Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Getting Some Booties

Not that kind of booty, surf booties, like the ones in the pic. I am gearing up for our big surfing summer and part of that is getting cold water gear for me and the kids. I'm pretty much set up with wetsuits, but I still need to find them for the kids. I have my sites set on a few options, but have not moved forward just yet. In the meantime, I needed to get some foot protection for myself. When I surfed in my youth I was not a fan of wearing booties, but you can pull that off when you live in Southern California. Even then, during winter months, the water was so cold that it felt like your feet were being crushed by a vice. Also, I'd surfed more than my fair share of rocky beaches where walking out to the waves was like walking on broken glass. Totally brutal.

As a consequence, I never really adjusted to the feel of wearing booties. I can't say I'm such a big fan. Now that we are on the east coast, I don't think I can avoid them. In New York and New Jersey the water gets very warm in the summer, but I've swam in Maine in August the water was freezing. I think for the second phase of my surfing life I'm going to have to get used to wearing booties, so naturally I set off on a mission to find myself a pair. Oddly enough it wasn't as straightforward as I thought it would be. Finding the right pair in a size that might fit me took some legwork. I would have loved it if there was a surf shop nearby, but we are landlocked, and most shops don't have a huge selection.

This meant looking online, where there is more variety and probably better pricing. The only problem is, you can't try them on before you buy them. Plus, you start to get overwhelmed with the possibilities. I had an idea of what I wanted but couldn't find a pair that fulfilled all my expectations, which is odd for the internet - it seems like you can find anything and everything. In retrospect, I could have found the perfect pair if money was no object, but as you know well enough, money is a huge object for me.

With this in mind, one important requirement was ease and cost-effectiveness of doing a return. I could estimate what size bootie to get, but if it didn't fit, I would have to exchange it for a pair that did. At some point it's just not worth it. I figured that if need be, one return would still make it cost effective.

I managed to find a pair online that I liked, and they offered free shipping and $5 return shipping. I think that's about as good as it was going to get, so I bought them. They arrived just the other day and they fit perfectly. I am so stoked, and might look to these booties as options for the kids, but I don't want to get too ahead of myself. Not yet, at least.

I think surfing is still a couple of months away, so I have some time to find the right gear at the right price, which sometimes seems like it never happens but that can't stop you from trying, right?

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to jamesx for the pic.

Finding New Sticks

As I mentioned before, N broke his stick in the penultimate game of the year, which is actually a fitting end to a crazy and tumultuous season, the reason being that we now have to start with a clean slate. This is symbolic to me on a number of levels which I won't go into. The stick was fairly new but I in fact thought it was time to upgrade him into an adult stick. He's been using older kid sticks (intermediate) and they've worked fine, but he's growing and in his last game he borrowed an adult stick from a teammate and liked it. They tend to be longer (though not as long as the one in this pic) and stiffer, both of which compliment his style of playing. They also come in a range of stiffnesses (is that a word?) and you can find a good balance in there.

Naturally my OCD kicked in and I went on a search. One could argue that it was a waste to drop that sort of cash this late in the season. After all, he played his last game, so what's the point? Well, there are a few points, one of which is that the season is not completely over. Sure, games are done, but there always seems to something happening on the ice. Furthermore, I like shopping for gear for the kids, especially when I can find a good deal on things they need. This of course includes surfboards and wetsuits, but that's a story for another time.

I went online and found some decent deals on sticks that are last year's models. I even got the thumbs up from mom to pursue this, so say no more. I ordered one and it came in a week, and he is stoked with it. The story gets more interesting, however, because we happen to be friends with someone who is an equipment manager for a major sports program in this area. What a cool job. He has procured sticks for other people we know for great prices, so I contacted him at the same time that I was shopping around for sticks. He was very cool about it, I think he feels a little sorry for me regarding how things transpired this season (our kids orbit similar circles), but that could easily be me reading too much into things. Either way, he pulled it off and scored a couple of killer sticks at an amazing price.

Now N already had a new stick because I had set things in motion at the same time and by the time my friend contacted me, I had already bought a stick. However, I felt like I couldn't pass up this opportunity because he had gone to all the trouble to locate the sticks, even took into account my requests about length, flex and curvature of the blade - those of you who buy hockey sticks will understand this. It was also a great deal; the sticks were last year's models purchased for players in his program who were no longer there, so they were excess stock. Since it's a top notch program, the sticks are top notch quality - we are talking prices in excess of $250 brand new. I would never drop that kind of cash on a hockey stick, but I would love to get one for a fraction of that price (we are talking about 1/5 the cost), which is how it worked. Finally, getting the sticks catered to my OCD about getting gear for the kids, especially when it involves a good deal. Besides, as we've witnessed, N needs two sticks.

