Wednesday, September 19, 2018

College Football Preview: What to Watch this Weekend

Army plays at Oklahoma at 7 pm on Saturday on Fox Pay-Per-View.  The game costs almost $60.  Considering that the Sooners are favored by more than thirty points, I’m gonna say it’s probably not worth the price of admission.  Which sucks because Army plays these games almost solely for the purpose of putting its brand in front of a larger national television audience.  With the game relegated to PPV, that effort now seems wasted.  
What can you do?

My wife says we’re going to some kind of fall festival on Saturday afternoon.  The Alpaca Gnomes will be there.  But a week without Army Football is like a week without air.  Sure, there are other games, and after we get back from watching the Gnomes, I’ll probably watch at least one of them.  But none of the ones I’m listing below will have me screaming at my TV.  These are just the games that I’ll be following.
All times, channels, and betting lines are per ESPN.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Stands Tall Against Mighty Hawaii

I’m writing this on my phone as the church band practices this morning, but I probably won’t get a chance to post it until later this afternoon. My daughter Hannah is part of the Worship Team as, like, the Junior Singer. She sings a lot of backup, but they usually build at least one song around her, too. Alas, today she was just backup.  Anyway, she gets to sing, and that matters.  She’s not quite an elite talent, but she can usually get the congregation on its feet. That counts.

Army had a good game yesterday. I didn’t realize how well QB Kelvin Hopkins had played until I looked at the stats. He was 6/10 passing with a couple of critical downfield conversions and no interceptions. Notably, he threw the ball away when it wasn’t there, and he didn’t take a sack. I thought the pass blocking looked pretty good for the most part, even on obvious passing downs. That’s a big improvement for this Army team.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Final thoughts on Hawai'i and a few other things

In an oft underwhelming slate of home games, Army Football has a rare sizzler today.  The Black Knights are hosting the hottest team in college football, the Rainbow Warriors from the University of Hawai'i.  Army's actually favored in the game, and if you look at the stats, you can see why.  Bottom line, Army is very good at home, and the 'Bows look primed for a regression after a 5,000 mile plane trip.  I broke this down in some detail earlier in the week.


Hawai'i is undefeated, and they've looked absolutely bulletproof through three games.  A few websites are picking Army to win based on the betting line, but all the guys on CBS Sports Network picked Hawai'i, and I don't think anyone will be surprised if that's the way it goes.  I certainly wouldn't bet money on Army giving points.

I'm excited regardless.  You can tell because it's 6 am, and I'm sitting here writing this instead of sleeping.  Granted, I got in bed early last night, but I woke up just after five this morning thinking, "Is it time yet?"


I really enjoy football at Michie Stadium.  My daughter Emma and I are headed up, and I honestly can't wait.

Friday, September 14, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Ridin’ the Storm Out

Something happened on Wednesday.  The blog went viral in some way that hasn’t happened previously.  I think that a West Pointer somewhere--I’m guessing from a class in the mid- to late-1970s--saw my preview of the Hawai’i game on Facebook and sent it out to a bunch of his buddies in a monster email blast.  It propagated from there.  Alas, the event came without much in the way of statistics from Blogger’s traffic tracking pages, so there are a few other possibilities.  But some kind of email chain seems most likely.
Regardless, hello new readers!
Experience suggests that most of you will not stick around long, and that’s okay.  As I tell my own classmates, our friendship is not contingent on your reading my stuff.  The blog’s traffic has been growing over the years, but this isn’t a Get Rich Quick scheme.  It’s the way I entertain myself while I’m on Metro-North going back and forth from New York City.  
The blog is intentionally organized as a salad bar.  You take what you want and ignore the rest.  There is no one else on earth who also likes all the stuff that I like.  I get that.  You don’t have to like my stuff; you don’t have to like me.  It’s fine, really.  
Writing isn’t my career.  Some people build little ships in little bottles.  I write a blog.  It is what it is.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 5)

My dad retired from the Marine Corps at about the same time that the West Point Class of 1995 hit Branch Night.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Army Football Preview: Hawai’i

After a big win at home against Liberty last week, the Black Knights are back at Michie this weekend for an unexpected Death Match against the resurgent Rainbow Warriors from the University of Hawai’i.  Hawai’i has vaporized everyone they’ve played with the power of their rebuilt run-and-shoot offense, but for better or worse, this is a game that Army badly needs to win.  
With the way the schedule shakes out, the Black Knights will need five wins before the Lafayette game to ensure bowl eligibility.  This is because only one FCS game counts towards the requisite six, and Army-Navy happens after bowl invitations have already been issued.  With tough road games against Oklahoma, Buffalo, and an Eastern Michigan team that has finally learned to finish, Army’s margin for error has become razor thin.  The Black Knights therefore need to win now in order to hit the meat of their schedule on the upswing and to give themselves just the slightest bit of breathing room going forward.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Rolls Over Liberty

After last week's opener at Duke, yesterday's contest against Liberty University was just what Army fans needed to see.  Certainly, it was what I needed to see.  The Black Knights rang up 27 first downs and 510 yards of total offense, including almost 450 yards rushing.  Army got just over 250 yards from the fullback position alone.  The team has a couple of things to clean up this week, but there were a lot of good performances, too.

