4.13.2015

Hillary Clinton To Nation ...

So Hillary Clinton is back in politics and running for president in 2016. And The Onion captured it hilariously.
... make no mistake, I’m not f***ing around. Got it?” Clinton then ended her announcement by vowing to fight for a better future for all working-class families like the one she grew up in.
In the meantime, see Every Hillary Clinton TIME Cover.

4.07.2015

No Wisconsin, part Duke

I thought I would feel better this morning, but this is proving a little harder to swallow than I thought it would be when I went to bed last night.

After so much success against Kentucky Saturday night, our hopes of a national championship for Wisconsin were dashed last night. Duke got the best of them for the second time this season.

Sigh. It sort of has the feeling of the Royals losing Game 7 of last fall’s World Series, with Alex Gordon on third base in the bottom of the ninth inning. … Then again, I consider myself pretty lucky to have had the chance to see two of my home teams reach the championship games in their respective sports within the last year. Plus, I can count on the Packers to be a Super Bowl contender for as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy and sticking around, but I digress …

Much like the day of Game 7, I found it hard to concentrate on much else yesterday. The girls and I met at home after school and work. Then I took Phoebe to her gymnastics class at 7 and anxiously sat through it, knowing the game was tipping off around 8:15 – and I had set the DVR to record it, knowing I was going to miss the first part of it. Phoebe’s class ended at 8, we came home and it was my night to put her to bed. By 8:50, with both girls in bed and settled, Kates and I settled on our living room couches and started watching the game with the national anthem and introduction of the starting lineups. We zipped through the first half commercial-free and caught up to real time about midway through the halftime break.

They opened the second half well and took a nine-point lead with 13 minutes left in the game. All was well.

Then the freshmen, Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones, took over for Duke, and when Allen tied it at 54-54 with an off-balance jump shot, my heart started to sink with the feeling that the game was changing in Duke’s favor. Wisconsin held in, but the momentum was pretty much in Duke’s favor the rest of the way.

Even then, I said at halftime that Wisconsin should have had a five or six-point lead at that point. They were relying a little too freely on outside shots that weren’t falling. And they missed some key opportunities inside. They weren’t aggressive enough driving to the basket. Sam Dekker was off. As one CBS analyst said afterward, it wasn’t the same Wisconsin team that beat Kentucky Saturday night …
On Monday, Wisconsin opened the game uneasily. Sam Dekker’s first shot was an air ball, and Nigel Hayes dropped his first pass. The Badgers missed 12 of their first 18 shots, falling behind, 21-17. After driving for a layup attempt midway through the first quarter, Winslow looked at Cook and mouthed, “They’re soft.”
Then again, Duke fans could have said a lot of the same things had Wisconsin won the game. Duke missed a share of opportunities in the game also that could have helped them put away Wisconsin sooner.

And there’s no need at this point to even touch the ball that supposedly didn’t roll of the fingertips of Duke’s Justise Winslow.
Two minutes, probably dozens of views of multiple angles of replays and three highly trained officials, deemed good enough to be reffing in the biggest game of the year, disagreed with all three CBS analysts, all of Twitter and every American watching. Even a non-delusional Duke fan had to know this ball was out on Winslow.
It hurts, but it was still a darn fun game to watch. And a darn fun run to watch with the Badgers.

Here's a good read about the team by the Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot. ... And from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ...
The Badgers will have to settle for a 36-4 mark, a runner-up finish and the knowledge that they took their followers on a magic ride and captivated others with a mix of on-court wizardry and off-court goodwill.
At the same time, it's hard for me to begin to think what the future looks like for Badger basketball. To me, Dekker seems like a guy who is wise enough to stick around and finish what he started, but then again I'm not wearing his shoes.

And so another college basketball season ends, and I’ll wait to see what the next season holds. The chills covered my body the second “One Shining Moment” tipped off, and I felt as though I was holding back tears as the highlight reel played out.

