Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Big Wrap Up – The First Annual HTF Fantasy Football League

Well, the epic first annual HTF Fantasy Football League has come to a close.  In fitting fashion, Emmy (Blue Blood) was our league champion after being in first place for much of the season.  Congrats to her!!  Christy, with her losing record and 8th seed in the playoffs blew through the post-season and captured 2nd – a fairly remarkable accomplishment.  Also, shout out to the Trainspotters (Mark & Rhoopa) who made a big run and landed the bronze medal!


image   image

Fittingly I landed at the bottom, kinda disappointing, but you certainly can’t accuse me of dominating the fantasy rookies – more like the other way around.

THANK YOU to those of you who played along!  I know that a lot of you did it with serious trepidation, but stuck it out.  I also know we’ve created a few new fantasy football freaks with this, so that’s cool too.  We’re only 8 months away from the next draft!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Guest Post: A Cow With Too Many Legs, Astronauts, Bob Dole, and the Science of Speeding Across Kansas

A couple nights ago I had a short conversation with someone about what driving across Kansas is like.  Even as a Kansan, I’ll tell you the drive is not for the faint of heart or for the day-time.  The next morning I was stoked to get a guest post submission (one of my favorite things to receive) from my good friend Dave who recently made the trip home to Kansas for the holidays.  Many lines here made me super-chuckle, mostly because they’re frighteningly accurate.  Check it out:

It has been nearly two years since I last went home to visit my family and friends. As I made my way in to town, it occurred to me that there are a few lessons I have learned or have been reaffirmed on this trip, as well as a few observations that I’d like to share with you.

  • State Troopers will not pull drivers over (usually) for exceeding the speed limit by 9mph.
  • State Troopers will pull drivers over for exceeding the speed limit by 11mph.
  • Colorado seems to have more State Troopers than Kansas does.
  • Oakley, KS advertises – and I am not making this up - a 5-legged steer (is that a family appropriate attraction?) as well as the world’s largest prairie dog. **And you thought there was nothing to do in western Kansas.
  • After spending a few hours driving in KS, Hays seems like a fairly big city.
  • Russell, KS remains very excited to be the home of Bob Dole.
  • The farther into Kansas I drive; the more chemical (caffeine) help I need to stay awake. Yet the farther into Colorado I drive, the less help I need.
  • After spending a few hours driving in KS, Salina seems like a fairly big city.
  • Three towns along I-70 boast being the homes of various astronauts. I didn’t recognize their names, but going from a small KS town to, well, space is pretty impressive.
  • You can tell by the smell seeping in through the air vents if you’re downwind of a cow farm or a pig farm.
  • After spending a few hours driving in KS, Abilene seems like…well, no, not even then.
  • Kansas seems to have more State Troopers than Missouri does.
  • When the youngest child traveling is 11, you can make much better time than when the youngest child is 7. (We made the trip of 607 miles in 9½ hours with only 4 stops. That averages out to just less than 64mph with stops. A new personal record! Compare that with the 1100 mile - one way - trip made a few months ago, where the stops averaged one about every 14.7 miles and took, as I recall, approx. 5 weeks.)

It was very nice to come home for Christmas. But I am also reminded why I left this part of the country. Were it not for my family and friends, whom I love, and the food (yea for Kansas City BBQ!!!) I would never come here. Merry Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Helping with the CountDown, Winning a Prize, and a big Gracias

This morning I found myself watching VH1’s best videos of 2009.  I wasn’t really that interested, but there’s something about those countdown show were you just HAVE to know who wins, even if it is stupid Lady GaGa.  Her video that they showed was more “troubling” than “good.”  But I can’t claim a lot of shock there.

Anyway, with the year wrapping up it’s time to do my own little countdown of the best HTF posts of 2009.  And like last year I’m asking for your help to do it (via an unashamed bribe).  Please post a comment or send an e-mail with your top 3-10 HTF posts of 2009 – assuming you actually liked any of them.  Everyone who does will be entered into a drawing for a sweet gift card redeemable for pretty much anything – I’ve learned this holiday season that you can literally buy ANYTHING on there.  Last year the participation was great and my awesome sister-in-law won the drawing.  The final date for entries will be Dec 27th.

