Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Army-Navy 101 (Part 2): Mascots & Symbols

We started talking a little about the Army-Navy rivalry last week in advance of the Army-Navy football game on December 10th.  This week we’ll introduce the Academies’ symbols and mascots and talk a little about a few of each school’s most accomplished graduates.  Army and Navy have both put a ton of super-successful flag officers into national service; listing them all would be impractical in the extreme.  I am therefore making different comparisons, comparisons that I hope will appeal to casual fans and those new to college sports’ greatest rivalry.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saturday Workout with Hannah

I've been working this week to get back into the gym with my daughter Hannah.  This is something of a switch.  Hannah is a dancer and a gymnast while I am a swimmer and a triathlete.  We spent a lot of time earlier in the year working out together to help Hannah improve in gymnastics, but because of school and work pressures, we haven't been working out together as much lately.  Hannah had to put more focus on her schoolwork and on ballet while I decided to double-down on swimming.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Notes and Memories

I had a dream this morning.  In it, I was taking a road trip with my grandparents, as I did innumerable times over my summers as a kid.  I woke, remembered that it was Thanksgiving, and thought about how much I wanted to talk to my grandparents.  I made a mental note to call them later.  I thought about this for several minutes before I remembered that my grandparents are gone, that they died several years ago, along with my parents and pretty much all of the rest of my family save my wife and my kids.

Sally, Hannah, & Emma at a New Hampshire wedding this past summer.
I rolled over and put my arms around my wife, let the light of early morning comfort me for the few minutes we had before it was time to get up.  Sally taught an early fitness class this morning, and I went with her and put in about forty-five minutes in the pool.  I can't say that I swam particularly well, but even mediocre swimming is often enough to put me back on an even emotional keel.  Such was the case this morning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Army's Bowl Bid Projections

Army Football dropped two truly egregious games this season, at Buffalo and against North Texas at home.  They lost to Buffalo on a pair of (very) makeable field goals, the first of which would have put the game away in regulation.  Against North Texas, Army played a fine game and won perhaps 85% of the total snaps but also threw seven interceptions and had seven fumbles.

We can't win like that to say the very least.

So here we are.  Army is 6-5, and they've got a team that probably ought to play in a bowl, that the national media has been following pretty closely over the course of the current season, but because the Athletic Department scheduled two FCS games, we don't have six bowl-qualifying wins.

Last year a handful of teams made it to bowls with five wins based on Academic Progress Rate (APR), or as we say in English, team grades.  Beat writer Sal Interdonato published a very good post yesterday updating Army's chances and correcting the record from CBS Sports.  CBS Sports had projected Army to play Houston (9-2) in the Military Bowl in, of all places, Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy.  That, however, seems extremely unlikely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Army-Navy 101: The Basics

Army Football is on a bye for the next two weeks.  Navy plays Southern Methodist University this Saturday, and they have the Atlantic Conference Championship game after that.  Army-Navy is the next week, December 10th, traditionally the last college football game of the regular season.
It’s too early to start previewing the game itself, but it’s never too early to talk about the rivalry in general.  This blog series, then, is meant to introduce casual fans to the greatest rivalry in college sports.
Welcome to Army-Navy!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Quick Thoughts: Army vs. Morgan State

I'm not sure what we were supposed to learn from watching Army smash historically black college Morgan State.  Morgan State is the largest HBCU in the state of Maryland, and it must surely be one of the nation's oldest in that it dates all the way back to 1867.  Important cultural significance notwithstanding, however, MSU is still an FCS program that just finished its season 2-8.  Reality is that this game was never going to be much of a contest.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


With the election over and Army Football seemingly out of bowl contention, I'm going to take a few weeks off from the blog to finish the first re-write of my memoir.  Tentatively titled "Swim, Bike, Run, Live, Love, Repeat," it's the story of my swimming career, my family, and my personal relationships.

It's about ambition, self-image, and belonging.  At least, that's my hope, anyway.

I grew up in a Marine household, moved around incessantly, and wound up becoming a successful competitive swimmer despite living everywhere.  This was only possible by the grace of God, a shit-ton of hard swimming, and the unflinching support of my parents in the face of adversity.

If that sounds interesting, then good.  I'm still looking for test-readers.  Let me know.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Strolling Thru Twitter: Still Picking Up the Pieces

Good morning, everyone.  Sally's away on business, & I don't start teaching swimming for a couple of hours.  The kids are still asleep, and coffee's on.

Let's see what's on Twitter.

