Thursday, July 7, 2016

200 Words for Christmas Eve

I am five years old and I am forty. Either way, I walk softly across the living room toward the glowing spectacle of our Christmas tree. The lights are beacons to my soul and pull me forever onward. There will be gifts beneath it soon, but I am drawn instead to each tiny decoration hooked upon every limb. A miniature balsa gingerbread house. A snowman holding an umbrella in soft, gloved hands. A golden angel with twin torches. Blown glass candy canes. I am held in rapture by the ancient, spicy scent of pine and reach out for a nearby branch. The soft needles are filled with life and I close my eyes, breathing deeply of the distant forest. At five years old, I know that I will walk back to my room and dig a warm burrow beneath my covers. The night before Christmas will pass quickly and the morning will be filled with enchantment and wonder. At forty, I know that my slumber will be just as profound; I will dream of my own children and their wide eyes when morning breaks. But right now I am floating in awe, held aloft by this green talisman of time and space. I can reach forward and peer with confidence backward. I can live throughout all time in one small moment, the selfless gift of this Douglas fir. And for now, I will not go to sleep. I will stay right here. I will meet myself again and again. And again.

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20 Years of Change in SEO

Sometime in the last 20 years webmasters and website owners realized that organizing a website for Search Engine Optimization or SEO was critical. Initially you submitted your website address to a search engine. The search engine would then schedule the address to send a small program called a spider or crawler.

The spider would essentially check out what you just sent. It would look at important words or keywords, links, as well as other facts about the page. Those things were given ‘weight’ or importance. That was the point people realized how important the process was.

The weight which your site was given determined the ranking on the search engine. Ranking was important because as with all human nature a person generally is not going to go through pages and pages of results. Being in the first two or three pages when a person does a search is critical to getting the traffic and eventually the sales you want. Being on the first page is the ideal to work towards.

So Search Engine Optimization was born. Using a system to essentially convince the spider that your site was important to the person searching became part of the ‘work’. Search engine owners realized that some people were doing this and that they were doing it unfairly. Unfairly might be practices such as ‘stuffing’ the page with the keyword to the point the page did not make much sense.

Most search engine owners do not look at keywords solely any more. Another factor a search engine owner might use is to look at the number and quality of inbound links. Unfortunately some people have developed unfair systems to build links that were not ethically gotten.

This brought about different systems by companies such as Google or Yahoo to out maneuver those people. The formulate they use is complex and takes various characteristics of a website page into account. Of course those systems or formulas are closely guarded and changed regularly. There is still much work that a website owner can do though.

As world has changed Search Engine Optimization has changed. Real time sites like Facebook, Twitter, or even blogging has created a need for search engines to work faster. People want to be able to connect faster and on a more fundamental level. Although traditional, ethical characteristics are still important, it has become important to incorporate those into a continuous supply of fresh and different content.

Search Engine Optimization in the present would includes posting content every day or every other day. It includes fresh thoughts and unique ways of looking at things. Luckily some search engine owners have made a more concentrated effort to interact and have a relationship with webmasters and website owners.

This relationship has created a synergy that is critical to helping the reader find what they want and need more efficiently. Helping the reader directly leads to helping the website owner and their bottom line. Search Engine Optimization has change dramatically and will continue to change. It is definitely going to be an area to concentrate your time and resources on.

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$200,000 Bond Set for Mother Who Bagged Her Newborn Son

Bond was set at $200,000 June 1, 2007 for Alsina Shelton 23, who was charged with the attempted murder of her newborn son. Cook County Criminal Court Judge Thomas J.Hennelly who set the bail for Shelton also set a preliminary hearing for June 6, 2007. Shelton is being charged with one count each of attempted murder as well as reckless misconduct, as reported by CBS.

Firefighters who had been called to 4900 block of West Cortez Street around 6:00 p.m. to treat a woman who had been bleeding uncontrollably. Firefighters proceeded to ask Shelton if she had been pregnant, but she denied that she had been. Even with the denial, the firemen knew that they had to investigate further as reported by CBS.

Firefighters who had been called to the scene stated that the other people that were occupying the apartment were unresponsive and uncooperative. Shelton was then taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where after an hour or so told authorities that she had indeed delivered a baby inside of her home. She would not cooperate and tell them whether the baby had been alive or dead or what she had done with it as reported by CBS.

Once firefighters learned that Shelton indeed had delivered a baby, they immediately returned to the house on Cortez Street and starting searching for the newborn. After a few minutes of searching the apartment, firefighters found a tied up garbage bag under a pile of clothes with an unresponsive newborn baby boy inside as reported by CBS.

