No tourney picks; Coaching…

Maybe it’s not having my team in the tournament – although, I’m usually more objective and make better picks when the Illini are out.  Hey, can this please be the last year in many without the Illini in the tournament?  Coach Groce, looking in your direction…  Maybe it’s because I actually won the pool last year and am feeling the pressure to repeat.  Maybe it’s because the wife’s been monopolizing the laptop…

At any rate, no March Madness picks this year.  Just couldn’t carve out the time to do it.  At least five or six people are disappointed.

The real reason:  the joys of coaching.  Yes, Youth Soccer  Spring Season is nearly upon us, and there’s stuff to do…  Getting all the drills and mini-games organized, having the kids vote on shirt colors and team nickname, contacting the team sponsor for this year’s donation, pricing and ordering the team shirts, securing a field for practices, writing the welcome email for team parents…  Yeah.  Not to mention the weather’s been nice enough a few days to actually get the kids outside and kick it around a bit.

So that’s the reason.  Focused on the kids’ season.  Yeah, I’ll be tuning to watch the tournament (and the NIT as long as the Orange and Blue are alive) and hoping  for upsets and Wichita State to shut people the hell up.  But no official picks.  Maybe next year.

Now 342% more fuel efficient

Sometimes you have re-assess and analyze things.  Then you have to trust your conclusions.

This winter, which has been the worst in quite a few years, had about two days when I really needed my truck’s four-wheel-drive.  And even on those two days, I could have and did go out and about in the van (aka the tank).  This realization, while filling up at the pump and wincing, led me to a little analysis of what I’d actually hauled with my truck over the past year.  True, we hauled a piano on a flatbed and took a mattress and box springs over to my Mom’s house, but other than that…  Primary cargo is children.  Children to an from activities.  Mostly in town.  I did a little more analysis on cost-per-mile.  Then I started researching, shopping, assessing the options, and…

Ninja-mobile

Ninja-mobile

Yeah, we’re a Prius clan now.  Beemsville:  now 342% more fuel efficient (14 mpg to 48 mpg).

So far, we like it.  It’s the little black ninja-car.  Silent, stealthy, quick, patient.  The dashboard setup and controls remind me of Darth Vader’s Tie-Fighter.  It has lots of secret compartments.  Will it pay off for us in the end?  That’s probably a 3-4 year question.  Check back with me then.  Just keep Dirty Mike and the Boys away from my house.

And now a moment of silence for Scott Beem, truck guy.  14 years with a truck – many-a-couch, television, second-hand exercise bike, boxes upon boxes, and loads of firewood hauled.  Many moves facilitated.  Grandpa always said you needed a truck around, and as a farmer all his life, he did.  Grandpa also liked cool gadgets and new technology.  He was good with math, too.  And we still have the tank (van) for long trips and intermediate hauling…

And, hey, I’m the Prius and Mini-Van guy…  Did that just happen?  Maybe we need to start looking into a motorcycle or speed boat or some powered combat armor or…

Bowl Playoffs 2013

The lesser bowls have come and gone, and with New Years upon us, it’s time to revisit our annual notional 16-team Bowl Playoff Championship for college football.  Although we will soon see a limited four-team playoff, this FCS-style tourney is still a decade or two away.  Check the bracket…

NCAA BPC 2013

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Here’s how it works:

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Recovery or Excuses?

I have a sore hamstring.  It’s been bothering me for about 4-6 weeks.  Nothing major, no severe pain or anything, but I can definitely feel it when I’m running, kicking the ball with the kids, or stretching.  This is the same leg that bothered me off and on when I was training to run a half-marathon a year-and-a-half ago.  And now that I think about it, the same leg for which I tore my hamstring and glute muscle pretty badly way back in high school.

In this situation, the obvious tonic is to rest, take it easy, so that’s just what I’m doing.  Have also been careful to stretch out that area without stressing it too much and massage it in the spa.  But this is also where you can start playing tricks on yourself.  Isn’t a certain amount of soreness expected – especially as you get older?  Are you just being too careful, not tough enough?  Is this the kind of soreness you just drive through with a few pain relievers and get on with it?  And how much recovery time do you really need? Continue reading

Walking Dead is back

One of the few episodic shows we continue to watch returns for its fourth season this Sunday:  The Walking Dead on AMC.  Not since we watched The Wire have we been so enamored with a show that can just be so damned depressing.  If you’re behind on episodes or looking to catch up with the plot again, AMC is currently running through all the prior seasons leading up to this Sunday.

