Monday, March 30, 2009

Bachelor Weekend

This weekend was a bachelor weekend for me. Ann headed up to Connecticut with Daughter#2 for a bridal shower for Daughter#1. So it was me and Rosie on our own. And what did I do with all my free time? Wild parties? Drunken orgies? Alas it wasn't so. Mostly I sat around and watched a lot of college sports. Friday was a work day so not much opportunity to get into trouble even though I was working from home. The big decision was what to have for dinner. It being Lent, I was somewhat limited in my choices - no meat. I had already had a fish sandwich for lunch so that was out. I considered a veggie pizza or one with anchovies, but The Son and I were getting together on Saturday for pizza so that was out. After putting it off to about 8:00PM, I decided to go Chinese and got an order of General Tso's shrimp. Not quite as good as General Tso's chicken, but certainly tasty. The shrimp were huge, which was a pleasant surprise. While eating dinner I watched the basketball tournament and watched my brackets tank some more with Memphis bowing out. This would be a recurring theme for the weekend.

Saturday dawned grey and rainy. Another drizzly day. It's like I have been transported to jolly England. I bailed on erging and surfed around on the Internet before meeting The Son for pizza. While there we watched Maryland play Virginia in men's lacrosse. And watched and watched. By 2:00Pm I had had enough and left to pick up some groceries for dinner. They ended up playing 7 Sudden Death Overtimes before Virginia finally won. I found it remarkable about the lack of shot taking by either side during these overtimes. The defenses were good for both sides, but not that good. After securing Brats and macaroni salad for dinner, I came home and settled in for more college sports action. I watched Boston University dismantle Ohio State in hockey. Who doesn't take delight in watching Ohio State get beat regardless of the sport? I also found it ironic that the commentators kept remarking how much bigger the players form BU where than Ohio State. You don't hear that much either. The Son showed up in the evening and I made him cook dinner. I figured I paid for lunch and bought the stuff for dinner, he could at least cook it. When the Brats were finally done, I heard a crash out on the deck where the grill was, but didn't think much about it. Apparently The Son had slipped on the wet deck (did I mention in addition to the grey and drizzle we now had fog to boot?) and spilled the Brats and knocked over the ash tray that sits under the grill. Yes I still use charcoal. Somehow during the crash, the Brats ended up on the deck and in the ash. 2 of the Brats went missing (or were deemed uneatable by The Son) and toward the end of mine I detected the slight crunchiness of ash so I think his effort to clean the Brats weren't 100% successful. Still it was a hearty fare and we settled in to watch the Villanova vs Pitt game. Those that watched saw Villanova make a last second shot to beat Pitt and destroy any final chance I had for picking the winner of the tournament. Oh well there is always next year. I was in bed asleep by 11:00 because I know how to party hard given the opportunity. Sunday it was all about crew. First I went to my erg class and got in 10,000 meters and then I had to go to a meeting of my rowing club as we work to get our 2009 season set up. The meeting lasted a mind numbing 3 1/2 hours. Ugh! At least my part (the budget) was taken care of last month. So registration is set to begin on Wednesday.

Ann and Daughter#2 returned from Connecticut while I was at my meeting. Apparently the shower was a big success and the pot luck dinner and bar crawl (which lasted all of one bar) went well as well. Daughter#2 did a great job at arranging everything especially since she lives 7 hours from where the festivities took place. Daughter#2 also made sailor t-shirts (the wedding is having a nautical theme) for the girls to wear out to the bar. I'll try to post some pictures once I can get some from Daughter#1.

So overall it was a pretty quiet weekend for me. The dog (Rosie) survived even though being separated from her Mom (Ann) whom she follows around like a shadow. The Son got three decent meals (he also came over for Sunday dinner) and the wedding festivity's are off to a good start. Its only 60 days away now. We're getting excited if not a lot poorer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Slow Row

