Thursday, January 27, 2011

Say a little prayer for you

Note: I'm going to use Facebook as a reference, but this applies to direct conversation too.

Every now and then, I'll see something on Facebook posted by a family member or friend to 'say a prayer for so and so' or I'll see a response to someone's status post that says "my prayers' are with you. I don't have anything wrong with either post, I'm just lost as far as what to say to someone if I wanted to show my support. I suppose I could say the same thing, but it wouldn't be true, I won't be praying for you so I feel like it would be lying to say it.

As reference, here is dictionary.com's definition of pray.

  1. to offer devout petition, praise, thanks, etc., to (God or an object of worship)
  2. to offer (a prayer)
  3. to bring, put, etc., by praying: to pray a soul into heaven.
  4. to make earnest petition to (a person).
  5. to make petition or entreaty for; crave: She prayed his forgiveness.
  6. to offer devout petition, praise, thanks, etc., to God or to an object of worship.
  7. to enter into spiritual communion with God or an object of worship through prayer.
    –verb (used without object) to make entreaty or supplication, as to a person or for a thing
For the purpose of this post, I'm going to assume that the majority of people consider praying for someone to fall under #6 or #7, in that you are asking for a higher power for intervention.

At this point, I should clarify some things as well.

1. This isn't about whether other people should pray for someone (I have no real opinion on whether someone believes in it themselves).
2. I will gladly accept someone else's prayers for my family or me and won't think twice of you stating yourself in this manner. (if my family or I were experiencing something difficult, I have no qualms in accepting support any way I can get it and if your God can intervene, all the better).
3. I'm bothered by this phrase, as I really want to show support to someone, but I hate the language required to do it.

Having made those points, let's take a look at number three which is the basis for this whole piece anyway. The statements "My prayers are with X" or "We are praying for X" are inherently stronger in meaning, then saying something like "All my best" "My thoughts are with you" "Hope things turn out well". There are a ton of other statements that could be used in exchange for a prayer statement, but they all (in my opinion) lack the certain force that one of the prayer statements has.

This bugs me to no end (hence the blog post). The worst part is, I'm really not sure what I'm going to do about it. I've tried crafting a number of statements, and either they wind up too long or they don't convey the meaning intended. And considering that written statements are about 100x easier then being in front of someone and trying to find a statement that makes sense quickly that conveys the right meaning, you can see this is not an easy task. I realize that this is just a word obsession and probably doesn't make a lot of difference, but as you can probably tell on some levels it bothers me. I guess I'll just have to keep working on it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are we really surprised?

From the news headline this morning:

New Ala. gov: Just Christians are his family


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_alabama_governor_christians

Can anyone really say they are surprised? I mean it's not like Alabama has been know throughout their existence for their understanding of differences and compassion for others. As a matter of fact, I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that it's not exactly a hot bed for travel or relocation for Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon people anyway.

Having said that, it's still a disappointing thing to see how small minded and ignorant the governor is in this case, clearly he's not a supporter of the Constitution or even a well practicing Christian. Considering that promotion of one religion by the government is sort of a no-no for the Constitution and Christianity at it's core preaches compassion and understanding for others.

I will say there's a part of me that prefers this small minded prejudice type, while I find his thought process reprehensible, at least I know where he stands, much easier to deal with then the one that hides it and still proceeds under an agenda fueled by that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Thoughts 1/14/2011

With the new year here, perhaps it's time to break out another Friday top 10, here's what's on my mind over the last couple weeks.

1. I've recently been playing poker in a local club here in Columbus about once a week, I've played poker casually before, but always been a bit hesitant to get used to a structured game. It's going well so far and giving me an opportunity to talk with adults outside of my wife on a weekly basis. The thing I like most though is that I'm getting comfortable in the structured game, as I'd like to have some experience prior to the casinos opening in Cleveland and Columbus in the next year or so. I can imagine the Columbus casino having some dead money on the table on weekends from some of the college crowd.

2. Terrible tragedy for Congresswoman Gifford, I hope she is able to make a full recovery. And to all of those that lost loved ones that day to the shooter, my heart goes out to them as well.

3. Sarah Palin is an idiot. I've met strippers that I'd consider geniuses compared to her. Please just go away Mrs. Palin.

