Thursday, September 25, 2008

The House of Horrors: My Visit to a Public Library

Today, I set out to do something I haven't done since high school (over 7 years ago). I went to a public library. I visited Carmel Clay Public Library on my lunch break because I've been reading all kinds of rave reviews about Jeff Pearlman's new $15.00 book, Boys Will be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty.

I've been trying to save money recently. So instead of purchasing the book from Barnes and Noble, only to find myself reading the book one time, I thought heading the library was both financially and environmentally (save the trees, go green!) responsible.

(Note: I should preface the following story by mentioning that I grew up in Carmel and went to Carmel High School across the street from the Carmel Public Library. This is important because it would be logical to assume that I have visited said library in the past.)

Before I left, I checked the website card-catalog to see if the book was on hand. It was not but it was currently being shipped and on order.

I do not have a library card. I did have one at one time, but it was stolen when my wallet was snagged out of my pocket while crowd surfing many moons ago (now that i remember my library card was in my wallet, it explains why someone wanted to steal it!) So I was also semi-excited to get my very own adult library card - something I took for granted as an adolescent because I didn't realize that all library cards were "adult" library cards. I guess I just figured that if I was in high school, my library card would prohibit me from checking out certain material, or purchasing cigarettes or entering the army.

If you see this building, don't go inside. They keep track of outstanding fees for as long as 7 years! --------------->>

I walk in and immediately remember that all libraries smell the same (old dusty books surprisingly smell great.) It's one of those things that brought me back to late nights in the library, studying notes and reading historical memoirs for social studies exams...oh this just in, I never did that. The only time I was in the library was when I was passing through to buy coffee on my way out of skipping high school classes or whenever I heard Britney Spears was on the cover of Rolling Stone.

I approach the massive help desk to be helped by a kind Indian woman, whose name I cannot pronounce or type. I informed her that I had two questions. 1) How can I get a library card? 2) can I reserve a book that has never been in the building?

She listed the criteria under which I could get a new free library card (resident of carmel/clay township, I needed a valid address on a piece of identification and I needed to have never had an account before.) None of her listed items qualified me for a card, but luckily I'm quick on my feet and lied enough times to qualify myself. Unfortunately, after I told her that I lived in Carmel Twnsp, that the address on my license was valid (it's my parents' address - which is not my current address) and that I had never had an account before, I immediately realized that she would probably be able to see that I did, in fact have an account at one time, so I fessed up - "oh, you know what? I think I did have an account here a long time ago."

From there, my first visit to a library in seven years went downhill.

Sure enough, there I was on her computer screen. "Well since you have an account but no card, that means that this would be a replacement card and you'll have to pay $3 for a new one," she told me. Turns out it costs money to check out free books. I fork over the $3.00 and she hands me a card and says, "it looks like you have checked out can't check anything out until payment is received."

Fees!!??? My account was suspended in 2004. The last time I checked out a book (coincidentally, an issue of Rolling Stone) was in 2001, and this woman is going to hang a bunch of fees over my head? "How much are we talking?" I ask. $27.50. I have wracked up $27.50 since 2001 for a magazine that costs $4.95 tops. I plead with the woman to just wipe my slate clean, for all I want is to check out a book and enjoy my first library experience in over half a decade. No luck. She won't let me check anything out until I pay my fees. So far, my library trip has cost me $30.50.

Since the book isn't even on hand, I ask if I can place a "hold" on it so that I can check it out when it does actually come in. She tells me I can, but that I needed to go to the computer in the middle of the room to do so. So I figure, I'll place a hold on the book and pay the fees later (or charm another unsuspecting librarian into erasing my fees). Of course, once I try to hold the book on the computer, the screen reads - USER BLOCKED. Great. I can't even put a hold on this $14.95 book that I've already paid $3.00 for and another $27.50 to come later....AND I have to get this book back in on time to avoid more fees!? No wonder I haven't been here in so long!

I decide to abort mission and head back to work. So final tally of events - I paid $3.00 for a library card that I can't use until I pay $27.50 for a $15.00 book that isn't even there yet. make matters worse, someone has already put a hold on this ONE COPY of Boys Will be Boys book. So I was late. Going to the library is too much work. Maybe I'll go check back again in seven years.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Who Wants Man Meat!? - My 2008 Indianapolis Colts Preview

It’s here! The 2008 NFL season is upon us and you know what that means…time for my annual Indianapolis Colts preview – in other words, time for me to bore the ever-living crap out of 98% of the people reading this. Good times!

Last year was lackluster in producing juicy stories heading into the season – except for the Mike Vick story that somehow seems like it was 5 years ago that all went down. This year is different. This year, we’re all on pins and needles to see Brett Favre in a new uniform…riveting! Beyond that, the storylines this summer and preseason have revolved around injuries. Will Peyton Manning and Tom Brady be healthy for the season? Should pro-bowler Shawne Merriman risk his career to play this season with a torn MCL, or should he have surgery and rehab for next year? What will the New York Superbowl Giants do now that 2 of 3 of their defensive studs are gone (Strahan retired, Umenyiora out for the season)? I really can’t remember another time where so many key players are question marks heading into the season. Brady, Manning, Chad Johsnon, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Hasselbeck, Braylon Edwards etc. etc. Fantasy football leagues all across the land are in peril from this outbreak of injuries. Unfortunately, the Colts are at the very tippy top of the mountain of injuries and there’s no real promise heading into the season that everything will be okay. Let’s begin.

