Thursday, March 31, 2016

12:34 March 31

We're packing up for the next leg of our trip. Our family has a pretty good routine for packing up and leaving. I'm grateful that our kids (with a couple of carsickness exceptions) are good travelers, and mostly enthusiastic about hitting the road. Sometimes traveling as much as we do feels like work, but I'm thankful for our schedules' flexibility to make these trips possible.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

12:34 March 30

Facebook's Memories feature reminded me that on this day last year, we were at the Magic Kingdom with my parents and sister. Two years ago, Matt and I were celebrating Kentucky's improbable berth in the Final Four, courtesy of Aaron Harrison's ice-cold three-point shooting. And three years ago, I shaved my head after my second chemo treatment. So I'm thankful for all these memories, but today I'm especially grateful for my health and a full head of hair.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

12:34 March 29

Today at 12:34, I was preparing lunch for the kids after going for a run, before going out for movies. I was overwhelmed by how many things I have to be thankful for. I'm thankful for days like today, when I'm able to spend all my time with people I love.

Monday, March 28, 2016

12:34 March 28

I'm thankful for my favorite place to run--right here in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville has a great public parks system and my mother-in-law's house happens to be right next to the adjacent Seneca and Cherokee Parks. I ran a hilly, scenic four-miler with Matt on Saturday. This morning, I worked on my pace, so I ran a shorter, flatter route on the Seneca Park loop. I have a lot of great memories of almost 20 years of running here. Many moons ago, I ran a cold, November eight-miler through Cherokee Park listening to a literal book-on-tape--i.e., a murder-mystery-on-tape I'd rented from Cracker Barrel and played on my Walk-Man--when I was training for a marathon. Over the years, I've stopped running on my own so much as Matt has gotten into running. We do love our runs together here--even if I usually max out at four miles and let him run a few more on his own. Here's gratitude for the miles logged and hope for many more ahead.

Tourney Day 8: The Final Four

Hey Everybody,

Have you ever experienced a food paradox? It happens to me with good meals; I enjoy the food so much that I consume it more quickly than I intend to, so I slow my consumption almost to the point of not enjoying it any more. Each bite rides a line between pleasure and a sense of loss. What once seemed so abundant is dwindling, and the realization of the imminent end pervades everything. Just wondering. No reason.

