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10:16 PM by Eric: Revolutionary Update Kids | Sports | Travel | Work

So yes, we vacationed in Virginia for a week. We had a really good time, especially in Williamsburg. JetBlue caused us no end of problems, including losing our suitcase (I wish I'd taken a photo of all the Transfer tags on it when it finally came back, because it was impressive), but I'll not dwell on that.

Virginia was beautiful, it really drove home how much different the flora is from Central Texas. Austin is a fairly well-treed Texas city, but the ones here are scrubby little poseurs next to the woods they have in more temperate climes. Cooler weather was a lovely surprise, too, although if you want to know what the single best change was in my opinion? The lack of mosquitos. Oh, I'm sure there were a few, but I am not kidding when I say that spending thirty seconds in our backyard right now will result in no less than four mosquito bites. I've seen flocks, I kid you not.

On the plus side, all that rain has produced a very impressive cucumber vine and some massive tomato plants. Here's hoping they fruit before Texas succumbs to drought and everything dies again.

Williamsburg was really cool, it was very effective in making me more interested in revolutionary America. Jamestown (particularly the glassmaker) and Yorktown were fun too, but to be honest I could have passed on Busch Gardens.

I know I keep saying this, but Ollie is changing so fast. Since we left for Virginia he has started rolling over really easily, sitting up, eating solid food for real (applesauce and peaches are big hits; bananas are as well, but they're off-limits after he had a reaction to one), laughing all the time at just about anything, learning to love swimming (and splashing), and moving ever closer to talking. We're kind of halfheartedly doing baby signing, although to be honest I think it's an open question whether he signs "food" or says it out loud first.

There are, of course, a boatload of new pictures (more than 100, a new vacation record for me) and two new videos in the gallery.

Work is good. My team's current task list has them scheduled until at least the end of 2008, and there's always more to do, so no worries there. In fact, our R&D department, and our management, are emphasizing some things that will have my team at the very forefront of the company's long-term strategy, which is exciting.

Lindsay asked me recently if it was frustrating to be selling software now that I already know is obsolete. In some ways it's an interesting question, because it's not a question one programmer asks another; it's kind of a given. In other ways it's a really interesting question, because it's kind of the central fact of my professional life. Yes, it is frustrating. I know our customers could really use everything we're working on. In fact, some of the stuff I worked on in the last two weeks, I wish I could just give our customers, because it's so much better than what we're selling now. On the other hand, that does give them a reason to pay those software update fees, which keeps my dogs, cat, and baby in kibble, and they do like that. ;)

Anyway, for those of you who want a better insight into what it's like to write software, you might try looking at the book Dreaming in Code. Or you can buy me a beer and ask me questions, but then, Lindsay's flying off to Australia next week, so I guess she hasn't got that option. :-P

Being captain of my hockey team is so far a lot of fun. I tried to pick a team that just wanted to have a good time and play some good hockey, and it's by far the best locker room I've been in. Not a bad team, either, even if we are 1-2, but I'm certainly having a good time. :)

10:30 AM by Eric: Hockey Season Wrap-Up Sports

So the hockey season is over. We lost our first (thus only) playoff game 3-0. Our goalie let in a pair of really soft goals, but to be honest they just outplayed us; they deserved the first goal and obviously that was all they needed.

The summer season starts in a few weeks; I think it will be interesting, because the league admin wants to shake things up a bit. This last season it seemed like emotions got a little high; there were several actual fights, at least one "abuse of officials" misconduct, etc. From what I've heard, in the leagues up around Dallas that kind of thing is endemic, in part because the teams stay together season after season, which leads to a build-up of rivalries and resentments. In the league here, we re-draft every season, which usually helps to keep that kind of thing to a minimum. In my experience, anyway, when you play with different people from season to season, you build up friendships, and it's harder to get mad at a player when you know them from a previous season.

The last few seasons captains have been allowed to "protect" players from the draft, and several goalies became captains, both of which allowed teams to keep a "core" of players together, and it seems like that helped contribute to this season's unpleasantness. So this summer, the league admin requested all new captains, eliminated "protected" players, and isn't allowing goalie captains. Hopefully things will get shaken up a lot.

Also, at Jenny's urging I put my name in for captain, and got selected. It should be an interesting experience. Noone who knows me should be surprised to know that as soon as I heard I'd been selected, Jenny and I put together a spreadsheet of the players in the league and started filtering. I really want to have a fun, clean season, but it would be nice to win some games, too. ;) So after a couple of hours working on the spreadsheet, I have a plan for how I'm going to make my picks. I'll have to do a little revision after the new player skate on Tuesday, but by and large I feel pretty good going into the draft. We'll see how I come out, though. ;)

08:14 AM by Eric: Sleep! Yay! Kids | Personal | Sports

So sleeping has been kind of a rollercoaster the last few weeks. For some reason there was a period of about 4 days where Oliver decided that sleeping for more than an hour was completely uninteresting. This was, to put it mildly, not much fun. We tried everything: earlier bedtime, later bedtime, feeding before bath, after bath, rocking, bouncing, white noise, no white noise... Possibly coincidentally, he got his first cold the day before this started, so he was all congested; we put a vaporizer with some Vicks in the room as well, so we tried using that, not using that, nothing worked.

And then after several days he just went back to sleeping. We both knew, intellectually, that that happens; it apparently tends to happen right before they take a developmental step. That doesn't really prepare you for four nights without sleep, though: nothing really can. :)

After that things actually got easier, so maybe that was what happened. Jenny read a helpful book that talked about the EASY pattern (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) that seems to work. The idea is that you feed them, play with them/keep them active until they get tired (usually an hour to an hour and a half), then they take a nap while you do You things, and then repeat. Every baby has their own schedule, but we managed to find Ollie's pretty quickly, and like I said it's been very helpful. The first few days he only seemed to want to nap while being held (specifically, held upright against my chest) so my You activity was to sit down and watch hockey while he slept snuggled up to me. :) Yesterday, though, he had a really fussy morning, Jenny had trouble getting him to nap at all. About 3 she asked me if I could swaddle him (I'm better at swaddling him tightly enough that he falls asleep before he works himself free; more practice) and get him down for a nap. He woke up after about 15 minutes, but settled back down again and slept until 5. I think his longest nap to that point was probably 45 minutes, so a two-hour nap was completely unexpected. :) We were actually a little worried he wouldn't sleep well last night because of it--but then he slept from 8pm to 5am, which was incredible. He woke up a few times, but always settled himself back down without either of us having to get up, and after Jen fed him at 5, he slept until 7:30 and then just quietly lay in his crib until about 8. I have not slept so well in months. :) So hopefully that week of no sleep was him figuring out how to sleep better on his own, and things will continue like this for a bit. Of course, traveling and changes in routine are supposed to cause sleep issues, and we're traveling each of the next three months, which could be "exciting".

Ollie continues to develop every day, of course; he's holding his head up without any problems now, and he loves being in the Snugli when we're out. The grocery store and Lowe's are both favorite locations, since there's so many people and shapes and colors to see. Best of all, he and I can go out for two or three hours at a time and leave Jenny home to work, which up until now has been hard for her to do. Apparently Ollie roller over (tummy to back) yesterday, but it happened while Jen and he were at a friend's house and he hasn't duplicated the feat for me. :) He's stuffing more and more things into his mouth; his favorite is still both hands (at the same time), but he also tends to enjoy gnawing on hands, knuckles, toys, etc. It's actually a little disconcerting to have your three-month-old suddenly lean over and start gnawing on you like a little velociraptor, but I guess it makes him happy. ;) He's still really talkative--we got him a Bumbo chair so he can sit up, and he loves to sit in that thing and talk to us. I can't wait until they're real words. ;)

He's very interested in the pets lately too, he watches them all the time and occasionally reaches out towards them. They're great with him (to the point where we have to stop them giving him kisses all over his face) as well.

