Saturday, February 10, 2018

Let's Get Caught Up

So much about which to write, where do I start? 

Why don't I begin with an explanation, if not a full-fledged mea culpa about me being so dilatory about writing and posting here.  First, as family is aware, we did make a significant life change in 2017 (relocating to Manhattan Kansas from Norton Kansas) and the subsequent and inevitable adjusting and settling involves time and energy.  These can take away from my creative mojo.  Second, we downsized in square footage and I now no longer have a dedicated computer/writing/wasting-time-on-the-Internet space.  I am writing this piece while seated at the kitchen table.  I believe, as is the case with many writers/authors, that I can only tap-tap away my prose while NOT in the presence of others.  Third, my stress level these last few months escalated into a "poor me" mindset which, along with the aforementioned, resulted in me spending my mental energy on things other than writing.  To be sure, my work-related stress decreased significantly since my job change and I view that as a strong positive.   

However none of these mean I am at a loss for material here, nor do any of these need to make a permanent impact with the result being this blog amongst the countless others that are abandoned, yet still are out there for all to see.  I have no intentions of letting my blog die and, in fact, I can set a goal for more entries this year with more variety.  I still have plenty to say.  

So--get on with it!!  (Me thinks of the crowd yell in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail.")   

Christmas?  Low-key.  I noticed, about a week before the big day, that we would not be able to continue a tradition in our home.  No, nothing that was passed down through the generations since our forebears came over from the "old country."  The tradition of which I speak is quite modern and secular:  watching TBS's "A Christmas Story" marathon.  While we never sat in front of the idiot box for the full 24 hours, it provided great entertainment and good background noise for Christmas eve night, especially after we returned home from the Christmas Eve church service.  I noted in an earlier entry that we cut the cord when moving to this locale, so no TBS.  

Solution? Simple.  Target had the Blu-Ray for only $13 so we ended up watching the flick and enjoying the lack of commercial breaks.  

This also was the first Christmas in years where I didn't prepare prime rib for the holiday meal.  We agreed to join forces with our friends J&J and I defrosted and baked a smoked ham, the last thing Geogal and I had left from our half-hog purchased back in Norton.  Great meat, great company and it was nice not to have to make (and clean up) the entire meal.  

Was it a white Christmas?  I can say yes.  The night before Christmas Eve day we had an offering of the white stuff.  I snapped a pic in the morning:  


Pretty, ain't it?

Cord-cutting?  I'll elaborate much more in a future entry.  However the Geohousehold overall isn't missing the TV offerings.  During the fall there were times I wished I had access to the ESPN networks but soon learned to adjust and simply enjoy the college football games available on ABC, CBS and Fox.  

Old Man Winter?  We're tolerating it.  Just as we do each winter.  While many will say eastern Kansas has less severe winters than the western half, some days I've begged to differ.  Freakin' cold is freakin' cold, regardless of where you live.  

Makes you wonder why we are looking at Minnesota as a place to permanently settle?  

Oh yes, that's a whole other entry, too.  

Stay tuned. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Pride

By now everyone who's interested knows New Mexico State defeated Utah State in the Arizona Bowl yesterday.  

Unfortunately due to work commitments and a few other factors we couldn't make it to Tucson to be a part of the crowd.  However we did find a way to watch it on the 'tube.  More on that later.  

Given the (New Mexico State) Aggies even made it to a bowl was good enough.  And since the game was only about a four-hour drive from Las Cruces I hoped the Aggie faithful would turn out.  

And they did.  At the start of the broadcast the CBS Sports Network guys indicated a crowd of about 40,000.  Since one purpose of having a bowl game is to ensure the stadium seats are filled with rear ends no doubt many decision-makers in Tucson were satisfied with the turnout.  Plus it didn't hurt to see so many of those in the stands sporting NMSU crimson.  

Television coverage?  When I first knew the game would be on CBS Sports Network instead of one of the ESPN family of channels I was somewhat concerned, as this is an indicator of the bowl's status in the overall hierarchy of FBS postseason play.  As it turned out this arrangement allowed me to catch the game at my leisure.  

