Thursday, February 28, 2008

Recent, Random, Cool Things I've Seen Recently

Last Friday night I went to see Steep, a movie about skiing steep, steeper, and steepest lines. This review in the Washington Post pretty much sums up the movie. I am an avid skier, even though I hardly get to go anymore, and don't want to spend $3.15/gallon gas to go to the smaller slopes right now. Then again, after seeing this movie, which traced skiing of uber-steep slopes all the way back to Grand Teton in the 1970s, I wanted to go ski the next morning but couldn't because of prior commitments. Big mountain skiing looks like the most fun thing ever, I just wish my limits weren't black diamonds in Colorado's resorts. May Doug Coombs be blessed forever.

Other random cool stuff I've seen, I walked out of the theater in DC with some friends. I saw a street musician playing a sax near the corner of 11th and E. Not only was the guy good, but he was playing.........the theme song of Sanford and Son!!!! Just for that he got a little cash. Not what I expected, nor was seeing a University of Cincinnati hoops player go to the ATM near Metro Center right after me (they were in town to pay Georgetown the next day). Both were pretty cool things.

Today, I'm getting off the shuttle bus, heading to my apartment, and a guy with a Ireland Scarf sees my Red Sox ski cap, then tells me Clemens was not on steroids. I walk a bit, gather thoughts since I wasn't expecting this impromptu conversation, then crack up and say "C'Mon Man!" His response, "and I believe in the tooth fairy." That makes me laugh now, 3 hours later. Everytime I wear a Red Sox cap or hat, I end up in conversation. That's a good thing. I don't get sworn at very often which is cool. It's even cooler when Yankees fans, or I assume they are when have their hat on, no longer smirk at you.

Remember my mid-majors post? Butler is on again!!!!! ESPNU! They're off to a great start tonight against Wright State, who beat them earlier this year. Televise every Butler home game. They play where they filmed Hoosiers. Wright State had a sub head over to the table to check in before the game was a minute old, FWIW.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I finally bought a MP3 Player - and Incomplete on the commute test

Since the music service I subscribe to, Rhapsody, is not compatible with the most popular iPod, I needed to get an MP3 player since I'm tired of carrying an old cassette walkman when I go for a run. I chose the Sansa View with 8 GB memory, which roughly translates into 2,000 songs. I'll be able to listen to mellower stuff when on the Metro, heavier stuff when I'm running, or whatever stuff Rhapsody Channels gives me when I connect the player to my in-shipment new laptop. I can't wait to finally enter the MP3 player world. Why is it that "techies" like me are often among the last to adopt to technological trends in their own personal life? Heck, my home desktop is five years old and I finally bought it's replacement since I needed one, especially one with a lot of RAM.

In my last entry, I mentioned how impressed I was with how the DC-area populace handled the commute from the latest "winter storm". Well, the area never really got the chance to pass a second commute test last Friday. I guess it was icy in spots, since the government was on unscheduled leave policy. As a contractor, I have to make every effort to get there. Granted the only time I have to get in a motorized vehicle is a 3 minute shuttle ride to the Metro from my apartment complex, but I has no issues with ice at all. Since there wasn't any dangerous conditions that I knew of, the grade is Incomplete.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dude, where's my snowstorm? Take 307.

Every time there is even the threat of snow in the DC area, all the media outlets go into full "STORMCENTER" mode. Oh no, 2 inches of snow expected, a big storm! HELP! Clear safeway of toilet paper and milk. Canned goods too! Give me a freaking break.

People, it isn't that hard. Quite contrary to what you think you are not the most important person in this Metro area, Barack Obama is. Slow the hell down if visibility is low and/or the roads are slick. You're trying to get home, to the gym, to yoga, to the day care center, whatever, but you're not going to your NASCAR audition. Never, ever assume the respective state or district road crews got to treat the roads in time either. I don't even want to talk about the December storm that dropped a whopping 4 inches on Montgomery County, MD, or last month's ice storm that caused 6 hour, 10 mile commutes. Safety is the priority, use your brains.

Okay I'll take off my snarky hat. Everything actually went smoothly in today's weather disturbance. It wasn't a snowstorm, but snow does cover the ground at my apartment complex for the first time all winter. But everyone used their brains today, no bad wrecks that tie up traffic for four hours more than it regularly is, and I walked home down Huntington Avenue without difficulties or seeing a mile long backup. Drove to the gym and back with no issues.

That doesn't mean DC handled a snowstorm well, cause anything with less than a half foot accumulation ain't a snowstorm. I've gotten soft in my old age, the old requirement was double digit inch accumulations.

Minor League Hockey in my hometown

Okay, over the weekend I went home to Dracut, MA, seeing as it was a long weekend and two of my nephews have birthdays around this time. Before the family party, my dad, the two nephews, and me attended a Lowell Devils hockey game. One of the AHL model cities Lowell isn't, but the arena they play in seats about 6200 and has good sightlines in nearly every single seat in its single bowl. For a variety of reasons, few in the area take in games in Lowell, so I don't think they will be there after this season. They are on the endangered list on a pro hockey website for a good reason. I can't believe that the agreement with the city and arena was re-newed after last year.

