Brann...it's good for you.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014








Here's a mixture of pics taken on my smartphone this weekend of the kiddos at our house prior to Easter morning at church, and at the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday in DC.  I'll post more soon from the regular camera, since we have a lot of great shots on there.  It was a beautiful weekend in the region.  Bring on more of them.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mason officially adds another newcomer for 2014-15

George Mason basketball added another freshmen to a strong recruiting class for 2014-15. Welcome to Fairfax, Isaiah.

From the Mason website:


FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason head men’s basketball coach Paul Hewitt announced today Isaiah Jackson has signed a National Letter of Intent for the upcoming 2014-15 season.
“Isaiah is a versatile perimeter player with outstanding size,” commented Hewitt. “We see him playing any of the three perimeter positions for us and we think he has a chance to make an impact for us next year offensively.”

Jackson, a 6’6” combo guard, hails from Gainesville, Fla., where he averaged 17.0 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, 6.1 assists per game and 3.0 steals per game at The Villages Charter High School. Last season, Jackson helped the Buffalo to the State Playoffs and a 25-3 season under the guidance of coach Dave Krakoff.

Prior to his arrival at The Villages Charter High School, Jackson attended Gainesville High School for three years where he helped lead his team to the 2013 Florida State Tournament Finals after averaging 16.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 5.4 apg, and was named the Gainesville Sun 2013 Big School Player of the Year. Jackson played AAU basketball for Florida Elite Black.
Jackson joins fall signees Eric Lockett, a 6’5” small forward from Atlanta, Ga./Whitefield Academy, Therence Mayimba, a 6’7” small forward from Libreville, Gabon/St. James School and Trey Porter, a 6’10” center from Dumfries, Va./Potomac.

Red-hot Yanks keep rollin'


The Yankees continued an early-season hot streak with their 5th win in a row.  Everything that could go right last night for the Yanks did, including a triple play started by rookie Yangervis Solarte (who also hit his first career HR in the 9th).  New York beat up on division rival Tampa 10-2 last night in the ugliest stadium in MLB.  Let's hope the beat-downs continue this weekend.  

CC got a must-needed win, following up outstanding pitching performances from newcomer Tanaka and newly back from injury Pineda.  The bats were on fire after winning, but only scoring 5 runs in the two shutouts vs. the Cubs.  Ellsbury, Jeter, McCann, Solarte, Sorianao, and Roberts all picked up a couple hits or more.  In addition to Solarte's first HR, McCann and Soriano added to their season totals.

Keep rollin', Yanks.  I like what I'm seeing early out of this restructured line-up and pitching staff.

GO YANKEES.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Singing in church





Sophia & Tyler have both been part of the children's choir at our church for the last couple/few years, and both took part in singing on Palm Sunday yesterday.  The flowing palms were a nice touch.  You can tell by the bottom pick that Tyler liked the swaying. 

Yanks take the first series of the year vs. the defending champs



The Yankees got off to a good start against the defending world champs and top rival, Boston, this season.  New York took three of four from the Sox this weekend, including the 3-2 series clincher last night that featured the incredible catch by Ichiro in the 8th inning, above.  This win wasn't easy, though, since the Yanks are once again the Walking Dead in 2014 in terms of injuries to key players.  Newly-signed OF Carlos Beltran was forced into duty at 1st base last night after starting 1B Franciso Cervelli (normally a catcher...forced into 1B duty earlier in the week after another injury to Tex) went down with a hamstring injury.  Somehow, this team held it together enough to pull off the win.  

With the win, the Yanks improve to 7-6 overall in the early season standings and share 1st place with Tampa and Toronto.  Boston is bringing up the rear in last place.

GO YANKEES.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Poetry Month

I've been remiss in talking about National Poetry Month, and we're already 10 days into April.  This poem by e.e. cummings about the current season seemed appropriate today, especially since the weather is supposed to be sunny and 70s today.  Bring it on.  We deserve it, my friends.

9.

 
by E. E. Cummings

there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic

Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly

   we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.