Observations
  • The headlines switched pretty quickly from "Could All Four 1-Seeds Make the Final Four" to "Will Any 1-Seeds Make the Final Four?" this weekend. 
  • Oklahoma and Carolina are the most fun teams to watch of the four left.
  • Villanova has finally put together the team we've thought they had for years. Perry Ellis disappeared for Kansas, ending an amazing career on a disappointing note.
  • I like Mike Brey, but he became Twitter fodder this tournament. His strategies to sit Auguste in the first half and burn his time outs by the 8 minute mark in the 2nd half were bad looks. Notre Dame played a great game against Kentucky last year, and looked like they could pull one off against UNC, but it was not to be.
  • Syracuse went on a 29-8 run over the last nine minutes to down Virginia. UNC's win set up a semifinal between two schools undergoing NCAA investigations. A-C-C! A-C-C!
  • I still don't understand exactly how Syracuse won. They were shooting 30%, turning the ball over, and their zone was giving up layups to Virginia. Then, for the last 15 minutes of the game, they played like a cheat code had been enabled on a video game. Malachi Richardson was the best player on the floor. <--- been="" font="" has="" he="" in="" middle="" school="" sentence="" since="" that="" typed="" was="">
  • Syracuse's cheerleaders did their part to contribute to the "are cheerleaders athletes?" debate after the Orange players cut down the nets.
  • Roy Williams will get to fire off a bunch of dadgums this week. He's the head coach of a team playing brilliant basketball, but somehow comes across as hapless all the time. Who is the real Roy?
  • Buddy Hield's performance in the Tournament so far puts him on a short list of great players I've gotten to watch in my life. This article mentions Kemba Walker and Steph Curry, but I think of Dwyane Wade, Glen Rice, and Danny Manning too. Even if you don't usually watch college basketball, you should tune in to watch Hield Saturday night. He had 37 Saturday with no assists, which is the kind of game you usually only see at Rucker Park.
  • CBS aired an interview with Mark Emmert after the UNC-Notre Dame game. In it, Emmert admitted that "90% of the revenue" for the NCAA is generated by the men's basketball tournament, and that the money couldn't be shared with players fairly because it pays for other sports and tournaments in Divisions 1, 2, and 3. Then he said "Men's basketball just happens to be really popular. It could just as easily be volleyball or lacrosse." This comment offends me the same way it does when people say "Star Wars / Star Trek; same thing."
  • Without explanation or preview, this happened on CBS Saturday. It was absurd, even more so because there was no warning or clear inspiration for it. I can only imagine the production meeting before the show:
    • Producer #1: "We've got 4 minutes to fill."
    • Producer #2: "Let's go back to the touchscreen."
    • Producer #1: "Please don't ever suggest that again. Maybe a remote interview?"
    • Producer #2: "Too cliche'. We need something innovative."
    • Producer #3: [snorts as he wakes from Wisconsin-induced nap] "No! Um, tangled, the. .. the strings are tangled THE PUPPETS are, uh . . . what?"
    • Producer #1: "Genius! Call the puppet guys!"
  • Clark Kellogg explained the puppet show by saying "Innovation happens when ideas collide; somebody had a crazy idea of collision with these puppets being us. And here we are." I don't think he was talking about basketball; he's exploring metaphysics. He's talking about all of us, and the statistical improbability that we get the chance to share this world together at this exact moment. Somebody [beyond our control and fundamentally unknown to us] had a crazy idea [creation] with these puppets [a shared form that can be perceived with 5 senses] being us. And here we are. Exactly: And here we are.
  • On Sunday, after noting the Easter holiday, and while discussing Virginia's lead over Syracuse, Kellogg said: "Love covers a multitude of sins, as shot-making covers a multitude of mistakes." At the time, Virginia was leading 35-21 (each score divisible by 7).
    • Kellogg is quoting 1 Peter 4:8 to make his analogy to Virginia basketball. The 1st Peter verse itself is an allusion to Proverbs 10:12 "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs." 
    • The analogy here is twofold: 1. Love as a principle will trump strife for those on the righteous path. 2. Teams will advance that continue to shoot a high percentage, regardless of their other deficiencies.
    • That Virginia wavered in its shooting serves as a twofold reminder to each of us that when we don't choose love (or good shooting), we do so at our own peril. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

12:34 March 27

Allison and I ran together, then worked in the yard together yesterday. This morning, I have a welcome soreness in my hands and back. I'm thankful for physical work and exercise, and being able to do both with Allison.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

12:34 March 26

I'm grateful for my mother-in-law. We're at her house for Spring Break. She let the kids "help" her make us waffles for breakfast, will offer to babysit so Matt and I can go on runs together and a few dates, and is really easy and sweet to talk with. I love her.

Tourney Day Six

Hey Everybody,

Woo! Because of our vacation schedule, I actually got to stay up to the end of the last game last night. No more relying on DVR to accommodate West Coast TV schedules. I propose a single time zone for the whole country. It's a good idea, and sure to solve our problems.