Therefore, I figured this would be the last pro hockey game I ever see in my hometown; yeah I lived in neighboring Dracut but was born in Lowell. Turned out to be a great game as Lowell beat the Manchester Monarchs 5-1. A little bit of everything, a highlight reel breakaway goal, a major penalty for high sticking but not a game misconduct (I guess only the NHL tosses you for that), too-loud music, and two fights between Jean-Luc Grand Pierre and the this jackass who also got the high sticking major, all that in about 45 seconds of ice time. We all had a good time, that's what's really important. The finale for me in Lowell was a good one. Another thing to love about the minors? Red Hook Winterhook Ale for $5.75, less of a ripoff than the major sports facilities! That always helps.

One negative to report. Dallas Stars fans, and to a lesser degree New Jersey Devils fans, certainly have fond memories of Richard Matvichuk. Not a hall of famer by any means, but a good, solid defenseman who was positionally sound and did not shy away from throwing some hits. At first I thought he was in Lowell just because he got caught in a numbers game with too many blueliners. After seeing this game, maybe not. I hope for his sake he just had a bad game because he was HORRIBLE. Got beat to the puck all the time, blatantly two or three times that led to clear scoring chances. My fellow soccer friends will appreciate this: Matvichuk was quite frankly the hockey equivalent of an orange traffic cone.

FWIW, 3536 was Saturday's paid attendance, even with a discount for a heart association promotion they could barely fill half the place. At least my last hometown AHL memory was good.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Therapy and Spring Skiing in February

Yeah, I'm still in self-therapy about the Patriots loss in last week's Super Bowl. Or something like that. It hurt like hell sure, but it was a very valuable lesson as well. Don't get too emotionally wrapped up in the games, definitely don't let your teams define you and/or who you are. Enjoy the games for what they are, have a good time, but they're games, they don't put food on your plate, they don't pay your bills, they don't help you succeed at your job. Unless you're one of the few who wins betting sportsbooks.

Does the Pats loss suck, especially after pursuing perfection for so long? Definitely. Do I wish they lost in Baltimore to take a lot of that pressure off in hindsight? Yeah. Did I personally really lose anything beyond the ultimate comeback in smack talk for life (I don't initiate it)? No, not really, it's a game. I have too many other things going on to let it get me down. Besides, if fans of other teams besides the Giants pop off too much..........Fore! What did you beat the Pats in besides accumulating the Country Club equivalent of frequent flyer miles? :) 4 Super Bowls in 7 years, 3 Wins, 2 World Series Championships for the Red Sox in 4 years, the rejuvenation of the Celtics......Boston and New England sports fans still have it pretty damn good.

Therapy via skiing, Saturday my apartment complex ran a trip to Whitetail Ski Area. 90 minute bus ride, plenty of sleep on the way up, a relaxing day of skiing, worked for me. This hill was a bit more straight trail-wise, i.e right down the hill do the lifts, not winding trails like you find in most northeastern ski areas, but it's still skiing.

Spring skiing in February was a little odd to say the least. It was warm all week in the area, so coverage was limited. And slushy snow makes you work harder than you usually would have to in February. But I still had a good time, even if I was the only one on the trip on the black diamond trails. The cool conversations about skiing on the lifts are the same wherever you go, avoiding the overpriced food in the cafeterias is the same ($4 for a Gatorade, are you sick?), and while snow quality isn't the same as out west, it's still fun to get out. I just don't go as often anymore, but I'll get over it.

Sunday Night Hoops

About a month ago I posted about how much I enjoy the mid major college basketball conferences. Well, I also enjoy Sunday Night Hoops on FSN. From late November to early March, there is at least one ACC hoops game on Sunday night. Before the conference season gets going, a non-conference game involving an ACC team is shown. Once the conference season gets going, there are usually dynamite games on. Just this season alone, Sunday Night Hoops has given us: An up and down game between Boston College and Maryland with BC coming back in the second half to score the upset on the road, A dramatic game with North Carolina winning at Clemson on a 3 pointer with :00.4 left in OT, and last night......Clemson leads by double digits for most of the game, they have NEVER WON IN CHAPEL HILL IN 52 TRIES, then started feeling the pressure, Carolina started hitting shots, and won going away in the 2nd OT.

Sunday Night Hoops was first brought to TV sets in the 2002-2003 season. Definitely a great addition to my TV viewing, and a cool way to spend Sunday night while getting ready for the work week. I'm glad Comcast Sports Net shows the games. Now to get the Mid Major Game of the Week to go with it. BTW, it's 53 losses in a row now.

Comprehensive Review of G2?

Yeah, G2 is the new low calorie version of Gatorade. The normally excellent brand tried to capitalize on the new, low calorie, more healthy, trend, and failed. I've talked to several people who were wondering what the deal was with G2. Here's the deal, while it has half the calories of regular Gatorade, it has less than half the taste. In fact, it tastes like Kool Aid with too little powder in the mix. I'm all for not taking in excessive, useless calories. But, I drink Gatorade for three reasons:

1. To replenish after a workout or run
2. To help stay hydrated for whatever reason
3. If I'm hungover, a bottle just after waking up helps mitigate the effects

G2 is much ado about nothing. Keep the regular stuff and cut the calories elsewhere. The End.