the years.  While Patterson’s collaborators are doing a lot of the work, they are also reaping huge benefits by associating themselves with him.  They may get a considerably smaller chunk of the pie than they would if they created the same book independently, but they are getting a slice of a much larger pie.

For whatever reason, Patterson is an author I like best in audio format.  I don’t often grab his books and read them.  There’s no explanation for this – there are other authors I enjoying reading and dislike listening to their audio books.  Probably my favorite Patterson book is The Jester, which he co-wrote with Andrew Gross.

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Has Thanksgiving Become Black Thursday?

November 23, 2012

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I first saw the term Black Thursday in the comic strip Retail.  The strip makes a serious point, though.  Is Thanksgiving just a year or two away from become a complete afterthought?  Will people begin completely ignoring tradition and just head the stores at 5 AM on Thanksgiving instead of eating turkey and watching football?  Battling other shoppers for the the best deal on a flat screen TV at Wal-Mart seems to reduce the rest and relaxation aspect of a holiday.

I avoid the Black Friday craziness.  Sure, you may save a few bucks, but what’s the cost of standing in line and getting shoved around.  I hate crowds (not a phobia, just a dislike) and really don’t like to wait in line for more than about 10 minutes.  Waiting hours in line in the freezing cold for a store to open?  No thanks.  I’ll stay inside where it’s nice and warm.

And for the people shoving others to the ground and trampling them (this happens every year) – what the hell are you people thinking?  Would you behave like this on a random shopping day in June?  If it’s not appropriate behavior then, it’s not appropriate behavior on Black Friday (or Black Thursday) either.  Behave like civilized people.

Need to get some shopping done but wary of the crowds?  Amazon has everything 🙂

Sports stuff

Another reason I’ll be staying home today is that there are two interesting football games on TV.  Nebraska vs. Iowa (my wife’s team) followed by West Virginia vs. Iowa State (my team).  A win by my Cyclones would get us to 7-5 on the year.  We lost one of our best defensive players (Jake Knott) earlier in the year, and he could possible be back for a bowl game.  This would allow him to finish his career on a high note (although he was conference defensive player on the week in his last game – playing with any injury sustained the week prior) and put on a show for any NFL teams that may be watching.

Everyone’s talking about the Lions losing a game because their coach challenged a touchdown by the Texans.  By rule, all scoring plays are reviewed, and challenging the play is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and negates the review.  The officials made the right call according to the rule book.  Strange rule, though.  I can see having the 15 yard penalty, but negating the review seems odd.

The Patriots scored 21 points in less than a minute in their game.  That’s hard to do – especially since there were no onside kicks involved.  The Patriots scored, then quickly caused a fumbled and returned it for a touchdown, then the kick returner fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Patriots scored on the play.  Strange.

I’m Thankful For A Romney Loss

November 22, 2012

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Thursday we gathered with our families and friends giving thanks for the blessings we have, so I thought I’d share one of mine with you here. This year I am thankful that Mitt Romney is not going to be the next President of the United States of America. Sorry if you have just been crawling out from under a rock the past few weeks and I just broke this news to you.

The next day when I went to work you could literally see whose parents were all worked up by the events of the previous night. Just like all conservatives around the country they were filled with anger, outrage and disbelief that a Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist Antichrist was reelected with relative ease. The final tally for the electoral college was Obama 332 Romney 206, the only battle ground state that Romney picked up was North Carolina and the popular vote margin currently stands at right around a three percent win for Obama as well.

It just was not a good night for the Republican party. They lost the Senate even more with Democrats and the caucusing independents accounting for 55 members of the body. If it was not for a lot of gerrymandering in various states in redrawing those district lines they very well could have lost control of the house as well. It just was not a good night for Republicans. Now it is on to the blame game. Every thing under the sun has been thrown out to why they lost. The plain and simple answer is that appealing only to racists, religious zealots and rich people is not enough of a consensus to win as a national party.

My favorite though was the man himself Romney bringing his 47% comments back to life again with a post election discussion with donors that he lost only because the people that did not vote did so because they wanted to recieve gifts. Like I said this Thanksgiving I am happy that this man is not going to be the next President and it was quite funny that his popular vote tally came to 47 percent.

Notre Dame Closing In On National Championship?

November 19, 2012

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Football

This weekend was wild in the world of football. First on the college ranks, the championship picture went topsy-turvy. Both number 1 Kansas State and number 2 Oregon fell. Now Notre Dame is the only undefeated (that can compete for the championship, so we cannot count Ohio State). That makes one half of the game easy to set, but now there are eleven one loss teams that want that other spot. Now we should be down to six after conference championships, even there are three contenders in the SEC and a couple of other conferences that do not play championship games. (I have always had the opinion that if you do not win you conference, you should not be considered for the BCS championship game.) So, unless there is another shake up like this week, there will be plenty of people complaining about who gets chosen for the other side of the championship equation.

This last weekend also means that my Notre Dame friends will not be cheering for Texas on December 1 when they play Kansas State, unless of course they are afraid of playing Kansas State in the championship game.

In the NFL, the picture is getting much clearer as teams separate. On the NFC side, although not done with much strength, the Atlanta Falcons continue to lead. Chicago is keeping ahead of Green Bay and the Giants and 49ers are the default leaders of two week divisions. On the AFC side, Houston is leading again without a lot of punch this week. Baltimore is in the driver’s seat for second with New England and Denver as the default leaders of two more week divisions. The wild cards are also almost set in the AFC with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis making some separation even though they both lost. The NFC wild card is a bit more difficult with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Seattle all in the hunt. This is way to early in the season to actually predict the final standings, but the character of all of the teams is becoming much clearer with only six games left.

