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Mar 18

Yes, Virginia, there is an NCAA Pool

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm Mountain Time

My NCAA and NIT Pools are being hosted over on The Living Room Tumblr this year.

Direct pool entry links:
bit.ly/LRT2014MensPool
bit.ly/LRT2014WomensPool
bit.ly/LRT2014NITPool

Also, be sure to “like” the pools on Facebook. Updates will be posted on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook — not here.

The NIT Pool deadline is at 5:00 PM Eastern tonight (Tuesday). The Men’s NCAA Pool deadline is 12:15 PM Eastern on Thursday. (No “First Four” in the pool this year.) You have until Saturday morning to enter the Women’s NCAA Pool.

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Feb 24

Looking for a contest? Check my Tumblr

Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm Mountain Time

As you may have noticed, this blog has gone completely dormant over the last year. I’ve been slow in setting up redirects, but if you’re looking for an Oscar or NCAA pool, go to my Tumblr page, “The Living Room Tumblr,” at http://brendanloy.tumblr.com.

I’m not formally shutting this blog down — who knows, maybe I’ll pick it up again at some point — but for now, all my online energies are focused on Tumblr and Twitter.

P.S. If you’re looking for my coverage of Denver or Northern Colorado basketball, you’ll want to visit my Mile High Mids Tumblr instead.

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Jun 10

Welcome, Bailey

Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 10:34 am Mountain Time

Meet the latest addition to the Loy family menagerie: Bailout #PANIC Loy. "Bailey" for short. :)

Bailey is an 8-week-old yellow lab puppy from Joplin, Missouri, who we adopted yesterday through the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue.

She joins our three cats (Toby, Sasha and Butter), four chickens (Belle, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Briar Rose) and two fish (Goldie and Romney). And of course that’s not mentioning our three daughters. All are female, with the possible exception of the fish.

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Jun 05

Transit of Venus: AWESOME

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm Mountain Time

What an absolutely phenomenal view and experience of the Transit of Venus in Carbondale, Colorado. It was well worth the three-hour drive. Many thanks to the members of the Three Rivers Astronomy Club, who hosted a truly awesome transit party, and let me & other members of the public use their telescopes (and take pictures like the one below). More photos & videos to come later.

Jan 21

“…EMERGED GINGRICH”

Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm Mountain Time

On this night of Gingrich triumph and GOP establishment #PANIC, it’s worth looking back to last May, when Newt’s campaign was an unmitigated disaster, and a subject of abject mockery from sea to shining sea, as best represented by this utterly hilarious Stephen Colbert / John Lithgow clip:

P.S. Romney’s still gonna win the nomination, y’know. Still about a 90% chance of that, I’d say, Intrade’s crazy numbers be damned. And the idea that Gingrich will win it… that’s still so implausible, I staked a dinner bet on the fact that it won’t happen.

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Sep 23

[NOTE: For the latest, follow @UARS_Reentry on Twitter.]

NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, better known as “UARS,” will soon crash back to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry. NASA previously thought this would happen this afternoon, which meant North America was seemingly out of the woods. But according to an update this morning, the satellite’s descent has slowed, and re-entry is now expected late tonight or early tomorrow, Eastern Daylight Time. The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies is currently predicting a re-entry time of 11:16 PM Eastern — plus or minus five hours.

Because the satellite orbits the globe every 90 minutes or so, that broad range of uncertainty (which will narrow as we get closer to crashdown/splashdown) means a whole lot of land and ocean is potentially in its path. Specifically:

1991063b

So the odds are, it won’t hit the U.S., or anywhere near the U.S. But it could! And so, let’s get a little parochial. Here’s an UNOFFICIAL map that I created, using this map from The Weather Space as my starting point, then adding APPROXIMATE times (based on data from Heavens Above and the above map by the Aerospace Corporation), showing ROUGHLY the time windows when UARS will be passing near or over the U.S. tonight, if it stays aloft long enough to reach each of these arcs in its orbit:

UARS over US

As you can see, if it re-enters a half-hour earlier than its predicted ~11:16 PM EDT time, or an hour later (or 2 hours earlier, or 2 1/2 hours later), it could be over or near the U.S. or Canada.

