Month: May 2022 (Page 1 of 2)

Holiday Weekend Notes

The first weekend of the summer is in the books. We were busy.

M and C finished classes on Thursday. Unless there’s a surprise coming we don’t know about, they both had really good semesters with just one B between them and a handful of A+’s. And now M is a senior. Yikes!

I took C to finally get her driver’s permit on Friday. She wrapped up the written portion of driver’s ed over a month ago, but, for a variety of reasons, we never made it into the BMV. She’s still a month or two out from taking the in-car portion of the class because of a backlog in the system, but we can start working with her and getting those hours logged.

Friday was also L’s last day of school. She was bummed because rain last week ruined a lot of the end-of-year, outdoor activities that St P’s kids usually get to enjoy. And now she’s an eighth grader. Yikes!

Saturday night C had nine friends over for a late birthday celebration. They swam and took 10,000 pictures then sat around the fire pit and commented on each other’s social media posts. As kids do, I guess.

Sunday was Race Day. Thanks to some brisk ticket sales the IMS allowed the race to be shown live locally, if only on Peacock Premium. Which, thanks to being Xfinity customers, we have. I didn’t get to watch a ton of the race, as we were prepping for our evening plans, but seemed like a good race. Better, it was an absolutely perfect day for all the folks who were at the track.

That evening we had friends over for dinner and swimming. I don’t think I’ve shared that we got a Traeger grill a few weeks back. This was my first time showing off my skills for others. I cooked steaks and shrimp. While I’m still getting used to the differences between the Traeger and a gas grill, I have to say these were some of the best steaks I’ve ever made.

C went back to our old ‘hood with her buddy to spend the night. As they left they were talking about waking up early to watch the sun rise That made all the parents laugh, as both C and her friend will sleep all day if you let them. They showed us, though. They pulled an all-nighter and went to a local park to take pictures as the set came up just after 6:00 AM. Apparently there was an old lady there getting her morning walk in and she came over and checked on them. She was worried they had spent the night in the park, which also made us laugh. Anyway, in this case, Kids 1, Parents 0.

Finally, Monday we hosted a sixth birthday party for one of the local nephews. It was another near-perfect day, warm but not humid with a refreshing breeze. The first time this season all the nephews have been in the pool together.

S was also on call all weekend, which meant she had to go into the hospital in the morning to do rounds. Between her getting up, the cloudless mornings, and the early-rising sun, I was still awake before 7:00 most mornings. At least the girls can sleep in. I either need to get more motivated to do things early in the morning or insist on us finally getting some drapes in our bedroom.

Friday Playlist

“Turn Up The Sunshine” – Diana Ross, Tame Impala
Calling it right now: this is the cross-generational, cross-genre song of the summer. One of my nephews loved Pharell’s “Happy” when he was two. I predict his two-year-old brother is going to be crazy about this song.

“Summer Nights” – Hazel English
And this should be the indie rock song of the summer.

“Turn Away” – Sea Lemon
I’ve been hanging onto this song for weeks. Just seems like a summer song.

“Other Girls” – Eux Atres
The Sea Lemon song made me think of this lovely jam, which I know I played in the earliest days of my long-retired music podcast back in 2004. TWENTY-OH-FOUR!

“Airbag” – Radiohead
Last week we celebrated – huh, huh – the anniversary of Japandroids’ Celebration Rock. This week, we harken back to 1997 when Radiohead blew our minds with OK Computer. I still remember the first time I heard it all the way through. In time I became a bigger fan of The Bends, but OK Computer remains one of the most important albums of the past quarter decade.

“My Friend Dario” – Vitalic
Big weekend for us here in the Racing Capital of the World (self-proclaimed).

“Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

Some Bond Links

I really enjoyed this look at Pierce Brosnan’s career. Especially the section where the author discusses how despite, seeming to be the ideal James Bond, Brosnan’s run in the series always seemed lacking.

Mostly, the Brosnan Bonds feel like a franchise trying to figure out how to pivot back to relevance, casting a seemingly perfect Bond who, unfortunately, symbolized a bygone idea of the secret agent. Craig was given the latitude to shock us with his 007, whereas Brosnan was largely there to maintain a status quo — to uphold a musty vision of who the character used to be. For four films, Brosnan did his best to make Bond seem cool — it took his successor to break the mold.

