Friday, December 31, 2004

What a Cal-amity

After watching No. 4 Cal's loss to No. 21 Texas Tech last night in the Holiday Bowl, I can only wonder how the Golden Bears could fall so far. This was a team that was one possession away from beating USC in Los Angeles. This was a team that finished the season 10-1. This was a team that was supposedly overlooked by the BCS for Texas.

Maybe the BCS got it right after all. I think so.

When the final BCS rankings came out three weeks ago and the four BCS Bowls drew their match ups, Cal was on the outside looking in. Tomorrow No. 12 Michigan and No. 5 Texas will meet in the Rose Bowl and No. 20 Pittsburgh will face No. 6 Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. ACC champion No. 9 Virginia Tech will take on No. 3 Auburn Jan. 3 in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 1 USC and No. 2 OU will square in the national championship game - the Orange Bowl - on Jan. 4.

Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford emphasized that his team did not lose because they did not make the Rose Bowl, but I'm pretty sure that while that may not have been the main reason, it didn't help. Cal didn't want to be in the San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. They wanted to be in Pasadena. They wanted to go to arguably the greatest game in college football. Instead, their Holiday went terribly wrong.

Cal did not just roll over and die to allow Texas Tech to destroy them. The Red Raiders are a good team. They have a potent passing offense that has put up big numbers all year. Quarterback Sonny Cumbie lowest passing total of the year was a mere 281 yards in their regular season finale against Oklahoma State, a game in which Cumbie threw three touchdowns in a 31-15 Red Raiders win. He had five 400-yard games. His lowest quarterback rating in any game this season was a 108.7 at Kansas back in September.

Texas Tech came to play. Cumbie threw for 520 yards and the Red Raiders were three yards shy of a 600-yard offense. Cal should be embarrassed. Not because Texas Tech was supposed to be the victim in a massacre to expose another flaw in the BCS.

Instead Cal should be embarrassed because they talked the talk. They said Texas did not deserve their Rose Bowl bid. They said they were a better team. Well they lost to a Texas Tech team the Longhorns destroyed 51-21 at Texas Tech. Maybe Texas doesn't deserve that Rose Bowl bid, but Cal certainly doesn't have the right to complain about that anymore.

If they thought they were good enough for a BCS bowl, if they thought they got snubbed, if they truly wanted to prove the BCS wrong they would have won that game. They would have demolished Texas Tech.

Final score: Texas Tech 45, California 31.

The games are won on the field, not complaining about rankings. Cal blew it. Maybe next year they will prepare for their bowl game instead of complaining about being left out of one they clearly don't deserve to play in.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Matthew LIVE!


Matt's got something to say. You may not like, but he doesn't care. The kid's smart so you know he's got "important" info for ya:

First, let's begin with his opinion of me, his older brother:
this is an audio post - click to play

Aww, how sweet of him. Next, let's hear his reaction to being recorded while driving to a Dallas Mavericks game earlier this evening:
this is an audio post - click to play

Matt loves the Lord of the Rings. He truly enjoys mimicking one character in particular. His only problem is he gets a little nervous while portraying this character and needs two attempts:
1. this is an audio post - click to play

2. this is an audio post - click to play

Finally this evening, while watching the Mavs game, Matt brought something to my attention I must admit I had never thought about before. Listen to his what if for Super Bowl XXXVIII's wardrobe malfunction:
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Count on Cowboys

If there is one thing in my life I can count on, it is this: the ability of the Dallas Cowboys to defeat the Washington Redskins.

For the 14th time in 15 games, the Cowboys defeated NFC East rival Washington 13-10 at Texas Stadium this afternoon. No matter how many times the Redskins appear to have this game won, somehow, someway the Cowboys come back - and today was no different. They stole another one.

Despite a malfunctioning offense and a Redskin team just begging for the Cowboys to blow them out, Parcells and crew did not take full advantage. Instead, they waited until 37 seconds remained in the game before taking the final lead of the game.

Thank you, Washington, for another sure win in what has turned out to be a disappointing season. Rather than depend on Vinny Testaverde or an under-achieving defense, we - the Cowboy faithful - can rely on you Redskins for two wins each season.

Napoleon Dynamite lacks bang

Napoleon Dynamite - a movie about a quirky teenager growing up in the remotes of Idaho with a love for dancing and the way of the ninja who's really just trying to understand his life while living with his Uncle Rico, whose shady business deals are just some of the things that make Napoleon's social life in small-town Idaho all the more difficult - is unlike any other movie I've seen in recent memory.

Similar to certain Seinfeld episodes, I seemed to be about nothing. The only problem with that: This movie lacked the humor and creativity of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

To those of you who have seen Napoleon Dynamite:
I'm sorry you had to sit through that.

To those of you who have yet to experience this cinematic disaster:

An annoying main character with even duller co-stars helps to create what I can only imagine to be the essence of living in middle-of-nowhere-Idaho. The movie's climax occurs when Napoleon, after his friend's speech for class president, begins dancing on stage in front of the auditorium.

My only thought at this point was no ... or hell no maybe.

It pains me to realize that so many people across the country enjoyed this movie - a movie I was told I too would enjoy. And I like comedies. This, however, was no comedy. This was a plot-less, thought-less result of the synthesis between illegal narcotics and the ability to create a motion picture.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Six years of on-slopes service

The time has come to replace my ski jacket.

After six years, I have finally outgrown the one article of clothing I have kept - and still wear - the longest. I tried it on tonight in preparation for next week's ski trip, and, to my dismay, I discovered it was time for a change. My black and blue, zip-out liner, hooded, six-pocket Columbia ski jacket no longer fit.

Knowing I would have to replace this old friend, I walked through a picture-lined hallway in my parents' house. I looked at each of the pictures from recent years' family ski trips.

December 2003:
Beaver Creak
I was wearing the jacket.

December 2002:
Park City Mountain Resort
I was wearing the jacket.

December 2001:
Beaver Creak
I was wearing the jacket.

December 2000:
Deer Valley
I was wearing the jacket.

December 1999:
Deer Valley
I was wearing the jacket for the first time.

The weird thing was, looking back to those pictures, I saw the jackets my brother and sister were wearing: the hand-me-down jackets I wore before. Seeing my sister in my old red jacket prompted my search for the picture of me in that jacket.

Then I found it.

December 1996:
Deer Valley
I was wearing my red ski jacket - my current jacket's predecessor.
My brother was wearing my previous ski jacket - black with patches of red, blue and green.
My sister - who was seven in that picture - was wearing my first ski jacket, a black jacket with neon-bright yellow, green and pink.

That took me back. As the oldest child in my family, I never receive hand-me-downs; I break them in. Still I wonder if my brother and sister know how long some of their old jackets - my old jackets - have been in the family. As this black and blue jacket is now sent down the line, I look forward to years with this new jacket until it encounters the same inescapable fate of its predecessors.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Homeward Bound ... almost

I am one final exam away from my winter break. Just two hours of testing separates me from friends, family, skiing, relaxation and - oh by the way - a trip to Miami to watch USC in the Orange Bowl. Three weeks of freedom are only a day away.

But what about that final?

This two-hour, two-essay assessment will no doubt determine my final grade in a class I truly despise. So why am I not worried? I am taking this class credit/no credit, which means my final grade must be a C- or better to receive credit for the course. With a B average going into the final, I don't anticipate any problem in passing the final and the course.

After that test, it's goodbye LA, hello winter break. I'm heading straight to LAX.

There's just something about the comforts of home that you just can't find while at school. Perhaps it's the fact that I won't be responsible for my laundry for those three weeks (meaning my white shirts won't get stained from the random colored piece of clothing that sneaks into the wrong washer). Maybe it's because I don't have to worry about school until January 10. Or probably it's because I have my family, dozens of friends and a girlfriend back home.

Yeah, I think that's the reason.

It's always weird returning home from college. My room is clean for a change (thanks, Mom), my family is actually happy to see me. After only minutes in my house it will be as if I never left. I'll be right back in my element: arguing with my brother for the car, fighting with my sister for the remote control, playing ping-pong with my dad and eating a homecooked meal prepared by my mom (who, after 18 years of me disliking her cooking, doesn't seem all that bad now that I am forced to make my own dinner).