A few quick thoughts are below.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 4)

R___ was my favorite college girlfriend.  We were both committed athletes and both cadets, and if I hadn’t been such a pigheaded asshole about the nature of our relationship, I’m quite sure that it could’ve lasted.  As it was, we spent a lot of time together, dating in a traditional sense, going to local restaurants and just talking.  I enjoyed her company tremendously.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Army Football Preview: Liberty

I tried to be upbeat Saturday morning after the loss to Duke, but I’m starting to think that I might not have been concerned enough.  Yeah, Army lost to a tough opponent on the road, and it was a bad spot.  There were maybe a few signs of life from the offense.  So what?  The defense was actively terrible, and more to the point, the rest of the early schedule suddenly looks considerably more challenging than it did just a few weeks ago.  I’m a little concerned.
Most fans were counting on a 2-2 start with the road game at Buffalo essentially deciding what kind of season we’re facing.  I know a few folks were talking “perfect season” before the Duke game, but I never thought that, and anyway, did you see Oklahoma on Saturday?  The Sooners just masterblasted FAU.   Worse, we’ve now seen Hawaii twice, and they look phenomenal.  Otherworldly, even.   And this week’s opponent, Liberty?  The Flames just dropped 52 on Old Dominion.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army at Duke

Climb down off the ledge, Army fans.  Trust me, no one was more disappointed by last night's contest than I was, but it's not as bad as it looks.  Really, there are some positives here--along with a few basic takeaways.

Friday, August 31, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: @ Duke

We’ve got a game tonight.  You may say that it’s not a big game, but Duke Head Football Coach David Cutcliffe and his players would probably not agree with you.

You think these guys don’t want it?  They circled this one on the calendar before last season even ended.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 3)

I hit the pool for captain’s practices and was dismayed when my buddy Dave smoked me for more than an hour doing the kinds of rote 100-yard interval sets that had been the mainstay of our time together for the past three years.  Try as I might, I simply could not keep up.  Soon I realized that it wasn’t just Dave.  Over the course of that first week, I found myself swimming back a lane and then two, following kids I’d led through the last year and more.  I’d swim as hard as I could, going completely balls-out, but my body simply would not perform the way that it was supposed to.  To that point, I’d set my Cruise Interval at 1:05 or better for three years running.  As a firstie, I realized that I’d be lucky to set it at 1:15.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Army Football Preview: at Duke

Here we are at last.  It’s finally time to open the 2018 Army Football season, which means it’s finally time to talk in detail about the Black Knights’ first game—at Duke!
Previewing this first game is tough.  There’s not a lot of data, and what data we have comes entirely from second-hand sources.  I’ve not attended any of Army’s scrimmages, and even if I had, I’m not sure what we’d have learned.  From all reports, Army has a remarkably good class of plebes.  Also, QB Kelvin Hopkins has supposedly thrown the ball really well.  So what?  The plebes aren’t going to contribute this week unless something truly astonishing occurs, and Hopkins’s passing is similarly unlikely to make-or-break the contest.  
How does the new O-Line look?  Can this team replace Alex Aukerman’s production at rush linebacker?  Can the secondary stay in position without Rhyan England?  Unfortunately, the only way to figure any of this out is under live-fire conditions.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crunch: Entry-Level Weight-Lifting Concepts (Part 1)

Talking to my buddy the other day, I mentioned that I’d started taking my daughters to the gym again recently, and he got surprisingly interested.  He and his son met us on Tuesday, and when I showed him what we were doing, he said, “Oh wow.  You have, like, a plan and everything.  I always just come here and do maybe half an hour on the treadmill and then hit some of the machines.  I’ve never, like, tried to hit multiple muscle groups on purpose or anything.”
His son followed up with, “I always just do five sets on the leg-press machine and a bunch of arms.  This is cool.”

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Showing Your Work

Good morning, folks!  It’s Week 3 of the preseason, which means we might see some actual starters in uniform tonight, and college football kicks off tomorrow!
Hallelujah!  Our long national nightmare is almost over.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

NFL Preview: NFC West

Welcome to the fourth and (presumably) final week of the joint Casa Cabeza / Hoosier on the Potomac NFL Divisional Preview series.  Joe has talked some about doing a bonus fifth week in which we make playoff and Super Bowl predictions, and we’ll probably do that, but this week marks the end of the actual work.  
If there’s a post next week, we’ll be straight talking out of our asses.  I mean, that is usually the plan regardless, but it’ll be even more egregious than usual.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 2)

A lot of guys stayed in Europe following the staff ride, but I caught a flight back to Rhode Island and spent my time laying on Newport Beach with my girlfriend Marla.  Alas, we didn’t have much longer as a couple.  She’d decided to head to California for college.  We made the most of what we had, however, and we parted without regrets.  In another life, our relationship might’ve had legs.  At the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, respectively, neither of us wanted anything permanent.  We held tight to what we had, though, and if we parted mostly without tears, this was only possible because each of us realized that we had the rest of our lives ahead of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Army Football Preview: Preseason Power Rankings

ESPN updated its Football Power Index (FPI) at the end of July, and the revised rankings hit Army right in the mouth.  The Black Knights are now the lowest-ranked of the service academies with an FPI of -9.7.  That puts them 103rd out of 130 total FBS teams.  ESPN projects that they would lose to an “average” team on a neutral field by something like 10 points.  The Four Letter Network projects that would-be “average” team as Fresno State out of the Mountain West, with an FPI of +0.3 points above the mean.
So Army’s doomed, right?  I mean, why even play the games when we have preseason computer projections?

