Sunday, November 30, 2008

This one goes to 11 ...

Seattle Marathon 2008

I will live with the official time of 5:27:04; a bit slower than I would like, but quicker than I could have expected given recent health concerns ...

11 consecutive years ...

Friday, November 28, 2008

One Nation, Under Surveillance

I know ... I hear all the arguments about pubic safety and yet I am still absolutely sick and tired of always being on camera, recorded, and photographed everywhere I go.

I saw the bumper sticker that I stole the headline from on a car recently. Oddly enough, it may have been in Lynnwood, East Germany ... I mean, Lynnwood, WA where the photo is from.

Basically, I am an honest person and a safe driver and tired of this. To sum it up, it's un-American.

So, I am simply going to strive to spend as little money in Lynnwood as possible as a direct result of all of these "Photo Enforced" intersections.

It feels like we are seeping into a really bad dystopian science fiction movie ... and although I love those films I do not want to live in one.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2 Coaching Trophies that mean something to me ...

(Oxymoron project ongoing ...)

In all my years in soccer as a player, coach, and fan I have had the opportunity to win (and cheer for) many championships, awards, and honors. However, as a coach I have primarily worked as a position and assistant coach. There are two trophies that I have been given as a coach that i am very proud of.

The sweat jacket was for being the WSU Women's Soccer goalkeeper coach on the 1994 NCAA Sweet 16 team. For many years I have worn that on special soccer occasions. However, my girls soccer team being awarded the 2008 Team Sportsmanship honor for all of the girls teams in the soccer association is in many ways much more satisfying. The honor was bestowed upon the girls based upon the referee evaluations of their ten games this fall. Not only were they successful on the field but they did it with class. Giving the girls these medals was something that I enjoyed very, very much.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In 56 Seconds the Football Gods smiled upon Wazzu ...

There was no reason to expect the comeback.

There was every reason to expect an interception.

Eleven games, fifty nine minutes, and four seconds into a season of epic futility and the Cougs had one last turn with the ball at their own twenty and no time outs.

And yet, there it was in today's Apple Cup ... or Crapple Cup ... or Rotten Apple Cup ... Kevin Lopina makes the big play to Jared Karstetter and suddenly the QB is scrambling to get the ball spiked with 2 seconds left.

In the 1998 Rose Bowl every one but the referee crew saw that the ball was spiked with 2 seconds left and we have been waiting for that great make up moment from the Football Gods. Lopina gets the team lined up and the ball gets spiked ... and in a season when that sort of break never happened, it did.

Suddenly, Nico Grasu gets the opportunity to make a game tying field goal and two field goals in overtime, including the winner, and we have a new hero in Pullman.

The body language of Washington at that moment told the story. The game should have been over. The game should have never come to this. The opportunity to put this game away had been squandered. As much as I admit I enjoyed that win today ... it really only secured 9th place in the PAC 10 for Wazzu over Washington. Part of me wants to rub it in, but I just can't. The loss today had to be such a gut punch that I simply will not kick the Dawgs when they are down. This time.

I was pacing back and forth from play to play from room to room and TV to TV at my folks' house.

This is one win. It is one win over another struggling program at its lowest point. But, Paul Wulff - he of the most joyfully spastic celebration in Cougar history as he flailed his way across the field - now will find himself with a team in the off-season that played a close one and won. Off-season work outs and Spring drills take on a whole different tone now. Whether they win in Hawaii seems like it should be almost moot at this point, but still ... the trip to Hawaii this week becomes an opportunity to build immediately on this win and go into the off-season on a two game winning streak.

WSU 16, Washington 13 ...

All of that because of 56 seconds.

Go Cougs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everett Silvertips 11-19-08 ...

Everett Silvertips 7
Portland Winter Hawks 1
November 19, 2008
Everett, WA - Comcast Arena

I really should have been to more Silvertips games by now.

It is sort of disappointing that I have only been to three games now that the Silvertips are in their 6th season. There have been a couple times I would have gone but I was actually shut out at the box office due to sell outs ... but still.

Also, I have never been one for the bobble head doll craze. I have a Landon Donovan San Jose Earthquakes one that was given to me and a Kaz Matsui New York Mets one I got at Shea Stadium in 2004 when Bob and I went to a game and found out the promotion was for kids 14 and under or something so we bought them off of a couple kids.