I still remember picking up the very first trade of Robert Kirkman’s series back in the day, when the buzz about the comic book was starting to increase, and thinking the central premise was a pretty blatant rip-off of 28 Days Later (guy wakes up form coma and zombie apocalypse has ensued).  But the way he set up the characters and paid them such careful attention, the focus on the human element in the midst of such a horrible situation – these really stood out.  I still want to back and check out his book, Invincible, a character-driven take on the familiar teen and family superhero story.

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Fish Story

Like an ancient hunter, prowling the banks of the mighty river in search of quarry that will feed his family for days, he sees the mud swirl and the lazy flick of an immense black tail-fin.  This fish is older than him – wily, clever, strong like the currents of its river home.  The fish is the ancient challenge.  It is Catfish Hunter.  It is Sharknado.  And so, armed only with a cheap-o discount rod-and-reel and a laundry basket, he wades into the muck, braving the current and prepares to do battle…

catfish

vanquished

Well, most of that’s true.  Except it was my buddy’s dad’s stocked pond, so no dangerous current or muck.  The discount rod-and-reel part and the laundry basket to get that catfish landed – true.  It took awhile as that setup was meant for bluegill not (fairly) big cats.

And yeah, that’s probably the biggest fish I’ve ever caught – freshwater fish anyway.  Fishing’s not something we’ve done a lot of, but with the kids getting older and more outdoor activities on the horizon, I can see us doing more.  Soon after catching this one, the boy also hooked a decent sized catfish, which we helped him reel in and land.  He was excited.  What were we using to land them?  Trade secret.

Not as fun as a Bill Cubit offense, but definitely better than a Beatty/Gonzales offense in the overall theme of things last weekend.

Switching ain’t easy

Over the holiday weekend, we switched media providers from AT&T to a combination of DirecTV and Comcast-Xfinity.  The reasoning was simple:  a savings of about 40% per month off the combined monthly bill for TV and Internet, along with expanded options and quicker net speeds.

Of course they offer to do it all for you; they offer lots of nice perks (which you’ll get charged for later if you don’t remember to go in and cancel the services).  Sounds easy.

You also better be sure you’ve done your research.  Comcast is happy to lease you a combo cable-modem/router, which you could have paid for in a year had you bought the equipment on your own.  So have that ready.  DirecTV now requires their techs to ground the service to your meter box, so that means extra holes and wires.

And then there’s the scheduling…

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Kids Sports Fun-o-meter

Having taken in a number of youth sports, some of which our kids participate in, some of which other family members play, we’re going to unveil our listing of team sports – from least to most fun.  The sample here is twelve and under.

Your own results may vary, based on bias, level of coaching, your sports’ organizational set up, and how bad or good your team is.  We can all appreciate how poor or indifferent coaching and a disorganized league can wreck the fun.  Ditto for being on a really bad or incompetent team.  Here goes…

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Feed Aggregator Update

About a month ago, Google retired its Reader (for RSS feeds), forcing a switch in the Beemsville web protocols.  You see, a good feed reader, serving up the news, blogs, happenings for our digital consumption whenever we feel like checking it, has become our staple of information gathering.  The feed reader is like our daily newspaper (and indeed features some feeds from our local newspaper).

We’ve been using Netvibes and Feedly since the end of Google Reader.  Netvibes gives an iGoogle-like interface (and other templates if you want to try them) and an easy to navigate reader-mode.  We like most of the features, although the Facebook add-on doesn’t work very well, and any Google-bridge apps either don’t work or have suspicious origins.  This especially bothers us because we are big users of the Google-Calendar, and it would be nice to have a compact version of my agenda sitting there on my desktop via Netvibes. Continue reading

Road Blogging Woes

Trying to stay up to date on the road presents problems. Hotels don’t provide free internet in the room (why is it the more expensive the hotel, the less likely the free internet?). Using a tablet for longform typing = not ideal. Your schedule’s messed up. You may not sleep well.

You have to go to a bar to watch the Gold Cup semifinal (tonight at 7 pm EST on Fox Soccer). Well, it’s not all bad

Sometimes, you do get cool side benefits like alterations to the workout routine:

 

run

 

Map Link…

Anyway, more quality coming soon, including a book review and reactions to comicon news.