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Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Making Certain Positions Known

After maintaining a blog – sometimes more, sometimes less – for more than a year and a half, I feel like I’ve staked out a little personal identity on the Internet. It just occurred to me, after preening over my latest number one hit on Google (“elbow and send”, if you must know, and I have no clue how long it has been that way), and catching the end of Boston Legal, where Denny and Alan apparently have different wishes on what is to happen to their remains, that I have a forum here, a place to express myself. I’ve expressed the quirky and mundane, taken my shots at the deeply introspective, and tried… aw, screw it. This blog has no focus or cogency other than to drop little bits of myself out there on the Web.

Although I have strongly considered preparing a living will, and often thought about having that serious sit-down talk with the most important people in my life, I never have seemed to have gotten around to actually doing it. And that’s just not sound preparation for a cancer survivor. But right here I can grasp an idea when it comes to mind and pound away at it.

So I guess I’ll start to lay out my views on some of those really important decisions about what to do with me when I’m not actually able to be there and provide my input. It might take some time for my true position to evolve, or I might just nail it the first time around. Here goes.

I don’t want to be kept alive on machines for an interminable amount of time after things have gone really bad and I’m not able to take care of myself anymore. I don’t want a machine to breathe for me, or pump my blood for me, or feed me if I can’t swallow. If I need one or all of those things to get through something from which I might recover – by all means, give my body the chance. But if I can’t pull off a recovery in a reasonable time – I’ll have to let the doctors decide what is reasonable, I just don’t know – then it’s probably over, and I don’t want my life sustained artificially beyond that. Don’t get me wrong – I want to live. Give me a chance, and if I’m capable of doing it, I will. I know from the close calls that I have had, the face-to-face encounters with death, that I have a strong will to live.

If the end is inevitable, I’d prefer to see it through. I don’t want to off myself to avoid the last six months, like those death with dignity advocates. Nothing against them, but I’ll take it when it comes, not before, and not after. If pain is involved, so be it. Pain is a part of life; I’ve learned to appreciate it for what it is. If my last days are destined to be spent experiencing that particular part, then let me have that much. Pain management is only for those who are going to survive.

Although I am often able to keep myself entertained solely with mental exercises, I don’t want that to be the only remaining thing in my life. If the body doesn’t work right anymore, but the doctors think the mind is still alive and there, I’m pretty sure that I’ll get tired of it eventually. Unless I can continue to contribute to humankind, say, like solve the mysteries of the universe, then it’s over. I don’t care what great thoughts might be rolling around in that head of mine; if I can’t provide feedback, then it’s a waste. Maybe technology will provide a way to for my mind to interact with the world despite a failed body – in that case, I’ll let you know my wishes. But otherwise, I want the coup-de-grace. I don’t want anyone to go to jail for giving me what I want; I have enough friends who would know how to do it right. Just give them the chance to hear about me, and they’ll show up when they’re needed. Don’t question them too much if they take me out to look at the ocean and I end up falling over a cliff.

And once it’s over – well, it’s over, as far as I’m concerned. My parts are no good to anybody, thanks to the melanoma. I can appreciate that we have come up with certain rituals for mourning. I realize that these rituals are meant for the living, not the dead. I’ll leave it up to you to have the final say on those rites. There have been many people in my life that have been special to me, and I want you all to be able to to say goodbye to me in a way that will leave you satisfied.

Intellect, not emotion, says that I have to put in a word for medical science. But if there is no pressing need, or if the remains aren’t in a suitable state, I’d rather indulge in something more symbolic. If you must know, the most romantic, captivating image to me, personally, is the pyre. Read Zelazny’s This Immortal. I realize, however, that this is no longer common or practical, and it might be a little too much for some. Spreading my ashes might be a viable option – as long as you don’t repeat the scene from The Big Lebowski! Well, I wouldn’t mind the coffee can, and maybe if I’m wrong and I was able to watch, I would appreciate the humor!

I’m also torn because I’ve participated in enough military funerals that I respect that particular ritual. I would truly appreciate some acknowledgment from my comrades of my service. They will be able to provide alternatives. Just, if you chose to go with burial, don’t try to forestall the inevitable and fill my body up with preservatives, and put me into an impermeable box. Let nature take its course.

Well, that’s my piece. I’ll let it stand as it is now – but I’ll keep checking on it. So, until you see this revised, consider it to be my final wishes. Of course, my ultimate preference is that none of you who ever reads this will be around to see it come to use!

