The Haphazard Blog

Archive for December, 2010

When Amazon Prime Isn’t

by on Dec.29, 2010, under Life, Shopping

It seems like Amazon.com likes to teach me lessons about shipping. Amazon likes to occasionally offer free trials of their Amazon Prime service. For those who aren’t familiar with it, for $79/yr you get “free” 2-day shipping on your orders and can get overnight shipping for $4.

I’d learned from past purchases that the free super saver shipping can take forever, so when I decided to try and find a copy of Burnout Paradise for the Xbox 360, shipping time was important because I planned to play it while my brother was visiting. Amazon was offering the trial, so I signed up and ordered the game.

I learned that 2-day shipping is not the same as 2nd day air. They will use closer warehouses and ground shipping to get your item to you in 2 days. The main problem here is that UPS does not time guarantee ground shipments so they have no incentive to get your package to you if they make a mistake because there’s no financial consequence. I called Amazon, and they said sorry and offered me a $5 Amazon.com credit (that never showed up). UPS said they can’t do anything (like re-route it using a faster delivery method).

So here is what my package did:

Amazon (and UPS) Not So Prime

Two days turned into 12 (7 business) and I got it the day my brother left. I had never seen so many problems with a package.

On the bright side, a couple days later I got an e-mail from Amazon refunding my purchase. That meant a free copy of Burnout Paradise for the trouble!

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Using TV Shows to Determine Political Leaning

by on Dec.29, 2010, under Entertainment, News, TV

I saw a study was released last month about the TV shows that Democrats and Republicans find most popular. So I took a look at the top 15 shows on both sides and checked what I watch on the list.

Experian Simmons Republican/Democrat Popular TV Shows

The final tally:

Popular Republican Shows:

3. Modern Family
4. V
6. The Big Bang Theory
10. Desperate Housewives
12. Lie to Me
15. Two and a Half Men

Popular Democrat Shows:

2. Mad Men
3. Dexter
5. 90210
6. Brothers & Sisters
8. 30 Rock
9. The Good Wife
10. Damages
13. Friday Night Lights
14. Parks and Recreation
15. Breaking Bad

I also stopped watching How I Met Your Mother (#14, Republican) and am on the verge of dumping Community (#11, Democrat).

So does that make me a left-leaning independent? (It would match how I view myself, fiscally conservative, socially liberal.)

Do the shows you watch match your political leanings?

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Patriots vs. Bills Recap

by on Dec.26, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

This was a game where it looked like it was over pretty early, the only question was “How much would the Patriots win by?”. I think the prognosticators were shaken by the close game Green Bay had. I think that’s a case of them discounting how good the Green Bay defense played (and is). There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game, but here are my thoughts.

The front 7 is down to the last bit of their depth, mostly due to injuries and a suspension for Brandon Spikes. With that, the Bills were running wild on the defense and inexplicably started to pass in red zone. Killed their momentum and they were forced to settle for a field goal and let Bill Belichick make adjustments for the next series.

I’ve noticed that as much praise Devin McCourty gets, teams are not afraid of him. They attack him and are able to complete passes against him. I think who should get some consideration/recognition for defensive rookie of the year, but Ndamukong Suh has been a beast and quarterbacks must be scared of him.

Rob Gronkowski seemed to have a possible touch down, but the ball was under thrown by Tom Brady. It would’ve been a great way to open the game with a 77 yard touch down on their first play. On the day, Brady had 3 touch downs, 2 to Gronkowski, and set a new bar for most consecutive passes without an interception. CBS was showing the graphic comparing him to Bernie Kosar and Bart Starr. They included the number of touch downs over that span and Brady was way ahead. I wonder if that’s a record for most consecutive touch downs without an interception. People are pretty quick top point put that there have been some lucky drops during this streak, but I doubt any of them have reviewed all the passes that Kosar and Starr threw. Obviously there is a luck component to a streak like that.

Gronkowski pulled in a great catch running down the seam on a safety. He has the safety trailing him and reached back with one hand to pull the ball in for a big gain on 3rd down. The Patriots played well without Aaron Hernandez this week. (I wonder if Hernandez was injured while high stepping (I think that’s what it was) into the end zone against the Packers?).

Wes Welker had a tough drive (2 drops) and overall a tough game (he added another drop). You could see he was not pleased with himself.

The defense continued to do what it has done all year. They forced turnovers (6!) and hit hard. It was an impressive job by them and now they can rest players as needed with nothing to play for next week. They have locked up the AFC East, #1 seed (home field throughout the playoffs) and the best AFC record. As an added bonus, the Raiders were knocked out of playoff contention which guarantees the Patriots a top 20 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Update: Saw a couple interesting Patriots tidbits.

Brady has thrown a touch down in each game this season. If he throws one next week he will be the fifth quarterback to do it since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. I was surprised by this for 2 reasons. First, just how rare it is and second, that Brady didn’t do this in 2007. I checked, and the Jets shut him out in week 15.