Friday, August 17, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Pics from Our Camping Trip

We're back from vacation today, having spent a few days camping up by Lake George.  It was much cooler up there, but we got rained on a few times.  The trip was a lot of fun, but I'm sort of enjoying being back, too.
How was your week?  Good?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

NFL Preview: NFC South

Yay football.  Granted, it’s only preseason, but still…  Some football is better than no football.  I mean, the Giants haven’t looked great, but what can you do?
For those keeping score, this post marks the halfway point in the joint Casa Cabeza Hoosier on the Potomac NFL divisional preview series.  This week, we turn our attention to the NFC/AFC South.  The AFC South is Joe’s favorite division in that it’s home to the Colts (boo!) and the Titans (yay!), but that’s for later.  For now, we’re talking NFC.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 1)

" I, ___, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter;. So help me God.”
― U.S. Army Officers’ Commissioning Oath
I met my counsellor at the end of cow year to again discuss my options.  He’d been happy to see me the last time, but this time he looked a little more serious.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Army Football Preview: Sculpting the Offense

It’s Week 3 of the Army Football Preview series, and as promised, we’re getting into actual football this week.  Specifically, we’re gonna talk about Army’s offense and what, if any, changes we ought to expect for 2018.
Let me start by saying that I got a little too into the schematics of the triple-option over the summer.  I don’t normally watch tape because I don’t feel like it’s one of my strengths; rather, I think I have more to add simply by looking at trends using basic statistics.  That’s not complicated, but it has proven to be fairly predictive in terms of identifying key match-ups ahead of specific contests, and this in turn frames how I’ve watched the games themselves.  The games themselves are easier to understand when we know what’s happening and why.  But I got legitimately interested in the specifics of triple-option offensive design through the process of writing the preseason Army-Navy preview, and once I got started, I just sort of kept reading.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

TV Review: Marvel's Cloak & Dagger

My daughter Emma and I finished Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger on Freeform last week, and we both really enjoyed it.  Truthfully, I think I enjoyed it more than she did.  Before watching the show, I’d have guessed that it was aimed squarely at the teen-girl fan-set based on its choice of cable networks.  The reality, though, is that the former ABC Family Channel has more in common with Spike TV than it does with, say, The Disney Channel or even Lifetime.  Where we were expecting something along the lines of the CW’s Arrowverse but starring younger Marvel protagonists, what we got was a decidedly gritty psychological drama that was much more in line with the tone of the original 1980s-era comics than I’d have believed possible.

Friday, August 10, 2018

5 Things on Friday: Football Begins!

Truth is, I didn't love the Giants' first preseason game even though it started with a bang.
After that, things slowed considerably.  The Giants' revamped O-Line looked maybe a little better than they were last year, but their second stringers were terrible, and backup QB Davis Webb, would-be star of the preseason, was not good at all.  Starting QB Eli Manning wound up 4/7 for 26 yards.  He took a sack, made a terrible pass via miscommunication to TE Rhett Ellison that should have been intercepted, and was victimized by two really egregious drops.  One went to a backup wide receiver on a quick out; the other came on a well-timed screen play to RB Jonathan Stewart.  Both should have been first downs.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

NFL Preview: NFC North

Welcome back!
This is the third installment of the 2018 NFL Season Preview, a joint project between me and my friend and classmate Smokin’ Joe Sowers over at A Hoosier on the Potomac.  Previous installments can be found at the links below:
 -- NFC North
 -- AFC North

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

#SBRLLR: Duty - Honor - Country (Part 5)

Whether it was my newfound work ethic or just simple physical maturity, cow year was my best in the pool by a wide margin.  I won my event at Navy for the third time, leading a trio of Army butterfliers to finish something like first, third, and fourth.  We lost the meet, decisively this time, but I found some peace with it for once, content in the knowledge that I’d at least done all that I could do.  I also scored a dual-meet win in the 100 Fly against Harvard later that same season, the only individual win for the Army team in the entire meet.  This was important because I felt like it proved that I hadn’t given up too terribly much in the pool to pursue my other dreams.  About midway through the season, Ray Bosse posted a list of top national collegiate times, and I saw myself ranked something like 90th overall in the 200 Butterfly.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Army Football Preview: What's the "So What?"

I posted the following to a few of my social networks this week and was a bit surprised by some of the responses.

Monday, August 6, 2018


It appears the reports that QB Tyhier Tyler had moved to running back were a little premature.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

NFL Preview: NFC East

We’re back, folks.
Yup.  That’s right.  My friend Joe and I are back with another season of preternaturally accurate NFL seasonal predictions.  As we did last season, Joe will be covering the AFC over on his blog A Hoosier on the Potomac.  I’ll be doing the NFC right here, starting with this week’s post on the Black and Blue Division, the NFC East.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#SBRLLR: Duty - Honor - Country (Part 4)

While I’d been a yearling, my father had served as the Operations Officer (G-3) of the Third Marine Division, located in Okinawa, Japan.  Call sign “Warlord.”  He went a little crazy.  Drank the way they used to drink back in the 1960s and 70s and kept a full-time in-house mama-san35 among many other personal indulgences.  He remained one of the best operational planners in the Corps, but his time at Special Operations Command had put a serious dent into whatever commitment he’d once had for “clean living”.  By himself overseas, my father degenerated into a legitimate party animal.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Army Football Preview: STAP

We're all jonesing for some football, am I right?  I mean, we're ready to start talking about the season?

Sure we are.

Friday, July 27, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Football Season is Coming!

