Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Made Me Cry and Think

Commentary | CWU softball players show compassion beyond sportsmanship

New York Times

Commentary |

Something remarkable happened in a college softball game Saturday in Ellensburg. At least, I am conditioned to think it was remarkable, since it involved an act of sportsmanship, with two players helping an injured opponent complete the home run she had just slugged.

Why this generous act should seem so unusual probably stems from the normal range of bulked-up baseball players, police-blotter football players, diving soccer and hockey players and other high-profile professionals.

The moment of grace came after Sara Tucholsky, a diminutive senior for Western Oregon, hit what looked like a three-run homer against Central Washington. Never in her 21 years had Tucholsky propelled a ball over a fence, so she did not have her home run trot in order, gazing in awe, missing first base. When she turned back to touch the bag, her right knee buckled, and she went down, crying and crawling back to first base.

Pam Knox, the Western Oregon coach, made sure no teammates touched Tucholsky, which would have automatically made her unable to advance. The umpires ruled that if Tucholsky could not make it around the bases, two runs would score but she would be credited with only a single. ("She'll kill me if I take it away from her," Knox thought.)

Then Mallory Holtman, the powerful first baseman for Central Washington, said words that brought a chill to everybody who heard them:

"Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?"

The umpires huddled and said it would be legal, so Holtman and the Central Washington shortstop, Liz Wallace, lifted Tucholsky, hands crossed under her, and carried her to second base, and gently lowered her so she could touch the base. Then Holtman and Wallace started to giggle, and so did Tucholsky, through her tears, and the three of them continued this odd procession to third base and home to a standing ovation.

"Everybody was crying," Knox recalled Tuesday. "It was an away game, and our four fans were crying. We couldn't hit after that."

The extra run made it easier for Western Oregon to win the second game, 4-2, and sweep the doubleheader. More important, all involved realized they had taken part in an event they would always remember.

The question is, where did it come from, this impulsive gesture by Mallory Holtman?

"She hit it over the fence," Holtman said Tuesday. "She deserved it. Anybody would have done it. I just beat them to it."

She said she had been taught by her coach, Gary Frederick, that "winning is not everything."

Is there something intrinsic to women's sports that caused this generosity? Holtman, nearly 23, did not think so. "Not many people are ever in that position," she said. "I would hope that our baseball players would do it."

Knox, the Western Oregon coach, said the act "came from character."

"They're playing for a coach who instills it," she said.

Knox said she absolutely would not say this demonstrated some major difference between women's and men's sports: "As coaches, we are so competitive, we forget this stuff. By God, I would hope I would have done the same thing."

Would the Oakland A's have carried a sore-legged Kirk Gibson around the bases to complete his two-run homer that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 comeback victory in the opening game of the 1988 World Series? My guess is that if Gibson had crumpled in the dirt, Tony La Russa (or Billy Martin or Leo Durocher or Earl Weaver or just about any manager) would have said, "Let him lie there." But let's grant that those stakes are much higher.

We've all seen sportsmanship at a high level. Golf depends upon personal adherence to the rules. In tennis a player occasionally yields a point — not usually at a crucial moment — producing a sweet little patter of applause.

In 1999, Arsène Wenger, the French coach of Arsenal of the English Premier League, insisted upon a replay of a cup match after a young Arsenal player had unwittingly set up a goal in violation of the unwritten code when an opponent is injured. So maybe sportsmanship is universal, out there, needing to be cultivated.

"It's amazing what they did," Tucholsky said of the Central Washington players Tuesday, while facing what she assumes will be the first surgery of her 21 years for what is suspected to be a torn ligament.

"Mallory didn't know it was my first home run," said Tucholsky, whose college career will end with a .153 batting average and exactly one home run. "It just says a lot about them."

Tucholsky was too immobile to join the handshake line at the end of the game Saturday, but her family has been in touch with Holtman, photographs have been exchanged, the two teams are wrapped in a bond of good feeling we can only wish did not seem so singular, so remarkable.

