Thursday, August 28, 2008

I don't usually stop in the middle of a book

I like murder and mayhem.

Throw in a World's Fair and that's what The Devil in the White City was promising me. So I started reading it.

But I'm just 200 pages into it and I need to put it down. Not because I don't like the book, because I do. And not because I can't handle the murder or mayhem. Because I can.

It's just that the library e-mailed me this morning. Seems like my name has come up on one of my holds: Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. I was surprised. Because when I put my name on the list, I was number 99. And considering the book hasn't been out that long, I thought I'd be waiting a lot longer before I got my hands on a copy.

But it's in my possession now. And it's mine for the next two weeks.

So I have to put aside the murder and mayhem at the World's Fair. Because right now? Well, the vampires are calling.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I like my cable company today

I'm a happy Badgergirl.

I no longer have to curse the fools who decided the Big Ten Network would be a great idea. Remember that channel was the reason I wasn't able to watch most of the Wisconsin football season? And let's not even talk about how many Badger basketball games were broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

I was not a happy Badgergirl.

But today? I read this.

And that makes me happy. And probably the cable company happy since I'll now be getting the regular cable back in a matter of months, just in time for basketball season. But what about football? That's what Mom and Dad's couch is for on Saturday afternoons. Or bar stools at local establishments where wings are served.

Now what am I supposed to watch?

The Olympics are over.

What am I going to do now? I spent my lunch hours watching the obscure stuff. But I learned things too. For instance, apparently in water polo, a tie is just as good as a win. At least it was the day NBC choose to air a women's water polo match during my lunch hour. Other days I watched fencing, equestrian or rhythmic gymnastics while munching on my ham sandwich.

About the equestrian events. How do they get the horses there? Do they have to buy a special ticket? Do the horses ride in the luggage compartment of the plane? Or do they get the shaft and have to make the long trip by boat? Just something that I thought about while watching them jump over fences.

And once I got home at night, it was a no brainer. My television would be tuned into NBC, even if I wasn't actually watching it. At least I could hear what was going on.

But I won't forget the nights spent watching Michael Phelps make history at The Water Cube. Or the gymnasts. Or the divers. And the track and field athletes who lived out their Olympic moments at the Bird's Nest.


I miss the Olympics already.

Good thing the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. start in February 2010. That's just a more than a year before I can get my next Olympic fix.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

They're back. And getting too close for comfort

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

They're back.

The crickets.

And they're not just staying in the living room. That's where they get in. They sneak in through a crack in the screen of my patio door. No, the latest intruder? He'd managed to find his way into my apartment and down the hall. And when I found him? He was hanging out in the hallway, right by my bedroom door. One or two hops and he'd be sharing a room with me tonight.

I don't think so Mr. Cricket.

I employed the scoop and flush method. But he was a sneaky fellow. Hopping away every time I tried to scoop him up. It took me four or five tries before I finally caught him in the wad of toilet paper.

But he's been flushed now. Him and the five other crickets I've had to kill in the last month or so.

Hopefully the rest of his cricket friends learn the lesson when he doesn't come back tonight. If they stay out of my apartment we'll get along just find.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The Today Show shocked me yesterday morning.

LeRoi Moore. Dead.

It took me a few moments to fully comprehend what they had just said. And it still seems odd to me. I can't imagine the band without LeRoi. It'll seem strange.

But for now, my sympathies go out to LeRoi's family, his friends and his band mates.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks for the historic moments

Eight gold medals. Seven world records. One Olympic record.

One historic week in the pool.

And I'm left amazed. And thankful I got the chance to watch Michael Phelps make history.

I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the results of the 100 meter butterfly to flash across the screen. The race that was so close, even Michael's mother thought he finished second. But Phelps knew what to do. Took the extra half stroke and stretched to touch the wall.

It paid off.

One-hundredth of a second. Amazing.

