Perception is Everything

When you look like a ridiculously sad basset hound, people are not going to like you. People are naturally drawn to attractive, energetic people.

This rule applies to all people, in all aspects of life. It is magnified one hundred fold when the droopy-eyed sad face is attached to the body of an NFL quarterback.

Jay Cutler is not attractive, that much is clear. He walks around all day with a facial greeting card that resembles a formless, doughy, flesh-colored bean bag chair. Look at that face and tell me if you see this as the face of confidence.

If Jay Cutler were really hurt (I played on a 2nd degree MCL Sprain similar to the one Cutler has been reported to have suffered Sunday), which I am not going to argue, because I simply cannot see an NFL QB bowing out of his first Conference Championship game because he was performing poorly, he could have at least appeared to have been interested in the game.

This goes back to my point for writing this, was the dude hurt? Sure, I’ll buy it. Could the dude have played with a 2nd degree MCL sprain? Maybe, maybe not, when I sprained my knee (I was hit directly on my knee from the outside in, so it bent in, stretching the MCL on the inside of my to the point of tearing the fibers) the knee felt wobbly with each step and swelled up quickly. Could he have come back out with a brace on, appeared to care about the outcome of the game and been a part of the team? Yes, I think he could have.

I realize that all we, as the viewing audience were able to see was what the TV producers chose to show us, but how many shots of his emotionless doughy face standing silently, or sitting not interacting with the 3rd string QB do they have to show before it APPEARS that Culter did not care about the outcome of the game. It was not as if the Packers were up by 21 and the Bears had no chance. The game was winnable, how about you sit with the backup and go over what he is seeing out there, keep in mind this is a guy who has thrown 36 career NFL passes. How about standing next to the offensive coordinator and help relay play calls, or meet with the offense on the sideline and give your perspective of what you are seeing.

Of course, all of this would be moot, if only he looked more like this guy —–>

As I say, perception is everything, and the perception of Jay Cutler is that he is a mentally weak, selfish, doughy faced douche who is generally disliked by players both current and former, regardless of whether they have played with him or not.

The point to all this is, I don’t want Jay Cutler as my team’s QB, I am not saying this, or criticizing him because I am jealous that my team did not make the NFC Championship game. I am saying all of this because there are a few characteristics that I want in my teams QB… and leadership is one of them. Leadership is a hard thing to define, it’s like chemistry in a baseball clubhouse. You don’t know what makes it, you don’t know how to get it, but when you have it, you know you have it. Jay Cutler does not have it, Josh Freeman does. Freeman is a second year player, on a team that went from 4-12 to 10-6, and when you watch him play, when you see how players around him respond to the things he says, you see a respect that comes not from the number of years a player has been in the league, but from one player trusting in another because of the content of their character.

Jay Cutler’s character was on display for the world to see on Sunday, and I just thank the football gods that it was a Chicago Bears team he was leading, not my Buccaneers.

DIY Fan

Last week I made an upgrade to the fish tank that has been a long time coming. I had been running the tank (which includes fish, corals, snails, crabs, shrimp etc.) on a Coral Life Compact Florescent (PC) fixture that really was never up to the challenge of providing lighting for what I am trying to grow in my 4′ glass box in the dinning room.

I ran across this fixture on craigslist for a price I couldn’t turn down.

The upside of the new fixture is that the T5 bulbs produce a higher output of light per watt that can be more effectively reflected by individual reflectors above the bulbs, due to shape differences from the PC bulbs. Also, there is a greater variety of bulb colors available for T5 fixtures (currently the six bulbs are from front to back: purple, blue, white, blue, white, purple) The difference just in brightness is instantly noticeable.

The downside is that the PC fixture had LED moon lights (four of them that ran 24 hours a day and made the tank looks sweet at night) and integrated fans which where a plus for cooling the fixture.

I solved the first problem by adding a 36″ strip of LEDs into the front edge of the fixture.

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This worked great. It is actually a bit too bright, and I need to remove some of the LEDs to reduce the brightness. I tried taking pictures of the corals at night under the LEDs and my phone can’t pick up the glowing effect of the corals under this light, the reds, greens and yellows are amazing, they literally glow at night.

The second issue, the lack of fans, was a bit more serious. I have done some reading, and it turns out the actively cooling the T5 bulbs can double the life of the bulbs (at $20 a bulb, this is a big deal). I found some awesome advice and followed it.

I started by removing the bulbs and aluminum reflectors from under the fixture. Then I measured and cut two holes in the top of the fixture

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I ordered two clear fans with blue LEDs and individual speed controls. I pointed one fan to blow cool air in, and one two blow hot air out

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I seriously cannot believe how nice it turned out. I took a light fixture that was purely functional, and made it something special.

The State of the Fish Tank

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full tank

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left side

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middle

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right side

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sun coral

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top down

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what’s going on under here?

The tank looks 100% better than it did just a few months ago. I couldn’t be happier with the way it has progressed. It has come a long way.

2010 Buccaneers

The end of this season feels completely different from the end of any of the previous season that I can remember as a Bucs fan.

Although the Buc missed the playoffs (how the hell do you lose to Detroit at home?) the season was a massive success.

I have not felt this level of confidence in the Bucs since about 2001, it was so long ago that I forgot what this feels like. I have not been shy about my feels about Jon Gruden and what he did to my franchise. This is the first time since the pre-Gruden years that I have been even remotely optimistic about this team. Josh Freeman will do that to you.

I firmly believe that the only proven path to consistent success in the NFL is by building through the draft, and specifically drafting and grooming your own QB. Very rarely do teams experience the “Drew Brees Phenomenon”, which has led to the New Orleans Saints recent success. Young, talented, franchise QBs, the likes of which you can build a team around, almost never are available.

After suffering through years of the Jon Gruden quarterback carousel, the Bucs now have a young coach, young GM, a second-year quarterback who played at a Pro Bowl level this year (sorry Lions and Jets fans, my 2nd year QB is better than yours) a pair of rookie WRs, a rookie RB who went of 1,000 yards in limited duty, a young O-line, a young D, basically youth everywhere.

As a Mets fan, and a Penn State football fan, it feels odd to be so confident in my team coming off a year where they failed to qualify for the post season. I am conditioned to expect the worst with my sports teams. How odd it feels to head into 2011 feeling completely confident.

The only football jersey I have ever bought was Mike Alstott’s. I am saving my pennies for a Josh Freemen throwback.