Firefighter Christopher Tolbert was passed the newborn who did an assessment on him and stated the baby was unresponsive and blue, as reported by CBS.
Once the assessment was done, Tolbert passed the newborn to paramedic Gregg Bagdade who told CBS “we provided four to five rescue breaths using a bag-valve mask. The baby began crying and pinking up”. The baby was then taken to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, and then transferred to Children’s Memorial where as of Thursday was listed in “good condition”.

Mayor Richard M Daley spoke to CBS regarding the newborn stating that it is up to every parent, no matter what their age is, to act responsibly. He went on to say ” What is happening to society? Why did you bring that child into the world? Why didn’t you go to your parents, a pastor, a doctor, a friend and say ‘I don’t want this child, but I do want it to be born in a safe condition.‘”, as reported by CBS.

To ensure this would not happen again, police and rescue workers passed out pamphlets reminding expecting mothers that they can legally take unwanted babies to any police station, fire station, or hospitals with no questions asked. This is called the Safe Haven Law, and by the end of 2006, 47 states had adopted such law.

SOURCE : Bond Set For Mother Who Put newborn Son In Bag – CBS Broadcasting Inc.

SOURCE : Rescue Crews Revive Baby Found In Bag – CBS Broadcasting Inc.

SOURCE : “Safe Haven” Laws : Decriminalizing the Abandonment of Newborns

Tags:$200,000 Bond Set for Mother Who Bagged Her Newborn Son

200 000 Animals Sacrificed in the World's Biggest Slaughter

The recent Gadhimai festival held in the Nepal was one of the largest displays of animal sacrifices in the world which saw more than 200 000 animals being sacrificed.The ceremony began early with prayers in the temple by tens of thousands of people around the break of dawn.Then it shifted to nearby corral where many butchers started slaughtering buffalo calves by hacking off their heads.Although this religious tradition has been around for many years,it has created much controversy in the last few years where several animal rights activist have protested against such acts.These activist do not have much say or power in Nepal but they have staged many protests against such sacrifices.

The Gadhimai festival takes place once every five years at the Adham temple in Bariyapur,Nepal.The event is largely considered the world’s largest sacrifice of animals- including goats,pigs,buffalos,chicken and pigeons- so as to please the Hindu Goddess of power,Gadhimai.From last Tuesday to yesterday,several hundred thousand animals were sacrificed.The recent festival held this year saw more than a million people involved.It is considered one of the largest festivals in Nepal as such ceremonies are now banned in many other areas of the country.The Nepalis believe that these sacrifices are important as it will bring them much prosperity. The ceremony which goes back for generations,has enormous resonance in a country where the per income capital is about USDA$25 a month.This is a country where illiteracy is widespread and vast social divides have left millions living in poverty and working as tenant farmers for feudal landlords.Traditions such as the Gadhimai festival are believed to be important to the local people as to usher in better harvest and hope for better wealth.The fulfillment of one’s wishes by the Gadhimai was also another strong reason why such festivals will never be changed.

The festival has also sparked many protest from animal rights activist in the last few years.Prominent movie stars and politicians such Brigitte Bardot and Maneka Gandhi have even written to the Nepalis government requesting for such traditions to be stopped.The Gadhimai festival may appear to be a brutal act towards animals to many but it remains a respected religious tradition by several other academicians and businessmen.

Despite all these protest held,the Nepalis government have given their stamp of approval on it when their top senior ministers and government officials were seen at the holy pilgrimage site.Among present at the site was the Deputy prime minister Bijay Kumar Gacchedar was the most prominent.

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20 Workout Songs of 2013 (So Far)

Health crazes have once again taken the world by storm and it can only be assessed that running and jogging are some of the two most common types of cardio exercises which people engage in to keep in-shape. When people go for that run, many of them often bring their iPods or other MP3 players with them to play specialized lists of songs optimized for a great exercise experience. With that said, every now and then it becomes obvious that one needs to add some new songs to that aforementioned list to keep things fresh and fun. This list of workout songs aims to offer a collection of songs that are not only great for running or any other workout, but are also from the year 2013, so they are as current as they can get! Please, by all means, sit back, relax, and read through this list. Then, after that, look into these tracks and add them to your playlist of songs you can exercise to!

Some of the music artists represented on this list are indie while several others are better known. Like with any artist, however, if you truly enjoy their work, you should support them monetarily by downloading their 2013 workout songs officially. This can be done through networks such as iTunes or Amazon for very cheap- always between 60¢ and $1.29. If you cannot seem to afford all of the songs of 2013 that you like from this list, you may listen to them for free over services such as Spotify or Pandora while still benefiting the artist in terms of airplay promotion. At the very least, you can oftentimes stream their exercise songs through official YouTube channels (think VEVO) to offer them promotional views. So without further ado, here’s your list!