All I know is I can't wait. T minus 23 hours and 50 minutes until that exam. After that, I'm homeward bound.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Banged up Cardiac Cats go wild

After a 1-7 start, last year's NFC Champions - the Carolina Panthers, a/k/a the Cardiac Cats - have won five straight and, if the playoffs started today, would have the sixth seed in the NFC. How's that for a turn-around?

The Panthers are now 6-7. They have 22 takeaways in their last five games with a +16 turnover ratio. And they're doing it all without starting running back Stephen Davis, who last year in his first season with the Panthers rushed for a franchise record 1,444 yards with 8 TDs. Oh, they also are without backup running back DeShaun Foster, who had 196 post-season rushing yards last year with two TDs - a 30-yard run in the Super Bowl and a 5-yard blast where he was seen dragging four Eagles into the endzone in the NFC title game.

Now, as if that isn't bad enough, their 14-man Injured Reserve also includes third string running back Rod Smart, who also serves as the teams kickoff return man. Also on offense, they are without last season's leading receiver Steve Smith, the teams big play threat, who finished the year with 1110 yards and 7 TDs.

Running back Nick Goings, who started the year as the Panthers' sixth-string running back, had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game in only his fourth start Sunday against the Rams. Goings is starting for the Panthers after running backs Steven Davis, DeShaun Foster and Rod Smart all suffered season-ending injuries. Posted by Hello

On the other side of the ball, the Panthers are without Pro Bowl tackle Kris Jenkins, as well as three defensive backs, a linebacker and an end. They only recent got star middle linebacker Dan Morgan back from injury (and he made his presence felt today against the St. Louis Rams with two interceptions).

This ability to rise from the depths of the NFC into the playoff picture is a reflection of the character of not only that team but their coach John Fox. Fox made the Panthers believe they weren't out of it, and as a result the team has rebounded with five straight wins in a second-half-of-the-season surge which could potentially carry them right into a Wild Card berth.

The heart that this team displays shows how they were able to win eight games last year by a touchdown or less and go all the way to the Super Bowl. Their attitude is truly admireable. If every team in the NFL had the heart, drive and desire that Fox has pumped into his Panthers, one can only imagine just how much better the caliber of play would become.

A good day gone bad

It's such a nice day here at sunny Southern Cal. Then today went downhill in the blink of an eye.

this is an audio post - click to play
Maybe once I'm done with these finals this type of turn-for-the-worst won't happen.

Friday, December 10, 2004


There's no better way to relax then sitting behind the wheel of a car. Whenever I'd get stressed out back home, the open road was my solution.

Not in Los Angeles.

If you want to get stressed out in LA, get in your car, find the nearest freeway and shift into park because you won't be going anywhere.

Nothing like No. 1

I found out that my brother will hear from CalTech - his top choice for college - the day after I get back home. That should be fun for him. The brother he hates returns followed by an envelop with news he says he doesn't want. While he thinks he'll get differed, I hope not.

He wants to be at CalTech. He wants to come to school out here in California. Plus, it is his first choice of schools. As someone who got into his first choice, I realized that getting in to your #1 can make all the difference. When you're happy were you are, doing what you're doing, you can accomplish great things. It's a lot better than being left wondering "What if I had gotten in?"

As much as I would like to have Matt at USC, he'd still be close enough to hang out with but far enough away to give us both the space that competitive brothers so desperately need. I hope he gets in though. Lord knows he deserves it. He's smart as hell.

CalTech is where he wants to go, and they'd be lucky to have him.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

BCS still just BS - I've got the solution

The answer: Auburn.
The question: Who is the most recent victim of the mess known as the BCS?

Hey Auburn, we know how you feel.

Last year, when USC was left out of the BCS title game, the city of Los Angeles (minus a small contingent in Westwood) let out a collective groan. OU, LSU and USC all had the same 1-loss record, but only two could tango so USC was banished to the Rose Bowl.

Here we are, one year later and once again the BCS will leave a deserving team on the outside looking in at the title game. The difference: Auburn was not on top of both human polls like USC in 2003. Another difference is that this year both USC and Oklahoma, the two team who will meet in the BCS title game in Miami, won their conference. Last year, the Kansas State won the Big 12, beating OU in the conference's title game, but the BCS still allowed OU to play for the national championship. While Auburn also won its conference, it was simply farther behind in the polls.

Any way you look at it, the system is flawed. USC went undefeated in a top conference (Pac-10) and got a bid to the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma went undefeated in a top conference (Big 12) and got a bid to the Orange Bowl. Auburn went undefeated in a top conference (the SEC, arguably the traditionally strongest conference in college football) and can play for third. That's horseshit!

Last year, USC could complain about flaws and how the system failed: They topped both human polls, and a team that didn't win its conference was in the title game. BIG FAILURES! People could easily say the 2003 BCS didn't work.

This year, the human polls and the BCS agree. Both teams are conference champs. But what about Auburn? I'm not saying I'd rather see them in the title game instead of the Trojans, but how can a team in a major conference go undefeated and still not be able to at least play for the national title? That's just wrong.

This system isn't working. A playoff is clearly necessary. There is no other way to do it.

Here's my solution:
The top 6 teams in country go into a playoff tree formatted just like the NFL's conference playoffs. That allows the BCS to expand to five games, which it's looking to do.
The top two teams would have a bye.
The third-seed would play the sixth, and the fourth would play the fifth.
The first and second ranked teams would play the winners of those games in the national semifinals.
The winners would advance to the title game - the fifth game in this playoff.

While critics would ask, "What about the seventh-ranked team?" the line between the top teams in the country is evident moreso after the top six than the top two. With six computers and two human polls, there would be much, much less controversy over the sixth-seed than for one of two spots in the title game under the current format.

Now explain to me how that doesn't solve the problem?

Steamed veggies

For some reason, I have this ego that tells me that I can accomplish virtually anything. I think it's mainly because of the little victories I'm constantly celebrating. Tonight I enjoyed another one of those victories: making dinner.

Having to cook for myself is not easy. While I am fully capable of ordering over the phone and paying the delivery guy, I can only handle so much pizza and chinese food. Living in the dorms last year was easy; I walked down to EVK (the cafeteria), swiped my USCard to pay for the meal, and piled as much as I could on my plate. This year, living in an apartment with no cafeteria to speak of, I find myself "cooking."

Now usually this "cooking" consists of putting chicken, burgers, steak or quesadillas on a George Foreman grill and that's it. Side dishes consist of chips or raw baby carrots. Nothing 'fancy' by male college student standards.

Tonight I decided to take things up a notice. I did some things in the kitchen I had only seen while watching my mom cook dinner while I sat in timeout (thanks, mom). In preparing dinner, I:
  1. Marinated steak with Teriyaki sauce
  2. Steamed vegetables
  3. Left chocolate out of the meal

First, I put the uncooked meat in a plastic bag, poured some marinade in there and shook it up. I threw that on the Foreman and got to work on the veggies. I filled a pot with carrots and broccoli, put some water in it, put it on a lit stove and steamed my side dish.

When I ate that meal, it may not have tasted perfect, but it was as close as I've come doing it myself. It was good. It was a good meal. And I made it.

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll make breakfast (putting cream cheese on a bagel and mixing cereal and milk).

Bush, Killeen wrap up 12-0 season

"It's good."

The Trojans are going to Miami to face the Sooners in the Orange Bowl. It's not LSU in the Sugar Bowl, but - hey - the BCS title game isn't overlooking Southern Cal this year.

It'll be a long trip out to Miami from Los Angeles, but just wait to see how many Trojans show up. After all, two years ago USC won the Orange Bowl behind Carson Palmer's Heisman performance.

But this isn't January '03. There is no more Carson Palmer, Keary Colbert or Mike Williams.

Fast forward two years.

Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett and LenDale White carry this offense. None more effectively than Bush. Yesterday against UCLA, he single-handedly beat the Bruins. In my mind, he was the obvious choice for player of the game. If I had to say who came in second, it would be Ryan Killeen (yes, the kicker) for his 5 clutch field goals.

Bush started things off on the second play from scrimmage breaking a 65-yard run, giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead before a minute ran off the game clock. But UCLA kept it close. Too close.

Reggie Bush speeds pasts the Bruins' defense en route to 204 yards rushing and 2 TDs in Pasadena. (Photo courtesy of Posted by Hello

This game was one of big plays. Bush had touchdown runs of 65- and 81-yards. UCLA's Craig Bragg took a 96-yard punt return to the house. 10-7, USC. Special teams played a big role in this game, setting up scoring opportunities. Even Desmond Reed had a big 49-yard kick return to set up a Killeen field goal.

Heisman-hopeful QB Matt Leinart congratulates kicker Ryan Killeen after one of his five field goals on the day. Killeen's 17 points helped the Trojans beat the Bruins and earn a spot in the BCS title game. (Photo courtesy of Posted by Hello

In a game of big plays, however, UCLA was able to keep Heisman-hopeful Leinart quiet. For the first time in his 25 career starts, he did not throw a touchdown. If USC is going to beat Oklahoma, Leinart needs to show flashes of how he played against Notre Dame last week (5 TDs).

While UCLA never actually led in this game, they did have plenty of moment for the majority of the game. Eventually, the Trojan's defense came through with an interception to help seal the deal and send the Trojans to Miami.

As I walked out of the Rose Bowl after the 29-24 win over our cross-town rival, my mind was filled with the idea of USC in the Orange Bowl and how I would get there (because - as a sports fan - I truly believe that there are some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you must take advantage of. Watching my school play for a national title while you are a student is one of those opportunities I intend to make happen.) What I wasn't thinking about was just how close that game really was. USC did not come to play. That's it. Reggie Bush did. Ryan Killeen had a career day, scoring 17 points and being 5-5 on field goals. Other than an interception late in the fourth quarter, our defense kept letting the Bruins drive.

That can't happen against OU. Leinart has to be on fire. Bush can't fumble in the fourth quarter. Our receivers can't have nearly as many drops as yesterday. These problems need to fixed sooner rather than later.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I've stopped caring

It's 1:01 p.m. and I'm in my philosophy class. I'll be here for another hour, and my computer's battery won't last that long. Eventually I might have to pay attention.

This is the last class before the final exam. I should be paying attention, but I'm not. I should be taking notes, but I don't want to. I realized this semester that it's very easy to pay attention and enjoy a class you want to be in, but this is not one of those classes.

This is my final general education course, and I'm taking it credit/no credit. So why bother trying? I have a B average so far. I have to have a C- or better to get the four unites credit for this course. I could get a D- on the final and still pass. Not to mention all of philosophy is open to interpretation.

For someone who specializing in BS-ing papers, I'm confident in my ability to get at least a D- on the final.

I truly don't care about this class, and I don't want to be here.

Next semester will be just the opposite. I'm taking 18 units - against my advisor's will. I'm not taking all these classes because I think I am a genius who must soak up all information possible. I enjoy the subject matter of those classes. All of them.

So why not take 18 units. If it gets to be too much, I'll drop a class. Big deal.

But that's next semester. I'll have to wait for January to enjoy learning. Until then, it's 1:07 p.m., and I'm still in philosophy. Not caring, not trying, not listening and not enjoying.


As much as I took the honor code for granted back at my high school, I now realize just how great it was. We were trusted to abide by the honor code and therefore had greater freedoms in and outside the classroom. Teachers didn't have to patrol around our desks while giving a test. They could leave the room, go sit at their desks and come back 40 minutes later.

I never thought to cheat. Maybe that whole honor code was working. Maybe it's because I had Dan Kasten, honor council chair and the most honest person on the planet, as an English teacher as a sophomore. Before we graded our weekly Wordsmart quizzes, he's remind us to uphold the honor code and someone had the ability to make us feel guilty if we ever considered cheating.

Here at USC, and I suppose at universities across the country, things are different. Before exams, professors switch out bluebooks to assure you didn't already write something in yours before the test.

Other times, you may not even realizing you're doing something wrong:

Yesterday after completing my broadcast newswriting final, I left the classroom relieved that I had conquered another test. 'Just a few more to go,' I thought to myself. I got back to my apartment and started to make lunch.

My cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, so I picked up.

"Josh? This is John, your broadcast teacher."

"Uh, hi," I said. I was freaking out. I just took this guy's final exam. Now what does he want.

"You need to get back here immediately. You didn't turn your copies of the fact sheets."

We had to write broadcast news stories based on these fact sheets, and I forgot to turn my copies in after class. Oh, I turned in the final, but not the fact sheets - the heart of the test.

I sprinted back to Annenberg up to my classroom. My heart was racing. I got up the stairs and ran toward my classroom. There was my professor. I handed him the sheets of paper, all the while apologizing and gasping for breath.

"You know what I have to do now, right?" he asked me.

In my mind, I'm thinking he's about to fail me. I wouldn't have cared except I finally turned it around in his class. Everything I've done now ruined because I forgot to turn in a sheet of paper. My life is over.

"I have to take this," said my professor, "and put it through a machine to make sure you haven't copied it."

Oh, okay. Go for it. That's fine with me because I know I didn't copy it for anyone nor did I let anyone copy it.

I was surprised that kind of technology - the ability to detect if a sheet of paper has been through a copier - even existed.

But it was a good reminded that I am no long in the realm of the honor code.

Isn't it ironic

Does anyone else find it funny that George W. Bush is involved with an Intelligence bill?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Poor jean-etic material

For some reason that I still don't understand, my girlfriend Alice could not stand my jeans. I have a couple pairs of regular old blue jeans. I never thought anything of it. I didn't wear them for style, because I wouldn't know if they were "good" or "bad" jeans. I wore them because I needed to wear pants on cold days.

Alice decided enough was enough.

With virtually every store in America having a sale this past weekend, she took me to the mall to get some new jeans. I did need new jeans, but I thought it was because the jeans I had were worn out and torn up. I didn't know that it was because my jeans "were ugly" according to my girlfriend.

I don't know the different between these new ones I have and the old pairs now burried in the back of my closet, but as long as I needed new jeans, I didn't see a problem in getting some that my girlfriend liked for me (because I sure as shit don't know what looks good on me).

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Impatiently lovin' the sales

Finding this DVD-Recorder on sale was nice, but getting to use it starting now is even better. Posted by Hello

With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, the entire country is now enthusiastically waiting for Christmas. Lights are up, decorations are out and tree are in living rooms, and it's still November.

One of these pre-Christmas rituals that I enjoy is the days-after-Thanksgiving sales that go on at all stores across the country. The deals available on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving are the best you can find at any point during an entire year.

While the majority of the country buys gifts and presents for everyone they know only to put them away until December 25, I - being Jewish and not celebrating Christmas - get to use all the great stuff I bought now. I don't have to wait a month.

Over the next month the rest of the country is waiting to open presents that have been wrapped and hidden since this weekend. I am already set to use my new DVD-Recorder, play my half-price Madden 2005, and wear some pretty comfortable jeans that my girlfriend strongly recommended that i buy (a/k/a: she made me buy 'em, but hey at half-price why not).

I'll enjoy this game for a month while others have to wait until December 25 to try it out. Posted by Hello

I love the days-after-Thanksgiving sales. Great deals to buy even greater stuff everywhere, and I don't have to be patient at all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ski Deprivation

I've got ski deprivation.

Since 1988, when I was three, I have skied at least one week each year. My family has taken trips to Utah and Colorado to ski at fantastic places such as Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort (the first place I ever skied), Beaver Creek and Vail. Last December, however, after a freak knee injury in a basketball game, doctors told me I would have to stay off my knee for a month. This month happened to include my family's week-long ski trip.

I haven't skied in two years. Usually because of an entire year off from one of my favorite sports (to do, not to watch), my progression of improvement is a 'two-steps-forward-one-step-backwards' sort of thing. This year, however, who knows how many steps back I've taken. I know my knee will be okay, but I just want to be able to ski the difficult terrain that makes a trip to the mountains worth while.