The New York Giants reported to training camp this week along with the rest of the NFL.  With that, my buddy Joe and I scheduled the new season of our now annual four-week NFL divisional previews.   The NFC will be here again during the week while Joe covers the AFC over at A Hoosier on the Potomac on weekends.  I think Joe said he was going to run his columns on Sundays, but don’t hold me to that.  Mine will run on Thursdays.
Live shot of Eli Manning and the NY Giants in training camp.
More to the point, I’ve personally got a lot of football scheduled for the next few weeks.  It starts Tuesday with the return of weekly Army Football Preview posts, and then we’re off.
Let’s do it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#SBRLLR: Duty - Honor - Country (Part 3)

I passed all of my classes, even Russian, but that semester was hardly a tour de force of academic excellence.  I pulled out a B- in Russian and C+ is Statistics, earning a grade point average of exactly 3.0, even with an A+ in “German History from 1848 to 1945.”  With that, I squeaked onto the Dean’s List.  I was still on track to become a second lieutenant.  
That was good enough.

Friday, July 20, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Waiting for My Giant Seahorse

I was on vacation the first three days this week, and it still feels like it’s been a long week.  Argh!
Happy Friday, folks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

#SBRLLR: Duty - Honor - Country (Part 2)

We marched back from Camp Buckner a day before the plebes returned from Lake Frederick, and in no time, my classmates and I settled back into Academic Year rhythms.  I watched my own plebe struggle through Reorganization Week, eventually pulling him aside that Friday afternoon as my own team leader had done with me the previous year.
“Cangolosi!  Go take a shower right now!  That’s an order!”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Swimming: 5300 yards & I adapted it for the track

Long workout today as we enter the final training period before the Swim Across the Sound.  We raised a lot of money this week, but we could still use your support to finish strong.

Today's workout was a monster, and just because I'm feeling generous, I'm going to adapt it to the track for my running friends.  Working this hard makes me a little emotional at times, so I feel like I need to share that pain.

If anyone actually tries this adaptation out on a track, please let me know how it went.  I think you could use it as a key workout during half-marathon training, but I'm hardly an expert.

Friday, July 13, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: We Need More Instagram

I went back and forth this week on how many serious articles I should run.  The news has been so grim, though, no matter where you turn, so I decided to keep it light.  I mean, I don’t know that I’m any more optimistic than you are, but I will say that I don’t want to dive any deeper into the garbage pail than I have to through my writing.  
No one wants that, do they?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Crunch: Looking Forward to the Next Thing

If you’ve been following this blog, you will already know that I’m swimming across Long Island Sound with a few friends on August 4th.  Before you ask, yes, we could still use your support.  We’re a little more than $2K away from our fundraising goal with less than a month to go.  A few good-sized donations could put us over the top.  That would be very nice.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#SBRLLR: Duty - Honor - Country (Part 1)

“Duty-Honor-Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, and what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn."
― General Douglas MacArthur
Swim season ended with the Patriot League Championships, and suddenly I didn’t know what to do with myself.  A handful of swimmers also played on West Point’s water polo team, and although I knew that my playing polo might raise eyebrows with the swim team’s coaching staff, I found myself wanting to throw the ball around more than I wanted to participate in the swim team’s anemic offseason training program.

Friday, July 6, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: We Take an Easy Week

This felt like a slow news week up until yesterday afternoon.  But as much as I'm personally happy that Scott Pruitt is finally leaving the EPA, I don't have anything to add to the story beyond the basics.  I searched for additional stories of relative importance but still didn't find very much.  

So this week’s post is a lot of college football and a bit of D&D.  Yay?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beat Navy (Part 3)

I was surprised to the point of shock when I got to West Point and found Layne, the object of my ill-advised affections from my halcyon days with the Vista Swim Team, ensconced as a yearling on the Army Women’s Swim Team.  Though she’d once been one of my very best friends, indeed an object of true adolescent adoration, Layne and I spoke maybe two dozen words in the three years we were together at the Academy.  The Army Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams just weren’t close when we were there, and whatever romantic affections I’d once felt, they weren’t strong enough—on either side—to pull us back together against the tide of our teams’ mutual animosity.  
I gave little thought to this as a plebe because plebe life offered little time for self-reflection.  As a yearling, however, I mourned the loss of Layne as a perfect ideal.  In time, however, I realized that whatever I’d once felt for my first crush, those feelings were of a piece with a part of myself that lived only in memory.

Friday, June 29, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: A Scorcher Coming Monday

The Class of 2022 starts on Monday.  Feel old yet?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beat Navy (Part 2)

I showed up on the pool deck later that afternoon for the first Captain’s Practice, one of the early unofficial workouts organized by the our team captains before the start of the NCAA’s official swimming season.  This felt very much like coming home.  A tall man with short-cropped red hair introduced himself as “Rocket.”  He was our captain and one of just two firsties on the Army Swim Team that year.  He was also a sprinter, hence his nickname.  Beside him stood Rob and Flip, both cows, whom I knew from my recruiting visit and from the handful of “mass athletics” swimming sessions the team had held during Beast Barracks.  Beyond them stood the rest of the team, a handful of their cow classmates and a very small number of yearlings.  
I stood with my own classmates while Rob and Flip introduced us to the team, and that’s when I met “Toad,” Army’s incumbent butterflyer.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Swimming: 5000 yard key workout

The Swim Across the Sound is coming up, and with that in mind, I scheduled a key workout this morning.  Actually, I meant to do today's main set on Thursday, but I only got about halfway through it before getting thrown out of the pool.  Alas, one of the little kids pooped, necessitating an evacuation.

