Great Winter Mistake

We haven’t had the easiest time getting the kids out in the snow. Jackson got snow in his mitten, or down his snow suit, or down his tighty-whiteies when he was tiny, so it was touch and go trying to get the kids to leave the house in the winter, to revel in the arctic variety of crap weather New England showers upon us.

But this year we turned the corner… this year we have had a couple wildly successful Gatchell Park sledding trips. So what shows up on the family agenda? Skiing. Apparently it’s now crucial to teach the kids how to ski. What!? Why!? Because their friends might learn how to ski and they’ll feel left out if they don’t ski.

Don’t get me wrong. Skiing is tons of fun. It really is. But it’s almost never worth the trouble or expense, and it’s really only fun after you’ve learned how to not die at it. The dirty secret about skiing is that sledding is more fun. People don’t like to talk about such things, but injected with truth serum, people will invariably admit that sledding is more fun than skiing, boogie boarding is more fun than surfing, and tubing is more fun than kayaking… especially if you’re going down the Saco river with a case of beer. Skiing is really only advisable if you’re Scandinavian AND you think you might have to fight the Russians on mountains. Otherwise… skiing is a mistake. It, like golf, should not be started, and if started on accident, it should be quickly quit.

Skiing was always expensive, but now it’s hellaholy%$#! expensive. Good luck finding a daily lift ticket for less than $50, and places like Vail are now charging something like $160 a day… for one person… not including a bloody mary. Then there’s the traipsing… lets not forget the traipsing if you have little kids. Unless you are a New Hampshire live free or dier or a Vermont granolaista, you’re looking at minimum an hour’s drive to get to anywhere decent… and probably much longer.

Your nightmare begins early as you pack a lunch and the little monsters into the minivan, forget something expensive that you’ll need to replace in the ski shop at the mountain, navigate the rental lines (not sure if they like this yet!), give a kidney for lift tickets, talk child one back into skiing as they try to not try skiing at the last minute, get their snow pants and boots on, take the snow pants and boots off one because he needs to use the bathroom even though you asked if he needed the bathroom before you put the boots and snow pants on, get their snow pants and boots back on, carry their skis and poles up to the base of the bunny hill, clip in their boots, pick one up as they fall over, and… if you’re lucky… hand a couple hundred dollar bills to the ski instructor and run like effing hell until you’re out of earshot.

If you’re unlucky… or suffer masochistic tendencies… you’ll be the parent “teaching” your kids how to ski. Good luck with that. You’re probably better off cracking a wine glass across the counter and jamming the jagged stem into your eye. Chances are overwhelming your young kids will hate skiing and/or you after a couple hours, but it’s not like you can just whip out a plastic sled at that point. No… at that point you’re stuck on a mountain, with a stupid sticker on a wire on your zipper, .with a whining or full-on-crying kid, with a headache like a hangover you didn’t earn, and without the kidney you left in the ski shop.

You could have been sledding.

Abby Joins Team Freedom!

Freedom is an apt name for Abby’s soccer team. Six-year-olds playing soccer are free from direction, free from organization, free from trapping before kicking, free from going toward the proper soccer goal… freedom for all!

I had fun putting on Abby’s shin guards. Abby had fun playing soccer. Even Jackson had fun (after an initial protest involving kicking AND screaming) chilling in the playground sand pit with a girlfriend from preschool, so soccer is working out for everyone.

The only downside was that another obvious sign that I’m officially old popped up. When one of the kids connected her foot to the soccer ball successfully, I said, “PELE!,” which was met by silence. Apparently Pele is not as well known to this generation… or maybe even the previous one… because most people just stared. I’m trying “RONALDO!” next time with a backup plan of just “awesome job everyone!”

Ring Around the Neck Recap

A few Striders ran the Ring Around the Neck in Marblehead on April 27.

This race is a home game for me, so I refused to let any of the Kays beat me. Actually… Sean was ahead of me for most of the race, but it looked like a small dog (Pekingese perhaps?) tried to attack his ankle on the far side of Marblehead Neck. My Rhodesian Ridgeback is absolutely useless, but this poorly-leashed ball of white fluff slowed Sean down enough for me to lurch ahead at the summit of the Neck and to begin the descent with renewed optimism. Young people really have no concept of how fast older people can go downhill.