Mountain High is just one of the powder kegs I hope to visit this ski season. Posted by Hello

When I return to LA after the winter break, I'll be ready. This season's skiing won't stop after the family vacation to Park City, Utah. I'm bringing my skis back to SoCal. Because I now have a car, I can take day-trips or weekend get-a-ways to Snow Valley, Mountain High, Mammoth Mountain and Mt. Baldy. Don't think I won't, either. Ideally I can find others to go with me, but if not, I'll have no problem hitting the slopes alone.

It's too good to miss, especially after two years off.

Philosophy paper - The Finale

I don't care about how this paper turns out.
"It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I don't care." -Office Space

This is the sad, honest truth.

I finished the paper and wow is it terrible. While wrapping it up, I realized that I honestly don't care about the grade it receives. It's not that I don't want to pass this class, because I truly do. I just don't have a desire to excel in classes that I am not interested in. The reason I am taking Philosophy 262 this semester is because it fulfills part of the General Education requirement.

This past semester, I have enjoyed the core journalism curriculum: print, broadcast and online newswriting. Unlike philosophy, I am interested in journalism. While some can argue that I am lazy or unmotivated or just don't care about schoolwork, I whole-heartedly disagree. I care a great deal about the work I do in the classroom but primarily for classes I feel have a purpose to my education in the arena of a potential future profession.

I do not believe that only classes relating to a student's potential future profession automatically spark interest with a student, but it is extremely easier to focus and - more importantly - care about a class when it is a subject a student is interested in. That being said, if a student takes a class that does not relate to a future profession but a student finds interesting, that student is automatically put in a situation to suceed.

Many students are labelled lazy or unmotived. I know I have been in some classes. In others, however, no two adjectives could be farther from the truth.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Philosophy paper - Part III

I'm making some progress. I'm not saying it's good. I'm just saying I'm making progress.

this is an audio post - click to play

I would also like to take a moment to identify the root of all the anger I've recently been feeling, my textbook.

If you ever encounter this philosophy book, I have but one word of advice for you: RUN! Posted by Hello

Philosophy paper - Part II

I don't understand the subject matter for this assignment. Allow me to present you with an exerp from our textbook. Here, you will get a glimpse into the realm of philosophy and all that intails (pain, suffering and eventual failure in the classroom).
"This formula: a mental state is a state of the person apt for producing certain ranges of behavior, I believe to be a very illuminating way of looking at the concept of mental states."
Yes, well that's fantastic, David Armstrong, except that no one knows what you're talking about. I hate how philosophers just leave random, vague and unexplainable statements out there for us to hopelessly translate and interpret. There is a section in our textbook where philosopher David Lewis, who disagrees with some of Armstrong's points, proves that philosophers have lost touch with the rest of the human population. That section reads:
"I don't object to the strategy of claiming ambiguity. As you'll see, I shall defend a version of it. But it's not plausible to cook up an ambiguity ad hoc to account for the compossibility of mad pain and Martian pain. It would be better to find a wide-spead sort of ambiguity, a sort we would believe in no matter what we thought about pain, and show that it willsolve our problem. That is my plan."
After scrutinzing and deeply perusing surrounding text, I concluded that David Lewis has lost his mind. As if that isn't bad enough, he conclusively proves my point that philosophers have lost touch with the rest of human civilization just three paragraphs later:
"This is not to say, of course, that it might have been that pain was not pain and nonpain was pain; that is, that it might have been the the occupant of the role did not occupy it and some nonoccupant did. Compare: "The winner might have lost" (true) versus "It might have been that the winner lost" (false). No wording is entirely unambiguous, but I trust my meaning is clear."
You trust that your meaning is clear? Wow. David Lewis, you are sad man. Now you can see why this philosophy paper will no doubt take a while for me to finish, or at least comprehend. It's simply just a matter of how much 'BS' I can type before I fall asleep.

The EPSON reinstallation

After getting my computer back-
Well, let me start over.

After getting back a computer with an erased memory that we can basically assume is a new computer because it has no remaining identity from before November 4, 2004, I have had to reinstall several different programs. Only recently did I remember to reinstall my printer.

I'm currently taking a break from my philosophy paper (a/k/a finding different forms of procrastination) to get that done, but let's face it, there isn't going to be a need to print anything (especially a philosophy paper) if I don't get to work on it.

We'll see how that turns out.

Philosophy paper - Part I

I am currently in the middle (and by middle, I mean 1/5 started) of a 5-page philosophy paper about mental states in the opinion of David M. Armstrong. Do you see just how confusing that sounds! And you don't even know the topic (1. explain what Armstrong thinks mental states are, 2. explain how Armstrong argues for this view, 3. Discuss whether Armstrong's view is correct or not.)

As it is already 10:52 p.m. here in Los Angeles, I hope to finish before my friends on the east coast wake up for class.

Putting back the pieces

Since getting my computer back this afternoon, I've done nothing but reinstall nearly every program I had on my computer.
It's been awful. It's bad enough that I have a 5-page paper due tomorrow that I haven't started, but I've got to fix my computer before typing a paper on it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Incorrect Seinfeld Trivia Quiz

While reading online about the release of the Seinfeld DVD on November 23, I discovered a link to multiple Seinfeld trivia quizzes. Being a pretty big Seinfeld fan, I took all of them and did considerably well on each.

One quiz I took, however, had two questions I have a problem with. (Take the quiz - Click NBC Trivia: Super Seinfeld Quiz, Part II)

My first complaint is with Question #2: What happens when George walks into Steinbrenner's office and insults "The Boss"?

Posted by Hello
When George gets the bright idea to do the opposite of every urge he ever gets, leading to his job with the Yankees, he is not in Steinbrenner's office when he insults him. George was in the process of being interviewed when Steinbrenner walked by the office. The interviewer got up, grabbed Steinbrenner and introduced him to George in the hallway outside of the interviewers office.

When I first read this question, I was confused because there are numerous occasions after "The Boss" hires Costanza where George insults Steinbrenner in his office. This incident, however, was not one of those times.


Secondly, there is a major flaw in the answer to the ninth question: Why is Elaine blacklisted by her Chinese food delivery restaurant?

The answer choices on this multiple choice quiz are:
-She doesn't tip well
-They got her naughty Christmas card
-Kramer charged an unpaid bill in her name
-Her new boyfriend is a Communist

The quiz says the answer is that her new boyfriend is a Communist. While in this episode, Elaine does date a card-carrying Commie, that is not the reason she is blacklisted at Hop Sings, the Chinese restaurant.

At the beginning of the episode, a delivery guy (Lew) comes to Elaine's door. The following conversation (taken from that episode's script) ensues:

ELAINE: No, no This is all wrong. Where's the Chicken Cashew?
LEW: You no order Chicken Cashew.
ELAINE: I didn't order any of this. I'm not paying for this.
LEW: Fine Benes. We are putting you on our list.
ELAINE: What list?
LEW: The "do not deliver" list.

That is how Elaine gets blacklisted at Hop Sing's. Not only that, she later gets her Communist boyfriend Ned blacklisted as well.

ELAINE: I'm going to order Chinese Food.
NED: You're ordering from Hop Sing's, right?
ELAINE: Ugh, does it have to be Hop Sing's. I kind of had a fight with him.
NED: Elaine, when my father was black listed he couldn't work for years. He and his friends used to sit at Hop Sing's every day figuring out how to survive.
ELAINE: You're father was blacklisted?
NED: Yes he was, and you know why? Because he was betrayed by people he trusted. They "named names".
ELAINE: Okay, okay. (phones) Um, yeah, hi, I'd like delivery please to 16 West 75th St. apartment 2G.
LEW: I know that address. You're Benes, right. You're on our list. No more delivery.
ELAINE: No. no, she doesn't live here anymore. This is someone else.
LEW: Oh, yeah. What's the name?
ELAINE: Why do you need the name? You already have the address.
LEW: We need a name. Give us a name.
ELAINE: Okay, okay, Ned Isakoff.