1. “Slow Down” – Selena Gomez

2. “The Way It Used to Be” – Mike Posner

3. “We Own It (Fast & Furious)” – 2Chainz & Wiz Khalifa

4. “Alive – Hardwell Remix” – Krewella

5. “FNKY ALGORITHM” – m-flo

6. “The Drop” – Bro Safari

7. “LRAD” – Knife Party

8. “Escape (feat. Bright Lights)” – Paris & Simo and 3LAU

9. “Next to Me (Remix)” – Emeli Sandé & Kendrick Lamar

10. “Tonight I’m Getting Over You (Remix)” – Carly Rae Jepsen & Nicki Minaj

11. “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke, T.I., & Pharrell

12. “Take Back the Night” – Justin Timberlake

13. “Champion Love” – Michael O.

14. “Easy – Radio Edit” – Mat Zo & Porter Robin

15. “Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

16. “Live It Up” – Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull

17. “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” – Fergie, Q-Tip, & GoonRock

18. “Tonight” – Jessica Sanchez & Ne-Yo

19. “Is This Love” – Alex Gaudino & Jordin Sparks

20. “Silhouettes (Syn Cole Creamfields Mix Radio Edit)” – Avicii

Tags:20 Workout Songs of 2013 (So Far)

200 Plus Articles and a 1,000 Dollars

When I hit about $600 here, Ray asked when I was going to hit the 1000 mark and without a doubt, I said my birthday, which was just five weeks from that point of time. He told me I could do it, but I was only half joking. You see I was on a two vacation and I was going to give it everything I could, then I quit my job, so I devoted more time here to writing, I did hit that 1,000 mark at bit after my birthday by an unanticipated way.

LOL the point is I did it the day after my birthday I accepted an offer for 6.03 that put me over the 1,000 dollar mark. I did it in about five months, not bad when you think about it really. That in itself is inspiring to me; each offer encourages me to write more. The comments and emails also inspire me to write more.

It was hard work but it was worth it in many ways and I can honestly say I have enjoyed it for the most part. I have met some nice people out here, and I read many articles of other writers. Some just crack me up, some make me cry, yet others just make me think. I am having the time of my life.

I am over 200 articles (some in queue), which is beyond cool, who would have thought that just a month or so ago. I have easily pushed out 50 articles in the last month, I have done so many I lost count which is somewhat sad. I now longer worry about writers block, for I have found that cure, just write anything you desire, because if you put the right catchy title on it people will read it.

I write a variety of types of articles so there is always something for everyone to ponder within my collection. I would say the most healing articles were the ones about the betrayal of my ex husband. I had originally wrote it to send to true story but that was just taking to long so after I began writing here I though hell why not toss it up here so I did. Many people sent me emails about them, and I got many comments on that three part series.

I think the migrain ones helped the most people, being a migraine sufferer for 36 years I have had my share. I hate them with a passion and try to help others learn from my mistakes, trails, and errors. I would like to think there is one person out there who is not suffering from them as much because of what my articles had to say. If it has helped one person, then my time writing them was worth it.

I hated doing some of the call for content articles, when ac put out a list of 24 of the earlier; I did tons just to see if I could do it back in early July. It burned me out on bling bags, moccasins and over priced sneakers and pants. It got me extra money and showed me I could do write under pressure.

I have learned much and I am hanging around until they decide they do not want me to write any longer. I do not see that happening anytime soon.

Tags:200 Plus Articles and a 1,000 Dollars

20 Worst Films of 2006

20. The Good Shepherd. Interesting period piece, but poor character study. Seems somebody got a little too carried away with all the spy talk and simply forgot about plot and character development. If not for Angelina Jolie, I would have fallen asleep during the movie.

To be fair though, I will say at least this movie does have some substance. But because of this, I hold The Good Shepherd to higher standards than say a film such as Black Christmas. And with higher standards usually comes a greater fall when they are not met. So while Black Christmas might be a worse film, The Good Shepherd ultimately does a worse job of achieving its potential. Otherwise Black Christmas, Date Movie, Deck the Halls, Eragon, The Covenant, American Dreamz, Turistas, Santa Clause 3: The Escape, Little Man, and other such films which I had no expectation of actually being good could easily be considered for a spot on the 20 worst films of 2006.

19. Running with Scissors. Sadly, Annette Bening’s and Evan Rachel Wood’s performances are wasted on a poorly developed and directed film. The film is a perfect example of how it takes more than oddities to make audiences laugh and more than tears to make audiences feel. The film is also not helped by the one note performance Joseph Cross brings to the lead character Augusten Burroughs. But even if a different actor had been cast, it’s doubtful the filmmakers could have made me care about the character of Augusten Burroughs. Instead, I came out of theater caring more for his mother’s plight (played by Annette Bening) than Burrough’s, which I don’t think was the film’s aim.

18. Click. I expected this movie to be predictable, but assumed it would also be funny. I guess 1 out of 2 isn’t that bad. Except of course when you pay ten bucks to be half right.

