My Progress

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bob Papa got me thinking...

Just got a tweet this morning from Bob Papa, the NY Giants play-by-play guy.  He says "As a Giants fan I learned to trust Reese. Every move is Kosher with me. We don't have the big picture."  Interesting thought.  Do we as Broncos fans have any trust in the current leadership of the team?
My best friend Steve once said to me, trust is like a bank account.  You make deposits and withdrawls every day.  One day you call in sick, you make a withdrawl from your employer's bank account.  You bring in a new client, you make a deposit, maybe a big deposit.  As long as the balance is in the black, you're good, with your employer, your friends, your wife, your kids, etc.  Even if you get in the red, a lot of times they will cut you some slack if in the long run you've always maintained a good sized balance.

I used to trust in Mike Shanahan for many years.  He would make moves and some of them I would think, "Huh?" but often they would work out.  Hey, he won two superbowls. Then he started to get rid of the guys who got them there.  In fairness, some of them, like John Elway got old and retired.  Some like Terrell Davis and Al Wilson got hurt and retired.  But there was some coaches, who got tired of his antics, or wanted to break out on their own and left.  There was guys like Trevor Pryce who he clashed with and he got rid of them for a song.  Can you imagine where we might have been with some of those guys on the roster the last couple of years?
The running game stalled.  The defense just got worse and worse.  I've read some of the posts here on MHR where they detail how as soon as Al Wilson got hurt and retired, the defense just caved.  The Mastermind was drafting guys like Maurice Clarett, George Foster, Terry Pierce, Ashley Lelie and Deltha O'Neal.  Big withdrawls.  The trust account was emptying out fast.  He hit 2006 and drafted Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, Chris Kuper and Domenik Hixon (who I always thought he gave up on waaaay too quickly).  And I remember thinking, "Hey maybe he's got his mojo back."  (I now think that was due more to Xanders coming on board than the mastermind's doing... drop a little deposit in the X-man's account)
But Shanny's account hit the red with Pat Bowlen and he was all out of trust with the big guy.  I was with a lot of the fans and thought we needed to get a defensive minded coach and I was rooting for Steve Spagnuolo from the Giants, but we never seemed to even go after him.  Now look what he's done with sad-sack St. Louis.
Instead they grab the one-year wunderkind from the Patriots who take a career back-up QB (hell, he was a career back up for his entire college career) who made Matt Cassell look like the second coming of Tom Brady.  I didn't like the move.  But, he picked up Mike Nolan as his defensive coordinator who I had great respect for (deposit), he/they drafted Clady, Royal, Torain, Larsen and Peyton Hillis.  I loved the picks, loved how they played (deposit, deposit, deposit...).  He immediately mishandled the Cutler situation and we all watched The Feud progress until Cutler was traded (major withdrawl, although looking back we got a bunch of draft picks, an OK QB and got rid of one of the biggest whiny-babies in the league).  We watched him start purging the team of Brandon Marshall (withdrawl, again, now looks like genius with his off the field issues) Tony Scheffler and Peyton Hillis (major withdrawls).
But, we started out 6-0, looked unbeatable due to Nolan's defense (Cha-Ching, huge deposit) and I thought, Hey maybe I was wrong about the guy.  And then we collapsed.  And the Minimind pissed off Nolan so bad with his interference and know-it-allness that Nolan left at the end of the season.  And you know the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say.  More stupid personnel moves (withdrawl after withdrawl) until the  huge account-closing withdrawl with his connection with the Video taping saga and subsequent firing.  Good riddance.
So, the question is, have the Denver Broncos earned your trust back?  Is there a positive balance in the account?
This is how I see it.  They hire John Elway to oversee football operations.  (Hmmm, not sure about this one initially, but OK, small deposit).  They hire John Fox as Head Coach. (Again, not sure about this initially, but the guy is defensive minded, has turned around horrible teams in the past, so OK small deposit.  I would like to note here that this move has been a larger and larger deposit as time has gone on for me as I've gotten to know the guy better and seen how he handles things.)  They bring in Dennis Allen to fix the defense (small deposit).  They keep Brian Xanders around as general manager (who I actually think is one of the few highlights over the last couple of years-deposit), they keep Eric Studesville and Mike McCoy to keep some offensive continuity (small deposits).