Hockey has been lots of fun lately. I scored another goal: I was set up in front of the goal after I joined a rush, and the forward who had dropped back to cover my spot shot/passed it at me. I managed to deflect the puck up and over the goalie's shoulder, which was very cool and exactly what I was trying to do. Managing to do what I was trying to is an exciting and not-exactly-common event, so... ;) I've been seeing the ice better lately too, doing a better job of keeping my head up and looking around to find the best pass rather than just blindly dumping it ahead. The team has kind of been on a roller coaster, but with one exception all of the games have been fun even when we lose. The exception was a win a week or so ago where one of the other team's forwards deliberately ran over our goalie on a breakaway and separated his shoulder, so we've had substitute goalies since. It sucks to see someone get hurt like that, especially since I was the one who gave up the breakaway. :(

11:56 PM by Eric: Is there such a thing as too much ice time? Sports

We had another hockey game Thursday night. At 10:15 P.M.--and I know this makes me officially old, but those late games are killer. Not the game itself so much, the getting home at 12:30 and still needing to shower etc. :)

Anyway, we won 5-0 (which makes 3 shutouts in 4 games for our goalie, and 3 shutouts in 5 games for the team), putting us in first place in the league.

The game itself was interesting. The other team got really frustrated after the first two goals, and all of a sudden took a bunch of penalties (starting off with a double minor, and then a second penalty halfway through that, so we had about 2 minutes of 5-on-3 play). Then of course they get frustrated with taking penalties, and just end up taking more. I've been on the other end of that, so it was a nice change. :)

In spite of their troubles with the refs, the other team worked really hard. I sympathize with them a bit, because they're a tough team to play against; they never give up on the play, they work hard, they're in good positions and trying to make good plays, and it just isn't working for them for some reason. They're 1-4, we're 4-1, and to be honest at times I felt like they were outworking us--and not because we were being lazy. Of course, it probably helped that one of our defensemen moved to Chicago, so we've played the last two games with 3 defense. (We rotate out one at a time, which means the D ends up with a lot of ice time: thus the title. My position is that no, there's no such thing. :))

In some ways it seems like we get "lucky"--a shot ends up getting deflected up into the air and over their goalie, or on their one power play they turn the puck over just inside their zone and our forward ends up scoring on a breakaway--but we're so consistent about it that it has to be more than that. I think we're just doing a really good job putting ourselves in a position to take advantage of that, and doing a good job covering our own breakdowns.

I'm having a good season, too, which is really gratifying. Aside from my goal, I think I'm beginning to really get a handle on skating (I keep getting complimented on it, for one thing). Our last opponents had some fast skaters, and they liked to try cross-ice passes right as they were entering our zone. One of the forwards on my team mentioned that he kept seeing those passes and thinking for sure they were going to get in behind me, but they almost never did (I did give up one breakaway, but the goalie saved me on that one ;)).

I find that I watch hockey games differently now. I love having a Tivo, because when something interesting happens, I can back up and see how it developed. Where the players go and what they do when they don't have the puck is sometimes more interesting than what they do with the puck. :) I think it would be lots of fun to go to real hockey games, because TV is very limiting as far as being able to watch the play away from the puck (and line changes, etc).

In other news, we watched a very amusing hockey game today. The Make A Wish foundation sponsored a charity game between the University of Texas hockey team (a club team) and the rink's Mini Mites players (kids between the ages of 4 and 8). Yes, there were college players playing against kids so small you couldn't even see shin pad between the tops of their skates and the bottoms of their pants. :) The hockey players were pretty severely handicapped: they had to turn their sticks around (so they were playing the puck with the butt end, not the blade--which is really hard), they had to jump the blue lines (or do an immediate 5 pushups), they had to play no-contact (while the kids could, and did, check everything and everyone in sight), and they had to kneel on all faceoffs. The game was crazy--some of those kids are surprisingly good. There was this one really, really tiny (obviously one of the 4-year-olds) kid--I don't know what's so hilarious about little kids playing hockey, but if you want to laugh for 15 minutes go to youtube, search for hockey, and watch the videos of little kids. This little kid was raring to go before the game--smacking his stick on the ice and making little charges towards the UT players, like he just couldn't wait to get started on them. :)

UT lost, of course, 14 to 4; there were some really memorable moments. The Mites started out with 6 players on the ice to UT's 5 (not counting goalies); then at some point there were 7, then 8. Towards the end of the first period, the refs tossed a second puck out on the ice, and both were being played at the same time. One UT player took a holding penalty when he grabbed the smallest Mites player, lifted him up, and skated the length of the ice holding the little guy off the ice. :) The UT players were really hamming it up, too, throwing themselves to the ice whenever someone bodychecked them, etc. The UT goalies were putting on a great show of being terribly disappointed every time they got scored on. All in all it was pretty hilarious. Sometimes you could tell the UT players would forget they were playing with their sticks wrong side up, as they'd try to pull a move or make a quick pass just like normal, and the puck wouldn't go anywhere at all. :) Eventually they figured out that if you laid the stick flat on the ice and took a shot that way, the ref wouldn't call it and you could actually control it reasonably well. If it hadn't been for that I don't think UT would have scored at all. :)

The game ended crazily, with every player on both sides jumping into the play. There were UT players laying all over the ice, too, because the Mites went on a checking spree. I have some really terrible cellphone photos I'll post of the carnage. :)

All the mites seemed to have a great time, I'm glad we went. And I can't wait for Ollie to be 4 so he can give Mites a try. Hopefully he'll have as much fun as I do. If not, that'll be okay too, of course. :)

09:42 PM by Eric: Good Days, Bad Days Kids | Sports

So life with Ollie is kind of settling into more of a routine. Sort of. :) He's still changing a lot (he looks a lot different already than he did a month ago), and it seems like there's always one more thing to learn. I'm guessing that doesn't change, though.

The last week or so, on advice from the All-Knowing Internets, we decided to try starting a bedtime routine. About 8pm, we give him a bath (which he loves; the kid is a serious water baby), feed him, read him a bedtime story, and ease him to sleep. He tends to wake up pretty frequently for the first 20 minutes or so, but after that (usually 9-ish) he conks out until 3 A.M. or so. So we've sort of reclaimed at least our late evenings, which feels really nice; it's tough to have the kid attached to one or the other of you literally 24/7. Not that my experience is a patch on Jen's. :)

The current "one more thing to learn", by the by, is how to get him to nap reliably during the day. He tends to stay up too much during the day and get overtired, which just makes him unhappy, and makes Jenny's life difficult, etc. Of course, from my reading, this may just have to be one of those things he works out for himself. I certainly don't want to trade good daytime naps for good nighttime sleeping, that's for sure. :)

Anyway, he's a really good night sleeper--in general, a really good baby. Not colicky or sick or anything thus far, although he has his moments.