17. John Tucker Must Die. The film goes weak when it should have gone smart and sarcastic.

16. The Night Listener. The worst thing about this film is that it could have been good. For it to be good, one would have to either rewrite the first hour or rewrite the last half hour, and then cut out all the scenes that do not further the story. As it is, the film is not thrilling enough to make its ending satisfying. And the ending is not profound enough to make it’s lack of thrills acceptable.

15. American Gun. I think I saw this on the Lifetime Channel ten years ago.

14. RV. I just am not a fan of potty humor.

13. Material Girls. I actually have no qualms with the Duff Sisters, except for their apparent bad taste in picking movies to star in. This film is currently rated at a 2.0 on IMDB, placing it among the 250 worst movies of all time. It’s not that bad though. It does have a few redeeming qualities, such as Angelica Huston and dim flashes of hope every now and then. But its biggest flaw is that it lacks likeable characters. And it’s impossible to make a decent movie without a likeable character.

12. Art School Confidential. The movie is too unbelievable, unfocused, and uncaring to be very enjoyable. And the lead character is unsympathetic. This movie doesn’t come close to the filmmaker’s previous movies Ghost World or Bad Santa.

11. Jackass Number Two. I’m over age 15. And any movie where people are degraded solely for laughs automatically goes on my worst films of whatever year list anyways.

10. Superman Returns. Way to go Brian Singer… You managed to turn Superman Returns into every other recent generic comic book slash special FX film, and created (or possibly simply casted) the most boring Hero ever. That takes skill, yo.

09. V for Vendetta. Oh dear… Natalie Portman shaved her head for this silly movie?!

08. Inside Man. The classic bad film pretending to be good. With Spike Lee directing, Denzel Washington starring, and Jodie Foster supporting, it is not hard to pretend. But pretending is still pretending. An ultimately pointless film.

07. A Good Year. Note to Russell Crowe: Someone inclined to throw phones in public places probably does not have the natural sense of humor necessary for this role. Good try though. The script was worse than your acting anyhow. I don’t believe for a moment that you would continuously stand up directly in front of a jet blast of water just so you can get knocked down again; nor do I believe that you don’t know how to play tennis without falling down; nor do I believe that a beautiful lady who has been so hurt that she has vowed never to date again would suddenly fall in love with you just because you pretended to be a waiter for half a minute.

06. Lady in the Water. Further evidence that The Sixth Sense was either a fluke or all about Haley Joel Osment. Did anyone read the screenplay before agreeing to make this movie? No, seriously, did they? The only interesting thing about this movie was little Noah Gray-Cabey’s feature film debut; most probably know him now as Micah from the hit TV series Heroes.

05. Man of the Year. Strangely enough, the jokes in this film about a comedian (played by Robin Williams) who becomes President were not political, but mostly sexual. Which would not be that big of a deal except they weren’t that funny either. Well, that and the fact I dragged my grandmother along to see this film; woops. Okay, I admit, I shamefully laughed a little at the thought of Angelina Jolie’s lips being used as a suction cup, but I still vote Jon Stewart or the like remake this film. Oh, and next time just leave out the whole surprise Laura Linney plot.

04. Edmond. So, is this movie David Mamet’s cry for help or what? The film contains too many untruths to be much more than simply disgusting.

03. Borat. Nothing in this film justifies profiting off and humiliating unsuspecting people. And similar to American Gun, Borat feels about ten years too late to ever be profound. The most shocking thing about Borat is its indirect reflection of society’s deepening acceptance of humiliation as a form of entertainment. Well, that, and the fact I just didn’t find it funny.

02. Freedomland. While it is interesting too see how many different ways Julianne Moore can cry, the film itself is unpleasant to watch. The overall direction of the film makes you want to hit mute. And ultimately, the plot about a mother who loses her child seems more of a trick to get you to watch a bad film about race relations than anything else. But even the subject of race relations is misguided here. The only thing I remotely cared about was a brief subplot involving Edie Falco who helps look for missing children. Of course, that doesn’t even work that well in the context of this film, but I could at least imagine a better film which focused on Edie Falco’s character instead of the mess that became Freedomland.

01. The Wicker Man. Besides not making much sense, having much point, or being remotely thrilling, it is one of those films where just when you think it cannot possibly get any worse, it does. I cannot imagine a film more deserving of being on someone’s worst films of 2006 list than The Wicker Man.

Tags:20 Worst Films of 2006

20 Ways to Beat the Heat and Keep Your Cool

Every year people have to suffer high temperatures. High temperatures can be very dangerous and can even be potentially fatal if you are not careful enough. The purpose of this article is to go over 20 separate ways to beat the heat and keep yourself safe and comfortable.

1. If your outside in the heat to workout you should change your workout time to either early in the morning or later on in the evening. During these times it’s much more cool outside.

