Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Politics of Football

Yes, I’m chiming in on something sports related.  And something political.  But, being me, I’m doing it a couple of days late since the biggest arguments over this were over the weekend.  But I have thoughts swirling in my head that I need to get out.  Warning, this will be long and will go back a few years.

Normally, I don’t follow sports, but I have started to enjoy football.  I’ll take any football game, but it is more background noise; I have it on while doing other things and often even have the sound down.  I joined a fantasy football league with some friends, including several former roommates.

I blame this softening to my roommate Daniel.  He’s a huge football fan.  Back when he was my roommate, Tim Tebow was the quarterback for Florida.  (See, I couldn’t tell you which college or university in Florida it was.  I’m still not a diehard sports fan.)  It was his senior year, and he’d go on to win the Heisman Trophy.  Then he’d be drafted to the Denver Broncos as their backup quarterback.  When Peyton Manning got injured, Tebow managed to lead the team to some playoff victories before the team was eliminated.

However, Daniel, who was a fan of Tebow in college and a Broncos fan, didn’t think Tebow made a good NFL quarterback.

And then Tebow became controversial for kneeling.  After his team scored a touchdown, he’d briefly kneel on his own on the sidelines while the rest of the game was going on to give thanks to God.  The man had always been under scrutiny for being an outspoken Christian, and this just brought things to a boil.  There were calls for him to be fired.

Tebow was eventually traded and then cut from his new team.  However, Daniel’s perspective that Tebow was having a hard time making the transition to NFL quarterback kept playing in my mind.  Could the controversy surrounding him have helped with him losing his NFO job?  Sure.  But I submit that if he’d been winning games, he’d be a starting quarterback somewhere.

Fast forward a few years.  I join the fantasy football league with Daniel and some other friends.  Being the Northern California native I am, I snag Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers as my quarterback.  And I didn’t win a game all year.  Now, I’m not blaming it all on him, but I had a front row seat to his performance as a quarterback.  He’s okay, but not all that great.  Lesson learned, I let auto draft help me in the future.

But I kept an eye on the 49ers as they continued to struggle.

Then Kaepernick started his protests last year.  It started with him sitting on the bench during the anthem, only kneeling when his lack of standing was called out.  And he became controversial.  And yet, he never became a great quarterback.

The calls for his firing started from some of the same people who had been defending Tebow.  And those who called for Tebow to be fired were defending Kaepernick.  And I watched the 49ers lose games under his leadership.

And here is where I feel sorry for the NFL as a whole.  Kaepernick was let go from the 49ers.  And immediately, people started to call for the NFL to be boycotted.  Could the controversy surrounding him have had something to do with his being let go?  Yes.  But I guarantee you that if Kaepernick were winning games and leading his team to the play offs consistently, he would still be a professional quarterback.

You’ll notice I said the exact same thing Kaepernick and Tebow.  While they were controversial in their own ways, they weren’t playing at levels that justified having them on teams.  If they were, they would still have jobs.  It’s as simple as that.

Yet, people were calling for the NFL to be boycotted this fall because Kaepernick lost his job.  Sorry, but if you aren’t good at your job, you will lose it.  That applies to sports just as much as the rest of life.

This is when those defending Kaepernick cited the First Amendment and his freedom of speech.  He absolutely does have freedom of speech, but let’s look at the First Amendment again.  “Congress shall make no law….”  It says nothing about a private company.  And it says nothing about a job when you aren’t very good at your job.

Of course, freedom of speech issues seem to be everywhere these days.  People are defending it or trying to take it away from others.  Yes, riots against a speaker are trying to take away someone’s freedom of speech.  You can disagree, but they still have the freedom to speak even if you disagree with them.

So I do support his right to speak, and he has a platform to speak.  I happen to disagree with what he is saying.  Remember, this started because of his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  The statistics don’t back up the movement.  Not to say that the perception doesn’t mean anything, but when we look at facts, this movement started from the news media blowing something out of proportion and then fed into perceptions.  Instead of trying to get to solutions, we started having protests.

But Kaepernick still has the right to speak up on this whether I disagree with him or not.

I am bothered by the means he chose to do so, however.  As an American, the flag and the National Anthem mean something to me.  I try to show them respect, although I probably fail at times.  The flag stands for Kaepernick’s right to speak his mind on any topic he wants, for one thing.  And it is clear in our society that we get that flags stand for something.  Over the summer, we’ve had how many discussion on what the Confederate flag stands for and what statues stand for.  Those who want statues taken down say that his taking a knee isn’t a huge insult and those who defend the statues are the most offended.

My feelings on the flag and the anthem were solidified back in the 90’s by Adventures in Odyssey.  For those not familiar with it, this is a radio drama done by Focus on the Family, so it is conservative in bent for sure.  They invented some ways for the kids in modern time to go back and experience history, both Biblical and American.  (They were imagination enhancing computer programs, but they were really just plot devises.)  This particular episode sent two kids back to the battle during the War of 1812 when Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner.”  They are by his side during the long night when the British are shelling the fort, and they watch for the flag to still be flying, meaning that the fort has not surrendered to the British.  It really showed me just how powerful a symbol the flag is.

Last year, one of the highlights of my day as a tourist in Washington DC was seeing the flag that inspired the song in the Smithsonian.  Thinking again about the story and where the American flag has flown over the years moved me to tears.

So, while I support Kaepernick’s right to speak his mind, I was off put by his actions.  And, frankly, I am a little surprised that the NFL didn’t step in last year.  After all, they threatened to fine players on the Dallas Cowboys who wanted to honor Dallas police officers who had been shot in the line of duty by a sniper.  And they refused to let players honor the victims of 9/11 on Sunday, September 11, 2016.  So why they couldn’t have told Kaepernick to find another way to make his point is beyond me.  And if you are upsetting the people you are trying to reach with your message, maybe you should find another way to speak your mind that will help build a bridge.