Hmmm. Think I nailed it.

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me at 23:10 PST

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Friday, November 24th, 2006

2006 Chargers Playoff Hopes – Week 11+

With a Kansas City win over Denver on Thanksgiving, and San Diego facing the weak Oakland at home this Sunday, calling the winner of the AFC West this year gets a little easier – it’s San Diego, as long as they don’t mess up against the Raiders. San Diego should win, but with their heavy causalities on the defense, Oakland’s desire to play hard during this traditional rivalry, and the idea of recent praise getting to the Chargers’ heads and softening them up, it’s definitely not a given. I’m counting on Marty to ride this team so that they don’t soften, and they’ve spent too much time this season with no respect to let the recent notice of the talking heads go to their heads yet. Our depth at defense has proven itself, and our second and third stringers are ready and able to show their ability to take the 2006 Chargers to their destiny – all the way.

So at this point in the season, I’m not so worried about discussing whether the Chargers will make the playoffs – I’m looking at how they will be positioned, and their chances of going to the SuperBowl. And despite the dominance of the Chicago Bears over the NFC, there’s just no way that the AFC Champion won’t be able to take the NFC victor this year.

So I’ve done an analysis of the AFC at this point. Wow, what a struggle! So many good teams going up against each other; so many unknowns and outcomes impossible to call. There’s a lot of great football left this year. But I’ve looked at the remaining schedule and I’m ready to try the impossible. Why not? Just lump me in as another talking head.

Here’s what we have left in the AFC, looking at the current leaders. First, the current division leaders, with records and streaks. Divisional games are highlighted in red, conference games in yellow:

SD 8-2 (+4) IND 9-1 (-1) BAL 8-2 (+4) NE 7-3 (+1)
OAK 2-8 (-3) PHI 5-5 (-1) PIT 4-6 (+2) CHI 9-1 (+2)
@BUF 4-6 (+1) @TEN 3-7 (+1) @CIN 5-5 (+1) DET 2-9 (-3)
DEN 7-4 (-2) @JAX 6-4 (+1) @KC 7-4 (+2) @MIA 5-6 (+4)
KC 7-4 (+2) CIN 5-5 (+1) CLE 3-7 (-1) HOU 3-7 (-1)
@SEA 6-4 (-1) @HOU 3-7 (-1) @PIT 4-6 (+2) @JAX 6-4 (+1)
ARI 2-8 (+1) MIA 5-6 (+4) BUF 4-6 (+1) @TEN 3-7 (+1)

My calls:

SD 13-3 IND 14-2 BAL 12-4 NE 11-5

Looking at the wildcard possibilities:

KC 7-4 (+2) DEN 7-4 (-2) JAX 6-4 (+1) CIN 5-5 (+1) NYJ 5-5 (-1)
@BUF 4-6 (+1) @CLE 3-7 (-1) HOU 3-7 (-1)
@CLE 3-7 (-1) SEA 6-4 (-1) @MIA 5-6 (+4) BAL 8-2 (+4) @GB 4-6 (-1)
BAL 8-2 (+4) @SD 8-2 (+4) IND 9-1 (-1) OAK 2-8 (-3) BUF 4-6 (+1)
@SD 8-2 (+4) @ARI 2-8 (+1) @TEN 3-7 (+1) @IND 9-1 (-1) @MIN 4-6 (-4)
@OAK 2-8 (-3) CIN 5-5 (+1) NE 7-3 (+1) @DEN 7-4 (-2) @MIA 5-6 (+4)
JAX 6-4 (+1) SF 5-5 (+3) @KC 7-4 (+2) PIT 4-6 (+2) OAK 2-8 (-3)

My calls:

KC 11-5 DEN 10-6 JAX 10-6 CIN 8-8 NYJ 10-6

Now, that would leave three teams at 10-6, fighting for the last wildcard spot. According to the NFL tiebreaking rules, three tied teams would first resort to divisional records:

10-6 Current Projected
DEN 3-2 3-3
JAX 1-3 2-4
NYJ 3-1 5-1

That would put the New York Jets into the sixth seed and the playoffs. Can’t say I’m happy about that, given the way the Jets knocked San Diego out during the Chargers miracle 2004 season, but that would result in the following first round of the playoffs:

Home Team Record Against Record My Call
Indianapolis 14-2 Bye
San Diego 13-3 Bye
Baltimore 12-4 New York Jets 10-6 Baltimore
New England 11-5 Kansas City 11-5 New England

Continuing to the second round:

Home Team Against
My Call
Indianapolis New England New England
San Diego Baltimore San Diego

So I’m calling an AFC Championship game of San Diego vs. New England at San Diego. I’ll call that game at San Diego by 3, and the Chargers go on to the SuperBowl, where they’ll win by 8.