Today, for example. Today he wanted to be held and fed basically from 9 A.M. until 6:45, and then he wanted to be held until I did the bedtime thing. Usually he's willing to sack out in the swing or the bouncy chair (I guess he did sleep for an hour or so when Jen took him for a walk in the stroller), but today he was pretty tough on Jen. She finally got to go to school and get some work done tonight, so Ollie and I had some father-son time (we watched a hockey game, natch ;). And to be honest, that's a relatively bad day for Ollie; compared to some of the stories from our birthing class, I gather we're getting off pretty easy. I still don't know how single parents do it; I know Jen gets really tired (physically and emotionally) during the day, and she has me to help out if she wants to take a shower or needs food etc.

Yesterday, on the other hand, he was a model baby. He and I got up about 8:30 and went and hung out in the office, browsing the Internet and having coffee (me) and a bottle (him). Jen got up about 11 or 11:30 (having caught up on the tiniest sliver of 6 weeks' worth of lost sleep). We put the baby and the dogs in the car and went to Town Lake, where we walked the hiking/biking trail. I had Ollie in the Snugli and Cara on a leash, leaving Jen to deal with Charlie (who was excited and rambunctious as ever). Ollie slept the whole walk, and he was still in a good mood after, so we went to Freddie's, a local restaurant/bar with an outdoor dogs-welcome area. We had great veggie burgers, the dogs basically behaved themselves, and we got to have a couple of nice drinks in the sun. Last night I played a hockey game; our team got sponsored this season by a local restaurant, so we got brand new jerseys and matching socks. I'll try to get a picture of me in full dress sometime soon, but so that you can picture it, Jenny claims the color is precisely the same as Ollie's bowel movements; I maintain the jerseys are slightly lighter. :-P Anyway, it was my first time wearing hockey socks; boy did that feel odd. They breathe a lot more than my hockey pants, so my legs felt naked all game. :) We won, in any case, 2-0, putting us in second in the league currently. This team is really good, lots of passing and teamwork, which is fun.

In other Ollie news, we think he's smiling at us now--not grinning, exactly, and not reliably, but he does seem to make a face that looks like a smile to me. It's very cute; I'll see if I can get a photo at some point. Jenny took some more video of him, so I'll try to get that encoded and uploaded in the next few days too.

Oliver has an MRI tomorrow (which should be fun; he can't eat after 4:30 A.M., and they want us to try to keep him awake as well, since they say it's easier if he's tired), and an EEG on Wednesday; hopefully those will both come back normal and we can stop with the scary testing and just live with Oliver. I'm not really worried, as he's at or ahead of all the developmental milestones we've seen. He's really strong, very good at holding his head up, tracking movement well, etc.


Yes, it finally happened. Last night I scored my first ever organized hockey goal. :) It was a really crazy game (final score 8-5, we won). The team we played likes to have one or two forwards hang out near the center line even when the puck is in their defensive zone, so that they can make hail-mary type passes and get breakaways or odd-man rushes. Defensively we actually did a pretty good job keeping them from getting free shots (I think there was only one true breakaway), but our forwards were having trouble getting back in time, so there were a lot of 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 breaks, which are tough to defend time after time.

On the plus side, having their forwards cherry-picking meant they weren't giving their goalie much help either, so it turned into more or less a scoring contest. We got out of the first period winning 5-0; I think that first period saved the game for us.

We were passing really well; we had two practice sessions this season (really unusual to have any), and we spent a lot of time practicing breaking out of our own zone, and it really shows. We've had very few turnovers in the middle of our zone, which helps cut down on the goals against.

Anyway, my first goal wasn't anything beautiful; we caught their forwards on a line change, so two of our forwards moved into their zone with the puck. I moved up to be the third man into the zone, so we ended up with a 3-on-2. The right wing shot the puck, the goalie stopped it, and the defense tied up the right wing so he didn't have a chance at the rebound. That rebound slid out about 10' right in front of the goal, and I got to it before anyone else could react. The goalie was already down from blocking the first shot, and nobody else was between me and the goal, so I just put it up into the corner of the net. It was kind of a shock--every other time I've tried that I've managed to put it right into the goalie's chest, or someone's managed to deflect or block the shot, but this one was right on. I felt kind of bad, celebrating a goal that made it 7-4 (mostly bad for the goalie; he's a nice guy), but it was my first. ;)

I had two assists (at least) as well, so that puts me at a point per game (this was our third game; we lost the first 0-3 and won the second 3-0). I think this is going to be a good team, we have some good passers and some guys who can finish well too. It'll be fun in any case. :)

08:57 PM by Eric: Things you just don't do, part 3,427 Kids | Personal | Sports

Never, ever, ever ask a pregnant woman, "you got twins in there?"

Particularly if you are the waiter who is depending on her good graces for your tip. It's rude, it's thoughtless, and it makes you like like a moron who ain't never seen a pregnant woman before. And you don't get tipped very well, for some reason.

Jesus. It amazes me how people (at large) view pregnancy. I don't know if it's a consequence of modern life (where, the birth rate being what it is, pregnant women are a relative rarity), or of the images displayed in the media (where pregnant women are all impossibly skinny and never more than 3 months along), but you'd think these people had no idea that you could actually grow a real person in there! (Which is particularly interesting when combined with the fact that "newborns" on TV are invariably like 18 months old--you have these skinny, tiny women giving birth to 20-pound babies. Physics, anyone?)

In other news: I played hockey (well, went to the hockey class) last night for the first time since August. It was great fun--a pair of my friends were there, and some other guys I knew, and it was great being part of it again. One of the guys told me I looked just as good as the last time he saw me play--which is nice, but probably not quite true; I did fall down at least once. ;) My ghetto gloves lost their protective coating of duct tape halfway through, unfortunately. Hopefully my new gloves get here soon. :)

We had a really busy weekend; normally we take Sunday easy, just read the paper and have breakfast, maybe clean some stuff, take a nap, etc.; yesterday, aside from hockey, we had to get up early to make the sugar cookie base for a fruit pizza (quick tip: do not use olive oil in cookie recipes that call for "1 cup oil"; just trust me on this one), which we took to a brunch with several people from Jen's school, hosted by one of the administrators there. That was fun; she has 3 very friendly, very large dogs (Great Pyrenees), and I'm a sucker for big fluffy animals. :)

Saturday Jen went out to the mall with some friends; I stayed home and cleaned, mostly. I ended up in a grumpy mood; the weather here has finally swung towards winter (gray, cold, rainy) and I think I'm addicted to sunshine at this point. Plus I was really missing hockey (which was why Jen told me to go on Sunday); I'm not a super social person most of the time, but I really love hanging out with the people there and getting the exercise.

So anyway, we're thinking taking it easy next weekend will be good; we're really hoping Ollie decides to come out and play soon. It's been such a long process that it's getting really hard to be patient any more. :) He is at least head-down (ultrasound today confirmed it), so that's one worry pretty much out of the way.

I'm also excited about the new kitchen sink and faucet. We picked it out last week and picked it up this weekend, and we'll be putting it in over Christmas (I am not attempting plumbing without Dad around to walk me through it ;)).

Work is muy busy right now. We have a big deadline tomorrow and a bigger one the 15th, so there's lots of extra hours and weekends for a lot of people (not so much for me, fortunately). It's exciting, though; in a few weeks all the stuff I've been working on for months will finally be in the hands of real users (even if only in limited numbers). I can't wait to hear back from sales and through our forums how people react to it.

