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SPORTS (permalink) 11.04.2016

i'm not sure how i was completely numb and dumb to this documentary for the last seven years but as the kids would say, OMG.

sometimes these gritty documentaries can move you to tears at the end when their masterful storytelling comes to a well architected culmination. but in this case, my thirteen year old alex, who drifted in and out of my office as i watched the show, put it most accurately when he told his mother, "dad cried lots through that whole movie". as nick cannon said after first hearing grace vanderwahl sing, "i wasn't expecting that". what an unassuming masterpiece.
you think football builds character.
it does not.
football reveals character.

i am not a believer in trailers but know most are (i previewed this one and it will not wreck the experience too much). that said, i very much enjoyed stumbling into this one blind for it was a most lovely surprise.

SPORTS, TELEVISION (permalink) 08.31.2016
that special time of year
are you ready for some football??? !!! if not, the folks at amazon and netflix have the elixir you require in two top-flight documentaries.

first is ALL OR NOTHING. this one was for-sure made possible by the decades of great ground work done by NFL films and the hard knocks folks because it is like a grown-up, evolved version of hard knocks AND has lots of the heart-wrenching moments offered by the classic NFL films offerings.

my favorite quote from this series was:
if it is to be, it is up to me.

- possibly the longest obscenity-free string of words ever put together by bruce arians (he was quoting a preacher which may explain that).

the second show is LAST CHANCE U, another documentary about the highest performing junior college football program in the nation. i avoided that initially thinking it was tv series but the second i heard it was a documentary i popped in to try it out. i did not regret that decision. holy smokes was it well done.

my favorite quote from that series was:
don't let someone else's misbehavior affect your peace of mind.

last chance U coach quoting ghandi maybe (don't recall who they credited).

and if you're not ready or into football, then watch netflix's STRANGER THINGS. anthony and i got watching that and were quickly joined by others in the family given how stellar it was.

as a rule i try to not watch tv. like any. but dang are these show makers making it hard. while there is an astonishing amount of dreck being churned out daily for our DVR equipped masses, the top flight stuff that finds its way to press is truly top flight. crazy impressive how good some folks are at this business. granted, it is equally curious how poor some of the other stuff is.

KIDS, SPORTS (permalink) 04.09.2015
alex times two
alex has played soccer for several years. over this span, he has developed into quite the defensive specialist, namely because the first team he played on got whooped up on pretty regular so we had lots of practice defending the goal. and, alex was the team's prize student in this regard understanding how to position himself to disrupt shots on goal, harassing players as to not let them get situated and the like.

one problem alex possessed when playing defense is he always had a giant smile on his face. several times i explained he should try to smile less or at least less enthusiastically because a smiling defensemen did not seem very intimidating, but some parts of nature cannot be controlled (exhibit 1, exhibit 2, exhibit 3, exhibit 4, need i go on?)

alex's second team had an unnatural number of kids who ravenously loved soccer and played constantly. this equated to a lot of natural scorers and there's nothing a bevy of goal-minded kids loves more than a kid who likes playing defense because it means less time sharing the spotlight which means more shots on goal. this meant alex became a quick star on his team because he was one of the few kids who always asked to play dee.

but thanks to some gentle nudges from the coaches over the years (and surely helped by some blowouts where they were trying to pull the big guns off the front line), alex found himself on the offensive side of the field. as you'd expect, it is surely a different game up there and you could see alex working through the math of it all.

his intuition about the sport has been visibly improving but he'd yet to score a goal. then this last weekend, he scored not one but two goals in a game. after the first, when he turned from the goal to run back to middle field you could have seen the white of his smile from two pitches away, which sounds impressive until you consider that you could have seen my smile, FIVE pitches away.

KIDS, SPORTS (permalink) 10.09.2014
and you sir?
another noteworthy detail about this year's ms150 rides. for two riders to ride in two events, we needed to raise a total of $800. last year for our one event, a twelve year-old bella raised her $200 in a couple of hours by walking the neighborhood. i fell well short of my fundraising goal and when it was all over, the organization charged my credit card for the owed balance. marty was thoroughly non-plussed by this. when i asked marty if she really wanted her middle-aged husband going door to door beggin' money so he could share this experience with our daughter she replied, cooly, that if it would get that charge off her credit card, yes, that is what she wants. when marty learned the fundraising goal this year was $800 she pounced telling me i better get my butt our there and start begging for money. bella quickly came to my defense saying she would raise all the money ... and she did. well almost all of it. a co-worker who has a sibling with MS donated $20 to my cause. bella raised the other $780. and this time she had to go out more than once to hit the mark. this year took her three trips out.

i considered the inequity of it but in the end deemed it ok as i was going to a lot of trouble with the planning and room reservations and such so it seemed fair to leave philanthropic-work, which bella enjoys and is good at, to bella--the whole divide and conquer bit. plus i figured no one knew what a slacker i was, that is until bella and i got interviewed at one of the rest stops by a woman with a microphone that got amplified to the whole rest stop. the lady asked bella how she went about her fundraising and asked how much she raised. the woman, and surrounding crowd, were most impressed with the young girl's accomplishment. the woman then turned to me, saying she was excited to see how much the father of such a spirited young lady raised. there was an almost audible trombone sounding "wah wah waaah" after the words "twenty dollars" left my lips.

