Monday, October 30, 2006

DC United Playoffs, Round 1

Have you ever gone to a sporting event thinking that your team deserved to lose, but you'll take the good result? D.C. United is in the playoffs, thanks to its stellar performance in the early part of the season and despite its wretched finish. Our first-round opponent was Red Bull New York, a team we beat three of the five times we faced them, tying them the other two games. An interesting wrinkle is that New York hired a new coach late in the season, former United (and U.S. National Team) head coach, Bruce Arena.

The first-round playoff format is two games, with aggregate goals the determinant of who advances. So if Team A wins the first game 1-0, but Team B wins the second 2-0, Team A is knocked out. If the two teams are tied in aggregate goals after the two games, there's a 30-minute overtime, and if they're still tied, the winner is decided by penalty kicks. The first game was played in New York -- we were at Flugtag, so I didn't get to watch it, but from what I know United won a fairly even match, 1-0, getting a beautiful goal from our team's, and possibly the league's, most valuable player, Christian Gomez (video highlights can be found here). So in last night's second game, all we needed was a tie to advance to the next round.

With no baby in sight, I went to the game, and the atmosphere was great. We were jumping and chanting, loud and enthusiastic.

From the opening kickoff, New York controlled the game. They were attacking, and they were physical. To some degree United looked content to sit back, but in other ways United simply looked out of sorts. Several players were underperforming, while one player in particular, defender Facundo Erpen, was simply bad, despite normally being one of our better players. At halftime we were content to find ourselves in a scoreless draw, as Red Bull had looked far more dangerous. In the second half, we looked somewhat better, but we were giving New York far too many opportunities. Shortly after we nearly scored, Red Bull converted a free kick from just outside the penalty box, and took a 1-0 lead.

With only a few minutes left, however, Gomez got the ball on the left side of the goal, and calmly shot it past the goalie to make it 1-1. The crowd went absolutely nuts, all of the evening's frustration overcome in that one moment. We held on for the remainder and got the needed tie.

Our next opponent will be the New England Revolution, a team that beat us in DC toward the end of the season, and one of the hottest teams in the league. The Conference Final is determined by a single game, this Sunday here. We were fortunate to get past New York, but if we play the Revs like we played yesterday, I can't see the team getting lucky for a second time in a row.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

When are we going back?

In a time before we knew of RateBeer and before there was mapquest, there was Coop's, a set of maps that purported to include the addresses of all the breweries in a particular region. And when we embarked on a two-week Northern California brewery tour in the Fall of 2000, there certainly were more than enough breweries to keep us tipsy, or worse. The only trick was figuring out where each one was without a streetmap. At each brewery I took notes on each beer, for the first time in my life, never realizing that someday I'd enter all of them into a giant web database. You had let your driver's license lapse, so I had to do all the driving (grumble grumble).

Was it only six years ago that we waited in a state park outside of Boonville for a brewery tour, and sat in Sierra Nevada's beer garden in Chico? Walked among the redwoods and along the coast, saw El Capitan and the potheads on the town square in Arcata? To pass the time on the long drives in those days before digital jukeboxes, we played word games, sang songs to each other, and argued whether religion had done more good or bad in the world. In the Russian River Valley, famous for its wineries, I offered to take you to them rather than the area's breweries -- you've always loved wine, and this was a golden opportunity. You replied, "No, we're here to drink beer." Always we visited breweries. Some of them are long gone, others have beers I had just the other day.

I saw your grandfather for the only time in my life on that trip, pushing 90 years old and riding his motorized scooter, living by himself because he didn't want to be dependent on others. We stayed with all three of your father's siblings, including the teetotaler and her husband, who were more than a little bemused by one of the functions of our travels. We had bought little gifts along the way, but didn't fully consider the recipients -- she assured herself that the preserves made with beer must have had all the alcohol burned off. We were awed by the simple beauty of your uncle's timber-frame house, where he and his wife had retired just half an hour from Yosemite. He had been to Fresno just before we arrived, and had bought a growler so we could try something from their local brewery.