I don't know, maybe I'm getting a visit from Aunt Flo. But I cried when I read this story. And no, I don't think it's a normal, sportsmanship-like practice that almost anyone would do. After my experience with my daughter's soccer team last season, where one of my concerns about soccer in general was that the way soccer is set up, especially tournaments, sportsmanship certainly isn't encouraged, it was so refreshing to read this story. I know for a fact that we played a team three times last year, killing them each time with scores of something like 12-0 and 11-0, that didn't have enough players available the times we played to field a full team. You would think that when we were ahead by 4 or 5 that we could have taken a player or two off on our side to even things up a bit. I was shocked that we didn't. I wasn't there, so maybe we did and my daughter didn't notice. I don't know. But I can only hope that my daughter has coaches in her life who teach this sort of integrity and character, as well as the game.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Round-Up

Samantha cleaned out her folder this morning and brought me this. I said, "Oh, that's so cute. I'm going to scan it and put it --" And she finished the sentence for me, "On your blog?" From time to time she does bring me stuff she's done, either in school or at home. I think she always feels like she won if I scan it and post it. But if I do it too often, she'll work on nothing else but artwork for my blog!

Jana's cat had kittens, and I suggested naming them Starbuck, Apollo and Boomer after Battlestar Galactica characters. She was totally on board. Here we are thinking it's the coolest that she named the new kittens after BSG. I told Alex the names yesterday and she thought they were cool until I mentioned they were all from BSG. Then she said Jana and I are total nerds. So then I couldn't remember whose idea it was, and I was kind of hoping it had been hers, thus, she'd be the bigger nerd. I still think she kind of is. I wouldn't put it past her to let her cat have one more batch so she can name them Helo, Roslin, Baltar, Adama and Six!

Alex's soccer team played Friday night and Saturday. They didn't win a game and haven't scored yet in four outings, but you watch them and you don't think they suck. They look good. She's having a lot of fun, and we already had a team dinner, whereas in ten months with her old team, NOT ONE DINNER. So we are already winning. The old team's philosophy was simply to not only win, but kick ass and spare no cost doing it, even if it means letting kids who don't regularly make it to practice start anyway and not giving playing time to kids who do make it regularly and always early to practice. They also didn't allow chatting of any sort, thus, ten months with a team and there were some girls she never spoke to. I actually saw one of the girls playing volleyball and almost didn't recognize her because I'm not sure I ever saw her smile before.

My aunt and uncle gave us their old king-sized bed, so I got rid of Alex's old bed, and she got the guest bedroom bed, while the guest bedroom got the queen-sized bed. It was a TON of work to get everything switched around, but I did a lot of cleaning on the way, and I love my new bed. It has a four-inch memory foam topper. I'm all about the memory foam. My pillow is solid memory foam. I think I'd wear memory foam if they made clothes out of it. Maybe not.

Alex's basketball team has decided to take a break, which is a good idea. There is just so much soccer going on, and with volleyball, she had three practices some nights. When basketball started, it was on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, which was actually perfect. But then they switched it to Mondays and Wednesdays, thinking it would be easier on everyone, but it so wasn't. And what started out kind of casual, get in some extra basketball, kind of ended up too intense. The girls never won because we were going to these tournaments with these (I'm assuming) year-round teams, and I think one of the coaches started thinking we needed to work a lot harder and be so much better. But in the end, around here anyway, I think soccer is king, much to my chagrin. There is a girl on Alex's team who is hurt and won't be able to play until July, possibly June, but she goes to ALL the practices and ALL the games, which is really admirable but sets the bar pretty high. Alex was whining about not feeling great and I told her she could stay home today. The WASL is done with and she doesn't have a game after school. She said, no, she still has soccer practice and that even if she was sick, she'd have to go so she knows what they're doing. I guess because they might do a new play and she wouldn't have an opportunity to figure it out once in the coming ten months of play. I kid!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Big Bang Wednesday

I woke up today and noticed I had five texts from my sister. Turns out she was watching The Big Bang Theory last night and was texting me quotes.