KIDS, SPORTS (permalink) 10.08.2014
the bike-slayer
it occurred to me that i didn't give an update about the ms ride bella and i did in kansas, the week after the nebraska ride (ref). here are bella's milage totals for the two weeks:

nebraska, day 1 50 miles
nebraska, day 2 35 miles
kansas, day 1 35 miles
kansas, day 2 70 miles
4 DAY TOTAL 190 miles (with five days of rest between the two sets of rides)

during our training leading up to the rides bella and i would usually do two rides a week. on the weekend we'd do a long, wild ride between 25 and 35 miles. and during the week, usually on wednesday we'd bike a park near our house that has a 7 mile loop where bella does between 2 and 5 laps. were it not raining on the wednesday between NE and KS we would have probably done a couple of laps in the park which would have taken bella over 200 miles for the eight days.

when i was thirteen, while i biked to school and to friends' houses, i never went anywhere near the sort of miles bella is logging. i'm wildly impressed by her ability. i'm also wildly thankful for the time together the activity is affording us.

VIDEO, LIFE, SPORTS (permalink) 10.07.2014
love this guy!

KIDS, SPORTS (permalink) 08.14.2014
double the miles, double the states, double the memories.
last year bella and i rode in missouri's ms150 charity ride. at that event bella learned that there are ms150 rides all over the nation. excitedly she said we should try to ride one in every state. always up for some time on the bike i easily agreed. i should have given an ounce more thought of who i was talking to. longish story short, bella and i are riding in not one but two rides this year. the first one is in nebraska and then a week later in kansas.

she picked those states for the relative flatness as she doesn't feel ready for a ton of miles on a ton of hills.

she picked two states because she said i won't live long enough for us to do it one state at a time. watching her do the math in front of me was most lovely. you have to love a math equation that begins with the phrase, "so dad, you are, well, well there's just no nice way to say it, you are really old so if we are going to do this we're going to have to work a little harder."

she also took my pledge sheet and hit the streets. i got in trouble last year because i didn't make my minimum pledge amount and just wrote a check out of the family account for the balance. marty was non-plussed about my pilfering cash from the family coffers. bella was non-plussed at my lack of initiative. so in gratitude to her mother for letting her take time off school for the rides and to show her decrepit father how it is done bella canvassed our neighborhood with both of our pledge sheets and collected $500 of the needed $800 in three days. i will confess she does make it look rather trivial.

so if you'd like to come cheer us on, or ride along, we'll be in nebraska the weekend of september 6th and in kansas the week of september 13th.

VIDEO, SPORTS (permalink) 05.16.2014
bubble soccer

KIDS, SPORTS, HEALTH, PHOTO (permalink) 09.10.2013
ms150 2013 photo recap

day 1 start

middle game


end of day 1 smile

end of day 1 selfie

end of day 1 stats

end of day 2 smiles

KIDS, SPORTS, HEALTH (permalink) 09.09.2013
she did it!
on saturday, bella rode 44 miles in the first day of the MS charity ride.

on sunday, bella rode 43 miles in the second day of the MS charity ride.

if you recall, a week ago sunday bella completed a 28 mile training ride and followed that up on the monday holiday with a 30 mile training ride.

this puts her grand total over the last eight days on the bike at 145 miles. sprinkle in the usual getting around she does during the school week and she easily logged more than 150 miles for the week.

i should add that miles 2 through 9 of yesterday's ride were completed in a downpour. this was a rain so complete that when you drove your leg downward in the pedal stroke, bursts of water shot up between your toes given how water-logged your sock and shoe were. about five miles into this rain, a rain that didn't look to be relenting anytime soon, i pulled up next to bella and asked how she was doing. without looking my way she said, "i'm in hell ... but i'm not quitting." and as noted, above, she did not, completing the day's full 40 mile route.

and that's my sweet 12-year old girl who continues to amaze and astonish her father anew year after year. thanks to all of those who supported her/us on the ride.

SPORTS, TRAVEL, FRIEND (permalink) 04.11.2013
last week i visited my orthopedist about my shoulder. this would be the same man who laid his healing hands on my knee a few years back and took me from a guy known for a trick knee for the last twenty years to a guy known to run-down every ball on the tennis court. after some x-rays and range of motion checks it was declared that i had a separated shoulder. thankfully, it is a non-surgical condition and he gave me prescriptions for anti-inflamatories, pain-killers and rehabilitation.

three days later i flew out for my annual ski mancation with bookguy. although it hasn't been so annual the last few years because of an aggravated knee one year (me) and a torn muscle another year (him). this proved quite sad to both of us as we had a nice ten year run on our ski trips (and there hasn't been one of them where we haven't been overtly mistaken for a gay couple multiple times. this is good medicine for bookguy). even before the shoulder diagnosis (and while i could still barely raise my arm) i declared the trip to be on and that if i couldn't ski, i'd just hang out in the condo and we'd hang out at night and while traveling which for sure accounts for a large part of the enjoyment every year. additionally, a moment that further solidified my decision to go is when i was letting bookguy know about my shoulder injury, he deflatedly expressed his dissapointment saying our ski trip is one of the few traditions he has in his life and feared it was slipping away. i'm someone who feels traditions have been taking a serious beating in our country and our lives in recent decades and should be protected similar to an endangered species, so if there was any doubt for me earlier, there was no doubt now.

thankfully the meds made my pain and discomfort disappear like a fart in a theater seat. granted i knew this was a facade but i also knew from prior rehabs that part of the battle is continuing the use of your injured limb and working it out (granted, there is the other side of me that believes a body sending signals of pain to your brain is telling you to take things easy for awhile). but, after much deliberation on my part, upon arriving on the mountain and continuing to have my arm "feel" ok, i decided to get some skis and try things out. curiously, physically i felt fine but mentally, my crash was still fresh in my head and proved paralyzing, so much so that bookguy and i joked it looked like i didn't come here to engage in the sport of skiing but instead simply in the act of stopping. in thinking about it, in thirty years of skiing i've never been injured in a fall (keeping in mind, twenty of those years i had no acl in my right knee.). now that i have been cut, i couldn't shake the fear of it happening again.

finally, after a few days patiently working myself back into the game, i started looking more like i once had. and in a shared effort, a tradition and a life-long sports love are salvaged to be enjoyed another day.

