A Fine Fall Weekend

The weekend actually worked out fairly perfectly, all things considered. On Friday night, we had tickets to go to “Boo at the Zoo”: trick-or-treating at the National Zoo. It was already pretty crowded by the time we got there, but the lines weren’t all that long. Thankfully, there were a few monkeys awake for Evan to see (read: freak out about). And while the pandas were asleep, they are cute when asleep. Plus, we got a lot of candy. I don’t think we need to go around to the neighborhood at this point.
It rained pretty much all day Saturday, which was okay because we had indoor activities planned for the most part. Unfortunately, Ellie also had to go to the doctor, but she seems to be perfectly fine now. It was her friend Claire’s birthday party that day, so she had some fun playing there, and then we were off to the “Air and Scare” at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum. Not as fun as the zoo, but way more crowded due to it being free (aside from parking). We were lucky to get there early, because by the time we left a little before 6pm, the line to get into the place was insanely long, almost 2 miles backed up onto the road to get in. And there was nowhere to park once you got in either. So lucky us for getting there early. After that, since it was still pouring rain, it seemed like a good night to head to an Irish pub for dinner. I had fish and chips and a Guinness, and they were good enough to put the MSU-UM game on the TV for me, so I got to see the fourth quarter and MSU close out a big win. Loved the look on Rich Rodriguez’s face every time the Wolverines made another stupid play. Thankfully, the idiot replay official’s call on the first U-M touchdown didn’t cost us either.
Finally, yesterday was a beautiful fall day for another birthday party, which wrapped up just in time for us to head home and catch the Giants beat the Steelers. I was so worried that the Giants would dominate every statistic and yet find a way to lose thanks to two big plays by the Steelers, but they managed to do just enough to pull out the victory. It was a big win, as they are about to head into an absolutely brutal stretch of games to end the season.
This should be another busy week for us. The Town of Vienna’s Halloween parade is on Wednesday, Halloween itself is on Friday. And curling starts on Sunday! Oh, and Guitar Hero is scheduled for delivery on Tuesday. Aw yeah.

Playing Catchup

Spring technically arrived last week, but the weather hasn’t quite warmed up enough to convince me, even though all our flowers are blooming in the front yard, and the trees are starting to bud like crazy too. So it seems strange that I will still be curling in leagues for the next couple of weeks. And let me tell you: it can’t end soon enough. At this point, I’m just going through the motions of it all and looking forward to having a break. Side note: the US women are 4-1 so far at the World Championships, though they have a long way to go yet, playing the top two teams (China?!?! and Canada) later today.
MSU’s hoops team pulled off a mild upset beating Pitt this week. I think a lot of people had Pitt going far, based on their streak through the Big East tourney, but thanks to some help from the refs in letting a lot of the rough play go, we were able to advance. It should be interesting to see how much rough stuff we get away with against Memphis. If they let us be physical with the Tigers, we have a good chance, I think.
The hockey team starts its title defense as the three seed out West against Colorado College on Friday. Too bad it’s on ESPNU and I won’t be able to watch.
Random Amazon purchasing info and lust: Ellie has been getting toward the height limit of her Britax car seat, so we’ve been looking for a booster seat for her. The catch is that we still want her to be in a 5-point harness, and there aren’t a lot of candidates out there, though the market is growing. Ellie’s cousin has the “throne,” the Britax Regent, which harnesses up to 80 pounds and runs a cool $250. We also looked at the Sunshine Kids Radian and some other more expensive models ($200+) But yesterday I found out about the new model from Graco, and we drove out to Burlington Coat Factory (more than great coats, they have a sub-store in there dubbed Baby Depot). The Nautilus costs $150 and has a high height limit harness, and a 65 pound weight limit. Ellie’s still under 30 pounds, so we were more worried about the height than anything, so we had her sit in it and try it out. We thought she might not like it, since it’s still very “car seat”-ish, but she actually did like it. Only problem was that they were out of stock, so Amazon to the rescue. Now we just have to wait for the super-saver shipping to arrive in a couple of weeks.
Lastly, Harmonix announced that Rock Band for Wii will be coming out in June. Woot! Maybe Ellie can play drums while I play guitar!

Big Sigh

This morning, I went to submit our entry into the last bonspiel of the year, a fun get-together up in New Jersey that I’ve been wanting to play in for some time. We put a team together, and all I thought I had to do was get the entry in before March 15. Turns out, not so much. They already filled up their allotment of teams, so we got shut out of playing. Pretty much all I have to say about that is “Fuck!” Lisa had already booked a flight to Michigan for that weekend so that she wouldn’t have to be stuck home alone with the kids all weekend, so now I have to figure out what the heck to do instead.
Needless to say, the rut just got deeper.

Decision Time

Thanks to the bazillions of people who have written to me about Rockstar Curling, the possible reality TV show that NBC is looking at airing. I knew about it long before the emails started rolling in, but I appreciate the notice anyway.
Now I see that the official website is up, and they are taking registrations for the tryouts. Here’s the catch though, which you had to see coming if you read the articles at all: “IF SELECTED COULD YOU TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TRAINING AND FILMING OF ROCKSTAR CURLING?” It’s supposed to be a six-month training commitment, which is a long “leave of absence.” I imagine that answering “No” to the above question would probably disqualify me, eh?
On a related note, the USA Curling National Championships are going on right now. I actually know half of Team Lin on the women’s side, so I’ll be cheering for them, even though their chances are probably slim against the tough competition.

