Yesterday was an extremely lazy day...but it was a lot of fun too. I spent the morning cleaning my apartment & cooking while listening to some classic Jay-Z, some for the first time in a few years. Good times. I'm sure some of my neighbors were wondering what the hell I was doing rocking out to "Reasonable Doubt" on a Tuesday afternoon...but it was a nice throwback to my early high school days. I also made quite possibly the most delicious lunchtime meal ever made. Have you ever wondered "How can this chili mac & cheese POSSIBLY get any better?" Well, I've found out how. You mix some crumbled blue cheese...and some crispy bacon bits into it. You're welcome. Now go forth and share $teve's Silly Mac with your friends & family. Warning: Though it is INSANELY delicious, the mixture of this meal with a breakfast high in fiber and vegetables can lead to excessive flatulence and perhaps a case of the bubble guts. Now I can't comment on the smell (various nasal injuries over the years) but given the ingredients, I'm assuming it would be at least...earthy. You've been warned.
Another throwback to the childhood days came a little later in the day. I started playing my PS3 when I got a call from my brother. Apparently he & my buddy Isaiah were doing the same...and we decided to play "TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled" which is classic 1991 arcade game, now in 3-D for the PS3. See, back in the day, the three of spent the good portion of our allowances playing this arcade game...and a good deal of our free time playing ninja turtles in fields with stick weapons and bandanas...as all the cool kids do. So, to be in our mid-to-late twenties and play this game again (from beginning to end) was a fun time...especially with being able to strategize & talk sh*t from a few counties away thanks to new technology like the internet and Bluetooth devices. It was like we were ten years old again...just with stuff like jobs and bills and kids and ex-wives. The plan to rob a bank dressed as them still sounds pretty awesome to me...but yeah, still reserved for the virtual world at this time. Playing the game together was a lot of fun though. After that, I got "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" through Netflix and decided to watch it again, basically give it a second chance...and it still was pretty damn horrible to watch. I basically ended up fast forwarding to the action sequences...and shot with Megan Fox...and that's really about the only way to watch it...and you can get the full experience in less than an hour. No need to thank me, just pay it forward. Now here's the news...
BCS Shakeup? - This story is really just ridiculous to me. I'm a huge fan of college football and all...but come on. A senator whose undefeated home state school was bypassed for the college football national championship last season urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to ask the Justice Department to investigate the Bowl Championship Series, citing Obama's own concerns about the way the top team is crowned in building a case for action. "Mr. President, as you have publicly stated on multiple occasions, the BCS system is in dire need of reform," wrote Utah Senator Orrin Hatch in a 10-page letter to Obama calling for an antitrust probe of the BCS. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter (for a nominal fee). Shortly after his election last year, Obama said he was going to "to throw my weight around a little bit" to nudge college football toward a playoff system (he said a lot of things). Obama and Hatch are among the many critics of how the BCS (a complex system of computer rankings and polls that often draws criticism) determines its national champion. Hatch, who held a hearing on the BCS in July, told Obama that a "strong case" can be made that the BCS violates antitrust laws. Under the BCS system, some athletic conferences get automatic bids to participate in top-tier bowl games while others don't, and the automatic bid conferences also get far more of the revenue (and yet, he doesn't understand why they get automatic bids). Hatch's home state school, the University of Utah (GO UTES!!!) is from the Mountain West Conference, which does not get an automatic bid. The school qualified for a bid last season but was bypassed for the national championship despite going undefeated (and the same thing happened four years earlier too). The system "has been designed to limit the number of teams from non-privileged conferences that will play in BCS games," Hatch wrote. Hatch said the BCS arrangement likely violates the Sherman Antitrust Act because, he argued, it constitutes a "contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce," quoting from the law. He said the system "artificially limits the number of nationally-relevant bowl games to five. The result is reduced access to revenues and visibility which creates disadvantages to schools in the non-privileged conferences." Hatch is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights. The senator said the hundreds of millions of dollars generated by college football "are hardly trivial sums," given that many schools use such revenue to fund things like other athletic programs. The Justice Department said it would review the letter and respond as appropriate. The White House declined to comment (probably because it's a f**king house). The chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, Harvey Perlman, said, "Like a majority of presidents, commissioners, athletics directors and coaches, we stand behind the BCS as the best way to identify a national champion." Perlman, who is chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, noted that 120 schools compete through the season for the opportunity to play in four major bowls and the national championship game. "No effort should be made to take away some of the best traditions of college football, which include the bowl games. Most importantly, our attorneys have done exhaustive reviews over the years, and we are confident that the BCS is in full compliance with the laws of the nation." Alan G. Fishel, an attorney for the Mountain West Conference and Boise State University, backed Hatch's effort. "If the government can look at the concentration of money in railroads, telecommunications and software developers, then why not the big business of college sports in America?" he said. Hatch's letter comes a few days after the BCS released its first standings of the year. And on Monday, a group of college football fans launched the Playoff PAC, with the hope of electing more lawmakers who will pressure the BCS to switch to a playoff system. Several lawmakers have introduced bills this year aimed at forcing a playoff system, but none of the bills has advanced.