4. Found out there is a possibility I'll be going to Madrid, Spain, this coming spring. Since it's a work conference, I'm so hoping it's not true, as my work tends to schedule 12 hour sessions and sequesters us in the hotel of their choosing, not exactly worth it for the long flight and no chance to see anything in the city.

5. For Cleveland Browns fans, it can't get much worse this week in the playoffs, three of the four AFC teams we despise for one reason or another, assuring us at least one makes it to the Championship game. Here's the reason we hate them: Pittsburgh: no single reason, it's just that their fans are idiots, their women are ugly, and their city is gross. Baltimore: Art Modell and moving Cleveland Browns, all that needs to be said. New England: Bill Belichick, I don't care what he's won, he's still an asshole and borderline sociopath.

6. There is a part of me that is fascinated of the middle name phenomenon for infamous assassins, attempted assassins, and accused assassins (Jared Lee Loughner) although the middle names don't always stick for reporting, more often then not they do. I remember reading when I first became aware of it, that one reason that the middle name was referenced was to try and avoid damaging other people's reputations. I do find it a bit unusual that in most cases it's only used for what we would consider assassinations or attempts After all someone like Timothy McVeigh was not typically referenced with a middle name. Perhaps for mass murders we have different rules.

7. Each year, my company makes us go through a process and review guidelines for handling business transactions, it's an ethical and legal review of best practices. I find it fascinating that each year, I see more and more circumstances where these things apply in every day life and wonder how far away I am from a situation where there is some scandal and how close it might actually be to me or people I work with because they don't follow the procedures. I guess what I'm saying is I continue to be fascinated with the fact that I just can't wrap my head around the fact that I'm a professional adult sometimes, that the article I'm reading on Mr. J.P. Smith from Podunk, Kansas that's involved with insider trading, illegal transactions, or a host of other things is me in just a different situation. I hope this makes sense, not saying that I do anything outside of the rules and procedures, just that I work in that space and I still have a hard time visualizing myself on the same level as someone like that.

8. My 20 year high school reunion has a date on the calendar for early summer. Thankfully I have plenty of time to drop the holiday pounds and over stress about what I'm going to wear to it. (it's my metrosexual side coming out, for those not familiar with me). After all, I didn't drop from 320 lbs in high school down to 200 only to get to the 20 year mark and come back in at 230 or so. 210's the goal and if I was betting I'd bet on me making my target weight by then.

9. I'm really starting to enjoy the fact, that we get about 1/4 the snow of Cleveland during the winter. The temperatures are the same, but I'll take a win where I can get it.

10. I'd like to take a second and send best wishes out to all of my friends that maybe struggling through things right now, as I mentioned in my previous post. I'm pulling for you and if there is anything I can do to help, please reach out to me. (Although I don't think you read the blog, at least I know you know you can reach out to me as I've told you personally).

Have a great weekend, and here's hoping January gets over with already, as we are only about 30 days until pitchers and catchers report, the true beginning of spring.

4.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Depressed in Cleveland

I've stated it before and I'll state it again, I love my hometown of Cleveland. With that I write this post with great sorrow, the city is in dire straits.

I visited last weekend for my brother's birthday celebration. Now some of my feelings are shaded by personal relationships, which I'll get to as well, but from a city standpoint, driving around the area where I lived and some other areas of town depressed me as well.

What I found in my neighborhood was more houses on the market, many appeared to be due to foreclosures. What was striking about this was many would have been the neighbors you least expected it from. Add those to the already bloated numbers of homes in the suburb where we lived that are on the market and you begin to wonder about how long this 'recovery' of the housing market is going to take. Driving around it didn't get any better as I drove by businesses that had shuttered up, nothing surprising, a Quiznos that served badly prepared food, a Blockbuster, who's parent company is in shambles, and a restaurant that was located at an ill advised location. While not surprising, it still was a bit depressing, as all of those businesses are within a mile of the house, I wondered how many I didn't notice as I was driving or how many were closing in areas further away.

After being in Columbus for a number of months, I have to say my mood around our nation's economy is much different then it was during my last year in Cleveland, while there are still struggles in the area, businesses seem to be fairly solvent including a fairly large amount of small businesses in the area, it's refreshing and encouraging. This last weekend really brought the differences to my attention.

