Cliff Notes Version

Since that last post rambled a bit, here’s the short version.
We finished with a winning record, maybe should have even done better than we did, but we’re still happy.
Go Giants!
I hate stupid kickers.

What a Long Strange Trip

That was hard.
We went up to Connecticut this weekend to play in the Men’s Club National Playdowns with modest goals. First was to get some experience playing together as a team. With 7 games in 4 days, we definitely accomplished that goal. Next was to win a game. We accomplished that in our first game. We were a bit fortunate in that the other team didn’t start playing well until later in the tournament, but it was a win. The other two goals were to beat the other teams from our club and to finish with a winning record. We came out in our second game against the #1 seed and had them on the ropes, but let them off the hook. My memory of that bleary 8am game (the first of three that day) is fuzzy, but we had the lead all the way through, and I even had a shot in the final end that would have had us sitting pretty for the win, but we were overzealous on the sweeping and the shot went through and we lost. But we came back nicely that afternoon and had a lot of fun beating one of the Potomac teams. Unfortunately, we had to rush to eat dinner and get back on the ice for our 8pm game, which we lost in a close battle. Our opponent also had three games that day, but they were able to defeat their second opponent in only 6 ends instead of 10, so they had a good bit more rest, and that may have been the difference. We were just beat after a long Friday. Even so, we were sitting at 2-2, with two winnable games on Saturday.
We slept in a bit on Saturday morning and got to the club for our noon game. It was a tight one all the way down, but we were still down by two points in the 9th end, and we were in trouble. With our skip’s first shot, we had a difficult shot called, but our opponent for some reason was talking quite loudly behind me that there was a better shot that we should be playing. I called down to my skip and we changed to that shot (the opposing skip even showed us the line to play it!), and even though he missed, it enabled us to score one point and make the game close. In the 10th end, we made some great shots and aggressively went for the steal of a point, which we made and forced an extra end. In the extra end, we had to do the same thing, and we did exactly that, playing our guards and getting our one rock buried behind, for the win.
After a thrilling victory, we again had a short time to grab some sustenance and get back on the ice for another game. Luckily, or so we thought, this game was against the team that hadn’t won a game all tournament. So of course, we proceeded to play our worst game of the weekend, and they managed to force us to an extra end. I absolutely sucked the extra end, missing both of my shots, but we still had our rock in position to score our point. Then came the crucial decision for our team: with our rock still on the button, and the opposition with a rock sitting about 8 feet in front of it for a possible “run back,” what do we do? I’m still not sure what the best shot would have been, but the shot we picked was probably the wrong one: the try to guard our middle rock. The idea with the last rock advantage when you only need to score one point is to keep the middle open for your last shot, and we effectively blocked that. Sure enough, the other skip made his run back, and the crowd at the club went wild. Since it was Saturday night, and we were the only teams left playing, it was probably the biggest crowd of the weekend. So that left us with a virtually identical run back shot of our own rock for the win. It was close the whole way down, but our sweepers managed to keep the shot straight when I yelled at them to sweep, and we made the shot for a thrilling win, guaranteeing ourselves a winning record.
In our last game at 8am on Sunday morning, we had the chance to play spoiler and prevent the other Potomac team from getting into a tiebreaker. It was a double knockout round robin, so even though one team was undefeated, the one loss team had to get a second loss to be knocked out. Unfortunately, they just outplayed us, and it was not to be. Still, we finished 4-3, a winning record, and also finished well above our 6th place seed, in third place. Our only losses were to the top two teams, and in that grueling third game on Friday. We were quite happy with our results, and we are definitely psyched up for the Dykes bonspiel in a couple of weeks.
I also have to mention that it was great having my family there to cheer me on. The couple of times when I might have gotten down on myself after a bad game, it was great to come off the ice and get a hug from the kids and mom. The kids were pretty good too, even if they didn’t want to take naps to let Lisa have a rest. Lisa should definitely be nominated for sainthood for getting through the weekend with the two kids mostly by herself.
After our 8am game yesterday was over, we stopped by my grandparents’ place in New York, since it was pretty much on the way home. We had a nice visit, and the kids charmed them like they had charmed the state of Connecticut all weekend long. Soon enough though, we were back on the road, with shockingly little traffic. We made it all the way into Maryland before Evan woke up hungry from his nap. Then we made it about 5 minutes from our house before he started getting cranky from being in his car seat so long.
We unpacked some of the stuff from the car, and I went downstairs to watch the big NFC Championship game. Luckily, I actually remembered to set the Tivo to record it, so I quickly caught up on the first half action. From what I saw, the Giants were dominating the game, except for one Favre to Driver 90 yard TD catch and run. Ridiculous how open he was and how that changes a game. Watching the second half live was a torment. McQuarters picks off Favre but fumbles it right back! Aargh! Tynes misses two field goals, including the game winner! Aaaaarrrrgh! I couldn’t even watch the last field goal, but I was bouncing off the ceiling after it went through. The Super Bowl should be a lot of fun. I think the Giants’ coaching staff has done a heck of a job getting them to this point, and I hope that they can come up with the game plan to keep the game close, with a chance to win at the end. Either way, our neighbors who usually host the Super Bowl party are big Giants fans, so I will be joined in glee or misery for the game.
So now it’s back to reality. My sore muscles are already thanking me for not sweeping today. Work is quiet due to the federal holiday (that we don’t get off but nearly everyone else does). And the busted dryer and dishwasher beckon me to call an electrician to take a look. Sigh. It was fun while it lasted.