I also wanted to sincerely thank the few of you who read the blog for sticking with me this year, especially those who linked to me, sent in questions, or posted comments.  It’s been a pretty wild one and the posts have come out in spurts, and a few of them certainly made little to no sense.  I even toyed with hanging up the blog thing for a time.  But still, you’ve stuck with me – meaning you are both patient and easily-entertained!  (these are qualities that are great at holiday parties as well)

I’ve always been super-lucky to have the best friends in the world (that includes my family).  Some of you who’ve known me for a while know that to be true.  Not sure how that’s happened, but it’s a huge deal to me.  So I say gracias, sincerely.

Now, enough with sappiness!  Send in those entries and win a prize.  Then you can get back to the fun of the holidays – meaning we eat stuff we shouldn’t and get presents that we never would’ve purchased for ourselves (this could be good or bad).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Entanglements to Avoid and Why You Can Land a JumboJet in our Hallway Now

A few holiday observations….


I’m just sayin’….

Christmas lights are sweet to look at and even sweeter when hung by someone other than me.  I fought only a small battle with the strands of icicle lights (the worst tanglers) this year – it was more of a skirmish.  But there were several points when I walked my troubling ball of cheer over to the trash can because I wasn’t sure I’d get it untangled in time for Christmas or even Easter.  This was PRECISELY what George Washington was referring to when he warned of the peril of “entanglements.”  Happily there are now electric icicles hanging on our gutters and some nights we even remember to plug them in.

On the light theme – my kids have decided that they are in charge of the indoor Christmas lights, which is cool with me.  They’ve strung lights up and down our super-long upstairs hallway on the floor by the walls.  This creates the sensation that as you walk down the hallway you’re actually a 747 landing at an airport with a carpeted runway.  To enhance the fun the kids often droop strands of lights over the balcony so low that unobservant walkers-by may accidentally become part of the display.

Presents = something the Mrs HTF does.  Sorry, but I’m a very typical guy in this respect.  Remember my post from last year?  (neither did I).  The reason for this isn’t from a lack of trying, it’s just that it ALWAYS ends badly.  The analogy is me dunking a basketball – I can try, but it’s just not ever gonna work out quite the way it’s supposed to.  Simple fact.

We get way fewer Christmas Cards than we send out.  That makes me think lots of different things.  One of which is that clearly some postal worker is hoarding our cards.  (I won’t accept that perhaps we have fewer friends than we have Outlook Contacts)  But I am learning that it’s entirely possible that Facebook is partially replacing Christmas Newsletter sending.  It’s cheaper I guess and you don’t have to go to Kinkos.

Also, gingerbread houses are WAY less stable than non-gingerbread houses.

Anyway, sincerely hope you’re all having a good holiday season so far (meaning that you’re not shopping, not untangling lights, not listening to really-bad Christmas music, and not mailing detailed newsletters).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Super Guest Blogger Gives us some Fantasy Insights and somehow brings up Beach Wiffle Ball (BWB)

Today we (using the “we” pronoun somehow sounds more impressive than “I” despite being a little inaccurate) welcome a marvelous guest poster to the blog.  He’s part of the HTF Fantasy Football league and has some knowledge to drop on us.  Take it away, Mark.

Many of you spend your Sunday autumn mornings scrambling eggs and frying bacon while your children awake from their slumbers. Or you might congregate as a family at church to teach religious values. Some families walk their children to the park to play on the swings and enjoy a picnic.

Well, I fall into none of the above categories. I am a couple years south of 30 years old working in management consulting in the Financial Services industry and living in a spacious (I say that loosely!) one bedroom in Manhattan with my girlfriend. I have always been a bit obsessive compulsive about sports and as a child yearned to be the general manager of the New York Mets (at this point, an elementary school educated child would be an improvement for the Mets front office). I am far from a natural athlete, but do take pride in being dragged out to local trivia nights and being designated by friends as the ‘Sports Guy.’ As a result, when I was introduced to Fantasy Football as a young pup in college, I welcomed the challenge. It quickly became a top three hobby of mine (only after fine dining and beach wiffle ball) and a real showstopper to any productivity on Sunday mornings (my college GPA was always significantly lower in the fall semester). I have nixed many Sunday morning plans along the way for Fantasy Football, much to the chagrin of Rachel, who is my overly patient girlfriend and a real saint during the Fantasy Football season. Sunday mornings are always spent as follows:

10AM: Wakeup, egg and cheese on a toasted plain bagel, Vitamin Water, and coffee from the local deli. is crucial to check on headlines.