Pierce Brosnan Was Meant to Be James Bond. But Then He Was Meant For More

Coincidentally, baseball writer and noted “man with opinions” Keith Law just shared his thoughts about Bond series after wrapping up a full run through it. His conclusions are very much in-line with mine.

On the James Bond films

Reader’s Notebook, 5/25/22

Good grief, I’ve gotten bad about these again. Didn’t I say I was going to start posting after I finished each book to keep from getting so far behind? Or did I just think it? Regardless, I clearly failed to follow up. I guess that will be my goal for the summer, when I expect my reading pace to quicken. Some blurbs on my most recent crop of books.

The Nineties – Chuck Klosterman
I really liked this, which surprised me a bit. I’ve been hot and cold on Klosterman for years, but here he was locked into his style that I enjoy the most.

Obviously the book is about the 1990s. And while Klosterman is most famous for tackling pop culture, he takes a much wider view of that decade here. In fact the best chapters are the ones about politics. I watched the 1992 presidential campaign as close as any of my life, but he highlighted all kinds of aspects of that race I had totally forgotten about. For example, I forgot that Ross Perot was forcibly against the war to liberate Kuwait, called out the US military often, and was demonstrably in favor of equal rights for gay people. A Texas billionaire in 1992 might have been the most progressive person in the race on those issues!

Another of my favorite of Klosterman’s points was how our generation, which came of age during the 90s, has a unique perspective on society’s relationship with the phone. We remember what it was like to have to sit at home and wait on a call to come through on a landline. If we were expecting a really important call, we had to hope someone else in the house wasn’t tying up the line. And we were not able to screen calls, but instead had to answer any call that came into our home, braving telemarketers and batty old aunts in hopes someone we really wanted to speak with was on the line. Kids today have no idea what that was like with their caller ID and texting and direct messaging!

Devil House – John Darnielle
Darnielle is the lead singer of the Mountain Goats, but has been writing for years. I’ve heard his work is good but this is the first time I’ve read any of it.

He takes an interesting angle here: a successful true crime writer moves into a home that was the site of a bizarre and unsolved murder in the 1980s. As the author reconstructs the crime, he is confronted by the mother of a murder victim he wrote about in an earlier book. The encounter forces him to reevaluate his process and the work that he cranks out.

There were some very strange parts to the book, including a long section that took place sometime in old England – talking castles and shit – and printed in a nearly unreadable old English font. I’m not a big true crime reader, but this did make me wonder about the decisions authors in that genre make and how they affect the people they write about.

The New Rules of War – Sean McFate
I heard McFate on a podcast talking about the Russian war against Ukraine and enjoyed his perspective. So I checked out his most recent book. In it he argues that basically everything the US does in terms of preparing for war is wrong. We spend too much money on the wrong things, rely too much on our technological advantages, train and deploy our troops for the wrong kind of battles, don’t understand how the concept of war has changed, and, in sum, have set ourselves up for a military disaster in the near future.

His arguments are provocative. While I agree with many of them – do we really need to spend more on defense than all our biggest potential adversaries combined? – I think some others are a little nutty. And I can’t see any political will to make the changes he suggests, since those would drastically reduce the amount of spending we commit to major weapons systems. Something we, as a nation, are genetically predisposed to do.

It is also interesting that the Marines are attempting to do some of what McFate suggests, and have been getting major pushback from a lot of people for it. Who ever thought the Marines would be the most forward-thinking branch of our military?

Rethinking Fandom – Craig Calcaterra
I’ve been reading Calcaterra’s baseball writing for years. Even though I’ve barely watched any baseball this year, I still subscribe to his Cup of Coffee newsletter, which is essential morning reading. It helps that his politics are similar to mine and once he gets through the daily summaries of games, he often dives into things going on in the world that have nothing to do with baseball.

In this book he looks at all the ways modern sports screw the fan. Between exorbitant ticket/parking/concessions prices, massive public funding efforts to build stadiums and arenas, dishonesty from ownership in labor battles, tanking teams, restrictive television rules, franchises controlled by conglomerates that have wider business interests, how college sports are exploitative of athletes, and so on, sports have turned into an affair where winning and giving the fans an entertaining product is not always at the top of the organization’s goals.

