Saturday, April 29, 2006

Reunion

BC started it a month ago by sending an e-mail out announcing plans to reunite a bunch of us Walt Whitman HS grads together to go see Nils Lofgren in Baltimore MD. We would meet in The Neighb aka Wood Acres in the afternoon. Those headed to the show would take off from there. Bear was coming up from NC. AP was coming up from Florida. We got a lot of the guys who still lived in the DC Metro area together for this. BC's brother DC was fired up too. Weess and I drove over from our houses in Northern VA.

BC, Weess, AP and I were together again for the first time since our friend Elwood's wedding in '92. We swapping stories, laughed and talked about the old days. We took a walk around the neighborhood, we saw Wood Acres Elementary School, the baseball fields and we also went to the place where we (as teenagers) used to enjoy beer back in the day. It was all so different as the school was rebuilt. The four of us just picked up where we left off though as we told story after story. It was great. While things in life change, our friendships had not.

We then went to grab something to eat in Bethesda and after we got back, decided to go meet BC's brother and other friends at the basketball court. We ended up playing in a full court basketball game. All we really wanted to do was shoot some hoops and joke around, but no, we ended up turning back the clock for one more hoops game.

Some in our group play recreation hoops. Others, well, we were older, slower and for me, whatever basketball game I had back in the day, left me a long, long time ago. I basically forgot how to play in an actual game, despite watching hundreds of games over the years. No one can stop me when it comes to shooting wads of paper into the office trash can, but today I was shooting air.

We all had a good time though. Sure, a few of us got knocked around. I twisted my ankle on a play and while it's still a little sore. No regrets at all, but I really, really stunk (I did have a couple assists though) on the court. It didn't matter. The amount of fun we all had was incredible. Just getting this crew back together for an afternoon was a treat. Something I won't forget.

I couldn't make it to Baltimore for the show but I know those guys who went had a blast. All I can say is thanks to BC for making today happen. While neighbors will come and go in Wood Acres, bonds like our friendships last forever. This will always be our neighborhood.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Update On My Cousin

He likes all the Motomail we are sending. It’s definitely raising up his spirits. Since his favorite team is the Washington Redskins, I’ve been cutting and pasting what I can from the Post into daily Motomails for him to keep in touch with the developments.

He’s doing well, the duty is tough but he’s qualified and capable as are his Marines. His final thoughts were to keep that Motomail coming.

First Battalion, 25th Marines are now my family too and I get emotional thinking about them. Honestly, I feel connected to those guys over there. Without getting too political here, as upset as I am at this whole war, those Marines (and other service men and women ) are defending our freedom and sticking up for the little things that we do each day. Stuff like holding your son, going to work and watching ball games. These are our leaders and I'm damn proud of every one of them. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Benjamin is six months old!

Big week for Benjamin. First, his Christening was held this past Sunday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Herndon VA. We had close to sixty people witness this blessed event and he was very good throughout the entire Mass and ceremony. He even tried grabbing the candle that Father Chris gave me. Afterward, we were posing for pictures and we had at least ten family members shooting pictures and Father Chris commented on our "paparazzi". We later had a nice reception at Pacific Restaurant in Sterling. Pictures will be posted later as I receive them from family as I wasn't able to take a lot. I am very, very proud of my little guy.

Yesterday Benjamin turned six months old! In thinking about what to write for this, I decided to describe the day he was born. Benjamin was scheduled to be delivered by Caesarean section and we had our appointment set for Tuesday, October 25 2005.

We got up at 4:30 AM October 25th to a downpour. We got everything we needed together and packed it in the car. I couldn't eat due to nerves and Weena, her Mom and I left around 5:15 AM. It was miserable driving to the hospital. We got there around 6:00 AM. Thank goodness I had my iPod because that relaxed me after we filled out all the paperwork. Finally around 8:30 Weena was wheeled to the birthing room and they fetched me around 9:00 AM, with the surgery scheduled for 9:15 AM. I was a basket case. I had a million thoughts going on and tears coming on because I wanted things to go well for Weena. It is hard seeing your wife get cut up. I had to tell myself these were the best professionals, so I just sat there and prayed. Finally at 9:51 I heard some screaming and I saw Benjamin for the first time. I was an emotional mess, but it was the greatest feeling I ever had seeing that little guy for the first time. I was in tears of joy seeing this miracle and once I was told I could start taking pictures, I couldn't for a couple minutes because I was still shaking. Once I got composed and saw that Benjamin was fine I was snapping pics four minutes after his birth.