Once the Arizona Bowl invitation was official I did some homework on how I could view the CBS Sports Network channel.  First, since moving to Manhattan our house only uses over-the-air antenna and streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime and the like.  Yes, we are cord-cutters.  But even in my previous home in Norton, to view CBS Sports Network I would have had to pay an extra fee to the cable provider as CBS SN is under a separate sports tier.  I found a solution in the Fubo service, it is geared to sports fans although they include other channels such as Bravo, A&E and HGTV plus the ability to DVR the programming.  The DVR option came in handy yesterday as I didn't leave work until 4:30, same time as kickoff.  By the time I got home the score was tied at 10.  I ended up doing a quick turnaround as we had plans to attend a school-related party for one of Geoana's groups.  While eating and socializing I did check the score regularly so even before we made it back home I knew the game went into overtime and the (correct) Aggies won, 26-20.  

So it wasn't until this morning that I saw a few of the highlights while reading coverage from the Las Cruces Sun-News, Albuquerque Journal and Arizona Daily Star.  Overall the tree-killing print folks were fair and gracious to the Aggies and it appears all of the NMSU fans who made the trip had quite the positive experience.  

A little later this morning I logged onto Fubo and watched the game.  All the while thinking:

  • It's great the see the Aggies playing in a bowl, located not all that far from home
  • It's gratifying to see them play on national TV
  • To have every shot of the press box-side of the stands displaying a whole lotta Aggie fans with nary an empty seat almost brought me to (happy) tears
  • To see them not just play, but play well, almost feels foreign 
  • Seeing the guys on offense and defense really looking like they wanted it, after so many years of seeing Aggie football squads that appeared to be just going through the motions, was worth the wait
  • And of course, being able to see the trophy presentation put a nice bow on the whole thing (the DVR got it all, not cutting the game off after the allotted 3.5 hours as my old cable box used to do)
  • Finally, hearing head coach Martin talk about this victory being "just the beginning." 
Yes, I realize we will have to wait and see what becomes of the Aggie football program.  And yes, they are now officially an independent but their schedule for next season already looks oodles better than when they played in the Sun Belt Conference.  Or the WAC.  Or the Big West.  Could pride in Aggie football be on the horizon?

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Bonding With My Recliner and Remotes

11:00 Central Time—Turn on TV to ABC, this is the AAC championship game.  Memphis against UCF.  What makes this one interesting is UCF being 11-0 and going for an undefeated season.  And, their head coach is clearly being pursued by Nebraska.  Will this be his final game in Orlando?  

Turns out, yes.  (More on that below.)

I meant to just watch this game until the Big 12 Championship kicked off.  However I stay on ABC as this game’s pretty interesting even if it’s not a Power 5 conference.  Indeed a fun game to watch.  Touchdown after touchdown and neither team obtains a commanding lead.  Sure beats many of the NFL’s offerings, featuring punt after punt.  

Speaking of kicks, at 6:58 in the fourth quarter we have the first punt of the game, a boot by UCF.  

I do click over to Fox occasionally but Oklahoma seems to be well in control.  I’m not surprised.  This is a team that historically knows how to take care of business.  Yes, I want them to win as I really want to see a Big 12 rep in the playoffs despite them being the (gaggh) Sooners and Baker Mayfield’s boorish behavior during the KU game.  

Back to ABC.  Second overtime.  62-55.  Now it’s looking like a basketball score. 

Over on the other channel, Oklahoma defeats TCU.  Sooners should be in the playoffs.   

UCF intercepts Memphis—game over!  During overtime ESPN reports Frost indeed accepted the head coach’s position 

Time for Auburn-Georgia.  

Hey, the Aggies game is now in progress.  Mirror my MacBook to the Apple TV and connect just in time to see South Alabama score a touchdown.  Jaguars 7, Aggies 0.  Grrr.  

However we then see the Aggies score 13 unanswered points so all is not yet lost.  Nice to see fans in the stands with signs such as “Let’s Go Bowling.”  

Halftime in Las Cruces.  Click a few buttons on the remote and it’s back to regular TV and return to Atlanta.  This game is now in the third quarter and the score remains Georgia 10, Auburn 7.  Didn’t everyone expect this to be a high-scoring game?

Back to the NMSU/South Alabama game.  Both teams’ defenses are looking good, which is bad news as all of us Aggie faithful wouldn’t mind a few more points to assure a bowl trip.  

Then I have to get out of the Laz-E-Boy and go get Geoana as she returned from a debate tournament.  No problem listening to the Georgia/Auburn game on Sirius XM but I didn’t bother searching for the contest out of Las Cruces.  I doubt the Sun Belt Conference is worthy of carriage on the aural bird.  Upon arriving at the school I do check the score on my smartphone, uh-oh.  USA pulled ahead 17-16 and time is winding down.  I won’t print the words in my mind’s ear.  