Go Chargers!

Posted by Greg as Football at 10:16 PST

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Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

San Diego Chargers Power Rankings, Week 11

Although it becomes increasingly obvious to me that I am still a neophyte football fan*. I have put quite a bit of time this season searching the Internet for a metric that recognized my favorite team. At first I relied on oddsmakers, but then I found that (what turned out to be) ephemeral grading – the Power Rankings. Since neither of these gave me satisfaction after I had gone and seen the team at training camp, I chose instead to relish in the knowledge that I was sitting on a sleeper – the 2006 Chargers were SuperBowl contenders, and noboby seemed to realize it. After what I had seen, I found that I had discovered my own personal appreciation for the skill set that went into NFL football.

So here we are after Week 11, looking at the record, and trying to assess the potential that has already been revealed in predicting the outcome of the season. Other people, far more experienced than me, are trying to do so as well. I can’t eliminate my prejudice, and I know now that nobody can foresee the future in a game that only counts winning, when winning is an outcome determined by too many factors to calculate. But we still keep trying to – I guess that’s human nature.

What I can do is show how others have started falling in line with my way of thinking (I tried making a neat table, but it’s too much of a pain):

ESPN/ABC – #1
Fox – #1
NFL – Aikman Efficiency – #2
Sports Illustrated – #2
Football Outsiders – #2 (statistics junkies)
NBC – #3
USA Today – #3
CBS – #4 (Stupid Prisco!)
NFL – Vic Carucci – #4 (Stupid Carucci!)

Keep in mind that many of these links will go to the current week, so their life is limited.


*I was born and raised in Australia, coming to the USA at the age of 14 in 1979. As a native of the Melbourne area, I grew up with Australian Rules Football, and was a dedicated Carlton fan back when the club featured Alex Jesaulenko. (Yes, I’m sure I watched The Mark during the 1970 Grand Final against Collingwood!)

During my bumbling adolescent years [193 cm (6' 4"), 66 kilos (145 lbs), with the grace and coordination of a (insert most uncoordinated image you can think of here), and totally lacking the most basic skill set in any US game], I exhibited a distinct lack of interest in sports. A pity, since, after my US Army years, I had bulked up enough, and became physical enough, that during my 20th high school reunion, I had all the ex-football players walking up and looking quizzically at at me, wondering why they didn’t remember me. Maybe I could have made a great tight end or defensive end. Ironic that my broken nose is a result of an Army scratch football game.

Gradually, I overcame the scorn that I felt for American football (they’re just big guys running into each other!) and became a fan. Scorning local loyalties (I went to high school in a suburb of Philadelphia), and living in the borderline state of Delaware, I chose to become a Washington Redskins fan. That served me well during the rest of the eighties, but after getting out of the Army in 1991 and moving to San Diego, there were few Skins games I could watch, and few there were worth watching.

After over a decade of indifference, in 2003 I decided to switch allegiances and affiliate myself with the San Diego Chargers. That year was a disappointment, but at least I was watching football again. My timing turned out to be precipitous. The team was rebuilding, and I caught the fever – seeing the rebuilding of the team, and having escaped the “bandwagon” misnomer, I became a real fan. Since then, the team has grown in leaps and bounds, and my allegiance has been rewarded. Go Chargers!

Hmmm. This postscript has grown to the point that it merits transfer to the “About Me” section.

Posted by Greg as Football at 17:04 PST

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Sunday, November 19th, 2006

San Diego Chargers #1!

San Diego 35, Denver 27. At Denver!

There’s just so many things I could say, so many records broken, so many expectations exceeded. But somehow I need to settle down and get to sleep tonight, or I won’t be able to show up for work tomorrow before noon!

Just wait for the power rankings to come out this week. If San Diego doesn’t top at least half of them, I’m just giving up on the idea of power rankings.

On top of it all, I heard something tonight that I never, never expected to hear. Al Michaels threw it out there for all the world – “Air Marty.”

Martyball is dead. Long live Martyball!