Flash forward to this weekend.  I missed what started the entire controversy this particular weekend, but I certainly heard about Trump’s tweet calling for the NFL to fire any player who refused to stand for the anthem.  Now, while I find kneeling for the anthem to be disrespectful, let’s go back and look at how the First Amendment begins again.  “Congress shall make no law….”  Okay, if we want to split hairs, Trump is the President and wasn’t making a law.  But the meaning of the First Amendment is clear, and Trump overstepped.  Period.  End of discussion.

So, honestly, I was left feeling unsettled this weekend.  I find the practice of kneeling disrespectful since it is our country’s tradition to stand at attention.  (Ironically, at other times kneeling show great respect, like kneeling before a king.)  The way the practice has been growing over the last few weeks in other sports and even in kids’ leagues is bothering me.  Yet, I can understand why players felt compelled to do it this weekend to stand up to Trump.

Of course, then there’s the Steeler’s player, a former Army Ranger, who did stand and was made to feel so foolish that he apologized today for letting his team down.  He shouldn’t have had to do that.  It was his choice, and he should have been allowed to make it.  And to answer another comment I saw, the people in the stands booing the players that were kneeling wasn’t racist.  It was their free speech back to the players showing their free speech.  It’s not perfect by any means, but it is part of living in a free society.

But this entire weekend has saddened me yet again.  I saw so many knee jerk responses with very little time for anyone to think things through.  I’ve probably gone overboard with this post (which is currently just over 1500 words), but there is a lot of complexity and hypocrisy on both sides.

I’m also thinking about an observation my brother made in his sermon this Sunday about how easy it is to get people to protest things today, but how hard it is to get people to actually do something productive to make a difference.  I honestly feel like this entire issue, which has been building for the last year, is the perfect example.  Nothing has truly come of this but bad feelings and calls for boycotts (which we do at the drop of a hat).

And lost in all of this is any effort to try to see the other side or try to get along.  Everyone knows they are right, and posts things that only inflame those they disagree with while reinforcing the belief on their side that they are right.  If we want to find a way to get along again as a country, we need to stop talking in memes and think.  Listen to each other.  Think about this story in the context of other stories that have happened in the last year.  5 years.  10 years.  No we can’t solve everything in one day, but at this point, I don’t think that the majority of the country is even trying.

And that saddens me most of all.

As does the fact that something that could be used to bring us together and help us relax and forget about politics for a while is now a political football.

Friday, September 15, 2017

More Bowling

Bowling keeps happening every Tuesday night.  I’m enjoying it, but it sure isn’t going my or my team’s way.

We are currently in last place.  We just can’t seem to win, or if we are in the lead, we can’t hold on to it.  This last week’s third game was a great example where we lost our lead in the ninth frame.

And I am lucky to get more than one strike a game right now.  My high game the last three weeks has been a 161, but other than that, I am usually in the 120 range.  A few games, I’ve been lucky to hit 100.

I’ve noticed this before.  The more I bowl, the less well I actually do.  You’d think it would be the opposite since I’m practicing, but it’s not.  I’m not sure what it is.  I feel like I am trying too hard, and that is making me do worse.  I’m stiff instead of being lose and relaxed, as I am when I am not trying to any expectations.  But who knows if that is the case or not.


I do know that I am completely enjoying my bowl.  It really fits my hand well, something I was truly worried about.  And it’s fun to have my own shoes and my own ball.  It’s a luxury, sure, but it is a ton of fun.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fantastic Weekend Home

I was able to head north to visit my family over the Labor Day weekend.  Thanks to getting to leave early on Friday and the day off Monday, I was able to spend two full days up there without taking any vacation, too!

It had been hot down here, but it was just as hot up there.  That meant we spent the weekend at my parent’s house, which has AC.  Well, we did go to church Sunday morning, but you know what I mean.  Anyway, we played lots of games both days.  Didn’t really do too much else, but it was just fun getting to hang out and spend time together.

On the way home Monday, I was even able to meet up with my friend Donald for lunch in Fresno, which was great.

Traffic was sluggish the last 60 miles or so, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared it might be.

I’m definitely ready for another visit.  They are just way too short.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Gladiator Rock n Run 2017

This last weekend was the Gladiator Rock n Run at the Rose Bowl.  It was the same weekend it was last year, but unlike last year, which was cold and cloudy all morning, this one was warm going toward hot.  I did the 7:30 wave again so I could do the 10K, and I was sweating almost the entire way.  Still, it wasn’t as hot as it would get even yesterday, when it hit 110 here in town.  Over there, I think it was a little cooler, but still, that’s hot!

The bad part about doing the 7:30 wave is having to get up and be there in time.  I am so not a morning person.

The good part about doing the 7:30 wave is that I was home by 11 AM.  Not that I did much with the rest of my day but veg.  I did get my clothes from the mud run washed, but that was about the only productive thing I did.

The run itself?  I thought I was doing well by training for some stairs.  I didn’t train nearly enough.  And running into the Rose Bowl and going up and down the stairs 3 times is one of the first things we do.  I was so sore for the rest of the run that I had to walk parts.  My legs just couldn’t run.  And I skipped the cargo climb again.  I probably would have gone for it if they only had one cargo climb, but my legs were shaking pretty badly and they had two back to back.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to do both of them safely.

I also really need to work on my upper body.  It is embarrassingly how little upper body strength I have these days.  I can run the distance, but I can’t do anything else.

All this aside, yes I had fun.  The 10K part of the course is really cool, and I enjoyed that.  It’s a fun challenge.  I just need to prepare more for it.