Bring on the baseball. The Royals won 10-1 yesterday, while the Brewers lost 10-0. And the Cubs opener, by fans’ accounts, was a disaster.

4.05.2015

On Wisconsin!

Holy moly, they did it. Wisconsin beat Kentucky in the Final Four tonight, ending Kentucky's bid for a perfect season and claiming a spot in Monday night's national championship game.

Just as I predicted when I filled out my bracket, thank you very much. 

All week long, rightly so, the national media were categorizing tonight's game as a title bout, and it totally lived up to the billing. Already the guys on Sportscenter are calling it one of the greatest college basketball games. 

On the other hand, it also seemed as though the national media was barely giving Wisconsin a chance of winning the game. Meanwhile, me and every other Badgers fan who has paid any attention to this team believed Bo Ryan and Wisconsin had the DNA to knock off John Calipari and Kentucky.
Yes, the Wildcats were undefeated: 38-0 entering Saturday’s Final Four rematch at Lucas Oil Stadium, the well-earned favorites to win a ninth national title. But if you thought Wisconsin was going to be intimidated, was going to quake before Kentucky’s mountainous frontcourt and its N.B.A.-quick guards, oh, boy, were you wrong.
Even now as I'm watching the postgame and Sportscenter, the so-called experts are debating Kentucky's place in history as the greatest game. I don't buy it. 

Only when Kentucky went up 5-0 - emphasized with an ally-oop and dunk - to start tonight's game did some doubt creep into my mind. Then Wisconsin came right back to tie it and take a lead, and I thought, Oh yeah, this is going to be Wisconsin's night.

I stood pat in front of TV, cheering and pumping my fists for most of the first half, turning away to do other tasks only during the commercials and whenever Kentucky players were shooting foul shots. Phoebe wanted to watch some of the game with me while Kates put Faye to bed, and we let her even though it was past her bed time, even on Easter eve with a big day tomorrow. I put Phoebe to bed at halftime, and told her as I tucked her in to dream of a Wisconsin victory tonight. Man, is she going to be happy tomorrow - especially since she had Wisconsin winning this game in her bracket, too.

Once the second half began, I couldn't look away if I tried. Wisconsin came out again and clearly played as the better team, even though Kentucky stayed close. The Badgers are too patient, so efficient, so fundamentally sound. 

Yeah, there were some bad calls by the referees. Yeah, Wisconsin should have been slapped with a shot clock violation.



But Kentucky never took advantage. Wisconsin continued to execute - even when they were down by four and the defense pinned Kentucky for three straight shot clock violations.

By the final minutes I had dropped from my standing position in front of the TV To a crouch and was banging the floor on every critical play. Kates was upstairs preparing the girls' Easter baskets for the morning, and I held off from calling her down until I was sure the Badgers were going to hang on. With about a minute left in the game, I called up to her, "Kates, you gotta come down here." She did, and we cheered together for the final minute as Wisconsin absolutely closed it out.



A game for the ages. No matter what happens Monday night against Duke, I will cherish this win for a long time. ... But if Wisconsin wins, I win my office bracket pool.





Good reads (Updated 4.06.2015) ...
"Immersed as we are in the ephemeral freshman star era of college basketball, let us take a moment to appreciate the rare senior who is a different kind of one-and-done. We will watch Kaminsky play his final game for Wisconsin on Monday night, and there likely will not be another like him. Who could imagine another faintly recruited prospect enduring two generally anonymous years at a power conference school, staying the course to become a national player of the year, all while demonstrating no discernible self-awareness as he danced and strapped GoPro cameras to his chest and defended his skills in FIFA 14 Soccer. ...

"Few 7-footers are as slippery and slithery as Kaminsky, with nimble footwork and nifty finishing ability around the rim, while also representing a threat at the arc. (He’s hit 6 of 11 three-pointers during the NCAA tournament.) And fewer still of these players appear out of thin air as college juniors. And still fewer stick around once affixed with first-round draft pick grade no one would have applied to them just months earlier."