Having said all that, I need to share some personal slant that I'm sure affected my views of the area around me. After a couple months of getting on track with the new income, adjusting to day care costs, additional living expenses, and finally being further away from the move costs, our economic outlook in this house is pretty good, even considering we are still paying on our mortgage of our Cleveland house. It's a fairly bright future even if the house in Cleveland doesn't move anytime soon and I'm sure this association makes me look at Columbus a bit differently.

Seeing friends that are in difficult spots financially and emotionally due to relationships definitely flavored my views. It's rough to watch those close to you struggle with those kinds of difficult situations, especially when they balloon from rough spots to critical spots and there is only so much advice you can give them or assistance. I've mentioned before I have a couple friends who are either going through or are recently divorced and the toll it's taking is alarming to me when I see or talk to them, add in a number of friends that seem to be what I would consider scraping by (i.e. maintaining today, but with no real outlook to the future) and I begin to wonder how some of these relationships are going to be in 10 years as we close in on 50, as my world and theirs maybe two incredibly different things? It's scary to think about and not something I've gave much more then casual thought to over the previous years, maybe its the fact that I've always sort of ignored the differences in jobs or education that developed over time and the move to Columbus has only gone and shed more light on it. It's something I'm going to have to think about more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cleveland Brown's coach search Part 2 of 2

I promised that I would get to my thoughts on the Cleveland Browns head coach search and here they are.

The first thing I think we needed was something that resembled a standard front office for a football team. Thankfully 10 years after the team returned, we appear to finally have a front office and some people with football knowledge (whether or not they will succeed is another discussion).

Since we have a front office, that means we don't need a football czar as a head coach. A coach that demands full authority in all football matters, including talent selection and in some cases financial decisions. This rules out someone like Bill Cowher and possibly Jon Gruden, although I think there is still some debate on whether Jon Gruden wants/needs full control of a team or is content to 'just coach'.

To me that leaves us with three other types of coaches, a former head coach, a coordinator or position coach, and a college coach. There is of course overlap in all of these, but for the most part that's how I see them breaking out.

I don't currently think there is a college coach out there that fits the Browns needs. At the point where this team and organization is, I don't think they can take the chance of hiring a college coach. There are too many question marks in the adaption process to the NFL for most college coaches and currently the Browns are exactly a position that makes head coaches at the college level want to leave their established programs for.

Former head coach: I think there are some interesting candidates out there that probably fit Mike Holmgrens philosophy. Steve Marriuci, Brian Billick, and John Fox come to mind. If they go with a former head coach, I feel like they have to go with someone that has had some success at that level and perhaps has had a number of years away from being a head coach to recharge themselves. Ego level comes heavily into play here with an established team president and a general manager that seems to be growing very well into his position.

Coordinator or position coach: I lumped these two together as within the last couple years there has been hirings from both positions. Some of the candidates from here would be Pat Shurmur, and two that fit the former head coach profile too, Mike Mularkey, and Marty Mornhinweg. In my opinion, I'd prefer the Brown's stay away from a re-tread head coach that's reestablished themselves as a coordinator. If they are going to go the coordinator route, do it with someone that they like the philosophy of and has a chance to develop into the kind of coach that can lead the franchise once Mike Holmgren or Tom Heckert move on. Head coaches that go back to being coordinators are usually not hired back right away as a head coach for a reason, if the other teams in the league aren't breaking down the doors to get to them, why should we.

I know I'm all over the place on this post, but since it appears Mike Holmgren will make a decision this week, I wanted to get something down to complete my thoughts.

If the Browns go with someone with head coaching experience, I think it's crucial they go with one that's had some success and either has had some time away to reflect on the next job, or left on their own terms. Re-treads like Mornhinweg and Mularkey are just not a good fit in my opinion. While circumstances could have made their previous engagements bad, there's a pretty solid chance they are just really good at taking direction and putting their gameplan together as a coordinator should do.

