Brann...it's good for you.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to school - 1st and 5th






It's here:  Back to school.  Sophia started 5th grade today and Tyler started 1st grade.  It will be the last time they're in school at the same time, since their age difference will keep them apart through middle and high schools.  I hope both have a great 2014-15!  (By the way, Tyler's new Yankees backpack is straight from a store across from Yankee Stadium.  He was due for a new, bigger one.)

Monday, September 01, 2014

A few pics from the weekend







This weekend, we got back to a couple places that we haven't been to in quite awhile.  We went to Burke Lake Park on Saturday for the first time in five years.  Considering all it has to offer and its closeness, it's a shame we don't go more often.  We promised the kiddos we'd go back for some boating and mini-golf at some point in the fall.  I know the park is beautiful when the leaves are changing.


On Sunday, we went to the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester for the first time in their new building.  We took Sophia there when she was very young.  They moved into a new, much nicer building in May.  We saw the museum earlier this summer when we went to Winchester to check out a new-to-us restaurant and wanted to go back.  We went on Sunday with Julie's sister's family (thanks to Beth for the 2nd pic above).

Today, it's Labor Day.  One more day to go before the first day of 1st grade for Tyler and first day of 5th grade for Sophia.  It will be their last year together in the same school for the rest of their schooling.  That fact makes me kinda melancholy.  I hope they both have great years.  Expect some first day of school pics later this week, and some updates on new and old activities...like ballet, jazz (new!), soccer (it's back - for Tyler), Scouts (new for Tyler), and others.  

Bring on fall.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mason releases 2014-15 schedule...a.k.a. "My Christmas"



It was a busy day for Mason Athletics with the release of the A-10 men's hoops schedule, and later the entire 14-15 schedule.  You can read about the schedule here, but in simple terms, here you go (very few TV games right now...I'm not shocked after last season's misery):

GEORGE MASON MEN'S BASKETBALL 2014-15 SCHEDULE
 

Date Opponent Time Network
Nov. 14 CORNELL TBA
Nov. 16 PRINCETON TBA
Nov. 20-23 at Puerto Rico Tip-Off TBA TBA
Nov. 29 MANHATTAN TBA
Dec. 3 OLD DOMINION TBA
Dec. 6 at Northern Iowa TBA
Dec. 20 IONA TBA
Dec. 23 at Wright State TBA
Dec. 31 at Oklahoma TBA
Jan. 3 LA SALLE* TBA
Jan. 8 at Richmond* 7:00 p.m. NBC Sports Network
Jan. 11 MASSACHUSETTS* 1:00 p.m.
Jan. 14 at St. Bonaventure* (Rochester, N.Y.) TBA
Jan. 17 at George Washington* 4:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network
Jan. 24 DAVIDSON* TBA
Jan. 29 SAINT LOUIS* 7:00 p.m. A-10 Network
Jan. 31 at Duquesne* 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 4 VCU* TBA CBS Sports Network
Feb. 7 at Saint Joseph's* TBA
Feb. 11 at Davidson* TBA
Feb. 14 RICHMOND* (Homecoming) TBA
Feb. 18 FORDHAM* TBA
Feb. 21 RHODE ISLAND* TBA
Feb. 25 at Dayton* TBA
Feb. 28 at Saint Louis* TBA
Mar. 4 GEORGE WASHINGTON* 7:00 p.m. A-10 Network
Mar. 7 at VCU* 5:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network
Mar. 11-15 at Atlantic 10 Championships

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Excursion near the city






It's taken a little while, but I'm finally getting around to posting some pics from the weekend.  On Sunday, we drove to Alexandria to check out a new-to-us family-friendly restaurant called Haute Dogs and Fries.  It's a trendy hot dog joint with locations in Alexandria and Purcellville.  It's worth the drive (to either location).  The food is good, and the atmosphere is cool.

After lunch, we went to Theodore Roosevelt Island for the first time.  The island is located off the GW Parkway across from Georgetown.  We walked some of the trails and saw the statue of Roosevelt.  

