Happy Monday! I hope you guys are doing okay. We had a busy weekend in Connecticut.
We had my daughter Hannah’s tenth birthday party at the house Friday night, for which I took Friday off from work. Friday was therefore a busy, chaotic day getting ready for the party, but that prep time was worth it because the party itself went really, really well. We had seven girls over, plus our two, and honestly, I think they spent almost the entire night screaming with excitement over one thing or another.
|Hannah and Sally on the Red Carpet with Emma taking pictures.|
The party had a “Hollywood Star” theme, and on Friday afternoon, Sally and I decorated the house with plastic paparazzi and then laid a red carpet down from the street to the front porch. Then Sally dressed up as an E! News reporter, gave Emma her camera to hold, dressed me up like Security, and then greeted each of the girls as they came out of their cars as though they were on the red carpet at the Oscars. This was a raging success. What I have learned this weekend is that every girl wants to be a star when she grows up, and they apparently all pretend to be stars all the time when they’re playing whatever-it-is-that-they-play when we’re not around.
Anyway, once they were in the house, they headed down to the basement, where I’d set up the karaoke machine, and that kept them occupied for much of the rest of the evening. This can best be described mathematically, using the following equation:
10-yr-old girls + Karaoke Machine = Fantastic Party
But actually, we did have one or two more events, amongst which the most interesting was the Fashion Design Competition. For that, Sally divided the girls up to two-person teams, gave them black plastic garbage bags, two different kinds of duct tape--rainbow colored and purple--and a couple of boxes of aluminum foil, and then she set them loose to create their own unique party dresses. One girl was the designer, and the other was the model, and then the two of us judged based on Originality, Design Sense, and Sturdiness of Construction. They had something like fifteen minutes to do their best, sturdiest, most creative work.
As you might imagine, the contest turned out to be quite amazing. To me, it was proof once again that kids can do a lot more than we as adults generally believe if we will only give them the time, space, and support to run with their ideas. But unfortunately, we’ve abandoned giving our kids expectations these days in favor of this kind of infinite adolesence during which we demand nothing--and get nothing.
Well. By the time we finished with the fashion show, it was just after 10 pm. I put Teen Beach Movie on the TV and headed upstairs, but I have it on good authority that the girls stayed up much, much later after the movie ended. I told Sally later that I thought that was good for them; that when they wound up staying up on night at Gunnery or on some patrol or other at the National Training Center, they’d think back to that time that they’d stayed up all night with their friends in Hannah’s basement and know that they weren’t gonna collapse. Sally agreed that they’re being up all night was good, but not really for the same reasons.
We didn’t do a lot Saturday. Emma slept for something like five hours during the day, and I lounged around and read. I’m reading the fourth book in L.E. Modessit’s “Imager Portfolio”, Imager’s Battalion. The most interesting thing about the book to me is the way that Modessit can take a very long string of seemingly disconnected events and use them to build a complete narrative over time that works on multiple levels. It’s not at all the way that I personally write, but I admire it nonetheless.
I also watched some college football Saturday afternoon, especially the late games. Everyone watched the George beat LSU, of course, but the Army team also played, beating Louisiana Tech 35 to 16 after a pair of rain delays. That game was interesting mostly because you saw what Army’s offense could do if given the chance to play against kids who were maybe bigger but not--for once--faster. The Black Knights ran all over LA Tech, and it was fun to watch. They still have a tendency to give up the big passing play, but I guess with Army, you just have to take what you can get.
I met with my friend Tom on Sunday to talk a little bit about running and swimming. Tom ran in college and has aspirations of competing in the Master’s level one-mile championships locally, and he also runs the occasional triathlon. So Tom is helping me run better--and hopefully more efficiently--and I’m helping him swim.
We talked a little about diet and deep tissue massage, and then Tom filmed me running on a treadmill, and the good news is that it doesn’t look like I have any obvious problems with my form. There’s no immediatly obvious reason why I keep having running injuries. On the other hand, that doesn’t give us a lot to fix, and I still have to deal with the tendons that are getting strained around my right ankle. What’s worse is that it feels like the problem is still there--if somewhat less--even though I’ve not been running these past two weeks, and that makes it seem like it’s gonna be tough to correct.
Tom thinks I’m over-pronating a little and suggested that we start with a little bit of arch support, along with some exercises to build core muscle strength. He also thinks I have low knees, but… well, that’s probably more a symptom than an actual problem, and he had a plan to fix that.
Tom’s stroke, meanwhile, is your typical runner’s swimming stroke. Which is to say that in running, you want to have a fairly high cadence in order to prevent over-striding, while in swimming, you need the opposite. A good swimmer needs to take long, gliding, efficient strokes and get the most out of each and every one of them. So Tom’s swimming with these fairly short, choppy strokes, keeping a good cadence up--the way a runner should--and it’s making it much harder than it has to be. On top of that, his head is too high…
I don’t want to rag on the guy because he’s a really good friend of mine, but there’s plenty to work on with his stroke. On the other hand, I feel like if I can teach my wife to swim comfortably, I can teachanyone, and Tom’s already a Hell of an athlete. He just needs to build muscular endurance in his upper body--no magic trick for that, unfortunately--and get more comfortable in the water. It’s just gonna take a little time in the pool.
Finally, I went 2-1 with my NFL picks this weekend. I picked the Seattle Seahawks over the Texans, the Chicago Bears over the Lions, and the New Engalnd Patriots over the Falcons. So yeah, the Bears let me down, but I’m now in love with the Seahawks. Seriously, I have such a man-crush on Marshawn Lynch; that guy is The Man. Not only did the Seahawks come through for me with the office pool, they also put a few rounds into the Houston Texans’ playoff hopes… I love it!
And on top of that, the Tennessee Titans won handily over the NY Jets, so yeah, it was a pretty good football weekend. Granted, Titans’ QB Jake Locker got hurt at literally the exact moment that I was finally starting to believe in him as an NFL quarterback, but what can you do? I haven’t seen an injury report yet, but it looks like the Titans are gonna have to ride it out with former Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s not necessarily a disaster, though I’ll admit that Fitzpatrick looked rusty as Hell when he came off the bench on Sunday. He made all the right reads--some better than Locker--but with the exception of one deep ball thrown late in the game, his accuracy was terrible.
Hopefully a week of practice will help that, though. You figure, Fitzpatrick probably hasn’t had more than a half-dozen reps a week since coming to Tennessee.
And that’s all I’ve got from the weekend. How was yours?