Observations
  • Syracuse finished on a 9-1 run to win by 3. Notre Dame finished on an 8-0 run in the last 19 seconds to win by 5. With Northern Iowa and Xavier falling in similar fashion earlier, this tournament's calling card is comebacks. Or avoiding bad losses. Or epic collapses. Maybe all at the same time.
  • Most of you have ties to the Triangle. This tournament feels pretty familiar, I'd guess. Even if you're in denial, you've got to recognize it's pretty remarkable that half the Elite 8, half the Final Four, and one finalist will be from the same conference.
  • Trevor Cooney has been a solid contributor at Syracuse ever since his role as Stevedore #3 wrapped up on the second season of The Wire.
  • Virginia and Carolina join Villanova as "the team" that looks "best" in the tournament this weekend. I was sold on Villanova Thursday night, and now I'm here to share the news that Virginia and Carolina look ready to cut nets. I hope they continue to play at that level so we're not subjected to anything like Wisconsin/ND's first half last night.
  • Related: the Wisconsin-Notre Dame's final score was 61-56, making it one of the best halves of basketball I've seen this year. 
  • I'm becoming immune to commercials. But why aren't we all furious that "Moisturizing Lotion" is redundant? Are there desiccating lotions? Also: Meet the Hoopers has to stop. Has. To. Stop.
  • Mike DeCourcy summed up my thoughts on late-game collapses; these teams seem to be baffled by pressure defense at the end of games.
  • You guys know I love Clark Kellogg, and this tweet is a good example of his clever facility with English: In case you can't click the link: "Purloins late . . . means . . . Joy for Irish" is the base sentence. At first glance, Kellogg seems to be pluralizing "purloin" (a verb) as a replacement for "steal" (usually a noun in this instance). "OK, so he's got a Thesaurus app on his phone," you say. But nobody uses purloin as a verb. Instead (stay with me a minute here), since "means" is also a singular verb in the tweet, both of these verbs share an implied, singular subject: an "Irishman." By suggesting an Irishman who gets joy from thievery, Kellogg is obviously tossing a subtle allusion to Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," in which Irish people are ironically characterized as base, immoral people through the lens of an oppressive English gentleman. The analogy created here suggests English Protestants are to Irish Catholics as the NCAA is to College athletes. In less than 140 characters, Kellogg deftly implies the bulk of the NCAA-as-paternalistic-sharecroppers argument. That he does it from the belly of the Tournament Beast only confirms it may be the singular moment of speaking truth to power we've seen in this year's tourney. He is our basketball Bakhtin.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tourney Day Five

Hey Everybody,

Excuse the brevity and tardiness of this update. We drove 500 miles today, and mobile Friendly updates are not in the budget this year. We reached our destination safely, though. And don't worry; the whole family made sure to use the correct restrooms while we were in North Carolina today.
If you found the beginning of the tournament more entertaining than it has been before, and if you love sounding like a septuagenarian who uses words like "piddling," you should read  this article from the Post earlier this week.

A couple of observations:
  • After the excitement of the first weekend, last night's games just didn't match up.
  • Duke and Kentucky fans are in the same boat. Lots of one-and-done NBA talent, but inconsistent performance with a smattering of titles. Don't worry, friends. They'll both reload for next year. Worry about other things instead, like whether you left the right-front burner on your range on this morning, or what happens if your kids someday enjoy listening to Journey, or whether -- you get the idea. Stick to the important stuff.
  • Oregon's interior presence was impressive, but more impressive was their 22-12 advantage on assists. They won the Pac-12, after all.
  • At one point, Miami and Villanova were 13 of 13 on free throws collectively, but nobody plays fundamental basketball any more.
  • Villanova played the most efficient offensive game of any gameby any team ALL SEASON. I can't figure out whether that means they'll win the title or they'll get blown out by Kansas.
  • The best contemporary road trip songs for the drive from West Virginia to Kentucky are Old King Coal and Long White Line by Sturgill Simpson. I can't imagine you would disagree. 

12:34 March 25

I'm thankful for Interstates and safe travel.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

12:34 March 24

Today, I'm undertaking one of my least favorite tasks: packing for a road trip. However, as I do laundry and make lists, I'm realizing that as the kids grow older, the packing gets a bit simpler. I'm grateful that Spring Break is almost here and that I'm not packing, among other things, diapers and wipes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

12:34 March 23

I'm thankful for music a lot, but I found myself in a memory vortex today after hearing about the death of Phife from A Tribe Called Quest.