2. Wear loose fitting clothes that are lighter colors. Don’t wear black! You have no idea how much the color of your clothing will make a difference.

3. Use fans even a long with your air conditioning because that helps out a lot too.

4. Put lotion in the freezer and when you get too hot you can put it on.

5. Keep a small mister in the fridge and you can use that to spray yourself and cool off.

6. Take frequent baths and showers with cold water.

7. Drink lots of fluids, Gatorade, Powerade, and water are all really good.

8. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol in them.

9. During the hot summers cool lighter meals and snacks to keep the house from heating up, fruits and salads are good summer dishes.

10. If you don’t have AC try to frequently visit supermarkets and well air conditioned places so that you can keep cool.

11. Hold frozen bags of vegetables or ice packs to your skin, especially your face and forehead. Those two places make a lot of difference in the way you feel temperature wise.

12. Put bottled beverages in the freezer a little while before drinking them and they will be REALLY cold, just don’t let them freeze though.

13. Wet and freeze a bandanna or wash cloth and once it’s frozen take it out and keep it around your neck.

14. When using a box fan keep a bowl of ice cubes in front of it and it will keep you a few degrees cooler as it melts.

15. Use white window shades and curtains because they reflect heat.

16. When your cooking try and use the microwave more than the stove, I know from experience that will keep you a lot cooler at home.

17. When you are outside wear a hat to keep your face shaded, or even better put an ice pack under it while you wear it and it will definitely cool you off.

18. Use an ice pack wrapped in a wash cloth or towel to cool off your wrists and other pulse points through out your body and that can cool you off by a few degrees.

19. Putting water on the sleeves of your shirt and then sitting in front of the fan is another good way to help keep comfortable.

20. Also make sure to keep all blinds and curtains closed so it will keep sun from coming in.

These are all some really great ways to keep from getting overheated. If you use some or all of these together you should be able to keep pretty comfortable, plus doing a lot of these activities as opposed to running your air conditioner could save you some money on those really hot days.

Tags:20 Ways to Beat the Heat and Keep Your Cool

20 Ways to Save Money

Everything is becoming more expensive and it isn’t going to be getting cheaper anytime soon. We would all like to have more money. Here are some ways you can put a few extra bucks in your pocket.

Make a grocery list and buy only the items on your list. Also cut back on junk food, it is unhealthy and can become expensive.

Eat less meat, it is the most expensive part of your meal. Eat a smaller piece of steak and increase the size of your vegetable portions.

Start a vegetable garden. You can save up to $100 a month during the months you harvest.

Freeze the leftovers. This makes a quick and easy meal on a busy day and helps you avoid eating out.

Drink water, water helps reduce your appetite so you will eat less. It is also cheaper than soda and healthier for you.
Pack your lunch, it is much cheaper than stopping to grab a greasy burger.

Buy in bulk, it is always cheaper. Make sure you buy items that are non perishable or buy items that can be frozen. For example, you can save several dollars on meat by buying larger quantities then simply divide it up and freeze it.
Shop around, compare prices at different stores and watch for sales. It may take a little longer to get your shopping done but you are guaranteed to save money.

Buy generic, try store brand over the counter medications and food products. They are often the same as brand name products.

Turn off your television. If its not being watched then why is it on. The average cost of running a TV is $48 a year.
Replace light bulbs with energy efficient ones. They last three times as long and reduce your electric bill.

Go on the budget plan with your utility company, this will reduce your bill and it will be the same every month, no more surprises.

Downgrade your internet. Go with slower internet and you could save as much as $20 a month.

Shop at thrift stores. Need a dress for an upcoming event? Why spend $50 when you can get it for $10. Clean house, all those things packed away in basements and closets that isn’t getting used. Have a yard sale and make some extra cash.

Do your own hair, salons are expensive. Cut and dye your hair at home and you can save as much as $60 a month.
Print cards instead of buying them. This way you can personalize them and pick your own pictures.

Hold off on that new car. If your car is still running good then hold on to it. No need to spend that extra money if you don’t have to.

Car maintenance, by keeping your filters clean and proper air pressure in your tires you can increase your gas mileage by up to 7%.

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2003 NBA Draft Report Cards (Picks 1-10)

The 2003 NBA Draft was one of great debate. For those who remember, there was a huge debate roaring through the media and even amongst the team officials and scouts as to who would be the number one pick this year. Teenage phenom LeBron James was high on a lot of lists, but there was steady support gaining for the selection of Darko Milicic from Serbia and Montenegro. Some were undecided, although that prospect looks to be humorous now. It was something that people considered and to this day is still a topic among some NBA scouts. With the 2006 NBA Draft quickly approaching, we are left to examine some of the drafts of the past. Three years, I believe, is an adequate body of work to determine some of what these players have accomplished and have yet to accomplish in the NBA. Although we can never really tell, such as in the case of players like Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal. But for argument’s sake, we will take the first three years and give appropriate grades.

