Thursday, 23 January 2014

Richard Sherman

OK so it's been a few days since the Seattle Seahawks beat my beloved Forty-Niners in the NFC Championship game and I've had time to reflect a little bit. Clearly no amount of reflection is going to change my opinion of the outcome. No amount of reflection is going to change my opinion of the officials botching a key Roughing the Kicker penalty that should have given San Francisco a first down rather than the Seahawks getting the ball around midfield, and don't get me started on the fumble that Niners linebacker Navarro Bowman recovered on the goal line, and maintained clear possession of DESPITE TEARING THE ACL AND MCL IN HIS KNEE, only to have the referees botch that call and give the ball back to Seattle (yes, I know the Seahawks fumbled the ball back on the next play, thereby making that result irrelvent, but STILL....if a player can make a play like that while tearing two knee ligaments, surely the referees can get that call right for goodness sake).

But how about my opinion of Richard Sherman?

If you have not been living under a rock since the game, you are aware of his post-game actions, from getting in the face of Niners receiver Michael Crabtree right after Sherman's game clinching interception, to the not-so-classy choking indication by putting his hands repeatedly to his throat, to his now-infamous post-game rant interviews with Erin Andrews and anyone else who would put a microphone in front of him. There is little denying that he put himself in front of his team, while deriding a defeated opponent at every opportunity (and, hey, Richard....just so you know, Michael Crabtree is a pretty damn good player too, so calling him "sorry" and "mediocre" just makes you look like a very poor winner). That's pretty classless.

Immediately the world of social media blew up. It's an interesting age we live in, isn't it?. I was not immune, taking to Twitter to say quite a few not-so-nice things about Sherman specifically, the Seahawks and their fans. One Hawks fan pushed my buttons to the point I told her to "go F**K" herself (which I later did apologize for).

Then something interesting happened. Searching for "Richard Sherman" on Twitter resulted in quite a large number of tweets....many of them negative, not surprisingly......but many of them positive as well. Sure, Seahawks fans don't seem to care that Sherman is always brash and cocky in front of the cameras, was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs (which was later overturned on appeal on a technicality), and seems to go out of his way to promote himself above his team at every opportunity.

But it wasn't just Seahawks fans supporting him. Members of the media, many of whom I respect, came to Sherman's defense (not all of them, for sure. Tony Dungy told Sherman to "show some class", and Tom Brady said that the Patriots "win with class", an obvious shot at Sherman). Is it just a case of the media being happy that SOMEONE said something interesting, giving them something to fill up airtime with? Granted, nobody needs to hear another interview with any athlete channeling his inner Crash Davis - "I'm just happy to be here, hope I can help the ball club". BARF. But isn't it possible to say something interesting - maybe even slightly controversial - without going on a Mike Tyson-esque self promotional rant?

Ok so Sherman was excited. Fine. He deserved to be. He thinks he's the best cornerback on the planet. Fine...there are 3 or 4 guys that would legitimately disagree with him, but he's entitled to his opinion, and he's certainly very good. Do you need to get on National television and shout that you are the best in the world? And do you have to run down your opponents while you do it? Ok so there is apparently history there, Crabtree and Sherman don't like each other much...but I suspect the list of NFL players who aren't crazy about Richard Sherman and his antics is much longer than one.

The Twitterverse got worse and worse.....and now the negative tweets were getting racist. In a span of a couple of minutes I saw the word "Nigger" more than I would ever care to....and there were worse tweets than that, I assure you. It was depressing to be on the same side of an issue with anyone who would turn it into a race issue. Richard Sherman wasn't a jerk on television because he's black; he was a jerk because he's a jerk. The colour of his skin seemed to be the least offensive thing about him.

Mixed amongst the Seahawks fans' pro-Sherman tweets, the Niners fans' anti-Sherman tweets, and the rednecks' racist tweets were some legimately well written tweets about Sherman, his personal life and his background. Ok so he grew up in Compton and graduated from Stanford with a degree in Communications (is that ironic or WHAT?). He's not stupid, so those calling him a "fool", "idiot" or "thug" should probably do their homework a bit. Sherman's teammates all came racing to his defense, claiming that he is "soft-spoken" and "misunderstood", which may be the two things furthest from the minds of anyone watching his interview with Erin Andrews. Members of our local media who have met Sherman when he has been in Vancouver wax poetic about him, going so far as to call him a "great kid". They show video of him at local schools and doing charity work. During planned interviews, he is engaging, articulate, even funny.

It's almost enough to make me want to like the son of a bitch.


I still hope Denver beats the Seahawks by around 75 points, and I hope Peyton Manning goes right up to Sherman after the game and gives him the "choke" signal. He won't, of course, Peyton Manning has way too much class for that....but I can dream, right?

And I still hope that Sherman comes up to Vancouver again this offseason, as I will be quite happy to visit him in my Colin Kaepernick jersey and have a little chat with him about how you should treat your opponents, especially ones you have just beaten. And if Denver wins, as I expect they will, I will be quite happy to show him the "choke" sign once or twice. Or a dozen times.

But perhaps I'll be a little less mean about it.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Reflections on the past 525,600 minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year in the life?

 - "Seasons of Love" from Rent
The above poses an interesting philosophical question; how exactly DO you measure a year? Was 2013 a "good" year? A "bad" year?

Chances are for most of us, there was a little bit of both. A lot can go right, and wrong, in 525,600 minutes.

