Friday, January 4, 2008

27 - Answer(s)

It’s been a long October. And November. And December. Here are the much-delayed answers to the last round of “Ask Mitssob”.

Q: Eric Democko - How will the Sabres do this year after letting Briere and Drury go?
A: I was very unhappy as I watched Briere and Drury leave the Sabres during the offseason. Briere was one of the great leaders on the team, and I think he’ll be missed the most from a team perspective. I’ll miss Chris Drury more, though, due to how emphatically announcer Rick Jennerett would yell his name after he scored a goal. “Chris DruuuUUUUUuuury!” He did it so often that fans actually spelled out “Druuuuuury” on the wall behind the rafter seats at HSBC arena.

But to answer your question, I think the Sabres will do well this year. So far they’re not living up to my expectations, however. It took them far too long to get above .500, but now that they are they look fairly strong. The outdoor game they played this past weekend was both a good exhibition for the NHL and a good hockey game in general. After the initial excitement they seemed to calm down and play a very steady game. We’ll just have to keep watching to see how they do as the season moves on.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Will the Pats go undefeated this season?
A: Because so much time has gone by since this question was asked, I think it’s only fair to include my original thoughts (written right before the Indy game):

“Yes. No doubt. Now, I’m not very good at sports prognostication (as evidenced by my baseball picks), but I have supreme confidence in this Patriots squad. Tom Brady has a squadron of the best receivers he’s ever had to work with, lead by a reborn Randy Moss. Bill Belicheck is without question the best coach in the league right now, as evidenced by the methodical destruction of every team they’ve faced this season. I don’t think another team in this league can compete with the Patriots, and yes, I’m including the Indianppolis Mannings in this discussion. This Sunday’s game will be the only game that has the possibility of being close, and I still think that the Pats will win by 21 points. The Patriots are out for blood this season, and they’re going to get it. 19-0, folks. 19-0.”

Now, I was wrong about the score of that game, but I’m right so far. The Patriots have officially gone undefeated in the regular season, something that hasn’t been done since 1972. This is an amazing feat, but unfortunately to many people it won’t mean anything unless they continue to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. I’m quite worried about this prospect. After rampaging through the league through the first half of the season, the Pats have returned to their old ways. They do just barely enough to win games, which is maddeningly frustrating.

But in the end I still think the Pats will go 19-0. As always, any money lost by betting based on my analysis is your own fault.

Q: Adam Barnello - I still want to know. Blu Ray or HDDVD?
A: First, let me hit you guys with three Wikipedia sites to get you all the background that you need.

- BlueRay
- Comparison

In my mind the question can be answered from a number of different angles. Blu-Ray has an edge on the technical side, beating HD-DVD in areas like maximum bitrates and storage capacity. For normal users these differences are fairly minor, however. I suppose that if you want the “best” format then you should choose Blu-Ray. Unless you have top-of-the-line video and audio equipment, though, I doubt you’ll notice the differences.

The second consideration is the content that one wants to watch. There is a roughly even split in the big distribution companies between the two formats. For example, the TV series Lost is available on Blu-Ray, while Heroes is available in HD-DVD. If there are movies that you are just dying to see in HD, then that would be one way to make the choice.

One more factor in this equation is the user’s choice of gaming platforms. If you currently own an Xbox360 you can purchase an HD-DVD player add-on. Future versions of the Xbox360 will have the player built in. Sony included Blu-Ray in its Playstation 3 platform. Personally, I’m going to purchase a Playstation 3 when my Playstation 2 goes to that big junk heap in the sky. Therefore I’m already considering Blu-Ray as my HD format of choice.

Looking ahead, I think that the ultimate answer to this question is “yes.” Initially the wisdom was that one format would win and one would lose, but as time goes on that seems less and less likely to me. This represents a key difference between the VHS and BetaMax format war of the 80’s. Those two formats were fundamentally incompatible due to the physical differences in tapes, in addition to any other technical differences in the formats. Because of that consumers were forced to choose permanently between the two, and VHS ended up winning. With this format war it’s different. Both formats use the same sized disc, with the differences coming in the encoding of data. Because of that it’s very possible to have a player that does both. In fact, such players are already under development.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your decision.

Q: Joe Zaffarano - What's the best way to prevent blisters from drumming?
A: My favorite method is to wrap a vulnerable area with a fabric band-aid. I specifically use fabric because it feels more natural when drumming than the plastic variety. When I played in the pep band and felt a blister forming I would use electrical tape, and while it wasn’t comfortable, it did the job. To increase my comfort I would often put a small piece of a napkin over the vulnerable area, then tape over that.

A final emergency method for preventing blisters is to change the way that you hold the sticks. During a gig this summer I felt a blister forming on my right index finger in the middle of the set. I didn’t have any band-aids or tape, and even if I had I couldn’t stop for long enough to wrap my fingers. So I changed the way I held the stick in my right hand. Rather than holding the stick between my index finger and thumb, I put it between my index and middle fingers and used my thumb to steady it.

The last way I can think of is to wear gloves. I have never worn gloves while drumming, so I can’t say how well it works. I suppose it would work pretty well, though. You’re removing the primary cause of the blister, namely the stick rubbing against the skin directly. On the other hand you’re losing some of the feel of the stick when you do that.