There was one issue with the new sticks that was not ideal, but we were able to attend to it to make them exactly what we were looking for. Don't you just love when that happens? I won't get into it now but the guys at Stateline gave me some advice on how to fix things and it worked out beautifully, but more on this later.

For now, we are all set with sticks, and I can look forward to my next obsession, which will probably involve wetsuits, but you never know.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Liz for the pic.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Breaking Sticks

During one of the last games of the season N broke his stick, which was less than a year old. While it's a bummer to break your stick, especially a fairly new one, I'm glad that he had a backup, and I was not completely enamored with either stick (not that my opinion means anything). Unlike his dad, N is not a complainer and was fine with his main stick, saying as much on many occasions. It did, however, have a few shortcomings that naturally tweaked at his dad's OCD. First, a little background.

N was using a killer Easton stick that I got on clearance (of course) online and it worked really well for him. It was an intermediate stick that was a little long way back when so a friend cut it down to size, though in my opinion he cut too much, being a believer in short sticks. N used it last season but this season it was a little short for him, so we put an extension on it and also got him a new one. I didn't have a lot of time and it's good to hold the stick and get a feel for it, so I went to Stateline, whose selection can be limited at times, and bought one that was mid-range in terms of price. I cannot for the life of me spend over $200 on a hockey stick, despite my OCD for the sport and the gear. The one I got him was good but not great, and I think many other people felt the same way because everywhere I looked people were using the same stick - a few of his teammates, and the guys in my adult league. Clearly we all had the same thing in mind, which is sort of embarrassing, but what are you going to do? I was willing to get him yet another stick and then he could use the new/old stick as a backup. I would then take his old/old backup stick and use it, since my stick is a complete piece of junk. I realize how confusing and neurotic this all sounds, but N slammed on the brakes and told me to lighten up - his stick was fine, despite my misgivings. What a sensible kid.

He was fine was his new stick and I have to say he did well with it, despite my neurotic reservations. He used it for most of his games and in the penultimate game of the year, he broke it. It got caught in a crack in the boards and snapped. Now for the reasons I mentioned earlier, I was not heartbroken about this development. Besides, sports equipment breaks, it's part of playing the game. AND, he said he thought the stick was getting a little short for him... why didn't he say something earlier? Probably better that he didn't because if I'd heard that earlier in the year I would have definitely gotten him a new stick. He still had his backup stick for the final game of the year, though that one was even shorter, even with the extension.

Now at his final game one of his teammates let him use his backup, which is an adult sized stick, which is longer and has a higher flex, i.e., it's stiffer. These are all good things, and he looked good shooting with it. He also said he liked the feel of the adult stick, and it had the extra length he was looking for. Well, you can imagine how happy this made dad, because it meant a new project for his OCD - find your son a new stick.

I have the criteria, I just need to find something that is within a reasonable price range. I have a few leads and I hope at least one or two will work out. We shall see.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to N. Kreger for the pic.

It's All Over Now

So hockey season has ended and it sort of feels like a chapter in our lives has closed. Of course I'm not sure what next season may hold, but suffice it to say that there is some discontent with the program on my end. I was not happy with how things transpired, even though N didn't mind and he had a good season. He really grew as a player and developed skills and experience. I still hold a grudge against DW and the board, but I can't go on whining forever... or can I? Life goes on, who am I to say how things should go? Just to add to the drama, however, is the fact that the "other" team that I felt N should have been on (I'm not alone in this thinking) had huge amounts of success, but don't get me started on that one.

It is nice to be done with practices and being at the rink 7 days a week. We have all spring and summer to ponder what happens next.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to CakePops2012 for the pic.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to Normal?

Whatever that means.

Excuse my absence but things have been very busy the past week and a half and I've been running around like crazy or too tired to function. Then again, as any parent knows, you're never too tired to function because there is always something that needs to be done. Plus, I can't complain (not that it stops me) because a lot of my turmoil is self-inflicted.

N's hockey season came to a whirlwind end this weekend with a big local tournament. Add in the big snowstorm early in the week, my own hockey and surfing OCD, cat care for two different friends, and a reasonably busy work week, and it's no wonder I feel like I'm barely treading water.