And even though he was on an individual quest for eight gold medals, his team was still important to Phelps. I couldn't help but notice the first words out of his mouth to his teammates Saturday night after Jason Lezak touched the wall to give the US the 4x100 medley relay win were "Thank you."

No. Thank you Michael. For being an amazing swimmer who gave it his all during a week long journey to eight gold medals and an entry into the history books. We enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paging motivation

I've been in a bit of a slump.

I'm not feeling particularly motivated. Running? Biking? Swimming? Eh.

I haven't swam a stroke or put a toe in the pool since my triathlon. A month ago.

The running shoes have been enjoying their new home in my gym bag. And they've become a bit anti-social, preferring to stay in the bag rather than be put on my feet and pound the pavement. And it shows. I've run a grand total of 5 miles since the triathlon. And the last time I ran? It was July 24.

My bike should have the fewest complaints. We still get along pretty well and get together for a ride a couple of times a week. But I have to admit. The bike was probably starting to get a bit grumpy since it's been parked in the garage for the last week. But I did take it out for a 12 mile ride after work tonight.

I'm not sure what it is. Why I'm slacking so so much. Maybe it's because I've been pretty busy the last few weeks. I dunno.

But I do know that it has to change. I need to regain the motivation that I had back before the triathlon. I get back in the pool. I need to start logging some miles in the running shoes. And I need to stay on the bike.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

Can you smell it in the air? It's football season.

And last night? I spent it sitting in Lambeau Field, watching the Green Bay Packers take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the pre-season opener. Granted, the Green and Gold didn't win, but it was exciting to watch. Because in case you didn't hear, it's a new era in Green Bay.

There's been a changing of the quarterback guard.

Aaron Rodgers took over the reins last night. And he didn't look too bad. Nine of 15 for 117 yards. A touchdown and an interception during his four series. Not bad. The rest of the game wasn't too bad either. I got to see some of the backups, see who might have a chance to shine this year.

Even though the Packers ended up losing 20-17, it was a fun night. Although it wasn't the super swanky luxury boxes, my seat was in the front row of one of the swanky indoor club seats. It wasn't outside in the Lambeau Field bleacher seats, but hey, I'm not complaining since they were the tickets of the free variety.

The only downside? I pulled into the driveway at 1 a.m. and the alarm went off a mere six hours later. Needless to say, it's been a long day and I think I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight.

*Photo credit: Post-Crescent photo by M.P. King*

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'll never stop loving DMB

You would think it would start to get old after the number of times you've seen a band in concert reaches double digits.

But there's something about the Dave Matthews Band. Each time I venture to a concert, I'm prepared to witness something amazing. Something new. Something that's so much more than a CD full of songs.

I wasn't disappointed with my 11th Dave Matthews Band concert.

My friend Amanda from the 'burg and I took our yearly trek to Alpine Valley Saturday for the DMB concert. We left early and arrived at the parking lot with plenty of time to enjoy some pre-show food and adult beverages. Sadly, our food was the sandwich variety since my little grill is still dead. Next year.

After enjoying our food and beverages and people watching, we headed towards the amphitheater and down the hill to secure a spot on the lawn. Then it was time to wait.

The Black Crowes opened and I have to admit, I wasn't impressed. The hour they played was kind of long for me, especially since they didn't play one of the three songs I knew. Maybe it was because those three songs are also on their Greatest Hits album from 1990-1999. I dunno. All I know was that was a long hour of music that didn't really appeal to me.

Then after a short break, there was Dave Matthews strolling onto the stage. Followed by the rest of the band. And they were ready to play. After hearing the first few chords of the opener, "Dancing Nancies," I knew it was going to be a good night. And when they followed it up with another old-school number, "Seek Up," my thoughts were confirmed.

They slowed it down with a couple of mellow tunes, but then pumped up the crowd with "Bartender," and kept the energy high with "Corn Bread."