And then the draft.  I love the pick of Von Miller (Ka-Ching).  He is a beast and IMO the stud of the draft.  Yeah, yeah, I know we needed defensive tackles, but they take years to develop and there just wasn't a Ndamukong Suh lurking around this year.  They picked up the best safety in the draft in Rahim Moore and it looks like he's going to start from day one.  They pick up Orlando Franklin and my jury is still out on this one.  They grab the best middle line backer in the draft in Nate Irving, the next best safety in Quinton Carter, Julius Thomas who looks in camp to be the second coming of Antonio Gates (yeah, I know it's early, but I'm excited), and some supporting cast members (cha-ching, cha-ching cha-ching).
We get rid of a boat load of dead money.  Nice X-man! (deposit)  We re-sign Vickerson to a 2 year.  And then we wait, and wait and wait...
Then, fiiiiinally comes free agency.  We sign a nice backup/scout team QB in Adam Weber, we grab Mario Fannin who unfortunately get injured and may be out all year (I just read somewhere he was cut).  We grab D'Andre Goodwin who might be Demaryius Thomas' replacement until he gets better.  And a few more nice filler pieces.  We re-sign our strong-legged kicker Matt Prater, Wes Woodyard and Marcus Thomas.  We trade away an aging wide-receiver (and Minimind free agent) Jabbar Gaffney for DT Jeremy Jarmon and trade a 5th round pick to the Eagles for Broderick Bunkley who looks to be our starting (at least, so far) DT and at the very least some depth at our weakest link.  We replace Gaffney's spot with David Anderson.  We grab Willis McGahee, who while he may not be my first choice, comes at a much more reasonable price than some of the other free agents and might be the best running back to don orange and blue since Clinton Portis.  We grab our (for the time-being) starting TE in Daniel Fells and another good blocking TE with Dante Rosario to push Quinn and Gronkowski (maybe it's a Minimind/Sheffler lashback thing, but I don't like either of those guys).  We grab a backup DE in Derrick Harvey.  The whole time the media is screaming about no Defensive Tackles being signed and who should start at quarterback there's this constant Cha-ching, cha-ching sound going on in the background.  Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm liking the deposits I'm seeing.
I don't think we're done.  This insane free agency period isn't over.  Everyone has to drop to the 53 man roster and I think there's some gems still waiting to be plucked off the waiver wire by the front office.  I don't think they are done yet.
I read the papers, the blogs and everyone's opinion including Rick the douchebag Reilly and Merrill Hoge (who I normally respect, but who shoved a fence post up his... whatever) and I think Bob Papa has it right.  We don't see the big picture.  We aren't privy to the grand plan.  Jerry Reese has done a pretty good job over the last few years for the Giants and added a lot of deposits to his bank account and so Giants fans can relax a bit and know that Jerry has the big picture and will do OK by them.
Can we say the same about our team?  Has John Elway, John Fox and Brian Xanders added enough deposits this off season, that we as fans can take a Valium, relax, and trust them that they are going to go OK by us going forward?  They've got the big picture and maybe we need to cut EFX a little slack and just wait and see what happens with this QB thing.  Let the media scream and holler about who should be starting and trust that the powers-that-be have our back and will start the best QB come the start of the year.  Do we have enough faith that Elway and Fox, who ought to know something about whether a QB is ready to play yet, will mentor Tebow and give him his shot when he's ready?  How many QBs have we seen thrown to the wolves and mentally destroyed/sacked silly/pulverized before they were ready (think David Carr and probably Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Andy Dalton this year)?
Personally, I wouldn't say the bank account was overflowing yet, but it's in the black for the first time in a really long time.  In EFX I trust.  At least until I see some seriously huge withdrawls...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Prologue to my book

I would like to get some feedback on this.  So please read below and then let me know what you think in the comment section.  I'm writing a book, I have the outline done and I'm partway through the first chapter.  Actually, I was partway through and started doing a complete rewrite of the first chapter, didn't like where I started at.  So give me some positive (or negative, I guess) feedback.  Thank you in advance.