For a treat, we walked to nearby Georgetown and tried mini-pies at the Pie Sisters right across the Key Bridge.  Since I'm a creature of habit (I know what I like), I went with the mini key lime.  

I'd recommend all three outings...heck, if you're adventurous, do it a few hours like us, too.  Summer's days are rapidly coming to an end...

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Nationals: #10



Considering the Yankees' free fall since we saw them play in the Bronx, it hasn't been a bad thing to pay more attention lately to the local Nationals.  On Thursday, Washington got their 10th win in a row.  During that streak, they've won 5 of their last 6 in dramatic walk-off fashion - including yesterday's throwing error by the D'Backs that brought in Denard Span from 3rd.  The man above, Anthony Rendon (who has been incredible as the new 3B and occasional 2B, drove in the winning run.

From the Post:


The Nationals had crafted four walk-off victories in five days, and in a scoreless game Span had just created the chance for another. Moments later, after the biggest stolen base of his career and a misfire into the camera well, Span raised his left arm and trotted home with the only run of the Nationals’ 1-0 victory over Diamondbacks. The run perpetuated the most ridiculous stretch of baseball this town has ever seen, a winning streak that reached 10 games and infinite degrees of silliness.

When Jordan Pacheco fielded Anthony Rendon’s bouncer in the ninth and his throw bounded away from Trumbo, allowing Span to score from second, the Nationals had become the seventh team since 1900 — and the first since the 1986 Houston Astros — to notch five walk-off victories in six games. They also matched the longest streak in the team’s brief history, their first double-digit run since a halcyon fortnight in June 2005, their first year of existence. 

“It’s indescribable, really,” Span said. “I really don’t have the correct or the right words to say what the feeling is other than saying that we just feel confident, that somehow, someway, we’re going to find a way to inch off a victory.”

The Nationals were expected to do great things this season, and as the season comes to a close, they're proving to be worthy of the hype.  This is a talented team - great lineup, great starters, and a strong bullpen - built for a deep postseason run.  Plus, they've been playing most of the season without veteran 3B Ryan Zimmerman, who has been injured twice.  He'll add another element to the roster when he returns in September.  This team is itching to redeem itself for its collapse in Game 5 of the NLDS in 2012 in September.  Maybe, just maybe, they'll get their chance.

If the Yankees don't get a Wild Card bid (currently, they're 9 games behind the O's in the AL East and 4 games out of the Wild Card game), I know who I'll be rooting for in the postseason.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mason signs first 2015 recruit



Welcome to Mason Nation, Mr. Gilbert.  George Mason signed its first recruit for the 2015 season by adding 6'6 G/F Admad Gilbert last week.  Gilbert is a Philly product.  

From a Philly hoops blog:


Two weeks after visiting George Mason University, Constitution senior Ahmad Gilbert couldn’t stop thinking about the school.

So he decided to end his recruitment on Friday afternoon, becoming the Patriots’ first commitment for 2015.

“[George Mason] really loved me, they showed a lot of interest, more than all the [other] schools,” Gilbert said. “That’s somewhere I can play, they play my type of style.”

“They’ve been in my head all week, I really loved them; I didn’t talk about any other schools. It was the best fit for me.”

A 6-foot-6 wing, Gilbert had been a Division I recruit for a while, but his stock really rose this summer playing both with Team Final on the AAU circuit as well as at individual camps. The lefty’s an excellent shooter from both the perimeter and the mid-range, and he’s capable of guarding multiple positions on the defensive end thanks to his length and athleticism.

Perhaps his most important week all summer came at the Reebok Breakout Camp here in Philadelphia, where the 6-6 wing was one of the more consistent performers. It all came down to making shots, which Gilbert did all week long in front of literally hundreds of Division I basketball coaches.

“I was barely missing shots, I was rolling,” he said, “and when you’re making shots everything looks good. I was playing with my teammates the right way.”

By the end of the summer, he’d added offers from schools like Wichita State, South Florida and St. Bonaventure; his recruitment came down to Mason, Hofstra, Rhode Island and USF, he said.