11AM: Cbs Sportsline offers detailed injury updates.

11:30AM: ESPN 2 televises a fantasy football show with mildly useful insight.

12:00PM: If Rachel is home, she must leave the main room for closed captioning on ESPN 2 and volume on Yahoo’s Fantasy Football live show on the PC. Frequent checking of updates on CBS Sportsline is part of the multi-tasking routine.

12:30PM: Frenzy of phone calls and texting to the Braintrust for final touches on the lineup

1:01 PM: Will my fruitful management decisions pay off this week (all decisions are locked by 1PM!)?

Although I joined the HTF League a few weeks into the season as a co-manager on the NY Trainspotters squad (my third league of the season), I plan on passing on a key piece of wisdom for those now hooked on Fantasy Football. Develop an inner circle of Fantasy Football experts to help you win.

As you can imagine, my sports-minded interests lend themselves to many friends who also enjoy conversing about sports. However, liking sports is much different than understanding the statistics and strategy important to Fantasy Football. Understanding individual match-ups and trends can baffle even the most educated sports nut. Advice falls from ‘trees’ during Fantasy Football season; often, everyone has an opinion and it is difficult to tune out the white noise. Trust your inner circle for advice, bounce ideas off of them, and do not feel even the most asinine trade idea is worth keeping quiet about. In this section, I will thank this season’s braintrust: SW, TS, JT, DZ, PK, MF, BB, and DB who provided me invaluable insight to prospective championship campaign(s).

Preview of Week 14’s Quarterfinal matchups:

· Rabid Possum (#1) vs. Christy’s Crusher (#8)

Skinny: Possum is foaming at the mouth for this match-up. She was the queen of the waiver wire all season; she built her team with quality players such as Miles Austin and Rashard Mendenhall. Although CC is employing the best QB on the planet, there is no way she can overcome some of her other starters’ inconsistencies.

Prediction: Possums are generally nocturnal, but this possum cruises to the semifinals with a huge day on Sunday afternoon.

· Diamonds and Dynamite (#3) vs. No Sup(er bowl) 4 You (#6)

Skinny: Always enjoyed the play-on words from the No Soup for You! squad, but Dynamite has the Maurice Jones Drew and Moreno TNT ready to explode this week. Dynamite is reeling after a loss vs the beloved NY Trainspotters and is looking for revenge. If Jonathan Stewart plays full-time like last week, Dynamite will be in for a closer contest.

Prediction: Dynamite is one of the strongest teams in the field and she will blast herself to the semifinals with an 80 point blowout over her Seinfeld competitor.

· Blue Blood (#2) vs. Pigskin Cannibals (#7)

Skinny: This is a typical trap match-up for our Cold Blooded friend. In every league that I have partaken in, the #7 team always seems to beat the #2 team in the first round of the playoffs. Pigskin has McNabb against a porous Giants defense and starts the 3 best WRs in the league (Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Driver). Frost-Bite Team does have Peyton Manning and Randy Moss, but has too many holes to compete with Pigskin.

Prediction: The Cold Blooded team keeps it close, but Pigskin pulls away with Monday night Football magic in the names of Fitzgerald and Boldin.

· NY Trainspotters (#4) vs. HTF (#5)

Skinny: Our commissioner, superdad of 4, and blogger extraordinaire is limping into the playoffs! Team Roopa is sizzling hot with three wins in a row. Trades and waiver wire pickups have certainly helped narrow the gap between the top of the league and Trainspotters. Ward disappointed mightily on Thursday night, but I fully expect AP and surprise RB Jamaal Charles to carry NY Trainspotters to a narrow victory.