And that includes stairs.  Between the mud run Saturday and then playing ultimate yesterday, I am so sore!  I’m getting better as the day goes along, but it might make bowling very interesting tomorrow night.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to Bowling

When the spring bowling league came around, it didn’t work with my work schedule and I didn’t want to commit with ultimate Frisbee being on an unpredictable night of the week.  Then, as it turned out, I got sick and wasn’t even able to sub most weeks.

When sign ups happened for the fall league, I once again thought I was going to miss out thanks to work schedule.  But when one team needed an extra person, I took a closer look at the schedule and realized I could do it, so I signed up.

We are playing on Tuesdays this time, instead of Thursday.  And we are back to teams of four, but we have six teams of four.  It’s pretty much the usual gang out there bowling and having fun, but we are loving it.

Every time, they’ve offered a very good deal on a bowling ball, a bag, and bowling shoes.  I decided to get that this time around, so I am using my own ball and shoes.  I love it!  I should have done this back in the fall when they first offered it.

Of course, the first week with my new ball was the lowest I’ve bowled.  But my entire team was off that night, and I’m not sure why.  I really don’t think it was my ball, I think it was me.

My best so far this season was a 161 in the second week.  That second week was pretty funny.  The first game, I started out with a turkey (three strikes in a row).  I followed that up by bowling a gutter ball with my first ball in the fourth frame.  I did pick up the spare.  Then I started the second game of the night with a turkey.  No, the fourth frame wasn’t a gutter ball again.

My low was a 107 last week.  That was my first night with my new ball, and it was the middle game of the night.

Last night’s scores were much closer to my average, 135, 132, and 147.  I’m quite happy with them.  I had a really hard time bowling strikes, but I did pick up a nice number of spares.

I was so worried about the holes on my ball being big enough for my thumb, but so far, it’s worked out well for me.  I’ve always had a hard time with house balls.  In fact, there is one ball in particular I made sure I used every single week.  Obviously, the guy in the pro shop knows what he’s doing because I haven’t had any trouble in the two weeks I’ve used it.  And it’s just so fun to walk in and go straight to the lane to bowl.  Sometimes, it really is the little things that are just so much fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

End of Summer League

Unfortunately, my summer league season ended worse than it began.  We lost our last couple of games, putting us just below the 50% mark.  It didn’t help that we were down players those last couple of games.  I got a lot more playing time than normal, or than I really wanted.

After all the driving I did for games, I was pleased that the tournament was once again here in town.  I was especially glad when I saw that we were in the first game, which started at 7:30.  Yikes, that’s early.

We had numbers again for the tournament, including three subs.  Unfortunately, that didn’t help our performance.  We lost the first game, and it wasn’t especially close.  We did win the next game, and quite handily.  But we lost the final game of the day.

I could easily see some personalities come out as we lost that I didn’t enjoy being around.  Many of my teammates were great, but the few were definitely annoying.

Because the tournament was in town, I saw quite a few of my friends from pick up here in town who were around to watch at various points during the day.  Some even subbed on various teams, which was a lot of fun.  And one friend came with three of his kids to watch the finals.  We wound up sitting together and talking, which I really enjoyed.  Unfortunately, the wind came up for finals, so it wasn’t nearly as interesting a game as normal.

I put in my appearance at the party as well.  It was at a different bar here in town, but it was a bar I wasn’t familiar with.  Obviously, I just don’t go to bars here in town.  Seriously, the only time I go is with ultimate teams/tournaments, and since this is only the second tournament here in town, it’s introduced me to two bars now.  Not that I plan to be going back since I don’t drink.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Trixie Camp 2017

I finally made it back to Trixie Camp!  I actually had a hard time believing it had been so long, but the last time I made it to one was 2010.  That’s a long time.

For those who may not know, this is what we’ve started to call the annual Trixie Belden Convention.  Basically, it’s an excuse for those of us who have met on the message boards for this old kid’s mystery series over the years to get together and have fun hanging out in person.

This year, the convention was in New Orleans, a place I’ve always wanted to go.  Yes, it was in July, which is definitely not the best time weather wise.  I truly appreciated our dry heat when I got home.

But we had a lot of fun.  It was so great to see people I haven’t seen in person for years and just hang out.  There was just about enough time to catch up with everyone.  Another day or two would have been perfect.

We didn’t leave the French Quarter the entire time we were there.  We had a walking tour, including one of the cemeteries.  We went down to the old mint and got a jazz concert out of the deal.  There was time for shopping and just hanging out.  We took a steamboat up the river to the site of the Battle of New Orleans.  And we did lots and lots of walking.

Did I mention it was hot and humid?  It was.  It even poured one afternoon when we were at a museum a little ways from our hotel.  But after wrapping my phone in a plastic bag, I headed back.  Honestly, it felt pretty good.

I would have loved to get to the Garden District, something there just wasn’t time to do.  I guess that will be the next trip, right?

Friday, August 11, 2017

End of an Era

I have more things to blog about, but I want to mark this one closer to the actual event.  You see, last Saturday, my roommate moved out – my final roommate.

Yes, after all those years of panicking when I didn’t have a roommate or one was moving out, I am actually living on my own.  It’s a weird feeling, and I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.  How can it when I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to do much at home.  The bunk beds are still up in both bedrooms, for example.  And I don’t know what to do with a pantry all to myself, especially considering how little food I really buy.  The entire place needs a good cleaning, but that sounds way too much like work.

But it is still a wonderful feeling.  I can do all of those things, and I will then be the only person to mess up the place again.  And if I don’t know where something came from, I can throw it away.  It seems I’ve inherited stuff from multiple roommates over the years.

But I look back at how God provided all those roommates over the years, and I marvel at how good He’s been to me.  I never went without roommates.  And, while I had some interesting roommates over the years, the vast majority are people I count as friends.  In fact, they are some of my best friends.  The thought of not making new friends this way makes me a little sad.  Not enough to actually get another roommate, of course.