Gilbert mentioned GMU’s distance from Philadelphia–about three-and-a-half hours–as a benefit, saying it wasn’t too far from home. As members of the Atlantic 10, they’ll also play La Salle and Saint Joseph’s every season, with at least one game in the Philadelphia region likely, though he said that didn’t end up having an impact on his decision.

As a junior, Gilbert helped lead Constitution to its second PIAA state title in three years, as the Generals took down the AA division for the first time after winning the A crown back in 2012. He led the team with a 15.7 ppg average as they went 28-5 overall (8-2 Public League), averaging 17 ppg during their state title run.

Of course, the rub:  What if Mason fires Hewitt after another disappointing season in Fairfax?  Like many college recruits, Gilbert could stay or he could bolt.  We'll see.

GO MASON.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mason in Spain



The Mason men's basketball team is in Spain right now for a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of the team's players.  Every four years, a team can go overseas.  It gives a team a chance to practice earlier (they're allowed up to 10 practices before departing) and bond earlier.  This team has a lot of new faces, so this will be a good opportunity for the Mason coaches (and fans) to see what we have in 2014-15 early.  Mason played its first game in Spain on Thursday.  The results are in this link.  Based on those results, we know a couple things early - Holloway will be expected to be "the man" on offense in his last two years.  In addition, Mason's height could be an advantage this season.  We have a lot more tall bodies inside to protect the paint. 

Have a great trip, guys...I'm enjoying the many options for pics from coaches, players, and Mason Basketball online.

GO MASON.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rest in peace, Robin



I first saw Robin Williams as a child, acting totally bizarre as an alien on a silly show called "Mork and Mindy."  I didn't give up on the talented comedian, despite that role, further appreciating him in the Comic Relief specials on HBO and his one-man shows on the same network (especially his incredible "Live at the Met").  But, it was "Dead Poets Society," which I watched on video in a Mason dorm room during my freshman year, that had the greatest impact.  After watching that film and Williams' protrayal of Mr. Keating, I wanted to become a teacher.  It took me a couple more years to officially follow-through on the idea, but it finally happened in 1999.  No, it wasn't as easy as Mr. Keating made it look in "DPS," but I hope I inspired a few kids along the way to appreciate literature and words a little bit more.

I was incredibly sad to learn of Robin Williams' passing on Monday, and even sadder to learn that it was by his own hand.  The man who made so many others smile and laugh couldn't find lasting happiness for himself.  It breaks my heart - I can't imagine what his wife and three children are experiencing this week.  Sadly, it's another tragic reminder of the wrath of depression. 

Rest in peace, Robin.  Please don't make God get a stomachache from laughing too hard at your wit.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bronx & Philly























Last Wednesday, we headed north to visit family and do some touristy things in NY and PA.  Last Thursday, we attended our second-ever game at the new Yankees Stadium.  This one was different than a year ago, though, since the Yanks won 1-0 (they lost 2-0 a year ago in another pitcher's battle).  On our way back south, we stopped in Philly for a few days to see some of the historic and fun stuff downtown - including the oldest Episcopal church in America, Betsy Ross's house, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Franklin Square.  There's tons more to do in both cities, so we'll have to make plans to get back to both soon.

Back to reality tomorrow...but, our first-ever family trip to Minnesota is about two months away.  The kiddos get to fly on a plane for the first time on that trip; plus, Julie returns to her birth state.  Bring it on! 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Mason finds out its opponent in P.R.



George Mason's opponent in the 2014 Puerto Rico Tip-Off was announced on Tuesday.  Mason will take on West Virginia in their first game on November 20 at 7:30 PM on ESPNU.  The excellent field includes Mason, Boston College, College of Charleston (fresh off firing their coach), Dayton (the A-10's Elite Eight team last season), New Mexico, Texas A&M, West Virginia and defending national champions Connecticut.  

Mason has never beaten WVU, so this could be a first and it's another opportunity for Mason to start a season off with a win over a bigger conference opponent.  My expectations will be high, even if the doubters have us as cellar dwellers in the A-10.  We don't what to expect until the games are played.

