John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Interesting times

Two entirely unrelated items:

  1. I've been meaning to write about what's been going on at work for the last week or so, and have even gotten so far as to start writing about it a couple of times, but I keep getting bogged down in extraneous details. So here's the quick-n-dirty version. Two Fridays ago, our District Manager came to the store and dropped a couple of bombshells on us. First, our Assistant General Manager was being transferred to another store, effective more or less immediately. Second, one of our three full-time associates was being promoted to management, and after a week of training in our store, was being transferred to a third store. Third, another of our full-time associates was being promoted to management but staying with us. Add on top of that that a couple of our evening associates have recently left, and a third is thinking about cutting back on her hours, and it all adds up to a staffing crisis. We'll get staffed back up soon enough, but in the meantime I've got some lean shifts to look forward to. Today, for example, we had a grand total of three employees running the store. Luckily, Mondays usually aren't tremendously busy.

    On the plus side, I'm now the Assistant General Manager. Well, acting AGM, technically. I'm not sure when the promotion will actually go through. I was expecting a promotion to that level sometime later this year, but it comes as something of a surprise to have it happen so quickly.
  2. So, how about them Patriots? Seeing George Mason University advance to the Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is surely one of the least likely things I've ever seen, at least in terms of sporting events. Some thoughts:
    • GMU certainly benefited from one of the luckiest bracket placements in the history of bracket placements. After beating Michigan State and North Carolina in Dayton, Ohio, the Patriots got to play their next two games at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. — which is about 20 miles from the GMU campus in Fairfax, Va. They may as well have been playing at the Patriot Center. Playing in front of a hometown crowd is always a huge advantage, and I'm sure that if the NCAA had had any idea that GMU would make it into the Regionals, they would have placed them in another bracket.
    • I think GMU also benefited from Billy Packer's injudicious comments about the team when the tournament bids were announced. Packer, of course, is the guy who went on national TV and said that GMU (and Bradley, Wichita State, and Northern Iowa) didn't deserve a bid. I don't think it's a coincidence that three of the four teams he mentioned reached the Sweet Sixteen; righteous indignation is a powerful motivating force. My brother and I were just discussing this the other day, in fact, on the way home from watching Bradley lose to Memphis in the Regional Semifinals. Back in 1982, Bradley had a very good basketball team, but to the outrage of many, they were not extended a bid to the NCAA tournament. So they accepted an invitation to play in the NIT, which they won handily. My brother, who was a senior at Bradley at the time, thinks that the anger over having been excluded from the NCAA tournament is what propelled Bradley to the NIT championship. I think he's right, and I think part of Mason's success stems from a similar anger about what Packer said about them.
    • I've heard and seen it mentioned frequently today that GMU is the mid-major team to make the Final Four since 1979. Which is true, I guess, but it's not exactly a comparable situation. The team they're talking about from the 1979 Finals was Indiana State. They were a number one seed that year, thanks in no small part to the performance of a reasonably talented young man from French Lick, Indiana, by the name of Larry Bird. That year, Indiana State was not a mid-major. A better comparison might be the 1977 tournament, when UNC-Charlotte reached the Final Four in their first year in the tournament with no stars to speak of.

      ETA: my co-worker Rick points out that Universoty of Pennsylvania, which is undeniably a mid-major, reached the Final Four in 1979 as a nine seed. Good point, that.
    • I am, of course, rooting for GMU. They are the local team, and I know many people who are alums or on staff. But more importantly, I'm obligated to root for them under my Continuity of Support system, which says that you muct support the team that beats your team. I was rooting for UNC, GMU beat UNC, therefore I support GMU. The support only extends to the team that beats your team though; the team that beats the team that beat your team is out of luck. Take that, LSU and UCLA!

  3. I continue to be surprised and somewhat amused by the Zacarias Moussaoui trial. I thought the prosecution's case was dead in the water last week, after the witness tampering and the seemingly endless parade of prosecution witnesses who testified to the unbelievable incompetence of the FBI and the FAA in the weeks and days leading up to 9/11. (My favorite part was when the woman from the flight school called the FAA to report that one of her students was unqualified to hold a pilot's license because he could neither read nor speak English, and the FAA told her to hire him an interpreter.) So I would imagine that the government was happy to hear Moussaoui admit in open court that he was part of the 9/11 conspiracy. On the other hand, by so admitting, he demonstrated that had he told the FBI what he knew about the plot, he would have been incriminating himself, which of course he has a Constitutional right not to do. That puts the prosecution in the dubious position of arguing that Moussaoui should be executed for doing something that the Constitution allows him to do. Tricky.

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