10:29 PM by Eric: Five Days, Six Nights Personal | Sports

No, it's not a vacation. :-P An anti-vacation, in point of fact. This is Jen's last week at TIP. I know going in we both thought it would be fun for her, that the time would fly by. Instead it's been quite the reverse; Jen made the comment Saturday that it's a good thing she's mostly dissociated the whole thing from Duke TIP, because as an experience it would otherwise have polluted the fond memories she had of her own time there. Which is really too bad; I had hoped to send our own kids there someday, and from Jen's experience, I wouldn't do so if they paid me at this point. And I'm not even talking about the things Jen has had to deal with--just the way the kids are treated and the program is run. To be honest I'm not sure whether to blame their expansion away from the Duke campus (and the resulting loss of central program culture) or the societal changes (technological and otherwise) that result in parents who panic if their kids don't have cellphones and threaten lawsuits for any imagined breach of idyllic perfection. I will never be that parent, I want my kids to learn independence, learn to deal with problems on their own, learn to make friends and experience technology as a tool, not a substitute for their own intelligence and creativity.

Anyway, Jen was in town again this weekend; she and some new friends managed to make it to one of my games for the first time this season--against the team that won the championship last season. We won, of course (it's totally her fault our record's no good... ;)), which was lots of fun. It's funny, we tend to play very well against this team (both seasons), I don't know why. I still have no points this season (2 penalty minutes, though!) which is kind of disappointing since I won't be playing this fall (or next spring). I'd like to get a goal before I have to lay off for a while, but we'll see.

I can't decide if I like the Mary J. Blige version of "One" better than the original, or vice versa. I told Jen I liked the original better earlier today, but then I just listened to the new version and I can't decide. It might be novelty, though; the song is a classic either way.

I need something new to read. Lately (okay, like the last eight years) I've been on this intelligence sort of kick, but I feel like I haven't read anything challenging on the subject in a while. There was a good article in the NYTimes magazine today about intelligence (short version: heredity rules if your environment is sufficiently challenging to allow you to reach your full potential), and I wrote about an interesting study about learning to program over on my "other" blog--the one that nobody ever reads unless they need help with the Windows Scheduler ;)--a few days ago, but I feel like there must be something new and exciting in either related philosophy or science. Hofstadter has a new book coming out, which is exciting, but I'm thinking about looking for something to read on the plane to NYC.

Which is a separate excitement. Work is pretty busy right now; I have a metric ton of work to do before Sep. 15, and I can definitely use two weeks of R&R; I know at least some of it will be spent Kokai-style "commando raid" vacation, but hopefully I can sleep in at least once. ;) Either way it should be fun, with everyone from both families in one place, plus Simon & Fiona.

Sorry, I'm a little scatterbrained right now. I've got so much going on mentally that I've had trouble sleeping, something that hasn't been true since probably sophomore year of college, when I considered it a relaxing day if I got to sleep before 2 a.m. ;) I probably left something out of this update, but I can't "feature" what (as they say in Deadwood ;)).

10:16 PM by Eric: Dogs, showers, paint and hockey Personal | Sports

I actually had a really good day today--the sort of day that could only be made better in a single way, and that's if Jen were here to share it.

I slept in (as much as the animals ever allow), had a leisurely cup of coffee, then gave the dogs baths (so they're fluffy and they smell good now). Of course, since the dogs were clean I had to wash Charlie's crate (since if he'd laid down in it he'd have needed another bath at this point), and then I had to sweep the house in case there was any dust or dirt that might undo the baths as well. :) They were really good about the baths, usually Cara goes all "oh my god I can't believe you're abusing me this way", but today she just kind of sat there and accepted it. Charlie does this hilarious thing after baths where he rubs up against anything he can find--couches, chairs, beds--as if trying to wipe off the water or the conditioner or something. Of course both of them shed something fierce after a bath, so I've been brushing them every hour or two.

After that I cleaned myself up (it's amazing how wet and dirty one can get cleaning two dogs) and went to Lowe's. I bought the supplies (including most of the paint--excluding the polka dots) for painting the baby's room. My mom commented on how matter-of-fact I am about that at this point ("painting the baby's room"), but to be honest, we're 4 months into this and I'm more or less used to the idea now, you know? ;) Jen and I got some super cute baby outfits while she was in town. Our baby will be dressed up in growling, stomping dinosaurs, or a sweater that makes him/her look like a monkey (complete with hood with ears), or a hooded towel made up to look like a crab. (My mother found that last very funny, we'll have to put pictures up once the baby is made to look like a monkey/crab/etc.)

Lowe's was also having a sale on a combined normal/handheld shower head, so I went ahead and grabbed that, figuring that it would be useful for washing both dogs (sadly, I bought it after I washed the dogs--tactical error there) and babies at some point. Even better, that allowed me to take the shower head from the guest bathroom and use it to replace the POS $2 (I am not kidding, I priced it at Lowe's) shower head that was in the master bath. Which should be nice.

Then I played hockey this evening. Our hockey team isn't doing as well as last season--I don't know if I jinxed us or not, but we're 1-4-2 on the season, tied for last place. Still, it's a lot of fun, we just aren't scoring enough. Every game we've lost has been by a single goal, so it's not like we aren't competetive, we just can't finish off the other teams. It does feel like the level of competition has gone up--there's an "informal" league, with no refs, as well, and I think a lot of the more marginal players dropped down to that, so the regular C league is more difficult by comparison with last season. Also, the last few games the refs had gone completely crazy; two games ago, we spent nearly the entire second period short a player (at one point we had four players in the box at the same time), which is just nuts for a rec league. I took my first two-minute penalty in that game, for cross-checking (which was nonsense--the blade of my stick was on the ice; it should have been either elbowing or boarding, if they were going to call anything at all. :-P) Either way, any day I get to play hockey is pretty much a good day, and I'm used to being on last-place teams, so it beats not playing at all. :-D

Other than that, not much to report; work has been busy but not unreasonably so, I'm at least getting to work on new-ish problems. Missing Jen a lot, of course, but there isn't much I can do about that. :-P

10:04 PM by Eric: Gravity exerts an irresistible pull.... Personal | Sports

Last night was our fourth hockey game of the season. We lost the first two, both by a single goal; the first one we really should have won, the second was just a hard-fought game. We won the third game, 7-1. To be honest I felt kind of bad about that one. You'd think it would be fun to have a game like that, but I always remember the times I was on the losing end of those games and it's hard to enjoy it.

Anyway, like I said, last night was the fourth game of the season. We ended up coming back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it, but it felt like a win, the way we played. Our opponents were the best team in the league (same team that won the championship last season), so a tie isn’t bad at all (we can do better, though. ;)) After the game, our goalie stood up in front of everyone and announced that I had had a “monster” game, my “best game of the season, by far”, and that I was “absolutely everywhere on the ice”. I think I blushed. :) Anyway, it was a really good game; I had lots of great defensive plays, stopping breakaways, cutting off passes, etc.

I did have one big fall, though, which everyone teased me about mercilessly. The captain said he was taking up a collection to have my skates sharpened. :) We had the puck in their zone, 2nd period, we were getting lots of good pressure. Curry, one of the forwards, got the puck at the left wing and saw me completely open at the blue line. He passed it to me, perfect pass, and right as he did my legs just shot out from under me. Nobody within 20’, a perfect pass, and I just BAM! fell down. What’s worse is that, as I was laying on the ice, the puck was coming straight towards me. I mean, STRAIGHT towards me. If I hadn’t moved it would have hit me right in the middle of my stick. Of course, like a total idiot I tried to lift my stick (as I’m laying flat on the ice) to take the pass with the blade, and the puck goes under the stick, under me, and out of the zone. Brilliant!