I will take a look at how they have performed with their teams first and foremost. We must address the value that the teams who made the initial selection received or gave up, in some cases. Next, you have to factor in the potential that each player has shown, because in some cases these young players haven’t had too much opportunity to make their impressions on the NBA and their franchises. Finally, you have to take a look at the needs of the team’s then and whether or not these players have filled them or at least have the potential to fill these needs in the future. Team performace as a whole comes into play as well, because whether or not the playing time is there, these players have an effect on their team.

From LeBron James to Josh Howard, and even some notables in the second round, we will grade the best of the best and those left over from the 2003 NBA Draft. We’ll examine them by thirds, and this will be the top 10 lottery picks of this draft.

1.) Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James, SF – St. Mary-St. Vincent HS (Akron, OH)

Notes: LeBron James has been the superstar of this draft. This is not only because of his popularity and ability on the court, but also takes into account the marketability and the potential for him off the court. Many believed that they hype for him coming out of high school was overblown. They did not believe that he could ever live upto those expectations. All James did that rookie year was surpass all of the expectations, having one of the best rookie seasons statistically in NBA history. He averaged a shade under 21 points per game that year and also threw in 5.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals a game. His statistics have been improving every seasons since, and this season he averaged over 31 points per game and led the Cavaliers to their first playoff appearance since he’s been there. All he did there was record a triple-double in his first career playoff game and a series victory over the Washington Wizards. James was an MVP candidate this year and his star is still rising. A second round playoff performance is just the beginning. Indeed, he is King James. Long live the king!
Grade: A

2.) Detroit PIstons: Darko Milicic, F/C – Serbia and Montenegro

Notes: Joe Dumars has been one of the best team architects in the NBA. MAsterful moves brought in players like Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess and a Championship to Motown. However, this will be the one stain on his career. Darko Milicic has become the butt of the jokes in the NBA. In fact, in his rookie season, he became known as the “human victory cigar,” only seeing time at the end of games after the outcome had already been determined. His game hasn’t been made for the NBA, whether or not you’d like to fault a lack of playing time or no real development in this level or from levels prior. After two and a half seasons, Darko is shipped off to Orlando, where a new start was expected. He was able to see an improvement in playing time, and watched some of his averages increase, so we’ll wait and see on him.
Grade: C-/inc.

3.) Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony, SF – Syracuse University

Notes: ‘Melo has been a breath of fresh air for the high altitude of the Nuggets. Much of the talk has been of his “matchup” against LeBron during his NBA career, and although I do like Anthony, I still believe he’s only the third best player to come from this draft class. Third in this class is no slouch, however, because Anthony has also seen significant improvements in his averages in his first three seasons. Improved shooting from the field and a better understanding of teamwork and passing has made him more valuable to George Karl and the Nuggets. But it still remains to be seen if he’s a leader for this team or just a simple cog in a championship machine.
Grade: A-

4.) Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh, PF – Georgia Tech University

Notes: Bosh has certainly flown a bit under the radar, for a number of reasons that he really has little control over. The caliber and stardom achieved by his draft classmates is one, and the other has to do with playing north of the border. But this young man is carving himself a nice profile in the front court for the Raptors, and his improvement may be better than others in this draft. He played well as a rookie, but has almost doubled his scoring output while almost averaging 10 rebounds a game. He doesn’t have the benefit of playing in a proven system in Toronto and does not have a plethora of teammates to assist him, so he’s doing quite well with 22 points a game and 9.2 rebounds. Watch for more improvement, and maybe some movement back to the continental 48, during this offseason.
Grade: B/B+

5.) Miami Heat: Dwayne Wade, SG – Marquette University

Notes: In my eyes, the best player so far from this draft class, bar none. Nothing against LeBron James, but Flash, as Shaq once affectionately annointed him, is clearly the furtherest ahead in his development and adaption to the NBA game. This in no more evident in the fact that his role has genuinely increased and remained important to a team which has seen significant changes in each of his first three seasons. From a lineup with Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, to Shaq, to Jason Williams and Antoine Walker, he’s seen changes around him constantly yet has gotten himselt into the number one role. Even though the offense runs through Shaq when he’s on the floor, Wade commands most of the attention now and is the man they look to in the fourth quarter. This postseason has been his “ode to greatness,” and it’s not ending anytime soon.
Grade: A

6.) Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Kaman, C – University of Central Michigan