When the delivery guy shows up, Ned gets put on "the list" too.

LEW: Ah, I knew it was you! You tried to trick Hop Sing! You are onour list; Elaine Benes! And now you are on our list; Ned Isakoff.
Ned: You got me blacklisted from Hop Sing's?
LEW: She named name!

I was very disappointed in these two questions on this particular Seinfeld trivia quiz. As a Seinfeld fan, I can now rest easy knowing that I have corrected this injustice.

Good night.

FedEx follies

With the recent notification of my computer's repair, I've eagerly awaited its return. I received an email from Sony's repair center with a FedEx tracking number and confirmation that the repair center had sent my computer back to me.

I checked the FedEx website early this morning to see when my computer would be back.

The website said my computer had been delivered from the repair to a 'local FedEx location' near me. I decided to drive over to that FedEx and pick up the package rather than wait for FedEx to deliver it to me Monday afternoon. Who's got time for that? After all, I have waited more than two weeks.

When I got there, I was told that even though the package was there, I could not pick it up because they hadn't sorted the "Monday packages" and therefore didn't know where in that FedEx location it was.

Uhh, what?

It's there. I gave you the tracking number. Get it!

Well, I was instructed to wait for the computer to be delivered to me. I couldn't get it early. It looks like I have to wait yet another couple of days before I get it back. Fantastic.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Victory is mine!

After an excruciating two weeks without my computer, I will be getting it back tomorrow!

this is an audio post - click to play

I logged online to Sony's Website to check the status of my repair and exhaled one big sigh of relief.

The Sony product that you have inquired about has been repaired and will be shipped back to you within one business day.

The only thing left to do: attempt to restore all the files that were no doubt erased from my hard drive.

Special thanks to Brad Williams for allowing me to store two gigabytes worth of files, pictures and programs on his computer. His response: "Well, you'd do it for me." Uh, yeah. You just keep on thinkin' that, Brad.

TO's apology fine by me

When Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver Terrell Owens appologized yesterday for his part in this week's Monday Night Football opening skit, he did what everyone else associated with the skit failed to do: accept responsibility.

The Eagles organization said they "...wish it hadn't aired."

ABC has profusely appologized over and over trying to avoid a heafty fine.

TO, on the other hand, said, "Personally I didn't think it would have offended anyone and, if it did, I apologize."

I never thought I'd say this, but TO is the only one making any sense. He knows that the skit was no big deal. His appology is basically, 'If you were offended, you weren't supposed to be. We thought it was in good, clean fun.' There's nothing wrong with that.

TO also went on to say, "I thought it was a fun skit and that was it," Owens said. He knows that at the time, he thought it wasn't a bad idea (plus, no man is going to turn down the chance to stand in front of a naked Nicolette Sheridan).

It's time to let this go. I guarrantee at the start of Monday Night Football next week, Al Michaels will issue an appology before the game regarding this controversy (and calling this a controversy is ridiculous. Yes, it caused controversy, but the fact that this is such a big deal to our society is ridiculous. It was a bare back and an attempt at boosting ratings. Get over it, America).

TO, I still hate you for your celebration on the star on the 50 at Texas Stadium a few years ago. I will never forget seeing George Teague chasing after you once you headed to the star the second time and watching him deck you. But I do have to commend you for your stance on this pre-game skit. You are the only one who has owned up to your part in it.

And Michael Powell, here's what your buddy Walt would say after watching the skit and hearing that immortal question: "Yeah, I'm ready for some football!"

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Week in review

If you haven't already done so, make sure to take a look at these two can't-miss blogs from this past week.

  1. Michael Moore's reason to produce a Fahrenheit 9/11 sequel is illogical.
  2. MNF opener isn't the controversy it's being made out to be.


Elway couldn't drive this far

...well, maybe if we were in a 2-minute drill he could.

When school ends this may, I get to drive all the way from LA to Dallas. Oh man, 20.5 hours just driving. My ass is going to go numb. It will definitely take me an entire day just to get across the Lone Star State, which I don't mind because at least I'll be in Tejas.

I'm not looking forward to making this 1,500-mile drive in May. Posted by Hello

While driving for 20 hours and 30 minutes from Los Angeles to Dallas, I predict my ass will go numb. Posted by Hello

I only have to make this drive twice a calendar year, though, so I guess it's not that bad. Any other time I go home, I'm flyin'. Plus I'll get to have my car with me during the summer and won't have to rely on my brother to drive me places.

Still, this is one road trip where I wish I had a co-pilot. Maybe I could then get on a 4-hour rotation of driving then sleeping. That'd be nice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

MNF opener no big deal

For the past two days I've had to listen to the "controversy" created by Monday Night Football's opening skit featuring the Eagles' Terrell Owens and Desperate Housewives' Nicolette Sheridan, and quite frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

It was her back. Nothing more, nothing less. A skit like this would be practically lost among typical football game commercials:
-Pills to cure erectile disfunction.
-Two women stripping down to their underwear to fight over beer.

this is an audio post - click to play

Personally, I think the fact that this is even a "controversy" is stupid. What do yall think?

Audio Blooper

When I first tried to record an audio post about my opinion on the Monday Night Football opener controversy, I dropped the phone. Oops!

this is an audio post - click to play

It's about damn time

To everyone who has been following my broken computer saga, I would like to take a moment to echo Geico:

I do have good news.

And it's about damn time. Today, after yet another conversation with a tech support agent who did in fact verify my warranty, send the message to the repair center, and got them to start fixing my computer. Thank you, Ray. You are by far the most superior rep Sony employs (even moreso than Glendal).

When I logged onto Sony's website to check my repair status, I finally got a message that didn't tell me to pay $726.73 for the repair.
The Sony product that you have inquired about is currently with a technician. The repair has not yet been completed. Repairs take approximately 10 working days to complete.

Hey, at least they are working on it now. Before I couldn't even get them to acknowledge my warranty (which, as it turns out, DOES exist). Who knows when I'll actually get the computer back from the repair center, and who knows if anything saved on it will have been preserved. All I know is this mess is one step closer to over.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Moore's shooting "Fahrenheit 9/11" sequel really just shooting himself in the foot

Now Michael Moore is going too far. We get it, you don't like Dubya. I think you've made your point.

Michael Moore has decided to get the ball rolling on a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11, his Bush-bashing film released this past year. Now, I'm not saying I defend Bush at all. As a matter of fact, I really don't care for him. I didn't vote for him. I didn't like him as a president or as my state's governor. I'm not making two movies about him, though.

Michael Moore has decided to make Fahrenheit 9/11 and a half because, according to Moore, 51-percent of the country was "misinformed" about the issues in this past election. "They weren't told the truth," he said in a recent interview.

Now, for this next 'experiment' please bare with me.

Let's assume that Moore is right and 51-percent of the American population was misinformed (and what a coincidence that it was also 51-pecent of the American people that voted for Bush). Just ignore that. Pretend that Moore is right. If you weren't misinformed then someone else was. More than half of the country was lied to about the issues in this past election.

Okay, here's the problem with that idea - even if it is true (which it isn't): The majority of people who voted to re-elect Bush (that "misinformed" 51-percent) cited MORAL VALUES as the primary reason for voting for Bush. Now, the last time I checked, moral values aren't exactly hardline issues. The concept of moral values is how someone feels one candidate best relates to them. Would that candidate do the same thing a voter would want done based on that voters morals?

So unless more than half of the American public was misinformed about Bush's values, then Michael Moore's given reason for making Fahrenheit 9/11 and a half is complete crap. If Bush suddenly starts promoting abortions, allows gay marriages, and puts a moratorium on the death penalty, then, YES, we were lied to about his moral values. He won't do that, though.

If moral values truly were the primary reasons for the American public supporting Bush - which I don't argue with, I find it very difficult to argue with his legitimacy as president. I find it even more troubling that Moore has invented this statistic about 51-percent of the American public being misinformed.

You can't misinform someone about Bush's moral values. Maybe his policies on certain hardline issues such as the economy and the war in Iraq are not clearly defined, but his moral values - the key reason for his supporters to vote for him - are set.