Anyway, like I said, I had a good game--almost had a goal. I had the puck all alone against 3 defenders, I faked past one, ended up right in the center of the ice with the 2 defenders in front of me. I seem to find myself in that situation about once a game, so I've been trying to make it work for me. My current move is to cut right just a bit to get the defender between me and the goalie, and then shoot the puck through the defender's legs, so the goalie has trouble seeing the shot at first. This time, I’m pretty sure the shot hit the post on the far side, it was a really nice shot and I don’t think the goalie really saw it. Eventually one of those shots is going to go in, it just didn’t happen that game.

I've also noticed a number of Spoonerisms coming out of my mouth lately. After the game I wanted to talk about the fact that especially in the second period, it's important to keep our shifts short so we don't get tired and caught out of position (which is why we were down 2-0), only I said it was important to keep our "shorts shifted". You can guess what kind of jokes were made at my expense at that point. ;) I actually really like this team. Everyone on it is always in a good mode, there's teasing and camaraderie in the locker room. Jen says she approves of their teasing me all the time, and frankly I agree; it's a really great group of guys and I'm glad to be a part of it. What's even better is that I know other guys on nearly every team in the league (last nights' opponents are pretty much the exception), so there's always someone to say hi to or trash talk before the game. It's a lot of fun, and it makes me wish I could play hockey every night. :)

Playing games without Jen in the audience is kind of weird. She'd only missed a few games before this season, and I was pretty used to looking up and seeing her in the second or third row, reading her book at period intermissions or cheering during play. I keep looking for her, and of course she's not there. She'll get to see my game this Saturday, though, so hopefully I'll have another good game. :)

As far as work goes, it's pretty busy right now. We have our second-most-major deadline of this entire release coming up, and everyone's scrambling to get ready. I'm in the middle of a really frustrating problem (been working on it about 14 hours thus far, with no resolution). It doesn't help that making brand new code work exactly like the old code did six months ago--which is what we're doing--is one of the more tedious, uncreative jobs in programming. It has to be done, and it will be worth the effort at the end, but any programmer will tell you that solving new problems and writing new code is much more fun.

Aside from work and hockey I haven't done much; I have a million things to do to the house that I just haven't had the time to do, and we're supposed to hang out with some friends for July 4th, but other than that my social life is essentially nonexistant. :) Sorry. No new baby news, either; we won't know the sex for another 5 weeks, and that's really the next big milestone. I've actually only told 3 people at work, partially because everyone who knows Jenny is pregnant seems to only talk to her about that sometimes, and I don't want that to happen. Of course I'm also a pretty private person in general.

11:27 PM by Eric: Stuff and Nonsense Movies and TV | Personal | Sports

An update, at last! :-P

Anyway. Last weekend Jen and I went with some friends to see Over The Hedge. Jen and I both had qualms about seeing it; from the trailers, we both expected it to be not-very-good. We were wrong. It was said afterwards that it's the best animated movie Dreamworks has made; better than Shrek, and while I don't know that I'd necessarily give either the nudge myself, OTH is definitely a worthwhile viewing experience. The Grand Theft Auto sequence in particular is awesome, as is the movie version of Ben Folds' "Rockin' the Suburbs". And stay through the credits--it's worth it (partially because the end credits themselves are well-done and interesting), unlike the ending of X-Men 3.

I also watched the first part of Robots this week. Despite the program guide's generous four star rating, I found it completely uncompelling and deleted it after about twenty minutes. I, Robot, on the other hand, was entertaining if not particularly thought-provoking. It's Will Smith, what do you want? ;) Constantine was not terrible, for a comic-book movie. If I see it in the $5 bargain bin at Wal-Mart, I might pick it up. I'm a sucker for storylines involving an eternal war between Heaven and Hell with humans as proxy combatants, though. Tomorrow should result in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (which I had watched approximately half an hour of, while programming on a laptop in a client's home at my previous job) as well as The Maltese Falcon (which I've never seen, but I like noir and Bogart, so...) and even more excitingly, the first episode of the new season of Deadwood. I've missed Al Swearengen's poetical utterances, truly I have. I find it interesting that Robots was something I deliberately Tivoed, while I, Robot was a Tivo Suggestion--I submit to you that perhaps the Tivo knows me better than I know myself. Of course, it also recorded Prince William and Hide and Seek--so perhaps not, after all.

This week we also moved Jenny to College Station for the next two months, more or less. Which isn't much fun. I have plenty to keep me busy, including lots of work stuff (enough that I worked for a few hours today, which is not usual for me at all) and yet more home improvement Activities™, but I am accustomed to intense Jeopardy duels, and it takes all the fun out of an entire category devoted to the Oz books (not the movie!) if Jen's not here. :-P

Our parents banded together and gave us an anniversary present of a digital camcorder (for obvious reasons), so if I can manage to lay hands on a DV cassette sometime soon perhaps I will encourage the pets to do goofy things I can put on the site. Or something. I dunno. It seems like a wonderful piece of equipment, though; I can understand why people do things like this or this, when digital film technology is so accessible. I even know a few people who I'm sure would be happy to be extras in a Firefly fanfic... ;)

The hockey draft was this last week as well. One of the players from my spring team is a captain in the summer league, and had intended to try to keep the team together as much as possible. This is complicated by the fact that aside from himself, he only gets to "protect" a single player, and further by the fact that three of our players got drafted into the next league up (including my defensive partner, all unwitting). Still and all, it looks like the core is there, and it should be fun regardless. I got a little bit of an ego boost when I found out that apparently I was selected in either the third or fourth round of the draft, which seems fairly early for someone in their second season. Not that any OHL or NHL scouts are likely to be darkening my door anytime soon. And it's only a small ego boost, as I can depend on Jenny for a realistic (by which I mean occasionally depressing ;)) appraisal of my "mad hockey skillz", as it were.

This weekend's project, aside from "entertaining the dogs" (via early morning trip to the dog park) and "dealing with crunch time" (viz., working today) is "cleaning the garage". Anyone who has lived in a house with a garage for more than ten minutes knows precisely what I mean by that. :)

Last night I had a bout of insomnia, and ended up out on the hammock in the back yard at about 2am. It's worth noting that, by 2am, the mosquitos appear to have quit for the day and, in June in Austin, the temperature is literally perfect. I almost slept out there, but it on further reflection I supposed that to be a bad idea and merely enjoyed it until I felt sleepy. :)

A final thought: reading the Baroque Cycle sure does turn me into a wordy son of a gun, doesn't it?

09:45 PM by Eric: This is not a Mighty Ducks movie Personal | Sports

Sadly, my life is not a Mighty Ducks movie, and so, though we are indeed a plucky ragtag band which has had our problems, my hockey team did not win the championship game. In fact, we pretty much sucked for the entire game. :-P The final score was 2-1, but that was only because our goaltender had an amazing game. The other team was working us over like crazy, making good passes, frustrating our rush, getting off good shots all over the place. We just couldn't seem to get our flow going, start connecting on passes.

On the plus side, I did have two very solid slapshots, both on net, and I did have fun (although I took a slapshot off my thumb that left it swollen and sore for two days), so I can't really complain. There was an after-party, with barbecue (it's Texas) and beer (apparently my defensive partner's dad is a brewer for Shiner Bock, and procured a keg of what will be next year's Anniversary Special). I partook of neither, since we don't eat meat and I'm not drinking until/unless Jenny does (it only seemed fair), but I did spend about 15 minutes swapping hockey stories with a 14-year-old. :)

Anyway, it was a great season and I can't wait for the summer season to start.