He offers some strategies for surviving all this, most of which can be summed up as taking a step back from sports. You can still watch but you don’t have to spend 24/7 absorbing information about your favorite teams/sports. You can even be a fair-weather fan and only follow teams that are winning and entertaining to watch, since sports are supposed to be a fun diversion from the drudgery of real life.

I found that I’ve already implemented many of his suggestions. Well, KU basketball excepted. I still know what’s going on in most sports, check a few times a day, and have plenty of sports news included in my Twitter feed. But I watch a lot fewer games than I used to, rarely watch any pregame or summary shows, and have zero time for sports radio or the talking head shows on TV. I watch most sports pretty casually, finding a storyline I like in a given game and letting it carry me through the next couple hours before moving on. I track closely enough to be able to slide into conversations about what’s going on in the NBA playoffs or who the Colts should chase at quarterback, but I’m not as weighed down by sports information as I once was.

Calcaterra is an Ohio State alum and was once a massive Buckeyes football fan, his falls revolving around watching and reading about OSU football. But now rarely watches them and knows next-to-nothing about that is going on with the team. Despite the changes I’ve made in how I watch sports, I’m not quite ready to go all-in and get lukewarm about the Jayhawks. Let’s not get crazy.

Weekend Hoops: The Ville

L’s first true travel basketball tournament of her life is in the books. She had fun, but it was a mixed weekend results-wise.

Hoops first. Her team went 2–2 for the weekend. Friday night they got absolutely annihilated by a team from Canada. Whatever your mental image of how Canadian seventh grade girls should look and play, these girls were the opposite. Big, fast, strong, good hoops IQs, and the most athletic team we’ve played this year. They were also hand-checky as hell, which they didn’t need to do since they were already way better than us. We lost 55–11. They were still pressing in the final 30 seconds up 40. So much for Canada Nice I guess.

Saturday morning we got a sloppy win over a team from Bloomington. On the court next to us, a team from St. Louis beat the Canadians by four, but had been up by 15 most of the game before a late Canuck run. That score shocked us parents and bummed out our girls. They figured they had no chance beating a team that beat a team that beat them.

In the afternoon game, we led the St. Louis girls by one point as the clock ran out to end the first half…then the refs inexplicably counted a basket that came at least two seconds after the buzzer. Seriously, the girl with the ball was at mid-court with 1.5 seconds left and they somehow thought she took 5–6 dribbles and laid it off the glass in that span. Our girls played great that first half and had nothing left. We were on the wrong end of a 26–3 run top open the second half. But losing by 18 didn’t seem so bad given their expectations.

Of the 12 teams in our division, we finished ninth. And our reward was to stick around until 4:40 Sunday to play the 12th place team, also from Bloomington. We got worried when we arrived early to watch another of our seventh grade teams play and their opponent never showed up. I threatened to burn the building down if we stuck around until late afternoon only to win by forfeit. Fortunately our opponents were there and we even got to start about 40 minutes early. Another sloppy but comfortable win, this time by 10.

L’s performance? Not great. Her knees were barking all weekend and at times she could barely run. It was tough to watch and super frustrating for her. She scored three total points in the four games and had more turnovers per game than she’s had all year. Bad passes, getting beat physically, unable to stop because of her knees and getting called for traveling, etc. The confidence she had developed in April is completely gone. She looks unsure of herself and constantly off-balance. I know she was extra disappointed she contributed very little because she was so looking forward to this tournament. Her team has the next two weekends off and her coach told her to skip practice this week to give the knees some rest. I just keep reminding her this means she’s still growing, but I think she’s getting sick of hearing that.

The tournament was at the Kentucky Expo Center, located right between the airport, the University of Louisville athletic complex, and Churchill Downs. There were 30 or so courts and Saturday especially was kind of a madhouse. Games started at 8:00 AM and went until past 10:00 each night. Some of the courts were hand-me-downs from college arenas. L’s team played the Friday game on an old Louisville Freedom Hall court, complete with baskets that had UL Cardinals decorations on them. I didn’t walk around much but apparently there was a Clemson and Georgia Tech court, too. Most of the courts were just temporary plastic ones, though. I don’t think those helped L’s knees at all.