(So,when kiss Spring comes
we'll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don't make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to 
kiss me)

Tyler the Tar Heel



Tyler is getting a lot of love on here this week.  He had his 2nd t-ball practice of the spring season last night, and got his new UNC Tar Heels hat and t-shirt.  By chance, he ended up with Derek Jeter's number 2 in Jeter's final season.  I was quite pleased.  I'm looking forward to his first game on April 26.  Go Tyler!  Go Heels!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tyler taking communion






Tyler has been partaking in a communion class in his Sunday School class the last five Sundays.  This past Sunday, his class took part in the service and took communion in church during our 9:45 am service.  In the Episcopal Church, all are welcome to take communion from birth, so this class helped add clarity to the meaning.  In addition, Tyler started t-ball practice for the spring season on Saturday morning.  He had a busy and productive weekend.  Our little guy turns 6 (!) on May 2.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Mason baseball off to a good 2014 season



It may have been a miserable basketball season in Fairfax, but George Mason baseball is off to a solid 15-9 (3-1 in the A-10; tied for 3rd) start this spring.  The Patriots continue A-10 play this weekend with three scheduled games against local rival GW.  One player to keep an eye on for Mason is Pitcher John Montefusco, who is 5-1 with an ERA under 1.00 so far on the young season.  He starts today.  The Jersey native and Senior has looked sharp in 2014 and has a chance to get a career-best 6th win this afternoon.  

GO MASON.

Rend Collective



I admit it:  When it comes to Christian music, I'm a purist.  I like the old-fashioned hymns that I grew up listening to in the Southern Baptist church more so than the contemporary pop/rock stuff.  However, maybe this new to me band could change my tune based on their folk/Americana vibe.  I just discovered the Northern Ireland band Rend Collective a couple weeks ago, and so far I like what I'm hearing.  Their latest CD "The Art of Celebration" just came out on March 17.  The song above is from their 3rd alum "Campfire."  They will be "local" on June 26 performing at Kings Dominion.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Giving some love to the Wizards



I'll give credit when it's due, and the local Wizards deserve some love this morning.  For the first time since 2008, the local NBA team is playoffs-bound.  This Wizards team has been interesting to follow, made up of a perfect mix of talented youth and veterans.  Their final seeding is still TBD, but they have the ability to pull off a surprise or two.  I'm not a NBA fan, but I may pay more attention now that they're in the playoffs.  From the Post, the words of their head coach Wittman:

“We were in a desperate spot not too long ago,” said Wittman, who joined the Wizards as an assistant five years ago. “When I took over, I just tried to keep telling our guys, Ted and Ernie, let’s do this the right way and build this and teach, and one day, we’re going to get here. We had some ups and downs like you and we’re still learning the process of what it takes to be a really good team. I couldn’t be more happy for these guys.”

As for the local Washington Capitals...we'll talk about them when they're officially out of the playoffs.  It's been a very disappointing year...

"About a Boy"



As a fan of the book and the film, I was interested in NBC's new company "About a Boy", which premiered in February.  So far, it's living up to expectations.  If you're in the mood for a sitcom marathon, check it out.  It has humor, heart, and a very likeable cast.  I hope it sticks around beyond this season. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Yanks start with a loss



The 2014 baseball season has finally arrived, and the Yankees started off the new season just like the past two:  Losing.  After a very disappointing 2013 season, I was hoping for a better sign of things to come after an off-season rebuild.  It was not to be last night against the crappy Astros.  From the Times:


The Yankees made several defensive miscues in the bottom of the first inning, with Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira making bad throws and Carlos Beltran bobbling a ground ball in right field. It looked as if the Yankees, not the Astros, were the young, inexperienced team. 

But Sabathia was most culpable. After posting a 1.29 earned run average in spring training and radiating confidence, he faltered badly in the first two innings, allowing all six runs, three of them on home runs by Jesus Guzman and L. J. Hoes, the No. 8 hitter.

“I know I can pitch; I know I can get guys out,” he said. “I feel great and I’m not going to beat myself up over this.”

Sabathia came into the game confident that he had fixed his troubles from last year, when his slower fastball and changeup were cutting over the plate and into the danger zones of hitters. But the problem came back, which he said was a result of over-compensating for opening-day nerves.

“I feel like I’m a kid again and I get so excited,” he said. “I’ll sleep in my uniform if I could, the night before opening day. So it’s just some of the nervousness and jitters and wanting to start the season of good so bad that I end up pitching bad.”

As successful as Sabathia has been over his career, opening day has not been his forte, particularly with the Yankees. Tuesday was his 11th season-opening game and his sixth with the Yankees, and his record in those games with the Yankees is 0-3 with a 7.71 E.R.A.