Infected Bursa Sac Buddies!! ------------->


The re-acquisition of Dominic Rhodes – Yes, after experiencing the dark side, making irresponsible decisions and putting illegal substances into his body, Dominic “the prodigal” Rhodes has returned for a second stint with the Colts. If you remember way back in 2007 when the Colts became the rulers of the football world, Rhodes was the starter and focal point of the Colts’ running game. Rookie Joseph Addai was becoming a stud and a HUGE reason why the Colts finally beat the Patriots in the playoffs, but Rhodes was the guy who came up with the big plays when the Colts needed them – especially in the Superbowl against the Bears, where Rhodes ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on a rainy Miami night where the ground game was absolutely essential. A one year contract for $600,000 provides the team with very little risk and the potential for a very big reward if Rhodes can play the way he played in 06. Now Rhodes will be a backup and he knows this offense, so he’ll be able to fit right in. Addai suffered some injuries himself last year, so the addition of Rhodes in the backfield should help keep Addai fresh all season long.

Tony Dungy still lives here – Even if Rhodes was a troublemaker out in Oakland last year, he won’t dare screw up under Dungy’s reign. After weeks of speculation at the end of last season, Indianapolis exhaled one big collective breath when Dungy said he’d be returning for at least one more season. Even though I really have no clue what Dungy does during football games except wander back and forth on the sidelines with his arms crossed, just having him there watching the game makes me feel all snuggly inside.

Peyton Manning is still on the roster – All signs point to him playing in week one, but Manning hasn’t taken a snap all preseason long because he had an infected Bursa Sac removed from his knee in July. If Manning plays, then you can pencil in another 4,000 yard, 30-touchdown season. If he doesn’t play all of the games, then who would you rather have on the sidelines, coaching Jim “I’m a fan disguised as a quarterback” Sorgi through every fumble and interception?

Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison – BOTH have something to prove this year. Harrison wants to prove that he’s a) not washed up, and b) not a criminal. Wayne wants to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and he ain’t nobody’s b!@#$.

Defense – I could sit here and write about how Bob Sanders just got back from Krypton, or how Dwight Freeney feels like a rookie again because he hasn’t been on a football field in 10 months, but that’d be too easy. No doubt, without those two players, the Colts defense would strug-gle this season. Instead, I want to say how I’m most looking forward to watching the likes of Antoine Bethea, Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Freddie Keiaho come into their own after a few seasons under their belts. I believe Bethea is primed to become just as big of a beast as Sanders this year, and I think the hard-hitting combo of Jackson and Hayden can hang with any CB duo in the league. The Colts have a reputation of molding great linebackers (see: David Thornton, Mike Peterson, Cato June), and Keiaho has had a few seasons to get his feet wet. This is his breakout season. Unfortunately for Colts fans, the Colts also have a reputation of getting rid of said great linebackers immediately after they become great (see: David Thornton, Mike Peterson, Cato June). So enjoy him while you can.


Injuries – I don’t have to say it, but starting the season with a plethora of injuries probably doesn’t serve well for a successful season. Sanders, Freeney, Manning and Harrison are all coming off of injuries and surgeries. Now that Manning seems to be coming back, his security hand warmer, Jeff Saturday goes down with an MCL injury and is out for at least six weeks. The Colts need all of these players on the field in order to be successful. Freeney missed most of last season and the pass rush was feeble at best – making Billy Volek look like the mutant child of Mike Vick and John Elway in last year’s playoff game against San Diego.

Special Teams – Good God can we please make some tackles on kickoff and punt coverage this year? It’s Indianapolis’ annual achilles heel. There’s no need to even write anything else…they’re going to be terrible. The Special Teams unit should be forced to watch this over and over and over until someone decides to make some tackles.

Offensive Line – The only real reason I think the O-line is a liability is because of Saturday’s injury. He’s gone for at least six weeks and his backup, Ryan Lilja is also on the physically unable to perform list. So now we’ve got a collection of three rookies who could be snapping to Peyton Manning. Suffice it to say that when you’re bed-side tonight saying your prayers, throw one or two in there for Saturday’s little knee ligaments and Peyton Manning’s tolerance for pain.


New England Screw Tom Brady and screw Bill Belichick. I hope they lose every game and Brett Favre rockets a laser right into Belichick’s eardrum. Patriots won 18 games in a row last year, but lost the biggest one. Then their team got worse when key players left for free agency. They’ll still probably be really good since they have the easiest schedule in the entire league – but they’re not the same team they were last year.

Jacksonville -Jacksonville makes it their yearly mission to knock the AFC South Crown off the Colts heads. They draft players and acquire free agents for the sole purpose of beating Indianapolis even though they’ve never topped the Colts for the division title. And they finally have a quarterback. This year is as good as any for the Jags to finally win the AFC South unless they meltdown like usual and act like their whining head coach.


The Colts will win their division, but it will be closer than in years past. They’re not going to take the last two games of the season off to rest their starters. Jacksonville, Tennessee and Houston all got better in the off-season. The Colts will join New England as one the top two teams in the AFC, earning themselves a bye in round 1 of the playoffs. Other playoff teams will be – Steelers, Chargers, Jets, Jaguars. If the Colts overcome these injuries, I see no reason why they shouldn’t win the AFC this year. They’re older, but they have better players on their roster than the 2006 roster when they won the Superbowl. I say they meet Dallas in Tampa this year, and Tony Romo will spend Superbowl week on vacation with his girlfriend and her dad, lose his focus and collapse like he does every year in big games. Colts win!

...of course, if all of these injuries prove to keep their key players out for significant time, forget I said any of this.