While the tournament was all age groups, it was dominated by Class of 2023 teams, and lots of college coaches were floating around to watch them and the sophomores. Some of these juniors are insanely big and talented. I watched one game Sunday that had at least five girls on the court who were taller than six feet. The event was NCAA sanctioned so we had to register our girls with the NCAA to compete, which L thought was kind of cool but was a hassle for us parents. You had to sit through about 20 minutes of interactive videos regarding recruiting, mental health, concussions, etc. We also had to bring multiple pieces of documentation to show our girls were playing in the right age group. Which they didn’t even look at when we checked in. Wonder if they gave the high schoolers’ docs more scrutiny.

While the basketball was frustrating, L had a great time hanging out with her teammates. We had a couple team meals, they ran around our hotel and the area we were in, and found other ways to entertain themselves.

It was fun for us parents, too. We had a big group lunch between games Saturday and basically took over a restaurant because of our group size. That night we ordered pizza and took over the hotel breakfast area. I sat with the two coaches and another dad, dranking beer and laughing for three hours. It was a good evening.

We couldn’t get a later checkout than noon on Sunday, so L and I found an outlet mall about half an hour away and hit the Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas stores, looking for some new shorts for her. She came up empty but was thrilled that there was a Crocs store. She wears Crocs all the time, including to-and-from basketball. She got a new pair along with some Gibbets.

Travel was relatively easy, although we had some very good luck. On our way down Friday I narrowly missed a hunk of metal on I–465. As we passed it, there were at least eight cars pulled over with flats after running over it. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have found anyone to install new tires on my Audi on a Friday afternoon and would have been screwed.

On our way home Sunday we saw a tractor trailer that was flipped in the middle of I–65 about an hour south of Indy. Judging from the debris we saw around the wreck, I wondered if it had blown over in heavy storms that passed through that area Saturday afternoon.

Friday Playlist

“Rewind” – Whimsical
Some very turn-of-the-millennium shoegaze from Northwest Indiana, of all places.

“Alive” – POLIÇA
Oh, damn! This song absolutely slays.

“Bones” – Rosali
After some shoegaze and electro-pop, let’s take things in a completely different direction. It sure seems like a whole lot of shreddy songs like this come out of Philly. I think Rosali has worked with The War on Drugs at some point.

“Saw You At The Eastern Beach” – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
RBCF’s new album took a little longer to connect than their last, which I thought was the best of the career. But in time a few songs bubbled up and have been getting a lot of spins. I like how this one is slightly unhinged and dissonant.

“Having An Average Weekend” – Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet
This popped up in my Discover Weekly playlist a month or two and absolutely delighted me. I don’t think I knew at the time that The Kids in the Hall were making a return. I spent the past week watching the new season. One of the smartest decisions was to keep their classic theme song, this wacky song from a wacky band. For some extra fun, go listen to the alternate version the band calls “Having An Average Weekend ’78.”

“Are You Experienced?” – Belly
I think Stereogum had a feature on Belly lead singer Tanya Donnelly a week or so back, which included this song. I had kind of forgotten about it, but used to think it was one of the best covers of its time, with the band taking the Hendrix original and ripping it up ’90s college rock style. In the article Donnelly also shared how she’s working to get her music pulled from Spotify. The band even uses the Delete Spotify logo as their band logo on Spotify. So I felt kind of bad for streaming two of their albums. I thought about sharing the video of the band performing this on The Tonight Show, but every version on YouTube is pretty rough. Worth a look to watch their bass player bounce around. She was about as ’90s alt rock as you could get.

“The House That Heaven Built” – Japandroids
I read the other day that the tenth anniversary of Japandroids’ classic ass kicker Celebration Rock is coming up. Turns out it’s two weeks away. That didn’t stop me from listening to it Thursday. It is one of the truly great albums of the 2010s. To refresh your memories, this was my favorite song of 2012 and my #12 song of the 2010s.

Year One With An Audi

Last week was the one year anniversary of me acquiring my Audi Q5. As my car search series was immensely popular – I believe at least 10 people read it – I feel like I owe those fans a one year update.