Here is Benjamin and I in the birthing room



One of my favorite pictures, taken after he was cleaned up

Both Weena and I are extremely fortunate and grateful for our little miracle. These first six months just blew by quick. I'm learning more and more each day with this little guy. I haven't always been perfect, I've made mistakes along the way, but that's part of the challenge of being a parent. It's been a very exciting journey so far. The absolute greatest feeling I get is when I see Benjamin smiling at me. He's got a lot of loving family members and friends. For that we are blessed.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nils Lofgren Interview

Local Musician Hits High Note with Rock Legends

DC area guitar legend Nils Lofgren sat down this week with WTOP Radio Investigative Reporter Mark Segraves and talked about his career, his new CD Sacred Weapon and his upcoming concert schedule, which can be found here.

A summary of the interview can be found here at WTOP's home page. You can access the entire interview there, just go to the Audio link. Nils has some great stories to tell and he plays a few songs in studio. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment for Mark so he can do more of these.

Nils has always been a favorite of mine. One of the first posts of this blog was about a concert I went to at the XM Radio Performance Theater last year.

Monday, April 17, 2006

1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment Arrives in Iraq

Got an e-mail from my Aunt and Uncle regarding my cousin's Battalion. This was off the Marine Parents website, written April 6th.

1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment arrives in Iraq

Marine Corps News

Please keep my cousin, his Battalion and all servicemen and women in your prayers each day. Thank you.

Weekend Sports Summary

Not a glamourous sports weekend like the past two but during the weekend the Wizards clinched a playoff spot, D.C. United is off to their best start since 1999 and the Nationals won their first series of the year, taking two of three from the Marlins.

The Wizards blew a lead vs Chicago Friday night and lost a gut wrencher. They bounced back to beat the Cavaliers yesterday and at 40-40, are in fifth place in the NBA's Eastern Conference. The Wizards have now clinched back to back playoff spots for the first time since the '86-87 and '87-88 seasons. A nice accomplishment since this team had been to the post season once (1997) before Eddie Jordan took over as coach of the Wizards.

Josh Gros and Christian Gomez scored as D.C. United (2-0-1) beat Houston 2-0 Saturday night. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins, starting in place of the injured Nick Rimando, now has back to back shutouts. United's next match is Saturday at New York (4:00 PM ESPN2)

Ryan Church blasted a pair of homers, including the game-winning two-run shot in the ninth as the Nationals (4-9) beat Florida 7-5 to take two of three from the Marlins. Saturday night John Patterson tied a career high by striking out 13 as the Nats ended its six-game skid 2-1 at Dolphins Stadium. Yeah, the Nats are 4-9 but Patterson is turning out to be the ace of this team and each game was very entertaining. Right now I'll take it as this team continues to get screwed by Major League Baseball, who now says new owners of the Nats will be named in mid May.

I've pretty much stopped caring about the Caps and hockey in general since the lock out. I went to one game this year thanks to free tickets. The desire to go back to other games or watch them on TV just wasn't there. Caps Rookie Alex Ovechkin does have 51 goals and over 100 points. He has been the lone bright spot in what has been a dismal season for the Caps.

Started reading this book

March 2, 1962, Hershey, PA. Philadelphia Warriors Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks.

The author, is former Washington Post sportswriter Gary Pomerantz. An excerpt follows:

He came with a body and an ego perfectly sculpted for dominating his game. The ego was essential: For a player to score one hundred points in an NBA game, he must not only want to do it, he must, on a deeper level, need to do it--to take an opponent, an entire sport, and bend it to his will--to show that it could be done and only by him. In one hundred there was hubris but also a symbolic magic. In our culture the number connotes a century, a ripe old age, a perfect score on a test. Scoring one hundred points meant infinitely more than scoring, say, ninety-seven. One hundred was a monument.

Writers and players and coaches prophesied such a night for the young Wilt Chamberlain. He was a one-man revolution. He entered what was still largely a white man's game, took it above the rim, and made it his. The game's traditionalists, seeing the future, blanched. He was, at the core, an individualist, the ultimate alpha male. He loved his sport, he loved his women, and he loved himself. He was averaging fifty points per game during that 1961-62 season, and as his scoring numbers grew so did the prophecy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Benjamin Update

Life as a Rookie Dad continues....

We took Benjamin to see the Easter Bunny this week. I snuck in a shot as the photographer was trying to get Benjamin to smile. The pictures the photographer took came out better than this one as Benjamin was probably wondering what was going on here as I took this.
This was taken after church, I think he was telling me to snap to it because The Masters was on.