Results are here:

Illustrated Map

Ring Around the Neck - 2014
Ring Around the Neck – 2014

About a Mile from Finish:


Real Maine Half-Marathon Results

The real results are in for the Maine Half-Marathon. Lindsey insisted she would not run under 9 minute miles. Lindsey has a problem telling the truth.

Thank you, wise Cathy, for teaching us that “Flabalanche” is not French-Canadian for “great party.”

[table id=9 /]

Full race results are available on the Maine Marathon site.

Andy’s victory over Matt runs Andy’s all-time record against Matt to 4W – 2L.

  • Matt won the Salem Common LCG Fat Boy Peck Challenge Run.
  • Andy won the Bridges 4 Friendship 10K Run.
  • Andy won the Jingle Bell 10K Run.
  • Andy won the Second Bridges 4 Friendship 10K Run.
  • Matt won the Trails to Ale 10K Run.
  • Andy won the Maine Half-Marathon by a technical decision.

Fake Maine Half-Marathon Results

Andy returns to the winner’s circle

Some of you may remember the unfortunate 2011 Trails to Ale race where Andy finished a disappointing second in the Hatem, Teter, Moore grudge match. Good news, readers, as Andy made a couple of adjustments* and finished in first place in this year’s running of the Maine Half-Marathon.

Asked for comment, Matt replied, “I’m pretty certain that Andy violated the spirit of competition by not telling me about the race, but I probably couldn’t have found the starting line in time anyway; hopefully Apple will have ironed out its iPhone maps by next year.”

Christian added, “I’m tired of this. Everyone knows that Andy has a serious competitive edge over me in distances less than 50 kilometers. I’m not fast, but I can go super slowly a lot longer than Andy can go moderately slowly. Super slow wins the race, friends, and I am the king of super slow.”

Christian’s wife lamented, “Andy brought Roctane, but he wouldn’t share any with me… and he has longer legs. Besides, I wasn’t really racing and I’m probably pregnant.”

*Adjustments included not inviting Matt and running against Christian’s wife who has incredibly short legs even for a “little person.”

Liger Moore

I asked Jackson to give me a sign that his athletic prowess would be sufficient for him to scholarship himself through college without any parental financial aid. The following still shots provided just the confidence I needed to cash in his nascent 529 Plan and book a trip back to Jamaica! Thanks, little buddy. Can’t wait for your first Masters.

Collectible Race Cards available soon!

Some race; some walk.

We are only about a week away from the long-awaited 10 Kilometer throwdown pitting Andy against both Christian “the turtle” Teter and Matt “helix pomatia” Hatem. This will be Andy’s first competitive race since he humiliated Hatem at the second Bridges for Friendship race sometime last millennium.

In commemoration of the event, limited-edition, collectible race cards will be released Sept 14. These grayscale cards (printed on a grade of paper just above Charmin one-ply camping-grade travel toilet paper) feature statistics, fun factoids, and biographical information on all three runners.

We will post ordering information soon. Please note that cards will be sold entirely on a first-come-first-served basis. Once they’re gone… they’re gone!

*Note: Matt’s card has an error! His record against Andy is actually 1 win and 3 losses, rather than 2 losses. Hopefully we can get that information to the printer in time! Click on any card for a larger, uncropped version.

Kenny Rallies, Secures Week #12 First Place Loser Ribbon!

Kenny easily overmatched a coin flip!

In a shocking turn of events, Kenny came back to lose by the slimmest of margins in this week’s NFL Smackdown! Always the gentleman, Kenny tried to decline the honor and to claim a tie with Emily, but that selfless move just makes Kenny all the more worthy of the First Place Loser Ribbon!

Curtis “coin-flip” James took the news in stride. “You know. Occasionally I get a game or two up, but I just seem to even out by the end. I’ll never forget the 13 game week when I got 6.5 games correct and 6.5 games incorrect. I just can’t seem to get ahead! I feel happy for Kenny, though. He deserves it! He’s been right there not winning by the tiniest of margins all season!”

Kenny outwitted a well-trained, game-picking gamecock... for second place!

Revere Red was visibly upset after the conclusion of Monday Night Football.