Aside from some minor quibbles, I am still deeply in love with my Audi. It isn’t perfect, but it is still a pretty fantastic ride.

It is mostly an around town vehicle, and it handles that nicely. Indy’s roads are crap, so the suspension has taken some hits from potholes and other infrastructure failures. But it still rides nicely. It is a delight to occasionally find a stretch of newish pavement with a generous speed limit so I can enjoy the smoothness of the ride. Even after a year its speed can surprise me, and I’ll look down and see I’m going a lot faster than I thought.

The only true road trip I’ve taken in it was to Nashville last fall. Engaging the adaptive cruise control along with the other driving aid/safety features made for an exceptionally easy trip. L and I have two basketball trips coming up and I’m looking forward to driving those.

One of the biggest reasons for moving to a smaller vehicle was for improved gas mileage. I’m pleased to report that I continue to average between 7–9 more miles per gallon compared to my Tahoe or Suburban. On our trip to Bloomington last week I was getting between 31–32 mpg in the short stretches when I could get it above 70 mph. Around town I’m almost always right at 23 mpg. The Chevys checked in around 16 in the city and in the low 20s on the highway. That difference somewhat mitigates the fact I’m pumping premium fuel into it.[1]

I mentioned some quibbles. Most of those are purely personal choices which you have to deal with no matter what car you drive. My biggest frustration is with the way Audi handles technology, or at least the back end of it. The user interface for the entertainment and other electronic systems are great. But connecting to Audi’s online services is truly a nightmare. I was never able to get connected last year, as the system was down for weeks, so I gave up. When I was in for service last week the dealership couldn’t get me connected even though the system was available. I got a call Monday that I should be good. I am finally able to log in and connect my account to the car. But the features of that service are not all flowing through. Apparently this is not unusual for Audi. Hell, their main website sucks and my dealer’s is a nightmare to navigate. They make great cars but need to partner with Apple or someone to get their tech on point.

I’ve had some of the electronics flake out on me a couple times. Once, while driving, all my doors unlocked, the windows rolled themselves down, and the warning indicator for every electric system came on. I could still drive normally and safely, but the central display kept scrolling through those warnings without pause. When I found a parking lot, I pulled off the road, turned the ignition off, waited a few minutes, then turned it back on. Everything came back on normally. I guess I just needed to reboot. I wonder if it runs on Windows 95 or something.

I’ve had the automatic braking system slam my car to a halt twice. Once it was when a car pulled in front of me from the neighboring lane at a red light. I saw the car coming but the system engaged the brakes before my foot hit the pedal, which was great. Another time it engaged while I was making a left hand turn and there was no traffic or other obstacles in my way. That was concerning. I’ve also found that system checks out if it is raining too hard. Which makes sense. If it can’t get a good signal you don’t want it stopping you because it thinks sheets of rain are another car.

I hate that you can’t check your tire pressure at any time. The car will only send you a warning if it believes a tire is low. And if someone servicing it doesn’t reset the system, it will throw a warning at you a couple days later. That happened last week on our way to Bloomington. Between games I went and bought a pressure gauge and checked all the tires. They were fine. Because the dealer had failed to tell the system the pressures had changed after rotating the tires, the computer thought at least one of them was low. Super annoying.

I turned off a few of the safety features, notably lane assist. I found it to be far more aggressive than the one on my Chevys. Where the Chevy system would ease you back to center if you got close to a lane marker, the Audi yanks you back. Worse, in conditions where lanes widen out and markers disappear, at an exit ramp for example, it can get confused and fight you from keeping your intended path. I don’t think it’s actually dangerous, but it feels dangerous when it fights you.

I’ve had some issues with the rear lift gate. The dealer told me the struts that brace the gate needed to be replaced. The repair is under warranty, which is cool. What is not cool is that the parts have to come from Germany and may not be here for weeks.

Speaking of that, I certainly got my Audi at the right time. I did not know that car carrier that sunk in the Atlantic a couple months back was carrying 4000 Audis. The sales guy I talked to said he had a client who had been waiting a year on an e-tron and it was now sitting on the bottom of the ocean. Then they had another ship go through a terrible storm last month that damaged over 40% of the vehicles it was bringing to North America. I read a couple weeks back that Audi is also delivering some vehicles without certain features because of the microchip shortage. I know these problems aren’t unique to Audi – well, losing cars in the Atlantic isn’t universal – but it is still nice to have one rather than be waiting on one.