SPORTS, TRAVEL (permalink) 03.26.2013
a day of firsts
friday offered many firsts for me.

on friday i skied down a mountain slope with my entire family for the first time.

on friday i skied down an intermediate blue run with my boys for the first time.

on friday i visited the first aid center of a mountain resort for the first time.

on friday i was told i didn't dislocate my shoulder or break my collar-bone (and only experienced a blunt-force trauma to my shoulder) for the first time.

it turns out tuesday has a first or two in store for me as well. like, having to lift my hurt arm onto my desk with my good arm to type the sentence you are now reading.

and i reckon tuesday will also involve a concerned call with my mancation partner who i'm slated to ski with in two weeks.

SPORTS (permalink) 02.05.2013
it's only weird if it doesn't work.
i skipped out on a super bowl party this year to watch the game at home, alone. when marty returned from the party she said a conversation took place about my absence, namely that no one thought i cared about either of the teams enough to need to be alone and found it curious i didn't join marty and the kids at our good friend's party. marty confessed ignorance to my thinking and confessed it be just another one of her husband's quirks that isn't interesting or relevant enough to investigate further (in other words, there's lower hanging and better tasting fruit to be had).

after marty told me of the conversation i explained that i had come to a realization about super bowl parties. i likened them to going to see a really good movie, say like The Godfather, for the very first time, and for this viewing you're going to a public space to watch it with a bunch of other folks but the catch is this -- only half the people in the room are potentially interested in watching The Godfather. see the problem? a good football game, like a good movie, has the high potential of being a special, spectacular even, experience, and i like to reserve the right to jump and shout and swear like it were real life footloose in my study.

and yes, i do know this adds to the theory that i'm a peculiar and priggish ass.

but what makes me less of a priggish ass is that i'd love to share in dinner conversation with anyone in attendance, especially since i heard i missed a conversation about spanking (partners not kids) that i'm sure i would have thoroughly enjoyed ... just not when the super bowl or godfather is playing.

and, something else many could probably guess about me if asked. my favorite commercial ... the god made a farmer spot. i love me some thoughtfully blended words and imagery (i'm torn if i love the impassioned reading or the picture of the busted up thumbnails more -- too close to call).

kudos to the for sure QB killers of the 2012 playoffs -- luck, manning, brady, kaepernick -- no small line-up for the ravens. and as for my rooting for the ravens. my first nfl love is the pittsburgh steelers. my second is some fundamental and head-strong AFC-style defense.

and how amazing was it that kaepernick's interception was the first interception ever thrown by a 49ers quarterback in a super bowl. and that would be in six super bowl appearances by the team. montana and young were quite the butt-cuttin' studs, no?

SPORTS, TRAVEL (permalink) 08.06.2012
the most triumphant moment of my break
i started biking in my mid twenties. technically my biking journey began after marty commented that i looked a little doughy in the middle. surely when we met, thanks to a job unloading tractor trailers, i had a predominately dough-free middle. after some research and recruiting a friend to help, i bought a bike. my first ride, to marty's family home, was five miles long and concluded with a short but steep hill. to climb it i had to turn in a big circle every fifty feet or so to give my muscles enough of a break to continue the ascent. after that abysmal first showing i declared that i would ride this bike every day for one year, and i did. in this time, there were beautiful days but there were also rainy ones, and snowy ones, and ones that were so cold that i had to, mid-ride, stuff newspapers down my pants to keep the wind off my junk. the dough, largely, went away.

over the years, my rides got longer. by the end of the first year i could go out for twenty miles without great fear of not making it back. then in my late twenties while visiting my home town, i decided to try a ride some friends of mine once did. so i grabbed my $300 bike and my one bike bottle and set out to ride from fort collins to estes park. this was a thirty-five mile trek, one way, twenty five of them being straight uphill. after half a day of peddling and strain, i crested the final hill, rolled into estes and ate lunch on the front lawn of the stanley manor.

i've tried that ride three times since then, twice in my thirties and once in my forties. none of those attempts proved successful. the first time i got beat mentally and turned back on my own (i later learned i only had to round one more bend and i would have been there), the second failed attempt i didn't respect letting your body acclimate to the altitude and attempted the ride less than twelve hours after arriving in the state and couldn't breath (that time i didn't even make it five miles up the canyon), and the last time i just gassed out halfway up (due to an aging body and poor nutrition plan).

obviously these failed attempts have been plaguing me and besting that ride has been on my shortlist since the last time i didn't make it. last thursday, our last day of a two week colorado vacation (ensuring proper acclimation time), i attempted the ride, and with what was not a trivial bit of exertion i completed the ride for the first time in more than fifteen years. truth is i'd say i'm presently in the best shape of my life. in thinking through why i struggled so much in the last five miles, i attribute it to our vacation lifestyle. in each of the in the seven days before the ride, we had some physical family adventure. these mostly included hiking, canoeing, water-worlding, and even stand-up wake-boarding. the day before the ride we went on a four mile mountain hike that took us above the treeline (more on this soon). the hike in was the equivalent of climbing two miles worth of stairs, well, that is, if the stairs were uneven, of varying heights and never level. when i recount the happenings of the prior week, i think it's amazing i even came close to completing the ride as in some regards the deck has never been more stacked against me making it. certainly a testament to what swimming has done for me.

