I arrived early to my appointment that morning and walked the hallway down to the office suite. I passed right by the bathroom that I was anxious to use after my half-hour drive. Each office suite gets a key to the bathroom, and retrieving it was my sole intention when I walked into my destination. Yet it wasn't there. I looked around and couldn't find it anyways. Damn.
When Chris finally arrived, I asked him where the bathroom key was. He said that it fell off the keychain and he hasn't had one for a while.
"But," he said holding up his keychain, "do you have a key that looks like this?"
The key he pointed to looked like an ordinary house key. I looked at the key, then to his face, trying to figure out what he meant.
"Yes..." I responded.
"That's all you need," he said, "it should work for the bathroom."
I pulled out my keychain and walked back down the hallway to the bathroom. I took my house key and inserted it into the door's lock. The doorknob felt looser and, as I turned it, the door easily opened. I stood there in amazement for a moment. I'd been going there for two years, and how many times had I waited for someone to return with the bathroom key? Each and every time, I had the key that would open the door with me and didn't even realize it. The experience made me stop and think, I wonder what other keys I'm carrying...
At the beginning of the season, I never would've thought that week 17 would see me rooting for the Jets and Brett Favre, and then agonizing when he threw yet another interception. It goes against every fiber in my being to root for the Jets at any point in time, let alone Favre. Don't get me wrong, I used to be a Favre fan, but that was before he jerked around the Packers for three years straight. Now I think he's just a selfish has-been who doesn't know when to hang 'em up. And hang 'em up he did today in a truly pathetic showing of the largest magnitude in his career with the Jets. So what if you needed help to get into the playoffs? The role of spoiler tastes mighty good as well (ask the Texans).
The Patriots played what I considered to be a great game of football earlier today, defeating Buffalo 13-0 in a game that featured 70 mph winds. To me, this game is exactly what football should be: two teams pounding it out. There's no freak plays where coverage is blown, no ridiculous long bombs that are more luck than skill, just old-fashioned, hit-the-hole running with a small amount of passes thrown in (pun intended). The Patriots really showed that they are a playoff team...except that win doesn't mean anything. They're 11-5 and not in the playoffs. A bit ironic that their record when they won the 2001 Super Bowl was 11-5 in the regular season. This is also just the second time since 2001 that they haven't made it to the playoffs.
But really, the Patriots have no one to blame but themselves. Whenever you take your fate out of your own hands, you have failed. There were several games that the Patriots should have won this year, and if they had won even one of them, they'd be in the playoffs right now. The most glaring example was the game against the Jets that went to overtime. They made a spirited effort to come from way behind to tie up the game in the last minute but then blew it in overtime with shoddy defense. If that one game had gone the other way, we'd be talking playoffs right now.
The Patriots did have a good season thanks to mostly solid play from backup quarterback Matt Cassell. He started out the year pretty slow but got some good momentum going towards the end. Now he's played himself into what surely will be a nice payday after the season is over. Most of the talk will focus around whether or not the Patriots will keep Cassell. He's now an unrestricted free agent that is sure to draw interest from quarterback-starved teams such as the Lions, Buccaneers, Chiefs...and Jets. Conventional wisdom was that the Patriots can't afford to pay Cassell millions to be a backup to the returning Tom Brady. Until otherwise noted, the Patriots are Brady's team, and they can't afford to pay two starting quarterback salaries when only one will play.
For a while, it was looking like the Patriots would either let Cassell go or franchise him in the hopes of orchestrating a trade. However, NBC Sports is reporting that Brady's rehab isn't going well, and that he may require additional surgery on his knee. Brady would likely miss a large portion of next season, if not the whole season, should another surgery be required. If that's truly the case, then the Patriots really can't afford to let Cassell go because otherwise all they have are inexperienced quarterbacks on the roster. The question then becomes how can they keep both Brady and Cassell? Would Brady take a pay cut to allow the team to sign Cassell? Perhaps more importantly, how good will Brady be if he doesn't play again until 2010?
Knowing how Belichick and the rest of the organization works, I'm sure they're already pondering these and other moves that will have to happen in the offseason so the team can regain its AFC East dominance. Until then, my only football-related actions will be rooting against the Giants and the Colts. On to the Celtics...
I sat down for breakfast this morning and perused the Boston Globe at my parents' house looking for an interesting story to read. I then came across an article entitled, GateHouse sues Globe's parent over web sites. GateHouse is the owner of 125 local newspapers in Massachusetts and they are suing New York Times Co., the owner of the Boston Globe, for linking to their stories without permission. The folks at GateHouse claim that the folks at the Globe's website have been copying headlines "verbatim," including the first sentence of the article. The Globe then links the headline to the GateHouse-owned site along with a notice that the story is from a GateHouse-owned newspaper.
GateHouse's main complaint seems to be that the Globe's practices make it a direct competitor for GateHouse's own web sites. Now, anyone with half a brain about technology can see the flaw in that logic. Not only is the Globe providing links to your site for free, but they're attributing all content to you as well. What GateHouse sees as a competitor is actually a free way to get more traffic to their sites; their so-called competitor is actually funneling more visitors to GateHouse's site which means they can charge more for advertising. And they want this to stop?