"So in your world, you're the cool ones." "Recognize."

"You can't incinerate a bengal tiger with a magnifying glass."

"Sack up, dude. Here I go taking one for the team... in a sack."

"I'm polymerized tree sap and you're an inorganic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns on its original trajectory and adheres to you."

It makes me want to go back and go through all the old episodes and write down all the hilarious quotes. Then again, maybe I can just order a book of scripts...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Television Chat

I had started to chat about some thoughts on T.V. shows in my Monday Madness post, but decided I needed to devote a post to T.V.

The Rock of Love II with Bret Michaels Reunion show was on last night. I know, I know. I wouldn't even call this a guilty pleasure, because it doesn't make me feel guilty. It makes me feel a little smug that I'm not a skank appearing on national T.V. trying to win Bret's "love". It also makes me feel like taking an antibacterial shower. But after last night's show, it would appear that there won't be a RoL III, with Bret anyway. It's been especially interesting to me, what with all the Guitar Hero we play around here. I've actually passed three songs on hard, one being "Talk Dirty to Me" by Poison. So every time I watch RoL, I think of GH and vice versa. It all ties my life together very nicely. HA!

Saturday the season finale of Torchwood on BBCAmerica kept me GLUED to the T.V. I've only recently come to the conclusion that I MUST WATCH THIS SHOW. It's one I've always TiVo'd but the last couple of months have been stellar. The finale had two main characters die. I freaked out and got online to see if these would stick. And while I think that the British are way more pragmatic with the way they run their television entertainment, it would appear that maybe they aren't entirely behind Torchwood. I'm sort of freaked about it. Then I also happened to catch Doctor Who (the first episode of a three-episode finale) and was glued to the T.V. for that. Doctor Who is also a show I tried to watch religiously in the beginning, but it never sucked me in. But man, this finale sure did. Although if Torchwood doesn't get renewed or the main MAIN character isn't back, I think I would blame Doctor Who and wouldn't watch that one. Not that the British would care. On the plus side, I do have the entire first season of Torchwood, which I will be watching soon. I also have to finish Robin Hood.

A show that has become one of my weekly "MUSTS" is The Soup on Friday nights with Joel McHale. Absolutely hysterical. The thing about reality T.V. is that it's almost funnier reading episode recaps on or Television Without Pity than it actually is watching the show. This is one of those instances. I would NEVER watch, for instance, the Bad Girls' Club or Flavor of Love or I Love New York (I do have SOME standards), but Joel shows you the hysterical stuff and you don't need to worry about watching the show to think he's hysterical.

Monday night T.V. has become the night to watch for me. It kind of sucks because my family is still a Dancing with the Stars family, but the fact that this season is running during baseball has really put a damper on our DWTS. So last night I actually taped How I Met Your Mother and the Big Bang Theory, instead of downloading them and watching them the next day. I think HIMYM has totally hit their stride this season, and of course, CBS hasn't decided whether to renew it or not. The last few episodes have been, in my opinion, PERFECT, the timing, the jokes, the end of the episode. PERFECT. And the Big Bang Theory always has at least, for me, two laugh-out-loud moments in every episode, the kind of laugh-out-louds where I ALWAYS grab my phone to text my sister about how funny this show is. Last night I actually thought "This show is hysterical. I need to text Jana and tell her this show is hysterical. I know, I'll just use the same text that I probably sent from last week telling her that the show is hysterical." I was not all that surprised to find out that last week the text telling her that this show is hysterical was about HIMYM and not the Big Bang Theory. But it's the same every week for BOTH shows.

Greek is also on on ABC Family channel on Mondays. While the previews make it look like some stupid sitcom about the Greek system at a made-up college, it's SO not that. It's an hour-long show that is funny and touching and makes you feel good you watched it, like Gilmore Girls or Friday Night Lights. I don't usually get Greek watched until the next day, but it is SO worth watching. Seriously.