If the Browns go with a position coach or a coordinator that's never been a coach, then I think it's imperative that the organization assists them in getting some quality coordinators on this team. Not only quality experienced coordinators, but ones that are able to check their egos at the door. A coordinator with previous head coaching experience is a double edged sword here, one with the right mentality would be a boon for a new coach (see Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau), but if they don't have the right mentality or lose respect for the new head coach, there could be significant turmoil on the staff.

I think coordinators are the biggest need of this team, one of the issues this team has had since they have been back, is their coordinators have been less then stellar. This team desperately needs offensive and defensive philosophies and mentalities, they also need to be effectively coached, as the team has gotten younger, the need is for coaches that aren't always learning on the job and that can hold the respect of the players.

Believing that coordinators has been one of our biggest holes for years, I think the hirings come down to either a young coach with good potential that has the full backing of the organization and assistance from Mike Holmgren in finding coordinators that fit or an experienced head coach that had success in the league, that can persuade coaches they know to leave or already have an idea of position coaches they want that would make good coordinators.

I think the organization will wind up with a young coach, and my guess is it will be Pat Shurmur. He has a similar path to what Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid have gone through and similar philosophies, while Holmgren doesn't have a lot of familiarity with him, he does with Reid and Reid is a big proponent of Shurmur. I also believe Holmgren understands the need for strong coordinators here and is doing his best to assist in that area too, word is they are looking at Dave Wannstedt for the position, who is the type of coach a new head coach can rely on to assist, and Wannstedt should be removed enough from his head coaching failures to want to re-establish himself as a coordinator and build back up his resume in the meantime without getting in the way.

If things work, it winds up being a similar scenario to Mike Tomlin who relies heavily on Dick Lebeau to maintain order in his clubhouse. And in truth since someone like Jon Gruden declined to be interviewed, I'm not really sure there are any other candidates that made a lot of sense for this organization. This choice won't be received well by Brown's fans, but in my opinion is the best course of action for the team at this time, let's hope if they hire Shurmur, that he's up for the task.

Cleveland Brown's coach search Part 1 of 2

The Brown's are looking for their 5th head coach since the 're-introduction' of the franchise in 1999. During that time, we've had Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, and Eric Mangini, not exactly a who's who of coaching excellence.

I'm making this a two part post, the first part handles some thoughts and history of the coaches that have been here since "the Return". The second part handles thoughts on what they need and my guesses on what they will do.

Part 2: What I think they need and what I think they'll do.

Part 1 the History (as I see it):

Prior to this hiring, this organization has consistently done things backwards when it comes to hiring coaches, let's take a look at some of the gaffes.

1. When the Browns returned, Carmen Policy (great speaker, knows nothing about football) and Dwight Clark (maybe the worst GM ever) decided that they had to have Brian Billick as a coach, they waited during the Minnesota playoff run and were absolutely convinced that their offer to Billick would woo him for the job. It turns out it didn't work, Billick went to the Ravens, and Clark and Policy had not done the full vesting process for a coach search and wound up with Chris Palmer. Add in the fact that the list of candidates they had was not exactly great anyway (hard to find good people, when you aren't really that good at your job) and you have a recipe for disaster. Considering the organization had such a short window to put team together and that the head coach was brought in a bit late, Chris Palmer actually did a fair job in his time here.

2. Butch Davis was coming off a turnaround of the Miami Hurricanes program which had fallen into disarray since Jimmy Johnson had left and his pedigree as an assistant coach for the Cowboy's Super Bowl teams were typed up and broadcast all over the Cleveland area. Butch arrived and for the first two years didn't do half bad with the team, going 7-9 and 9-7 in the first two years. Then the third year came and Butch's faults shined through, huge problems from the playoff loss to the Evil Empire (Pittsburgh Steelers) led to a quarterback controversy and the next season had Butch Davis high fiving with Randy Lerner after they signed Jeff Garcia. (you see why we are so depressed as Cleveland Sports fans). Luckily that season also lead to Butch's resignation.