And now, to get even more parochial… if the timing is juuuuust right, it might be visible from Denver!

PassGTrackLargeGraphic.aspx

That’s from Heavens Above. The dotted line means the satellite will be in Earth’s shadow (which is another way of saying we’ll be long past sunset when it flies over), so it won’t be visible unless it’s in the process of re-entering the atmosphere. But if that happens to be the case, it’ll be awesome!

I’m crossing my fingers — the odds of satellite pieces injuring anyone or causing serious damage is very, very low, even if it does come in over land, because the vast majority of land area is unpopulated. However, as I mentioned yesterday, the odds of a spectacular light show are high, if UARS re-enters in an area where it’s visible:

As the satellite descends to an altitude of about 50 miles (80 kilometers), friction with the atmosphere is converted to light and heat. As it moves on a relatively slow – one could almost use the adjective “majestic” – flight across the sky, what is usually seen is a long trail of light and sparks that can take on virtually every color of the rainbow.

Small chunks of the satellite may be seen to break off and trail behind the main body. (NASA expects up to 26 pieces from UARS to survive re-entry and reach the ground.) If the re-entry occurs at night, it could light up the sky with a brilliance that easily rivals the full moon. Even if it occurs during the daytime, the satellite’s fiery passage across the sky could be readily seen.

Notes veteran satellite watcher Kevin Fetter: “A nice sized [satellite] with a uncontrolled re-entry. What a nice light show it should put on, if the decay occurs where people can see it.”

Can I get an 10:50 PM Eastern Time (8:50 PM Mountain Time) re-entry? LET’S MAKE THIS HAPPEN, PEOPLE!

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Aug 22

I’m still alive, I swear…

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm Mountain Time

…I’ve just had no time to blog for the last week-and-a-half. My evening free time is largely taken up holding a baby, and, well, it’s hard to type while you’re doing that. But hey, at least nothing newsworthy/blogworthy has happened during that time, like, oh I don’t know:

• Michelle Bachmann wins the Iowa Straw Poll;
Generic Republican drops out of the presidential race;
photo.JPG• America’s next president, Rick Perry, enters the presidential race (#PANIC!);
• Tripoli falls to the Libyan rebels, and Moammar Gadhafi’s reign appears to approach its end;
• Hurricane Irene forms, threatens to become the season’s first major hurricane and hit the Southeast U.S. (or perhaps the Northeast? NYC?!?);
• A tragic, weather-related accident during a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair kills 7 people;
• Becky gets a new MacBook Air; I finally get us a legitimate TV;
• The SEC decides not to invite Texas A&M (yet), but A&M administrators get permission to go conference-hunting;
• The AP poll comes out, ranking Boise State #5 (bus!), Notre Dame #16 and USC #25;
• Miami’s athletic department is hit with the Tsar Bomba of sports exposés, led by this absolute gem of a paragraph:

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.

As many as seventy-two players are implicated, not to mention, like, a half-dozen assistant coaches. Oh, and the athletic director who was overseeing the department through the “eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking”? None other the Paul Dee, the grotesquely hypocritical m***erf***er who chaired the NCAA Infractions Committee that gave USC near-historic sanctions for violations about 1 percent as bad as these, the man who responded to cries of “we didn’t know!” by declaring that “high-profile athletes require high-profile monitoring” … the man who now says of Shapiro, “We didn’t have any suspicion that he was doing anything like this. He didn’t do anything to cause concern. … In terms of kids getting close to him or him getting close to the kids, I have no knowledge of that and my staff had no knowledge of that.”

So…yeah…nothing’s happened. :)

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Aug 04

#PANIC!

Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm Mountain Time

20110804-022123.jpg

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Jul 30

Well, the House GOP has finished wasting the better part of a week on fantasy-land legislation so unrealistic and irrelevant to the final (necessarily bipartisan) resolution of this crisis, they might as well have tied a debt-ceiling increase to Frodo casting the Ring into the Fire. Obviously, the Senate immediately voted down the House’s non-starter of a ridiculous, designed-to-fail bill. So, that’s that. Our last full week before national default, completely wasted on political posturing and partisan nonsense! Congratulations, guys! And it now appears there may not be enough time left to prevent disaster:

Here is advice from veterans of past budget battles in Congress that went to the brink: This time, be afraid. Be very afraid. …

Democrats and Republicans with legislative experience agree that even if both sides decided Saturday to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling and to reduce future annual deficits, it would be extremely difficult for the compromise measure to wend its way through Congress before Tuesday’s deadline, given Congressional legislative procedures.

But such a bipartisan deal seemed virtually impossible on Friday, as House Republicans approved their bill and dug in deeper against compromise with President Obama.

In a word, #PANIC! Of course, this assumes that August 2 is the “real” deadline, which some experts have questioned, but Treasury has not yet backed away from. Anyway, the Washington Post offers more details on the legislative timetable:

The Senate is driving toward a climactic and dramatic vote at 1 a.m. Sunday that could determine whether a bipartisan deal to raise the nation’s legal borrowing limit is possible or a government default is likely.

What that deal might look was still deeply uncertain Friday, but talks were underway between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate about methods to circumvent some of the chamber’s most cumbersome procedures to allow the Senate to act more quickly if a compromise is reached. …

Senate rules require a full day in between Reid introducing the measure Friday night and a vote to cut off debate, leading to a key vote early Sunday.

Closing debate will require the approval of 60 senators, meaning Reid will require at least seven Republican votes to clear that hurdle.

If the measure cleared that hurdle, the final passage would require a simple majority of senators to send the bill to the House. Without unanimous agreement, however, it would require an additional 30 hours of debate for that final vote, meaning 7:30 a.m. Monday would be the earliest a final vote could happen.

Then, the measure would return to the House on Monday, where it would face a final critical vote — with the outcome deeply uncertain, as world markets watch nervously.

[UPDATE: More from Politico:

Reid and the White House do not have a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Talks ground to a halt as House Republicans moved forward with their own plan that Democrats oppose. That means Reid may file cloture on his own plan to raise the debt ceiling without GOP support.

Even if a bipartisan accord is reached when the Senate is in the cloture process, Reid would need unanimous consent to swap in any compromise measure, an unlikely scenario given the passions in the fight.

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior White House officials have been talking with lawmakers across the Capitol this week, but Republicans put the talks on ice in recent days until the House took up the Boehner bill, according to Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations.

As a matter of fact, Reid filed for cloture on a modified bill designed to attract GOP support. But it wasn't a "compromise" so much as a unilateral attempt by Reid to compromise with himself, because he was out of time -- because the GOP wasted a week on the Boehner plan.]

Meanwhile, Treasury is finalizing its contingency plans.

There is no curse in Elvish, Entish of the tongues of Men for the reckless, indefensible irresponsibility of the various fools, idiots and cynical bastards who have brought us to the brink of this utterly unnecessary disaster. They are a f***ing disgrace to the nation they purport to lead.

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Jun 12

SafariScreenSnapz128The bridesmaid jinx is over! For the first time since 1994 — when I was in seventh grade — a Newington High School athletic team is the Connecticut state champion. And for the first time since 1980 — before I was born — it happened in a CIAC-sponsored sport, breaking a streak of twelve consecutive CIAC title-game losses in my lifetime in football, baseball, girls basketball, ice hockey, boys soccer, and boys volleyball. The streak-breaker? The baseball team, which beat Southington — Newington’s traditional archrival in everything — in a 10-inning thriller. How perfect! More here and here and here.

In a wet and wild CIAC Class LL state final, the No. 17 Newington baseball team outlasted seventh-ranked Southington 3-2 in 10 innings Saturday night.

Both Newington pitcher Cole Bryant (8-2) and Southington starter Sal Romano (10-2) pitched brilliant 10-inning games, but it was the Indians who exited Muzzy Field with the 3-2 win and the championship trophy.

Down 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Southington rallied for a run to tie the score 2-2. It appeared as if the Blue Knights had the game won 3-2 in their eighth, but the run was negated on an appeal play at home plate.

Newington scored an unearned run in the top of the 10th to go up 3-2. Southington loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but Bryant got a strikeout to give Newington its first state title.

