Pride of Anglia

I grew up in East Anglia. From a young age I was a supporter of Norwich City. The local derby game between Norwich and Ipswich is thus a very big deal. To my pleasure, the game was shown on US television, albeit with a time delay. I was able to watch the game for the first time in several years. I approached the experience with some trepidation. I have seen four Norwich games televised in their entirety since moving to US and all but one ended in ignominious defeat; the one exception being a third round FA cup win against non league opposition.

The game was time delayed, so it started at 7:30am on Sunday morning. There is much to be said for a DVR. It was a surprise to see sporting coverage not in HD. The initial nerves did not last long, as Norwich took the late within fifteen minutes and took control of the game. The lead was wiped out around the half hour mark, and shortly thereafter restored. The key moment was a when a reckless Ipswich challenge on Norwich’s captain and scorer, Grant Holt, resulted in a dismissal.

The second half was mainly Norwich and the pressure paid off when Grant Holt completed his hat trick and Wes made it 4-1.

My joy at this large win is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that it owed as much to Ipswich’s shortcoming as Norwich’s ability. Only somewhat of course, for beating Ipswich is always great and long after the details fade, Canary fans can sing “We beat the scum 4-1”

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Published in: on 28 November, 2010 at 21:13  Comments (1)  

Black Friday

Thanksgiving is a US holiday which always falls on a Thursday. In common with many companies, my employer gives us Friday as a holiday too; a welcome long weekend. The Friday is known as Black Friday. It is the busiest shopping day of the year, as retailers kick-off Christmas shopping with deep discounts on high price items.

Sensible Americans, a group of people who, based on this month’s election results, are a declining minority, avoid shopping malls on this day. We did not go shopping, but went to the cinema. We saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, along with another twenty or so souls hiding from the purchase mayhem outside.

Our other task was to put up the Christmas tree, as Thanksgiving marks the start of decorations in the US. We did not complete the task, as a couple of the light strands were dark. Today the addition of another two hundred lights was followed by the hanging of the baubles. Most of the decorations are unbreakable, a few are glass. After today, the ratio has moved in favor of the former category.

Published in: on 27 November, 2010 at 19:02  Leave a Comment  

Taking its toll

I used a credit card today to pay an 80c charge. It probably took me 15 minutes to pay the charge. Let me explain this seemingly odd behaviour.

On Wednesday I was in Illinois driving back from a business trip in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling to O’Hare International airport. It is a drive of less than 30 minutes, with most of it on I294, a toll road. On the way from the airport, the toll had been a dollar and I received change from a five buck bill at the booth. On the return trip, there was no manned booth, the toll was 80c and the machines only took coins. There was no way to pay as all I had by way of coins was three quarters (25c coins).
Why charge a different amount on the way back?
Why require coins as payment?
Why, on the exit for the airport and car rental returns is there not a manned booth to handle strange strangers who lack the pile of coins needed to pay.
There was a notice with a URL to allow payments via the web, so having made a note of the car’s license plate at the rental return I was able to make payment once back at home.
All this effort for 80c.

Published in: on 13 November, 2010 at 16:41  Leave a Comment  

Fake Concern

I am staying in a hotel. The bathroom has a shower with two heads; one is turned off to conserve water “and protect one of our most precious natural resources.” There are also notices about not changing towels and sheets; both in the name of protecting the planet. Forgive me if I find this green concern from a corporation a little hollow; the real motivation is to reduce costs, doing so under faux environmental reasons reeks of hypocrisy.

Oakland airport has signs in the window that say the lighting in the terminal has been reduced, to save energy. I had not previously been aware that airport lighting was a major part of the airline industry’s impact on the planet.

Published in: on 9 November, 2010 at 8:39  Leave a Comment  

Top of the World

The first Baseball World Series was held in 1903 between the winners of the National League and the American League. The year after, the National League winners declined to participate, but thereafter it has been held every year, apart from 1994 when a players’ strike curtailed the season.

This year’s world series has just concluded, with the San Francisco Giants beating the Texas Rangers four games to one. The Giants’ win resulted in massive celebrations in the city. The Giants have not won the World Series since 1954, when they still played in New York. Three times since coming to San Francisco the Giants won the National League and reached the World Series, but lost on each occasion. Their most recent defeat was in 2002 when they lost in seven games to The Angels.

They had not been considered a serious contended at the start of the season and for much of the year lay well behind San Diego in the Western Division, but a miserable run of games in August for the San Diego Padres closed the gap. On the last day if the season the Giants beat the Padres to qualify for the post season for the first time since 2003.

I was lucky enough to attend one of the post season games in the first round against the Atlanta Braves. It was one of the few that the Giants lost. It was my first time at the Giants’ ballpark; a newer stadium than that used by the A’s. The post season atmosphere with 40,000+ was wonderful, though flat at the end when the Braves crashed a game winning home run in extra innings.

I saw much of the rest of the post season on TV. I saw parts of the upsets in the second round as Texas beat New York to take the American League tand the Giants beat the Phillies. The Texas Rangers had never won a post season series since joining the league in 1960, falling in the first round in their two previous post seasons.

The first game was predicted to be a low scoring close game; it finished 11-7 to the Giants. The following night, until the eighth inning, it played out to the expected script for game one as the Giants took a 2-0 run into the eighth inning. The Rangers pitching imploded and by the end of the inning the lead was opened to 9-0. The series the moved to Texas and in front of Bush the Dumber, the Rangers won. The following night some excellent pitching on both sides kept a close game to a 2-0 win for the Giants. Monday night was another close game, with just two scoring hits. The Giants hit a three run homer and the Rangers responded with a single home run. The 3-1 victory gave the Giants the fourth victory they needed.

Two days later there was a massive victory parade through the streets of San Francisco, attended by an estimated one million people. Not only was it the Giants first win since coming to San Francisco, but it was the first championship by any Bay Area team since the 49ers won a Superbowl in the mid 90s.

The excitement of the post season leaves me hungry for more baseball and looking forward to the new season that starts in April.

Published in: on 8 November, 2010 at 14:39  Leave a Comment  

Cancelled Shows

US Television is very focused on ratings and tends to cancel shows that do not perform as desired with extreme prejudice. This month has seen two shows killed prematurely; both were better than average and one held the promise of possible future greatness, but no longer are shows allowed to mature.

ABC announced that there will be no second season of The Gates, a supernatural show set in a middle class gated community. The show had started with promise and built to an excellent climax at season end. The largest problem is that the finale ended on a cliffhanger and no sense of resolution. For that reason I cannot recommend watching it, as by the end you will care too much about the characters to accept being left in the air.

The other show was on “SyFy”. It was called Caprica and was set a generation before the events of Battlestar Galactica. It started in a slightly uneven manner, but had flashes of promise. It stopped halfway through the season. It came back at the start of October. Now it has been announced that no second season will be made and the remaining episodes will not be shown until 2011. This makes even watching the one season a task that requires dedication. I hope that it can finish with some sense of closure or at least without a major cliffhanger.

Published in: on 1 November, 2010 at 1:55  Leave a Comment