There was a newness to those adventures. It was our first big vacation after our honeymoon, and we learned as much about each other as we probably had in the six months prior. And from those two weeks, our friendship bloomed ever more colorfully, and our love deepened to a level far beyond where it was at our wedding one-and-a-half years earlier, even if it was but a fraction of where it has gone since.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Been making a few changes to the blog over the past few days, adding tags, updating some of my lists, and installing a favicon (I'm not certain I'll keep this one, but I had to start somewhere). Could be a couple of other minor tweaks upcoming, but nothing major.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Larry Coryell and Paco de Lucia

Updated (thanks Kat!)

Here's a classical guitar duet by Larry Coryell and Paco de Lucia, a couple of decades old, and absolutely wonderful.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Possibly the hardest part of this stage of the pregnancy is the inability to do much except sit around and wait. Going out to dinner is nice, but no travel (so no DC United playoff game in New York), and Kathy's not up for much activity. And we shouldn't venture too far, because Kathy could go into labor. That's why I was delighted when in the early hours of yesterday morning I stumbled across something that looked fun to do -- Flugtag, i.e., Flying Day, an event created by the makers of Red Bull, in keeping with their slogan "Red Bull gives you wings." Neither of us had heard of Flugtag, but it turned out to be a perfect day to soak up the sun and observe some crazy contraptions up in Baltimore. That being said, it wasn't until we got there that we learned that most participants are more concerned with style points rather than actual distance traveled. Consequently, most of the entries dropped right into the water as soon as they traveled the distance of the "runway."

The beehive 'do is perfect for an event taking place in John Waters' hometown, right hon?

It was a one-eyed, one-horn, flying purple people eater. Or something like that.

A couple had trouble making it even that far:

Back Back Back Back Back


Leading off with a rap and cranking P-Funk during the skit was cool.

Falling apart before getting within 20 feet of the edge of the runway wasn't so cool.

Still, one of the entrants did in fact set the record for furthest distance traveled during an American flugtag (81 feet), and the other involved a very large paper airplane.

Depending on which time it was announced, this was either the world's largest paper airplane, or the world's largest manned paper airplane (which makes a lot more sense).

The longest distance was covered by a team that had no style, Victims of Soi-cumstance, performing as The Three Stooges:

Their run is part of the videos at the top of the page here.

We stayed through the first 17 entrants (out of 23), enough to get a taste of the event, and enough to believe that we could set the record on our own. So if a giant, yummy-looking bottle of beer someday travels over 100 feet off a barge before falling into some water below, the odds are good that we'll be involved.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Can't Blog, Gotta Blog

I have nothing to say that isn't pregnancy related, and I'm sick of talking about the pregnancy. But I know some people read this blog and wonder what the latest pregnancy news is, so all I can say is that it all was a hoax -- there never was a pregnancy, Kathy's been putting larger and larger pillows under her outfits in a desperate cry for help. She's being treated for her condition (Fake Pregnancy Syndrome, or FPS) -- fortunately our insurance covers in-house psychiatric treatment. At first, I didn't want to go along with it, but she seemed so sad that I felt that I had little choice. And then, once we began lying about it, it became harder and harder to come clean. I really thought it would have been obvious long before now, but people believe what they want to believe. At our third baby shower, I finally confessed. One couple, friends of ours for over six years, grabbed their already-opened present and walked out in a huff -- I have a feeling that we'll never see them again. Kathy broke down in a puddle of tears, and while one friend did attempt to console her, most of the others kind of snuck out, leaving the hosts in a very awkward situation. I've taken down all the sheep in the "nursery," and am hopeful that Kathy will be back home in a week or two. The doctors say she's making good progress, that sometimes she even remembers she's not pregnant without prompting.

Ok, I feel better now. They say confession is good for the soul, and if I believed in the soul, I might be inclined to agree. But a fake confession is good for relieving stress, and we need that quite a bit right now.

So the truth is, Kathy had some contractions this morning. They were irregular and stopped after a few hours. Coincidentally she had an OB appointment this morning, and we were able to confirm that nothing appears to be imminent. We called Kathy's sister back up and let her know that she didn't need to catch the next flight, but it was good to know that she's ready to drop everything on a moment's notice.