another, fortunate part of the experience was a few months back i mentioned this plan to bookguy who happened to be spending the summer months in new mexico. he had the notion of driving up and doing the ride with me. while there were many neat things that came from his participation, selfishly, the coolest were the pictures he snapped of me coming around the last bend and casting a fifteen year monkey off my back. i didn't know he was clicking off these pictures and he was obviously holding up far better than myself as taking pictures was the last thing on my mind while he was busy riding the same hill as me but shooting pics at the same time.

grinding out the last hundred feet
on the way back down bookguy made a most poignant comment. he said you don't realize how impressive climbing this hill is until you blast down it the other way. the reason for this is there is something difficult about gauging terrain in the mountains. there are times you look ahead and are sure you're looking at a downhill slope and wonder why you're struggling so on it. i imagine you could liken it to a mirage seen by a parched castaway. it's not until you fly down the other direction that you realize there were no downslopes at all and you just climbed a twenty five mile hill.

cresting the last bit of hill
i wasn't able to stand very long as my right quad cramped the second i'd lift out of the seat. this inability to vary how i approached the hills in the last few miles surely didn't do me any favors. in the end, i don't think i'd ever been so glad to see the end of a climb.

entering estes park proper
bookguy was miffed at the bad luck of having some guy taking out his trash just as i was passing the sign. marty felt the pedestrian chore gave the picture some good and real flavor. liking authentic imagery, i think i side with marty on its presence.

bookguy and i on the lawn of the stanley
just below this phenomenally picturesque veranda sits a pool. on this day it was unused and looked so cool and refreshing. the notion of hopping the fence and diving into the pool was the closest i've come to conducting an arrest-worthy offense, like, ever.

KIDS, SPORTS (permalink) 06.08.2012
it's possible i wouldn't do well in the majors.
i coached bella's softball team this year. i've helped coach many of the kids' teams but have never been the head coach. and yes, being the main guy is different, different in all of those stereotypical ways. in the end it was a fabulous experience, largely due to the group of girls who signed up. i know this is the universe being kind to me.

i believe i was a rather unorthodox coach. at the first practice we sat in a circle and played a name game i've used in teaching for more than twenty years (i'm horribly name challenged). i then explained to the girls that what was important to me was not how many games we won or lost but how much improvement each girl saw, individually, in themselves. so yes, i wanted them to be competitive but not with the other teams, with themselves. and that i didn't want our esteem to come from how we did against the other teams that signed up but instead from how much effort and focus we applied as individuals and as a group.

this was tested partway into the season after we won our first game and the girls were jumping up and down chanting, "we won! we won! we won!". after shaking hands with the other team, i called the girls over to the side away from everyone, had them sit down and told them, "ladies. we signed up to play a game called softball, not a game called win. every week we've come out here, win or lose, we've gotten to play softball. because we get to do every week what we signed up to do, you should show the excitement you showed today after every game, win or lose." during my talk the girls stared at me blankly. after my talk they all resumed their celebration, albeit more quietly when i was in earshot.

we had our final game of the season last weekend. the girls spirit was light and playful. after the game (a game we lost in the bottom of the final inning) they came and said they made up a cheer and asked if they could sing it. i said of course. so they huddled up and in unison cheered:

U-City Unicorns number one.
We just wanna have some fun.
We don't care if we-e win,
We just want to wear a grin.

as i stood and took this in, one word played through my head, "wow".

then we went for year-end ice cream.

SPORTS (permalink) 05.03.2012
you just got faced!
whenever bella hears me talking to anyone about swimming, she sidles up next to me and waits for a break in the conversation. when one comes she proudly announces that she can swim faster than her dad. then realizing she has cast me in an embarrassing light, she softens the blow by confessing, "but there's a reason. you see, i'm a sprinter and he's a lengther."

QUOTES, SPORTS (permalink) 11.02.2011
loud and proud
i may have been the only guy in st louis who was hoping texas would win game seven. my logic, the cardinals got game six, it only seemed fair and just to give the series to the never-won rangers. that way everyone walks away with a positive. but it was not to be. in honor of their effort, allow me to share my all-time favorite texas-related string of words. it is a bit of advice from a texas father to his boy.
Son, it is very rude to ask a man where he is from. If he is from Texas, you will find out, and if he's not, don't embarrass him.
from a 1944 pro-texas booklet called Texas Brags that was put together by a fella named john randolph. i came upon it in a recent new york times magazine.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.19.2011
a good quarter for dearmitt stock
when i talked about swimming a mile and shared the schedule, i commented that it looked less impressive on paper than it felt achieving the goal. a surprising number of people commented on my choice of words and said i was wrong and it did look impressive. but yesterday one fellow in particular, a friend i used to work with, took it a giant step farther than the other folks by vividly proving me wrong.

fact of the matter is, he was a bit astonished that i didn't graph it myself and instead used a pedestrian and mockable table to showcase the data. i have no defense but his email charting my effort put a big and excited smile across my face. thank you ryan b.

and he named his chart tdawesome.

more smiles.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.05.2011
the road to 40 laps
some more to yesterday's post about swimming the mile. below you will find what is essentially my buildup to a mile after i learned how to decently swim a single lap (without looking completely embarrassing). the telling thing about the below data is that once you get to ten laps, the world starts opening up because if you can swim ten laps, you can almost surely swim twenty. and then if you can swim twenty, thirty is just around the corner. and after swimming thirty, forty ain't much more than a drip in an already full bucket.