So, when double checking the internets to make sure of the game time and ticket availability I noticed that there were rules posted for bobble head distribution. It became clear that I could be one of the first 1,000 fans if I put in a little work. By work, it meant that I had to get there early and stand in line.

It was a cold evening, but dry, so I made the trek up to Everett a bit earlier than normally necessary. The second benefit of going early was I got a good parking spot, so that was nice too. Had it been raining, I might not have stood there for 70 minutes. But I did and I got the doll and all was well ... accept when I had to use the restroom. Multi-tasking at a public urinal is not something I prefer to have to do.

I got a center ice seat for fifteen bucks, courtesy of the Pink Panthers gift card, and enjoyed the game. It is a good thing that I brought my radio and headphones, because I would have gone screaming nuts on all the cowbells. Yes, more cowbell is fun and all, but even BOC would have tired of it. A little goes a long way when 17 people have cowbells in your section. Even with the really terrible reception I was getting in Comcast Arena it was better than the ever present bell ringing. Plus, I got to hear the Simpson's joke the radio guy made that was actually kind of clever and he admitted he had been waiting all game to say ... The Silvertips had a Simpson in goal and the Winter Hawks had a player named Milhouse ...

The early power play goal by Everett set the tone in what turned into a rout. The Silvertips scored on their first three power plays and killed off the ones Portland got and with the score 3-0 after one and 5-0 after two the tension for the third was pretty much could they get a shutout. Less than a minute into the third that was settled when a Portland player broke free and scored from the left wing a nice wrist shot to the upper far post. Other than that, Portland didn't do much to threaten.

Of course there was a late fight and scuffle. The two teams play again two days later and 8 more times this season, so Portland could not afford to get pounded and just appear to roll over. It was quick and pretty much obviously an effort to save face.

The announced crowd was 4,609 for a Wednesday night hockey game in Everett. I remember when the Mariners would draw that midweek during the summer for games in the Kingdome. Everett is a real success story for the WHL.

Each team has NHL draft picks and it is clear who those players were from watching and not even checking. However, there are a number of players with future draft potential. There is some good hockey being played these days in the WHL.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Apple Cup 08 ... someone has to win.

Someone has to win ...

Recently, a Husky I know was trash talking ... and he meant it ... that somehow the Husky winless season was not as bad simply because the margin of loss to USC was less. Both teams were shut out and had their @$$es handed to them. The only difference was that USC slowed down earlier against the Dawgs than against the Cougs.

Apparently, because the Cougs are losing worse than the Dawgs it is something to trash talk about? I cannot decide whether I respect the willingness to find something to talk about or if it is so pathetic that I should just laugh it off.

Okay ... let's see ... the teams had one win between them ... the Coug win over PSU counts in the records, but if the Dawgs win on Saturday then the Cougs become a team without a win against 1-A opponents.

I liked the hiring of Paul Wulff and think that the Cougar future is bright, despite the epically bad season we have witnessed. Wulff's year of leeway is getting thinner with the scoreline ... the question of being in over his head is legit at this point. However, should the Cougs beat the Dawgs and maybe even do well or beat Hawaii that question can be put to rest for a while. Washington has already fired the guy still coaching them the next two games. They haven't even started their transistion yet and are playing like a team that cannot figure out what to play for.

I must admit that I wanted to see the Dawgs beat UCLA on Saturday, if for no other reason than that it would get their win out of their system and make it more likely they would let down for the Apple Cup. However, if the UW can only generate 39 yards of offense and less than 100 yards of rushing and only 7 points in a home game that is Senior Day, Slick Rick's return, and at home ... then how can anyone say that they have not simply quit?

The Cougs have been shut out 3 of the last 4 games. In their last home game a couple weeks ago they scored 4 rushing touchdowns against Arizona and were in the game with ASU in the first half a few days ago. It will be a home game and Senior Day and a chance to make the Dawgs 0-11 ... which team has more motivation?

Here's a new rule and one that really should not have to be stated. "No trash when your team is 0-10."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One and Ten ... and NOT the Cougs ...

Dear Clay Bennet, Aubrey McClendon, and David Stern ...

One and ten is NEVER going to get better in Oklahoma City.

Your team sucks. It will keep sucking. There is another Clippers in the NBA.

You have a nice group of young players. Of course they are all going to get the #*(% out of town the moment they can ... and then you can go into the permanent state of NBA Lottery watching ...