As spring slowly approaches (where the hell is it? I'm so tired of this cold overcast weather), I've been trying to increase the frequency of my workouts. I want to be ready when I can finally get out out on the water, which is 1 April. Since I work at home on Wednesdays, I dragged out my erg for a row. The past month or so, I've been erging Friday, Saturday and Sundays. I figured a Wednesday row would help going into the weekend. I figured 5,000 meters would be fine. I was so wrong. For whatever the reason I just didn't have it. My legs felt heavy. I had no pop to my stroke and my splits were slow. I tried picking up the pace to get my splits down, but all that did was wear me out faster. Maybe it was just one of those days, but man what a sucky row. I got through it, but it wasn't fun and my time was slow. By a good minute. I can take solace in that I finished the workout and there is benefit to that, but it was less then satisfying Hopefully I can come back on Friday with something a lot better. Getting out on the water can't come fast enough. This rowing in the bedroom isn't going well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Brackets Are Running Red

The first two rounds of have just scorched my brackets. The idea of picking upsets seemed like such a good idea, but there are no Cinderellas this year. In the first round I was 21-11 with the Midwest a total disaster. In the second round I was 8-8. Lets go to the videotape (do they even have videotape anymore?)

I'm already down 2 games in the Sweet 16 in the East as I had Florida St and VCU advancing to the Sweet 16. Ouch. I still have Duke and Pitt advancing to the Elite 8 so I have a chance to recover in this region. Villanova looked pretty good though and Duke could be in trouble. On the other hand Villanova was playing at home for the first two rounds.

My best region to date. I missed two games in Round 1 (Butler and Clemson), but my other picks all advanced. My picks for the Sweet 16 all made it. A plus.

OMG what a disaster the Midwest is. Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Boston College all went down in the first round. I had BC going to the Elite 8, which really screws me. Louisville is my only remaining pick in this Region. I did pick Louisville (me and the rest of the world) to make the Final Four though.

BYU, Mississippi State and Utah State all went down in the first Round. I do have 3 of the 4 teams in the Sweet 16 though with only Mississippi state not making it. My second best region outside the South.

I can't wait until Thursday. let the madness continue. I do admit that not having a true Cinderella this year is a bit if a bummer. No glass slippers this year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bracketology - Part II

Last Post I detailed my picks for the East and South Regions of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Today, I'll go over my picks for the Midwest and West Regions.


Louisville is the Number 1 seed in the Midwest. I see them easily defeating the winner of the play in game between Alabama St and Morehead St. For the second round, I picked them over Siena, who I picked to beat Ohio State in the first round. In the other half of this draw, I picked Utah to beat Arizona in the first round and to beat Wake Forest in the second round. I picked Wake to beat Cleveland St in the first round. In the Sweet 16, I picked Louisville to beat Utah. In the other half of the Midwest Region, the Number 2 seed is Michigan State. I think MSU is overrated as a 2 seed, but I do have them winning their first round over Robert Morris. In the second round, I have them meeting Boston College. Boston College moves to Round 2 by first beating USC. In the second Round, I picked Boston College to upset MSU to move on to the Sweet 16. Meeting Boston College will be West Virginia. WVU gets to the Sweet 16 by beating Dayton in the first Round and Kansas in the second round. Kansas makes it to the second Round by beating North Dakota St. in the first Round. In the sweet 16, that sets up a meeting between WVU and BC with BC prevailing to meet Louisville. I pick Louisville to beat BC and move into the Final Four.

West Region

The number one seed in the West region is Connecticut. They easily win their first round game against Chattanooga to face BYU in Round 2. BYU advances to the second Round by beating Texas A&M. I picked Connecticut to top BYU and advance to the Sweet 16. Meeting them there will be Mississippi ST. Miss St is hot right now and they will beat Washington in the first Round and meet Purdue in Round 2 after Purdue beats Northern Iowa in the first Round. I picked Miss St to beat Purdue and move into the Sweet 16 to face Connecticut. Connecticut ends the Miss St run and moves on to the Elite 8. There they will face the Memphis Tigers, the Number 2 Seed in the West Region. Memphis gets to the Elite 8 by beating Cal State Northridge in the first Round and meeting the Terrapins of Maryland in Round 2. Maryland gets to Round 2 against Memphis by beating Cal in the first Round. Memphis beats Maryland to advance to the Sweet 16 to face Missouri. Missouri makes it to the Sweet 16 by beating Cornell in the first Round to meet Utah St in the second Round. Utah St gets to the second Round by beating Marquette in the first Round. Missouri beats Utah St to face Memphis. Memphis beats Missouri in the Sweet 16 to advance to the Elite 8 to meet Connecticut. Memphis beats Connecticut to advance to the Final 4.