I'm thankful for Ben Kennedy's De La Soul and Rob Base tapes. I'm thankful for Mark Palgy & Matthew Summersgill's dubs of Led Zeppelin LPs. I'm thankful for Daniel Gilliam and Todd Tucker's Beastie Boys and Fishbone records. I'm thankful for Jon Haenning's NWA tapes. I'm thankful for Leesa Cross Smith's mixtapes. I'm thankful for Quan Founder's Cypress Hill, GZA, and Lords of the Underground. I'm thankful for swapping CDs with Sondra Burton. I'm thankful for Dan Lunsford's Leonard Cohen, Mike Prater's Band, and Scott Alan Trowbridge's shared love for Rodan.

I could keep going, but what I'm most thankful for is the connection among people who love the same music and share that love with others.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

12:34 March 22

Evvvvv. πŸ˜œπŸ˜πŸ˜›

I'm feeling grateful for books today. I just finished a great one: Rising Strong by BrenΓ© Brown. I've made it one of my goals during this Lenten season to read something--other than sports writing, ahem--every day.

The kids all love books in their own way. Tobin has had his nose in a book since around age five, it seems. Currently, he's tearing through Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series at a clip of about one book every three days. Lauren is on the other end of things but likes looking at her simple, patternistic pre-K readers. Our resident English teacher Matt--knowing she's relying on repetition and pictures for context--started asking her to identify the words that changed on each page ("The snow is on the house." "The snow is on the bike." "The snow is on the car.") She caught on quickly and even took it a step further: grabbing a pencil and paper, and proudly copying the words, page by page.

Evan, in first grade, is naturally somewhere in between. While he has always loved being read to and looking at books on his own, reading and writing have required him to work really hard. Because reading was difficult, he would often try to avoid or delay doing his nightly homework. (I guess it's a shame he doesn't have math homework yet, because he'd be all over that; he loves it!) But just in the last month, something has really clicked for him. He's reading faster and easier, and writing in his homework notebook much more confidently. Just this weekend, he grabbed The Cat in the Hat and reported, "During free reading in class today, I read this book for 15 minutes and I got to page 20! And there are 61 pages in this book!" He then went on to start at the beginning of the book and read a few pages, adorably using a bookmark to mark his place as he worked through the book at his own pace. He marveled to Matt, "Wow, it's like the more I read, the more I like it."

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tourney Day Four

Hey Everyone,

I'm tired, and I didn't play any basketball games this weekend. We left the children to their own devices as much as possible as we watched the games. I've never really binge-watched a Netflix show, but I would guess the mixture of fatigue, regret, and vain accomplishment is similar to what one might feel after 3 seasons of your favorite show in one weekend. Mild guilt at a sedentary weekend aside, this was one of the best opening weekends I remember, and I've been following the tournament pretty closely since being allowed to stay up late to watch Louisville-Duke in 1986.

Observations:
  • Hyperbole is the most overused convention in the history of carbon-based life forms, but Texas A&M did something last night against the University of Northern Iowa that had literally never been done before. Seth Davis has a history of calling wins on Twitter by saying "Sharpie"; the comeback by the Aggies led to his first ever "White-out." 
  • Texas A&M scored 6 field goals in the last 40 SECONDS, scoring 14 points and erasing a 12-point deficit. To put that in perspective, they hit 6 field goals in the first half en route to 22 points (in 20 MINUTES). This game has become the best argument I've seen yet that college athletes really are normal college students
  • Wisconsin won on a buzzer-beater that would have been the highlight of the night if not for Northern Iowa. You probably won't remember it next year, like you forgot about Sisters last year.
  • I'm increasingly convinced Clark Kellogg is communicating in code in a way normal mortals can't understand. His use of quotation marks alone makes me suspicious that there's more going on than we're aware of. 
  • Kellogg, on Villanova's blowout of Iowa, said "In our house, we call that a woodshed, whether it's Word Streak or Words With Friends." Um ,OK. There's not even a vague mention of basketball there. At all. But let's dig deeper
    •  'Woodshed' would have a base score of 15 in Words With Friends (16 in Scrabble). 
    • Depending on your luck with double/triple letter and word tiles, adjacent letters, and on whether you played all your tiles for 'woodshed' (bingo!), you could possible score 54, 33, or 87, which were Villanova's 1st half, 2nd half, and final scores, respectively. This is Kellogg at his best. Subtle, but with depth that rewards effort.
  • Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff and Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson were the most important players on their respective teams this tournament. Little known fact: each of their schools had a distinct recruiting advantage because people with the last names Uthoff and Jesperson are only allowed to live in Iowa, Nebraska, and Utah.
  • Stephen F. Austin vs. Notre Dame was a wire-to-wire treat. Neither team ever led by more than 7 points. It came down to a put-back with a second left on the clock. Really: look at the "Game Flow" graphic on this page. But again, no one will remember that game next year.
  • Powerade can't be that successful a company if they've only shot that one D. Rose commercial, right? 
  • VCU vs. Oklahoma was played with greater pace than the final score suggested. VCU is still fun to watch, even though they replaced Shaka Smart with Will Wade, the guy from every Enterprise commercial for the last 10 years.
  • The ACC is dominating this tournament. Louisville would have been in it, too, if not for some minor indiscretions. The league is 12-1, comprising 3/8 of the remaining field. That's pretty good math, even for amateur athletics.