Moore's comments are absurd, and they embarrass me as a democrat.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Tech support tragedies

For those of you who don't know all about last week's computer troubles I had, here's a quick update:

Last Thursday (11/4/04) my laptop died. Basically the monitor won't light up. It'd flicker and die, so the computer was basically worthless.

Over the weekend I spent countless hours on the phone with tech support idiots (with one bright spot coming on Friday when the only competent rep, Glendal, provided some much needed relief).

Tuesday afternoon (11/8/04) I packaged up my busted laptop and sent it away to Sony's repair center to get fixed. I was told by numerous tech support people that I would have my product back in 7-10 days. "Business days?" I asked. "No." Just 7-10 days. Great!

Thursday, November 11, I got an email from Sony's repair center saying they had received my computer. Great. Now I can get it back and pretend this whole mess never happened. Except not.

One day later, I received an email from this same repair center with an estimate for fixing my computer:

Flat Rate Estimate:
Parts & Labor Cost: $ 699.00
Shipping & Handling: $ 27.73
Tax: $ 0.00
Total Amount Due: $726.73

The email gave me three options:

--------- Instructions on how to reply ---------
{Please reply to this email within 5 days, select A, B or C below
(pleasedelete the non-selected options)}.
A. Repair unit as estimated. AMEX/MC/VISA/DISCOVER
Exp date: _____________
Name on Card: ______________________
Security Code # ____________________ (This is the last 3 Digits on the back
of your Credit Card)

B. Do not repair. Please return it to me.

C. Do not repair. I authorize the release of unit for disposal.

Basically, I could either pay for it, have nothing done to it, or let them trash it. Now, I know for a fact that I have a three-year extended warranty and if these people don't believe me, just ask Glendal! She saw it! I'm not gonna pay +$700 for repairs I should get for free.I called them up that afternoon. With each number I dialed, I cringed with disgust. 1-800-476-6972. After finally getting through to a representative, he said that he saw that I had a warranty and told me I wouldn't have to pay the $726.73. Good! The rep I talked to, Quincy, told me that he'd let the repair center know that it was covered. That's all I wanted to hear.

But apparently that wasn't good enough for the repair center.

I decided to check up on how the repair was going this afternoon. I got onto Sony's Website, and entered my word order number.

The estimate of $ 726.73 for the Sony product you have inquired about is waiting approval for the repair. Please call1-800-222-7669.

What the hell? I straightened this out Friday. Quincy knows. I called up this new 1-800 number. It took me back to the same damn Sony tech support line I've called more than a dozen times since Nov. 4.

I got a rep on the phone and asked - in a much more polite choice of words - what the FUCK was going on! He connected me directly to the repair center so I could talk to them. Finally, I was getting to the source of the problem.

After a five minute conversation with this guy, he had an answer for me.

"Oh, okay. I see what's going on here," he said. That made one of us. "Yes, you need to contact Aon, A-O-N, the company that handles Sony's extended warranties, and get them to call us to pay for the repair. Tell them the unit is already with us at the repair center but to call in and pay for it. Once we hear from them, we will begin repairing your unit."Fantastic! They haven't started repairing it. Good luck 7-10 days!

I called up Aon. They needed to pick up the $726.73 tab at the repair center.

"Hi, this is Seth. Can I please have your phone number?" I gave it to him."It's not coming up in our system. Let's try it a different way. What's your name and zip code please?" I gave him my dad's name along with my home zip code. After all, I assumed those would be registered in their system before my name and my new California zip code.

"No, I'm not seeing it. What exactly is the problem you're having?" UGH! I told him the problem. Told him all about the computer and how they needed to pay for it. I told him about how one week ago, someone from his office faxed a copy of my warranty to Sony for me. Clearly they had it then, so why not now?

"Okay what's an address that would be listed with the warranty?" I gave him my parents' home address, the one that should be in their system.
I gave him my dad's office address, thinking maybe that would be it.

"Okay, I'm sorry, but can I just speak with a supervisor!"

"One moment please." Thanks Seth. Ten minutes later, Audra, the supervisor, was on the line with us.

"Hi there Mr. Feldman, my name is Audra. I'm the supervisor. What seems to be the problem today?"

I re-explained the entire problem for her so she could "document it" in her records (scribble drawings of X-men on drool-covered paper while I once again told my technological sob story).

"Okay," Audra began. "Do you have a copy of the order?"


"Is your name spelled correctly on it?" she asked.


"Okay," she said. So much for that quick fix. "What is the serial number for the unit?" I gave it to her. "No, it's not comin up."

"Try this one," I said, giving her a new serial number possibility.


"Okay, what about this one?"


"Okay," I said, frustrated. "Well I know for a fact that it is the first one I gave you." I repeated the serial number to her.

"That doesn't sound like a serial number."

"It's because I purchased it online directly from Sony, or at least that's how it was explained to me," I told her.

"Okay," Audra said. "Here's what I'm gonna do: I'm just gonna go ahead and create a new contract in the system for you. See, one in about every 100 contracts slips through the cracks and gets lost from our system, and it looks like that's you." She said it like I should be proud of myself. What was I supposed to say to that? 'Oh, hooray, I'm that lucky 1% that got screwed over! This is the best day of my life. What a dream-come-true!' How about I say 'FUCK YOU!' instead? I've gone through too much shit over the past week trying to get my computer fixed to be patient anymore!

"Okay. So what do we have to do for a new contract?" I asked.

She began asking me all kinds of questions for a new account with them. Name. Address. Phone number. Product. Cost of Product. Purchase date. etc, etc...

"Okay, Mr. Feldman I have your new contract in our system. What I'll do is get in touch with Sony to verify that you did in fact purchase a three-year warranty with your computer, and once we hear from them we can let the repair center know to fix your unit."

"Uh, so how long will it take for you to let the repair center know to start fixing it?" I asked, knowing the answer wouldn't make me happy.

"Two business days," she said. "You say they have a copy of the warranty, correct?"

"Yes, I had one of your reps, Shelly, fax it to them last week because they didn't have a copy of it at that time, but yall did," I told her.

"Okay well we'll go ahead and get in touch with Sony. If you want, please feel free to check back with us in a day or two to see that we found your warranty."

"Okay. So then once you have that, yall will pay the seven-hundred-whatever-dollars to get it fixed, right?"


"Okay great."

"And here is your tracking number to find out about the progress we are making getting your unit's repair paid for."

Oh yippee, I have a tracking number now. That's so much better than an actual computer!
"Thank you, Audra. I appreciate your help."

And that was it. Now I get to call back in one to two business days to see the progress they've been making. Great.

Until then, I have no computer to use nor faith in tech support.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Little brothers are people too

I was the first born child in my family. Everything was good for two years until my mom had another child, my brother Matthew. As a two-year-old I was still able to realize this could be trouble.

"Take him back," my parents recall me saying.

It seems that I took my little brother for granted for all those years. I didn't realize that until I got to college - more specifically about a week ago. I do miss having him around. It's definitely a lot quieter without him and a lot less fun. The kid can be annoying as hell but when I need someone to hang out with, I have no problem turning to Matthew. He's fun when he's not being an ass (and he knows he can be).

Growing up, my parents had a saying: "Josh never had a bad idea." I never had a bad idea because whatever I wanted to do, Matthew would always copy me without fail. If I wanted to play Ninja Turtles, he wanted to play Ninja Turtles. If I wanted to play baseball or soccer, he wanted to play too. It drove me crazy.

"Mom, he's copying me again! Make him stop!" I remember complaining time and time again.

As we got older, we became extremely competitive. Being just two years apart, Matthew's goal in life is to be better than me. My job is not to let him accomplish his goal. We would play ping-pong, tennis or basketball and most of the time I would win. I did have a two-year advantage. But then he narrowed the gap. Suddenly being two years older wasn't cutting it. The competition intensified.

