American Idle

It's kinda like American Idol, but only if you sing my posts out loud.

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Location: Hamilton Square, New Jersey, United States

Tax guy, host & producer of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, former co-host of the Wall Street Journal E-Report

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Natural parent search update: String pulling?

Well, it's been six weeks and still nothing. Although reading their disclaimer again revealed that it might take six weeks to INITIATE their search. C'mon people, does it really take SIX weeks to BEGIN to process a piece of paperwork?

There's some hope here though. While searching for a contact email to get an update, I came across a handy tidbit. The VP Chief Information Officer of my company (aka my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss) is also on the board of directors at Children's Home Society! Holy Crap! So I sent "hey what a small world" emails to both the VP and to the rep at CHS. Hopefully that'll get the ball rolling...

***UPDATE: CHS replied to my email on Wednesday and stated that the case was open but that there's only one person handling these issues and she's on vacation this week. Oh well, at least I know that there's a living, breathing person there who's working on my case.

Nanuk: Will someone please find this frigging dog?

Nanuk, won't someone think of Nanuk??

Anyone who lives in the eastern part of Mercer County has probably seen the "Lost" poster on a telephone pole somewhere. They've been up for at least two months now and I see at least three of them on any given jaunt around the neighborhood. Not only that, but on my way to work the other day, I notice the "Lost" poster about a mile from where I work. Normally that's not a big deal, but I work in SOUTH BRUNSWICK. Upon further inspection, I've seen them in Hamilton, Robbinsville, West Windsor, Plainsboro and now South Brunswick.

C'mon folks, I feel bad you lost your dog, but how far do you think he wandered? Did he jump out of the back of a truck somewhere in central Jersey and you didn't notice until you got home? I'm afraid to drive any farther north...or see exactly HOW far these people went to distribute these signs.

Has anyone seen these posters in another part of Jersey I didn't mention?

Things in Life to Avoid: Baby With a Head Cold

Well, after 11 months, Matt finally came down with his first head cold. Now we can say that we know what it's like to have to deal with a miserable baby (although I'm sure Debbie will testify that she experiences this regularly whenever *I'm* sick).

The first night Matt woke up every 10 minutes between 10:30 and 1:30 because he couldn't get comfortable. And last night it was coughing fits every half hour. And the snot. Don't get me started on the snot. I can make a strong case to stick a catheter up his nose.

It could be worse though, I expect the winter to bring about something even more horrible: Baby With a Stomach Virus.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Free Fantasy Football League

If you're interested in playing some fantasy football this year, I set up a free "American Idle" league on ESPN's website. Click here to join. You'll need to set up an ESPN account if you don't already have one. It will be an "autopick" league set to draft on Sat night 9/3 at 11:30 PM. Usually I do leagues on Yahoo, but ESPN just went free this year so I decided to give them a try.

With an autopick league, ESPN will draft a team for you based on preset player rankings. However, if you're like me, you'll probably want to tweak your player rankings before the draft. (ex. if you want to make sure you draft Randy Moss before Payton Manning, or just to make sure that Correll Buckhalter doesn't get drafted too soon because of his injury.) Just make sure you finish your adjustments by 11:30 PM on 9/3.

Let me know if you have any questions. Leave a comment, or email me at

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Trade Proposal for Terrell

As a Raider fan, unofficial team spokesman (VERY unofficial), and a veteran of bad fantasy league trade proposals, given the recent spate of injuries to Eagles WRs I'd like to offer Jerry Porter and either Ronald Curry or Doug Gabriel for problematic WR Terrell Owens.

Here's the a guy with a relatively high set of morals, I was initially upset of the Raiders offseason acquisition of Randy Moss. However, I forgot that I was a Raider fan and, frankly, the Raiders championship years in '76, '80 and '83 revolved around players with character issues.

And given that the Raiders have virtually no defense this year and will probably finish no better than a 5-11 record, I figure...what the hell? Let's have an offense with Randy Moss AND Terrell Owens. If I'm going to watch them lose, they might as well be a circus act...on and off the field...on a weekly basis.

So bring on Terrell, we'll take him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

KC Royals: 18 losses in a row

Today the Kansas City Royals lost their 18th consecutive game, a club record. They're now just three losses shy of tying the AL record of 21 set by the 1988 Baltimore Orioles and five losses shy of matching the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies for the major league record.

You think I'd have been smart to jump off their bandwagon 20 years ago after they won the World Series. The sad thing is that, of all my favorite teams, that 1985 team is the last time I've been able to enjoy rooting for a championship team. (Raiders '83 and Bruins '71-72 are the others)

UPDATE: Royals end skid at 19 games! However, this still doesn't make me feel any better about their 39-82 record and...what's the deal with the champagne?

Natural parent search update: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Still nothing, although the check did clear a couple of weeks ago. They DID say six weeks....sighhhh.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The same six goddamn Sesame Street episodes

I've always been a connoisseur of Sesame Street. Loved it when I was a kid, and still loved it when my sister (who's six years younger than me) grew up watching it. I always thought Jim Henson was a genius who, although obviously trying to appeal to kids, always kept the humor within reach of the adults too.