"Whoa, this lemonade looks pretty cool..."






After a tough day at the accounting firm during tax season, I get this little guy to welcome me home. How cool is that? Answer: The greatest!



Bonus: Scroll down the page and on the left hand side you will see a small box of photos. Move the cursor over any photo and click. A separate window pops up. Go to the right where it says slideshow and click. Enjoy!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Masters Recap

Yesterday Phil Mickelson won his third major championship and second Masters title with a two-shot victory over Tim Clark. Mickelson broke clear of a leaderboard that featured major champions Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, Jose Maria Olazabal to name a few. Mickelson kept pace with birdies on the seventh and eighth holes and secured this title with birdies on the thirteenth and fifteenth holes.

"It was a really fun day and I had an incredible time playing the final 18 holes," a smiling Mickelson said.

"It's been a long day but a wonderful day and I will cherish that final round".

"The stress-free walk up 18 was incredible. It was a great feeling knowing that I had the tournament in hand".

Hats off to Lefty for the win. I was rooting for Fred Couples. Why? He's been a favorite of mine since he won his first PGA Tour event, the 1983 Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club. Couples won that in a five man playoff and he nearly came close to becoming the oldest Masters winner of all time yesterday.

"I don't feel like I'm 46; I didn't hit the ball like I was 46, but I putted like I was 66," a disappointed Couples said after finishing tied for third, three shots behind Mickelson.

"I'm beating myself up now. From tee to green, I was even with him (Mickelson) or maybe a little better, but you still got to make those 4-8 footers. They're not gimmies."

Couples, the 1992 Masters Champion, said he was already looking forward to 2007.

"This is my favorite golf course in the world and my favorite tournament. I put a lot of energy into this week, so it takes a lot out of me."

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Masters: Best Golf Tournament Ever

How great is the Masters? You have some of the greatest (and not so great) moments in the sport of golf's history at this tournament. Here are a few I came up with as I've religiously followed this tournament every year. My goal is to one day attend The Masters.

1997 Greatest Pro Debut In Major History:
A 21 year old Tiger Woods hammers the field in his first major as a professional. "A win for the ages" said CBS announcer Jim Nantz. Woods won by 12 shots over Tom Kite and had the big shots at Augusta trying to "Tiger proof" their course the next year by re-designing some holes to make them longer and more difficult.





1986 Jack Nicklaus: An Old Master Comes Back.
Twenty years ago this weekend. In one of the most memorable Masters ever, Jack Nicklaus scored a final round 65 to win his sixth Masters. It came 23 years after Nicklaus won his first. Nicklaus's final round was highlighted by an eagle-birdie-birdie streak at Numbers 15, 16 and 17 for a back nine 30. I sat there in amazement watching this unfold.





Emotion: 1995 Ben Crenshaw. In an emotional tournament, the 1984 Champion Ben Crenshaw paid tribute to his late teacher Harvey Penick, who had died just the week before, by winning his second Masters title. Crenshaw birdied holes 16 and 17 Sunday to win by a stroke over Davis Love III. You could see how bad Crenshaw wanted it for his late friend and mentor and I was glad he got it. One of the greatest displays of emotion after a sporting event I've seen.





Collapse: 1996 Greg Norman. Norman had a six shot lead headed into the final round. It was the most horrific collapse in a sporting event I ever saw. Nick Faldo collected his third Masters title winning by five strokes over Greg Norman. Faldo shot 67, Norman shot 78. History will show Norman won two British Open titles, but in his career, he lost a lot of major titles due to a combination of poor course management and unbelievable luck (Bob Tway at the 1986 PGA, Larry Mize 1987 Masters are two examples).




Drama: Tiger 2005. On the 16th hole, a 180 degree slow roller, lay on the lip for what seemed to be an eternity and fall in for a huge birdie chip shot on the course’s loudest hole. It doesn't get more dramatic than that. Simply incredible. You had all the emotions of Tiger there. He crouches, he agonizes, he's amazed. Tiger does a double fist pump! A nice commercial for Nike too.




Slam Dunk: 1987 Larry Mize. Augusta native Larry Mize chipped in for birdie from 140 feet on the second playoff hole at Number 11 to defeat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros for the title. Ballesteros was eliminated on the first playoff hole when he missed his par putt. Norman still had a 30 footer to tie, but everyone knew he was finished and of course he missed.