And I’m not opposed to having a roommate in the future.  I’m planning to keep a bed in the spare bedroom, just not bunk beds.  But I can be very selective about who becomes my roommate.  I don’t have to jump at the first guy who walks through the door.

I’m excited to see what happens in this next chapter of my life while still being thankful for what God did for me in the last one. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Liquid Run 2017

Last year, I heard about something new, the Liquid Run.  But it was scheduled for the same weekend that I did the Irvine Lake Mud Run last year, and I was already signed up for that one.  When they announced the dates this year, and it was the weekend after the Irvine Lake Mud Run, I signed up.

So June 24th, I drove down to Newport Beach to try something new.

This isn’t like the runs I normally do.  The course was only a quarter mile, and it was all on floating platforms in a little cove.  There were things for us to climb over and go around and even slide down.  It looked like fun.

However, the experience wasn’t nearly as fun as I wanted it to be.  While there didn’t appear to be crowds early, they were backed up by the time I went to run it, so I started late.  Not that it helped.  For the first third of the course, we were stuck in a traffic jam and just barely inching forward.  Things did get better after that, fortunately.  I might have baled if it didn’t get better.

Even when we started to get moving, I didn’t have that much fun with it.  I mentioned the floating platforms, right?  The made standing very difficult, especially if you have no sense of balance like I do.  Plus the platforms were slippery when wet.  And I had a hard time getting over some of the obstacles since I couldn’t push off since my feet were slipping.

I wound up being out there much longer than I thought I would be.  The lockers I had to rent from were looking to move on by that time, but they waited, fortunately.  And I was meeting Joy for lunch, and I was much later than I told her I would be.

So, I won’t be signing up for this one again.  Other people seemed to really enjoy it, but it wasn’t my thing.  I don’t regret it, however, since I wanted to try it out and see what I thought.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Irvine Lake Summer of Mud 2017

Okay, back to June.  On June 17th, I did the Irvine Lake Mud Run, my second of three runs in a row that month.

Considering how poorly I’d done the Saturday before at Camp Pendleton, I was concerned about how this one would go.  I was still getting over being sick, although I was definitely on the mend.  I hadn’t been running much in between, however.

But this is a shorter course, and I was able to run most of it no problem.

There weren’t many surprises on the course this year, but that’s okay.  It’s still one of my favorites thanks to the mud slide.  And the lines were so short when I got there I may have done it twice this year.  About the only crowd was the crowd for the shower at the end, but that’s a minor issue.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to hang out with any Irwins or Smiths afterward since they were all busy that day.  It meant I drove down and back and just did the run.  On the other hand, I wasn’t stressing over anyone waiting for me, which was very nice.

At one point while I was running, I heard someone in a golf cart shout out “Is that THE Mark Baker?”  From a later comment on Facebook, I confirmed it was the guy who runs this particular mud run.  Hadn’t interacted with him much on Facebook recently, so I’m surprised he still recognized me.  Definitely put a smile on my face.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer League 2017

I’m so far behind, Summer League is almost over and I haven’t talked about it at all yet.

Yes, I’m playing ultimate Frisbee Summer League again.  The sad part is, they are using a bunch of different fields this year, and only one of them was close to me.  Even worse, the one close to me we only play at twice, and I missed one of those games.  Most of the fields are far.  Like an hour with traffic far.

But it’s still worth it.  It helps that my team has a winning record!  We are in the middle of the pack, but I will take it.  Seriously, this is so much better than the leagues where my team didn’t win at all.

It helps that we have some very athletic men, the kind who can get everything.  And our women are wonderful.

Honestly, there’s only one weak link on the team – me.  I’m feeling slower than ever this year, thanks in large part to how little I’ve been running this summer.  I have to start ramping that up for a mud run I have in a month.  A month from today in fact.  Yikes!!  But I’m playing only a few points, so it’s not a huge deal to the team.  I don’t have as much opportunity to contribute to the team as a result, but I do what I can when I am on.  Usually, they are poaching off of me, and we need to figure out how to best use that as a team to work the disc down the field and make them pay.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Camp Pendleton Mud Run 2017

I was getting so close to catching up, and then I stopped blogging again, didn’t I?  Let’s fix that.

June 10th was the Camp Pendleton Mud Run this year.  It was unfortunate timing since I was still fighting off bronchitis, and I hadn’t gone running for several weeks.  Between the two, this was not the best time I’d turned in.  In fact, I finished in over two hours instead of my usual 1:45 or so.  But I finished.

It was a cool day.  We’ve had tons of heat since then, but that day was almost cold.  The sun finally came through as I was leaving.  Naturally.

I was exhausted when I finished, but I had so much fun on the course.  We actually got to go through some of the buildings in Combat Hill this year, which was nice.  Even though we’d had more rain than the last few years, there still wasn’t enough water in the former reservoir to swim, so we crawled under nets again.

This is just a fun course where we get to be on a military base.  I really like that.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

And Then He Got Sick

I’d mentioned in my post about the mud run I did in May being sick right before it.  Apparently, I wasn’t quite over it because I got sick again on the 21st.  This time, the fever was accompanied by a cough.  I took another couple days off work, trying to rest up, but that cough just kept coming even after the fever went away.

I didn’t let it interfere with my plans to go to visit my family over Memorial Day Weekend.  I had a good trip up there if a busy one.  In addition to visiting my family, I drove several hours Sunday afternoon and spent Sunday night with my uncle and aunt.  I finally got to see their new place.  It’s wonderful, and I must admit to being jealous.  I do wish it were closer.