Prediction: Well, well, well-HTF has some major management decisions to make for Sunday? Will HTF consult with his ‘braintrust’? Kurt Warner breaks HTF’s heart late on Monday night to catapult Trainspotters to the semifinals.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Exposed by a Chicken and Cool-looking Continents

Above my desk on the wall is a map of South America.  To quote the girl from “Up” - “it’s like America . . . only South.”  Spending sometimes multiple hours every day here at my desk I get to look at this map a good bit (it’s the closest thing I have to a window – other people may see trees, mountains and sun, but I see a whole freakin’ continent!).  A few things I noticed:

  • It has to be the continent with the coolest shape…by far.
  • Brazil = huge.  I think we forget that sometimes.  But there are large snakes there, so I’d rather it was a big place than a small place.
  • Just for fun, draw a picture of Chile.  Gotta be the weirdest-shaped country.
  • I lived 2 years in Venezuela as a missionary.  Fascinating times.  Got to see what “poor” really meant.  LOVED the people there – pretty convinced they were happier than your average Americans.

And now a quick story involving a chicken and a super awkward kitchen/bathroom moment in Venezuela:

One day we were in the “house” (air quotes intended) of a family in Maracaibo.  It was a bunch of cinderblocks with aluminum sheets for a roof.  Dirt floor.  Family of 7 sleeping in one room with a single mattress.  And Kitchen=familyroom=bathroom (they’re all one room).  Except the bathroom was a toilet surrounded by precariously-hung shower curtains.  Well, one piece of instruction I’d been given was NOT to drink the water.  I broke this rule pretty often, just because I was so darn thirsty all the time.  My stomach and I suffered the consequences.  And on this particular day it hit me in a not-so-subtle way.  I asked the family if I could use the “bathroom” a few feet from the chairs we were sitting on.  So I closed the curtains and put all shame aside.  As I sat there I saw this under my protective curtain:

A few moments later the offending chicken started pecking at the curtain – clearly he was trying to bond with me.  In one fell swoop the entire curtain contraption fell to the ground and I was a guy sitting on a toilet in the middle of somebody’s living room surrounded by an entire family who was trying, unsuccessfully, to suppress tear-inducing laughter.  The parents quickly tried to pick up the curtain and restore my pseudo-privacy, but the damage was quite done.

Not sure why that story popped out, but now when I look at this map every day, I get to think about that experience.  Well, now in our house you can rest assured that we have a strict No Chickens In the Bathroom rule.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Russians Attack Me With Ice Water And Eucalyptus

I’m not really a spa guy.

I know there are lots of you out there, and I’m great with that, but just not something I’ve ever done…until last week.

My brothers are huge fans of a Russian Spa here in Seattle called Banya 5, and last week we all went (my brothers, brother-in-law and some other friends)  Wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  They dude image(not Russian in any way I could tell) who greeted us called me “guy who’s never been here before.”  That was funny the first few time, but lost the funny after a while.  We were given forms to sign that basically said that if we died in the spa it was our own faults – these were roughly the same forms I signed when I went to the shooting range.  Then we were given towels and hopefully-clean sandals. 

After throwing on our bathing suits, yes we wore suits – it’s not THAT kind of spa, we headed for the hot sauna.  I’ve done saunas before, but this place was roughly like being on the surface of the sun while inside a rain forest.  The walls were too hot to touch, so you just sat on your towel and after a minute our so the monsoon-sweat began.  I didn’t know I had that much liquid in me.  Not knowing how long I should stay in here, the helpful guide gave me the specific instructions - “you’ll know.”  He was right. 

After we emerged came the most memorable part of the experience (kinda like the drill is the most memorable part of the visit to the dentist).  Covered in sweat we jumped into a FREEZING COLD pool.  My heart rate instantly shot up to like 300 and in a weird way my skin felt hotter than before.  That soon changed and I was just a bald shivering guy wanting badly to hug the deadly walls of the sauna.  There were lots of other cool things that day (pun intended) like a salt water bath where you couldn’t help but float, your typical hot tub, a nap room with awesome lounge chairs, and my favorite – a steam room with intense eucalyptus vapors that made me feel like I’d never have a cold again.  Also, if you didn’t want the ice water bath there was an freezing shower thing where you pulled a chain and were dumped on with water so cold that I’m pretty sure chunks of ice bounced off my head.  Pulling that chain was awful tough…

It was a great day, and hard to leave.  We did 3 circuits of the different “stations.”  And I left feeling surprisingly mellowed and relaxed (a little bit like a long church meeting).  Russian Spa = AWESOME.  Can’t wait to go back, but I’m wearing this next time:

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