Worst Putt: Scott Hoch 1989. The first playoff hole of the 1989 Masters and Scott Hoch has an easy two-foot putt to become champion. Nick Faldo, his rival for the title, and millions around the world, look on, amazed, as he misses the putt. Faldo wins the first of his three Masters titles on the next hole. Not many of his peers had much sympathy for Hoch. The previous year, in a player poll by the Dallas Times Herald to find the least liked golfer on the PGA Tour, Hoch was the runaway winner. Faldo likes him a lot I'm sure.






The King: Arnold Palmer. Four time Masters Champion. Enough said. I loved watching Nicklaus but Arnie is my Dad's favorite and over the years, I've appreciated what he has meant for the game of golf.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Maryland: NCAA Women's Basketball National Champions

Maryland Rallies Past Duke In OT, 78-75

Maryland won the NCAA Women's Basketball championship last night. Kristi Toliver hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to cap a 13-point comeback, then she made two free throws with 35 seconds left in overtime to give the Terrapins a 78-75 victory over Duke and their first NCAA Women's Basketball title.

I'm a casual follower of Women's Basketball. This Final Four interested me because three ACC schools were there. Maryland beat North Carolina to get to the final game. Maryland has had some success in this tournament, but it was a long, long time ago. They played in the Women's Final Four in 1982 and 1989 but never reached the title game. So props to the Maryland players and Coach Brenda Frese. It's always cool seeing the words Maryland and NCAA National Champions together.

A few things that I love about this victory:

1. No matter what sport it is, it is always great seeing Duke lose.

2. Maryland finished the season 34-4. They were 6-0 in overtime games this season. All of these wins were away from Comcast Center.

3. The Terps were down 13 last night and with the win, completed the second largest comeback in a women's title game.

4. Maryland joins Stanford, Connecticut and North Carolina as schools that have won both Men's and Women's NCAA basketball titles.

This team has no seniors. There are six freshman and sophomores among their top seven scorers.

Last night's game tying shot by freshman Kristi Toliver reminded me of another clutch freshman coming up big in an NCAA Championship game. Michael Jordan's shot beat Georgetown in the 1982 Championship game.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Note From My Cousin

We got a note tonight from my cousin in Iraq. I'll summarize it here:

His group of Marines are doing fine. They are getting accustomed to their surroundings. Patrolling the city has been exciting, but there's not much going on. He's got a little shopping list, which our families will contribute. If you've wondered what soldiers need over in Iraq, here goes:

Food: Single-serv vacuum sealed tuna is great. Protein powder in the single serv packs. Instant oatmeal.

Toiletries: Small bottles of shampoo. Toothpaste. Powder laundry detergent.

Other: Stationary and envelopes. A couple of boxes of pencils, crayons and pens. Some bags of hard candy. The last two items he says are great for handing out to Iraqi kids and they really do love seeing Americans. It's great to be able to give them some stuff.

He likes the Motomail and tells us to keep it coming as much as you can. He told us it is really great to get something every day when the mail comes. I've been updating him on the NCAA basketball tournament and other sports news.

Here is an article from Military.com on the battalion that my cousin's unit replaced. Interesting read.

Friends, family and blog passerbys, if you got anything for me to pass along to him, please post a comment. Thanks!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

It Was An Amazing Run

The package came in the mail last night. I received it and took it to my wife, who opened it. Inside was a George Mason Final Four t-shirt that I ordered online from the GMU bookstore. The same t-shirt students were lining up for at the George Mason campus. It was the hottest selling item this week. I told her she was now ready to root for her school in the Final Four. Win and the Patriots advance to the NCAA Championship game.

Unfortunately there won't be a game for the Patriots Monday night. Florida 73, George Mason 58. Florida was simply a better team and they stopped one of the most improbable and impressive NCAA tournament runs I've ever seen since I started following this tournament. Jim Larranaga's team, which finished 27-8, proved desire can trump talent.

The Patriots couldn't stop the Gators three point shooting and the rebounding edge was clearly won by Florida 40-27. George Mason had no answer for Lee Humphrey, who was 6 of 12 from 3-point range and scored 19 points. Florida for the game hit 12 of 25 three pointers. George Mason missed its first nine three pointers and ended up 2 of 11, with both of them coming too late in the game.

Let's go back and look at what the 11th-seeded Patriots accomplished this tournament. They knocked out half of last year's Final Four (Michigan State and North Carolina). They beat a very good Wichita State team. They dispatched the last two national champions (Connecticut and North Carolina). I had an absolute blast following this team and it was a treat seeing them play and win the Washington DC Regional.

All George Mason students, alumni and fans should hang their heads high and be proud of what this team accomplished. I know my wife is.