swim date
total laps swam
max consecutive laps in a row
09/08 15 2
09/12 20 3
09/15 20 3
09/19 22 3
09/22 23 4
09/25 20 2
10/13 22 5
10/17 26 6
10/23 27 7
10/27 30 8
11/03 35 10
11/14 22 20
12/04 35 30
12/12 42 40

sadly, it looks far less impressive on paper than experiencing it did. and i imagine the same will hold true for my twenty year effort to get my time from 54:27 to 29:59.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.04.2011
for any wondering
you may remember my earlier declaration to swim a mile. on december 12, 2010 @ 2:20 pm, i joined the club of humans who can swim one mile.

transcript of a fictitious interview of myself by myself in the head of myself as i pulled myself out of the pool just after.

for those not familiar, how many laps do you have to swim to swim a mile?
well, there are two schools of thought here. some people quibble over the exact distance and claim anywhere from 33 to 36 laps is the number, but non-tourist divined something called the pool-mile which is simply 2,000 meters and in a 25-meter pool is an even 40 laps, or 80 lengths. this is what i swam, a pool-mile.

and how long did it take?
the first time i swam it, it took me 54 minutes.

how did you feel when you were done?
giddy, great and grand.

how long did it take you to be able to swim the mile?
technically, three years, but i started not knowing how to swim. the first year was learning the stroke, the freestyle, which some folks call the crawl. the second year was spent learning how to breathe, while swimming the crawl of course. and the third year was mostly about conditioning and bringing it all together.

now that you've achieved this goal, what will you do next?
well, regarding swimming, i plan on swimming one mile, once a week for the rest of my life with the hope of getting my time to under 30 minutes. regarding the next thing i'm going to learn to do, i've named knitting as the thing i will focus on in 2011.

well, it was going to be drawing, but i was convinced (or rather cajoled and coerced) by a new friend to switch to knitting. actually she won me over with a cogent and spirited argument which i'm now glad and excited about.

and is there a knitting goal akin to the mile?
yes. to knit a sweater like the two jCrew ones i've been wearing for the last fourteen years.

and do you think a year is enough time to learn how to do this?
i'm told it is.

and if it isn't?
i guess i'll just have to then knit me a thong to wear while swimming my laps. this should properly incentivize my teacher to see that i make my sweater goal.

QUOTES, SPORTS (permalink) 09.29.2010
i think he could safely expand who he claims could benefit from such advice
he's been a consummate professional and team player and good things usually happen for those kinds of people. i think that's a lesson a lot of young people in our locker room can learn.

steelers coach mike tomlin addressing the performance of his 4th string qb, charlie batch

SPORTS, HOW-TO, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 08.02.2010
jimmyD put the soul in my stroke
when bella was born i couldn't swim. swim officially that is. i could swim underwater and dog paddle, but no for real strokes. three years ago i set an annual goal for myself to swim a mile. that is with no-stopping, flip-turns and all. at my city pool, which is an olympic-sized pool with 50m lengths, this would mean 18 laps, or 36 lengths. for most pools, it would be 36 laps and/or 72 lengths.

after one summer with much help from marty and by studying other lap swimmers, i learned how to swim freestyle, which some people call the crawl. this was the stroke i chose because it is the style i most coveted when watching other swimmers. at the end of the first year i could swim a 50m length with a reasonable amount of effort and needing several minutes of rest afterwards and before moving to the next length. since two lengths were out of my reach, the 36 i needed were astronomically distant.

i continued working into the next summer. my stroke was improving but i was still very much struggling with the oxygen management. by this time i knew there was something tragically wrong in my technique. i kept practicing thinking that something would click, akin to learning to drive a manual transmission, and i would just figure it out. the click never came in year two. there was a bright spot however in that while on our summer vacation, the fifteen year old son of a family friend taught me how to do flip-turns while we stayed with them for a week. i didn't get the technique truly figured out and working for several weeks but he definitely gave me the tools i needed. so even though at the end of year two i seemed no closer to my goal of eighteen laps, i was invigorated by my ability to do a flip-turn (a skill that was far more daunting than the actual swimming).

this is my third year working on this goal and i 'm calling saturday, july 31, 2010 (@12:30pm) the day i learned to swim, for real, because on this day the click came. it started as every one before it had. i drove to the pool, found an open lane, set my towel and stuff down on a chair, slid into the water, glanced at the pristine blue sky, stared down the 50m lane, got my goggles situated, took several deep breaths, thought about my mechanics, and pushed off just as i had hundreds of times before. but this time was different because this time i reached the other side ... and with plenty left in my tank. no racing against my fading breath. no pulling up. no switching my stroke to an above water option mid-way. i just went and went and went and went and then i saw the painted T at the bottom of the pool and i was there. elation! i rested for a few moments and pushed off back the other way. stroke, stroke, stroke, T. more elation. and i would go on to be elated six more times that day. and eight more the next.

it seems my stroke did not have a pronounced enough body swivel in the water and in addition to being inefficient was causing me to swim 'flat' which was making it hard for me to get good breaths of air. i'm crediting getting over this three year hurdle to a confident-rich, moxy-full kid i've never met named jimmy dshea. he posted a youTube video about the freestyle and stressed the importance of swiveling your body. his emphasis put this in my head and made me more conscious of this mechanic the next time i swam, which was this last saturday.

so while i still haven't yet gotten my mile, i now possess everything i need and plan on making quick work of this next bit. for my next challenge, i'm going to try to become as charismatic as my new and revered swim mentor, jimmy dshea.

