Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You say goodbye, I say hello

David Beckham has arrived in Los Angeles to save soccer (or football as David continues to call it) in America. Anyone around my age or older of course remembers this exact same scenario playing out with Pele coming out of semi-retirement to play for the Cosmos of the NASL. The similarities are striking.
  • Beckham is 32; Pele was 35
  • Both are/were players on the downside of their careers
  • Both are big names, easily recognizable to disinterested US fans
  • At the time, both are likely the only soccer players that most US sports fans could name
  • The NASL was 7 years into its existance and struggling for relevance; MLS is 11 years into its existence and struggling for relevance
  • Both signings were supposed to save soccer - the NASL still folded 7 years after Pele left; we'll see how long the MLS survives

None of the above is news to anyone who follows sports. ESPN, which owns the rights to broadcast MLS games, has been hyping this signing to no end. Nike, which owns has a contract with nearly every major athlete on the face of the planet, has given us endless Beckham commercials.

Recently, there has been a more important piece of news about the state of the MLS that hasn't been given nearly as much coverage. Freddie Adu, born in Ghana but raised in the US since the age of 8, and one of the most promising stars the US has ever seen, has decided to leave the MLS for S.L. Benfica, a Portuguese soccer team. This isn't shocking, as Freddie has been talking about this possibility for years now. The reason he's leaving? Not enough competition in the MLS.

For those of you scoring at home (or even if you're alone), that's plus one aging star on the downside of his career for the MLS, and minus one young rising star.

Soccer fans, who are often on par with cult members in their need to recruit new fans, will try to convince you that Beckham will save the MLS. Freddie Adu choosing to leave is easily the most telling fact about the state of the MLS.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A week (almost) in Houston

22 hours from right now will mark our first full week in Houston. As to the question of, "how are you adapting?", I can say we're adapting pretty well.

The precipitation situation in Houston is the exact opposite of San Diego. Rather than trying to figure out why there is water coming out of the sky, we're trying to figure out what that yellow orb in the sky is. Having it be humid to the point of swimming through the air at 2a does take some getting used to. But, fortunately, it hasn't been oppressively hot (yet), and as of this moment we think we can adjust to the weather. We'll see how we feel in about another month.

I'm enjoying easy access to Creole/Cajun food - it's pretty much everywhere here - and I've determined that I love dirty rice. I'm currently tracking down a kickball league to join, and I tried curling for the first time last night (lots of fun). I'm fitting in just fine at the new job.

Karin is currently off at a dog park with Roscoe, and is enjoying exploring the area. She just finished her resume, and is currently applying for jobs.

Our house still hasn't sold. We've gotten some renewed interest of late, but no offers as of yet.

Anyone want to buy a house in San Diego?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Five

Before I get in to my Friday Five, I do want to mention The Simpsons Movie. I went to a midnight showing last night/earlier this morning. If you're a fan of the Simpsons I can say without reservation that you will love the movie. I would mention that it does earn its PG-13 rating, and it does get a little slow in the middle. But beyond that, it's near perfect. I just wish they wouldn't have tried to tell me the word that Maggie says during the credits is her first word.

Anyway, since we just got off the road, I figured a good five would be the five things I couldn't have survived the trip without:
  1. Karin. During the trip we worked very well together and kept each other sane. There are certain things that certain couples can't do together (Karin and I can't move furniture). However, road trips seem to bring out the best in both of us.
  2. XM Radio. I prefer listening to live radio over an mp3 player, and having XM Radio certainly makes that possible without having to find a new radio station every couple of hours.
  3. Mobile Google Maps. If you have a smart phone, you can download mobile apps from Google. Mobile Google Maps is the greatest smart phone app around. It made it very easy to find hotels in the middle of nowhere, and to check distances.
  4. Sunflower seeds. I need something to keep me occupied during the long stretches of straight road.
  5. SoBe. Specifically, the Orange-Carrot Elixir. Not as sweet as soda, and it's got something healthy in there.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Three long days

After 1,460 miles, several SoBe's, a bag of sunflower seeds, and more fast food than I care to recount, Karin and I made it to Stafford, TX. The trip was rather straight forward, especially when compared to our trip from Minnesota to San Diego (more on that in a future post). If you want details on this trip, well, read on.