Maybe it's time for Tanaka to take the opening day mound next season.  CC is clearly on his way down.

The Yanks are predicted 3rd or 4th in most preseason magazines in the AL East.  I tend to have higher expectations, but maybe the days of being of a dominant beast in the East are done.  The other teams are just too darn good in the division, too.

Stay tuned.  161 to go.  GO YANKEES.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Harriet's General






On Saturday, we journeyed down to Culpeper to hit their downtown for the first time in about a year (it's about 40 minutes from us in Gainesville/Bristow).  The last time we were there I really liked the store Harriet's General and wanted to go back.  If you're ever in the area or really to make the drive, check it out.  The owner and his family are incredibly friendly and I like his all-American made ideals.  I've included some images from the store's website above.

"The Girl" by City and Colour



In the summers, I like to listen to Pandora's Josh Ritter station as I cut grass.  One of the songs that I discovered is the one above.  I finally purchased it and downloaded it.  I've also turned it into one of Tyler's current favorite songs.  Sometimes it takes five years+ to discover a good song. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

See you later, O'Connor



There was big news in Fairfax today with the announcement of Mason AD Tom O'Connor's impeding retirement.  He will officially no longer be Mason AD as of COB June 30.  So, you know what this means for Mason head basketball coach Paul Hewitt.  His days are numbered, unless he turned around the Mason program next year and gets the team back into the NCAA tourney; I'm assuming he'll have to prove he can win a game there, too.  In short:  Expect a new basketball coach next summer at George Mason. 

I have mixed emotions about TOC.  He probably did help us greatly get into the NCAA tourney in 2006, which led to the highest moments in our school's history.  (Remember:  He was chair of the selection committee.)  But, he did battle with former Mason coach Jim Larranaga, leading to his departure to Miami.  It's time for a change.  

GO MASON.

The winter that never ends




So much for Spring.  After a beautiful weekend (well...Saturday), the temps dropped again.  So, today - once again - we were hit with some snow in the DC area.  I'm not sure how much we got in the Bristow area, but it wasn't a lot...just enough to make all of us locally wish for winter to finally end...again.  You get the point. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome back, Spring. We missed you.


After a miserable winter - including 8 inches on St. Patrick's Day, just a few days ago - it's wonderful to welcome back Spring.  This #tbt from April 2008 was taken at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which also starts today.  We always like to go, despite the crowds (many from out of town).  T-ball starts up again around April 1 and runs through mid-June...I can't wait to see Tyler back in uniform.  For the second time in three years, we won lottery tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll.  Expect to see plenty of pics from that event on this blog.  The Boys of Summer begin play as well in a couple weeks, officially kicking off MLB's 2014 season (in reality, the season starts this weekend when the Dodgers and Backs play in Australia.)  YANKEES:  World title or bust. 

Spring:  It has a lot more to offer compared to dirty, cold Winter.  Welcome back, old friend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The end.



Mason's miserable 2013-14 season came to an end on Wednesday night in a way similar to to most of their games this season:  Close enough for a victory, but just not good enough to get it done.  Fordham was clearly the team who wanted this game more.  Mason showed a spark when they closed it to 1 point, but they were never able to take the lead.  Instead, we fell 70-67 and are officially the worst team in the A-10.  

For the night, the man above - Bryon Allen - played his heart out and did his best to try to keep his team in the game.  Allen finished with 22 pts.  Close behind:  Fellow Senior Johnny Williams with 19 pts. and 10 rbs.  The last senior, Sherrod Wright, finished with 8 pts. in his final Mason game.  His team needed a lot more than he provided last night, but that's Wright - he often disappears when it matters the most.

For the season, Mason finishes 11-20 and 4-12 in the A-10.  It was a pathetic way to enter a new basketball life in the Atlantic-10.  I don't expect much better in 2014-15, as we gear up for the end of the Paul Hewitt era in Fairfax.  It can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mason freshman Jalen Jenkins named to A-10 all-rookie team



Congrats to Mason freshman Jalen Jenkins on a well-deserved all A-10 rookie team honor.  He was the only Patriot to receive post-season honors in our first year in the conference.  Jenkins, a Brooklyn native, returns home for A-10 tourney play starting with Fordham tonight at 7 pm on the A-10 Digital Network.  Let's hope there's a Cinderella story in the Big Apple.  