So it had to be today.  I put in a solid 5000 yards, the most I've swum in several years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beat Navy (Part 1)

"From the Far East I send you one single thought, one sole idea — written in red on every beachhead from Australia to Tokyo — There is no substitute for victory!"
― General Douglas MacArthur
We marched back from Lake Frederick after a relatively relaxed week in tents.  Our class motto, “With Honor We Strive,” led the way, emblazoned in gold letters across a black background.  To my amazement, the entire West Point community came out to give our class a legitimate hero’s welcome.  I didn’t know what to think.  After six weeks of Beast Barracks, the mass cheering of all those folks lining the streets evoked within me some rather serious cognitive dissonance.  Similarly, my classmates and I were eager for the end of Beast Barracks but also nervous for what lay ahead.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

#SBRLLR: Drinking Beer & Looking at Old Pictures

Spoiler Alert: When your folks die, you're gonna have to go thru a million old pictures.  Sally asked me to go through some old picture albums today since she's been cleaning up our garage, and I found one from one of my ancestors dated 1923 to 1924.  It details his literal trip around the world.  He's got pictures from Japan, China, Egypt, and every point in between.

Dude was, like, a member of the landed gentry from the farmlands of Middle Tennessee.  An honest-to-God Southern Gentleman.  It's crazy.  At times, I badly want to go back in time and lecture my one-time family members about the values of financial responsibility.  I've had to start rebuilding the family wealth almost from scratch, and that's fine in the sense that I had a few advantages when I started, but it's also maddening, all things considered.  But what can you do?

I'll share the pics from that trip some other time.  Documenting it will be much more work than I want to put in today.  For now, I'm three beers into a Yankee game, having already put in the best swim workout I've had this season.

I'm reloading calories, if you will.  One of the virtues of distance athletics.

Anyway, these pics are from another album, and I'm sharing them today because I'm not sure I'm going to get all the way through editing the next chapter of my memoir this week.  On the off chance that I don't make it all the way through the next bit, these will have to tide you over a week.  Sorry in advance if that happens.

Pics after the jump.

Friday, June 15, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Building on Momentum

Before we get started this week, I’ve got a couple of announcements:
First, my Swim Across the Sound team still needs your support.  We’re about halfway to our fundraising goal, and I know that a lot of people have been on this site lately checking out the happenings.  Most of you fins folks can easily afford to support Team RBG.  Please do that.  It’s for a good cause.
Yes, this is me swimming.
My second announcement is about #SBRLLR.  This week’s post did gangbuster numbers, which is awesome.  Thank you for that.  
If you’re wondering what to read next, well… I personally think the whole thing is worth reading, especially if you care about context.  However, most folks have liked Chapter 2.  If you also like Chapter 2, then I hate to say it, but you ought to just bite the bullet and read the whole damn story.  
It’s free, you cheap bastards.
Finally, if you liked #SBRLLR, and you’ve been thinking about doing something similar, please reach out.  As I said earlier this week, one of the reasons I wrote the memoir was as a way of starting this conversation.  Ideally, you should have a set time period to write about along with a collection of anecdotes.  With that, we should be able to draw up an overall outline and lay out scene structure for the first chapter or two.  That should be enough to get you going.
Alright.  Let’s get it on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beast (Part 2)

My roommate John turned out to be a prior-service soldier who’d just finished a year at the Academy’s Prep School, getting his grades up so that he would be able to compete with a bunch of high school heroes once the Academic Year started.  If R-Day or Beast Barracks ever fazed John, I never saw any sign of it.  I don’t know if they put me with John because his last name was near mine alphabetically, or if somebody somewhere thought that maybe I would need a little extra help with some of West Point’s overarching military bullshit.  John was a huge help, and I was extremely grateful for it.  However, we came from radically different pre-Academy backgrounds, and so we didn’t hit it off immediately—not in a deeply personal way at any rate.  We got along well enough, but I think my shell-shocked military stupidity and ongoing emotional numbness must surely have tried John’s patience.  He was a few years older, and he’d already been through Basic Training and had served in the Regular Army.  The last thing he wanted, I can well imagine, was to deal with a barely eighteen-year-old newbie who didn’t know his head from his ass.  However, he taught me as much as he knew, and for that I was extremely fortunate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Entry-Level Thoughts on Writing a Memoir

As my memoir slowly enters its West Point years, its readership has increased dramatically, especially among my Academy classmates.  That’s a good thing.  I wrote the book for a lot of reasons, but one of the more outward-thinking ones was as a way to discuss the idea of writing about experiences with some of my friends.  As our current class president said a few years ago, “Classes get remembered when they tell their stories.”  Our class has done a few things.  We therefore have to find ways to tell the story.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Musings: Monkey See, Monkey Do

A few random musing from the last few days.

So what is the most honest way of talking about the Trump economy? It goes like this: The president inherited an economy that had come a long way toward healing. During his administration, the economy has continued growing at about the same rate it did before he took office, pushing incomes, employment and output to yet higher levels.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Swim Across the Sound 2018

I out this out on FB and Twitter on Tuesday, but let me say it again here: we're still looking for some support for Team RBG in this year's Swim Across the Sound.  A lot of folks have "liked" and "retweeted" the links for our quest, and that's great, but as of this writing, we're still quite a ways short of our total fundraising goal.