Why is this ridiculous? We all know why the BCS is the way that it is. Certain schools & athletic conferences finance the bowl games through corporate sponsorships, boosters and whatever else...so they natural get the vote in how certain things are determined. It's just how it is. Now, anti-trust laws may be broken...but the same laws are being broken when you restrict things like child labor, minimum wages and other aspects of a business or industry. Basically, it's similar to why Big Oil has its political pull...or why we didn't have electric cars until very recently when the market demanded it. Those who have the money & have the political pull can make the rules. The real reason this is ridiculous though...is because there are so many other concerns out there that the government should be focusing on...besides how the champion of one collegiate sport is determined. What should be more important is how we're going to get more kids into college...or make their high schools better...or elementary schools better by using the funding from these college sports. Oh, is that too small potatoes? How about Healthcare? How about this worldwide economic clusterf**k? World Peace? Global warming? The coming Apocalypse? Let's try to focus on the big issues and not get distracted by these kind of things. Senator Hatch, I've got your back. I too believe that the University of Utah was jipped on a chance at TWO National Championships...but I'd happily hand the trophy over to the University of Toronto if it meant I could afford to get sick in my own country. I'm frankly more concerned about being devoured by a f**king anaconda than whether a school gets a trophy saying how awesome they are. That's just me. Let's take care of the big things...and the little things will take care of themselves. Honestly, if we want a fair shake at the National Championship, we have to fill a 100,000 seat stadium every Saturday like some of the other big colleges AND create a fine football product. Time will tell if that'll ever happen. In the meantime, we'll take on the underdog role. Again, go Utes!!!
Music & Exercise - So a mere 25 years after the Walkman came into play, there is some hard-hitting scientific evidence confirming the connection between Music & Jogging. With the Fall marathon season in full swing, thousands of runners are gearing up for the big day. Just as important as their broken-in shoes and heart rate monitor is their source of motivation, inspiration and distraction: their tunes. Running with music has become so common that the two biggest names in both industries, Nike and Apple, have been joined at the hip with the Nike + iPod combination. So, what is it about music and running, or any exercise, that feels so right? Several recent studies try to chase down the connection between our ears and our feet. For the last 20 years, Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Britain's Brunel University, has been setting the research pace for understanding our need to groove and move. In addition to his lab research, Karageorghis has helped create a half marathon in London that tries to find the perfect music mix of live bands based on his research of human reaction to rhythm. The second annual "Run to the Beat" event was held a few weeks ago with 9,000 laboratory rats, er, runners either enjoying the live music or listening to their own mix of tunes on their MP3. Karageorghis even offered a scientific selection of songs based on his findings (found on the link). According to Kargeorghis, there are four factors that contribute to a song's motivational qualities: Rhythm Response, Musicality, Cultural Impact and Association. The first two are known as "internal" factors as they relate to the music's structure while the second two are "external" factors that reflect how we interpret the music. Rhythm Response is tied to the beats per minute (bpm) of the song and how well it matches either the cadence or the heartbeat of the runner. A song's structure such as its melody and harmony contribute to its Musicality. The external factors consider our musical background and the preferences we have for a certain genre of music and what we have earned to associate with certain songs and artists. Picking the right music can have several benefits. Syncing beats per minute with an exercise pace increases your efficiency. In a recent study, subjects who cycled in time to music found that they required 7% less oxygen to do the same work when compared to music playing in the background. Music can also help block out the little voice in your brain telling you its time to quit. Research shows that this dissociation effect results in a 10% reduction in perceived effort during treadmill running at a moderate intensity. In the current study, published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30 subjects synchronized their pace to the tempo of the music which was 125 bpm. Before the experiment, a pool of music was rated using a questionnaire tool (the Brunel Music Rating Inventory) which then selected the most motivational pieces for the treadmill test. The subjects were given a choice of either pop or rock music. When compared to a no-music control, the motivational synchronized music led to a 15% improvement in endurance. "The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion," Karageorghis reported. Matching the beats per minute of our music with our exercise heart rate also takes an interesting non-linear path, according to research. Karageorghis found that when our hearts are performing at between 30 and 70% of maximum, we prefer a somewhat linear increase from 90 to 120 bpm. However, when we reach our anaerobic threshold between 70 and 80% of maximum, we prefer a jump in rhythm from 120 to 150 bpm. Above 80% of maximum heart rate, a plateau is reached where even faster music is not preferred. Another new study by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, and detailed online in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, looked at the tempo angle differently. Instead of a mix of different songs at different tempos, they asked a group of cyclists to pedal to the same song over three different trials. What the subjects did not know is that the researchers first played the song at normal speed, but then increased or decreased the speed of the same song by 10 percent. The small change was not enough to be noticed, but it did have an effect on performance. Speeding up the music program increased distance covered/unit time, power and pedal cadence by 2.1%, 3.5% and 0.7%, respectively. Slowing the program produced falls of 3.8%, 9.8% and 5.9%. The researchers concluded that we increase or decrease our work effort and pace to match the tempo of our music. Finding the right beat has now become even easier with a software plug-in tool called Tangerine. By integrating with your iTunes library, it can build a custom playlist based on the BPM range you provide, while arranging the songs in several different tempo shapes including warm-ups and warm-downs. With the right mix, your brain and feet will be in perfect harmony. So get out there & start jogging!!!