Final Four

Louisville will meet Memphis and Pitt will go against Syracuse. I picked Memphis to upset Louisville to advance to the finals and for Pitt to take out Syracuse. That sets up a Memphis vs Pitt finale. Finally, I picked Pitt to prevail over Memphis to win it all.

Check back after the weekend to check out all the red ink as I cross out the games I missed. Drawing up my brackets is great fun, but I know from experience that my track record in past tournaments leaves something to be desired. It still will be madness. Bring it on. Feel free to share your picks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bracketology - Part I

All across the nation, worker productivity is tanking today as thousands scan their papers and/or the internet. For what? That golden nugget that will give them the insight to complete their NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Brackets. Seeding is discussed. Possible upsets dissected. Who will be this year's George Mason or will the power conferences prevail? Bets are placed and the masses drool while waiting the Thursday start. Like millions of others, I have completed my brackets although during my lunch hour. Honest! If I'm motivated, I'll scan my brackets and out it up otherwise lets get into it:

EAST Region

Pitt is the Number one seed in this region. They will beat East Tenn. Next up for Pitt would be the winner of the Oklahoma St/Tenn game. This game could go either way. I'm not a Tenn fan so I picked Ok St. No matter who wins though, either will lose to Pitt. I also have Fla St beating Wisconsin and Xavier to meet Pitt Sweet 16. I picked Pitt to beat Fla St. In the other half of the east bracket, I have my first upset pick with Virginia Commonwealth beating UCLA in the first round and continuing the trend with an upset of Villanova in the second round. I so want to pick American to upset Villanova in the first round, but I just can't do it. In the rest, Texas beats Minnesota and Duke beats Binghamton. In the second round, Duke takes out Texas and then Duke ends VCU's run. In the Elite 8 Pitt defeats Duke to go to the Final Four.

SOUTH Region

UNC is the number one seed in the south. As much as The Son would like to see his alma mater upset UNC, no 16 seed has ever beaten a number one seed and Radford will be no different. (Note: Arby's will give away a free Roast Burger to everyone if a 16 seed upsets a No1 seed) sad as that makes me. UNC will then meet Butler, who I picked to upset LSU. I picked UNC to beat Butler in the second round. I also picked Western Kentucky to upset Illinois and Gonzaga to beat Akron out of the MAC. I picked Gonzaga to beat W. Kentucky to go up against UNC in the Sweet 16. UNC beats Gonzaga to advance. In the other half of the South, I picked Arizona St to beat Temple in the first round, Syracuse to beat Stephen F. Austin, Clemson to beat Michigan and Oklahoma to beat Morgan St. In the second round, Oklahoma beats Clemson and Syracuse beats Arizona St. Syracuse continues its run and beats Oklahoma to force a match up with UNC. In a mild upset, Syracuse beats UNC to get to the Final Four.

I'll put up my picks for the West and Midwest Regions tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Test Ride in Pictures

As mentioned in the last post, the weather finally got warm enough for me to try out my new bike. Ann and The Son were gracious enough to take some pictures and some video. The good news (or bad news depending on which side of the fence you are on), there were no wipe outs and I manged to lock into the pedals without too much difficulty. The even better news is I was able to get my feet out of the pedals before the bike came to a stop and I toppled over. In this picture I'm putting on new biking gloves given to me by Daughter#1 and The Fiance for Christmas. Not that I was planning a long ride where the cushioning in the gloves would come in handy, but to protect my hands should I not be able to negotiate the pedals. Luckily my hands and the gloves returned unscathed. Ignore the pasty white legs.In this video, my right foot is already locked into the pedal and ready to go. Our driveway has a slight downward slope to it allowing the bike to coast along while I got my left foot locked in. With digital cameras anyone can take video these days. If you listen just after leaving the driveway you can hear me successfully lock in my left foot and pedal away.

And I'm off for a short ride of about 3 or 4 miles. I returned without a scratch. Knock on wood that I'm that lucky next time.

Actually next time was just yesterday as the temperature hit the mid 70s. I took a quick spin during my lunch hour. Nice bike, but I think the seat needs to be raised a bit.
In non-bile news, it's three weeks until I can get back on the water. I can't wait.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Making the Dance and a Test Ride

It was a slow week, which equals no new blog entries. The most excitement was doing some bookkeeping for the Rowing Club so we could figure out a budget for next year. Fun times.