I realize I'm just whining and making excuses but I've got to stay true to my nature, right? N's hockey season ended and I'm feeling somewhat relieved because it's been a season filled with drama and resentment. I won't go into the details but the fact that the other team, the one which I without a doubt feel N should have been on, had the dream season. Thanks again to DW and the board for that one. If there were bright notes to it all, it's that N still worked hard and grew as a player. Unlike his dad, he's got a good head on his shoulders and has a good attitude. I do think that he probably jived better with this group of guys. They weren't the alpha males you get on a superstar team, and in a way it showed because they didn't show up to play for every game and practice. In that sense a lot of them really belonged on this team. On the other hand, the lack of commitment meant that it was a more fun and festive atmosphere. They lost many games that they should have won, but at least they had fun. In the the end they're good kids (at least some of them) and it should be interesting to see where they land.

We had two sets of friends go out of town this weekend and they asked us to watch cats and hens. It's a nice way for N to make some money and have some real world responsibility, but it requires a little traveling on opposite sides of our town. This of course means that dad has to do the driving, and when you've got so many things going on, it's just one more thing for me complain about. I am working on this, much to the disbelief of my kids. Our friends also returned home this weekend and it was a relief to have that off our plates. We did enjoy, however, all the fresh eggs.

We had a crazy snowstorm early in the week which threw off my work week and meant maintenance around the house. Me and N spent an entire day shoveling the driveway and the path to the wood. I would guess that about 2 feet of snow fell, and while it was powdery, there was a lot of it. We also had to shovel out our friends house so we could get to the chickens not to mention their house. This was a little harder because we couldn't get to it for a couple of days because I couldn't find their snow shovels (it turns out they were buried in the snow) and I kept forgetting ours. By the time I got to shoveling it, it was icy and heavy as cement.

I've been researching wetsuits for the kids and my friend said her husband had a bunch of old wetsuits that we could have. I was stoked at the possibility of free wetsuits but also wary of old and dirty used wetsuits. She said she washed a couple but that others were sort of nasty. When I picked them up I could tell that they were probably the wrong size and some were too nasty to even consider putting on, but we'll see. I am wrestling with this one because it's not very practical to buy new suits for something they have not even tried, but buying used wetsuits is tricky business because you really want to get the right size, and used ones can be gross and disgusting. More on this later.

Finally, I've got a new morning obsession in making fresh fruit salad for the family. I know, not a big deal, and do I really need to aspire to be Martha Stewart on top of all the other things in my life? But, the salad is killer, my family loves it, I love it, and what's wrong with aspiring to be Martha Stewart?

More on all of this later. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Benjamin Reay for the pic.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Coming to an End

N's team played in the state championship game this past weekend, ultimately falling to their opponents and ending their season. They played a great game and I think many of them progressed as players, especially N. I still have a bad taste in mouth with how DW and the board put together these teams, but I'm not in a position to make a stink, and in the end, N had a good season and grew as a player. There's no question in my mind that N deserved to be on the "other team," if only for the fact that he's been a loyal player with this program and had grown up in it, but mostly because, more than anyone else on his team (in my opinion), he's just as skilled as the guys on the "other team". But, as I mentioned, I can't make a stink because it's just me whining about feeling wronged, and it's not my decision to make. Everyone else loves this coach because he's a winner, and they all want their kids to be on a winning team. Screw the other guy as long as my kid gets to be a champion, right?

N's team definitely had more of a festive atmosphere, and despite an overall lack of commitment and drive, they had fun. I know that's what it's all about, but sometimes I think these kids could benefit from a little more passion. I would say that only about 1/2 of the team, for various reasons, skated and played as hard as they could whenever they were on the ice. I can only hope their attitude will change if they ever play high school hockey, because coaches at that level will not put up with that BS.

I will say this, and I think N concurs with me, I feel a sense of relief now that the big game is over. Sure, we're disappointed, especially since we had to watch the other team win the championship (they played right before us) while we lost. There are, however, valuable life lessons in there, and sometimes that's the best thing to come out of these situations. I know N is pretty level headed about it, and I most definitely am not as bummed as I was last season when we lost a heartbreaker in the championship. This year I feel like the team went out and did their best and now we can move on with our lives.

So maybe I'll do just that. Now if I can only get over my bitterness, which for the record will probably never happen. Plus, there is still more hockey to be played, so that means running into a certain unsavory individual some more. I guess that's part of the character building process, right? The question is, what the hell am I supposed to do with all this character?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Stephane Rougon for the pic.