Karin and I, as has been our form recently, hadn't finished packing everything. Fortunately, a couple of good friends of ours (I don't like putting names up on the blog in case they don't want to see their names up here) came over to help pack. One helped Karin out quite a bit; the other was responsible for drinking my extra beer and moving bags from one bag to another. (No, I didn't understand what the point of the exercise was either.)

Anyway, the upshot of all of this was we didn't get on the road until about 4. I was initially planning on 1p and hoping for 2p. Fortunately, we missed most of the traffic on the 8, and were able to get out of town fairly painlessly. After a quick stop in El Centro for supplies, we got to Arizona when Karin decided that she was just too tired to go on. We spent the night at the Best Western Space Age Lodge (real name) in Gila Bend. Not only did this room feature the world's loudest air conditioner, it was right next to railroad tracks, with a train about every hour. Needless to say, this does not lend itself way to a good night's sleep.

The good news was discovering that Roscoe adapts real well to travel. He was all excited for about the first hour or so, but when he realized there wasn't a park or day camp in the near future, he settled in and took a nap. Every time we stopped, Karin would go pee and I would walk Roscoe. He knew after a few minutes that it was then time to go back in the car and continue on. He couldn't have been any better.

We hit the road on Saturday at the butt crack of dawn. We stopped in Tucson to sneak in to a Wal-Mart (sorry, Mom) to get a window sun shade for Roscoe. This of course required me to ask for the baby section, which was enough to freak me out and remind me of why I don't want kids. As luck would have it, after installing the sun shade, it was cloudy the rest of the trip. Outside of one spot of hard rain, the weather cooperated real well. We'd see pockets of rain out in the distance, but never had to drive through another, including one rather freaky moment when there was a rain cell not a mile off to our right that we were able to just drive right past. We managed to make it to Fort Stockton, TX.

Again back up at the butt crack of dawn for Sunday. I was very impressed with Karin, as she only needed to stop 3 times over the last 505 miles. One of our stops was Segovia, TX. The only reason I remember this was because when I went in to the convenience store at the gas station they were selling shirts that said, "What happens in Segovia, TX stays in Segovia, TX." I figure this is true either because nobody would believe something would happen in Segovia, TX or because nobody knows where it is. It was also here that I came to the conclusion that finding a SoBe in rural Texas is impossible.

(Side note - I tried to link to the Wikipedia article on Segovia, but there isn't one.)

We hit Stafford at about 3p. After a trip to Target to get just enough to survive - toilet paper, paper towels, cheap TV, Sierra Nevada - it was time to sleep.

Right now we're set up in a 1BR place living like college kids - bean bag chairs and an air mattress. Karin did say that she's OK with the current arrangements, but she wants a house again soon. Not sure the exact timing coming up, but hopefully this will just be the 3 months we planned for.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We're safe in Stafford

Got in today at about 3:00p. I will post the story later.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Five

This is a very emotional post as it will be the last one from San Diego. Or, to appease my San Diego friends, the last post for about a year. (There apparently is a pool as to when we will move back to San Diego.) Almost much anything today is bound to make me start blubbering. I'm pretty pathetic.

Anyway, I will be posting every night during our trip just to give you updates during our trip. Hopefully it will be uneventful. Knock on wood.

With that, here's 5 miscellaneous things about me:

  1. My favorite word by far is discombobulated. It has a great onomatopoetic quality about it. I also like phantasmagoria, but I can never work that in to a sentence.
  2. I normally need a TV on to fall asleep. When my head hits the pillow my brain doesn't always stop. Having the TV on gives it something to focus on. Fortunately, Karin is OK with this.
  3. Karin and I have voted for 2 actors for governor; Jesse once and Arnold twice. I'm hoping Chuck Norris runs for governor in Texas.
  4. One of my life goals is to be published. My problem is I have a hard time staying focused enough to read a book let alone actually write one. The other problem is finding both a topic and someone to publish me.
  5. I think the greatest high in the world is watching the light bulb turn on for a student. It's the whole reason to do this job.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

And down the stretch we come

4 days left. Actually, not even. 3.5 days left. 3.5 days left of last minute packing, stressing, saying goodbye to good friends and family, and trying to stay sane. (And staying sane for me during a normal week is tough enough - you can't imagine what I'm going through now.)