BTW if you actually measure a year in cups of coffee, you might want to rethink your life. I'm just sayin'. But I digress......

Of course I started 2013 unemployed; if that sounds like a complaint, you don't know me very well. I'm not one of those people that needs to work. I could quite easily retire today and be quite content if it weren't for, you know, money and stuff. If my wife would just change her stance on getting 2 or 3 extra jobs so I could stay home, I'd be set. I know, I know, it's SO selfish of her.

In March we had a simply fabulous trip to Orlando, highlighted by the dinner of our lives at Victoria & Albert's. If you haven't read that story yet, check it was truly something special. A once in a lifetime meal.....until the next time we go to Orlando, of course (although looking at our projected vacation calendar, that doesn't occur until 2017! Oh the horror!). There is no way we'll ever take a trip to Orlando again without a visit to V&A's.

My lingering unemployment, which stretched into it's 10th month, had some negative effects on our vacation life though, as we cancelled a planned trip to Hawaii in September. Tracey has never been to Hawaii so that's something we'll have to cross off our list in future.

In June I started a little wine blog, mostly for my own edification, which took off a bit. It got noticed by such wine luminaries as Terry David Mulligan, John Schreiner, and many winery owners. It's still really just for me and my close wine-loving friends, but it's nice to see that other people are reading (and enjoying) my random musings.

I finally found a job, albeit a temp job, in late August. It was an open ended job, and there was a good possibility it would become permanent, if they liked me (and they did). But by the time they finally finished their org chart and looked at what they needed, they realized they couldn't fit me into their budget and terminated my contract. It was a total shock to me, and also to the temp agency that had placed me there, who had told me just days before that they were expecting me to be there until March or April at the absolute earliest, and probably permanently.

It was a good job with a good company and they were good people. Normally those types of assignments end with an after-hours call from the temp agency telling the employee that they are no longer needed; mine ended with a face to face talk with the CFO and then the Controller. They were very sorry that it couldn't work out and both offered me a reference.  I was disappointed to leave ANOTHER job due to no fault of my own.

The loss of that job cost us ANOTHER planned vacation, as we had to kibosh our New Year's trip to Vegas and Disneyland. It was just too risky to take such an expensive trip with my job future being so uncertain. Turned out that it worked out well, as I ended up being placed by the same temp agency into a new position just a couple weeks before we would have been leaving on the trip (in fact we would be in Vegas right now if we had gone), which would have meant I wouldn't have been able to take that assignment. It was presented to me as a very short term temp assignment; 6-8 weeks while they search for a permanent replacement for their A/P person who left them suddenly after being with the company for 12 years. It was never suggested that it would be permanent, as they are a very tiny company who can't possibly afford me on a full time basis; or can they? On my fourth day with the company my boss approached me about the possibility of them changing the position to suit me, and possibly adding one junior person who would report to me. The temp agency is discussing the possibility with him, and we'll see where that goes. I'm trying to not get my hopes up, but it would be nice to have a home for a while, and my boss seems like a good guy who I could enjoy working for. It's a good location too, only about 35 minutes from home, which is a nice change from my awful commutes. Anyway, I'm hoping that gets settled in the near future so I at least know one way or the other. The uncertainty is tough to deal with.

Don't feel too sorry for us having to cancel two vacations; 2014 is going to be a great year on the travel front. In April we are going on our first cruise (Caribbean!), in June we are spending a week at a beautiful resort in Vegas, and in September we are driving down through Napa Valley to Disneyland and a week at one of our favorite resorts, in Escondido, where we will be celebrating our 10th wedding Anniversary. Exciting!!

On the entertainment front, it was another good year. I saw The Who for the first time in my life in Vegas in February, followed up by a couple pretty great shows back home as well: Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood. I was also fortunate enough to see the best movie I have seen in many years, The Spectacular Now. It gets released on Blu-Ray on January 14th, I cannot wait to watch it again (and for Tracey to see it!!), and I highly, HIGHLY recommend you all check it out if you are truly fans of great movies. It is very, very special. Lots of other great movies this year as well, and still 4-5 big Oscar hopefuls that we haven't seen yet, so it looks like 2013 is going to go down as another terrific year in cinema.

Of course, the quintessential occurrence in our lives this year was the illness, and then the loss, of our special boy, Newman. He was quite a cat, and we miss him greatly. I still feel him here and it's tough to actually believe he's gone. Thank GOD we have four other kids to keep us distracted, keep us busy, and keep us feeling needed and loved. Cats are such special creatures and we are so fortunate to have these cats in our lives. Oh, and for those dog lovers amongst you, don't think we are dissing Man's Best Friend; dogs are great too. Maybe we'll have one if we ever get to the point where we are both not commuting such a great distance and have more time at home to take care of a dog. They are great, but they sure take a lot more time and effort than cats do, which is probably why cats are perfect fits for our lifestyle.

Christmas is always a special time in our house and this year was no exception; the loss of Newman put a small pall on it, but we still had a terrific Holiday season. Great meals with family (three different Xmas dinners), some amazing wine, and great company.

My amazing wife continues to be my best friend and the love of my life, and as long as she is in my life, every year will be a good year. It's tough to complain about anything when I already won the lottery on that front.

Our year ended in style, with a fondue party at the home of some wonderful friends. Great food, copious amounts of wine, hot tubbing, and good people. That's a damn fine way to ring the start of the next 525,600 minutes.

Hope you all have a terrific year; no matter what you thought of 2013, here's hoping that 2014 is even better!!