Skiing and Boarding While We Can

The weather has been really crazy this past month, and while I'm not a fan of how things went, we were able to take advantage of the good days, which of course made the bad days less painful. The crazy progression started several weeks back, when we were hit with several storms, some of which were significant. I recall one where it snowed, followed by freezing rain, which is a bummer. The thing is, the next day the temps skyrocketed to 45 degrees, so the ice melted and the snow was good. We had a great day of skiing at the Skiway. N and A rode their snowboards (and shred) and I skied. I was initially reluctant because being the old man that I am I can't handle poor ski conditions, but it was a lot of fun. Up to that point the best day of skiing we'd had.

Then we had a big storm come in on Sunday and they canceled school, so we headed to S6 and had a great day of skiing. We're not used to skiing fresh, un-groomed powder up here, but there it was. We had a blast, though again, being the old man that I am, I don't do as well with anything other than perfectly groomed packed powder. I'm not complaining, but I had to change the way I ski in different conditions, actually using my poles, which I don't usually employ.

We got a fair amount of skiing in, way more than last year, where I don't think A skied a single day. It's good we jumped on it when we could, because within a week the conditions got really bad, with warm weather (in the 50s) and massive rainstorms coming in. This past weekend the temps dropped to single digits, with wind chills at -20 in the evening. How crazy is that? Naturally, all that melted snow turned into a massive sheet of ice, which I think pretty much ended the ski season. We did the Skiway last week for the FS program and I thought it was a bad idea. What little snow there was was terrible, and there were so many brown patches that I thought it was borderline dangerous, at least for little kids learning to ski.

Personally, I'm fine if we just call it a season (it was a good one for us) and move into spring, but that's not my decision to make, and nobody cares what I think.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rutger Geerling for the pic.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Surf Prep

I don't want to talk too much about things that haven't happened or project into the future, but of course I can't help myself. I'm currently venturing into more OCD territory in terms of gear, as if I needed another avenue for this, but this is important stuff. My next big project is to teach the kids how to surf, and I managed to address one big piece of the puzzle by getting my surfboard out of LA. We now have two boards, and need a third to be complete. I won't divulge my plan to address this, at least not yet. One nice thing about surfing is that there is a lot less gear than hockey and skiing, and for the most part, it costs a lot less. The board is the biggest expense, but once you've got that, you're all set... sort of. Now I need to find wetsuits for the kids, which is not an easy proposition when you're landlocked like we are. I can easily find them online, and have even found some pretty good deals on new suits, but they can't try them on. If there was a surf shop or even a dive shop nearby, they could at least get a sense of what size they need, but no such luck.

There are surf shops in New England, no doubt, you just need to head to the coast. We may do this in the near future, which would be great because surf shops are very cool, and they could of course try on wetsuits. The other alternative is to get one that I think is close to their size and if it doesn't fit, exchange it for the a different size. There are some additional costs to this method because of shipping, but only on the returns because what I'm seeing is free shipping to me. Besides, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, especially when it comes to catching waves.

It's still early in the season to feel rushed about this, but as with everything I seem to get involved with, it's sure to be an adventure. Stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Eduardo Avalith for the pic.

In Need of More Sleep

Now that I'm a parent I find it amazing that kids have to wake up so early to get to school in the AM. Kids need more sleep (heck, I need more sleep), and granted they could just go to bed much earlier, but what teenager is going to do that? I am feeling the pain of early mornings because I have to take A into school, even though she drives. Since she has a first period class, that means getting there by 7:45, which means I generally have to wake up around 5:15 to get the fire going and make the fruit salad (more on this later) and write this fabulous blog. Needless to say that I get the day started tired and it lasts all day. I could ameliorate this situation by going to bed early myself. I'm talking 9:30 or 10:00, but that means mom and I don't get much, if any, time alone to chill or watch a movie. For the record, watching a movie for us means falling asleep in front of the computer and then crawling up to bed, but at least we're doing it together.

What compounds the matter is I start off the week tired and then it carries over until the end of the week. Having hockey games (adult league) in the late evening doesn't help, and now that I'm playing in the AM, I'm even more tired by the afternoon. I know, I know, I'm putting this all on myself, but at least it gives me something to complain about, right? All I can say is thank goodness for those afternoon (and evening) naps. You really take sleep for granted when you're young, but when you get older, it ranks up there with sex and eating, don't you think?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Alex Harries for the pic.