Link: Team RBG and the Swim Across the Sound

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thoughts on Solo & the Star Wars Universe

We saw Solo: A Star Wars Story over the weekend.  Everybody liked it okay.  I don’t think it was anyone’s idea of a great movie, and even my kids saw some of those closing double-crosses coming, but it was still entertaining, and that’s fine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#SBRLLR: Beast (Part 1)

"If the fresh skin of an animal, cleaned and divested of all hair, fat, and other extraneous matter, be immersed in a dilute solution of tannic acid, a chemical combination ensues; the gelatinous tissue of the skin is converted into a non-putrescible substance, impervious to and insoluble in water; this, sir, is leather."
― Plebe Knowledge, “The Definition of Leather”22 
I met my friends Amber and Rose outside the auditorium on Reception Day.  The three of us had met during our recruiting trip back in March, and Amber and I had hit it off particularly well.  We were three swimmers with no idea what lay ahead of us, save that all three had gotten a pair of black leather low-quarter shoes and started breaking them in per West Point’s instructions to cadet candidates.  I’d tried to talk to my dad a little about what it was going to be like to join the military, but he had brushed off most of my questions, save to push me to keep running and doing pushups by way of being ready for Beast.  Beyond that, Dad seemed content to let me enjoy my last weeks of freedom.  He did try to teach me to shine my shoes, but that particular lesson was one I chose to ignore.

Friday, June 1, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Praying for a New Plane

I’m back.  I’ve been busier of late, so I don’t know that 5 Things' return is necessarily going to be a regular occurrence, but there’s so much going on that I thought maybe we ought to talk about at least some of it.
Let’s get it on!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Army Football Preview: First Look at 2019 and Beyond

I got interested in Army Football's future schedule construction last year, after the Athletic Association released the 2017 & 2018 schedule's simultaneously.  At the time, I thought that this coming season would be Army's breakout year because a) Coach Monken's first full recruiting class will be firsties in 2018, and those guys have been key contributors for three years already, and b) this year's schedule looks quite a bit easier than last year's did, at least on paper.

But the Black Knights got ahead of me.  They won ten games in 2017 behind record-breaking QB Ahmad Bradshaw, so what do I know?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

#SBRLLR: Choosing a Life (Part 2)

I came home wearing a Harvard Swimming t-shirt and carrying a head full of possibilities.  I thought a lot about what David Berkoff had told me and a lot about what Harvard’s coach had said.  
What kind of man did I want to be?
I didn’t know.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Army Football Preview: 2018 Season (4th Quarter)

We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at spring camp results from Army’s 2018 seasonal opponents, going three games at a time.  This week brings us to the season’s finish, the so-called fourth quarter.
Outside of the Army-Navy game, it’s not a compelling slate.  North Texas opted out of the second half of what was originally a four-game home-and-home set following their loss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2017.  That left the Athletic Department scrambling to schedule two games on short notice, and as a result, the Black Knights once again have two FCS games, both with opponents from the Patriot League.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

#SBRLLR: Choosing a Life (Part 1)

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler...“
― Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
Harvard turned out to be an ancient collection of brick buildings and concrete pathways that wound through grassy park-like open areas and underneath occasional stone and wrought iron archways.  The teeming heart of Cambridge lay just beyond the campus border, making the college feel very much a part of the city in which it lived.  For all that this was the Ivy League, I saw very little actual ivy, though this may have been because my visit occurred in early March.  It was spring in Tampa, Florida, but the bite of winter still hung heavy in the air in Boston.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pics: Def Leppard & Journey at the XL Center

I took Sally to see Def Leppard and Journey last night at the XL Arena in Hartford.  We saw Def Leppard about a year ago at Mohegan Sun and had such a good time that we wanted to go again.  But we'd been on the fence because the show was on a Monday night, and the XL Arena is not, in all honesty, the nicest venue I've ever been to.

After what has felt like a month of rain, yesterday was gorgeous.
Took this shot on my way down to the Hudson Greenway to memorialize the weather.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Army Football Preview: 2018 Season (3rd Quarter)

We’ve spent the last two weeks talking about the first half of Army’s 2018 football season.  We said that Army’s got a chance against Duke, and we talked a bit about the strategy that might keep them competitive with Oklahoma.  It is entirely possible that this team outperforms expectations and explodes onto the national stage.  More likely, however, the Black Knights stumble somewhere early, going either 3-1 or 2-2 through their first four games.  This middle stretch, then, starting with the Buffalo game and ending with the home game against Air Force, will decide what kind of team this is going to be.
Army ought to be favored at San Jose State, but the other four games--at Buffalo, vs. Miami (Ohio), at Eastern Michigan, and vs. Air Force--will most likely be close contests.  The Black Knights were very good in close contests last season.  They will need to keep that streak alive in order to win all four of these games and take some momentum into Philadelphia and the Army-Navy game.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#SBRLLR: Through the Looking Glass (Part 4)

Short course season ended without Junior National cuts, but as the summer before my senior year approached, I felt better and more focused in the pool than I had in ages.  We headed to the first long course meet of the season, a championship-style meet held at the natatorium in Orlando just after I turned seventeen.  I’d already gotten off the track of being truly elite, and I didn’t think I’d ever get back onto it.  A full scholarship to Tennessee was no longer a realistic possibility.  Perhaps that’s why I climbed to the blocks for the preliminary heat of my first 100 Butterfly of the season feeling looser than I had in years.  The 100 Fly was no longer my best event, but I knew as I climbed those blocks that my long wait was over.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Thing About Dreaming