10:07 PM by Eric: Playoffs and etc. Personal | Sports | Work

So the season has ended; my team finished in third place. The final stats for the season are available online here. If you drill down into the stats, you'll note I got no goals, no penalty minutes, and a single assist. Go me. ;) Still, I feel like I had a great first season and a lot of fun. The handful of pictures Jenny was able to get before the camera battery died are up in the gallery. I'm in black with a white helmet, #79. (I would have been #13, but someone else on the team already had it).

Being in the top 4 teams meant we got to enter the playoffs, which are a simple single-elimination tournament. Our first-round game was last night, against the 2nd-place team. Of our 4 regular defensemen, one was recovering from salmonella and the other had just gotten new skates (and isn't really comfortable in them yet) since the steel runner in his old ones shattered during a game earlier in the season (seriously). The referees seemed to kind of have it in for our team; we took 7 penalties to I think 2 for the other team, although I honestly think there were an equal number of offenses on either side. We did score first, one goal in the first period, but the second period kind of fell apart on us and we gave up two power play goals.

Fortunately, one of the things this team is very good at is coming back from a deficit, and we really went to work in the third period. My defensive partner scored a beauty of a wrist shot off a faceoff during a 4-on-4, leaving us tied. We had several more great opportunities, including one where I cut off a clearing pass, passed to a forward at the side of the net, and ended up with the rebound and a wide open net. My shot was a little off balance and someone got in the way of it, and we ended up with about 8 players involved in a scrum in front of the net--most of us laying on the ice. The puck ended up right in front of me, and I saw our center about three feet away, standing up. I very carefully used my stick to push the puck towards him, but as soon as he touched it the ref whistled us for a hand pass (which was nonsense).

Time wound down and ran out; unlike the regular season, there are no ties in the playoffs, so we went to a 5-minute 4-on-4 sudden death overtime. We played for about 3-1/2 minutes, with some good chances on both sides, until a miscommunication ended up with us apparently having too many men on the ice. (I'm not completely sure there actually were too many men, but that's what was called.) One of our centers, my defensive partner, and I ended up as the 3 in a 4-on-3. I was really excited to get tapped for the 4-on-3, since it indicated a lot of trust from my captain and teammates. Less than a minute later my partner got the puck in our zone. He had some time, so he held it, and the center started yelling for him to ice it all the way down. Instead, he very calmly passed it straight up the middle to the center, who fought off the lone defense in his way, broke in on the goalie, and beat him 5-hole. It was an amazing goal shorthanded in overtime, and the crowd (friends and family as well as the teams waiting to play the next game) started yelling. It was great. :)

So we're into the championship game, which will be played next Monday. We've played our opponents three times: beaten them twice and tied once, so we feel like if we play well we have a great chance. Either way, I've had an amazing time this season and I'm really glad I got to play.

In other news, yesterday and today my company held the annual conference for our independent resellers, consultants, and other developers. This year it was held here in Austin. I was scheduled to judge an annual competition yesterday, but I had to bow out at the last minute because I needed to make it to my playoff game. Today I gave a 25-minute presentation on recent improvements to one of the tools we sell. It was very well received, although I have several notes on things I can do better next time I get the opportunity. It was very interesting to me to meet all these people who build an entire ecosystem of software based on our stuff, and hear their perspectives on how things are and should be. Being an insider was a new experience for me too; all these developers wanted to know what's coming down the pipe, and how things work, and I have to keep in mind what I am and am not allowed to state publicly. It was very cool taking questions and being able to give good answers. Hopefully I'll get to participate in the conference in years to come as well.

01:46 PM by Eric: It was fun while it lasted Personal | Sports

Of course, as soon as I brag about it, the streak is over. :-P We lost yesterday, 2-1, leaving our streak at 5-0-1. Ah well, time to start a new one.

In other news, I finally got the new floor in the bedroom put down (again). It's nice to have that out of the way, even though between putting floor down and hockey I'm pretty tired and sore. :)

07:53 PM by Eric: Yes, I'm still here. Personal | Sports | Work

I'm really bad about updating this thing. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure why I have it. :-D

Anyway, hockey has been going great. All of a sudden my team is on a tear; we've won our last 5 games, the most recent with a substitute goalie. In that stretch we beat the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams (we were more or less in 4th place for most of it). As of this last game we are tied for 1st place in the division with either 1 or 2 other teams (the latest games haven't posted to the website yet).

Of course, I still don't have a goal, an assist, or a penalty to my credit. I'm the only player on the team who has not missed a game of which that is true. :) Partially it's just luck; I've certainly had chances for goals or assists. Mostly it's due to the fact that I tend to play a defensive style; my partner tends to play pretty offensively, joining the rush or pinching to try to hold the puck in, which means I'm covering back in case he gets beaten. Still, we're winning and I'm having a great time, so I'm happy.

Work is going well. I've been working on my presentation for our reseller/developer conference, which is coming up very soon. I'm a little nervous;hopefully it goes well. No hecklers, that sort of thing. ;)

The garden hasn't died yet. We've been watering more than we did last year, and that seems to be helping. The bell pepper plant from last year has actually grown quite a bit, so here's hoping it feels productive this time around. This weekend I'm going to put up the new mantel and re-lay the floor in the bedroom. I'll be painting the guest room this summer, and I need to find some way to keep the stupid transition pieces attached to the new flooring (I think I'm going to end up drilling into the concrete and screwing them down) and then hopefully that will complete the inside of the house for the time being.

Also, for some reason, yesterday and today I've been thinking a lot about Neil. I'm not really sure why; maybe it's that all the flowers around here are blooming. I remember noticing on the way back from Houston that the bluebells were blooming along the highway; they were kind of heartbreakingly pretty actually. Either way. I still miss him a great deal, especially when I cut up bell peppers or broccoli.

10:43 PM by Eric: Update! Personal | Sports | Work

Sorry about the lack of updates. I got busy again. Or got lazy again--take your pick. ;)

I won't recap the games individually, but our last 3 games have been a loss (a really bad loss; our captain got injured and one of our players got ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty), a tie (0-0; our first shutout), and a win (in which I played like crap; see below) respectively. Aside from the really bad loss (which wasn't fun for reasons other than losing the game), the season so far has been lots of fun. I feel like I'm learning something every time I'm on the ice; I feel more confident every game, and I feel like every game I find some way to make a good contribution, even if it's not scoring (and it's not; I have 0 goals/0 assists on the season--but 0 penalty minutes, too ;). I actually kind of love blocking shots, partially because I find it incredibly frustrating when other people block my shots, and turning that around is very satisfying.

Anyway, I got really, really sick last weekend. I played hockey Sunday afternoon, felt great, had a great game (the tie, which we really should have won but for their substitute goalie playing like a pro), came home, had dinner, and then spent much of the night throwing up. Oh, and massively delirious. Apparently I was a real pain in the ass; I don't remember much of it. Monday morning I felt slightly better but was weak as a half-drowned kitten and still shaky, so I stayed in bed all day. Wednesday, we played our next game, and I was very obviously still tired. I couldn't seem to stand up on the ice at all; I fell down even more than usual (and usual is fairly often--my teammates call me the "Tasmanian Devil" for my signature spin-around-and-fall-down routine). Fortunately I don't seem to have relapsed, and we have a 10-day layoff to the next game, so I have time to recover.