A Good Run

It wasn’t quite what we wanted, but we returned from Schenectady yesterday with a trophy.
After struggling through our first game on Thursday, we hoped to play better the following day. Instead, we faced a team from Schenectady and lost a tough game in large part due to the home ice advantage. We were missing shot by inches, and they were making theirs by the same margin. Still, even after being down by 8 after two ends, we had a shot at scoring 5 or 6 in the third end and still missed by an inch again, and we weren’t able to recover. At least that team ended up in the championship finals, where they lost on their last shot when their rock took a bad turn, much like ours had against them. Poetic justice.
So we were relegated to playing in the tiny two sheet Albany club, which turned out to be great for us. The change of scenery took our minds off the previous loss, and we started to turn our game around. We won that game fairly easily and moved back to Schenectady on Saturday.
We controlled the first game Saturday by making sure that we scored multiple points with the hammer while forcing the other team to only one point when they scored. We really got it rolling on Saturday night and blew out a pretty decent team. That win ensured that, even though we wouldn’t win it all, we would at least be playing in a final on Sunday.
A couple of weeks ago, we went to Connecticut to play. Our Sunday opponents were from that club, and we had even played against two of them before. They were a good bunch of guys, so we knew we were going to have fun. We were led out onto the ice by the piper, and it felt good to be playing a meaningful game on Sunday again. After the traditional Drambuie shot, we got the game started. We kept the game close, but after a bit of a lucky bounce on one of the opponent’s shots, we found ourselves down by two point after 5 ends. Then we took a break for beer. We weren’t necessarily supposed to do that, but since we knew the other guys and we were just having fun, we decided to take the same break that we had gotten when we played each other in Connecticut. We came back from the break and quickly scored 4 points to take a two point lead. We traded points for a while and were tied after 8 ends again. In the ninth end, we had an open draw shot to score two points, but we came up two inches short, and took a one point lead into the last end. We were in good position going into their skip’s last shot, and he decided to throw a big takeout to try to blast our rock out and win the game. Unfortunately for them, he also blasted his own shot just too far, and they were only able to tie it up, forcing an extra end.
We absolutely controlled the extra end, quickly managing the get two rocks under cover while also leaving the middle of the ice wide open for a potential final shot. On our skip’s first shot, it was our turn for a lucky break, as we just ticked off one rock but still made the shot. Their skip’s final shot was too heavy, and we pulled out the win and took home the hardware.
It was a bittersweet victory for us since we had high expectations. But in the end, we held our heads high knowing that we were one of only 4 teams with one loss or less in a tournament with 40 teams, and knowing that we lost to a team that went all the way to the championship final before losing. We still think that if we had played any of those teams on neutral ice, we would have given them all they could handle. Alas, it was not to be, and my 5-and-under career has come to a close.

For the Patriots

I meant to post this prior to the Super Bowl, but I’ll go ahead and post it now anyway.

“You got no fear of the underdog, that’s why you will not survive.”

I’m off to Schenectady this afternoon for the big Dykes Bonspiel. 40 teams comprised of curlers with less than 5 years of experience. I think we have a really good chance of winning the whole thing, but I’m not going to get too cocky about it. I have no idea if you can follow any of the results online, but here’s the Schenectady club’s website anyway.

Sore on Monday, Again

Last week, I was sore because I had just finished curling 7 games in 4 days, including 3 in one day. This week, I’m sore because I ran a measly 1.8 miles yesterday.
This weekend, I really just wanted to catch up on some sleep. I was dragging all week, and hoped to get an extra couple of hours in on the weekend. But, on Saturday, I was still up around the usual time. We took Ellie to ballet class, and I later went to Home Depot for doors and shelves. Of course, on the way home I was hit with the epiphany that even after thinking three times about which way the door needed to open, I still got the one that opened the wrong way. So instead, I put the shelves for our guest room closet together. That went pretty well, and now our Rubbermaid bins of Christmas stuff, baby clothes, etc, are much more neatly organized than before (and we don’t have to unstack 5 to get to the bottom one).
On Sunday morning, I woke up around 7:30 and couldn’t get myself back to sleep, so I decided to try out my nifty new GPS watch and go for a quick run. It wasn’t terribly cold, nice weather for a run. I only averaged about an 8:24 pace, and the watch worked pretty well, though ironically, it doesn’t actually tell time! Then it was back to Home Depot for the correct door and home to install it, while watching MSU beat the hell out of Michigan in college hoops. Despite all my best efforts to make sure everything was square and level, the door still ended up just off kilter by fractions of an inch. I think I was eventually able to shim around the door and get it to the point where I was okay with it, but it was just plain annoying.
My usual Sunday curling game went to an extra end, thanks to two good shots by me to tie it up in the last end, but we lost in the extra because I missed both of my shots badly. I need to work on my release, because I know that’s where I’m having the problems.
All that leads me to this morning, where my shins are in agony, unexpectedly. It has to have been the running, though I wouldn’t have thought less than 2 miles could have that effect. Most of the rest of me is fine, just those shins (or rather, the muscle running alongside the shin). I definitely should have just stayed in bed.