But wait!  We’re back home and another check of the score shows the ‘Pokes back in the lead.  I quickly get the ESPN3 broadcast back onto the main TV and Geogal and I share the pleasure of seeing the Aggies earn a victory and very likely a bowl invite.  

And by the way, Georgia defeats Auburn.  The Bulldogs didn’t allow the Tigers to score again after their opening drive resulted in a touchdown.

But the evening’s not over!  I turn back to ABC and enjoy much of the first half of the Clemson/Miami game.  Unlike the earlier ABC-broadcast game, this one was obviously one-sided from the second quarter on.  Do I turn to the Ohio State/Wisconsin matchup?  I do, briefly.  Much like the other game in progress, this one seems to be going the way of the Buckeyes.  If they win, do they make it into the playoff?  Given I have no loyalty to the school in Columbus, I really don’t care.  

And then my football fire burns out.  Shortly after 9 I turn to “Batman” on MeTV.  I conk out before 10.  

In all fairness, I was up since before 5 a.m., had to get Geoana up and to the school by 6.  

And in a day of victories, her debate team took first!  Finally!  


This day will not be soon forgotten.  

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Where Will I Be Today?

Parking my rear end in front of the TV, watching the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten and ACC championship games, that's where.  

I'm hoping these will be good contests.  I sure wasn't disappointed by last Saturday's Iron Bowl.  (Always good to see Alabama go down and this didn't even require a kick-six.)  

Today there is one other gridiron contest worthy of my attention:  New Mexico State versus Southern Alabama.  The Aggies are 5-6 this season and a victory today makes them bowl-eligible.  

To be sure, my alma mater competing in even the lowest-tier bowl matchup is far from certain.  First, they have to win today.  Granted, the game is in Las Cruces and South Alabama has had its own struggles this fall however.....

Remember these are the Aggies.  

Also, Geogal read an article on Yahoo a while back where NMSU's president intimated "if we do get an invitation, we may have to turn it down."  (That's a Geoguy paraphrase but I think you get the idea.) 

Yet for this morning I can allow myself to dream, if but a little.  What if they end today with a "W" and get invited to the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl?  (Don't say this is far-fetched, even one of the writers for ESPN sees this as a possibility.)  If they get the invite, who cares about the actual outcome?  As NMSU hasn't played in a bowl since Dwight Eisenhower was president any game in late December would be the talk of 'Cruces.  

Now, back to reality.  Even five victories indicates a pretty good season for the Aggies.  Beating both UTEP and UNM made for a pleasant autumn.  (Yes, I know EVERYONE beat the Miners this year but its still satisfying to be included in the "everyone" category.)  

Speaking of ESPN.com, the Aggies never did make the "Bottom Ten" weekly column this season.  Again, this is rare so I can't help but mention it here.  

And since the football Aggies will be FBS independent after this season, who knows when we will see another record like this?  

Now, time to make sure I have my ESPN3 setup working as it should...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Reasons

Time for the details.  

Non-family readers of this blog no doubt wondered why the Geofamily made the decision to leave the town in which we lived for nine years and relocate to Manhattan.  

The reasons, of course, are there and came from differing routes.  

First I need to make public the belief that while living in Norton, Kansas fit our needs well back in 2008, Geogal and I never intended to reside there for the remainder of our lives.  After Geoana completed high school we always intended to look elsewhere.  This isn’t far-fetched as both Geogal and I have careers in which we can locate employment nearly anywhere we land, provided there is a certain population base.  

So why did we move our plans ahead by two years?  (Geoana is now in 11th grade.)  

1) Stress level.  Geogal and I reached the point where we were both unhappy in our jobs.  I was a management-level person and as 2016 progressed and became 2017 I noticed ailments I had never before experienced.  Specifically, acid reflux and increasingly disrupted (and non-restful) sleep.  To go along with the physical I realized I also became more impatient and short-tempered.  These attributes are not a typical component of my personality and I definitely didn’t like the person I was becoming.  “What is next,” I thought, “an ulcer?”  Plus, when you live in an isolated rural area the job opportunities are not sufficient to allow an easy transition. 

2) Education opportunities.  In this section I need to take great care in what I write as I don’t want to either come across as “badmouthing” or exhibiting sour grapes for all the world to see.  I also will add that Geoana had some very good teachers while in the Norton schools.  These are true education professionals who went above and beyond the typical requirements and as such Geoana had a better-than-average experience, particularly in the lower grades.  However (and admit it, all of you reading this knew there was a “but” coming up), at the high school level all three of us realized Geoana wasn’t being truly challenged.  NCHS does not offer advanced placement classes and given Geoana’s desire and drive to enter the field of engineering we want her to be better prepared for college-level classes.  Geoana also flourishes in forensics and was open to being on a debate team, again something her erstwhile school didn’t offer.  