When It Rains…

Since we’ve gotten back from our holiday break, this is what we’ve had to deal with:

  • Garbage disposal jammed; I managed to clear the jam and get it working again.
  • Sink backed up, possibly due to disposal jam? I snaked the drain pipe all the way as far as the snake would go, and never hit anything, but must have managed to clear some junk out somewhere.
  • Yesterday, two more things happened, possibly related.
  • The clothes dryer stopped working; this was not a big surprise, the thing is ancient, and we’ve managed to put off getting a new one for a long time.
  • The dishwasher also stopped working.

Both the dryer and dishwasher stopped working in mid-cycle, which seems bizarre. It’s possible that it’s something electrical, though as far as I can tell, they are not on the same circuit. Unfortunately, when figuring out what is attached to which fuse/circuit breaker, I never accounted for the appliances, and it’s not obvious that any fuses were blown or circuits tripped, so we may have to call in an electrician. Nice timing since we’ve got holiday bills coming due, and we’re taking a trip up to Connecticut for the curling tournament this weekend. Sigh.
But hey, how bout them Giants?!?! Somehow Eli strung together his third straight 100+ QB rating, for the first time in his career. It seems to me that Plaxico Burress is obviously not 100% and has no ability to stretch the field on defenders, so the Giants are somewhat lucky that the opposition hasn’t taken advantage of that. Going up to Green Bay is going to be tough, and I think it’ll come down to who runs the ball better. Hopefully we can get back from CT in time to catch the game!

We Three Kings

We had a “Three Kings” brunch on Saturday with a bunch of friends. Normally, a Three Kings party would involve exchanging your “worst” Christmas presents, but since a lot of what would have been exchanged would have been kids’ gifts, we decided against it this year, though we may do it next year. Instead, we focused on having adult beverages for all the parents and letting the kids run around like crazy. Irish coffee and mimosas went over well (the limited bar menu also went over well with the bartender: me). Lisa took care of everyone’s appetite and managed to have minimal leftovers. Unfortunately, our sink drain decided to get clogged right after she finished making everything and needed to run the dishwasher. So the dishes went into the shower until after the party. Thankfully, I was able to get the drain unclogged the following day, though I still don’t know what was clogging it as nothing came out. Later that night, I turned on the Big Ten network just in time to catch the end of their win over Minnesota. Drew Neitzel had another awful game, but Raymar Morgan is establishing himself as a player (and I expect he’ll be going to the NBA soon) and Kalin Lucas is a “diaper dandy” in the making.
It was a good day overall yesterday, as we started off the day returning the half-functioning heated mattress pad I bought. The “dual controls” only worked on one side of the pad, so we took it back to JC Penney. Turned out they didn’t sell it in store, only online, but the customer service rep was really nice and reordered a new one for me, which they are going to ship to our house directly, for no charge. I figured I’d at least have to pay shipping again, but they didn’t even charge me for that. Nice. Then we went and picked up some new towels and found out after we had left the store that they only charged us for one of the four towels. 4 towels for $4.19, very nice for us.
After we got home, I caught up on the Tivo-ed action of the Giants-Bucs game. Lucky for me I could skip through most of that bad first quarter and get to the good parts of the 2nd quarter quickly. During halftime, I successfully snaked the drain, then went back downstairs to catch up on the action and follow the victory. I’m still an Eli skeptic, but didn’t that 8 1/2 minute TD drive in the fourth quarter remind you of the long TD drive in the Giants’ Super Bowl XXV victory over the Bills? OK, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but it was a nice drive all-around, even if I’m not convinced, as some pundits are, that it was a big step in Eli’s maturation process. I’m still a wait-and-see guy on that front.
We then went to the curling club for our usual Sunday pizza and game, where I somehow lucked into getting a ringer substitute for our game, which we won easily. The coming weeks are going to be very busy, curling-wise, as I travel to Connecticut for the Club National Championship playdowns (sort of like a regional qualifier for the Club National Championship) and then to Schenectady for the Dykes (5 years or less curling experience) bonspiel in February. We got a nice deal on a nice hotel for Connecticut on Priceline too. The 3 star Marriott is only about 7 minutes from the bonspiel and normally would have cost us $660 for 4 nights, but we got it for $300. The “discount” rate at the Courtyard that they were giving us would have cost us about $100 more too, so we got a pretty good deal, I’d say. By the way, if anyone has anything they think we should do while in the Bridgeport area, we’re open to suggestions, since we will probably have a decent amount of downtime during the weekend.