Now that I'm the father of a 10 month old child as well as a TiVo owner, I've learned to keep at least one episode of Sesame Street on standby so that Elmo can entertain Mattie in a pinch for the umpteenth time. Because of this, I've watched Sesame Street more frequently than I ever did as a kid. And about a month ago, Debbie and I realized something...they keep showing the same damn episodes OVER and OVER and OVER again. We started to get suspicious because we set the "season pass" up to keep one Sesame Street on file...the newest one. Henceforth, it would always overwrite the one before it. But the same episode kept showing up...sometimes multiple days in a row. And, even more frustrating, after disappearing for a week the same episode would come up again. So after troubleshooting my season pass settings several times, I realized that the reason the episode never changed was because they kept replaying it! It's not so bad that they replay the same episode a couple times a day, but that they keep replaying the same rotation of episodes. I mean, c'mon....35+ years of A+ material to choose from and we have to be subjected to the Elmo & Zoe kite episode every five days?

Can you at least mix in some old skits to keep us Gen X'ers happy? What about the old bits where"Bentley" (from "The Jeffersons") was always finding a way to paint a number on a very young Stockard Channing? The chef yelling "12 COCONUT CUSTARD PIES!!" and then falling down the stairs? The YIP-YIP-YIP-YIP aliens? (BUH-RING! BUUUHHH-RING!!!) And for chrissakes, whatever happened to Kermit? When Henson died, was there a stipulation that Kermit got retired with him? Guy "I *AM* WHISPERING" Smiley?? How about the infamous Harvey Kneeslapper, who told the worst jokes ever? (my hero!)


Note: after I found the above links to the Sesame Encyclopedia, even more memories came flooding back. I'm now going to spend the next few hours researching characters I-Z.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wireless count: Nine unique items

After the purchase of a second wireless joystick for my PS2, I decided to count the ridiculous amount of items in my house that are wireless. (Not including remote controls for TV's, etc.)

  1. PS2 joysticks (2)
  2. Wireless-G router
  3. House phones (3)
  4. Cell phones (2)
  5. Terk Leapfrog A/V transmitter to shoot my Tivo transmissions from my downstairs office to the bedroom upstairs.
  6. Power outlet for the Leapfrog. That's so I can *kill* the power from upstairs because the Leapfrog has a tendency to step on my router signal. And yes, I've tried changing the channels on both to no avail.
  7. Portable FM transmitter for my iPod so that I can listen to it in my car.
  8. Wireless speakers/headphones in den.
  9. Cordless baby monitor.
I'm outta control.

But it's better than outta batteries.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Madden Sickness

Next week on August 9th, my biggest addiction gets renewed for the new football season. That's right, Madden 2006 makes it's debut.

Like most other people my age, I've been playing video games since the days I used a butter knife to screw an RF adapter on the back of my 13" black & white TV set so that I could play Pong. I went through all the major cycles...Atari, Intellivision, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and then the Sony Playstation. Sure there was some dabbling on other systems, but I didn't own them. And of course there have been computers, starting with the Timex Sinclair, then onto a fantastic 6 year run on the Commodore 64 until the PC took over. Through it all, I've played hundreds, if not thousands of games. But the last four years of my life, I've narrowed it down to ONE game that I play exclusively, all year round. Madden football.

Aside from great game play, what's turned this into a completely addicting game is the franchise mode. By being able to run a team from year to year, working with a salary cap, dealing with player retirements and drafting new players, this game refuses to let go of my attention.

I want to emphasize the ability to draft and develop players. This reaches back to my old D&D's the ability to take a character with different abilities and, through extensive gameplay, make that character into a near god. I've even modified the length of my games so that I can give these draft picks more playing time so that they develop faster. So now I spend almost two hours at a time just playing one "football week" of Madden. That's the equivalent of spending about an hour and a half playing the actual game and the other half hour poring over league activities.

And the more franchise years I play, the more involved I get. The game becomes almost secondary. Now I'm analyzing each box score to see how my former players (who I couldn't afford to pay any more due to the salary cap) are doing on other teams. With me about to end franchise year #8, I'm actually thinking about leaving the Raiders team I've built up and taking on another franchise and turning a perennial loser around. Even seeing how the computer would run the team I've molded for the last eight franchise years. But that's too much to do with the new Madden coming next week.

I'd like to thank my wife in advance for pre-ordering the game for me and for her understanding. I also want to apologize in advance for the next year in which I'm going to mentally disappear again for two hours at a time.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Oxymoron of the Day

Today's Charlotte Sun-Herald reports that OT Sam Lightbody has signed with the Buccaneers.

The terms "OT" (offensive tackle) and "Lightbody" never go hand-in-hand, especially not when you clock in at 321 pounds. The only lightbodies checking in at 321 pounds are those orbiting planets.

Adoption update (or lack thereof)

Tuesday will be two weeks since I sent in the forms to seek out my natural parents. I haven't heard anything from anybody yet...I was hoping the agency would at least give me a courtesy call to say they've received my paperwork. If I don't hear anything by Friday, I may give them a call...

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