The Patriots have gone 7 games without a turnover, which extends their own record. The old record was 4 games.

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Patriots vs. Packers Recap

by on Dec.23, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

This game ended up being a lot closer than people expected, especially with Matt Flynn filling in for Aaron Rodgers. The main thing I take away from this game is as the offense goes, the defense goes. The better the offense plays, the better the defense plays.

I felt like on the opening onside kick, James Sanders had a shot at just knocking the ball out of bounds instead of trying to get on top of it. It was probably the last thing on his mind, but that could’ve preserved possession.

Tom Brady’s record no interception streak continued with another fortuitous drop by the opponent. This time, a great play by Charles Woodson to drop off his guy and double Rob Gronkowski. The ball hit Woodson in the hands and he just dropped it. I was surprised to find out that the Patriots had an NFL record with 5 straight games (now 6) without a turnover. On the surface, that number doesn’t seem that high, so it demonstrates just how difficult it is to avoid interceptions and fumbles game to game.

Deion Branch and Wes Welker didn’t have big games catching, but at least on the 33 yard touchdown run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis they had the key blocks that created the lane and allowed him to get to the end zone.

Once again, Brandon Meriweather took a bad angle. This time he added a whole new level of ineptitude by tackling his teammate to prevent him from tackling the receiver for a 20-25 yard gain. Instead it becomes a 66 yard touchdown making a 10-7 lead 17-7. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Meriweather will not be re-signed. I could even see him getting traded next year.

The Packers defense has really made life difficult for the Patriots. They are getting pressure and sacks on Brady. They are stopping the 1st down runs exceptionally well putting them in 2nd and long. Short throws to Branch and Welker are not easy. The Packers defense is every bit as good as advertised. The way the Patriots have shredded the top defenses this year makes the performance even better. I’d say looking back on the season so far, the Chargers and Ravens are going to pose the most difficulty in the AFC and if the Patriots were to get to the Super Bowl, the Packers have shown they can play them tough as well.

The Connolly kick return easily elicited the biggest “oh my god, I can’t believe I just saw that” moment of the season. He was protecting that ball and ready to be taken down when there was an opening for him to run the ball some more. He threw a stiff arm and made a cut back to get all the way down to the 4 yard line. It was too bad he didn’t score, but it was amazing. I’ve also noticed Connolly returns kicks better than Alge Crumpler this year. Crumpler doesn’t even look as “graceful” doing it.

Kyle Arrignton broke 4 tackles on his interception return for a touchdown. I think it was a big play by him. The Packers defense could’ve easily held the Patriots to a field goal (they didn’t have the easiest of times scoring from 4 yards out) which ended up being the difference in points (ignoring the butterfly effect of course).

The final drive was filled with nail biting. Tully Banta-Cain continued his knack for untimely penalties (although the other guy also had his hands in Banta-Cain’s face). The Patriots had a game sealing interception on that play. The biggest play of the game was Patrick Chung tackling Donald Driver 1 yard short of a 1st down on 3rd and 11 in bounds. It kept the clock running and the Packers had no time outs. They also couldn’t spike the ball to stop the clock. As a result, they took so long getting the play off that it was their last chance and they had to get a touchdown. Banta-Cain caused a fumble to end it.

Another take away from this is the situation. The Packers got the ball back with 4:22 left at their own 43, 2 timeouts and the two minute warning down by 4 points. So they essentially had 4+ minutes and 3 timeouts to move the ball 57 yards. If they score, the Patriots would need at least a field goal to force overtime. The Patriots had all 3 timeouts and Bill Belichick chose not to use any. Either the defense was going to stop them from scoring or they were going to (most likely) lose the game. I think that says a lot about how much Belichick trusts his defense. He did not decide that the offense was the way they were going to win that game (like 4th and 2 at Indy).  It looks like they are coming along.

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Colts Careless with Austin Collie’s Concussions?

by on Dec.19, 2010, under Football, Sports

Six weeks ago, Colts wide receiver Austin Collie was knocked unconscious by a vicious hit against the Eagles (see it here). He did not play the following week and returned to play against the Patriots. It seemed to be too soon given how hard he was hit against the Eagles, but supposedly people have to be cleared by an independent neurologist to play again after suffering a concussion.

Colts-Patriots games are usually important games because both teams are usually playing in the play-offs and the head-to-head tie breaker could determine home filed advantage. Heading into the game, the Colts were 6-3 and the Patriots were 7-2. It made me wonder if they let him back in too early to play in an important game. He was tackled by Jerod Mayo and suffered another concussion. It didn’t appear he was knocked out, but he clearly suffered a concussion.

Austin Collie Tackled by Jerod Mayo

After this concussion, the Colts kept him out 3 weeks. He returned today against the Jaguars in a game they had to win. To put it simply, if the Jaguars won, the Colts would’ve been knocked out of the playoffs, or would’ve had to win out and get lots of help to make it. Collie was back and he was now wearing a tinted visor for the first time this year. A symptom of post-concussion syndrome is light sensitivity.  I don’t know what other reason he would have to wear a tinted visor for the first time all year besides a light sensitivity.