Dream and start the climb and die trying
And I dreampt and I will drown will I drown
I can see
And yet I still dream and I still wish and I still try and I still walk and I still laugh and I still
They tell me run.
And if I die trying, I die running and my heart will be beating
And faster
And faster
And will it be running?
Will I be running?
                Will I be dreaming?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Army Football Preview: 2018 Season (2nd Quarter)

We talked a bit last week about how ESPN and SB*Nation are modeling their outlooks for Army Football in 2018.  We then looked at the coming season’s first three games.  This week, we’ll talk a bit about the Black Knights’ offense and take a look at the team’s next three games, the season’s so-called Second Quarter.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

#SBRLLR: Through the Looking Glass (Part 3)

My once glorious “AAAA” time receded further into the past, and the improvements that would have seen me keep pace nationally with my would-be elite peers remained stubbornly elusive.  At the same time, I only rarely saw swimmers of my own actual ability, and then only at the very biggest meets.  These were the times when I needed my very best stuff, but transcendent greatness was not the kind of thing I’d learned to summon on command.  I could feel my potential, but I couldn’t quite grasp it.  Meanwhile, the social interactions that might have cushioned the blow remained equally elusive.  I made friends, but I still felt like I’d lost more than I could easily explain.  I went on dates, but the girls that I actually cared about seemed totally unavailable.  Somehow, the right girls were always dating the wrong people.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Army Football Preview: 2018 Season (1st Quarter)

It’s almost May, which means that Spring Football is over.  This in turn means it’s finally time to take a realistic look at Army’s 2018 season.  This year, we’ll break the season down into quarters, examining 2018 in three-game sets.  As we did last year, we’ll take a look at the news coming out of spring camp for each team that Army plays, as well as projections from ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) and SB*Nation’s S&P+.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

#SBRLLR: Through the Looking Glass (Part 2)

Having by now been through two serious swimming commutes, my mother had learned her lesson.  She chose our house in Tampa based first and foremost on its proximity to the Carrollwood Swim Team.  Carrollwood was a country club neighborhood on Tampa’s north side with a six lane outdoor pool and a golf club at its center.  The entire neighborhood was a brilliant mix of greens and whites, with sprawling fairways and ever-present palm trees providing most of the vegetation while the houses themselves were uniformly light-colored ranch or bungalow-style construction, most with pools in their backyards.  If it didn’t have quite the exclusive feel of a place like Riverbend, the difference was academic.  Riverbend had controlled its own access road and maintained a native police force; Carrollwood offered two entrances and made due with police from the city of Tampa.  In either case, police were a persistent presence.

Friday, April 27, 2018

#SBRLLR: Through the Looking Glass (Part 1)

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things. “
― Theodore Roosevelt
Mom flew ahead to Tampa to try to figure out where we were going to live while Dad stayed in San Diego to wrap up his last weeks of battalion command.  Pa Pa Dan met me in San Diego towards the end of July, and together we embarked on a week-long road trip to Tennessee, our family’s minivan stuffed to bursting with family treasures and our two golden retrievers.  The dogs rode comfortably in state between our television and my mother’s silver chest.  Mom and I then spent a week at her parent’s house in Tullahoma before the two of us lit out together for Florida.  We crossed the state line late one summer afternoon and stopped at the Welcome Center.  I grabbed a complimentary cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and marveled at the palm trees and the flatly tropical terrain.  
Once again, I’d landed in a foreign country.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Swimming: 4600 yards, & I Feel Better.

We've been training pretty steadily for the Swim Across the Sound for the past two months or so.  That is, me and a few of my teammates from the Army Swim Team back in the day.  We've all been training and trading workouts, trying to keep each other motivated and on point.  I'm still not sure who all is going to show up for the event, but it's been good for me personally.  I mean, I don't think I'm speaking out of turn in saying that I miss my teammates--and that I like having an excuse to talk swimming with them.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Okemo is one of Vermont’s largest ski resorts, located roughly halfway between Mount Snow and Killington.  That puts it something like four hours’ drive from my house in Coastal Connecticut.  The mountain offers some 121 trails spread across three separate peaks and 667 skiable acres, all served by 20 chair lifts.  This breaks down into 39 beginner (green) trails, 45 intermediate (blue) trails, 27 advanced (black) trails, and 10 expert (double-black) trails.  This is a lot of skiable terrain, making it easy to lose oneself amongst the resort’s sprawling lift and trail system.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#SBRLLR: Satisfaction, Not Success (Part 3)

Water polo season ended at about the same time that my relationship with Cam fizzled.  My friends Jeff, Jennifer, and Trisha all left the Vista Swim Team shortly thereafter.  This put me in a tough spot, though I couldn’t exactly blame Jennifer or her family.  Her career had stagnated with Mr. Malone, and she possessed entirely too much talent to let herself just sort of muddle along through the rest of her career.  Her parents felt that she’d gone about as far as she could go with the Vista Swim Team, and they were probably right.  They took half the team with them when they left, however, establishing a gigantic multi-family carpooling effort by way of sharing the daily forty-five minute one-way treks out to Mt. Caramel that joining their new swim team required.  Through this they got access to vastly superior facilities and to a coach who’d put swimmers into the Olympics.  That was probably worth it for Jennifer, but a lot of other kids got pulled along in her wake, and poor Jeff spent almost all of his time behind the wheel of his old beater hatchback for the next few years.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mount Snow