In sixth grade, I began playing volleyball with the Addison Volleyball Club. Two years later, Matthew signed up to play as well. I guess I still don't have too many bad ideas. Volleyball became a big form of competition between us. Matthew constantly tried comparing himself to me two years before. Was he better? Did he hit harder? Could he jump higher? My answers: no, no and no (but I have a bias).

He got his chance to see just how good he was. He got a head-to-head match up. My senior year, I started for my high school's varsity volleyball team (Greenhill School). By his sophomore year, he had earned a starting spot on his high school's varsity volleyball team (St. Mark's). Greenhill and St. Mark's are big rivals as far as Dallas-area private schools. Regardless, when we played each other in volleyball, it was bigger than just Greenhill versus St. Mark's. It was Feldman versus Feldman. I even wrote in my sports column in my school's paper about the match up with Matthew.

St. Mark's school rivalry increases sibling rivalry in

No Joshing
by Josh Feldman, executive editor

As a student at Greenhill, I'm fully aware of the
school's long-lasting rivalry with St. Mark's. I am also a big brother, bringing another aspect of competition into my life: sibling rivalries.

However, unlike most students, my rivalry with my brother, Matt, is more than your average sibling rivalry.

He is a sophomore at St. Mark's, adding to the contrasts between the two of us. We constantly argue over which school is the best (obviously Greenhill), and every time we do, our mom is there to put an end to the feud. However it is now that we each get to formally fight for our schools through volleyball.

Each of us has played volleyball since age 12, and even though I am two years older than Matt, we both play at the varsity level at our respective schools. After playing four years of club volleyball, he has solidified his spot in the St. Marks' starting line up. He worked to be where he is, but so have I.

The first time I faced him on the court was last year in a match at a St. Marks hosted tournament where he started on the St. Marks' JV team.

On the first play of the game, I hit a ball at him, nailing him in the chest to set the tone of the game. He fought the game of his life, knowing that it was his older brother on the other side of the net.

This year, we already played against each other at a match at St. Mark's and I know I was the most intense I had been for a volleyball match in a long time.

Neither of us went into the match thinking that it would be just another team: there was family across the net. The focus of our games will not be on the scoreboard, rather on keeping my brother in check; knowing that even if the score shows the game to be a blow out, when we get home, we will recount the small battles we had during the game.

Whether that be a block I had on him or an ace he served at me I do not know. The rivalry goes beyond the sidelines of the volleyball court, into who will have the most to brag about at the dinner table.

Rivalries are never easy because you are constantly at war with someone. When that person is your brother who goes to your school's biggest rival, it's even more difficult, trust me.

As we are still in volleyball season, I look forward to future matches against Matt. I am ready to take the court to face not just an opposing school, but the person whose bedroom is down the hall from mine.

While I know that all my mom wants is a good, clean match, I want Matt to know that for the time being, his place remains in my shadow.

Remember, though, that I am the older brother.

No matter what, I cannot win in this situation. If I am seen as better, "so what?" I am a whole two years older, and therefore my victory is easily accepted (and justified).

If he is better, then I just got out-played by my younger brother. Either way, I do not want to hear of his triumphs over me at the dinner table.

When we played against each other, my school always won and for the most part, I won the small battles between us at the net. If I got set, I was not about to hit anywhere near his block. I didn't think that I couldn't hit through him, but I was terrified of the possibility that he might send the ball back. I did not want to deal with that.

As a leader of his team for the past two years, he constantly called me, asking advice and complaining about his coach (and, yes, he did have a lot to complain about). He was the clear leader of his team and he played like it. (WATCH VIDEO OF MATTHEW ON THE COURT - select VOLLEYBALL). I thought it was awesome to have him calling me for on-the-court advice. Volleyball is probably one of very few areas where I consider myself better and more knowledgeable than Matthew.

For example, I thought I was good at math and science, but if I was king, Matthew would be the emperor. Even when I got an 800 on the math section of the SAT, I missed one problem. His 800 was flawless. The beginning of his spring mid-semester comments from math class last year read something like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Feldman:
I regret to inform you that your son Matthew has encountered the inevitable misfortune of finally missing a point on a graded assignment in my class this year. ...

Is it just me, or is that ridiculous? I can't deny that the kid is smart, but why does he have to be a genius?

I do miss having him around though. As much as we fought growing up, he was my sidekick. Nothing against him, but that's the role a little brother plays. I find myself constantly wishing he was here because he's an automatic buddy. We have many of the same hobbies and interests, so we can - potentially - get along very well.

I do hope he comes to USC. I know he's looking at other schools like Stanford, MIT and CalTech (like I said, he's a smart kid), but having him here would definitely be awesome. He wouldn't live with me so we would have our distance, but he'd still be close enough to hang out. Also if he continued with volleyball out here, we could both play for the club team and be on the same side of the net for once.

He's probably sitting in his room right now, buried beneath a stack of college applications to every school that people like you and me only dreamed we were smart enough to apply to. If he does get off his butt to read this post, I have one message for him:

Matt: You're coming to USC, damn it! Trust me, you won't regret it.

I truly believe he should come here. It's an awesome environment and a good school. He would excel in USC's engineering program. He would love the football games. He would enjoy the freedom this school provides. Most importantly, he'd be here when I need my "sidekick" the most.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Party Poker's prejudice

Party Poker, a computer gaming program that allows users to bet real or 'play' money against other users online, has recently disappointed me. For no apparent reason to me, Party Poker has disgraced my religion of Judaism. Here's the deal:

In Party Poker, players can type messages for everyone sitting at their table to see. As a seemingly responsible program, the game does not allow for profanity in these messages, replacing words like fuck or asshole with XXXX and XXXXXXX. People do try to get around this system and succeed. Players will type or @$$hole and the game does not censor it.

No big deal. That's the world we live in.

I was watching my roommate Brad play Party Poker this morning - we play for 'play' money - and I noticed the conversation he and others at his table were having in the text box below the table. One of the player's screen name was "BigNose###." I asked Brad to ask the guy if he was Jewish. I am and I was curious if this person was perpetuating a stereotype. I'm not saying I don't make fun of my religion on occasion because I do believe it's important to be able to laugh at almost all aspects of life, but to some degree, perpetuating those types of stereotypes irks me.

Brad typed it out: "Hey BigNose, are you Jewish?"

The text appeared in the text box: "Hey BigNose, are you XXXish?"

Zoom in on the blue text to see the word "shit" censored. This online gaming program apparently thinks "Jew" is also unsuitable to be displayed. Posted by Hello

What? Brad and I both looked at each other puzzled. It censored "Jew." What for? That's not what I would define as a bad word. Yeah, it censors words like dick, cock, shit, fuck, bastard, and homo, but why Jew? When did that become a bad term?

At that point, I couldn't care less about BigNose. What the hell was Party Poker trying to say by censoring Jew? Brad typed in "Christian" and "Muslim" to test the game. Both words appeared without censorship.

I'm not saying Party Poker is anti-Semitic, but I think perhaps there is a notion out there that Jew is some sort of derogatory term. I know people will use it when calling a friend cheap or when someone tries to nickel-and-dime them, and I don't appreciate that. If you call me a Jew, however, I'll say "yup." I am. I have nothing to hide. I'm Jewish and proud of it.

To think that the term for a person of my religion is now some sort of derogatory term greatly disturbs me. What kind of connotations does that word bring with it now? I don't know. I don't know why the people at Party Poker feel it's necessary to cover up the word Jew. It didn't cover up "Hebrew" or "Judaism" when Brad entered them in. So what's the deal? If anyone can explain this to me, please let me know when the term Jew stopped referring to someone of Jewish beliefs and began meaning something negative. Until then, I'm proud to be a Jew regardless of what Party Poker might do.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Give me Kerry or give me death

...He chose death.

A 25-year-old Georgian apparently killed himself at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan over the weekend as a result of George W. Bush's reelection. Now, I can only assume this man, Andrew Veal, was a democrat...and as a democrat myself, I must say this does not reflect well on us. I voted for Kerry, and when Bush won, I wasn't exactly thrilled, but I'm still alive.