NaNoWriMo

We are past the half way point of the NaNoWriMo. We only have one more weekend left, so you actually need to be much more than half way done. There have been a number of pep talk emails sent out by the NaNoWriMo staff. This is the point in the effort where you have captured most of the ideas you had floating around at the beginning of the effort. No what? You are not alone, even professional writers hit this plateau. This is my fourth effort, so I have been thing about this story line for most of the year, especially since I failed last year. I am at 35,000 words, which is well ahead of schedule. This may sound great, but now I face the Thanksgiving holiday with guests arriving any minute, and kids coming back from college. I just cannot plan any large batches of time to write, even if the ideas keep flowing.

Whether you are a NaNo or not, keep writing. There Is nothing to fear but blisters on your fingers.

Tide Gets Rolled

November 14, 2012

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Fold Tide!

The unthinkable happened. The Wizard of Tuscaloosa – Nick Saban lost a football game. Texas A&M, led by Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Johnny Manziel pulled off the unsuspecting upset on the road. He has been dubbed “Johnny Football” (which I take exception to…I mean I don’t call myself Johnny Golfer) and has vaulted into the Heisman race.

This just goes to show you how much pull the Tide has nationally as when they lose it is big news. Of course Nick Saban is college football’s version of George Steinbrenner. You either love the guy, or you think he is the biggest jerk in the world. Alabama slides to #5 in the BCS rankings, and now we have three major un-beatens all looking for one another to lose….but more on that later.

The bigger news is the newcomer goes into what is perceived as the Berlin Wall of college football, being Alabama at home, and wins. We should have seen this coming a week ago as LSU should have pulled off the upset but let them off the hook at the very end of the game.

Maybe the SEC is what I have always claimed it is, a darn good conference but not as good as everyone at CBS makes it out to be…..who could possibly think a former Big XII team could win AT Bama.

Welcome to the SEC Texas A&M.

The Three Horse Race

It is down to Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame in the race to the BCS Championship. History tells us that one of the three if not two or even all three will lose an important game late down the stretch in the last couple of weeks and shake this thing up even more.

Each of these teams has a good argument why they should be playing for all the marbles and the cheesy crystal trophy. All of the teams can easily also make an argument for each of the other teams why they should NOT be playing in a title game.

One thing is for sure, it will certainly be an interesting match up if any two of these three teams are left standing at the end of the year. Each has one tough test remaining, and as the stakes get higher, the nerves sometimes get tighter. The only team that has been here recently is Oregon as they have been the best of the three in the recent history. Notre Dame has not been this good, well, since Cheater Lou was coaching, and the Methuselah of the Little Apple got to the BCS stage once but that was one retirement ago.

I hope they all win out and then we just have more fodder for the sports hacks and radio personalities. Chaos and discussion is what makes the bowl system fun. Soon that will all be gone.

Welcome to the Playoff System soon.

Sideline Controversy – Yet Again

Had to get a Husker blurb in this week as they continue to not only get very lucky with seemingly many critical calls and bounces going there way, but they pull another come from behind by more than two score victory again this week.

The bigger news is more with Coach Pelini than the team winning.

This past Saturday against Penn State, Pelini and Senior Safety Daimion Stafford got into a “heated exchange” folloiwng a Penn State Touchdown, no shocker as Pelini always has the camera on him to catch any possible temper flare up – which based on past history is no surprise.

Stafford pointed and yelled various unrepeatable expletives to the head coach, and Pelini is facing away from the camera the entire time.

While the coach might have had his back turned to the camera, he had his player’s back in comments following the game.

“The only thing you can criticize Daimion Stafford for was wanting to win so bad. He was very upset, and he should be upset, we gave up a touchdown” I love the guy. He is an emotional leader. Let me tell you, it’s an emotional game, That stuff happens, that is not the first time it has ever happened. That happens on the practice field so it is no big deal to me.”

Pelini has a temper that is well documented and that is what makes him who he is on the sideline, but I for one believe he is still paying the price for his reputation.

Here is one Husker fan hoping that if the players want to vent at the coach and then go play like their hair is on fire, that is just fine with this fan.

Until next time…Stay Classy Cedar Falls , Iowa

NaNoWriMo: Ahead of Pace

November 12, 2012

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I am at the half way point of my NaNoWriMo effort. I got to 25,000 words over the weekend, which is the best I have ever done it the four years I have been participating. But this is where the hard part begins. I have captured most of the ideas that I have had swimming around my head before November started, so now I have to come up with the next part of the story.

I hope that each of you is writing and having some success. The point of this competition is to get your story captured, or at least started. You are actually only competing against yourself and the calendar. I have to be brief so that I can continue on my novel. Like most of you, I do not get much time to write. I have mostly been grabbing the hour to two after my wife goes to bed which results in a very tired Martin at work. This weekend, once chores were done, I had the luxury of several hours to write. I hope to have more success next weekend and Thanksgiving weekend. I will be taking vacation from work the week of Thanksgiving, but that will not necessarily result in additional hours to write. We have people coming into town and we have to prepare for the holiday.

My first NaNoWriMo effort is available on Amazon: A Changed Man. It will be available for free download later this month, we will post it here. So good luck and good writing.

On college football, I must say it even though it is difficult (being a University of Texas graduate), but way to go Aggies. First loss for Alabama in how many years? Good work.

On professional football, to all of my Atlanta Falcon friends, good run. You had to expect to lose eventually, too bad it was to the Saints. Here’s hoping that you do not see another loss until you meet my Steelers in the Super Bowl.
 

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