I've been getting asked a lot what the current plan is, so here it is.

We depart on Friday afternoon with just enough stuff to survive in Houston. Karin has plotted out hotels that accept dogs between here and there (her first concern is, of course, Roscoe.) We hope to land on Sunday so I can start up the new job on Monday.

My new job is the exact same thing that I'm currently doing. Karin hasn't begun to look, but I can say with 100% certainty that it will not be what she's currently doing.

We've got a 3 month lease out there, and we're going to use the time to figure out where a more permanent spot for us is going to be. A friend of ours has generously agreed to house-sit for us while we are gone, and keep the place tidy. Hopefully our place will sell shortly; our real estate agent has been busting her tail on it trying to get it sold.

So between now and then, it's just as I mentioned above - packing, stressing, saying goodbye to good friends and family, ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday Five

Well, Friday came and went and I completely spaced putting this posting up. So, a day late, here are the Friday Five. Since we've got a huge trip coming up next week, I figured 5 things about travel would be appropriate.

  1. I love road trips. I love the freedom. I love the scenery. I love stopping at rest areas, gas stations and the like in the middle of nowhere. I love just being in my own personal cocoon on wheels.
  2. I've never been off of this continent. Karin, before our honeymoon, had never been out of the country.
  3. Of all the trips I've taken, spending July 4th in Washington, DC is probably my favorite. It's an experience everyone should partake in at one point in their lives.
  4. I get motion sick very easily. Dramamine is my friend.
  5. My favorite mode of transportation is train. It's a shame that railways in this country have mostly been neglected.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A loser without a winner

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, or the NCAA, represents around 1,200 colleges according to Wikipedia. These institutions of higher learning exist for people looking to expand their horizons, learn a trade, increase their knowledge, and generally attempt to become better people. Thousands of students also wish to participate in athletic events, and the NCAA is there to help coordinate events, enforce rules, and help ensure that these students maintain "amateur" status.

One would then assume that the NCAA would show some level of intelligence. However, the NCAA has once again shown they don't grasp what they should be doing; or they think we're all idiots.

Word came down from the NCAA that Oklahoma football program had violated NCAA rules regarding part time jobs that students are allowed to have while accepting an athletic scholarship from the school. The punishment includes a lost of scholarships for a couple of seasons, and the vacating of all wins the Sooners earned during the 2005 season when these violations took place.

I have several problems with this. I think players should get a stipend, and I find that whenever the NCAA hands down punishment they wind up punishing the kids currently at the school, not the kids or the adults actually involved in the transgression. But the punishment I really love is the vacating of wins.

The way the NCAA's punishment works is that from the Oklahoma side of things they did not play the 2005 season. Oklahoma's official 2005 final record is 0-4. So, Tulsa, Texas A&M, and anyone else who lost to Oklahoma that season doesn't actually gain a win; they keep their loss with no corresponding team having any record of winning the game. I guess the Aggies lost to the grounds crew. And the 2005 Holiday Bowl apparently didn't happen. Well, Oregon still keeps the loss, but nobody actually won.

Who is actually hurt by this? The only victim I see here is common sense. Does not having a record for the 2005 season really hurt the school? Do the people that attended these games now have to forget it? Should Agent K and Agent J do the little flashy thing on every Sooner fan?

Does the NCAA honestly think that you can simply eliminate the just the winner of a game via fiat but still leave behind the loser? Granted, this is not a new concept for the NCAA; numerous games simply didn't happen as far as the NCAA is concerned.

