Thursday, October 27, 2022

Sean Goes Camping

Pedro Tulo joined Cub Scouts this fall, and he recently had his first camp out. Now my idea of “camping” is staying at a Hilton-brand hotel. Since a Hilton credit card is the one I primarily use, I somehow managed to reach Hilton Honors’ diamond status despite rarely staying at hotels. My theory is that the Hilton rewards program upgraded me and many other members during the start of the pandemic. While my diamond status is nice, I’ll probably revert back to being a Gold Member again soon.

I got off topic. That happens. Anyway, we borrowed a tent from the father of one of members of Pedro Tulo's den and borrowed pads to put under the sleeping bags from our friends. Yes, we actually own a few sleeping bags. We packed way too many supplies for only being away for one night and arrived at the campsite. We found the Cub Scout pack and started to unpack. See what I did there. Pack and unpack in the same sentence. Clever! Then we put the tent together. And when I say "we," it was mostly the dad who had the tent. I have no idea how to pitch a tent. 

We (again he) finished just in time for a pack hike/service project, which consisted of the kids picking up litter along the way. By the conclusion of the hike, I was exhausted and ended up with over 15,000 steps for the day. However, this didn't include the thousands of steps I walked and ran being a soccer referee in the morning. Maybe not the best decision to do both except for my theory that I would be so tired that I would sleep really well that night. That plan worked perfectly from about 9:30PM to 2:00AM. The last 4-5 hours of attempting to sleep were miserable. I was cold and/or couldn't get comfortable. Mattresses are definitely not overrated! Around 5:00, Pedro Tulo woke up and seemingly asked me every 20 minutes about the time. We woke up for good around 6:45 and left after breakfast.

Overall, Pedro Tulo had a great time though this experience confirmed that camping out is not for me. I mean, I'm sure that I'll do it again when there's another pack overnight in the spring, and both the hike and campfire program by the scouts were nice, but I'm not a fan of sleeping in tents. And on the ground. And in 40-degree weather. A bed with a working HVAC unit is fine by me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

My Umpiring Debut

The Moose had his last regular season baseball game of the fall season, and there was only one umpire. As one of the few non-coaching parents at the field minutes before first pitch, I volunteered / was volunteered to serve as the field umpire. The only complication was that I was with five year old Luigi. After making sure he was happy with paper and crayons and a few of The Moose's teammates' mothers fine with keeping an eye on him, I agreed to help. 

Although I have worked as a soccer referee for decades and have watched baseball since I was younger than Luigi, being an umpire was a brand new experience. The biggest challenge was that I had no idea where to stand. The home plate umpire told me to stand on the first base line with no runners on base. This way I could see if the runner was safe or out for a close play at first. Then, I should move to close to second base with a runner on first and at the edge of the dirt between the shortstop and third base with a runner on second. Of course, I then had no idea where to go with a runner on third (or second and third). 

My entire goal was not to make a mistake and make sure Luigi was okay. In the first inning, one of The Moose's teammates beat out an infield single by a few steps. I signaled safe with no objections or complaints by any players, coaches, or parents. Later, I called out the same teammate attempting to steal third base. I was in a good position (I think), and it certainly helped that he was tagged out and wasn't close to touching the base on the slide. Meanwhile, Luigi was content on the bleachers, though I panicked at one point when I looked over and didn't see him. It turned out that he ran to get a foul ball and gave it to the coach before returning to his crayons. At the end of a half inning, I checked on him, and he said that he needed to use the bathroom. Of course he did! There was only one porta potty and a short line, and he said that he couldn't wait, so I took him over to a wooded area. He thought going to the bathroom outside was the funniest thing ever. After he was done (including cleaning his hands), I returned to the field though after the game had already resumed. At the end of the inning, I switched with another parent to sit with Luigi.

A few notes:

* The lead umpire told me that I had the authority to call the infield fly rule if the situation presented itself. Later in the game, I completely forgot if the infield fly rule applies if there are runners on second and third. (It does not.) Fortunately, a pop up did not occur.

* The Moose asked me after the game why I stood there with my hands behind my back. I told him it was because I didn't know what to do with them, and it didn't feel right keeping them in my pockets.