Austin Collie with Tinted Visor

Today he took a forearm to the head and appeared to be knocked unconscious, again, making this his third concussion in 6 weeks (1 in each game he has played in that span). I thought it was too early and suspicious for his first return (not because he was active against “my” team, but from the viciousness of the hit he took) and now I’m even more suspicious after this one. If the NFL is serious about concussions and player safety, they really need to look into how and why Austin Collie was cleared to play and suffered concussions upon his return.

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Patriots vs. Bears Recap

by on Dec.12, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

There isn’t too much to say about this game. Seemed like a pretty even (their play through the game, not the opponent) and ho-hum kind of game for the Patriots.

They started right off passing in the snow and wind, then the toss sweep run killed by the Bears’ defensive speed. Why didn’t they stick with 5 wide for the first series?

It was pretty evident that they were working very hard to avoid strips/fumbles by a very aggressive Bears defense.

Devin McCourty’s foot prevents a fumble from being overturned. It reminds me of 2001 when David Patten retained possession of the ball because when he was knocked unconscious, his head was out of bounds while he was touching the ball. Just weird things going your way.

I’d say I have two concerns coming out of this game. As affective as they were getting touchdowns to start, they had a lot more ineffective red zone trips. The Bears seemed to have tightened up their red zone defense as the Patriots wasted a punt return and strip sack that put them deep in Bears territory. Hopefully it is just a small blip on the radar. The other concern would be McCourty. I didn’t know at the time (I wondered where he was), but he left the game with a “rib” injury.  Hopefully that is nothing serious.

Have you ever noticed when a guy has a bad play, they clap their hands? I wonder why they do that. It seems like a reflex.

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Patriots vs. Jets Recap

by on Dec.12, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

I don’t think anyone expected the outcome of this game to be this lop-sided, but it was fun to watch to the very last snap. Looking back, I was definitely not a believer as I watched, just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the Jets to get back in the game.

I was shocked that Cris Carter (trashed Deion Branch on Boston radio leading up to the game) and Tom Jackson picked the Jets to win the game.

On the opening drive they had a weird blown play, but they could’ve recovered. Branch has to catch that and it was an early TD opportunity missed. A running theme in this recap will be how pointless all these things ended up being.

What was Rex Ryan thinking? He was mad about the spot, but did he really think that the officials were 1 yard off? Pointless challenge. Baby LT had his long run and obligatory over-celebration. Remember when a 14-yd run wasn’t a big deal to him? They ended up missing a long field goal and on their next drive they had a nice bad drive and horrible punt. Just what the Patriots needed after Brady looked a little off on the first 2 drives. They quickly go up 17-0 scoring a TD on a quick slant on 4th and 3.

I kept asking myself, “Where is Patrick Chung?”. I really think he brings a physical element to the game and is playing hard. I guess it’s a good problem to have where he is the third safety, but I don’t think anyone else hits as hard as him. Plus he has good instincts and is fast.

One weird thing was seeing Donald Trump in Robert Kraft’s box. Why would he let Trump in his box. Isn’t he a NY/Jets fan? He’s at least a New Yorker.

On the Patriots last drive of the 1st half, Brady was sacked twice. Hopefully that would not be a precursor to what would happen in the 2nd half. Heading into halftime, I’m wondering where this defense came from. I’d put part of it on Mark Sanchez, but the defense has had their best game so far. I’d feel good with 2 more TDs in the 2nd half.

The Jets started the 2nd half moving the ball, but it was fitting on Tedy Bruschi night that Brandon Spikes gets a Bruschi-like interception in the red zone to kill the drive. Followed right up with a Devin McCourty interception on the Jets’ next drive. McCourty is really coming on as the season is progressing. You really don’t see him repeating mistakes. Him and Joe Haden have been playing like 1st rounders (unlike Kyle Wilson). It looks like Ryan is getting the FU special from Bill Belichick.

All Brandon Tate had to do was block the guy behind him and Danny Woodhead runs it in for a 62 yard touchdown. They score a couple plays later and that is pretty much it. With about 10 minutes left, the Jets gave up. They just kept running the ball and took all day to run plays. They either wanted to minimize further embarrassment overall or not totally ruin Sanchez’s confidence. They’d add further insult by getting a 12 men on the field penalty after coming up with a 3rd down stop.

J-E-T-S! Suck! Suck! Suck! and Overrated chants were very audible during the broadcast. Also, credit to the Gillette crowd for keeping it loud all night. It is clearly possible to be loud, so there should be no excuses for the quiet crowds.

Some respect to Ryan for not trying to get late meaningless TD. A lot of coaches would keep trying to get a TD. Of course, after the game during his press conference he didn’t sound like he was humbled at all. Makes beating them so much fun.

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