Another show that never disappoints me when I catch it is The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. It's not one I even tape, but when I watch it, it always has laugh-out-loud stuff in it. I may have to buy his book. I watched it once over spring break with my mom, and it's like you sit there for a half an hour with a stupid grin on your face the whole time. Good stuff.

The Office is back and has had a couple of pretty funny episodes, and also 30 Rock. I almost wish 30 Rock could make Dennis Duffy a permanent addition to the cast. These shows rarely disappoint. And Battlestar Galactica rules the world, so much so that my sister was trying to decide what to put on her new personalized license plate, and I suggested 12CYLON, meaning that she is the 12th Cylon, and even though BSG will be over in a few months and we will know who the REAL 12th cylon is, and she will have this license plate presumably forever, she seriously considered it for a minute. Plus you can only have six letters in Montana, not seven.

While the writers were on strike, I got in the habit of getting on my computer instead of watching T.V. every night, and I remember actually thinking, "See, I can live without so much T.V." Well, I guess NOT. I wish I could give up crap like Rock of Love, but I can always find at least one hour I've wasted during the week where I can fit it in, although I do spend more time reading the recaps than actually watching each episode. T.V. is just so good right now! I wrote the word "hysterical" seven times in this post. I think I need a new word.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Madness

And so it begins. This week's schedule is PACKED SOLID. Seriously. I mean, damn near every single minute of this week is already accounted for (as soon as school lets out in the afternoons). So I thought I'd better get a post in now, while I'm thinking about it.

This has been one of the weirdest high school baseball seasons on record. It's almost May and we awoke to a dusting of snow today. The baseball team has to get in SIX games this week. That's how far behind they are. Who knows if it will happen. Today looks like it's shaping up to be nice. Another part of the problem here is that we sort of only have one and a half "pitchers" to speak of. But the team has pulled together some nice wins. And they are pretty young. Eric's philosophy in the past has been that sophomores don't normally play varsity, but I know he has some freshmen on the team this year.

The cat has a fractured leg. This led to a discussion of "options". There are two possible surgeries, both of which are expensive and both of which aren't "sure-fire" solutions. The fracture is in place, so the surgeon suggested keeping Tonks in a kennel for four to six weeks to let the fracture try and heal itself. He's actually taken to the kennel pretty well. We'll see.

I saw Horton Hears a Who yesterday with Alex and Samantha. Totally cute movie. But we all came out of it not feeling great. Samantha even fell asleep for awhile yesterday afternoon, which led to the scene last night starting around 9:00. I think that girl is going to need some therapy at some point. She's now aware that bedtime is at 9:00 and that if she gets to bed late, there is NO WAY she will be able to go to school. She'll be too tired. Except for the fact that she is usually up at least a half an hour earlier than she needs to be. But try telling that to a freaked-out 6-year-old who's busy shrieking that she can't sleep and can't go to school. Last night I assured her that she could possibly stay home this morning if she had to. But she made it to school. I guess there will be NO MORE NAPPING of any sort for that chick.

Alex had made the JV volleyball team at school. She's really good, but I think the reason she didn't make varsity is because she is shorter than some of the other 7th graders who did. They were told on Friday that one JV player was being moved to varsity and they'd know today. I think it's between her and one other girl, who is about three or four inches taller. I really hope she gets moved. Watching the first game, I felt like my head was going to explode. There were seriously some kids on her team that I wasn't sure if they even knew what sport they were playing. That being said, the team they played on Thursday for their second game, I'm afraid that team THOUGHT they were in maybe soccer season and had been playing soccer all this time, only to find out five minutes before the game that, no, this is volleyball season. It was THAT BAD. And that seemed to relax Alex's team to the point where I think there may be some hope that what they are doing might resemble real volleyball in a couple of weeks. I hate to be too harsh, but if you yell "MINE" when a ball is coming over the net and then DON'T MOVE and JUST STAND THERE, you probably should be suspended from school for at least a day. It's just that big of a pet peeve of mine that I think I can officially put it on my list of pet peeves, even though it's a sport that will probably only come around six weeks a year.