Later in the night, after playing the intro to "Too Much," I was totally caught off guard. I seriously thought DMB was going to continue on with the intro and play "Too Much." And they played a few chords. And all of a sudden I realized what they were playing. "Halloween." No way. One of the Coolest.Songs.Ever. Dave screaming. Passion. One of the few songs I haven't heard live. Amazing.

A little while later, I got to see something I've never seen before. The stage hands pull out this piano to center stage and Dave sits down. First he's a bit chatty. Telling a story about how he once had a a bunny, a box turtle and a third animal (it started with a "B" but I can't for the life me remember what it was) and how they'd all died and were inside the box. Maybe you had to be there to find the story amusing.

But then he started playing the piano. "Out of My Hands." I've never seen Dave at the keyboard before. And it was just him. And Carter was back there on the drums, providing a little bit of a beat. Nothing else. And it was cool.

They finished out the set with one of my favorites, "Ants Marching." Then the stage went dark and they disappeared. But a few minutes later, they were back for the encore and treated us to "Don't Drink the Water," and an amazing version of "Two Step."

Like I said, this was my 11th show and they never get old for me. There's always something different. In addition to the music, this year Dave was really chatty on stage and busted out some cool dance moves. It was an amazing three hours. Well worth it.

And for those of you who care, the set list. One that I'm sure had many fans wishing they were sitting on the lawn at Alpine Valley just like me. Because seriously. "Spoon." "Halloween." Throw in the covers of "Burning Down the House," and "Money" and it was a good time.

Alpine Valley
Aug. 9, 2008

Dancing Nancies
Seek Up
Proudest Monkey
So Damn Lucky
Corn Bread
Eh Hee
Water Into Wine
Burning Down the House
Louisiana Bayou
Anyone Seen the Bridge?
Too Much Intro
Water Into Wine (Reprise)
Out of My Hands
You Might Die Trying
Ants Marching


Don't Drink the Water
Two Step

A race for the history books

This is why I watch the Olympics.

The competition. Coming from behind to do the improbable. The reaction. And doing it for your country. Of course, staying in the hunt to capture 8 individual gold medals is a perk as well for Michael Phelps.

The men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay last night? Incredible. A race that may go down in history as one of the best Olympic races ever.

The U.S. wasn't supposed to win. The trash talking French were, the men who said they were going to "smash" the Americans, were the heavy favorites. But this group of four American swimmers - Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak - pulled together to win it and leave the French speechless.

It was Lezak who left Phelps and Co. screaming though. Trailing the trash-talking Alain Bernard at the turn with 50 meters remaining, Lezak got a spark of energy. Over the last meters, he pulled ahead. Out touching him at the wall by .08 seconds and helping the U.S. shatter the world record by nearly 4 seconds.

The U.S. swimmers went wild. Their French competitors went silent.

I admit, I wasn't screaming at the television (that would have been a bit weird to me), but I was sitting at the edge of my recliner, urging Lezak on from half a world away. And when the results flashed cross the screen, I was proud. This was a group of 4 guys who banded together, a reclaimed a title that has eluded the Americans for the last two Olympics. And they weren't expected to win this one either. But they did it.

As Phelps said, "We let our swimming do the talking."

And it was exciting. This is the kind of stuff the Olympics are made of.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let the Games begin

Every two years, for just over two weeks I find myself parked in front of the television, watching the world's greatest athletes compete on the biggest stage.

The Olympics.

Some years it's two weeks watching the Winter Olympics and athletes who ski, skate and sometimes bobsled their way to glory. Or heartbreak. Other years it's the Summer Olympics and athletes who swim, tumble, cycle or run their way to the medal stand.

Either season, it's inspiring. Because it's not just about climbing atop the podium and having an official place a gold, silver or bronze medal around their neck. Yes, the results are important. But for these athletes, it's also about representing their country. You see it in the tears that are shed during the medal ceremonies and the winner's national anthem is played. And through the heartbreak of a dead last finish, you can see it in the athlete who was just as proud to come to the Games, compete and represent their home.

