Abracadabra...uh, open sesame...uh, hocus pocus

Last night, I got home from work around 1 in the morning and pulled up to the electronic gate to my parking garage and pressed my remote key fob button. Nothing happened. I waved it out the window, then got out of the car and walked up to the gate, pressing the key fob near any place I thought the sensor might reside. No luck.

One car pulled up behind me, then another, and soon a few others. We all stood outside our cars, pressing our key fobs. In our neighborhood, there wasn't any street parking, so we were stuck. It was 1 in the morning, I was dead tired, and I was not a happy camper (though if my key fob was out of order then I was on the verge of being literally an unhappy camper).

So I turned my attention to the exit gate, just next to the entrance. That was one of those gates that opened as soon as you pulled up to it. The sensor for that was a bit further inside the garage, but by sticking my tennis racket through the gate I could just reach far enough to trip it and open the gate. I managed to lean my tennis racket against the sensor and then directed traffic through the exit like John McClane waving the planes home at the end of Die Hard 2.

A different discontent plagued me in the nanosecond before I passed out. The security in our parking garage is not good, not good at all.


Kanye vs. 50 Cent, as judged by Amazon Sales Rank: Decision to Kanye. Critic's average judgment? The same. From guns to lyrics to now sales...hip-hop conflicts are progressing to more civilized playing fields.


Jon Stewart will host the Oscars in February. He seemed a bit nervous to start the last time (even the coolest customer can experience some jitters in the face of so much star power), but he loosened up by the end of the ceremony. I think the second time will be the charm.


My favorite Microsoft application was always Excel. I spent a good portion of my early career in that application building massive models, writing macros in VBA, pushing it to its limits. It didn't always keep up--I always had problems getting linked workbooks to update and calculate quickly, and sharing workbooks among my team never worked quite as we wanted to--but of the Office suite, it's always been king.

I hate Powerpoint, and Word's formatting quirks always drove me batty. So when Apple came out with Keynote, and then Pages, I was willing to switch over. I haven't yet, but only because I don't use Word or Powerpoint anymore. All my writing now is done in a plain text editor, e-mail client, script formatting software, or with an actual pen and notebook. As for Powerpoint, I haven't had to make one of those in years, hallelujah.

But I was curious about Numbers, the new spreadsheet app in iWork 08, so I fired it up, imported an Excel spreadsheet, and gave it a whirl. I attempted to update the spreadsheet

Though I like a lot of the interface decisions made in Numbers, I will remain, for the time being, an Excel guy. And it isn't because Number lacks advanced features like pivot tables. My main complaint with Numbers is that it's not keyboard friendly. You have to use the mouse to do so many things that Excel allows you to do without leaving the keyboard. Mousing around a spreadsheet is just counter to my working style.

Numbers might be the "spreadsheet for the rest of us," but I guess that makes me one of Them.


George Saunders appears on David Letterman.


Looks like I won't be seeing The White Stripes in concert after all. Disappointing.


Patriots fined and penalized for videotaping NY Jets defensive signals. Outside of the Bears, the Patriots were once one of the few teams I rooted for because they seemed to win by being smarter than their opponents. Outside of Tom Brady, they didn't have too many marquee names, and they didn't have a crazy financial advantage like teams like the Yankees or Red Sox because of the NFL salary cap. They were the Oakland A's of the NFL.

I suspect that the advantage they gathered from videotaping opponent signals is overstated (as is the case with many forms of cheating in sports), but what's disappointing is the hubris and stupidity/arrogance represented by the videotaping scheme. They were playing a team coached by one of their ex assistant coaches; how did they think they were going to get away with it?And anyone watching the two teams would think it ridiculous that the Patriots had to resort to such scheming to defeat the Jets.

If Mangini was part of such a practice when he was with the Patriots, and if he was indeed the one who snitched his ex-team out, then there's a beautiful tragic resonance to the sequence of events. Every one involved with the scheme is getting what they deserve: Mangini is seen as a rat, Belichick (never a warm fuzzy personality to begin with) is seen as a win at all costs Nixon of the NFL, and the Patriots now will never get the full credit they deserve for their accomplishments.

People are always going to be jealous of and resent perennial winners, but it certainly helps the cause to have ammunition. Brady fathering children out of wedlock and dating supermodels, Harrison using HGH, Belichick and staff using videotape surveillance...it's more than enough.

As a sidenote, a cyclist caught using HGH nowadays is looking at a minimum of a year's suspension and a lifetime of disgrace. A pro football player caught using steroids or HGH gets a four game suspension and then is back on the field, or in the case of Shawn Merriman, on to the Pro Bowl or Nike television commercials.

The NFL has been rocked by all sorts of scandal for a year straight now, from Michael Vick to HGH to PatriotsGate to the revolving convict lineup on the Bengals to who knows what else, and you know what? The league is as popular as ever. The NFL is so popular that it doesn't seem to absorb any economic penalty from scandal. Perhaps because of the violent nature of the game, fans seem far more tolerant of steroid use in the NFL than in other sports.