3) Social.  Geogal pointed out not long ago that while we lived in Norton the longest period of time (nine years), we had the least number of friends out of any of the places we lived.  Sad but true.  While northwest Kansas certainly has its share of friendly folks it is difficult to ingratiate oneself socially if you’re not originally from this area or otherwise have family connections.  It is true that in some sections of rural America you can live in a place for 20, 30 or even 40-plus years and still not feel as if you belong.  That described us well.  Compounding this problem is the numerous local large clans.  Geoana often had none of her peers to call or otherwise be social during holiday times as “So-and-so is spending time with her cousins today.”  While both of our families still remain well out of state (Texas and California) we hope being in a more populated area, particularly one with a large state university, might ameliorate this issue.  

4) Life more abundant.  I’m borrowing this term from Christianity but it indeed is relevant here.  Readers of this blog are well-aware some Saturdays (or even Sundays, gasp!) are likely to be consumed by road trips necessitated by grocery-and-supply shopping or transporting Geoana to a 4H event.  While we enjoyed this diversion during our first year in Norton, afterward it got downright monotonous.  I realize not all highway driving is comparable to California 1 from Morro Bay to the Monterey peninsula or even Interstate 70 through the heart of the Rocky Mountains but seeing nearly endless cornfields broken only by land not suitable for tilling gets old quickly.  No matter what the season.  Maybe we decided it was time to spend our leisure time with true recreational pursuits rather than necessary retail chores.  After all, if we live in “civilization” we can likely knock out shopping duties on a weeknight rather than sacrifice a whole Saturday.  


So, dear reader that should give you an idea of why we decided to reside in Manhattan and say farewell to Norton.  I agree, it is not the “safe” or “comfortable” thing to do, but maybe life should involve some significant new journeys!  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

One more!

Why not do another entry about the Astros?  Besides these are thoughts and tidbits that really didn't fit into the previous entry.  

I admit I looked at the postseason with doubt (what Astros fan wouldn't after all these years?).  Taking care of the Red Sox was a good start.  Then I learned New York knocked out Cleveland.  Oh, great.  When it comes to MLB championships I fall into the ABY crowd.  Anybody But the Yankees. But that series came to a satisfactory end.  

Time for the Big One.  I remember prior to the Series starting asking the baseball gods to have the Astros win at least one.  Who wants to be known for being swept both times you make it to the WS?  

Game One.  Oh, rats.  Then Game Two settled my brain.  

Fast forward to the near-end.  True, the Astros lose a heartbreaker in the form of Game Six.  

And I confess, I didn't immediately check the 'net or any other media for the results of Game Seven.  Just other stressors on my mind causing baseball to go to the bottom of the list.  

Then Geogal had a the privilege of telling me the Astros did indeed win.  That was all I needed.  Fire up the MacBook and read all about it!  

How about this for trivia?  I believe the Astros are the only MLB club to represent both the American and National leagues in the World Series.  Plus they might hold that distinction for a long time.  

Congratulations to all members of the Astros organization.  

Monday, November 06, 2017

For the long-suffering Houston sports fans...

....Enjoy this!  All of you have earned it!!!


  • My brother-in-law, who shared (via Facebook) that he was born the same year the franchise began and he's wanted this his whole life.  
  • My cousin Kenneth H., who endured every televised moment of the Astros' 1980 postseason even when it didn't have a happy ending.  
  • All the fans who saw the Astros make it to the World Series in 2005 only to be swept by the White Sox.
  • People in southeast Texas who suffered loss due to Hurricane Harvey.  
  • All of us who remember (and endured) the "rainbow-uniformed" Astros of the 1970's and early '80's. 
  • Houstonians and others who sadly watched younger franchises such as the Royals, Marlins, Blue Jays and Diamondbacks hoist the trophy.  
  • Folks who treated going to the Astrodome as special.  
  • Everyone in the above categories who is sick and tired of Houston being treated as third-rate by the sports media.  
  • Speaking of the Astrodome, those who remember the Astro Nuts and Chester Charge.  
  • Lastly, not baseball-related but still pertinent:  All in Houston who ground their teeth because of the number one prime time drama from 1979 onward being named after and taking place in "that other city in Texas."