The Beijing 2008 Olympics kicked off today with the opening ceremonies. And for the next 16 days I'll be watching the athletes compete. I admit, swimming, diving and gymnastics are some of my favorite events to watch. But I'll also check in on the events like volleyball, track & field and rowing.

Even if there isn't an event on the schedule that I'm looking forward to seeing, I'll still probably watch the coverage. Because it only comes around every couple of years.

Let the Games begin.

Thankfully it's a weekend of the three-day variety

Even though today is Friday, my "weekend" kind of started yesterday when the girls and I headed down to Waterfest after work to catch some music.

It wasn't just any band though. It was the Gin Blossoms. Yes, the band that was popular in the 1990s when I was in middle or high school.

We only knew 5 or 6 of the songs the band played and for some reason whenever a song started, we thought it was either "Hey Jealousy," "Allison Road," or "Til I Hear It From You." Inevitably we'd hear a bit more and then realize we were wrong. But the show was fun. We laughed, had a few drinks and danced the night away.

Then I got home late and was faced with the harsh reality that I needed to be awake at at work in just over 6 hours. Ouch.

But I made it through the workday and promptly came home and took a nap. Because I was tired. And the rest of the weekend? It's going to be just as crazy.

First there's the annual trek to Alpine Valley to catch the Dave Matthews Band tomorrow. A little tailgating in the parking lots before staking out a spot on the lawn and dancing the night away to the tunes of Dave and the boys. Follow it all up with a post-concert cool down back in the lots while we wait for traffic to clear out a bit and the 12 lanes of cars converging into one is a bit more manageable.

So it'll be a long night. But I'll be working on just a few hours of sleep again Sunday when I head north to the Fox Valley for a family reunion.

Lucky for me I get to catch a few extra hours of sleep Monday morning since I have the day off. But it'll be a late night as I head to Lambeau Field to watch the Brett Favre-less Green Bay Packers take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the pre-season opener. I'm looking forward to the game. Club seats. Football. More tailgating. And did I mention it's my first game at Lambeau Field? It is. Going to work half-dead Tuesday should be worth it.

But to kick the weekend off? I'm going to sit myself down in my recliner and watch the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics. Because I'm a sports junkie. And these next 17 days will be heavenly. But that's a whole other post.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Brett can fight for my ticket, but I'm not giving it up.

There's talk Brett Favre's on his way out.

For good. As in, talks about being traded to another team.

And that makes me happy. Because after the stuff he's pulled? I'm not a big fan of No. 4.

And if he really is being traded, it means he won't be at Lambeau Field for the Packers' pre-season opener against the Bengals. Which, by the way, did I mention I'll be watching it from a box seat at Lambeau Field? Oh, I didn't? Well, that's where I'll be.

And I would prefer if Brett didn't come. Because I'd prefer to watch Aaron Rodgers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I don't get it.

Dear Brett Favre,

I wish you would stay retired and stay in Mississippi, riding your tractor. But apparently you've decided after a matter of months that the retirement life isn't for you and you want to play football again.

But I believed the Packer organization when they kept talking about how Aaron Rodgers will be their quarterback this season. But then you whined. And whined some more.

And now they're going to let you compete with Rodgers for the starting QB job?

Sigh. I'm not happy Brett. I'm disappointed in the organization, but I'm really not happy with you. You should stay retired. I respect what you've been able to accomplish during your career as a player. That will never change. But as a person? Let's just say I've lost a lot of respect for you over the past few weeks.

And I'm rooting for Aaron Rodgers. He deserves a chance. You had your time to shine in the spotlight. And then you retired. But apparently your definition of retirement and my definition of the word are different, because now you're back. And you'll be competing against Rodgers for the starting job?

I know which quarterback I'll be rooting for. And it isn't you.

Go back to Mississippi. I hear there's a great tractor waiting to be ridden. Enjoy your retirement. You've earned it.