12:34 March 21

Allison wrote about cycles yesterday. One such cycle of a school year is Spring Break. At school, there's a buzz of optimism in the air about Spring Break next week. I'm thankful for breaks from school, and deep breaths from work.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

12:34 March 20

It's cold and dreary today--oddly enough, the first day of spring. But today's chilly grayness reminds me of the changing seasons and other cycles of life. It will make Tuesday, when the warmth and sun are supposed to return, that much better. This morning in church I was reminded of the cycles just within this Holy Week in the Christian faith: joy on Palm Sunday, grief on Good Friday and joy again on Easter morning. I am thankful for cycles and seasons, and how they each give meaning to life--itself full of joy and grief, light and dark.

Tourney Day Three

Hey Everyone,

Guys, these updates are a little tougher to send out the morning after a Kentucky loss. I was bummed, because I really liked this UK team. It stings especially to see them lose to Indiana, where people still lionize Coach Bobby Knight

OK. Just one more. This is a joke I learned in 3rd grade. I think I feel better now, so here goes. . .

A few observations:
  • Day Three of the tournament was a return to order, at least as far as favorites are concerned. With the exception of Gonzaga, there were no real surprises yesterday. 
  • Gonzaga looks good. A lot of people are pointing out that they were a bubble team before destroying the Utes last night. I'd prefer to focus on something else. Their roster features players named Dranginis, Sabonis, Wiltjer, Karnowski, Triano, and Bakamus. They're the first tournament team I've seen that could double as the school's admissions brochure. They are college basketball's Up With People.
  • I was at Evan's t-ball scrimmage for most of the Duke-Yale game, but a lot of you texted me updates. Here's what I got: Secret societies from elite American academic institutions find themselves pulled into a world of secrecy and intrigue, discovering the true secrets of the cadres that control the world. *[Matt is handed a note]. Oh, sorry. That was the plot to The Skulls. No, Duke-Yale was a game of halves, with Grayson Allen pouring in 22 points in the first half while playing his trademark D.
  • Wichita St. faded in the early game. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I feel bad that the Shockers had to play Tuesday night, Thursday night, then play the early game Saturday. Still, Miami is legit, and is bolstering the ACC's claim as the class of the tournament.
  • UNC looked formidable. Their game against Providence was the first time I've allowed myself to imagine the wonder that a Duke-UNC national title game would be. My sons are Tar Heels (somehow), so I'm all-in on the Heels.
  • Kris Dunn is as impressive as advertised, and that makes the Heels that much more impressive.
  • Other people have smarter things to say about Providence's basketball team, so I'll let them:
    • "It is easier to discover a deficiency in individuals and in Providence than see their real value." - George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    • "Providence has its appointed hour for everything." - Gandhi
    • "Providence has nothing good or high in store for one who does not aim at something high or good." -Thornton Wilder
  • VCU plays Oklahoma today. I enjoy watching them play, but I don't think I want them to win. Mainly so their pep band leader doesn't feel the need to outdo himself.
  • None of today's games have a marquee tilt, and some are already nervous that this upset-heavy tournament will mean middling ratings by the end. At the very least, know that I'll be watching and emailing, even if your bracket has already dissolved.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tourney Day Two

Hey Everybody,

Your brackets are done. You thought you were onto something, headed in the right direction, then something tripped you up. Believe me, I know. I have your brackets in my hands.
  • Dayton featured a guard named Scoochie Smith. As a Smith, I know differentiation is important to stand out. You can't do much better than Scoochie for that. But Syracuse won, making them avowed enemies of Scoochie fans worldwide. So add "ended Scoochie's career" to your list of reasons to be wary of Coach Boeheim.
  • Wisconsin won a game in which they scored 16 points in the first half. Their 1st half total set a record low for the NCAA Tournament. Yes, a record low. A record low, dating back to when dunks were illegal, shorts didn't quite cover players' briefs, and teams had to provide their own rattan for basket repairs at halftime.
  • VCU "upset" Oregon St. in yet another game that suggests that the Selection Committee needs to change its process for seeding the field,
  • Michigan St. lost. The hyperbole was immediate and effusive. As a result, I'm glad to welcome Giddy Potts to the the permanent parts of my NCAA tournament memory bank, where he joins Kevin Pittsnogle, Ali Farokhmanesh, and others.
  • Oklahoma flirted for most of their game with becoming the second 2-seed of the day to lose. They gutted it out against the Roadrunners, which is good, because we're better for having a tournament with Buddy Hield in it. 
  • Hawaii beat California. It was an upset, but I don't really know anything about either team, so I'll use it to point out how awful the Pac-12 has been. You're probably not a Pac-12 fan, so let's talk about disappointment:
  • West Virginia got blown out by Stephen F. Austin. At the end, the guy from Vikings was doing Steph Curry impressions against Bob Huggins' team. It was surreal.
  • The best game I ever watched was also the one that broke my heart worst. I watch Laettner hit that shot hundreds of times a year. I'm afraid Bryon, our resident Longhorn, is going to share that experience for the next decade, at least. Texas-NIU was a classic. 
  • Cincinnati lost on a made dunk that was waved off by a fingertip. I don't know any Cincy fans, but I will give any I meet a hug today.
  • I told Allison during the day yesterday that Friday would probably be calmer, from an upset perspective. Regression to the mean and all that. I was wrong, and I was wired at almost 1 AM this morning from watching the ends of NIU-Texas and Cincy-St. Joseph's.

12:34 March 19

The last couple of nights, we've had neighbors stop by, shoot hoops, and visit while our kids play. I'm thankful for warm evenings and good neighbors.

Friday, March 18, 2016

12:34 March 18

TGIF! It's beautiful outside. I'm looking forward to basketball on the TV and out in our driveway. And as always, I love the anticipation of the weekend.

Tourney Day One

Yesterday, I posted about the community that I enjoy around NCAA tournament time. To continue that thought, I thought I'd share part of that experience here. I organize a friendly contest to see who picks the games best. I send an email to everyone in the group after each day of competition. Part of it is score updates; the other part is hyperlinked nonsense I write as I watch the games. I'll be posting my nonsense here for the duration of this year's tournament. Here are this morning's observations

-----------------

Hey Everyone,

One of the things I appreciate about human nature is our indomitable spirit. We like to tell ourselves things that make us feel unstoppable. And it sounds great. Until, well, we think we can and we can't. Not everything is possible, I guess. Like a perfect bracket, for instance.