So Alex's schedule has her doing volleyball after school, basketball on Monday and Wednesday after volleyball, then leaving early for soccer until 8:30. I know it's terrible, but she wants to do it all. She heard the basketball team may be quitting for the season after the tournament on Sunday, so she wants to be there for that. She has a soccer tournament this weekend, and if they don't advance to the semis, she can play in the basketball tourney on Sunday. My cousin told me that this is the point where they made their daughter choose a sport, but I think that's part of the problem with youth sports nowadays. She may not be the best at any of her sports, but I think she should get to play as many as she wants, as long as it doesn't affect her grades, which it doesn't. Anyway, I'm not going to preach about that.

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this week and we can move on.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Solution Room

Every day when I pick up Samantha, I ask her a couple of standard questions about her day. The first one is usually, "Let me guess, Jason and Matthew", meaning Jason and Matthew were the ones who got into trouble today. I'm almost always right, except for that one week where Jason was gone for four days. Also, the day there was snow on the playground, three GIRLS also got into trouble for THROWING SNOWBALLS. WHICH IS NOT ALLOWED. Anyway, today, after confirming that Jason and Matthew had gotten in trouble, I told her that what she should do tomorrow, just to mess with everyone, is to march into school and do something really bad and get into trouble FIRST.

"NO, I CAN'T, BECAUSE IF I GET INTO TROUBLE, I'D HAVE TO GO TO THE SOLUTION ROOM." This being said, of course, the usual two octaves higher than normal conversation. I'm really sorry about this, but I burst out laughing, LAUGHING, which pissed her off even more. "YOU'RE LAUGHING, BUT IT'S REAL." I apologized and tried not to even SMILE, and I asked her what the solution room was. It's the room they go to discuss a better solution for the problem they were having when they got into trouble, except she doesn't know first-hand, since the little goody-two-shoes fart has never been there, not even the time the "guest teacher" got mad at her for talking.

Things sure have changed since Elrod Elementary (Smellrod) in the '70s. Ugh, I threw up a little in my mouth just then. Did I really say the '70s? Someone told me about that, I think...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alex in her dress

The night of the birthday party where Alex was to wear her dress, she had volleyball practice. She cleared it with the coach to get picked up at 3:20, the party people leaving for Seattle at 4:00. This gave us approximately 30 minutes to rush home and get ready. I was totally anticipating a screaming match over her hair. At first she wanted to "wash it, blow it dry and have it straigtened" a process that normally takes around an hour, if we hurry. I laughed. Anyway, luckily (?) the wind was blowing like hell and it was POURING rain all day. When I got her home, I told her her best bet would be to jam it up in a messy bun so she wouldn't have to worry about the weather and could relax and worry about the rain on her nylons or her open-toed shoes. Anyway, she agreed, and her hair was totally cute. It was almost effortless, getting her ready, although she did worry the whole way to the party that they would have already left. But she had a really nice time.

Oh, funny story, there was supposed to be one more girl in the picture, but after the way the friendship between her and Alex has turned out, I chose to crop her out. I'm not sure what her problem is, but I've told Alex that if she ever decides to start acting like they're friends again, Alex needs to have a serious talk with her first. You don't let your friends treat you so badly and then let them right back in if they ever decide to change. It's really uncomfortable because this girl's mother just loves Alex and really wanted Alex and her daughter to be on the same soccer team next year. I think most of the problems started when they both made the varsity team at school this year, so I deduced that it wouldn't be any better if Alex played on the same select team. Anyway, every time I see the mother, she asks me about soccer and mentions that she has the information on her daughter's team. I don't have the heart to tell her that Alex would probably quit before joining her daughter's team because of the way her daughter has been acting towards her. It's painfully obvious her daughter doesn't discuss anything with her, or she would probably know that she doesn't speak to Alex anymore. Then again, maybe you wouldn't go rushing home to brag to your mother that you have been totally shutting out the friend that your mother loves and telling the whole school how annoying she is. Who knows? And at this point, I am beyond caring. I will care, however, if they ever decide to be friends again.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