SPORTS (permalink) 04.23.2009
what you could be doing instead of manscaping

SPORTS (permalink) 02.02.2009
roethlisberger looked like stallone in rocky III
a couple of people have congratulated me on my team winning the super bowl. don't bother. i found myself rooting for the other guys. in the end i was far more enamored with the spirited and determined whisenhunt and warner over the privileged roethlisberger and tomlin.

given all the weapons, the defense and the history on the steelers sideline, the arizona cardinals should have been out of that game after the third possession. yet there they were in the final seconds still trading blows with the steeler goliath. pittsburgh is lucky they possessed ten times the braun as the cardinals because they surely didn't have them matched in passion, drive or pluck.

SPORTS (permalink) 01.22.2009
a super bowl prediction and theory
let me first say that i grew up a steelers fan. let me next say i'm still a steelers fan. let me add that i've never rooted against the steelers or ever doubted their ability to win a game. all that said i think the vastly superior steelers are going to lose the super bowl to the just burgeoning cardinals.

here's the deal.

three years ago the head coach of the steelers announced his retirement. rumored and favored to take the spot was the steelers offensive coordinator, a man named ken whisenhunt. whisenhunt had been with the steelers for five years and was responsible for the offense which had just won them the super bowl the year before. when it came time to name a successor to bill cowher, for reasons never made public, the steelers decided to go with someone other than whisenhunt. whisenhunt immediately quit and went on to become the head coach of the arizona cardinals.

now the cardinals suck. the cardinals have always sucked. and they surely sucked when whisenhunt took over. yet, just four games into the job, his former team, the undefeated steelers strolled into the arizona desert only to get their ass handed to them by a one and two team now managed by their former offensive coordinator.

whisenhunt doesn't like pittsburgh. whisenhunt has something to prove. whisenhunt has a fire in his belly that is burning hotter than anyone else at the table. guys like that don't sleep and people who don't sleep are hard to beat. i wish you luck pittsburgh but i also hope you appropriately watch your ass because someone is seriously out to chew it up and eat it twice.

update: i'm aware this story is being glossed over and whisenhunt is saying he holds no angst towards the pittsburgh organization. i'd buy a dell computer before i'd buy that story.

PERSONAL, SPORTS (permalink) 07.31.2007
oh marty, can i see you for a moment?
bella spent the last two weeks at a circus camp. bella has been pretty keen on circusy stuff since seeing a trapeze artist perform at a shakespeare festival a few years back (when the girl we were watching finished bella was the first to rise and exuberantly applaud). at the conclusion of this camp bella informed us that she would be conducting her own camp at home for us, her family. marty and i nodded in support saying that was a fine idea and then dismissed it. moments after getting out of bed the next morning bella came up to me, handed me a sheet of name badges and told me to get ready because class was about to begin.


bella set her school up in our living room. she placed every pillow in the house in the center of the floor. marty somehow got a pass which left me, alex and anthony as bella's only pupils. she began by running us through a series of tuck and roll drills. next bella and i worked on a move where she stands on my shoulders, her arms stretched wide in the air (we're getting pretty good at this maneuver if you ever see us and would like a viewing). next i had to work on a headstand. bella demonstrated how to start out which is this precarious upside-down tripod like pose which i can't even begin to describe. once you're in it though and have your balance you are to raise your legs vertically in the air. i couldn't believe how hard it was to straighten my legs perfectly upright without haphazardly tipping over. seeing me struggle bella came to spot me and started trying to push and hold my legs up. watching, from my inverted view, her laborious attempt to get me into position made me start laughing, much to the chagrin of my six year old spotter. she let go and i fell flat still laughing. i was chastised for not being serious and having such heavy legs. fortunately this impasse concluded our first day of tutelage.

as we wrapped up bella informed me that for our real production to the neighborhood folks a few weeks out i would have to wear appropriate attire which is a leotard. when i confessed to not having one she said i'd have to make one. when i said i didn't know how to sew she said aunt cheri did and i should get her help. since aunt cheri lives in chicago i told bella i thought i could maybe fashion one out of a t-shirt. embarrassingly, this wasn't a lie. a friend of mine told me how her ten year old son got this notion of making a wrestlers bib. to do so, while naked he put on a t-shirt and then stretched it down into his groin and clipped the front and back together with a safety-pin. he was quite proud of his creation and ran around the house playing for a bit. when it came time to take it off, he hit some trouble. he found he was unable to get a good enough handle on the safety pin to undo it. he obviously became vexed by this and went to his mother somewhat distressed. she studied the situation and concluded there was only one way to approach the predicament; roll her sleeves up and go in. i'm convinced it is these unique moments that happen behind the closed doors of people's homes that create the special bonds that make families close and forever connected. because there is little doubt that if i performed a similar service for someone we're either related or seriously dating. the only question remaining is who is the lucky soul living in my house getting tapped when papa troy needs to make tinkle in the potty between acts.

SPORTS, TV (permalink) 07.11.2007
the apa recommends plastic bubbles for all children under the age of 15
in regard to my wistful helmet-free bike memory yesterday, i'm in a bit of a snit over this. i predict that within twenty years all children will wear helmets while simply walking around out of doors. why? because some kid in minnesota will have tripped on an uneven seam of sidewalk thus illuminating the obvious perils of cement-based ambulation. and our children will then share their wistful recollections of a youth rife with chasing lightning bugs and playing hop-scotch sans headgear.

on the positive side, head sheaths of the future will be much more stylish and unobtrusive.

and speaking of head-related peril, i recently had one of my most surreal conversations ever. me and this guy, breckenridge pete, were talking about the sopranos and he was telling me about his three points of contention with the show. if you haven't watched the whole series and plan to ... stop reading because spoilers follow ... he primarily cited three plot-lines he was dissatisfied with:
  1. the lack of closure on adrianna's disappearance.
  2. the lack of closure on the pending rico case against tony.
  3. and like many others, the lack of closure with the ending itself.

i defended the last point by saying there isn't a follower of the show that won't remember HOW the sopranos ended. he quietly nodded in agreement and then went on to add:

and, i didn't like the phil leotardo hit either.

why not? too wacky with the car and the head and the puking youngsters.

no, not that. it's just that a human head is stronger than you think.