Notes: When there are so few legitimate big men in the league who can pose a scoring threat and a defensive presence, you have to marvel when a team is able to find one. Whether a genuine lack of big men or whether there are too many pretneding to be big men, Chris Kaman is proof that they do still exist. Like Bosh, has taken his full three years to really settle in, but Kaman has become a big part of coach Mike Dunleavy’s system and plans. Kaman rewared Dunleavy with double digit point outputs and good rebounding and defensive skills. Not a slouch in the middle. Kaman can still stand to get better with his offensive post game and develop a strong post move that would create more opportunity to score. I still think there’s more improvement for him to come. The Clippers have to be thrilled.
Grade: B

7.) Chicago Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, PG – University of Kansas

Notes: Considering he was never supposed to be an NBA caliber point guard by most scouts’ examinations, I think that Hinrich has done quite well for himself. The unquestioned anchor in the young Bulls offense, Hinrich really busted onto the scene in his sophomore season and has not let up since. He’s a pure point guard in the Steve Nash mold. Pass first, get his teammates opportunities, but more than willing and able to score. Averages more than 10 points a game in all three years, he’s the head of a guard group in Chicago that is very dynamic. He averages more than 6 assists a game and also shoots 40 percent from the field. He’s the catalyst that the Bulls need to jump-start the offense. If anything, could stand to get a better understanding of the pick and roll and some more advanced offensive sets, but that’s being petty. He’s an incredible value at #7.
Grade: A-

8.) Milwaukee Bucks (from Atlanta): T.J. Ford, PG – University of Texas

Notes: Highly touted as one of the best players coming out of college that year, Ford was high on many boards and was surprisingly taken at 8 after Hinrich. After missing last season with injury, he returned this year to continue to build on what was a promising, yet unfulfilled rookie campaign because of that injury. At his best, Ford is a playmaker who isn’t afraid of taking the ball to the basket and making things happen. He is also part of a young nucleus in place in Milwaukee that includes Michael Redd and 2005 #1 pick Andrew Bogut. Ford must improve on his midrange shot and needs to have more consistency, something in which he showed flashes of during this past season. The Bucks are a good young team who will need Ford’s improvement to continue for him to be a top flight PG in the league. He’s right on the cusp of it.
Grade: B

9.) New York Knicks: Michael Sweetney, PF – Georgetown University

Notes: Despite weight issues and thoughts that he might be undersized for the NBA as a power forward, the Knicks took a chance and selected Sweetney 9th overall. A combination of post offense and solid defense in college, Sweetney was supposed to bring stability to the frontcourt of the Knicks. He has yet to establish himself as a solid NBA PF in limited minutes, and a change of teams last year did little to aliviate that stress. After two quiet years in NY, he was sent to Chicago in the Eddy Curry deal, and still has yet to reach the level that was expected of him. He’s not strong under the basket and allows rebounds to escape him. Not enough hustle at times. His offense is not polished enough for the top tier forwards and is easily defended against. Chicago still hopes he can be a contributing factor, but I doubt highly he will ever live upto his high lottery expectations.
Grade: D

10.) Washington Wizards: Jarvis Hayes, F/G – University of Georgia

Notes: Former SEC Player of the Year, Hayes has made himself into a valuable commodity off hte bench for the steadily improving and fast Washington Wizards team. This is because of his hustle and ability to hustle around the ball and even away from the play. In a game of talent, he’s one of the few who exhibit an incredible work ethic that goes with that talent and it translates on the court. Capable of high scoring outputs, he knows that when he is needed, he can put the ball in the hoop. But he’s mostly used for his ability to be versatile and play good defense against different types of players. He’ll remain a roleplayer for the majority of his career.
Grade: B

Tags:2003 NBA Draft Report Cards (Picks 1-10)

2005 Toyota Tacoma: An Extended Review

The people who buy and drive trucks are quite possibly the most demanding of their vehicles. As the ones most other people call to help move large and bulky items, or owners of businesses that require vehicles to handle situations such as moving, landscaping, and other high-use industries, they need something that’ll get the job done with little downtime and as few problems as possible.

Which is exactly the kind of truck the current (2005-2011) Toyota Tacoma is. Despite being classified as a small truck, it is more than capable of getting the job done and is surprisingly versatile, especially when you choose the crew cab + long bed combination. It has seating for 5 people with a 5.5 foot bed behind the cab, so you won’t be left wanting for space. As for payload, the 2005 model with the available V6 has a 1,150lb rating for the bed and a 6,500lb rating for trailers.

Such a vehicle, however, is surprisingly large for an offering in the ‘small’ truck market. At 221.3 inches long, it matches the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche exactly when it comes to length, which can be a major downside for people searching this particular segment. On the plus side, the added length does give better stability while towing or hauling large, heavy loads.

The backseat, while roomier than others in the segment, can be a bit claustrophobic on lengthier trips. The angle of the backrest can cause soreness, and the lack of headroom leaves much to be desired. However, unlike the crew cab configurations of Nissan’s Frontier or GM’s Colorado/Canyon, there is ample legroom. If the middle seat on the back bench is left open, there is more than enough room (and seat cushioning) to keep your bum from falling asleep. Fitting three adults in the back is an uncomfortably tight situation.