I had no idea the Indians had even reached the title game; unlike in some past years that blog readers will remember, I wasn’t paying attention. Newington was 12-8 in the regular season, and seeded #17 in Class LL, so this team didn’t seem like a candidate to break the school’s long streak of finishing as runners-up. (If you include second-place finishes by the golf team, NHS had had fourteen second-place finishes in CIAC sports since its last CIAC championship, the year before I was born.) But they knocked off #16 Windsor, #1 Glastonbury, #8 Danbury and #4 Amity en route to the title game.

Friend of the blog Dan Dinunzio has much more about the game, including a firsthand account of the eighth-inning craziness (remember, high-school games are 7 innings long, so the 8th is already “extra innings,” and a go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th would win the game):

Middle infielder Armando Soler dropped a lazy fly ball to put Matt Spruill on 1st base. Then, following a pop out, Southington star Sal Romano laced a double down the left-field line. It looked as if the game was over.

I wasn’t watching home plate, because I figured, “wow, the curse lives on and Newington has come in second again!” But in a matter of seconds, it all changed when Spruill forgot to touch home plate. Are you serious? On the biggest stage of any high school athlete’s career, he forgot to do what seems so natural.

A celebration ensued for Southington on the pitcher’s mound while Newington coaches screamed for an appeal. Newington appealed, and it was clear the umpire had seen exactly what unfolded. A nightmare for any Southington fan, and a miracle for all of those in the stands cheering for Newington. Spruill was ruled out while Romano returned to second base with his head in his jersey, in a state of shock.

And then, after Newington took at 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th, the game’s final out, in the bottom of the 10th:

Southington loaded the bases with two outs and reached a full count. Cole Bryant had thrown 175 pitches on the night. At that pitch count, I can’t even imagine what his arm felt like.

Cole dialed up a two-seam fastball and struck out Tyler Burns looking. It was his 16th strikeout of the game. Bryant called it “the greatest feeling in the world,” and the Newington celebration began. A mob-pile began on the field full of joyous embraces, hugs, and jubilation between the coaches and players.

A thirty-year streak weighed heavy on the right arm of Cole Bryant. His 176th pitch of the night ended that drought and crowned the Newington Indians baseball team State Champions for the first time ever.

Photo by John Brunetti, father of JV coach and my Class of 1999 classmate Jeff Brunetti.

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May 11

Amid increasing chatter about a potentially imminent decision by My Man Mitch on whether to run for president, and increasing noise from Daniels himself, Ross Douthat has a good analysis of why “talk radio conservatives” are cool to Daniels. The title of this post is a hint. Excerpt:

[Most of the conservative arguments against Daniels] are all about his rhetoric, his public persona, and who his admirers happen to be. It puts me in mind of a smart post from one of David Frum’s pseudonymous contributors at FrumForum, which tried to figure out why talk radio hosts love Chris Christie while remaining cool to Daniels:

Why is Chris Christie the heartthrob of the radio right, while Daniels is suddenly an intolerable RINO? Christie is not more conservative than Daniels, and arguably even less so … The difference is this: talk radio is not much interested in the substance of a politician’s views or the reasons for decisions. Talk radio wants a confrontational style, and unlike the soft-spoken Daniels, the fierce Christie meets the test. The rule seems to be: it’s OK to be a Republican moderate – provided you are belligerent enough about it.

This is where the populist style in conservative politics becomes self-defeating. The underlying theory behind the talk radio critique of Daniels is basically that you can’t trust a man who disarms liberals with his seeming reasonability, and what you need instead is somebody who takes the fight to the left at every opportunity. This is an excellent description of the qualities required … to be a good talk radio host. But when applied to the presidential scene, it amounts to a kind of politics of schadenfreude, in which actual conservative accomplishments count for nothing, the ability to woo undecided voters is downgraded or dismissed, and all that matters is how much a prospective candidate irritates liberals. It’s the right-wing version of the theory that almost made Howard Dean the Democratic nominee in 2004, you might say — and it’s how you end up, for instance, with Rush Limbaugh lumping Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in with Christie as examples of “candidates you could coalesce behind” in 2012. (Coalesce behind … on your way to a world-historical defeat.)