The main goal when we left Montana at 8:15 a.m. Mountain Standard Time was to be home around 4:00 so I could nap for an hour or so before leaving for a dinner party we were invited to at 6:00. We kicked butt until we got to Snoqualmie Pass when we were stopped for the "Avalanche Control" festivities. In April. Anyway, we FINALLY made it home around 5:15, giving us about 35 minutes to get ready. After 10 hours in the car. I think that's going to be my new thing. I'm going to write a sentence and then follow up with a sentence fragment for emphasis. Anyway, we went to my daughter's teacher's house for dinner and had a great time. I didn't even allow myself to think that I didn't want to go. Who wants to go to dinner after driving home from spring break all day? Anyway, they served this great flank steak recipe, which will be my new favorite as soon as I get the recipe. I went ahead and drank as much wine as I wanted, knowing I could stay in bed till at least 10:30 (remember the days in college when getting up at 11:00 was early?). So I've had to deal with a wine headache all day, but it was worth it.

Since the Fiedler family is officially a Guitar Hero family, I made a Guitar Hero playlist for the iPod for the car. I also put the playlist on the iPod Samantha uses. She knows ALL the words to all the songs. I must admit, it is a little disturbing to hear your 6-year-old singing "Talk Dirty to Me" while listening to her iPod. I guess GHIII is rated T for Teen for a reason and not 6 for 6-year-olds.

Samantha and her friend were jumping on the trampoline this afternoon and her friend came in to get me to tell me Samantha was hurt. When I asked her what happened, she told me Samantha had bent her knee. See, in my house, this is a common complaint. I'm not sure she realizes that knees were made to BEND. Oh well, nothing a Tums won't take care of!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cycling Prank?

So the night I got to Montana, there was an NCAA men's basketball game on, and my sister had some friends up to watch it. She was busy looking stuff up on the computer (What's a Hoya, What's a Tar Heel, important stuff) when one of her friends tells her to look up T-o-m-B-o-o-n-e-n, Tom Boonen, who happens to be a pro cyclist and also half of the wallpaper on my computer right now. I was just sure Jana was pranking me. You just don't hang around, especially in Montana, with a couple of cops and talk about pro cycling in the middle of the NCAA semi-finals. It took me a while to conclude she has some friends that really ARE into cycling and that it wasn't just some elaborate, subtle prank.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring in Montana

The girls and I left dad at home (as usual, since he has baseball games during the break) and came to Montana for spring break. It's a pretty relaxing vacation, since everyone here isn't on spring break. Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie and Uncle are working, and the cousins are in school. So we don't try to do a whole lot. It even snowed for about 20 minutes yesterday, corn snow. We were informed by Samantha that what was falling was hail, since this is what her teacher said it was. Grandma told her that, no, this was what was called corn snow. Samantha insisted that Ms. B. does, indeed, know EVERYTHING and that this was hail. I pointed out that Ms. B. only has to know enough to teach kindergardners and that Grandma used to teach 3rd graders, so Grandma knows more than Ms. B. (sorry, Diahn!) I don't think she even remotely considered that Grandma might be right about the corn snow until I showed her the definition online.

My Cycling Obsession

I can't explain why, probably five years back when Lance Armstrong was going for his record-setting fifth Tour de France win, I became obsessed with pro cycling. It's like Jana's obsession with Mt. Everest. It's not that I even like to ride a bike. I really pretty much don't. I had read Lance's biography, and if my bout with cancer had been even remotely in the same stratosphere as his, I very much doubt I'd have had the fight in me to beat it. I was amazed at what he was doing. So at first it might have been about cheering Lance on, but after that first year, I was hooked. I think I remember the exact moment. I was watching a mountain stage, and they were showing some guy pedaling up the "hill" when I noticed a spectator behind him. When he crossed the spectator's path, the angles of their bodies made it appear as though he was going up a 45 degree angle mountain. I know how my lungs feel even scooting up an "incline". Right then my lungs started to burn for this guy. By the time Lance retired, I knew what I'd be doing every July from then on.