Update: glorify used the term Air Marty in his August 31, 2006 post at glorifythepast.com. And our own Kevin Acee of the Union Tribune used the term in his story on October 16, 2006.

Posted by Greg as Football at 20:43 PST

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Saturday, November 18th, 2006

2006 Chargers Playoff Hopes – Week 10

I haven’t had much time to write about the San Diego Chargers this season. Hell, I haven’t had much time to watch the games, nor to write. It’s time to start changing that.

I see that I haven’t posted about the Chargers since my preseason prediction on 11 August. That’s a pity, since I really got into the swing of things last year, and this year I had hoped to better. But things are as they are. Although I’ve been voraciously consuming all sorts of oddsmaking, power rankings and sports writing in the meantime, I haven’t made the time to cackle with glee over how I foresaw a much better outcome by this point in the NFL season than most of the pros.

Due to personal, geography/broadcast and travel problems, I’ve missed watching a lot of Chargers games so far. In fact, I’ve been dismayed to notice that, prior to last week’s game against Cincinnati, the Chargers’ season record was 5-0 when I didn’t watch the game, and 1-2 when I did. True, some of those missed games were given low priority because they were against easy opponents; and I listened to them on the radio as best as I could, trying to keep AM radio tuned in as I drove across various deserts. Was I a jinx? The Bengals game ended that thought, even if I had to wonder that watching might in fact be hazardous to my health. (Note to self – cut down on the trans fats!) I’ve been comforted by the thought that I know these players and how they move – that I can see in my mind’s eye what they look like when they’re making the moves that I can only hear or see on the NFL.com game summary.

So here we are with a 7-2 record, the day before Week 11. Tomorrow, the Chargers go to Denver to play the Broncos in one of the most important games of the season, hoping for a win against an opponent that knows us all too well in a place that seems to be cursed for us. The Chargers are the highest scoring team in the league, going up against the team that has allowed the fewest points. It’s going to be a great game, and we’ve got Al Michaels and John Madden to provide commentary – the best coverage out there. But we’re doing it without Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, and maybe an up-to-par Eric Parker – putting the onus on our improved-but-still-weak secondary against Javon Walker – and Marlon McCree, the secondary’s leader, has still to be sensitive about the criticism he got from the mis-read hit he put on wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh last week. The Broncos offense doesn’t have a great scoring record, and quarterback Jake Plummer has been inconsistent, but the battle for points in this game is going to be tight.

Since Madden knows the true value of how well our offensive line – Mike Goff, Shane Olivea, Nick Hardwick, Kris Dielman, and Marcus McNeill – has been performing, and since he has to be the number one fan of our defensive tackle, Jamal Williams, I’m going to expect that his commentary is going to be colored in favor of the Chargers. I’ve noticed that a lot of pro writers have come out predicting a Chargers win, despite the average 2.5 point line favoring Denver. But odds are determined by public opinion, and on any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team – especially in this decade’s AFC. Public opinion can be wrong. This game is going to be a meat grinder. This game, like so many others, will hinge on turnovers, and San Diego seems to have finally learned how to take that to their advantage. I kind of like that San Diego is going into it as the underdogs – in our rebirth 2004 season, we often did best as the underdog. Since I expect that the AFC Championship game is going to be San Diego vs. New England, which we will win handily – I expect that this game will be the most pivotal in the AFC this year.

Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This post is titled “Playoff Hopes”, remember? There’s just no way to under-emphasize what this game means. A San Diego loss would mean that that Denver advances to clear leadership of the AFC West division, and with the divisional record and a relatively easy schedule remaining for them, they would take the West, even if San Diego wins the rest of their games. That puts San Diego into the position of getting into the playoffs as a wild card, and maybe having to play Denver at Denver again, where the loss would but them at a distinct psychological disadvantage. But a win changes everything. We take the West for now, and with our undefeated home record, we can hold on to it. If Baltimore and New England stumble just once each during the rest of the season, we’ll slide into a bye for the first week of the playoffs and face whoever puts the Indianapolis Colts into their place. I think it will be the Patriots, but I hope it’s the Ravens. We’ve played them before, lost, and redefined the team in accordance. That redefinition will take us to the Superbowl.