We just finished a major milestone at work. The project that's been taking up the time of the majority of our developers for the last 3-1/2 years has finally come to a closure point, and from here on out we're going to be starting to pull that code into our existing applications and actually shipping it to customers. This isn't really new for me, because the stuff I've been working on has been the actual shipping applications, up until the last 3-4 months. Lately I've been getting things in place to significantly improve our infrastructure to make that migration easier; after Monday that will all be done (we'll be using .Net 2.0, SQL Server 2005, and Team Foundation Server--all really cutting edge stuff) and I'll be back working on actual code, which will be nice. I'm really a code monkey at heart. :-D

Some of the stuff I've been working on (and will be working on) is really cool; I'll be helping present some of it at one of our annual conferences, aimed at our resellers and other people who customize our application. That's very exciting for me; I often envy the situation of the various Microsoft developers who blog about their work and have very active, engaged communities, and this is kind of a similar situation for me. Although I've worked on applications for end-users at other jobs, this is the first time that I'm really starting to get directly connected to users/developers who aren't actually on my team or working for my company, and that's pretty cool.

08:03 AM by Eric: Win #1 Sports

The ATX Spades (captain changed our name, since "this isn't the same team as last season") finally won our first game, 4-1. On the way to the game, Jenny was telling me things she'd noticed about the last game. "You don't challenge enough," "you guys don't look before you pass," etc etc. I don't know whether my teammates psychically heard her or not (I know I found her suggestions helpful), but we did a lot better job of playing as a team tonight. We still had trouble making good, solid passes (some of our guys have a bad tendency to make blind passes, especially breaking out of our zone), but we got a lot of good shots on goal and, just as importantly, the forwards were crashing the net. We got one goal off a beautiful deflection of a shot from the point (from my defensive partner) and the other three were all rebounds put in by forwards pouncing on rebounds in the slot.

I played pretty well again; no toe loops this time. Our forwards did a great job backchecking; I don't think there were more than two or three times where the defense was all alone. Unfortunately one of those times led to a goal, off a mistake I made; the puck slid into the zone behind me (last person back) and it turned into a race with a forward from the other team. I beat him to the puck clean, got to it right about at the faceoff dot, but when I tried to backhand it into the corner I fanned on it. The forward picked it up and put it through the goalie's five hole. :(

After that, though, we really lit up the other team. We were playing a very close defensive game; they had a lot of trouble getting into our zone with any kind of speed, with the exception of their star forward, who came down my side both times. He telegraphs his shots, though, so both times I was able to get my stick blade in front of his and deflect the puck away from the goal. :)

I had a couple of chances for points; an open shot from the right point that turned out to be a pretty nice wrist shot. It missed the top right corner of the net by a few inches, which is too bad (need more practice ;)). I also had a shot along the ice that a forward tried to deflect in and missed the net. Ah well, we won, and maybe I'll get a point next time. I also had a nice play where they tried to flip the puck out of their zone, except that I reached up, caught the puck at the blue line, and played it back deep. Jenny maintains that that should be illegal; fortunately, the refs don't agree. ;)

All in all it was a great game for our side. Getting pressure down on the goalie and getting second/third shots is really key, and we need to keep it up. I'm not sure where we will end up in the standings after the last few games yesterday--but we're not last, which is awesome. :)

03:42 PM by Eric: A not-too-bad day Personal | Sports

I had my third hockey game yesterday. Our first two ended in 2-2 ties; the team we were playing had won both their games (one of them 6-1), and is in first place in the league, so we knew it was going to be a challenge. To add to the difficulty level, our captain (who works for SXSW) wasn't going to be there, and as it turned out we were actually at least 3 people short of our full team. Jenny and several of our friends came to root for my team. They apparently had quite the party up in the stands, with cider and rum, beer, chips, etc. They also yelled quite a bit, especially at the referees (who were terrible--missed several really blatant calls, including a trip on what would have been a breakaway). It was fun playing in front of people I know and getting cheered on. :)

Nonetheless, we started the game working hard; we haven't been getting many shots on goal, so we tried to step that up and just shoot the puck more. We had some great chances, but nothing was going in. Fortunately we were doing a good job holding them off as well; they scored once, but all in all we were playing well. The second period we actually kind of took over; we spent a lot of time playing in their zone, getting some good passing and some great shots. Unfortunately their goalie made a lot of good saves and we just weren't getting to the rebounds.

In the third period things kind of fell apart for us. You could tell we all started to get tired; all of a sudden they were getting lots of chances, including rebounds, and they started piling up the points. I think we were down 3-0 maybe halfway through the third when we got a bit of a break; one of our forwards was getting pressured by two opponents in the neutral zone; he'd drawn them to the left side, so the right side was wide open. I yelled at him to put it off the right boards, and he banged it perfectly off the right side. I picked up the puck and skated in, along with two teammates, for a 3 on 1 chance. I stickhandled around the last guy, who challenged me rather than just trying to slow us up and give his teammates a chance to backcheck. This time when I broke in on the goalie I made sure to get the shot off, a low wrister that rebounded to the left--where my two teammates were waiting. After a flurry of shots and rebounds, I circled back up to my right defense position, since I didn't want to give up a goal. Our forwards kept pounding away, shooting the puck and retrieving it, and about 20 seconds later it finally went in.

Unfortunately that was pretty much the last hurrah; after a wicked wrist shot beat our goalie from an impossible angle :-P to make it 4-1, I ended up as the defender in a 1 on 1 break. Unfortunately as I tried to transition from skating backwards to skating forwards so I could keep up with the guy, I tangled my feet and, in Jenny's words, turned some kind of crazy double toe loop thing and crashed to the ice, leaving him to go in and score.

So the game ended up 5-1, but for all that I think that if we'd had all our players it would have been a lot closer. We just got too tired to keep up with them anymore, and they took advantage of it. Hopefully next time we play them things will be more even. :)

Overall I think I played well; I made a number of good passes and heads-up plays. I did take one hard shot off the inside of my calf that stung a bit, but as I'm ordering sturdy new shin pads today or tomorrow, that should take care of that. :)

After the game I showered (though I wish the rink had hot water...) and we all hit Opal Divine's for drinks and snacks. Then Jen and I came home and had fried chicken (yum...) for dinner, and watched Jeopardy until Jen fell asleep, at which point I rocked the board. :)

Overall it was a lot of fun; I wish every Saturday could be that good. It was especially nice after this week; Jen and I keep finding things around the house that are related to Neil, which is really hard. There are a couple of our better pictures of Neil up on top of the TV cabinet, which I think is nice even when it hurts to look at them. I wish we had more pictures of him, but he was a little camera-shy. I've gotten to the point where I can mostly discuss it with random people without feeling like I want to crawl into a hole and cry for a while, which I guess you could call progress. I still kind of feel like he should be here, though; like I should walk into the bedroom and his cage should be there, with him hanging out on top of his castle. He never is, though. Which sucks.

Edit: Actually, looking at the stats online, it looks like maybe we were only missing one person (the captain), and we actually had the same number of players as our opponents. Jen said it looked like they had more people, but maybe not. Of course the stats aren't perfect; our goalie is listed as getting an assist on our goal, but that's because one of our forwards was wearing the goalie's spare jersey. :)

08:32 AM by Eric: First Game Results Sports

My hockey team had its first game last night. It was a good, competetive game that ended up tied, 2-2. Here's a quick recap. (The stats haven't been posted yet; they should be up today or tomorrow.)