Close Shaves

My buddy John was here visiting this weekend, so we had lots of fun times. On Thursday night, we headed out to Rustico, which has a nice long beer list. I had one of my favorites, Festina Peche, on tap, and also had the Rogue Half-A-Weizen (much hoppier than a normal hefeweizen) to go with my shrimp pizza.
On Friday night, Lisa had her book club, so John and I took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. We had originally planned to go to the Nats game, but it was raining, so we wimped out. The Nats ended up playing the whole game in the rain, good thing we didn’t go. We arrived home in time to catch the Yankees comeback against the Red Sox. It would have been hard to miss it, it went so damn late. I had better starting storing up the sleep for the postseason.
On Saturday, we headed out to Glory Days to catch the first half of the MSU-Pitt game. Another decent win for MSU, and hopefully they will pummel the Irish this week too. We tried to go down to Mount Vernon for some stuff they had going on there, but the parking lot was packed, no spots anywhere, so we ended up going to a little park by the river for a bit, and then out for ice cream. We got home to catch up on the Spartans second half, and to watch the Yankees get crushed. Lisa and I combined to make a fine dinner of pecan crusted pork chops, broccoli and mac n cheese. I even popped open the Liefman’s Kriek, since I had someone to drink the big bottle with. Very cherry, yum.
On Sunday morning, we headed out to the Fractured Prune for donuts before taking John to the airport. The Orange Creamsicle donut was better than I expected, and the Black Forest one was just okay. In my baseball game Sunday, I was at third base, and the pitcher was throwing from the windup, and not looking at me. I told myself I was going if he didn’t look over at me and I was able to get a walking lead, I was going. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, and I took off. Unfortunately, I paused coming up against the right-handed hitter, and had to make an awkward slide around him, but managed to stick my hand on the corner of the plate. Safe! yelled the ump. I think it’s time for me to retire, there’s nothing left for me to accomplish. We won the game too. I got back home and iced my arm while watching the Giants fourth quarter implosion against the Packers. Hey, they really weren’t doing that awful, but after the Packers went up 21-13, they fumbled the kickoff giving Green Bay a short field, and Eli threw that awful interception when they were driving for a score. Ah, who am I kidding? They made Brett Favre of 2007 look like Brett Favre of 1995. They are going to have to retool that defense, especially the linebackers, who can’t cover a tight end to save their lives. Thankfully, the Yankees came through late against Curt Schilling, and Mariano held on for the save, which they really needed after the Tigers crept up on them by sweeping the Twins. Hopefully the Yanks can solve the O’s for a change. They could use a sweep.

Trying to Contain Myself

I’ve never been an Eli fan, but even I know enough that I wouldn’t boo him (I’m looking at you, Jets fans) when he gets hurt. The Giants can’t be excited about entrusting their already fragile offense to Jared “Fat Butt” Lorenzen. Hell, I’m not all that excited about the prospect of Tim Hasselbeck coming back, or getting Byron Leftwich either. Here’s hoping that his injury is not as severe as what Chris Mortenson reported last night. Brandon Jacobs looks like he should be okay, but Derrick Ward did well enough in his absence that I’m not as worried about that injury. Of critical importance is Osi Umenyiora. Without any pass rush to speak of, Tony Romo tore the Giants secondary up. With inexperienced starters throughout the defense, the Giants definitely need Osi back quickly.
My fantasy team suffered a tough loss last night. I was down by about 60 points, but had one player from each of the four teams playing last night. Chad Johnson got my hopes up early by catching a nice long TD, but then disappeared in the second half as the Bengals tried to give the game to the Ravens. Mark Clayton didn’t catch a pass, and looks to be an early waiver drop. Russ Grimm and Ken Weisenhunt affirmed my faith in Edgerrin James, as Arizona managed to establish a semblance of a running game in the utter absence of a passing attack. Come on, Leinart! You’ve got two of the best WRs in the game, and you throw for 102? Frank Gore also did reasonably well even with Alex Smith stumbling through the game. They can only get better, but alas, my team still came up 9 points short. Only one game though, and I’m encouraged by some decent performances.