Can we beat Chicago or the NY Giants? I think the question is whether we can beat them by less than 14 points. My dream Superbowl this year, let me say it now, is going up against Drew Brees and the Saints. That game would be tough – Drew knows us even better than the Broncos. Although San Diego General Manager A. J. Smith has been proven right more often than wrong (I still chafe at passing up on safety Troy Polamalu), giving up Brees will be the defining point of his career. So far, after anointing Philip Rivers as the San Diego quarterback, I’ll continue to place my confidence in A. J.

Back to tomorrow. Let me pull out this thing – what is it? Oh, a crystal ball! I rub; the smoke forms, then clears – whoa! San Diego 27, Denver 21. Cool! Did I mention Nate Kaeding?

Posted by Greg as Football, Posts About Me at 12:04 PST

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Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Fighting Security Theater

Something has finally come up that I cannot ignore. If you’re unfamiliar with the term security theater, you may as well stop reading now. The rest of this post won’t make any sense to you. You’re the sort of person that thinks that not being allowed to carry a bottle of water onto a plane makes you safer.

The good folks at EFF have filed an amicus brief to a lawsuit to force the TSA to reveal the regulation that requires travelers using air transport within the United States to show photo ID.

Now, I fly on airplanes for business and pleasure. I have always wanted to be able to do my job, and there have been plenty of times that I found it cheaper and more time-efficient to fly to spend time with my family. So I’ve walked up to the counter, and to the security gate, and when asked, whipped out some photo id. I’m lucky in that I have at least three – driver’s license, passport, and a government contractor CAC card, not to mention photo credit cards.

I do it because I wanted to get on the plane. What has chaffed me for a long time is the knowledge that, if I ever had have challenged the airline representative or security official as to why I had to present ID, I would have been told that it was a government requirement. If I had have pressed the issue, and asked for the law or regulation that required it, I would have been told that it was classified.

This may seem to be a fine point. But in the USA, if you’ve ever gotten a traffic ticket, you can look at it and see a citation of the vehicle code that you supposedly violated. If you’ve ever been arrested, you have the right to know the charge against you. You can look up the law or regulation that you have been charged with violating, and read the law; which usually includes the definitions of the terms used in phrasing of the law or regulation that you’re reading. These are conditions that form a part of the social contract that is the basis of Law; we are expected to comply with them as part of living within our society. Here in America we have the expectation that we can know the laws with which we must comply – who has not heard that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

But that doesn’t apply if you want to know why you have to show photo ID to get on a plane.

Our Founding Fathers had an inherent distrust of government – that’s why they crafted a governing document that has been a shining example to the world. We’ve only had to tweak it fifteen times in the 200+ years since the Bill of Rights (not including the mistake of Prohibition and fixing it.) That both proves its inherent soundness and its flexibility.

If you agree with those principles, you ought to be on board with me in supporting the EFF. If you want the technicalities, read the entire brief. I just think that if there is a law that we have to comply with, we ought to be able to know what it is. Then we can judge whether it’s a good law or not.

Posted by Greg as Current Events at 21:47 PST

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Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

What the Hell…

In for a penny, in for a pound.

The San Diego office of Corrpro Companies, Inc. decided to have a dress-up day for Halloween. Funny how they never did that in the eight years that I was there. Well, you fools, you sent me a picture, but you didn’t say that I couldn’t post it on my website! With any luck, you’ll soon be the first thing that shows up whenever anyone does a Google Image Search for Corrpro!

Corrpro San Diego Halloween 2006

From left to right: Rick, Pat, Rob, Teresa, Cade, Derek, Peggy

MIA: Nelson, Michael (of course, Greg); Janet, the HR goddess – and the entire Coatings Section!

I could make further comments, but I really have to resist the temptation. (Notice that Pat tucks his shirt into his underpants. Oh! Did I say that out loud?)

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends at 17:44 PST

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Timeout for Levity

I’m currently going through a very, very serious life change on the domestic front. I haven’t wanted to write about it much on this public place, and at the same time I haven’t wanted to disrepect the seriousness of the situation by flippantly continuing on writing about other things that normally I would have found to be worth comment. Judging from at least one email, I have failed in that regard, but you can’t please everybody.

So I may as well throw this into the pot. One of my former Corrpro San Diego coworkers attempted to throw a little levity into the situation. I’ve often found that, in very serious situations, it can help to step back and take a little laugh. So without further ado, I present to you the Greg Perry milk carton:

Greg Perry milk carton

I don’t know where this photo came from, but man I need a haircut. That’s the longest I’ve seen my hair in quite a while.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, My Website, Posts About Me at 17:14 PST

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