I just can't for the life of me figure out how an organization of colleges can show such a low level of intelligence.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

Karin and I took off with some friends for Vegas this pas weekend, as a last getaway, and as a chance to blow off some steam. We've both been very stressed out, and this was a nice chance to forget about life for a while.

Karin and I arrived on Friday ahead of everyone else, and did a nice dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, which is a very affordable steakhouse inside the Paris. They have a patio that is right across the street from the Bellagio's fountains, so it is a great place to people watch, as well as watch the water show. We followed that up with a trip to the Improv, where Ralph Harris was the headliner. In all the times we've been to the Las Vegas Improv we've always had a great time and this trip was no exception. Ralph Harris is very funny, rather clean, and I will be rooting for him on Last Comic Standing which he's currently doing. The night ended with Karin hitting the penny slots and me losing my shirt at the Pai Gow table.

Our friends arrived on Saturday, and after everyone got situated we went over to the Hofbrauhaus. Always a great time there, between the live German band, the food and the beer.

Most everyone took off on Sunday morning, leaving just a couple of us behind. The three of us who were left spent a good bit of time at the ESPNZone, watching the Padre game on Sunday evening, and the home run derby on Monday (Vlad won me $10 - I just wish I would have placed my bet when he was at 10-1). The rest of my gambling was a roller coaster that ended with me even - I was even at poker, down a ton at Pai Gow (which is strange), and up a good amount at craps.

Karin and I returned to San Diego refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the move nonsense. I can't believe it's only 9 days left.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Virus Prevention 101

While I'm here, I figured it was a good time to add one more post.

Recently I've had a spate of virus e-mails that have come in. I'm not exactly sure where it started or who's infected, but I've been getting about one a day for the past couple of weeks. Seems to me now would be a great time to review how to protect yourself from viruses.

Avoiding viruses is actually pretty straight forward if you listen to what your parents taught you about strangers as a kid.

  1. Don't accept anything from someone you don't know. If you get an e-mail from someone you don't know, delete it. And, for the love of everything, don't open any attachments on it.
  2. Even if you know someone, don't trust anything from them you weren't expecting. If you weren't expecting someone to send you a PDF file, don't open it.
  3. If your gut tells you something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If you get an e-mail from someone with an attachment, it only takes an extra couple of moments to ask them if they really sent it to you.
  4. Don't trust links or e-mail addresses. Well, OK, so your parents probably didn't teach you this one, but it still applies. Just because an e-mail says it's from someone doesn't mean that it is. E-mail addresses are very easy to forge, so just because it says it's from your friend, coworker, bank, or eBay, doesn't mean that it is.
  5. Use protection. Again, getting a little away from the strangers analogy, but you should always (regardless of the OS you are using - Mac OSX doesn't magically make you safe) have anti-virus software installed. There's a great free one available from Grisoft that I personally use. But remember, anti-virus protection is there as a safety net. You must still practice caution.

Just following that simple advice will help keep you virus-free.

Friday Five

It's been a pretty mundane week - packing, living life, etc. Nothing really to blog about, which is why I'm glad I have the Friday Five to keep me connected to the blog. See - there is a method to my madness.

With our departure just a couple short weeks away, I figured it would be fitting to do a list of the top 5 things I'm going to miss about San Diego.

  1. Having my brothers in San Diego. I hadn't lived in the same city as both of my brothers since the age of 18, and back then it was a strained relationship at best. Now one brother lives 2 doors down from me, and the other about 8 blocks away (when he's not floating.)
  2. The friends we've made. I can't remember a time when we had managed to surround ourselves with better people. Karin and I love each and every one of you/them, and will miss you all greatly.
  3. Kickball. Yeah, it's kinda corny to list it here, but it's been a big part of my life for the last 2 years. I can still hear Jumbo yelling, "CUPS AT THE READY!!!!"
  4. The beer scene. San Diego has one of the hottest microbrew scenes, and according to Beer Advocate San Diego has collection of the best microbreweries in the world.
  5. The weather. It's currently 72 and partly cloudy, with the clouds giving way to sun later in the day. Doesn't matter what day you read this post on, I can pretty much guarantee that will be the weather.