And in the meantime, we wait. Because she really is pregnant.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


All of a sudden we can't call anyone without them thinking, you know.... Yesterday one friend interrupted her shrink appointment to take our call, because she thought it might be a birth announcement. Then Kathy's sister switched lines to take our call last night, with her first words being a panicked, "Are you in labor?" Given that she's ready to drop everything to come down here for the delivery, I can understand her reaction, but still, I wish there were a way to have a "special announcement ring," so people could know whether or not we had a baby to announce. Because we're getting anxious enough over here and don't need everyone else's reactions to amplify the effect.

That's right, I'm getting excited, with all the connotations that word can bring -- happy, nervous, anxious, agitated. I'm sleeping poorly, and that's only partly because of the dogs -- they sense something too. It's pretty bad when your concerns about not getting enough sleep causes you to not get enough sleep.

My folks are so nervous that they left the country to escape the stress. I can't think why else they'd be on an Asian cruise, can you? They won't be back until the 27th, so there's a very good chance they won't know about the baby until a couple of days after it's been born. Before they left, Dad sent an e-mail letting us know that a birth announcement is one of the three things warranting an e-mail to them. I offered to just let him know when he got back, figuring the last thing I want to do is intrude on their tranquility, but Dad insisted. So I'll try to work in an e-mail to them within 72 hours of the birth, or maybe I'll ask one of my siblings to e-mail him when I speak with them.

As for baby names, this morning I suggested we name the baby after DC's biggest celebrity, but Kathy didn't go for it. Truth is, while it's always subject to change, she's pretty much settled on a name (assuming it's a girl), and since she's carrying (and delivering) the critter, I'm fine with her making the final decision (though I wouldn't hesitate to speak up if I really disliked her selection).

Enough rambling for tonight. The pygmy elephants need their sleep as much as chicken needs its parmesan.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Two weeks after the baby dropped, Kathy's still waddling around, waiting for the final drop. There are a million things that "need" to get done before then, and it's a given that we'll only get to a fraction of those. One thing that's pretty much done is the nursery.

The nursery is one of the most overdone of the projects that expecting parents can overdo. Given how many opportunities expecting parents are given to overdo baby projects, this is a pretty bold statement. The room we'd designated for the baby was painted a drab shade of white, and Kathy really wanted to liven it up. Early on, I indicated my lack of interest in such a project ("if you want it done, you do it"), so other than pulling up the hideous bubblgum shag carpet left over from the mid-1970s, I was prepared to leave it for Kathy. But Kathy waited and waited, and given how pregnancy makes it a bad idea to put off labor-intensive projects, this wasn't really a good idea. Ultimately, she enlisted our dogwalker/friend Bryce in the project, and away they (mostly Bryce) went.

Labor Day weekend, while we were taking a long weekend to Richmond and Charlottesville, Bryce started painting the room while we were out of town. The East/West walls were to be apple green, the North/South walls to be baby blue, and the ceiling would get a fresh coat of white. When we came back from taking our future president to Monticello and Montpelier to see the plantations her predecessors owned, we discovered that Bryce had decided to paint the ceiling blue, and out of contact paper was constructing clouds.

Those clouds reminded me of the bodies of sheep, so I threw out the idea of having the clouds morph into sheep on the walls. Bryce liked it, and we introduced her to our favorite sheep, Shaun, from Wallace and Gromit's "A Close Shave." Bryce took the idea and made it her own, not only making great sheep, but also making birds out of the same template as the sheep's head and placing them in the clouds. Kathy and Bryce made decoration decisions, and I mostly stayed out of the way.

Then, a week ago Friday, when the project was mostly completed, Bryce broke her ankle, leaving some unfinished business. So Kathy and I took care of some odds and ends, including painting the dresser. Let it be noted that I did not select orange as the color to paint the dresser, and in fact I suggested that we leave it the dark stained wood color that it had been. By this stage in the pregnancy, however, I have learned that other than a minor gripe now and again, the best course I can take is along the "yes dear" route (fortunately, Kathy really isn't abusing this power, though I've heard that such power has been known to serve as a corrupting influence). I also have to admit tht seeing it completed, it actually complements the room pretty nicely. Then I installed the bookshelves, and we undertook the cleanup. All that really remains is for the crib to arrive (a hand-me-down from Kathy's boss), but we've got a basinet, so even that isn't necessary until a couple of months after the critter's born.

Sheep on the Wall

The Crib Space

Bird and Cloud on the Ceiling

The Dresser in the Closet

Kathy and Nora on the Bed

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