Well, today begins a new phase in our home’s daily rhythms. C and L are now eLearning through at least mid-January, joining M who has been home for two weeks. Hopefully the expensive Internet access we pay for holds up; our signal likes to drop in the middle of the day which should make for interesting moments when three girls are all in virtual classes.
When I picked C and L up from their final day of classes last Tuesday, L said it felt like the beginning of Christmas vacation. In a way I guess it is. Seems like things have gone fairly well with M’s eLearning. We are hoping that St P’s has used the past five or six months to have a good plan in place and the next five-ish weeks of class can be fairly normal.
It was a long holiday weekend. Let’s get caught up.
I’ve long been intrigued by smart hubs, plugs, lights, etc. But I always held off because I both didn’t see their utility beyond the fun factor, and with a wife who isn’t super tech-savvy, I feared the moments when the devices didn’t work properly and I wasn’t around to troubleshoot.
I knew the new Amazon Echo devices would get a price cut last week, and the moment they dropped, I ordered both an Echo with premium sound and an Echo Dot.
The Dot came first, on Tuesday, and I got it working in the office. I also ordered some smart plugs and got my reading lamp working via Alexa voice controls. The Echo came on Wednesday and…was a royal pain in the ass to get working. While the Dot connected to our home network easily, the Echo struggled. I spent a few hours Wednesday resetting things, moving them around, trying to tweak our network, etc to get it to work. Finally I was successful but it seems like it doesn’t love its network connection.
So I now have the Echo in the office for better sound and to control the lamp. I have our Christmas tree on a smart plug that we use Alexa to turn on and off. And I have the Dot in storage for future use.
Our Turkey Day was normal, but different.
The past several years we’ve participated in a huge Drumstick Dash, walking as a family with about 10,000 other people. We had no interest in doing that this year, so instead joined some of S’s high school friends and their families as the walked through their neighborhood. It was a nice way to socially distantly see some friends and burn a few calories.
After that we hosted most of our in-town family, 15 in total. We lucked out with the weather. It was dreary and occasionally a little misty, but it was also about 50 with little-to-no wind. We had our outdoor fireplace and a fire pit lit, with seating areas for all. As our guests arrived we opened all the windows in the main floor of the house to keep the air moving. Between the ovens and stove and the people, our house stayed very toasty. And it was just warm enough outside so we could all eat al fresco without our food getting cold.
Now I guess we wait and see if anyone gets sick over the next two weeks to see if this was a success or a disaster.
I’ll tell you what was a success, though: my bird. I cooked the hell out of it this year. I was on the verge of overcooking but got it out at the perfect moment when it smelled and tasted awesome. Between that and the fires outside, it smelled like I had cooked it on the grill. Really, all credit goes to Whole Foods, where I got this year’s bird. It was the first time I got a brined turkey and I think that will become my routine.
High School Football
We made it through a full season of high school football in Indiana. The state title games were on Friday and Saturday. Saturday were the more important ones to us. BCHS played for the 3A title game in the afternoon, with several St P’s kids playing important roles. M laughed when she saw several of her classmates on the sidelines and getting their championship medals after the game.
The last game of the year was the one we cared about most: Cathedral vs 7–5 ZHS, a school that got hot at the right time and ripped through the top half of the north bracket. CHS had been beating the snot out of people all year. They only had one loss, by four points, to the undefeated team that won the 6A title Friday. Their only close win was a three-point victory over the team that won the Ohio large class title game 44–3. We figured the championship game would be another blowout.
It was, then it wasn’t, then it was.
CHS got up 22–0 without looking very good, but then ZHS worked their way back into it. They cut it to seven and had the ball a couple times but could never get the tying score. In the third quarter the Irish got a 75 yard touchdown pass, a stop, then another quick score and put the game away, winning their 13th state title 46–28.
M chose not to go; none of her friends were going and fans were limited to sitting in small groups of reserved seats, so there wouldn’t have been a proper student section. Instead she sat on the couch and watched with us, telling us which players were nice and which ones were quiet and which ones were dating which girls. That was almost an entertaining as the game.
C did go with a friend. The highlight for her was seeing two freshman girls get in a fight over a boy. She and her friend got bored and left early. She walked in our door just as the game was ending, which was kind of funny.
M was excited that she gets to buy some state champions shirts now, so she understands the true meaning of being a sports fan. She was also bummed that it happened in a year when she was only able to to go two games. Most of the fall she sat in her room while I listened to the games and texted her scoring updates. Another thing Covid has ruined.
Still, good ending to a great year. Last fall I went to almost every game, driving M and her friends around the metro area. This fall my routine was to listen to the games on the radio as I hit golf balls in the yard or dicked around on the Internet. I guess I need to find a new Friday pastime now.
As is our tradition, all the holiday decorations went up Thursday. The girls did most of the tree decorating, which was a nice change of pace.
S and I had put the lights on our outdoor trees three weeks ago, on a Sunday when it was nearly 80. With the little nephews around on Thanksgiving, we decided to turn those on Thursday. The four-year-olds did a countdown and I flipped the switch, much to their delight.
The KU-Gonzaga game was right during our meal prep and eating time, so I recorded it to watch later. When I saw the final score and read a summary I decided not to just delete it. But I was encouraged by what I read later in the evening. Everyone said that while KU struggled on defense, their offense showed some signs of real potential. Lots of parts that would likely fit together better after several weeks of games. Oh, and Gonzaga is really freaking good. Their game with Baylor Saturday is going to be a must-watch.
I did watch the St. Joe’s game Friday. And I was super-frustrated through the first 30 minutes. As you would expect from a team that has so many newcomers and no true point guard, KU just could not get into a flow on offense. And defensively the looked totally lost.
Until Bill Self put in redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris for the first time midway through the second half. He’s skinny, not super tall, and hardly a burner bringing the ball up. But the moment he stepped on the court, the game changed. He made a couple great defensive plays. He made a couple terrific passes. He got Marcus Garrett off the ball. Everything was smoother with him in the game. It went from a frustrating, one-possession game to a blowout in about five minutes.
KU plays Kentucky here in Indy tomorrow night. Well, they are scheduled to play. Both Gonzaga and St. Joe’s have reported positive Covid tests since they played KU. So we’ll see. More KU hoops thoughts later in the week.
That’s about it for our holiday weekend. It is spitting snow this morning and the windchill is supposed to be in the 20s all day. The girls are all in front of their devices getting educated. It’s not the worst day to stay inside.
Hope all of you were able to celebrate the holiday in a safe and healthy manner.
- This year’s race was first broken up into smaller waves that left at hour-intervals and eventually cancelled. ↩