My girls would tell you they wish the Audi was a little bigger. The back seat is wide enough, but the hump created by the drivetrain makes whoever sits in the middle really have to squeeze in if they are sitting three across. We solve that by usually taking S’s Grand Cherokee if all five of us are riding together.

All relatively minor issues. One year in the Q5 remains my favorite car I’ve ever driven.

  1. I refuse to complain about the price of gas because I support the freedom of Ukraine. I also love how fiscal conservatives suddenly fall out of love with the supply/demand tenants of capitalism when gas gets expensive, and whine about the government needing to do something about it. But government shouldn’t do anything to help poor people or make health insurance more affordable…  ↩

On the iPod

You may have missed the news because of more important things, but Apple officially retired the iPod line of music players last week. That’s not exactly true, as the iPod Touches that were discontinued were more iPhones without a cellular radio than anything resembling the classic iPods. But, still, Apple no longer sells a dedicated portable music player.

There have been plenty of odes to the iPod in the tech media. I liked this piece on The Verge, with their writers sharing some of their iPod experiences.

Our memories of the iPod

I had forgotten about the accessories we used to enhance our iPod experiences. Silicone cases. The do-dads that you fed into your car’s cassette player, or the snap-on transmitters so you could hear your music on a clear FM radio frequency we used before most cars came with AUX headphone jacks.

I fell in love with the iPod when it was released. However, as it was Mac-only at the time and I had yet to enter the world of the Mac, I could only lust from afar. When I began traveling for work, I got a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 2, which looked more like a Sony Discman than an iPod. Getting music onto it was a true nightmare, usually requiring an afternoon of work to prepare for a trip. But I was able to load it up with songs to listen to on those flights from Kansas City to the west coast.

When I bought my first Mac in the summer of 2004, I tried to jump on the iPod bandwagon immediately. The first click wheel iPods had just come out, and I found a discounted third generation model – that had the cool, light up buttons – and tried to split the cost between a gift card and my credit card. Something about the transaction failed, and by the time I called to try to get it worked out, all the old models were gone. So I went to my local Apple Store and bought a click wheel model. Which was really the smarter move.

Thus began a long run of iPods. I have no idea how many I owned. I moved up to a fourth generation model after my father-in-law found one in a parking lot somewhere. It was scratched up and the battery was drained, but once I charged it up, it worked just fine. I know I had a Mini, a Nano, and a few Shuffles along the way. They were my constant companions on my drives around Indiana covering high school sports. Nothing was sadder than realizing I hadn’t synced it to iTunes before I left the house and a new album or playlist had not gotten copied over.

I kept an old iPod around until about 18 months ago. I used it to listen to podcasts as I fell asleep. When it’s battery started to fail, I finally switched to using my iPhone with Bluetooth earphones for my falling-to-sleep pods. It may still be sitting in a drawer somewhere.

My girls know what an iPod is – they all had one at some point – but I’m not sure they really understand the impact on society those little things had. Or how amazing they seemed to us when we first encountered them. It was the product the turned Apple into a business juggernaut. Most importantly, it paved the way for the iPhone, which changed the world’s concept of what a cell phone should look like and function, and had an even greater impact on both the world and Apple. All because people wanted an easy way to listen to music privately without being restricted to a single tape or CD.

Weekend Hoops Notes: B-town

L finally got back in hoops action this weekend. The tournament her team was scheduled to play in in Indy got cancelled because of lack of teams. Our coach scrambled and got us into a tournament in Bloomington.

Which is nice since they’ve been working on the main highway between Indy and B-town approximately since I moved to Indiana. There was a long stretch where there were barrels blocking one lane and the speed limit was 45. A vote against IU for me in M’s college search.

L’s team went 2–0 on Saturday, playing sloppy but beating two bad-ish teams by 20+ each. After the game we took the girls to IU student and alum favorite Nick’s for lunch. It was, unfortunately, raining sideways at the time so we didn’t get to wander around campus or downtown at all.