You have some nice initial public support. Of course, the novelty will wear off. You are in Big 12 FOOTBALL country. And the sellouts will stop being automatic ...

And then all the money you overpaid for the Sonics, the relocation, the two seasons of losses in Seattle, and the shrinking revenue from the inevitable dwindling of support will prove to be a huge waste of money.

The NBA will have forsaken a city with tradition and history that the players like to go to and live in for another small market that can't support a team or keep its stars.

It will never be a success in the shadow of Oklahoma Football.

The sound of "Thunder" is from all the laughing ...

Is it starting again already?

I was very burned out on this election, yet still found myself watching the returns for hours on election night. Now, I am getting invitations for Obama parties after the election as supporters are working to build on the momentum. But ...

I have to admit I kind of expected it.

The politics of fear is poking through again ... I already hear it in some of the comments from people I know. It's disappointing. I am told that, "Obama thinks he has executive powers." We see a surge in gun sales, as though the shock troops will come out with a Democrat in the White House.

The Obama election was not the change itself, it reflects a change that had already come to pass that could no longer be squelched by the fearful politics of Rovism ...

I have been trying to explain that to some of the people I know. Will they give Obama a chance? Or, will they simply dive back in and do what has happened so many times before and try to break him down.

But, will it make it? Have we seen a real Sea Change where a new voting block has shifted the balance of power for a period of time. Is it possible that the new voters will become regular voters and embed the politics that Obama represents?

I imagine that there were book deals lined up in advance of the election to fan some flames. Does anyone doubt that the Hannity and Coulter publishers were not already gearing up for books prior to the election? It is only a matter of time before books start coming out trying to fan flames that we hope are fading ...

After all, the last real Sea Change election in this country led to a backlash that brought us Nixon anyways. I am seeing and hearing the attempts begin ... I just have to hope that this time the negativity is defeated and the Rovist politics and desire to keep people in a constant state of 9/12 fades from our national political identity.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Opening a pack of trading cards ...

It has been a very long time since I purchased a pack of trading cards looking for a player I really like and hoping to get that card.

The other day I was in a soccer store pricing some items when I noticed that there were some UEFA Euro 2008 cards at the front counter. On a whim I decided to grab a couple cards and hope for ... a Freddie ...

So, I went outside to the van and opened packs like I had not done in many, many years ... and I got a Cristiano Ronaldo in the first pack, which was cool ... top card even ... and then a double of his in the final pack.

But ... on the third pack of five (with only 6 cards a pack and a couple hundred players the odds were not good) there it was ... the third card down.

The captain of Sweden just a few months ago.

The big signing that made the Seattle Sounders FC newsworthy in Europe recently.

A guy who might be shocked to know an ex-Sounder is coaching Spurs.


Hot dang!

It's time to draft ... a Quarterback

There are 12 quarterbacks in the NFL this season that have been starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl. I think only 7 of them have won it. The list of the Super Bowl quarterbacks includes a number of quarterbacks in their 30s that are near the end of their careers and Rex Grossman.

When friends and I discuss football I try not to be too much of a fan. By that I mean that I try not to let the fact that I root for a guy - or against him - have anything to do with whether I think he is actually any good. This is something I refer to as the Elway Argument. It was impossible as a Seahwaks fan to root for the Broncos quartback, but that doesn't mean that I didn't think he was the most exciting football player I ever got to watch play in person.

If any team does not believe that it has a quarterback that can actually lead it to the Super Bowl they need a new quarterback. It is pretty simple really.

I like Matt Hasselbeck. But it is time for the Seahawks to draft their quarterback of the future.

It is clear that Seneca Wallace is an able backup quarterback and not the quarterback of the future for the Seahawks. There has never been a real chance of him beating out Hasselbeck and if anyone else had thought he was a real starter then he would not have signed a long-term deal to be a backup. Charlie Frye is not the answer either. There is a difference between being a backup and a future starter and neither of them measures up to the future starter standard.

So, this Spring the Seahawks need to do the one thing that they have failed at miserably in the past; draft a quarterback.

Jim Zorn, Dave Krieg, and Matt Hasselbeck are the three most successful quarterbacks in franchise history and NONE of the three were drafted by Seattle. Kelly Stouffer, Rick Mirer, and Dan McGuire all cost the Seahawks first round draft picks. Still ... with Hasselbeck's durability clearly in doubt and neither backup the quarterback of the future ... it's time to get the next guy and start grooming him.