But I spent most of my nights up there coughing through the night and sleeping fitfully.  Fortunately, I wasn’t keeping anyone up with my coughing.  I’d gone to see my doctor, and he thought it was a virus, but he did give me a prescription for an anti-biotic, which I eventually started taking.  I’m not sure if it is that, or if it had finally run its course, but I think I’m finally beating it.  I still cough occasionally, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was.  Unfortunately, running seems to make it worse, which has been fun with my mud runs the last two weeks and playing ultimate Frisbee.  Still, I’m pleased to finally be on the getting better side of things.

The worst part of the whole thing?  The 21st was the day I was going to use the last day of a 3 day Disneyland pass I'd bought back in February.  It expired that week, so I can't just use it now, too.  Majorly bummed about that.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Saying Goodbye

No, I’m not saying goodbye to this blog.  I like having it to look back on if nothing else.  Unfortunately, in May I had to say goodbye to some dear friends who decided to move to Idaho.  The nerve of them.

I actually got to hang out with Joe and Erica and their kids the middle of May before they left, and it was a wonderful time to catching up.  We don’t hang out that much, but it is wonderful when we get to.  These are those kind of friends.

And then a little later, I got to hang out with Joe again.  He and I met up with our friend Josh to see a movie together one last time.  We hung out for a while talking afterward.  None of us wanted to leave and break the spell even though we knew we needed to go home and go to bed.

As sad as I am to see them go, I am happy for them.  Their families are up there, and they are really excited about it.  I’ll miss them here in town, but hopefully they will be very happy up there.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rugged Maniacs 2017

I’ve been neglecting this place again, haven’t I?  Time to start catching up.

A month ago (as I said, time to start catching up), I finally got to do Rugged Maniacs.  This is one of the national mud run companies, and I hadn’t done one yet.  This one was perfectly timed for me since it was the weekend after beach league ended and it was just up the road in Castaic.  I was even able to get two friends to do it with me.

Sadly, I’d been sick the couple of days before, but I was feeling better that day, so I went.

And I had a blast.  They had some different obstacles, like lily pad jumping, that I haven’t seen before.  Even though I’ve done another mud run at the same location, this one was laid out differently.  And they ended with a warped wall.  It was about the same height at the one on America Ninja Warrior.  Both of my friends got up it on their own.  I had to have some serious help, but I still felt accomplished getting up it at all.

This is definitely one I’ll be looking to do again.  Hopefully, they’ll be back in Southern California some time other than the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which is the date they’ve had in the past.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crazy Busy but Fun Weekend

I was super busy the first weekend of May, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

It started with the ultimate Frisbee beach tournament Saturday morning and early afternoon.  Fortunately, the friends I carpool with and I all had first round byes.  Even with only six teams (and the three of us only one two of them), what are the odds of that?  And my team won!  We only lost one game all season, and we won all the games during the tournament to win the entire thing.  I can’t remember the last time I was on a team with a winning record, much less a team that won the tournament.  The wind was blowing pretty strongly during the finals game, so it wasn’t as fun as it could have been.  But we won!!!

Then that night, I went down to Glendale to see The Importance of Being Ernest at Glendale Centre Theatre.  I love that play.  I’d seen them do it before, and I was delighted they were doing it again.  The cast was wonderful and the laughs were plentiful.  I went with my friends Ann and Angelique.  One of the actresses in it was on a cast recording for the musical Snoopy that I’d bought years ago (before I was even going to GCT).  I finally remembered to bring it with me when she was in the cast, so I was finally able to get it signed!

Sunday started with church as usual, but instead of playing ultimate Frisbee, I headed to the book launch party for Nadine Nettmann’s new book.  I’d actually read it on my way back from Malice, but it was fun to go and hear her talk briefly about it and chat with her.  I had thought that a couple of mutual friends might show up, and I was right.  I spent most of the time talking to RosaLinda and Ellen, which was fun.

RosaLinda was heading over to our friend Christy’s house to watch Once Upon a Time, so I crashed the party afterward and joined them.  That was an unexpected but fun way to end a wild, crazy, busy, and fun weekend.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Malice Domestic 2017

The last weekend of April, I was at Malice Domestic for the second year in a row.  This is the annual convention for writers and readers of the traditional mystery.  The most popular form of the traditional mystery these days is the cozy, you know the type of mystery I read 95% of the time.

The convention is always in Maryland right outside of Washington DC.  I didn’t try to add any days for sightseeing this year, but flew out on Thursday and back on Sunday.  I was also staying at the convention hotel this year, which was so wonderful.  I was leaving my books to get signed in my roommate and popping in there whenever I needed anything.  Yes, I was very spoiled.

Thursday, I did get together with some friends from the Trixie Belden boards who live in the area.  And another Trixie friend was actually coming to the convention, so I had breakfast with her one day and talked to her the next afternoon.

I said I was going to cut down on panels this year, but I didn’t.  There were too many I wanted to go to.  But I still managed to talk to the authors I had hoped to catch.  Some of them were only for a few minutes, however.  I really would have liked to chat with some of them longer.  There just isn’t enough time period.

One highlight was hanging out with a group of mostly authors after the banquet the final night.  We were hanging out chatting until midnight, when security asked us to move since where we were was right outside some rooms.  We weren’t being loud, but it was polite.  I went to bed at that point, which was good since I was trying to make the new author breakfast at 7 the next morning.

I even had three authors and two other attendees on my flight out and back.  We weren’t sitting near each other, but we did hang out chatting in the airport before our flights took off.


I had so much fun it felt like I was only there for one day at most.  It is a lot of money by the time you factor in airfare and hotel, but I really would like to go again.  We’ll just have to see if it works out next year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LA Times Festival of Books 2017

This last weekend was the annual LA Times Festival of Books.  Naturally, that meant Angelique and I were there.

It was hot this year (unlike last year where it threatened to rain).  We only went on Saturday, and it was close to 90.  That didn’t keep us from having a fantastic time, however.  We did our usual wander all over the festival, but we mainly haunted the mystery booths so we could talk to authors.