WHAT! are you telling me that an SUV wouldn't have rolled over a guy's head like that.

not if it was just rolling out of gear like that. no way.


really. it would never happen. the human skull is actually quite rigid.

you say this with some level of conviction. do i want to know how you've come to believe this?

i'm guessin' not.

and i'm guessin' breckenridge pete might buck some current day notions were his kids were still members of the trikes and skates contingent.

SPORTS, KIDS (permalink) 06.15.2007
restored to its original state
when i'm on my game and living life according to troy, saturday mornings begin with a 35-mile bike ride through some of the most finely paved and tree-lined streets my city has to offer. between the newish job and even newer baby life according to troy has gotten slightly manipulated and disfigured. until now.

the renovation began with a doctor's visit late last year. specifically when my physician walked into the exam room, his eyes focused on the chart he was leafing through.

so mr dearmitt. if my math is right it says here that you've gained seventeen pounds since i last saw you (more leafing) fourteen months ago. this can't be right can it?

yeah, i'd suggest a new scale.

so what's going on with you? where's this weight coming from?

would you believe it's muscle-mass?

for the first time his eyes leave the chart to look me up and down. he then resumed reading the chart saying, "No, I wouldn't". that is where my recovery began. six months later, i'm back down a belt-loop and am comfortably slipping into my nine-article wardrobe. the best of all news is through spinning three times a week i finally felt my conditioning was back to a point where i could resume my saturday treks. on the first morning i suited up to leave, alex upon seeing me said he wanted to come. i explained that this ride was too long for him to pedal himself. he quickly, desperately almost, said he could ride in the bike carrier. i explained that i would be gone for several hours and he would get bored. he quickly said he would not get bored, promised even, and could he please, please, please ride in the rickshaw carrier. ten minutes later, i'm hooking the carrier to my bike (this child is dangerously cute). while doing so, i speculate, with occupant, it is about the performance equivalent of dragging a roped cinder block behind me. and i get this fifty pound break on my first return to the road.

i gotta say alex was a champ. while we didn't make it the full thirty-five we did do thirty and it wasn't him but me that made the choice to head home. the added weight and extra pee-in-the-bushes stops bumped the usual two-hour ride to a whopping three and half hour event, but it was wonderful. truly. every comment and expression alex made was one of enjoyment and appreciation. he even took about a thirty minute nap towards the end.

the one and only possible downside to the morning was i started getting the sense that some of the people seeing us were quietly cursing my parental selfishness, saying ...

look at that man! making his child ride in that uncomfortable bike contraption just so he can go out and ride his fancy bicycle. big important man and his big important exercise. the nerve of some people.

in response to these folks (or this neurosis) i've already affixed a sign to the back of the carrier. it reads simply: he asked to come.

SPORTS (permalink) 06.12.2007
a sage and nimble man once said
the five rules of a marshall dunn tennis clinic:
  1. always cock and ready your arm before swinging.
  2. never take your eye off the ball.
  3. always follow through on your swing.
  4. never change a winning game.
  5. always change a losing game.
oh, and whenever dispensing this advice he adds that all rules also apply to life itself.

TRAVEL, PHOTO, SPORTS (permalink) 03.05.2007
for those who guessed salt lake city, utah, you were spot on
in reviewing the photos from this year's ski adventure (none of which were taken by me), i pulled a few out of the stack that i thought made this trip unique. in what i suppose is not an unexpected move, of all these photos, the last one is my absolute favorite and is oddly the one that takes me back to the mountain more than the others. the mind is a curious, and sometimes twisted, thing. you can click on any of the images to enlarge.

SCIENCE, SPORTS (permalink) 10.18.2006
there is a difference
i don't exercise to look and feel good, but rather so i don't look and feel bad.

TRAVEL, SPORTS (permalink) 02.23.2006
don't hate me cuz it's beautiful

(click to enlarge)

SPORTS, FRIENDS (permalink) 02.06.2006
in the end, you just have to suck less than your opponent
late saturday i received an email with the simple and concise subject 'STEELERS SUCK'. the following thread ensued.

TO:   troy
FROM:   a girl who looks like my nyc sister-in-law
MESSAGE:   um,

Steelers suck.



TO:   a girl who looks like my nyc sister-in-law
FROM:   troy
MESSAGE:   now how could you be so mean to such a mop-headed and cute young lad?

care to make it interesting? loser makes sunday brunch for the others family.


(see, that's a smart bet on my part cuz i got more family for you to feed should i win, and more family to wipe dna on your food should i lose.)

TO:   troy
FROM:   a girl who looks like my nyc sister-in-law
MESSAGE:   Game on.

I work in a hospital, DNA doesn't scare me.


TO:   a girl who looks like my nyc sister-in-law
FROM:   troy
MESSAGE:   i don't even know what to say to that, not being afraid of dna.

and, now i don't know if i want to win or lose.



so my people like pancakes. and marty and bella like droopy bacon while alex and myself prefer it crispy. although alex has been known to eat droopy bacon if that's all there is on the plate and bella has been known to eat bacon raw if you leave the kitchen while it's out on the counter.

and truth told, i haven't seen such a confident position on foreign dna since frequenting drive-throughs with big dog back in the day. i pay homage to your ability to disregard the horrifying.

cautionary note: we have sunday breakfast in our pajamas. and i don't really have any pajamas so i may need someone to warm my chair before taking my seat.