“F’n Arizona posers! Where’s the bird support, my fowl peeps!? All I needed was one game and I could have won First Place Loser, but will a cardinal ever help a brother out!? No! They went out there and done crapped all over my car!

I’d go back to cock fighting in Tijuana this second if  Michael Vick hadn’t turned everyone on to pitbulls instead of roosters. Damn you, Michael Vick! And damn you, Kenny!”

Andy's lackluster overall record belies his healthy and accumulating yearly winnings!

An almost perpetual cellar-dweller in the standings this year (save for his miraculous double tie breaker half pot victory a few weeks ago), Andy offered Kenny some sage advice.

“Consistency is a quiet killer. Doing well in the cumulative is for suckers, man. You gotta hang out on the bottom like a Bayou catfish and then strike like a piranha… at least a solitary piranha that’s still really angry and vicious… maybe more like a freshwater pike… I’m not quite settled on a species of fish… in any event, though, being almost great for a long time will never beat true weekly greatness! I was the greatest! I’ll be the greatest again! High highs spring forth from low lows; all else is but a flavor of mediocrity… like vanilla! Vanilla’s bad, Kenny! Aspire to be Coffee Heath Bar Crunch!”

Oh boy!

Lastly, Barney the friendly purple dinosaur chimed in, “I love you, Kenny. I love almost everyone due to my curiously infectious theme song and well-written work-release settlement. I love kittens AND puppies roughly equally! I do not, however, love your chances of ever winning an NFL Smackdown week; I don’t love your chances at all! Let’s go play with crayons, kids!”

Just a little Quiet before the Madness…

Wake me if something happens.
Wake me if something happens.

Some have suggested that I have left the Cancun post up for an inordinate amount of time simply because it represents such a convincing victory over Nancy and Christian. Never before have I competed in the pseudo marine biochemistry field, so it IS amazing for me to walk away with the gold medal in salinity musing.

That being said, I have not allowed the prior post to linger for any reason other than a pesky busyness that has descended upon me. This too shall pass, or I will have it removed like a malfunctioning appendix.

In case I find no time to write before the NCAA Basketball tournament begins, let me remind everyone that I won the pool last year and I intend to win it this year.

I will post my tournament picks as soon as it is too late for any of you to benefit from them!

Jets ain’t no Mets… give em that!

You're number 3... or 4... not 1!
You're number 3... or 4... not 1!

After the possibility of New Orleans playing in… errr… winning a Super Bowl, the Jets playoff run is arguably the best team story in the NFL this year.

Instead of manufacturing a great regular season lead and then squandering it on the way towards (but not to!) the playoffs, the Jets put their act together enough to climb into the playoffs, and then they put together a couple exciting, feel good games that sucked their fans into actually believing they had a chance to be AFC Champions.

Never before has a bandwagon been built and set into motion faster than those poor Springsteen souls in parking lot New Jersey! Too bad they built it with a five-year-old’s plastic Legos and it couldn’t last one more game!

Of particular amusement to Patriot fans, you can look closely at game film of the stands in Indy and make out the exact moment when Fireman Ed’s heart explodes in his chest. Can’t wait to see you guys go 7 and 9 next year with a loss to Buffalo!

Kenny Marches… ummm… in.

Kenny's people rise up!
Kenny's people rise up!

Unfortunately for me, the New Orleans Saints have postponed their late season swoon this year. As they’re practically assured of a first-round bye at this point, we’ll have to wait until the second round of the NFL playoffs to watch them crush the tiny hopes and dreams of a below-sea-level, eyesore city not yet recovered from the whims of category four hurricanes and category considerably less emergency response teams.

Author’s note: the Jets and the Mets and the Orangemen and all New Yorkers still respectively suck and Rex Ryan (the Santa job at the mall is open when you get fired, Rex!) is now an obnoxious crybaby, instead of simply being an obnoxious bore. None of this is pertinent to the Saints, of course, but these facts should not be misplaced even during the brief Kenny euphoria brought on by an overachieving Drew Brees who couldn’t quite throw enough interceptions to derail the clownish, bayou pretenders.

Victory is sweet... and small!
Victory is sweet... and small!