I imagine some people might think that watching cycling on T.V. is about as exciting as watching golf. But I get it. The agony of a peloton pile-up one minute, the thrilling "Where the hell did HE come from?" sprint finish, the next day's admiration for the cyclist who is continuing on despite a broken collarbone or 52 stitches in both knees combined, the awesome sportsmanship (which I'm sorry, I find SORELY lacking in Girls U12 premier soccer), plus, the burning lungs. At first it was only the Tour de France, which also boasted the most amazing photography and scenery. It had everything, or so I thought.

A couple of years back they added the category of who's getting kicked out today for allegedly doping. The first year after Lance, I was so crushed with the exclusion of some of my favorites that I almost didn't watch. Eventually I got back there, but it was hard. After last year, which was still a thrilling finish, in the back of my head there's an asterisk as I'm remembering the disgraced yellow jersey wearer who was kicked out for missing doping control tests and lying about his whereabouts and the amazing performance of the aforementioned stitches wearer who was also removed, along with his poor (and presumably innocent) teammates. It's like a damn soap. I think if they added a "who hooked up with which podium girl last night" column, it would seriously have everything. Except I know, from reading every book I find on the subject, that cyclists would never want to waste their energy hooking up. I've heard they try not to even climb stairs during the duration of the race to save that energy, also.

I'm worried already about this year because of what's happened so far. Team Astana, who was kicked out of the TdF last year for doping, has seemingly rebuilt the team. They've got a new manager, last year's winner and Levi Leipheimer. So they've already been banned for this year, which sucks. Levi happens to be a Montana boy, so that was always an extra bonus. I do have some other favorites, but I think what makes it so special is just what it takes to even finish. If you cross that line, even last, look what you just did, you know?

Anyway, my obsession did spill over into my reading materials, also. You can check out a few of the cycling books I've read here.

Every now and then I think it would be cool to start riding my bike more than the two miles or so my daughter and I rode every other day last summer. But then I actually go out and ride and think, No, I don't want to be doing this, no way, no how. But I can't stop watching.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Amazing Kid

Yesterday Alex had volleyball after school. As soon as it was over, I picked her up, ran her to Wally's for some "dinner" (at 4:30), ran her home to eat and change, then to basketball practice. When basketball was over, I had a half an hour to get her to soccer practice, where I picked her up at 9:00. We raced home, she got in the shower, and I blew her hair dry while she ate another "dinner" of pot stickers. She only has that crazy schedule twice this month, but it still amazes me that she did it. She didn't complain once, although she whined a little after basketball that her feet hurt and the gym was too hot. But if there's one thing about her that is amazing, it's her attitude towards sports and her coaches. She wouldn't DREAM of being late for practice, and unless she has a really good reason, she would never skip a practice. Luckily, she's a 4.0 student, so I don't have to follow through with the threat that, "If your grades start to suffer, you have to quit something." It will be soon enough that she'll have to give something up when each sport starts demanding more time and school soccer and volleyball are in the same season. I have a feeling soccer will win out in the end, but I'm thankful that she will have two years to try out volleyball.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Who Knew Cats Had Knees?

Well, now I do. Our big fella, Tonks, has pulled some of the tendons around his knee. After a trip to the vet and $300 worth of x-rays, at least he doesn't have a torn ACL or a fracture, as the vet originally thought. So we're supposed to severely restrict his activity levels for the next four weeks. I think I even saw something about walking no more than five steps to the litter box. Hello. At first I thought that might not be so bad for a cat that appears to sleep 18 hours a day. We got a kennel to stash him in at night, and during the day will keep him locked up in the laundry to eat and do his duties (doodies - ha) or my office to sleep in a random sunbeam (if he's EXTREMELY lucky). But it appears he's going to want to be walking around more than I first thought. We'll see about that, $300 x-rays.