Mount Snow is my favorite Vermont-area ski resort.  It’s also the southernmost of the large Vermont ski resorts and the resort with the best artificial snowmaking.  A big part of what I like about is in its location; it’s maybe sixty miles closer than Killington, making it a much better destination for single-day sessions or quick overnighters.  Granted, Mount Snow is not as large as Killington or Okemo and has fewer trails than Stratton on about the same acreage.  Still, with 86 runs spread across 588 skiable acres on four separate faces, it’s not exactly small...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#SBRLLR: Satisfaction, Not Success (Part 2)

Though I pined for Layne, it was a girl named Cam who actually showed up at my house to take me out to the movies that year.  Cam was a recent transfer student from Idaho, and being just a little older than I was, she’d already gotten her driver’s license.  We’d met through mutual friends and had already run a 5K road race together.  This, however, was our first official date.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crunch: Knowing When to Get Help

I had a physical a few years ago during which the doctor said, “You have to be careful when you train.  You know, you’re not Lance Armstrong.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “but I can train as hard as he does… at my level, anyway.”

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday Musings: Yankees, Army Football, and others...

I miss football.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if the vaunted Yankees were playing a little better, but at 4-4 with half the roster nursing injuries, we're not off to the start that a lot of Yankee fans were looking for.  So...

Friday, April 6, 2018

Army Football Preview: Spring Speculation

Given the information that’s been trickling out of Army Football’s spring training camp and ESPN’s just-released Football Power Index (FPI) rankings for the coming season, my sense is that after two years of relative success, the Black Knights face a “prove it” season for most of the national football audience.  If Coach Jeff Monken and company can finish with nine or more wins, retain the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy, and hold serve against rising programs like Duke, Buffalo, and Eastern Michigan, then I expect the program will take a major step forward on the national stage, and Coach Monken will himself become one of the hottest coaching prospects for would-be Power 5 coaching vacancies heading into 2019.  However, the program first has to replace a lot of graduating talent, and that’s not always an easy trick.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Crunch: Holding On Tightly

I’ve been back in the weight room for a few months, back in the water for a few weeks, and running regularly for just over a fortnight.  I finally feel good.  I don’t feel quite like myself in the water just yet, but I feel better than I did.  And I caught myself having fun on the treadmill yesterday, so much so that I started doing tempo intervals at a 7:30/mile pace.  That’s not too bad.  I feel like I’m finally getting there.
But man, it also feels like it’s been a hard road back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

#SBRLLR: Satisfaction, Not Success (Part 1)

“Whenever you get to win, you feel the satisfaction of all of your hard work, all the sacrifices, all the blood, sweat and tears. It feels right and makes you realize that you are really doing the right thing. “
― Abby Wambach
At the awards ceremony that ended my freshman year, I found myself standing on stage in front of Fallbrook’s entire student body.  Several friends stood alongside me—a fellow water polo player, a two-sport track and soccer star who’d been in my Geometry class, and a pair of standout junior varsity football players.  We’d all been nominated for the Sarkis Spanjian award, given to the school’s most outstanding scholar/athlete.  The awards committee nominated five freshmen every year, and we were meant to compete over the course of our high school careers to determine an eventual winner.  That winner would earn a nice little scholarship and widespread acclaim.  Even as mere nominees, a picture of the five of us landed in the local paper that week, but I was one of only two who’d already earned a varsity letter.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Stupid Movie Reviews: Power Rangers

It’s only the second week of Stupid Movie Reviews, and already I can see what the recurring theme of this column is going to be.  
“How the Hell did anyone think that this would be a good idea for a movie?”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

#SBRLLR: First Taste of Glory (Part 5)

The San Diego CIF Championships were towards the end of the school year.  I qualified in the 100 Fly and as a member of Fallbrook’s medley relay team.  From a team of about thirty boys and thirty girls, less than a dozen total traveled to CIF.  This included all of the year-round swimmers and a few of the real standouts from the water polo team who happened to have some pure speed.  We sat out under a big beige tarp on the deck at Mt. Carmel High School, which had by far the fastest high school pool I’d ever seen.  The competition facility was eight lanes wide by twelve feet deep and had new-looking double-lane lines and deep aluminum gutters all the way around.  These things reduced wake and therefore drag, ensuring a smooth, glassy surface for competition.  Mt. Caramel also had a separate warm-up pool, which was shallow and maybe four lanes across, though this was not particularly unusual.  Fallbrook’s competition pool had only six lanes, but even we had a separate diving well.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Crunch: Too Much, Too Soon

You may remember me talking a bit about executing a “kamikaze fitness attack” for my buddy’s APFT last time out.  It probably sounded like at least half of a dumb idea, am I right?
Yeah.  It kinda was.
It’s been a humbling week, honestly.  If my mother was still alive, she’d be delighted.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#SBRLLR: First Taste of Glory (Part 4)

How different was Fallbrook from our previous home in New Bern, North Carolina?  
As spring approached, I saw the differences spelled out first hand on the front page of our local newspaper’s sports section.  The local high school beat writer ran a full half-page preview of the coming high school swim season, with a note about each of Fallbrook’s returning stars.  The last column started with the sentence, “Perhaps the fastest Warrior on this year’s team is freshman Dan Head…”
They were actually hyping my season, and it was insane.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Stupid Movie Reviews: Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets

Welcome to Stupid Movie Reviews!  This is a new, uh, maybe bi-weekly segment on the blog.  This week, we’re looking at a rather enjoyable stupid movie,Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets.