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Archive for January, 2013

What Is Disappointment?

Biting into a fresh chocolate chip cookie, only to realize it’s oatmeal raisin.

Being a Seattle sports fan.

A forecast of 3-4 inches of snow and school closure, then peeking out the frosty morning window to a scant dusting of snow.

Warm beer.

Over planning every minute of a trip. (To wit, often the best parts are the surprises.)

The middle seat on an international flight.

When the computer warns of an automatic restart in five minutes with 10 minutes left of the Homeland episode.

Not getting any new notifications on Facebook.

The fate of Omar Little in The Wire.

Missing out on something because you are out-of-town.

Someone switching off the song you really want to hear.

Heavy rain when all you want is a walk.

A full plate of brussels sprouts.

Airline food packaged in a white box. Contents – a napkin, a packet of mustard and a bloated bag of mostly air potato chips.

Reaching the end of this post.

Just a box of potato chips!

Just a box of potato chips!

2013-01-30_1803

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Last April I trekked (trudged?) my way through the One Day Hike (ODH) on the C & O Canal Towpath. It comes in two forms. Either 100 kilometers (62.2 miles) or a more respectable 50 kilometers (31.1 miles). I choose the latter.

The 2013 One Day Hike takes place on Saturday, April 27. Registration begins on February 1.

I’m game for round two. I’ll stick with the 50 kilometer hike, thank you very much.

Who wants to hike 31.1 miles with me?

Let’s spy on last year’s ODH. Step gingerly if you blister easily.

Hiking 31.1 miles in one day – You can’t just decide to hike that far on a whim. You need to have ‘trained’ by hiking long distances. The furthest I hiked in preparation was 16 miles. Despite that, the biggest issues are not stamina. I could have gone further. One issue is using the same motion and muscles repeatedly for hours on end. The terrain is flat, so there is no variation for going uphill or downhill. It leads to cramps and aches and protesting muscles not happy with the extra abuse. If you don’t train those muscles to accept that wear and tear, you won’t make it. Another issue is things rubbing together (like clothes to skin). Let’s just say there were some interestingly raw areas on my body. And painful for days afterwards. I’ve heard worse stories from the 62.2 mile hike. Things only your proctologist should know about.

The trail – You start at White’s Ferry (for the 50K) and follow the C & O Canal Towpath all the way up to Harper’s Ferry. Then you keep going. Hike through the town and go uphill for the last 1-1/2 miles (truly brutal). It ends at the Bolivar Community Center. After eating the food prepared by volunteers, we returned to Harper’s Ferry (hitched a ride) and stayed at a hostel for the night.

Volunteers – ODH is a well-organized and well-oiled event. There are tons of helpful volunteers, some that have contributed from the beginning (the first 100K was in 1974). The volunteers help you register, they hand out trail snacks (yummy) or water, make sandwiches and soup, provide first aid, care for blisters (yes), patrol the trail looking for people who are hurting or in need of water, record when you arrive and leave the rest stations (they track your total time and ranking), make chili and other foodstuffs for the end of the hike meal, and much more! Thanks volunteers, you are awesome.

Rest stations – There were four rest stations peppered along the trail (roughly 6-7 miles apart). Each station had different snack, food and water options. The first station had sandwiches. Another one had coffee and soup. There were chairs for relaxing. Portable johns nearby. Each one also had a first aid tent, including someone there to manage your foot blister situation. I didn’t get any blisters, but I did use some preventive moleskin on key foot hotspots. Talk about roughing it!

My time – It’s not a race, but it’s nice to see your pace and time at the end. Start time was 10:00am. I finished at 8:25pm. Take out over an hour spent at the different rest stations, and it took me around 9 hours.

Photos

One Day You Could Be Hiking

One Day You Could Be Hiking

Let's Begin

Let’s Begin

Trail 1

Only 29 miles to go...

Only 29 miles to go…

Rest station with volunteers

Rest station with volunteers

Rest Station

Rest Station

Bridge

Find the path

Find the path

A hostel bed to pass out in

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I saw 62 movies in 2012. Woo me.

Not all of them were released in 2012. Including many on this list.

Here’s a look at the best movies I saw. And worst. Woo you.

Best

11. 21 Jump Street – I expected it to be bad. I was pleasantly surprised. Certainly among the best adaptations of a TV show in recent years. Look for the cameo near the end.

10. Warrior – Not as good as The Fighter, which got more attention, but a well done flick about brothers getting a second chance. Watch it.

9. A Separation – Last year’s Best Foreign Language film winner from Iran is about how small mistakes turn life on its head.

8. Moneyball – Except the part about where the Oakland A’s overtake the Seattle Mariners in the Major League Baseball standings in 2002, this is a gripping look at how Billy Bean’s (Brad Pitt) A’s managed to make the playoffs with no money and little big name talent. As a Mariners fan, this was a frustrating season. As a baseball fan, you will enjoy this insider look at the game.

7. Skyfall – 007’s return to form after a long delay and a poor entry in The Quantum of Solace. This looks back on where Bond grew-up, briefly, and gives Javier Bardem a chance to bring the ‘Bond villain’ back after a few forgettable ones. It also serves as a house cleaning to allow fresh blood to come in and take over key roles in future films. Oh and there is Bond humor!

6. Django Unchained – Brutal. Quentin Tarantino really packs in the brutality of slavery and the violence of bounty hunting. Although the movie is a bit long, I enjoyed the interplay between Jamie Foxx’s newly freed slave and Christoph Waltz’s bounty hunter. And then there is Leonardo DiCaprio’s slaver/plantation owner. Ruthless and sadistic.

5. Drive – Ryan Gosling drives a car and gets chased. Sleek.

4. The Dark Knight Rises – Not as good as The Dark Knight but nearly as tense and thrilling.

3. Argo – Ben Affleck’s take on how six Americans escaped from Iran after militants overran the Embassy and took hostages is harrowing, funny, suspenseful and true. He should get an Oscar nod for directing and the movie will be on the Best Picture list. Neither will win (see #1).

2. The Artist – Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, this pays homage to the silent area of movies and is worth your time. The dog! The radiant laugh of Bérénice Bejo! Jean Dujardin!

1. Lincoln – Yes. Only an upset of epic proportions would prevent Daniel Day-Lewis from winning the Oscar for Best Actor and Lincoln from winning Best Picture. Steven Spielberg has a strong chance to win Best Director, but I think Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty may also pull out a win.

Worst

5. Rock of Ages – I usually like Tom Cruise. Not this time. I saw the musical in London. It was fine for nostalgia’s sake, but skip the movie entirely and go straight to the soundtrack.

4. The Dictator – All the unfunny parts were in the trailer. I did watch on a plane…hoping anything funny would happen as I whilst away the hours. Anything at all. Non-Spoiler Alert: Nada.

3. John Carter – Hahahahahahahaha. Nice try Disney. Go back to making sequels of The Love Bug and leave poor Taylor Kitsch alone.

2. Nashville – How this hot mess got on AFI’s Top 100 Greatest Movies will forever remain a mystery. So tedious, I almost painted the ceiling so I could stop counting tiles and watch it dry instead. Let me reiterate. If you want your kids to behave, threaten them with this. Instant angels. I guarantee it.

1. The Tree of Life – If there is ever a case for not watching another movie ever, this is it. I. Do. Not. Like. This. Jeremy. I. Am.

Get a life! Save a tree!

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In 2013, I predict that I will…

…go river rafting. It’s been awhile.

…read four ‘classic novels’. You know War and Peace and the like.

…turn a certain age.

…play some tennis.

…run in two races. Like a 5K, 8K or other.

…go to three new major league baseball stadiums. Thinking of Boston and Pittsburgh to start.

…visit a new state (not the state of denial, but one of those US States) and a new country.

…explore Washington, D.C. more. Even though I’ve seen a lot, there is always something new to discover.

…publish more blog posts than last year (45 is the number to reach).

…do something crazy.

________________

Let’s look at how I fared from my 2012 list:

Success rate: 7/11

…go skydiving. Groupon cancelled the reservations…and still hasn’t given a refund. Stupid. I didn’t go.

…cook more. If this means more tacos…yes! Otherwise, fail.

…go to five new major league baseball stadiums. I went to four new stadiums! I’ll call that success.

…go hiking at least 10 times. Yes, including a 31.1 mile beast hike.

…watch The Wire (TV show). I finished the first four seasons and started the fifth and final season. That is success. BTW – Great show. Watch it.

…explore more (like visit a new country or National Park). Yes, I explored a lot. I went to France for the first time and Yosemite National Park for the first time.

…write more. Push. I wrote. Can’t say it was significantly ‘more’…

…go kayaking. Yes, I did a week-long kayaking class on the Klamath River in California.

…finish watching the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies. Fail. I had nine left to watch…and only watched three. The remaining movies aren’t that appealing. BTW – Nashville is terrible.

…play volleyball. Indeed. Extra success. I played four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall). Our Summer team won the Summer Rec Championship in the Metro Sports League.

…witness the end of the world (the Mayan 2012 version). Yes. Since it was never a thing, I witnessed exactly what should have happened. Nothing.

Bold

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Welcome to a round-up of my favorite sports teams.

I rank the success of each team’s season and how many shots I needed to survive the ups and downs. At the end I also include teams that I played on this year.

Seattle Mariners (ML B – baseball)

The Mariners finished 75-87. Better than last year, but still not good. The only really noteworthy news was the trade of Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees. I’m bummed (especially since it’s the hated Yankees) but hopefully he’s happy and can be productive at the end of his career. At a Mariners-Orioles game in Baltimore, I scrambled for a Dustin Ackley foul ball. First ball I’ve ever got at a game!

Success Indicator: 4/10. Whiskey shots: 3

Seattle Seahawks (NFL – football)

After some strange losses (and a controversial win against Green Bay) early in the season, the Seahawks have found their stride. They’ve rattled off 5 consecutive wins. They outscored their opponents 150-30 in three consecutive games. Second best in the history of the NFL. They are 11-5 and the #5 seed in the playoffs with good momentum. With the emergence of Russell Wilson as the starting quarterback (and maybe Rookie of Year?) and one of the best defenses, it looks like an exciting playoff run is in store. I also got to attend three games in Seattle, including the 42-13 schellacking of the 49ers.

Success Indicator: 8/10. (10 if they win the Super Bowl) Whiskey shots: 0

University of Washington Huskies (College football)

The Huskies treaded water this year. They had a couple good upset victories (Stanford and Oregon St.) but also had some serious head scratching losses (blown-out by Arizona and an overtime loss to WSU, among others). They lost to the teams they should have, but got crushed. With a 7-5 regular season, they got a bid to the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl against Boise St. Not the best bowl, but better than nothing. It was a close game, but the referees gifted the Broncos a first down and Boise St. won 28-26 on a field goal at the end. Then as usual, Keith Price threw a terrible interception to seal the win for Boise St. Overall, a disappointing season.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 4 (1 for the season and 3 for Couging it against the WSU Cougers.)

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS – soccer)

The Sounders were among the best teams in the league this season. They finished 15-8-11 (56 points). They went to their fourth consecutive US Open Cup tournament final, but lost on penalty kicks to Sporting Kansas City. They won their first playoff series (home and away games) in the MLS (1-0 aggregate goals against Real Salt Lake) but then lost 2-4 aggregate to the eventual champions, Los Angeles Galaxy. Finally, they kicked butt in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. They finished the group stage at 4-0 (12 points) and moved on to the eight team knock-out stage, which starts again in March 2013. Go Sounders!

Success Indicator: 8/10. Whiskey shots: 2 (for losing to the LA Galaxy)

 

Other teams I follow:

Washington Nationals (MLB – baseball)

The Nationals were amazing this year (98-64). Best season ever and a playoff berth. But they lost the most crushing, crappy game in history…Game 5 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis Cardinals. Drew Storen gave up 4 runs in the top of the 9th and the Nats fall 9-7 (St. Louis wins series 3-2). Worst. Baseball. Game. Ever. Stephen Strasburg was amazing in 2012. Bryce Harper was great in his MLB debut. The Nationals will be an exciting team in 2013.

Success Indicator: 8/10. Whiskey shots: 4 (1 for each run in Game 5)

University of Washington Huskies (College basketball – men’s and women’s)

The men’s team were the regular season champions of PAC-12 (24-11) but failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. WTF? Instead they went to the NIT and lost by 1 point to Minnesota in the semi-finals.

The women’s team finished 20-14 (8-10 in the PAC-12).

Success Indicator: 5/10

Chelsea Blues (English Premier League – soccer)

The 2011-2012 Chelsea team (64 points) finished 6th in the Premier League. Not good for them and out of the Champions League qualifying for 2013. BUT.. they won the 2012 Champions League!!! So should get an automatic bid to next year’s tournament. Go Blue!

Success Indicator: 8/10. Whiskey shots: 2 (for 6th place)

Washington Capitals (NHL – hockey)

The Capitals had 92 points for the 2011-2012 season. They lost in the second round of the playoffs to the New York Rangers. With the NHL locked-out this season, not much to look forward to.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 2 (1 for losing in the playoffs and 1 for the lock-out)

DC United (MLS – soccer)

DC United finished 17-10-7 (58 points). They won in the first round of the playoffs but lost to Houston 2-4 aggregate in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 0 (Enough drinking for one day)

Other teams I play on:

DC Chapter  – University of Washington Alumni (Capital Alumni Network – co-ed flag football)

The third season for the DC Dawgs flag football team was a good one. We finished 6-4 in the regular season (and all of the losses were close games that could have gone either way). Then we won the first two playoff games to reach the Sweet 16 of the CAN tournament. But we lost to last year’s champion, Michigan, in the third round.

Success Indicator: 7/10.

DC Chapter  – University of Washington Alumni (Capital Alumni Network – co-ed volleyball)

The DC Dawgs played our first CAN volleyball season in 2012. We finished 3-5 in the regular season. We lost to the eventual champions, Delaware, in the first round of the playoffs.

DC Chapter  – University of Washington Alumni (Capital Alumni Network – co-ed softball)

The DC Dawgs also played our first CAN softball season in 2012. It was a learning year. We finished 1-13 and went 0-3 in the group stage of the playoffs. Next year we will definitely win much more.

DC Dawgs (Metro Sports League – co-ed volleyball)

I also played in Spring, Summer and Fall volleyball leagues. We came in 2nd in Spring and won the championship in Summer!

__________

Finally, I was voted to be the Sports Chair of the UW Alumni – DC chapter Board. That means I continue to organize the flag football and volleyball teams and act as point of contact for new sports we play.

Peace and may the sports be with you.

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