L looked rusty after a couple weeks off. She scored three in the first game, four in the second. She seemed a step slow in both games and a little unsure of herself. She had a couple nice assists in each game, though.

There were only four seventh grade girls teams so the Sunday tournament began with a rematch with the squad we beat by 23 Saturday. I should note they hung with us pretty deep into the pool game until our best player scored nine points in about 90 seconds and broke their wills. But they played solid D and did some nice stuff on offense.

Naturally on Sunday they jumped out to a 9–2 lead, and led 19–10 late in the first half. Our girls made a nice run – including a sweet dime from L to a teammate in traffic for a basket – and cut it to 21–20 at halftime.

We took the lead pretty quickly in the second half and dominated the first 11 minutes or so. With three minutes left the parent sitting by me asked an important question: “Have they only scored one point this half?”

I looked at the scoreboard and, indeed, we were up 34–22. Quite the turnaround!

That was a big-ass jinx, though, as our girls fell apart a little, let the lead shrunk down to three, before they closed it out to win 38–35. L’s team runs hot and cold shooting, and this was definitely a cold game. They were 0–12 from 3 and 4–25 from the line. This totally felt like KU playing an 8 or 9 seed in the round of 32 and bricking their way out of the tournament.[1]

I was SO impressed with the opposing coach. He took what he learned from playing us Saturday and had his girls attacking our weak points and stymying us on D. What I really liked was he was intense, loud, but always positive. I never heard him yell at a player for doing something wrong. Each time I heard him raise his voice, he was telling his girls how to avoid the foul they just got called for, or how to prevent the turnover they just committed. Travel hoops is full of crazy coaches who tear down more than build up. It kind of made my whole weekend to see one who was the opposite.

Onto the championship game. We were playing a team that had a lot of size. I jokingly told other parents we wouldn’t get a single rebound the entire game. The girls proved me wrong by getting one just a minute into the game. We had a 3–0 lead, but it was all downhill from there. We trailed by nine at the break and kept it respectable in losing by 14. This was a better team that really knew how to play. Our girls battled but they looked tired. This was not a team they could beat playing tired.

L didn’t score in either game Sunday. She had some more nice assists, and played a ton in the second game because she was working hard on defense. She was sore afterward, which I told her was good. Saturday she was upset with herself for not scoring more. Sunday she realized that the shots weren’t there, at least in game two, and took some pride in her defense. She told me she didn’t think a couple of her teammates were working hard once they got behind. I told her that’s why she played so much: coaches see effort and reward it.

Next week is our first big roadtrip: four games in Louisville. Unfortunately we have some girls who have a track meet Friday night and our first game is scheduled for 5:45, so we may have to forfeit that if we can’t get them to reschedule for later.

With two weeks of school left I gave L the assignment of coming up with basketball goals for between now and when fall ball starts. I have ideas, too, but I want to see what her thought process is.[2] Next week when we are driving back from Louisville we’re going to talk about her goals and think of the process to get there. We plan on spending a lot of mornings at the YMCA over the summer.

Playing and driving to-and-from Bloomington dominated my weekend. Not really sure what the rest of the family did. Check their socials if you want insights on them.

  1. The University of Kansas basketball Jayhawks won the men’s Division 1 national championship this year. In case you hadn’t heard.  ↩

  2. I think we need to do a lot of shooting, work on her overall ball handling but especially her left hand, and spend time in the gym getting her stronger.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Better Days” – Liam Gallagher
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Gallagher brothers’ post-Oasis solo/group efforts. But this song is solid. And I hope that Liam is right that the better days we’ve been waiting for eventually get here.

“Nowhere At All” – Young Guv
Nobody is better right now at making hazy, summery, jangle pop like this than Ben Cook.

“Hearts Underground” – Tallies
More fun, jangly sweetness.

“American Teenager” – Ethel Cain
We’re on the back end of prom season. This sounds like a song that could soundtrack a movie with a prom scene in it.

“Lucidity” – Tame Impala
This track is 12 years old. It still cooks.

“Friday the 13th” – Misfits
I couldn’t resist. Beware!

“Head Rolls Off” – Frightened Rabbit
Make tiny changes. RIP Scott.

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