As further evidence that GateHouse has no idea what they're doing, they said that they setup measures to try and block screenscraping from the Boston Globe to stop the practice. They then said that this attempt failed. Apparently, GateHouse doesn't realize that they themselves provide an RSS feed with all of the information about the stories nicely formatted and that the Globe is likely using that as the source of its news.
There's so many things about this lawsuit that are stupid. First, GateHouse is a smaller company whose website gets less traffic than the Globe's website, and yet they are complaining that the Globe is linking to their stories. I could understand being upset if the Globe was hosting the stories themselves, or providing them without attribution, but it seems that the Globe has done everything correctly for the digital age. They link directly to the article on GateHouse's site and they provide direct attribution to the GateHouse site for the content. If anything, GateHouse should be thanking the Globe for the extra traffic and possibly trying to formalize the relationship in a way that could see larger traffic gains. I can think of a number of ways right off the bat: have the official Globe Newton blog come from GateHouse's Newton blog. I mean, this should be a huge win for GateHouse that they're turning into a potentially huge loss.
Let's say that GateHouse wins this case (which I'm praying it doesn't), what does that mean for the Internet? Can no one link to articles online without getting expressed, written consent from the copyright holder? And what are the damages that GateHouse can claim as a result of the Globe's actions? I can't see how they could be damaged in the least from the Globe posting links to their site. They didn't have to pay anything for that exposure and extra traffic, and they're looking to turn it off? Clearly the folks at GateHouse just don't understand how the Internet works. I just hope someone with an understanding of the Internet can talk some sense into them before they cut off their own arm.
A couple of years ago, my buddy Aaron introduced me to poker, specifically Texas Hold 'em. Being a good friend, he did it in the most appropriate way possible: by taking all of my money repeatedly. I remember sitting and marveling at his ability to win hand after hand, without breaking a sweat. Every time I thought I had him, he had something better. It drove me nuts. How could he possibly know what I had each time? The problem, of course, was that I had no real idea how the game was played. I made several mistakes that beginning poker players make. Since then, I've learned a lot, and found that there's a bunch of life lessons hidden within the game of poker.
It's not all about chance. The first mistake I made as a beginner was that I assumed poker was all about chance. When playing cards, it's easy to group it into the category of "gambling" along with playing the lottery. There is, of course, the element of chance to poker. But even more important is the strategy you employ. You cannot control the hand you are dealt (legally) but you can control how you use the hand you're dealt. Good life lesson there. Good players can win with almost any two cards; bad players can barely win with good ones.
It's not all about me. My second mistake was playing the game only from my point of view. I was playing my cards and wasn't paying attention to the other players. You need to understand what you have, yes, but you also need to try and figure out what everyone else has. Are they actually playing from a position of power or bluffing? Do they have any idea what they're doing? Will they fold if you bet hard? In these respects, poker is all about observing your opponents to determine their patterns, their strengths, and their weaknesses. This is a really important lesson that applies in all facets of life. As The Art of War says:
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battles.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
Having the best hand and bluffing aren't the only options. I believe this is the most common misconception about poker and life. A lot of people believe that you either have the best hand that round or you're bluffing. In reality, you don't always know that you have the best hand. You may have an idea about the relative strength of weakness of your hand in the deck, but a winning hand one round can be a losing hand the next. Often times you're playing to see if your hand can improve, and if the cost is worth the risk of waiting for that improvement. So really, you need to understand if your opponent has a better hand than (but maybe not necessarily the best), the same as you, worse than you, or is bluffing. Your opponent isn't black or white, so you must be more perceptive
You can play correctly and still lose. Seriously. You can do absolutely everything by the book, call when you're supposed to, raise when you're supposed to, and still end up losing. Just like life. You play the cards you're dealt but you have no control over the other cards that will come. That doesn't mean you stop doing things the right way; that means you accept failure as a possibility but still believe in your strategy. The tournament that I believe I played the best in actually saw me leave much earlier than I wanted. However, I was proud of myself because it was the first time I had put together a really effective strategy and stuck to it. It just so happened that it wasn't in the cards that night (pun intended).
Your opponents don't know your cards. Amateurs often think that professionals know what they have. You can put someone "on tilt" by saying things like, "so you have pocket 6's, huh?" The amateur shows a reaction which then tells the professional whether that's a true statement or not. You always need to keep in mind that no one knows your cards (in a legal game), so you can play them any way you want. Even if people think they know your cards, it's still just a hunch and you can change their mind by changing your strategy. You can bet aggressively with weaker hands and lull others into betting hard when you have stronger ones. You can start out betting slow and then bet fast, or vice versa. The point is, so long as no one knows your cards, you are in control and can play them any way you want.
Patience pays off. You can play for a long time and get only crappy cards dealt to you. Beginners start getting anxious and impatient, so they'll start playing with cards when they have no chance of winning. People just "want to play the game," and that's dangerous. Just as good hitters in baseball wait for pitchers to throw strikes before swinging, you need to be patient and don't give in to foolishness. Acting too quickly is often more detrimental than not acting at all. It's not a sign of weakness to fold several hands in a row; it's a sign of having a good strategy and sticking to it.