SPORTS (permalink) 02.03.2006
one for the thumb baby

hello pittsburgh steelers. long time fan, first time caller. please get 'er done this weekend. i've been patiently waiting and i suck at patiently waiting. thanks. i'll look for my response off the air.

WEB, PHOTO, SPORTS (permalink) 03.09.2005
if you've walked by me in the last 36 hours and heard me tittering privately, it just means i'm looking at this picture again.

i'm not sure if marty finds it endearing or embarrassing that i laugh uncontrollably at things like this.

and let us not forget these other great moments in sports.
every expression in this picture is priceless
and will we ever forget this poor, poor girl

SPORTS (permalink) 10.07.2003
for the more sports-sheltered among you
first, i'm not a huge football fan. i like it, watch it occasionally but am an inconsistent follower. moreover, i've never been a great fan of the tampa buccaneers or indianoplis colts but just in case you are less of an enthusiast than me, something totally awesome happened last night.

to set the stage you must know that it really began long ago. you see, the tampa buccaneers have always sucked ... a lot. they had a couple of good years but the law of averages mandates this.

then six years ago the owners, the glazer family, finally made a bright decision and hired a coach named tony dungy. he is a calm and resolute man and gets results through his intelligent and consistent ways. he took on the global issue of rebuilding this greatly addled buccaneers franchise and achieved remarkable results for a collection of athletes and coaches who were coming off 13 consecutive losing seasons.

four years after his hiring the owners unceremoniously fired him, feeling his results were not as expeditious as they would like. they replaced him, luckily, with an aggressive and equally competent john gruden who picked up where dungy left off and took advantage of his fortunate position.

last night, dungy's new team, the indianapolis colts, came into tampa on monday night and beat the buc's number 1 rated defense in the most spectacular comeback i've ever seen.

to quote al michael's statistician, "no team in NFL history has won a game after trailing by 21+ points with fewer than four minutes left in the fourth quarter."

until now. four friggen minutes. it was absolutely amazing.

welcome to the life of righteous retribution glazer family because you just took a huge drag from the ever-loved karma pipe.

SPORTS, HUMOR, NEWS (permalink) 10.30.2002
an all-new level of shrinkage
just in case anyone hasn't yet heard about this guy at the Calgary hockey game who stripped naked and jumped on the ice, slipped and knocked himself out, i thought i'd share the following photo from the event.

it is possibly one of the best shots of this ilk i've seen in some time, capturing the mood of a moment. the range of expressions from the people looking on is astounding. and how the supports for the glass obstruct the guys package is also perfect.

i've also included an account from someone who was supposedly sitting next to the guy.

thanks for the forward bomber.

SPORTS (permalink) 03.21.2002
my money's on the mousey one
this landed in my inbox the other day. it's safe to say that i haven't felt more intrigued by an event for many events.

SPORTS (permalink) 02.05.2002
what happened in there?
the best thing about living in the city of the super bowl's losing team is the parade scheduled for downtown on the next day during the afternoon rush hour is canceled.

the worst thing about living in the city of the super bowl's losing team is the work restrooms seem to be extra cantankerous from the culinary offerings at all the super bowl parties. although i imagine this could be the case all over the country, the digestive tracts of many a rams fan seemed to be hating life a little more than usual on this particular day.

SPORTS (permalink) 01.28.2002
the steelers saved me from being real conflicted next week.

do i even need to say suck?

SPORTS (permalink) 08.28.2001
i can see your funnybone
While I have recently discovered that I can gaze upon photos of Angelina Jolie, Martina Hingis and/or Winona Ryder all day long, I could look at this individual photo of this individual woman all week long. I'm chilled, awed, moved, and stimulated all at the same time.

SPORTS (permalink) 08.02.2001
First you say and then you do it
I am 99.9% certain if I did this I would do this. Hence, I have not done that.

SPORTS (permalink) 07.03.2001
perhaps you can open the door for me
equal pay, rights and respect has got to be right around the corner if this is any indicator.

SPORTS (permalink) 04.30.2001
I could have been a contender
Marty was recently bragging to a mutual friend on my ability to skip like the wind. I can actually skip faster than I can run, and I bet that with some time, training and commitment, many of you could as well. My question is why has this fundamental form of human movement and transportation been so overlooked by not only us as a public but also by the sporting world at large. I for one would like to see the 10K skip introduced to annual events, and why not at the Olympic level. I mean they have medals for shuffleboard or some shuffleboard like activity. Where?s the justice in that?

SPORTS (permalink) 07.29.2000
Do you know what the USLPA is? Odds are your kids do. The United States Land Polo Association is all the rage among a young generation. The sport that coined the warcry "Gas, grass or ass...No one scores free" is back and stronger than ever. Here you will find excerpts from the 1996 Land Polo Turkey Tournament Program.

   Rules and Regulations
   1996 Turkey Tournament Participants

SPORTS (permalink) 06.21.2000
Monday Night Miller
Possibly the first sound decision out of the Monday Night Football team in over a decade. Dennis, or Denny to those close to him, is certain to breathe life into MNF's addled press box. For all of those nay-sayers out there, put your intellectual insecurities to the side and let Miller expand your minds and vocabulary. Now they just need to bring back the halftime show of the 80's where they do the recap of all the previous day's games to that super jazzy music (last years espn segment being a half-ass attempt at the original and superior format).

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