It seemed like more authors were doing only one day or the other this year, so I missed some I would have enjoyed chatting with.  But I’ll see a few of those this weekend at Malice Domestic.  (Flight leaves in the morning!)  Of course, I had fun chatting with those who were there.

Nothing really out of the ordinary happened.  We had fun hanging out and looking at books.  It was a nice, relaxing day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Word Association for April 25

I'm going to slip in this week's word association before I head to bed tonight.

  1. Improve :: Technique
  2. Brothers :: and Sisters
  3. Crystal :: Ball
  4. Zoo :: Animal
  5. Second :: Place
  6. Sell :: Buy
  7. Death :: Murder
  8. Current :: President
  9. Pain :: Gain
  10. Value :: Money

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bowling for One Week

I can’t remember if I mentioned that I am a sub for bowling this time around instead of being on a team.  That’s actually worked out well with how crazy things have been at work.  I’ve worked late one Thursday and thought I would the next Thursday.  Yes, that’s how crazy things have been.

But this last Thursday, I did get make it to the bowling alley, and I had a blast.  I definitely needed it.  I did my usual start slow and build.  I started with 116, moved to 136, and finished with 138.  I got a lot of spares, but not many strikes.  I seem to not be able to strike much anymore.  Still, I’m not really complaining.

I don’t know when I’ll be back at the bowling alley, since I will be out of town on Thursday and then we hit crazy month end time again at work.  Hopefully, I can make it back sooner rather than later, but we will have to wait and see, I guess.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Two More Wins

Attendance was low at beach league on Saturday.  Some teams only had one sub, and one team was savage (no subs).  We played that team our second game, and they fought hard.  In fact, both teams we played fought hard.  Not that it changed the results.  We won 11-7 in both games.  How’s that for consistency?

I was disappointed, however, since both of the teams we played had people I can match up against, and neither of them showed up.  I was really looking forward to playing some points against them, too.

Still, I was responsible to two of our points in the second game, and both in the first half.  Early on in the game, I threw the disc to a teammate for the score.  Fortunately, he was able to reach behind him and grab it since I threw it a little behind him.  A few points later, he returned the favor, throwing me the disc in the end zone.  This was a perfect throw, however, landing right in my hands.

The weather was absolutely perfect for running around.  It was officially upper 60’s, but it felt warmer than that out on the sand under the sun.  There was a breeze, but it wasn’t enough to be annoying when throwing a Frisbee.  In fact, it was so nice that I stuck around after the games were over.  My carpool buddies weren’t able to make it, so I was on my own.  I’d brought my book, so I sat on the beach and read for a while before coming home.  Bliss!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Two Weeks of Beach League

And now it’s my ultimate Frisbee beach league that I’m not blogging about in a timely manner.  Let’s catch up, shall we?

Our first game on the 1st was against the other undefeated team.  We beat them, and actually by a larger margin than we were expecting.  Ironically, they lost their second game of the day as well, so they went from undefeated to having two losses.

We, on the other hand, won the second game that week as well.  It was against a team that was low on numbers, so they were tired.

Last week, we suffered our first loss.  We were missing our best player, and it showed.  We played well, and the score was close, but we just couldn’t pull it off in the end.  The team that beat us is the team that the two friends I carpool with are on, so that was the silver lining for me.

We did win our second game, however.  It was close at half time, but we pulled away in the second half to win rather easily.  The hardest part of this game was the win.  It had really gotten strong, so one way was much easier to score than the other.  But we did it a couple of times to win by four points.  (In a game to 11, that is a nice margin.)

No real hero moments, but also no real negative moments from these games.  But I’m having fun and enjoying being on a team with a winning record.  And I’m certainly okay with one loss.  It’s good for a team to not be too confident going into a tournament or they get slaughtered.  I’ve seen it happen plenty of times before. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Word Association for April 11th

Been quiet for a couple of weeks again.  Need to do some word association to fix that.

  1. Awkward :: Silence
  2. Reality :: Virtual
  3. Yoda :: Star Wars
  4. Medication :: Allergy
  5. Headache :: Painful
  6. Sensation :: Pleasant
  7. Sneeze :: Allergy
  8. Historical :: Fiction
  9. YouTube :: Video
  10. Polka :: Dance

Can you tell it is allergy season?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Second Week of Beach League

The weekend I was out of town was the annual St. Pat’s Hat ultimate Frisbee tournament.  Yes, if I were in town, I would have played in it, but I had a great time with my family and don’t regret missing it at all.

But that also means I didn’t miss a weekend of beach league!  I was back in Santa Monica for the second weekend last Saturday.

Now that we have teams, we will be playing two games each week.  I was there for the first game and part of the second since I had to leave early to attend a friend’s wedding.

We won the game I was there for, and it looks like we won the second game handily as well.  We were ahead 4-2 when I left, and I think we may have gotten to 11 without them scoring again.  Yikes, right?

Unfortunately, I was scored on once that first game.  I was guarding my guy in the end zone.  He started to zig, I went with them, and then he zagged.  Not much I could do about that.

On the other hand, I did throw a score.  We’d gotten a fast break.  I was all alone partially down the field.  The guy who picked it up passed it to me.  I could see one of my teammates running across the end zone with his defender behind him a step or two.  I did have one person from the other team between me and the end zone, but I was easily able to throw it around him for the score.  It went perfectly – just as I pictured it in my head.  Since that doesn’t always happen, that made me really happy.

Tomorrow, there will be two more games, and I’ll be there for all of both of them.  Can’t wait!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Weekend Away

I got to get out of town briefly the third weekend in March.  My parents had my niece and nephew and they were staying in the Palm Springs area at the trailer park my parents love with wonderful swimming pools.  Being the good uncle I am, I had to go out to visit, right?