GO MASON.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Eight years ago today

Eight years ago today, I started this blog in a depressing cubicle in a "Lorton" (much closer to Rt. 1 Hoodbridge) office park. Even though I don't post nearly as much as I did (heck, I posted 53 times in November of 2006), I think this blog still has a purpose. It's purpose then was to assist me when my transition from teaching to another profession.  I was heading into an unknown world, and I didn't know what to expect.  This daily bit of "therapy" (cheaper than the real kind, right?) helped. 

Since I left teaching in the summer of 2006, I've been a technical writer, section manager, technical trainer, and technical writer again.  But, as you can probably tell, my favorite titles are husband, dad, son, brother, and even sports fan.  That will never, ever change.

For the few of you who are reading this, thanks.  I don't know when it will end, but one day it will.  Don't worry...I'll give proper notice.

Enjoy your summer day.  They're fleeting, just like the years I was worried about eight years ago today.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Yanks make trade deadline deals for Drew & Prado



Without giving up a ton of talent, the Yanks made a couple trade deadline deals that added extra bats and versatility to the line-up.  New York acquired Stephen Drew from the Red Sox (first trade between the two since 1997) and Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks.  Drew isn't having a great year after signing late with the Sox, but he has a chance to redeem himself over the next couple months of the season.  Prado, who can play multiple positions in the OF and IF, is a career .290 bat and is signed through 2016.  Both guys can help.  It still doesn't address our need for pitching, which is worrisome considering what other teams in the AL have on their staffs.

The Yanks are 5 games out of first place going into a series with Boston in Beantown tonight (they are also 3.5 games out of a Wild Card slot).  We will be in attendance at next Thursday's afternoon matinee vs. the Tigers - one of the many AL teams with a loaded roster.  August is here.  Let's do it, Yankees.

GO YANKEES.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Billy Joel returns to DC




For the third time in my lifetime, I saw legendary singer/songwriter/performer Billy Joel in concert.  He returned to Washington, DC last night with a show at Nationals Park, which was also my first-ever concert in a baseball stadium.  We saw Joel the first two times at the Verizon Center.  Once again, the man doesn't disappoint.  The voice was as strong as ever for a 65-year old man.  He seemed more bothered by the bugs that kept flying around his head than anything last night (he used a flyswatter throughout the entire performance...really).  

The setlist was pure Joel gold:  You can find it here.  Julie & I went to the show sans kiddos, but it's definitely a show where children are welcome and it's safe for their eyes and ears.  I can't say the same about my Buffett experiences, which I'm getting too old for as well.  Last night's show was sold-out, and if he ever returns to the city, I'm sure the next one will be sold out as well. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

42.

Today is my birthday.  42 feels like an uneventful number, since it doesn't have the makings of a landmark birthday.  To me, I think "42" in terms of baseball:  Jackie Robinson's number, and the last number to be worn in the majors by newly-retired Mariano Rivera.  42 makes me think of my dad, who found out he was going to be a father for the third (and later fourth) time at the age.  42 is the opposite of 24, my birth day.  Maybe there's some cosmic magic in that...who knows.  42 is a number I hope to double-up and move beyond; maybe a little Brann (and Croxton) longevity will shine on me. 

On my 42nd birthday, I know all of the following:  I am happily married to an incredible wife.  I have two wonderful children.  I have a dog who treats me like I'm the greatest man on Earth.  My new job is solid, and I work with some good people.  My parents are still alive and kicking.  There could always be more $$s, but we're doing okay.  I live in a good town with good schools and close to things I enjoy.  None of my closest family members live further than five-six hours away.  Despite a fear minor irritants, I'm pretty darn healthy. 

At 42, I am a happy man (as long as I get ahead of traffic...so, this waxing poetic moment must end).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Julie's birthday











In no particular order, here are some pics from Julie's birthday on Saturday.  We celebrated with a picnic at Sky Meadow State Park, peach and corn picking at Hollin Farms (no berries...darn...not ready yet), and a little bocce at a nearby winery (where we skipped the wine...just bocce!).  We wrapped the day up later with dinner at our favorite BBQ joint in Gainesville.  Days away from my 42nd...

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