I still think that Hasselbeck has a couple years in him if healthy. But, with back problems and missing a number of other games the past couple years due to other injuries, it is clear that he is near the end of where the Seahawks can count on him being a Super Bowl quarterback at 33 and into the future.

If any team does not believe that it has a quarterback that can actually lead it to the Super Bowl they need a new quarterback.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Maradona ...

It was the Summer of 1990 and I was in Naples, Italy for the World Cup.

Writing this post reminds me I need to write the post about directions to Naples including the sentence, "She will be the most beautiful girl in the train station," as an actual description of who was to pick me up. She was ...

Anyways ...

Diego Maradona was attempting to return Argentina to the glory of the 1986 championship he had dragged them to. He was playing his club football for Napoli in Serie A and was a quirky guy according to reports. All of this was before the bizarre turns his life would take over drugs, Castro, weight, and comeback attempts.

He had always been an interesting guy. His practice habits and isolation make Allen Iverson's seem normal. There were images of him training alone instead of with his team. His talent being so unique he was given leeway other players could not dream of asking for. Then it all crashed down.

I have had the opportunity to see in person many of the greatest athletes of the past several decades. Maradona is one of those I was truly fortunate to witness; especially given the time frame involved and where he played.

Recently, he was named coach of the Argentina national team. Given his own bizarre behavior and practice tendencies, and his own previous failure as a coach in the Argentine league, the decision to hand him one of the best teams in the world is at best a questionable one.

My first reaction to reading of his hire was to check to see if it was April 1st. As i was doing this I found myself shaking my head, but sort of looking forward to the fireworks. Two weeks later rumors have already surfaced to say that he is going to resign prior to running a single training session.

I actually double checked the Internet to see if he was still the Argentine coach prior to posting this. As of right now, he is. Things could change very quickly.

With Maradona nothing is surprising.

Rooting for an old friend ...

They got jobbed.

UW Huskies 2
ASU Sun Devils 1
1OT - Husky Field - Seattle, WA
November 7, 2008

So I was rooting for ASU ... an old friend of mine is now the coach there. Basically, I have no real rooting interest for the Sun Devils, and I am a Coug that has no real love for the Dawgs so that was really convenient. Frankly, it was a pretty entertaining game. The box score indicates a greater statistical advantage to Washington than I would have expected from watching the flow of play. My daughter and I both enjoyed the game. Both teams are very good. The game deserved better than a weak call in the first minute of overtime.

But, here's the thing. In a very close and important game with NCAA Tournament implications the referee should not interject a rash decision into the contest to decide it. In this instance the referee did. A quick call in the first minute of overtime effectively decided the game and the ASU season. Without the benefit of replay it is tough to say for certain if it was a good call, but Washington looked surprised the call was made; and that tells me something about the quality of the call.

Then it turned out ASU lost on Sunday in overtime, to my Cougs. The Cougar win was the one that put my Cougs (I was an assistant coach on the 1994 NCAA Sweet 16 WSU Cougars women's soccer team) into the NCAA's today against Texas in Portland. After two years of being jobbed by the selection committee, the Cougs are in.

Go Cougs!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

There was a real chance it would not wash out ...

What do pink hair and the first nuclear explosion have in common?

See, before the first tested nuclear explosion it has been reported that the scientists debated whether the chain reaction would stop or if it would actually cause a cascading reaction leading to the entire atmosphere burning off of the earth. They tested the bomb.

Yesterday, the girls decided to have their hair match their uniforms and it was suggested that my hair should follow.

My hair is mostly white. Although the stuff is supposed to just wash out the whiteness of the hair made it possible that the temporary color would actually stain and tint my hair; leaving it pink. I would either need to leave it pink ... or chop it all down really, really, really, really short.

My bro offered me $100 for shaving my head if it didn't come out. He was serious. So was I. I considered - briefly - the notion that I would fake it and let him and wear a hat for a week or two given how fast my hair grows and that I could use the money.

It washed out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Email from overseas about events on Tuesday

From my good friend in Italy:

"Finally my friend!

The US is back to our world.

I...we are very proud of you's really an historical day. Thanks America. We still have a dream.

I am very very happy.

A strong hug. "

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Country First"

It's now time to live up to that slogan.

That means to work with the candidate that won.