3.27.2015

Awesome Spring Break week

So the university's spring break was this week. Typically, that means the students are gone, but staff continue working and all is mostly quiet around the campus. But this week, for the first time in my six years of work there, I took the entire week as vacation. ... I was in desperate need of some me time, and -- as challenging as it was for me to ignore my university work for the week -- I took advantage of it. I had a glorious week.

Like I told Kates at the beginning of the week when she asked if still would take Faye to daycare each morning: I'm still going to work at 8. I'm just having a different kind of work day.

I spent almost all of Monday working in the yard, clearing brush and preparing the yard for spring. The weather was sunny with temperatures in the 70s. It was awesome.

Tuesday was quite the opposite. We had a wonderful thunderstorm roll in that produced some loud crashes at times, but the temperature also dipped considerably. The weather change reduced my mojo for work considerably and forced me to take on a lot of indoor work. But I was still productive, patching some cracks left in the walls from our foundation work last summer and continuing prep work on our new kitchen cabinets.

I took off Wednesday for a day of shopping. In all our years since moving from K-Town to The 'Ville, I have not set foot in a Menards store because the nearest one is nearly an hour's drive away -- until Wednesday. I made the drive in conjunction with some other stops I wanted to make and was overtaken with such excitement when I arrived that I could hardly stop smiling from the time I walked through the big sliding front doors. The store clerk who passed in front of me in the greeting area probably wondered if I was baked. (... That actually happened once. Years ago, my friend Jeff and I visited an electronics store in Madison, as part of a tour of the city during a day off from work. We were having a great time and, admittedly, were acting silly when a long-haired male store clerk pulled me aside, leaned in, looked me in the eyes and asked, “Dude, are you baked?” I laughed and answered, “No.” The embarrassed clerk apologized and I went on my way.) 

Unfortunately, the temps have stayed cooler since Monday, and I've stayed in the rest of the week, continuing to take care of projects inside. Which is a good thing because they're are plenty of things to do -- that I can't focus on under normal conditions with two little girls running around the house.

Yep, it's been a glorious week. I need to take advantage more often -- like this commercial says.

Here are some of the awesome things I came across on the Internet during the last couple weeks ...

“The Office” premiered 10 years ago this week. To celebrate, Mashable posted 50 best moments from the show. Many of these made me laugh out loud as I read them. You were a good one, Office.

The Ridiculously Sweet Story Behind Mister Rogers' Cardigans ... This is awesome. I had no idea. God bless Mr. Rogers for the impact he had on mine and so many childhoods.

Amazing but true: America is only four presidents’ lives old ... Fascinating.

I've never gotten in to watching “South Park.” But, boy, do ever I remember the craze as ‘The Spirit of Christmas” made its way the floor of my freshman dorm -- and laughing until my side hurt. Here's a good read about how it came to be

Here are clips from the “Harry Potter" movies cut as the opening of "Friends."



While I missed the video of the “crying 'piccolo girl,” I did catch her appearance on Monday's “Tonight Show.” Jimmy Fallon's a swell guy for inviting her on the show, and the girl was a great sport about it. Plus, she's going to see Taylor Swift!



Here's a good read from Rolling Stone about “Glee,” which apparently put a wrap on its show Friday night. I learned that only when I noticed the tweets start to come in late Friday night with links to recap stories. ... Kates and I bowed out early in Season 2 -- another casualty of the infamous exploding TV and our chaotic lives that year -- but as the Rolling Stone article fairly points out, the series was starting to losing its direction at that point. All the reviews I read about what we were missing did nothing to pull me back in, nor did the insistence on themed shows. In the end, I had no idea it had moved to Friday nights.
It began eating its own tail, trying too hard to keep up with pop culture references and hit songs in an attempt to stay on top of the charts. Between Gaga-centric episodes and a lesson devoted entirely to twerking (no, really), most of these attempts to soak in the mainstream were ill-conceived. Worse, as Glee began to stray from its satirical roots, it found itself delving more and more into After-School Special territory.