I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that Dean, who only won a single primary — his home state of Vermont, long after he’d screamed, lost, and dropped out — was “almost…the Democratic nominee in 2004.” But other than that, I think Douthat and the quoted FrumForum contributor are dead on. Of course, I suppose you’d expect me to say that. (BREAKING NEWS: Brendan Loy agrees with RINO columnists’ analysis of Republican foibles! Film at 11.)

P.S. As an aside, I’ve seen a bunch of liberal posts and tweets that are like, “OMG!!! Daniels isn’t a moderate at all!!! He signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood!!! He’s a radical!!! #PANIC!!!” Look, that bill was, admittedly, a bit of apparent pandering to the Religious Right by Daniels, which is unfortunate but probably politically necessary after his “truce” talk. So it’s not a point in his favor, sure. But does it mean he’s some foaming-at-the-mouth crazy right-winger? No. It means he disagrees with the liberal position on abortion, and believes government funding shouldn’t support abortion; neither of those positions are at all indefensible. (P.S. I’m pro-choice.)

Bottom line, yes, the man opposes abortion rights — which is a mainstream, non-radical position in the Republican Party, and in this country generally. It’s also a perfectly defensible position on a moral, ethical, and legal level, one that doesn’t make the person holding it either anti-woman or anti-freedom or anti-anything-else-except-abortion. Nor is it automatically hypocritical just because he opposes a variety of liberal policies (like, say, ObamaCare) on the grounds that they supposedly restrict “choice” or “freedom” in some way. Abortion is, obviously, fundamentally different than other issues. To those who believe abortion involves the deliberate, premeditated taking of human life, it is not, and cannot be, a legitimate “choice.” Other things can be legitimate “choices”; deliberately killing an innocent person can’t, so if you believe abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent person, obviously you will oppose that particular type of choice, in most if not all circumstances. One doesn’t have to agree with that position — I don’t, exactly — but it’s wrong to simply dismiss the position as crazy or dishonest or hypocritical or radical. Being pro-life doesn’t make someone a “radical,” and neither does being pro-choice! We really need to get over this ridiculous demonization of the other side on the abortion issue. Abortion is a very difficult, complicated, and singular issue. Why can’t people, on both sides, acknowledge that obvious fact? Ugh.

If you’re against Mitch Daniels because he’s pro-life, that’s fine. You’ll never, ever vote for a Republican for president if that’s your position. And that’s okay! But don’t pretend he’s a “radical” Republican just because he’s pro-life. You’re dismissing roughly half the country as “radical” if you take that position, just as some folks on the Right dismiss roughly half the country as evil, amoral baby-killers if that’s how they view pro-choicers. I know we all feel strongly about this issue, but that’s no excuse not to respect each other, or recognize that these are very difficult questions that can’t be compressed into reductionist bumper-sticker slogans without cartoonishly mischaracterizing the other side’s stance. [/rant]

P.P.S. Yes, I realize my “P.S.” just swallowed my post, and there’s no way anyone will comment on my original point now. Oh well.

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May 06

Mental health break

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 8:59 am Mountain Time

This is pretty cool:

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May 06

UK: FPTP or AV FTW?

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 8:57 am Mountain Time

Jolly Old England (and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) are set to begin counting the votes in their referendum on whether to switch from the First-Past-The-Post system to the Alternative Vote system. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a video (produced by AV supporters) explaining how it works for cats:

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May 03

Election Day in Denver

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 10:00 am Mountain Time

20110503-095806.jpgMail-in election? Ha! I spent two hours last night researching the candidates, then dropped off my ballot today — Election Day — at the nearest Voter Service Center.

I refuse to go along with this newfangled mail-in, multi-day election nonsense. Elections are held on ONE day, always a Tuesday, as God intended when He invented democracy. Why, in my day, sonny, we walked to the polling place, uphill both ways, and used lever voting machines! Now get off my lawn! ;)

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Apr 10

Mix & match toys

Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm Mountain Time

I’m having a little too much fun setting this up…

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