I hope you found a cozy spot to watch at least a few of the games Thursday. I have a few observations from the games I got to watch:

  • If you watched Wichita St. - Arizona, you saw Sean Miller's intensity on display. Extended commercial break opportunities during the tournament make me think that there's a sponsor who has found its golden boy
  • Wichita St. was really underseeded. Nate Silver's site had them as a 60% likely winner before the game.
  • Grant Hill is a commentator now. He's in mid-career mode already. Evidence? During the Kentucky game, when Dominique Hawkins entered from the bench, Hill said "He comes in, does his job, and wants to put the ball in the basket." I'm assuming that contrasts with other players who want to stay out, do nothing, and feel ambivalent about putting the ball in the basket. Looking at you, Monmouth bench.
  • I know I embedded it above, but the sheer, unbridled, uninhibited chutzpah of this Isiah Hicks dunk attempt deserves a second look. It is a marvel. 
  • I found myself cheering for Yale as an underdog. So here's to Yale students finally finding some success in the world. 
  • Postgame press conferences can be the worst. "How does it feel to lose?" "Can you put into words how it feels to lose?" "Did you know you guys were going to lose?" "Loser loser lose lose lose: how do those words make you feel, Mr. Loser Von Loser-son?" So, even though he lost, for taking on the weak questions of the world with a sick burn, Taurean Prince just earned a spot in the postgame hall of fame.
  • I realized I'm old when I found myself marveling at the fluidity of Purdue's passing against Arkansas-Little Rock. I've apparently become the audience for Vines like this. The outcome of the game, however, is a good reminder that your grandpa doesn't know anything about sports any more. Sure, Purdue lost, but they lost with sound fundamentals.
  • Steve Lappas called the Purdue/ALR game. I can't hear him without thinking of Carl from Aqua Team Hunger Force.
  • I didn't watch FGCU vs. FDU Tuesday, but no game for the rest of the tournament will feature two schools whose letters look so much like Internet slang for rude retorts.
  • did watch Vanderbilt vs. Wichita State on Tuesday. Most of the game might as well have been Alphonse & Gaston politely taking turns declining to score or try to win. Kevin Stallings got a tech that pretty much ended his team's chances. In the end, Vanderbilt went more Carnegie than Rockefeller and left the tournament to more deserving heirs.
  • Related: I realized the other day that two of my kids have never known a time when Barack Obama wasn't president. I feel like none of my kids have known a time when Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker didn't play for Wichita State.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

12:34 March 17

At 12:34 I got a text from my friend Caleb about the basketball tournament that started about 20 minutes ago. Over the next few weeks, I'll trade emails, phone calls, and texts with dozens of people as we all experience the tournament. I'm thankful for the NCAA tournament, but more for the community it creates and brings together in my life every year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

12:34 March 16

I'm grateful for our school communities. I spent a couple hours this morning doing some work for a parent committee at the kids' school. The kids have early release today, so I'll pick them up two hours early, let them play on the playground with friends for a few minutes and then we'll head back to each child's classroom for student-led conferences. I'm thankful for the multiple levels on which I feel connected to their school today.

Of course, we have another school community, Riverside High, where Matt works. His colleagues, past and present, have served as a growing circle of friends for us over the years. We feel especially grateful and proud that one of his retired colleagues, Steve Unruhe, was elected to the local school board last night--his campaign supported and organized by so many fellow teachers and friends.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

12:34 March 15

12:34 happened today as I was returning to work from voting. I'm thankful to have say in my government.

Monday, March 14, 2016

12:34 March 14

I'm grateful, oddly enough, for a busy Monday. Today started off with the same daunting feeling any start to a week brings--maybe even more so because Evan and Lauren had trouble waking at the new Daylight Saving Time. I dropped the kids off at school and did some grocery shopping. I'm home cooking and cleaning now. I'll pick the kids up from school later and we'll rush home to do homework. Dinner will be quick too, before Matt and the boys head off to the baseball field for practice, and Lauren and I head back to school for a PTA meeting. We'll all get home and hurry our usual end-of-day routine to get everybody in bed a little late. I like that we have busy Mondays because, by comparison, it makes each day of the week seem a little easier.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

12:34 March 12

I'm grateful for baseball. The boys' practices for the spring season started a couple weeks ago, but because of our schedules, I had not yet made it to the field. Today, I'm here at Evan's late-morning practice and loving the sweet energy of the players and coaches.