His friends, family and coworkers all said that this was a form of protest on his part and that the location of the former WTC site was symbolic. Maybe Veal thought that Bush did in fact know about what was going to happen on Sept. 11, 2001, and he allowed it to happen. I suppose Veal's alledged actions are a symbol of Bush "allowing" another person to die at that same site.

Personally, I don't believe Bush would have allowed those attacks, so I do not agree with the "symbolism" of Veal's actions. No national leader turns his back when his country loses that many lives. That theory is ridiculous.

What else is ridiculous is that he supposedly committed suicide because Bush won the election. SUICIDE! It's my belief that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. In this case, that problem would be solved in four years. Maybe that seems like a long time to wait, but if the alternative is death then four years is nothing.

I believe Veal's actions represent something very troubling about our country. He apparently attempted to use suicide as a form of protest. I can't begin to summarize just how asinine that is.

As an American citizen, the guy had the right to vote. Vote against Bush if you want. That's your right. It's not your right to commit suicide. Suicide is a crime. It's murder.

I don't know what was going through this guy's head when he did that, but I can't believe that people would actually kill themselves over an election. Yes, this was the "most important election of our lives" according every political commentator on television, but because it's the most important election of our lives, maybe we should at least live out our lives and see how it turns out. I know that many people threatened to move to Canada if Bush won, and I found out a few people did try heading north of the border. If faced with the dilemma of choosing Canada or death, I'd choose Canada.

But seriously, I hope people see just how stupid this is. Some might say I'm being insensitive to the issue of suicide, but under the circumstances which he apparently killed himself, I can't see this act as being anything more than a childish rant taken to an extreme.

On another note, I would also like to express my extreme frustration about where this man chose to take his life. When the planes hit the towers on Sept. 11 every American's life changed forever, especially those in New York City and Washington. Thousands of people became victims and countless others became heroes. Firefighters and police officers gave their lives to help save others. An enemy attacked us. They killed Americans. It was the worst attack on American soil ever. I cannot express just how sorry I feel for anyone who lost a loved one on that day. That was truly a tragedy.

What this man did disgraces that. Damn you Andrew Veal. You are not a martyr for anything respectible so don't try to be. You are not in the same category of people who were killed on that site three years ago. You aren't a victim. You are a murderer. Just like the hijackers, you too are responsible for taking a life on that very same site.

Friday, November 05, 2004


With Thursday's computer crash, I scrambled to find a computer with Photoshop to redo my copy block project for my online journalism class. My roommate asked if the teacher would give me an extention because of what had happened.

"This If I don't have my thing in class he'll look at me and say 'If this was the real world, you'd be fired.' I just need to redo the damn thing."

I eventually found a computer lab with Adobe Photoshop loaded onto its computers. It was late Thursday afternoon and I needed to eat before volleyball practice that night. I decided I'd come in at 8 a.m. Friday morning, two hours before class and do the project...again.

I woke up this morning at 7 a.m. I brushed my teeth, made scrambled eggs (and they were good), cursed my broken computer, and left. I got to the computer lab at 8:15 a.m. I immediately got to work. Within an hour, I had put together what I considered to be a work of art. I emailed it to my roommate to show off.

"Brad, take a look at how this thing turned out. I'm happy," read the email. I was going to pull it off. I printed it out, stuffed it in my backpack, and took off for class.

When I got to the building, I was 30 minutes early. My teacher was in Annenberg's lobby as usual meeting with a student. I acknowledged him, said hi and made my way to the bathroom. When I came back into the lobby, the student he was talking to was gone. He called me over.

He told me my blogs could be better...the usual.

"You'll like this week," I said. "It's about my battle with tech support people."

I explained to my professor about my computer troubles and how I lost a big paper as well as the project for his class.

"You know, Josh, there are computer labs all over campus that students have access to," he said.

Thank you Mr. Information. I'm aware there are computer labs. Maybe he didn't mean it like that, but I wasn't in a good enough mood to not be upset. Don't talk to me assuming that I didn't do the work and won't be handing anything in. I fucking did it. I did it this morning. I might have only worked on it for an hour, but damn it it's good.

"Oh, I did," I said back. I was so pissed. After all the shit I had dealt with the day before - the computer crash, my car problems, retyping an entire paper, and searching for a computer with Photoshop - I didn't want to hear this guy lecture me about responsibility because he thought I may not have it. I wasn't about to start making excuses for myself. I had excuses. I had plenty, but this wasn't a time for that.

"Does it have fire in it?" he asked. The story was about a fire. If the project calls for a "dominant image" and it's about a fire, then YES I'll put fire in the image. I didn't have the patience for a comment like that after the past 24 hours I'd had.

"Yes. Here." I pulled it out of my backpack and threw it on the table in front of us. At that point, I was ready for an F. I didn't even care. Just the fact that I did the project when he thought I didn't was good enough for me. He couldn't deny that I at least tried to put something together after losing my original project.

"This is what I was looking for," he said. He picked it up and looked it over, seemingly happy about my work. I didn't understand why and I didn't care. I just wanted to make it through the day without more problems piling up.

After critiquing my work, he put it back down on the table, pulled out a red pen and wrote the following on my copy block:

99 A

"Are you joking?" I said.

"Why would I joke about that," my professor responded candidly.

HELL YEAH! I thought to myself. HELL YEAH! I FUCKIN' DID IT! After all the crap I put up with this week, I came through and did a fuckin' awesome copy block. I knew I thought it was good, but with this teacher, I can never tell. Talk about an Adrenalin rush. Hopefully I can keep it up. Maybe I should do all my assignments an hour before class.

...or maybe not.

Thank you Glendal the goddess

If you read Thursday's blog entry about my computer meltdown then you understand just how stressed out I've been since yesterday morning. Today provided some well-needed relief. I would like to take this time to thank the tech support representative who did the one thing no other rep could: solve my computer problems.

I called tech support this afternoon in a desperate attempt to find someone who could help me with my computer. I went through the touch-tone maze of options before finally getting through to a representative.

"Hi this is Glendal. How may I help you today?"

"I'd like to speak with a supervisor," I said. I was in a bad mood. I was not ready for another gruling day in an uphill battle against uncooperative tech support reps.

"Oh, okay. Can I have your phone number first to pull up the account."

I gave her the number.

"Mr. Feldman?"


"Thank you, and what is the nature of the problem so that I can tell the supervisor?" she asked.

"I've spent the past 36 hours trying to find someone who will acknowledge the three-year warranty I purchased for my computer," I said. I was so sick of this process. "Each time I call yall, you say that I don't have a warranty and that I'm not covered and I just need my computer fixed. So whatever I have to do to get someone to recognize my warranty's existance, I wanna do."

"Yes, here it is. A three year warranty purchased last August from Sony Style with the computer, correct?"

"Uh...yeah!" I said. I was shocked. She found it.

"You had it faxed over to us, correct?"

"Yeah, I did. Yall got it?" I couldn't believe it.

"Yes, I have it right here," said Glendal.

"Thank you!" I cried out. "I've been trying to get someone in your offices to find the proof of that warranty, and you did it. Everyone I talked to yesterday said they couldn't find the fax. Thank you so much."

"Yes, now tell me exactly what's wrong with the computer and I'll put it in my report then we can get it fixed."

"Just...get it fixed? No redirecting my calls. You can help?"

"Yes," she said, somewhat confused by my questions.

"Then you must be the only rep who can because it seems like I talked to all the rest of them yesterday morning and afternoon," I said. "What'd you say your name was?"


"Well, Glendal, you are awesome. In that case I don't need to speak to your supervisor, but if you talk to him, tell him you deserve a promotion and everyone else needs to be fired," I joked. It was such a relief to have a rep who didn't send me through a maze of 1-800 phone numbers with no clear solution to my problem in sight. But now Glendal had the solution. She said she could help. She said she had a copy of my purchase of the warranty. This was it!

I gave her the description of what was wrong with my computer. She said she would have a box sent to my apartment for me to pack up the computer and send it back to Sony for repairs.

"And that's it?" I asked, puzzled by the simplicity of the process.

"That's it," Glendal said.

"Great, thank you Glendal."

"Thank you for calling Sony."

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