I must admit though that I am worried ... and I do want to be wrong, but the bar might be too high.

Am I being jaded or am I respecting history?

Will the Left become as power hungry and corrupt as the Right has been in recent years? Will they ignore that huge swath of the population that voted for the other guy? Will they repeat the mistake of only considering The Base to be who they answer to exclusively? Already, I feel that some of those characteristics have come through during the campaign season where simply being willing to discuss McCain as a viable president was met with accusations and innuendos that this was a personal shortcoming.

It is clear that for the first time the Democrats were organized. Republicans have out organized the Democrats over the past several election cycles and that lesson was finally learned. Obama benefited from the past several years of organization efforts and motivation that virtually any other Democratic candidate would have benefited from. (Oh, and if you think the election cycle this time was long, the 2012 primary season just began today for the Republicans ... if it didn't start a couple weeks ago already.) In the end though, he was simply the right candidate.

I am afraid of a smug arrogance coming from the Left that could push too hard because even a solid victory is not a true mandate to run a steamroller over the opposition.

I am afraid of the near saintlike reverence many of Obama's supporters have for him. He is a good man and we need to understand that he will make mistakes as president and do some things that we do not support. That is okay.

Bear in mind I sat there last night watching the results, despite my plan of not doing so. I found McCain's concession speech to reflect the man of integrity and honor he really is but that his campaign failed to really display. Obama stepped up to the plate clearly as a man torn over both personal tragedy and triumph and showed what a president needs to be.

The bar is set high, but I guess that it could still prove to be a good thing ... maybe we need that. Americans have historically risen to the challenges and we have been driven down by those in power who want us to be afraid for far too long.

But, Country First includes those that voted for the other guy. One impression I have had is that Obama voters respect McCain, but that is certainly not the case the other way. When President-Elect Obama commented that people did not just vote for him, but had not yet earned his trust and that he wanted to be their president too, it became clear that he really does understand.

Yes, I have my apprehensions. I do not want to get fooled again.

But, I have actually got hope; which is audacious today.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The long road to a prescription ...

All I needed was a couple minutes for a doctor to look at me and confirm that I was sick and write me a prescription for some antibiotics. Being sick for several weeks was getting very, very old.

It should not be this complicated.

See, I work as a full-time substitute teacher.

I do not get benefits.

I am a broke single father.

It was a Saturday afternoon.

So, I went to a place where I was a patient the day I rolled the van two years ago since it was the closest thing to a doctor I have and I was already on file. Filling out all that new patient paperwork is a drag. I talked to the receptionist and she was friendly, but honest about how expensive it would be. The bare minimum amount would be $150 for a meeting that would last at most a few minutes (but I would get 25% off if paid at time and she could not guarantee that it would be only 150$). I made some notes on a business card and left, knowing I was not going back.

Explaining that you are bargain shopping for medical circumstances at 41 years old because you are a broke single father with health insurance is the sort of thing that sounds like a campaign commercial for Universal Health care. I admit, a little socialism felt like it would be a good thing on Saturday.

The next place wasn't open ...

Frustration does not begin to describe my feelings.

I was agitated and swearing at all of my circumstances.

I had actually joked with a friend a few days earlier, "Hey you got any spare antibiotics?"

After the 2nd failure I stopped by a pharmacy to see what might be available over the counter. Only topical antibiotics are OTC. Yes, there are such things as stupid questions and this was one of them, but had to check even though I KNEW it was a stupid question.

The next morning I felt sick and it was more of the same. I decided to skip it, but ended up going after all and explaining myself again. I met another nice receptionist. She went into the back and explained me to the nice doctor that kept the cost down and wrote me an inexpensive prescription ...

It has been a few years since I took medication. I went to the pharmacist hoping inexpensive would be affordable. Eight bucks ain't bad. Then I had the Irish pharmacist explaining to me the side effects. It was hard to listen when you are giggling so much inside. Sorry, but an Irish accent explaining that you may get hives and soft bowel movements and spend a lot of time running to the toilet was funny at the time.

And it is a good thing that I did listen - and read the info on the meds included with the prescription - because after all that ...

... it turns out I am allergic to most antibiotics.

Yes, hives and all.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The night before the election of '88 ...

An overflow crowd showed up at Gonzaga University in Spokane to see ... Michael Dukakis ... and people were actually excited he was going to pull off an upset ....