We had a wonderful time.  We left the trailer only to go swimming twice a day.  It truly was fabulous.

I drove out on Friday after work.  My brother and sister-in-law came down to join us Sunday night, so I took Monday off so I could spend some time with them.  We only swam once that day, but did go into down for date milkshakes and a round of mini golf.  I got three holes in one while playing mini golf.  I couldn’t believe it!  Unfortunately, I made up for it on other holes and came in third behind my brother and my dad.

I drove back Monday night, and my brother and his family took off for the rest of their vacation Tuesday morning.  So it was short, but it was wonderful.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Word Association for March 29th

This for a little word association.

  1. Aggrivation :: Life
  2. Two-faced :: Batman
  3. Postmark :: Letter
  4. Chip :: Dale
  5. Failure :: is not an Option
  6. Plant :: Grow
  7. Termination :: Fired
  8. Improvise :: Comedy
  9. Course :: Correction
  10. Western :: Cowboy

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Final Winter League Bowling

One week ago tonight was the last bowling night for the winter league.  My team was fourth going into the night, and the teams were playing their nearest competitor for the final standings.  Actually, the bowling alley started out by feeding us dinner, which was nice.  Certainly a bit better than the fast food I was expecting.  Salad and vegetables, even.

So we were playing the third place team.  But depending on how well we did, we could really improve.

I started out lower than I would have liked, but I improved as the night went on.  I went up from 113 to 131 and 145 on the final game.  Ironically, the last game was the only game we lost.  The other team we were playing improved, and their star bowler improved significantly.  It was impressive to watch her bowling.  If only we weren’t playing her.

Actually, the second place team didn’t do much better against the first place team.  Since we were all right there in our win/loss ratios, we wound up getting second.  Even better, we got trophies for second, so I now have two bowling trophies!

Sign ups for the spring league were this last Monday.  Unfortunately, I took the day off.  They also try to rotate in people who haven’t gotten to participate yet.  Between the two, I’m a sub for the spring league.  Based on how things go, I’ll probably get to bowl most weeks, it will just be on a different team each time.  It would be nice to have a team and be able to bowling for standings again, but I’ll get to really meet and interact with more people this way.  And if I’m not bowling?  I can go home early and get a run in on Thursday.  After all, I’ve got to start training for mud runs now that it is spring.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

First Week of Beach League

That’s right, I’m in two leagues at the same time right now.  Saturday was the start of Men’s Beach League.

And yes, it is starting earlier than usual.  I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining, especially since this is when I usually make it to the beach for the year.  And the weather Saturday was wonderful.  We’ve gotten our first warm weather of the year in the last week.  (Actually, it’s been close to 90 here at home, which is definitely hot for this time of year).  It was just under 70 at the beach.  The wind was stronger than I would have liked, but it wasn’t too bad.  The sun was out when I arrived, but the fog rolled in after about an hour.  Still, it wasn’t too bad.

For the first hour and a half or so, we played pick up while the captains scouted and drafted the teams.  That means we got one actual league game.

And my team won!!!  I know, very, very shocking given my recent history.  The final score was 11-6, I think.  Something like that.  I played three points, and we scored all three points I was in, too.  I even successfully caught and passed on the disc in two of them.

Of course, I have realized just how slow I am, even on the sand.  I wish I were a faster runner.  I can run a ways thanks to my running, but I’m a slow and steady runner, and that’s not good for ultimate.  Still, it was a nice day and I was at the beach.  I’m not complaining.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two Weeks of Bowling

I’d gotten caught up on my bowling league, and then I suddenly found myself two weeks behind again, so let’s fix that.

I had an excellent week on the 2nd.  I actually got there in time to take a few deep breathes, so I was ready when we started bowling.  My scores reflected it, too, since I bowled 142, 180, and 141.  I was very pleased with those scores.  This is especially true since I really bowled four and a half games that night.  One of my teammates didn’t show up, and so my teammate and I took turns bowling for her.  What was funny was we both had great games, but her scores the first two games didn’t break 100, which is actually fairly typical for her.  The first game, we bowled a 150 for her, which was better than our individual games.

Last week, I didn’t fair quite as well.  I was stressed from work that day and thinking about the busy day I’d have the next day (and it was; I was at work until 8 PM).  But my scores were at least consistent even if I didn’t hit my usual average.  My scores were 118, 115, and 122.  I’m definitely happy that my final score was my best.

This Thursday is the final, at least for this season.  With how attendance has been, I’d be surprised if they do it again, but we shall see.  My team is currently in fourth place, and I don’t see a way we’d win, but I’ve enjoyed my teammates and getting to interact with people on the other team, so from that standpoints it’s definitely a win.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Word Association for March 14th

Here we go with this week's word association.

  1. Acquired :: Business
  2. Helpless :: Feeling
  3. Pirate :: Walk the Plank
  4. Itchy :: Sweater
  5. Neon :: Sign
  6. Primate :: Ape
  7. Single :: Married
  8. Buffy :: Vampire
  9. Storage :: Space
  10. Unpacked :: Moved In

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Word Association for March 8th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Birthday :: Today (Seriously, today is my birthday)
  2. Habitat :: Bad
  3. Foil :: the Villain
  4. Drowsy :: Sleep
  5. Training :: Job
  6. Career :: Work
  7. Howard :: Big Bang Theory
  8. Keyhole :: Lock
  9. Secret :: Mystery
  10. Camera :: Picture

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Word Association for March 1st

How about we start out the new month with a little word association.