Gas mileage, while not great, is decent for it’s size. With a dry weight of 5,450lbs, it’s not the world’s lightest small truck, but it regularly hits the EPA estimate of 17mpg in mixed driving. Without any weight in the back, I’ve seen it get up to 25mpg while driving long distances on the highway, which is unheard of in a large 4×4 truck.

Unless you need the payload of an F-Series or other full-sized truck, your best bet would be to get a Tacoma. Most weekend warriors would be perfectly OK getting one over a larger truck. The payload is high enough to be able to handle a mulch run; and while the bed height might be prohibitive for shorter people, it isn’t nearly as inaccessible as in the Tundra.

Tags:2005 Toyota Tacoma: An Extended Review

2003 NFL Draft Steals

2003 NFL Draft Steals

#27 Larry Johnson to Kansas City. Johnson was highly acclaimed coming out of Penn State in 2003 and came into Kansas City and the obvious back-up to stud Priest Holmes. After 21 total touches his rookie year, Johnson filled in for an injured Holmes for 10 games in 2004 gaining 581 yards (4.8 average) and an impressive 9 touchdowns. Holmes had injury concerns and was shipped out of Kansas City because of Johnson’s regard within the organization. Johnson rewarded the Chiefs’ decision with 1750 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2005 and 1789 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2006. Larry Johnson is in the prime of his career and is considered one of the best running backs in the NFL.

#68 Lance Briggs to Chicago. Briggs started immediately for the Bears and was an integral part of their impressive defense the past four seasons. He hasn’t missed a game making 442 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, 6 interceptions and scoring 3 touchdowns.

#69 Jason Witten to Dallas. After 35 catches his rookie season, Witten began an All-Pro tight end for the Cowboys. 2004 brought 87 catches, 980 yards and 6 touchdowns. Witten continues to be an integral part of Dallas’ offensive schemes.

#120 Asante Samuel to New England. Samuel was picked in the 4th round and started his rookie season with the Patriots. He has progressed to making 65 tackles and 10 interceptions in 2006 and making over $7 million a season.

#138 Robert Mathis to Indianapolis. A speed rusher from Alabama A&M, Mathis had the luxury of playing opposite of Dwight Freeney for his entire career to this point. After a slow start to his rookie season, Mathis has averaged 10 sacks, 40 tackles and 7 forced fumbles a year since 2004 for the Colts.

#198 Cato June to Indianapolis. After being a special teams player his rookie season, June started 45 over the next 3 years with the Colts improving defense. 2004-2006 had June making 340 tackles, 20 deflected passes and 10 interceptions. He received a big contract in 2007 from Tampa Bay after winning a Super Bowl with Indianapolis in 2006.

#222 Josh Brown to Seattle. Drafted in the 7th round out of Nebraska, Brown has missed only one extra point in his four year career and five kicks under 40 yards. 65% over 50 yards is also impressive.

Tags:2003 NFL Draft Steals

2002 Subaru WRX Specifications

In 2002, Subaru completely redesigned the Impreza, the foundation vehicle for the high-performance WRX and WRX STi. The 2002 model year also marked the introduction of the WRX trim to the U.S. Impreza lineup. The Subaru Tecnica International (STi) trim level of the WRX was not introduced until 2004.

Engine Specifications

The 2002 Subaru WRX was powered by a turbocharged, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine. The horizontally opposed engine, also known as a boxer engine, cranked out 227 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 217 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Power was sent to the tarmac through the WRX’s standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and resulted in a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, for the WRX wagon.

Exterior Specifications

In 2002, the Subaru WRX was available as a four-door sedan and wagon. Later model years would have the WRX and WRX STi available as a five-door hatchback as well. The 2002 Subaru WRX sedan was 173.4 inches long, 68.1 inches wide and 56.7 inches high. When equipped with an automatic transmission, curb weight was 3,140 lbs.

Interior Specifications

The front seats of the 2002 WRX provided 38.6 inches of headroom, 42.9 inches of legroom, 52.7 inches of shoulder room and 53.3 inches of hip room. The rear seats offered 36.7 inches of headroom, 33 inches of legroom, 52.9 inches of shoulder room and 51.9 inches of hip room.


MSN Autos: 2002 Subaru WRX Interior

MSN Autos: 2002 Subaru WRX Exterior

MSN Autos: 2002 Subaru WRX Engines

MSN Autos: 2002 Subaru WRX Overview

Edmunds: 2002 Subaru Impreza Overview

MotorTrend: One-Year Test Update 2002 Subaru WRX

Tags:2002 Subaru WRX Specifications

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