Watch Guard Maren stared out into the inky blackness beyond The Wall.  No moon tonight to give any indication of anything.  Not even the bright warlights mounted on the turrets made a dent in this darkness.  It was less than useless being out here on a night like this, he thought to himself.  There was nothing to see, nothing to do but get chilled.  He hunched his shoulders against the chilling darkness and tugged at his thick, woollen cloak to keep it even tighter about his body and he continued his rounds.  His steps echoed dully on the ancient stone, slick tonight with the condensation from the drifting fog.  He’d have to be careful where he put his feet tonight if he was going to make it back to the warmth of the fire in the guardhouse in one piece.

Just two more days to go.  Two more days and he could choose a specialty.  Two more miserable, windswept nights and he would choose to be a Rider.  All his life, he’d waited for this spot.  To be one of the Horse Guards, with their resplendent black uniforms with white helmets, was every child’s dream in Eryri.  Every young man dreamed of riding with the Guards and travelling the whole of the land and beyond, going to fight the Gehennom alongside the troops of Gander.  They dreamed of riding to victory and great honour on the curly coated steeds of Eryri.  Two more days and Maren would reach his 18th birthday and his dream would come true.

He’d loved his time working with the Horse Masters, cleaning stables, watching them break and train the great Curly chargers.  Maren had survived his time with the Craft Masters, learned to make elementary weapons, barely passed those exams.  The masters had taken one look at his bow and sword and he’d spent most of the rest of the time sweeping and emptying scrap bins, he remembered embarrassingly.  He’d done better with the Warders learning the slick footed dance of the sword masters.  He’d won his sword (fortunately not one of his own making, he thought wryly to himself).  He learned to fight with the lance and the staff, and even bare-handed.  Somehow, he’d managed to stay awake in the long classes on history, been fascinated by the lectures in tactics and strategy.  He’d excelled at his time on horseback, a few minutes with whatever horse they gave him and he had a bond with the animal.  He’d done even better with the Bow Masters, learning to shoot the composite horn bows accurately, to breathe out as he released his arrow; and then from the back of the Curlies where they were taught to shoot only in mid-gallop as the horse had all four feet in the air so as not to disturb the shot.  He’d scored near-perfect shots on all four of his tries, galloping through the obstacle course at full speed, holding on with his knees as he fired arrows into the targets from the saddle.

Just last week the Master of Horses himself had showed up and let him know that he’d be welcome with the Horse Masters if he so chose.  But he’d also had overtures from the Horse Guards, nothing as startling as the Master of Horses incident, but casually dropped comments from various Commanders that let it be know they had their eye on him.  It was still up to him, and as much as he was flattered by the Horse Masters interest, he’d always dreamed of riding into town on a black Curly, clad in the black dress uniform with the gold braid, the forest green leggings, polished black knee-high boots, white gloves and that dazzling white helmet sprouting white-bleached horsehair blowing in the wind, along with his long cloak.  He’d spent many hours on his family’s croft tending sheep, day-dreaming about the day he would ride into battle with a Company of Troopers...