3. Romeo Crennel was hired prior to the hiring of a general manager. The reasoning was that he was a hot coordinator and we'd miss out if we didn't hire him. Mind you, Romeo was defensive coordinator here under Chris Palmer and hadn't been a head coach yet in his 30+ years in the league. His stock was up though as the Bill Belichick machine was running on all cylinders at the time and everyone was blinged out on new rings. Phil Savage was brought in as GM after the Romeo hire. Randy Lerner after letting go of Butch Davis seemed to indicate the desire to put an organization together and spent a couple trips visiting Philadelphia and New England, and then essentially went against conventional wisdom of letting the GM pick their head coach. Romeo wound up with one good year (10-6) where they missed the playoffs, the year itself was heavily based on a very weak schedule and some nice play by Derek Anderson, who wasn't named starter out of training camp and had a lot of success at throwing a deep ball, by the time other teams bothered to game plan for him, his numbers started to become heavily mediocre. The year following the 10-6 record, Romeo's team came out of the gate flat against a tough schedule and due to the bad start, he completely lost the team, and led to his firing. Phil Savage managed to wind up getting himself fired as well, showing in many cases that he acted like a petulant child.

4. Eric Mangini was next, after swearing that he would learn from past mistakes and go about the process correctly (i.e hiring a GM to hire a coach). Randy Lerner went out and fell in love with Eric Mangini and bid against himself in hiring him prior to hiring a GM. The coach that he couldn't let get away that no one wanted a the time. They then hired George Kokinis to be a pseudo GM, as it turned out, he had less power then we anticipated, lost a power struggle with Mangini and was quickly fired by the Browns in the new season. (Groans of uh-oh were murmured in fan's homes everywhere). After firing Kokinis quickly in the season, it was also evident that maybe Eric Mangini shouldn't have all the power in the organization. Randy Lerner at this point was constantly being asked for comment, and since no one would work for him or was in any position above Mangini, answers were few. It didn't help matters that Lerner claims to have anxiety about being interviewed and being on camera, that shows he has some understanding that he's mentally challenged when it comes to anything to do with the Cleveland Browns. (besides soccer is Randy's true love . Lerner during the middle of the season decided he needed to hire a Team President or essentially someone that could answer questions for the franchise that he had no interest or ability to do. He embarked on a search, was rejected by Ernie Accorsi and Bill Parcells and finally persuaded Mike Holmgren to take the reigns as team president.

Mangini one his last four games with some smash nose football, showing that he had at least gotten through to the players and seemed to have them on the same page. He did this while the QBs for the team managed to throw for about 10 yards a game. It was rather impressive and I think the city was sort of energized for the smash mouth football they were playing. Based on this winning streak and meeting at the end of the year, Holmgren decided to keep Mangini around.

This season, Mangini's team started off slow, but they kept games close and there seemed to be a foundation being built, something that hasn't existed in the time the team had been back. In the middle of the year, the Browns beat the Patriots and the Saints in back to back games, with the Patriots win being a very sound thrashing. All of the talk of getting rid of Mangini died down in the area, until the next losing streak happened. At that point, the critics came out and were calling for his head. With four games remaining, most felt that if he could win 2 of the 4 and play tough for the 2 losses it would be a positive step for the franchise. That didn't happen they lost all four games and the team looked like it had regressed from the beginning of the season, which lead to Mangini's firing the day after the season.

Part 2: What I think they need and what I think they'll do.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Help us Mike Holmgren, you're our only hope!


These are dark times for sports in the City of Cleveland. The evil Galactic Empire (Pittsburgh Steelers) defeated the Cleveland Browns to end the 2010 NFL regular season for our heroes. Months ago the evil mercenary LeQuit James double crossed the city and it's basketball team leaving them in a state of disarray while baseball still sits incarcerated under the incompetent but malicious owner of the Cleveland Indians Grand Moff Larry Dolan.


Due to his failure to make any progress for the Rebel Browns, Admiral Eric Mangini was jettisoned into space yesterday, destined for Hoth, where most of his antagonists (including Hannah Storm and Adam Schefter of ESPN http://tinyurl.com/2d59s5h) hopes he finds his regular living accommodations in the belly of a Ton Ton.


All is not lost for the Rebel Browns though, their lone Jedi Master is the guiding light during these dark times, continuing to advise us to believe in the Force and his intellect. He has advised us that he will in fact find the correct coach and develop a winning mentality for the franchise. Not since Master Yoda and Darth

Sidious' battled in the Senate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inTbUf5Swfc) have we been so hopeful for a victory for the Light. Let us hope that our Jedi Master is successful in the task at hand.