I’m thrilled there’s at long last a mosquito’s appendix-sized bit of joy in the Silbergleit athletic spectator ranks, even if Kenny needed to travel to Louisiana to support a questionable American quasi state foolishly named after a European Monarch… a buggy, boggy burg where biting someone with your own teeth is considered simple assault while biting someone with your false teeth is prosecuted as aggravated assault. Who knew?

I’m not calling Kenny unAmerican; but if anyone else wants to do so, I think they’re certainly entitled and on firm footing to make such an aggressive claim. In any case, he’s certainly no fan of Patriots and his fries are apparently French, not Freedom.

I’ll never understand how these backward, fall-behind at the start of every frickin game but then come back people ponied up to win 10 NFL games in a row, but fair is fair, so here’s a life-size picture of Kenny’s legitimately earned prize… an elixir he can quaff quietly as the Pats exact swift revenge on the Saints Monday night.

Nancy Takes Week #7 Pool!

This one's for Nancy!
This one's for you, Nancy!

It came down to points on Monday night and Nancy took advantage of a late, meaningless score by a thoroughly embarrassed Redskin team to secure her first NFL pool victory of the season. Excellent work, Nancy!

In addition to some $330, Nancy extends her lead in the NFL Smackdown competition.

Asked about her victory, Nancy gushed, “Jim and I were recently down in Philly, and I really got a good feeling about the city at that time. I put them in a position to come through for me Monday night, and the Eagles didn’t let me down. I’ve never felt better about green uniforms, greasy cheesesteaks, cracked bells, and Rocky Balboa. I can’t wait to take my winnings out to buy Abigail some fashionable size 12M clothing for the winter season. I LOVE this game!”

Asked about tragically losing last week on the final score tie-breaker as Denver ran both a punt and a kickoff back for touchdowns and asked about falling short again this week by one game as the Raiders couldn’t find the stadium where they were supposed to be playing on Sunday, Andy replied, “it’s all good… even losing looks better on our new television. Go Samsung!”

The full-proof Abigail System Revealed!

Forget tea leaves or pig entrails!
Forget tea leaves or psychics!

My mother and father currently have barely 50% of their football picks correct so far this NFL season. That’s not impressive. My grandmother is under .500 for her picks. That’s even worse!

What these amateurs need is a viable, proven system for handicapping teams, but instead they rely on senseless data like “which team has the better punter,” or “which team plays in a dome,” or “which team’s mascot is more powerful.”

I wouldn’t care, but since they’re foolishly gambling with MY future college funds, I need to get these people back on track pronto. Towards that end, I offer my full-proof method for determining NFL winners.

All you need is a list of match-ups and a supply of cereal. Raise several pieces of cereal above your head, close your eyes, and drop the cereal on the list of teams. Where the cereal ends up accurately determines the victorious team, since cereal naturally gravitates toward winners, milk, and dog mouths. As you can see from the example pictured, the Patriots are looking like a lock to beat the Jets and to cover the spread.

Note: don’t conduct your experiment near milk or dog mouths or you may end up with spurious data!

I happen to favor stale Cheerios for my picks, but you can also use Capn Crunch. I do not suggest using oatmeal, simply because it tends to splatter, to obscure the results and to anger the owners of the carpet.

Give my system a try. I think you’ll like the results.

Week #1 NFL Smackdown Update!

Week of the dog!
Week of the dog!

As you can see from the official smackdown standings, week #1 failed to separate brains from luck in the gridiron picking arena. Both Emily and Andy finished the week at (8w – 8l), while Nancy finished at (7w – 9l), so no clear trend has emerged.

Interesting notes from week #1:

There were 15 possible underdog/favorite picks (underdogs GET points while favorites GIVE points).  The Carolina Panthers versus Philadelphia Eagles game was straight up (no points either way) in our pool.

For these possible 15 favorite/underdog matchups:

  • Emily took ALL 15 possible favorites!
  • Nancy took 7 favorites and 8 dogs.
  • Andy took 9 favorites and 6 dogs.
  • For the week, favorites went (7w – 9l) with Philly winning the straight up matchup, so the underdogs won week #1.
  • Nancy took the most dogs and should have had an advantage from doing so, but alas, she chose the wrong puppies at times which left her one game off the pace.