The game started off kind of confused. Our team hadn't gotten together before, though we had discussed some on e-mail, and we were missing 2 people, so our lines were completely messed up; we had people hopping on and off more or less willy-nilly, which didn't contribute to any kind of smooth flow whatsoever. I started on the third line at left wing, a position I haven't played a whole lot. We took an early tripping (IIRC) penalty; on the resulting power play, the referee called our team for icing (if you're short handed, you can't be called for icing); I guess the refs were kind of getting their feet under them, too. :) The ref did realize his mistake and put the resulting faceoff in the other team's zone; our center won the faceoff to the right wing, who promptly put the puck in the back of the net--short handed goal for us, off a referee mistake. Hey, even the ugly ones count. :)

Much of the rest of the first period was back-and-forth play with no advantage to either side. At the period break, we took some time to discuss line changes and make sure everyone knew what position they should be playing. We went out in the second period and played much better; the other team did score a tying goal, but we scored another ourselves to make it 2-1. Halfway through the period, the captain asked for two people to drop back and play defense as our D was getting pretty tired; I volunteered and ended up at left D for the rest of the game (a position I'm much more comfortable at).

The third period was a good one for us. We outplayed the other team for the first 11 minutes; I personally drew two penalties (a crosscheck and a tripping call) through hard work in the corners, so we spent about a third of the period on the power play. Unfortunately we couldn't convert. Later in the period, with both teams at the end of their shifts, our right wing broke into their zone with the puck and only a single defender on him (and noone else back in their zone). Our other forwards were heading off, so I skated into the zone and yelled for the puck. He passed it right to me, but one of their forwards managed to backcheck just enough to make me hurry the shot, and it ended up going wide right--I guess I need more practice with one-timers. ;)

With about 3 minutes left to go the other team really started pressing. We spent most of the next 90 seconds in our zone, trying to keep them pushed to the outside and clearing whenever possible; we didn't have much luck getting the puck deep in their zone to be able to change. With about 1:30 left to go, there was a pileup and scramble for the puck in front of our net, and a trailer from the the other team backhanded it just over our goalie and in to tie it. That goal was pretty heartbreaking; we had played hard and had a lot of chances that just didn't go in, and we'd very nearly sealed the game. We played out the last 90 seconds with noone on either team really getting any scoring chances.

Interestingly, all 8 teams in the C league have now played (4 games total), and all but one of the games ended in a tie. It seems like this will be a pretty competetive league. I had lots of fun, I can't wait for our next game on Thursday.

Edit: The stats are (finally) up. It turns out the game-tying goal was with 1.5 seconds left, not minutes; not sure how I confused that. (Note that the periods are 13 minutes long.)

10:51 AM by Eric: Draft non-dodgers Sports

Well, I got an e-mail from my new captain last night. There are 14 players, including the goalie, on our team (which seems about average for the league), and 8 teams. I'm not on the same team as anyone whose name I recognize, but then anyone who knows me understands that I could nonetheless recognize some teammates once I see them. :)

Sadly, I won't be using the number I had hoped to; some other fellow took #13. Ah well. It also appears I'll be playing some forward position, which hopefully will work out better than it did during the evaluation skate. :-D Our first game is March 5 at 7:15pm, which is unfortunate; Jenny's qualifying exams are that weekend, and that is of course the night of the Oscars, so I feel bad about not being around for part of that. :(

Oh, also, it appears that our team name is the "ATX Blades"; I have no idea what that refers to. :)

09:55 AM by Eric: The worst player on the ice... :) Sports

So as mentioned, Tuesday was the New Player Evaluation Skate for the league. There were actually two skates, a B/C skate at 7:30 and an A/B at 9:00. I'm a C leaguer (A is the highest skill level, C the lowest), but I couldn't make the 7:30, so I ended up skating with A/Bers (and I think 2 or 3 other Cs in the same situation).

In some ways it was good--there were fewer players, so I got more ice time--but man, it was tough to keep up. :) I didn't have a shot on goal all night (although I almost had a pair of breakaways), but I played all right on defense (broke up a couple of 2 on 1s and even a 3 on 1), so hopefully I didn't look too bad out there. Those A leaguers are fast, though; even turning around and skating forwards I couldn't keep up with most of them.

It was a heck of a skate--we did skating/shooting drills for 15 minutes just to show off our level of ability, then we scrimmaged for an hour straight, no breaks, just roll the lines. That was kind of a new experience for me--never played organized ice hockey before, so the whole line change thing (when to get off, getting over the wall both ways, shifting down the bench) took me a few shifts to get used to. I about killed myself getting over the wall once; tossed my leg up over it, lost my balance, and crashed to the ice on my back. I'm sure all the captains were impressed. ;)

All in all, I was exhausted, but I actually don't feel too bad about how I played. I'm not sure how many of the C captains stayed to watch; hopefully at least a few. I did get to see the last half hour of the B/C skate, and there were a lot of C leaguers out there who were a lot newer to the sport than I am, so if any C captains did stay I think I'll come off all right.

Anyway, we'll see Friday or Saturday when my new captain contacts me. :)

10:44 PM by Eric: Vive Italia! Sports

So I am officially rooting for the Italian men's hockey team for the rest of the Olympics. I just finished watching their game against Canada, and the way they managed to hang with the Canadian squad for so much of the game was inspiring. They may have lost 7-2, but they did it in style, no doubt about that. And you have to love how excited their fans get when they're doing well.

Of course, I was rooting for Kazakhstan against the Swedes, too. I have something of an affinity for underdog teams, maybe because I was never on a winning team in any league I ever played in. Ever. Not soccer, not tennis, not indoor soccer, probably not even T-ball as a little kid. :) I'm hoping that will change with the upcoming hockey season. We'll see. ;)

07:21 PM by Eric: Those lying, backstabbing sons of... Sports

So according to OLN's website, the Tivo channel guide, and the Time Warner channel guide, OLN is supposed to be showing hockey from 7-9:30pm EST tonight. The first hockey that I will get a chance to watch after an entire season without, so I've been looking forward to it for... a while. Of course, I don't get home until 7pm Central, but my lovely Tivo will get the first hour for me anyway.

Except I get home and the Tivo has faithfully recorded an hour of OLN... which is showing a show about a family of utter geniuses who sailed their boat into a bleeding hurricane. Gee, thanks!

05:43 PM by Eric: The (Blues) plot thickens Sports

ESPN.com - NHL - Was Danton's agent the target in murder plot?

Law enforcement sources have told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that sports agent Dave Frost was the target of an alleged murder-for-hire plot arranged by his client, Blues forward Mike Danton.

It's like some weird Law & Order episode...

10:28 PM by Eric: Silver linings Sports

The only good thing about the Blues being the first team eliminated from the playoffs this year (sigh) is that at least it might mean I no longer have to listen to the completely inane announcer ESPN has covering that series. My god, the man is terrible!

But then, so are were the Blues this year. :-P

06:48 PM by Eric: Start of the real hockey season Culture | Sports

What a crazy beginning to the Stanley Cup playoffs… the Wild beat the Avs in their first ever playoff game, the Mighty Ducks take the Wings to triple overtime and win… only one team wins the first game at home. Oh, and the Blues shut down the Canucks six-nothing.

Osgood wasn't brilliant, but he really didn't have to be; the Blues played great defense. Ozzie made the stops he had to and let the defense worry about the rest. Much the same thing happened when he won the Cup with the Wings; if the Blues can continue to play the way they did last night—including not taking stupid penalties, which has been a big problem for them this year—they could do some real damage.

I know, I know, the first game is often not indicative… but it did my heart good to see the Avs get beat by the Wild. It would be fantastic if Minnesota actually managed to win the series.

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This page was last updated Sun 23 September 2007 at 08:46 AM CDT