As documented in my last entry from this past Monday, we got about 8 inches of snow and the temperature never got out of the 20s. Yesterday, Sunday, a week later, the temperature hit 80 and the snow was long gone. We opened windows long closed for the winter. I debated long and hard about how to spend my day - go to erg class or go biking. Given that it's a new to me bike where I actually clip my feet into the pedals, something I've never tried before I've been a bit intimidated by the bike. Rather than get out on the bike trail miles from home, I decided that perhaps it would be prudent to practice riding the bike around the neighborhood and getting my feet in and out of the pedals without falling and doing a face plant on the asphalt. That being the case, I headed off to erg class to get my exercise. As erg classes go, It wasn't too bad and I got 10, 500 meters in. After class I came home and made Taylor Ham and egg sandwiches for Ann and I. At that point I decided it was time to break out the bike. I needed to put some air in the small tires that are on a road bike. I had to play around with a valve adapter for about 10 minutes before I could get the air pump locked on properly and fill the tires. After that I hopped on the bike and headed off. I'm happy to report that the bike rode like a dream (it's a Felt F75) and I was able to get my feet in and out of the pedals without losing my balance. It took some advance planning on my part to make sure that I had plenty of time to think about what I needed to do and then do it. I haven't come across an emergency stop yet so I'm not ready to say that I'm totally comfortable with it yet. I also found out that my legs didn't have much left in them after going to the erg class so I kept the test ride short, about 4 miles. I'm looking forward to more rides as the weather heats up.

Friday, my day off, I had a dentist appointment. No new news there, which is always good news. The rest of the day was spent getting the Rowing Club's books in order in preparation for a meeting of the Board on Saturday morning.

Saturday started off with the Board meeting. I do have to say, the President has some tasty goodies for us. The meeting was long, but we did approve a budget and we were able to hold the line on our membership fees and keep them the same as last year. Hopefully that will meet the needs of our membership during these tough economic times. After the meeting I did the grocery shopping. Always a fun time. I wanted to get that out of the way before the big event of the day, which to us was the final of the Big South Basketball Tournament. The Son's school (Radford) was in the final and playing for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. We missed the first 5 minutes or so as the game before, which was totally meaningless, ran long. It was probably just as well as VMI jumped out 13-0 before Radford scored their first basket. In the end, Radford won going away although not without a few nail biting moments as VMI kept it close throughout. So The Son is very excited about his school going to the Dance although they will probably be a 16 seed and draw Connecticut or UNC in the first round.

All in all, the weekend seemed to fly by and here it is Monday again and I'm back at work. I need longer weekends. I am excited though about having Daylight Savings Time. I need more sunlight in the evening and not so much in the morning seeing I'm at my desk by 630 AM. Morning sunlight doesn't benefit me a lot. One benny this week - my boss is on travel all week.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For

I've been bad mouthing Winter most of the season. No White Christmas. No snow all year really. Just unseasonably cold weather. Now that March is upon us, I'm looking forward to warmer weather. The beginning of Spring. Being able to get out on the water. And what do I get? Six inches of the white stuff. Very pretty and a dry fluffy snow. Not the wet heavy stuff we normally get. I didn't brave the snow covered roads as my work location was due to get more snow than where I live. Ann called the vanpool and said "See you tomorrow suckers" and we went back to sleep for another 2 hours. The snow ended about 930 and is seriously melting although the temperatures are still in the 20s. We also had an unknown good Samaritan come by and shovel out our driveway for us. I think its the next door neighbor, but its weird we wouldn't have heard the shoveling. He's due a bottle of wine for his efforts. In return, I helped my neighbor on the other sides clear their sidewalks and driveway. Good neighborhood karma all around. Here's what it looked like looking out our garage this morning:
Looking down our driveway, you can see where someone came by and made an effort to clean our driveway. I still can't believe we didn't hear them. Maybe we need to turn down the TV in the morning.

We also had some visitors last week before it snowed. We've always had a few deer wandering around in the woods behind out house, but never this many in one spot out on the road. Pretty to watch.

Not much going on here over the weekend. I did manage to erg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Now if I could just make myself do one session during the week. Besides erging, most of the weekend was spent either watching movies (Ghost Town and 27 Dresses) or college basketball. March Madness is almost upon us.