Friday, March 11, 2016

12:34 March 11

I'm thankful for our kids' school friends and the expanded community they create in our lives.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

12:34 March 10

I'm grateful for exercise. No, I don't always love it, but I know I need it. Whether it's a hard run that leaves me winded but energized, or a simple walk that clears my head, I'm thankful that most days I'm able to make time for it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

12:34 March 9

I'm thankful for the NCAA basketball tournament. I've been having trouble keeping my mind on work while my mind is full of brackets.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

12:34 March 8

Field trippin' with Ev & friends in Chapel Hill.

I am feeling multiple layers of gratitude. First, it's a gorgeous day: sunny and 75 right now. Next, I spent the morning at what I think is one of the most beautiful places on earth: UNC-Chapel Hill's campus in the (almost) springtime. I was there chaperoning a field trip to the planetarium for Evan's first- through third-grade class. Finally, at the core of this bundle of gratitude is my Evan, who has such a kind, easy way about him. I was thankful for the opportunity to see him with his school friends, with all their silly energy and a good measure of reciprocal kindness.

Monday, March 07, 2016

12:34 March 7

I'm thankful for sunny mornings that promise warm afternoons.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

12:34 March 6

Echoing Matt's thoughts from yesterday, I'm thankful for wellness. This is the second weekend in a row waylaid by illness. Last week was my cold and this weekend, Lauren's stomach virus. Both were mercifully short-lived. Though Lauren was up sick half of Friday night, she spent Saturday sleepy but comfortable on the couch. Today, she seems almost back to full strength. I suppose I'm also thankful for the additional mercy of timing. Being sick on the weekend is much better than during a school week. So here's gratitude that illness makes good health all the more precious and that timing, while often not in our control, can be fortuitous.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

12:34 March 5

Lauren is under the weather today. Allison stayed up with her through the night, helping her rest and feel better. Both of them are resting now. I'm thankful for their restfulness. Today is a good reminder of the blessing of wellness.

Friday, March 04, 2016

12:34 March 4

At the end of this particular week, I'm grateful for the friends in my life and the different ways I've met each of them. Some in school (primary, secondary, college, grad school--all levels!), some in church, some in the neighborhood, some through Matt's or my work, some through the kids' school or sports teams, some through shared adversity. I'm also thankful for the myriad ways I've connected with some of them just in the last seven days: meeting for coffee, walking around the neighborhood, attending meetings, watching our kids play on the playground after school, texting, emailing and even interacting through social media. I believe friendship is ultimately a spiritual practice. I love how BrenΓ© Brown defines spirituality in her book Rising Strong: "Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to one another by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and belonging."

Thursday, March 03, 2016

12:34 March 3

At home last night I mentioned that I've had a difficult week at work. I feel like my time has been wasted by others, and that I haven't been able to do the work I wanted to do. Allison and I discussed the nature of my work, inspired by a Parker Palmer idea she had shared earlier in the day. An excerpt: 
The tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on, because they are the only ones that get short-term results… Care about being effective, of course, but care even more about being faithful … to your calling, and to the true needs of those entrusted to your care.
Our discussion made me think about why I had so decisively deemed this week "difficult."

That reminded me of one of my favorite Marcus Aurelius quotes: "Today I escaped all difficulty; or rather, I have cast out all difficulty, for difficulty is not external, but rooted in my judgments."

Today I am thankful for the power to cast out difficulty, and to remember mine is a job worth doing.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

12:34 March 2

I'm thankful for soup. I love to cook and am grateful to usually have an hour or two in a given week to make something other than whatever I've got planned for dinner. I like to make soups for Matt's and my lunches during these chilly months. Today I'm making potato kale soup. Last week, I made broccoli potato soup (had a big bag of potatoes to work through!). We've also recently enjoyed curry cauliflower and--my seasonal favorite--butternut squash.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

12:34 March 1

I got to watch Evan and Tobin in their first baseball practices for a new season. Their play--and the way they play--make me proud. I'm thankful for my kids' enthusiasm for team sports.