  1. Argue :: Fight
  2. Surprise! :: Plot twist
  3. Telescope :: Moon
  4. Shopping :: Trip
  5. Button :: Hole
  6. Certifiable :: Lunatic
  7. Blind date :: Awkward
  8. Relationship :: Status
  9. Appreciation :: Customer
  10. Station :: Radio

Monday, February 27, 2017

Just One Week of Bowling This Time

What do you know, I just have one week of bowling to talk about this time.

I don’t know what the deal is, but traffic has gotten bad if you are trying to leave work at 5 on the dot.  The first few weeks I had to do that for bowling, it took me 10 to 15 minutes to get to the bowling alley – not bad for that time of day.  Recently, it’s been taking me 20 to 25.  And since we start at 5:30, that leaves me running in and trying to get ready.

I say all that to justify my first game of the way.  Once again, I barely broke 100, hitting 103.  I only got two marks, both spares, and the first of those in the eighth frame.  But I did break 100, so that made me happy.

And I bowled better the next two games.  I bowled a 146 the second game and a 137 the final game, which is much closer to my average.

As a team, we lost the first two games and then won the third.  Those first two games were close.  One more mark from anyone on our team would have won us the games.  However, that third game we won by a wide margin as all three of us had great games.

Yes, I’m still having fun, but I find my sub-par games to be frustrating.  I just hope traffic is better for these last three weeks so I’m not as stressed trying to transition into bowling.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Month of Bowling

Yes, I’ve still been bowling for the last month.  It’s still a bit hard to get there at 5:30, but it is nice to have a reason to leave at 5 and get into work a little earlier.  More importantly, I’m still having lots of fun.

My scores have been averaging 137, but I want to point out that is an average.  My high (from four weeks ago) was 180.  I have a couple of games where I’ve been lucky to break 100.  Being consistent would be nice.  But I will take these scores.  Especially that 180.  And, since my team was in third going into last night (rankings haven’t been updated yet), I’m happy overall.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling this is the last bowling league my work will sponsor.  There have been big issues with people showing up, and the poor person who organizes it is always scrambling for subs.  One week, my team and the team I was playing were both down a person.  Of course, we got done very quickly that week.

So I am savoring it will I can.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Word Association for February 15th

Here's my word association for the week.

  1. Haunting :: Ghost
  2. Mattress :: Sleep
  3. Speculate :: on the Market
  4. Climb :: Mountain
  5. Diana :: Lynch (character in the Trixie Belden series)
  6. Runner :: Me!
  7. Grim :: Serious
  8. Nightmare :: Scary
  9. Kitty :: Soft
  10. Chrome :: Google

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Word Association for February 8th

No, I haven't completely abandoned this blog.  It just looks like it, right?  Here's this week's word association.

  1. Online :: Internet
  2. Balance :: Beam
  3. Grunge :: Hatred
  4. Beacon :: Light
  5. Laughing :: Happy
  6. Comedy :: Funny
  7. Animated :: Disney
  8. Campaign :: Election
  9. Heather :: Girl
  10. Comma :: Pause

Friday, January 20, 2017

Back to Bowling

I made my work’s bowling league again for the winter league.  They opened it up to more people, and they said they would prioritize those who hadn’t been in the league in the fall, but I still got in.  Actually, a lot of us who bowled last time got in.

I missed the first week, which was last week.  It was the night before a major deadline, so I couldn’t get away.

So last night was my first night with the new league and the new team.  Yep, they mixed things up, and I’m bowling with a couple of people I don’t know.  They are very nice, and we were having fun, so that’s nice.

The teams are three people each this time, so the games go faster.  We are also starting earlier, at 5:30.  It means I get home earlier, which I love, but I was enjoying eating out and reading some before we started last time.  Oh well.

I did my usual jump out to a great score and tapper off.  I got a 155 the first game, including a turkey in the tenth frame, followed by 135 and 116.  I know, I blew it by one pin in that final frame.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks.  It sure was great to be out there again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Travels for Work

Just like last year, I had a work trip to close out the year.  I drove back from Christmas with my family and flew out to North Carolina the next day.

I made three stops in the state while I was there, visiting all three of our locations.  And these are not close to each other.  I was driving at least an hour and a half to each location.  Fortunately, I was only trying to visit two in one day.  Then, after visiting the third the next morning, I flew home.  So it was a whirlwind trip with lots of driving and work and not any time to sight see.

On the other hand, I got most of an audio book listened to while I was driving.

I work with our locations in North Carolina, so it was nice to meet these people and see our locations there.  I certainly could have planned my hotels better, but I will fact that into my next trip for sure.  I stayed as far away from the clinics as I could while still being in the same city I think.

And I did have time my first night to eat dinner with a Trixie friend, which was lots of fun.

This also meant that I was out of the office for a week.  Granted, I was working three days (with a holiday and a vacation day in there), but it was still very odd to be out of the office that long since I so rarely miss work period.

But when I got back it was peddle to the metal as we have been closing out the fiscal year as well as the month of December.  Got to love this time of year.  Our deadline is Friday, so I will be very busy until then.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Wonderful Christmas

I’ve been busy for the last couple of weeks, but it’s been good.  It started with a busy but fun Christmas.

Naturally, I drove north to spend time with my family.  I drove up on the 23rd, enjoying my new car the entire time.  It rained about half the way up, but it wasn’t a bad storm.  And my car gets better gas mileage and has a larger tank, so I was able to go almost all the way home before I had to get gas.  In fact, I probably could have gone the entire way up if I wanted to.

I had three full days up there visiting with family.  My uncle and aunt were over for part of the time, and I got plenty of time with my parents, my brother, and his family.  We spent much of Christmas day with my brother’s in-laws which was fun as well.  Plus we spent some time Christmas Eve with good family friends.

We were always doing something, so it wasn’t exactly restful, but it was super fun.  I wouldn’t change any of it at all.  It was so nice getting to spend all that time with people I don’t get to see nearly often enough.