Friday, November 11, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Templating Trump’s America

I didn’t get what I wanted on Tuesday, but I’m still an American, and what I want more than anything is for this country to come back together to find some common ground.  We need to move forward.  In reading the coverage since the election, however, it seems that we’re more divided now than we have been at any other time in my entire life.  I honestly don’t know what to do with that.
Protesting doesn’t help.  You had your chance at the ballot box, and you failed.  That’s life.  The question is—what do you do now?
Jim Webb's signature issue turned this election.
As I’ve watched people melt down this week, I’ve wondered if maybe this isn’t the first time some of these folks have lost an election in which they had an actual stake.  For me, it’s not.  I watched helplessly as George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in the immediate aftermath of America’s most successful overseas conflict just as the economy was turning around following an extremely minor recession.  In that case, America turned away from a guy who left Yale as a teenager to fight the Japanese, who’d served as Ambassador to China and Director of the CIA, in favor of a mildly successful serial philanderer from Arkansas.  We were still dealing with the aftereffects of that disastrous decision up until the polls closed Tuesday night.  America then re-elected Clinton over war hero Bob Dole, elected George W. Bush over Al Gore, who had at least served with Combat Camera in Vietnam, and then again over John Kerry, who won a Silver Star.  We picked Obama over John McCain, and this past year we wouldn’t even give Democrat Jim Webb—Marine Corps veteran, bestselling author, and former Sec. of the Navy—so much as a hearing in the primaries despite the reality that his signature issue was the plight of America’s rural poor and working classes.  
I don’t know if you noticed, but that became kind of an important issue.
The takeaway?  Americans may put bumper stickers on their cars to support veterans, but they don’t give half-a-shit about their leaders’ commitment to service.  Hell, today is Veterans’ Day, and most Americans don’t even have the day off.  My kids both have school.  And here we are.  All these years later, our nation’s wanton disregard of service has come home for all of us.  
I hope you’re happy with how that’s turning out.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Army Football Preview: Notre Dame

After a disheartening loss at home, Army travels to the wilds of Texas this week to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
Why is this game being played in the Alamodome?
Who knows?
What we do know is that Army’s ticket allotment is sold-out, and with Ft. Hood only a few hours away, it’s a good bet that Army fans will be out in force.  Whether they’ll be enough to drown out the inevitable legion from Notre Dame remains to be seen.  Deep in the heart of Texas, however, this remains at least a theoretical possibility.  
The Shamrock Series: Army vs. Notre Dame
This game is being billed as part of the “Shamrock Series”.  I think that means this is technically a Notre Dame home game.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quick Thoughts: U.S. Election

Wow.  To say that I am surprised is the understatement of the week.  Ladies and gentlemen, your president-elect is Donald J. Trump, like it or lump it.

Speaking personally, I can't fucking believe it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Strolling through Twitter: It's Almost Over

Our long national nightmare is almost over.  The election is tomorrow, and with it, God willing, this divisive political season will come to a close.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Quick Thoughts: Air Force

Up until now, I've felt like Army lost because it made mistakes, giving away games that the team could have won.  It wasn't like that yesterday.  Yesterday, the Black Knights played a team with bigger, faster players, and that's why they lost.  There were several times when Army had the right defensive call, when linebackers got into the backfield to bring Air Force QB Arion Worthman down for a loss, but they just could not make the play because Worthman had too much speed.  He beat linebackers to the corner, forced coverage to drop to defend his scrambles, and he threw with great accuracy on the run.  He was the best player on the field--by quite a bit--and there's no shame in admitting it.

Friday, November 4, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Air Force Week!

It's Air Force Week, and tomorrow is the Air Force game.  Army hasn't beaten Air Force since Trent Steelman was the quarterback, way back in 2012.

via @DrunkOldGrad & Twitter.
I'm excited to say the least.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Army Football Preview: Air Force

It’s Air Force Week!
Yes, this week cadets from the nation’s #3 service academy travel to Michie Stadium to take on the Army Black Knights.  
Henry "Hap" Arnold, a West Pointer,
was the first General of the Air Force.
Though they are perhaps best-known in the modern era for sending remote-controlled airplanes into combat in support of America’s valiant ground forces, the United States Air Force has a distinguished history.  Men such as Henry “Hap” Arnold and Benjamin O. Davis Jr., both West Point graduates, led this nation’s air forces through the early days of American Combat Aviation, establishing a standard of excellence that the U.S. Air Force Academy today struggles to uphold.  More recently, the Air Force has deigned to fly the A-10 Warthog in actual close air support missions against real live foes despite the fact that Air Force leadership stands squarely against the airframe on account of its lack of speed and overall “sexiness”.  Indeed, the Air Force has shown time and again that it will meet any challenge presented, so long as there’s air conditioning.  U.S. News and Forbes rarely agree on how colleges should be ranked, but both magazines put the cadets of Air Force solidly into the bronze in the military academy competition, relatively closely behind only the cadets of Army and the midshipmen of Navy.  Indeed, Air Force leads the way in both sexual harassment claims and the use of internal secret police.
Bravo Air Force!  Well done!