* The Moose's team won 18-8 (and it wasn't that close) with 33 stolen bases. I should mention that "stolen bases" include anytime there was a wild pitch or passed ball, which happened a lot in this game. 

Playoffs start soon. If asked, I would definitely help out as a field umpire again. I'll pass on calling balls and strikes though.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Women's Volleyball Is Fantastic

As a student at Ithaca College, I attended most of the home football games and several men’s basketball games. During my senior year, a family friend was on the gymnastics team (and ended up being the Division 3 champion), so I went to a few of their meets. Otherwise, I didn’t go to any other games and matches. Between other activities and academics, I just never attended a soccer game, swim meet, lacrosse game, etc. I mention this because I really should have taken advantage of this when I was in college. I guess I was too busy winning intramural co-ed soccer championships!

Several months ago, I learned that the Ithaca College women’s volleyball team was playing a match in Arlington, Virginia against Marymount University. I had no recollection of an IC team playing in the DC area since I’ve lived here over the last two decades, so I wanted to go and support my alma mater. So on Thursday evening, I went to my first volleyball match since high school (and possibly ever) and took The Moose with me and met up with my friend T. We sat next to a few other people wearing Ithaca College gear who turned out to be parents of some of the team members. I really appreciated them answering some of our probably ridiculous questions. (While it was mostly me asking what happened or what was the call on the previous play, I also learned that a ball that hits any portion of the ceiling, including one that went through a raised basketball hoop, is still in play.) 

Over the last few years, I've followed the University of Pittsburgh women's volleyball team as they have been nationally ranked. I watched their Final Four match, which didn't start until after 10:00PM even though they played in Columbus, Ohio, on ESPNU last spring. Still, attending a volleyball match live is an incredible experience. The Ithaca-Marymount match is probably the most exciting live sporting event I have attended since the Max Scherzer no-hitter (also known as the Jose Tabata game). There's constant action. No one takes a point off. Players dive all over the court and sprint all over the gym. There's so much energy among the teams. It also helped that after being down two sets, Ithaca rallied to win 3-2. Go Bombers!

(This would have been an unreal picture if not for the guy walking in front of me!)

A few notes from the match:
* Some of the IC parents yelled Go Bombs during the match. I've never heard an IC team referred to as the Bombs, so it definitely threw me off. I liked it!
* All of the substitutes stood on the sidelines during the entire match. While I guess most football players stand as well (though they probably sit in the locker room at halftime), I don't remember seeing this in any other sport. You would think a player coming off would want to sit and rest for a few points. Or maybe I'm just old and need a break in the middle of my pickleball matches!

* I was impressed with how calm Ithaca coach Johan Dulfer was during the match. It was super exciting and stressful (especially for the parents behind me), yet he just seemed calm and even-keeled. 
The Moose was really impressed by Ithaca's #14 (Maddie Cox). We think she played every single point. He regretted not going up to her and saying hi after the match.
* I still don't understand why one (and only one) player on each team wears a different jersey from everyone else.

* I've never noticed this before, but the entire team switches sides after each set. Not just the players. The entire team/bench/coaches switch sides. 
This was match point.

More information about the game including stats are available from Ithaca and Marymount. I definitely need someone to explain the stats here. Is there analytics I should know or learn?
Again, Go Bombers!

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Found In My Basement: Missed Opportunity

The Moose recently had to do a project discussing his family history. I unsuccessfully searched for a family tree I made for my own elementary school project, but it wasn’t needed as he got more information from talking with his grandparents. In the meantime, I came across the book The Odyssey which I read in 10th grade. (Or at least I was assigned to read in 10th grade.) Inside the book was this folded coupon:

Since I still have the coupon, I guess this means that I never redeemed it for the free quiz answer. Who knows where this could have led if I turned the coupon in to the teacher? Maybe this could have improved my 10th grade English grade. This could have led to increased confidence in reading and vocabulary resulting in better SAT verbal scores and helping me get into an Ivy League school. Naturally, I would have made connections with the brightest minds of my generation and got a job after college making 7 figures a year. I could be on Wall Street or a think tank or even running my own business. This really could have been some type of journey or maybe another word for adventure that I can’t think of at the moment.