A gust of wind tugged at his cloak and he broke from his reverie.  A faint noise penetrated the deep blackness of the night.  He stopped and peered over the battlement into the pass below.  There was nothing to be seen, nothing that could be seen in the mist-soaked pitch of night.  It was probably some animal, an owl or other night hunter after an evening meal.  Although how they could see anything to hunt, he had no idea.  It wasn’t like The Wall had even been attacked in the last hundred years.  The Gehinnom had learned years ago that it couldn’t be breached.  He remembered his history lessons.  They’d launched attack after attack on it to no avail.  Even their foul magic unleashed upon the ancient edifice, to destroy it, ultimately melted the face of the wall until it was one single mass of stone, unbreakable and impenetrable.  “Useless”, he told himself for the hundredth time this evening as he stamped his feet and tried to hunch deeper into his cloak.  Near morning, he corrected himself.  Only another hour or so and then his shift was up and he could retire for a few more hours sleep.  He’d head back to the guardhouse and warm himself one last time in front of the fire and then make his last patrol of his section of The Wall before roster change.

He breathed in the moist, spring night air as he patrolled along the great stone wall.  Maren smelled the acrid tang of smoke from the warlights, the fresh green smell from the trees in the pass below the wall.  And he caught a hint of something else.  That fetid, dead stench that he’d smelled so many times this year as he’d spent his appointed shift patrolling along the top of the parapets.  Whenever the wind blew from the north, as it often did, it would drag the scent of decay up from along the River Black, up through the pass before depositing the aroma here along The Wall.  But there was very little wind tonight.  Just enough air movement to make the mist drift lazily between Maren and the closest warlight.  So why was the stink so thick tonight?  His night-weary brain puzzled on the matter.  Perhaps he ought to sound the alarm.  He snorted at the thought.  Sure, and be the butt of every joke in the barracks for the last two days.  He could hear the laughter and jests now.  “Maren is afraid of a little smell...  Give Maren latrine duty to toughen up his delicate nose.”

He stopped and peered again into the shadows.  “Two days more,” he reminded himself. “Just two days...”

A shadow, black against the pitch-black of the night, dropped out of the sky onto him.  For a second he stared in shock, then broke and started to run, his right handed grasping the hilt of his sword, attempting to draw it as he tried to gain some space from the monster materializing from mist.

“Sound the alarm,” he screamed into the night and turned to face the Horror.  A second cry of warning was squelched as he was instantly knocked off his feet.  Something had punched him in the gut, he couldn’t breathe.  He looked up at his attacker in sheer terror.  A nightmare swam out of the darkness.  Huge horns protruded from boney plates and scales, a giant maw opened to reveal slick, sharp fangs as long as his sword.  A massive claw reached out for him as he scrabbled backwards in panic.

Then the warlights went out.  The darkness was so thick he could taste it.  He rolled to the side and lurched to his feet and began to run towards where the guardhouse should be.  He had to reach the guardhouse and sound the alarm.

Another crushing blow hit him from behind and then he was flung out into the darkness below.  “I must be falling,” was his first thought as he floated in the black.

Then a second and last thought before the darkness took him.

“There’s no such thing as dragons.”

Down more than 10 pounds!

The body by Vi shakes continue to amaze me.  They taste great, much better than Slim-Fast, Boost or Ensure.  They're soy-based so they don't make me break out in hives (I'm allergic to milk).  Yesterday I took one in the morning, ate leftover meatloaf and funeral potatoes for lunch, planned on having a shake for supper (more on that later) but Mom and Barb made Sweet and Sour chicken over rice for supper and I just couldn't pass that up.  So with only one shake yesterday I still dropped another pound (366.4) and am down over 10 pounds so far!  Yay!
I got to thinking about it, our pioneer fore bearers (and the Amish today) used to eat a big breakfast, then an even larger lunch, then a very small supper.  (Yes, I know and lots of physical exercise / manual labour)  But the point isn't the amount of calories they were burning (something like 5-6000), is the timing and size of the meals.  So I am going to try a shake in the morning, eat my solid meal in the middle of the day and have a shake for supper in which I use the Vi-Trim packet that suppresses my appetite where I need it most, at night.  I get serious growlies at night and feel like I'm starving, so maybe this will help.
I just threw a roast in the oven for tonight, I'm trying something out, if it works out, I'll share the recipe with you tomorrow.