GO MASON.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mason's path is set

Based on the outcomes of two games on Sunday, the final seeds are in for the A-10 tournament.  If Mason wants to get to the Big Dance, they'll need to go through #5 Dayton, #4 possibly St. Joseph's, and probably #1 St. Louis on their side of the bracket alone.  Oops...I forgot Fordham, who plays us first, and beat us on their Bronx home court. I was hoping for a chance to get some payback vs. VCU in Brooklyn, but we would both have to get to the title game on Sunday.  Five wins in five day.  Impossible?  Close to it.  We'll see what happens on our first trip to Brooklyn.

GO MASON.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Mason concludes the regular season with a familiar theme: Losing

It was not to be on Senior Night for Wright, Allen, and Williams.  Like many games this season, Mason finished on the losing end.  The 19th loss of the 2013-14 season ensured 12th place out of 13 teams in the first season of the A-10 and our participation in the league tournament play-in game next Wednesday night vs. Fordham (who beat us during the regular season, too).  If Mason somehow gets by Fordham, the league's 5th seed awaits on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 pm.  The final seeding are still TBD based on a couple final regular season games today.  

Last night, Seniors Wright and Allen gave it their all with 25 pts. and 17 pts. respectively.  Unfortunately, this game was over when Duquesne went on a 13-0 run near the end of the 1st half.  Mason was down as many as 17 pts. in the 2nd half, before cutting it to 6 near game's end.  But, it wasn't enough.  DU was clearly more motivated to win this game.  They had the 10th seed at stake.  Our defense, stellar vs. LaSalle, was pathetic in this match-up. Our rebounding, stellar vs. LaSalle, was pathetic in this game.  

Mason finishes 11-19 overall and 4-12 in the A-10 in the regular season.  Granted, let's look at the facts:  This league had SIX teams with 20 or more wins this season.  It's coming off a five-bid year last season.  Our team was recruited to play in the CAA, a much weaker conference where once again only one team will get in.  Mason has to figure out how to win in this league, or be accustomed to being one of the league's "also-rans":  Fordham, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island...on other words, losing teams that still beat us in 2013-14. 

In terms of Mason's history, we haven't had a season this crappy since Jim Larranaga's first season in 97-98 when we went 9-18.  BUT, we at least had promise of a brighter future then.  Now, we're losing our top two leading scorers from an 11-win team.  The 27-win teams of 06 and 11 seem a lifetime away now.  Heck, we even went 6-9 at the Patriot Center this season...remember, when we used to go undefeated in our own home?  Remember when those seats had fans in them?  

Mason's only hope of postseason play is five wins in five days.  It's unlikely, but anything can happen in March.  Sadly, I don't expect us to get more than a win or two in this tourney.  The misery should probably come to an end by next Thursday for those of us too invested in Mason hoops.

GO MASON.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Mason beats LaSalle in a first-ever meeting

When Mason fell behind 9-0 in their game last night vs. LaSalle, I assumed the worst:  Here we go again, another disappointment.  But, I'll give them credit - they hung around and came back in this game to take the lead.  It came down to the last minute.  Mason's Allen drove for a layup to win the game, missed badly, but game hero Marko Gujanicic grabbed the rebound and put it back up for the lead.  Mason's tight defense prevented the Explorers from making the game-winning shot.  Mason 59, LaSalle 57.

This game was about the inside play, defense, and rebounding.  Marko led the way with 15 pts. and 8 rbs. off the bench.  Philly native Erik Copes led on the boards with 10 rbs.  In terms of scoring, guards Sherrod Wright and Patrick Holloway each had 10 pts.  This game was ugly in terms of shooting, so it came down to Mason getting quality shots inside and pulling down big rebounds.  They did an incredible job when it mattered the most.

With the win, Mason improves to 11-18 overall and 4-11 in the A-10.  The Patriots need to beat Duquesne at home on Saturday night (Senior Night) to avoid the 12/13 game in the A-10 tournament on Wednesday night.  If we win, we'll finish in 11th place, and take on the 6th seed on Thursday night.  Mason has won 4 of its last 7 games.

Congrats on the win, Patriots...but, don't rest yet.  There's a big game on Saturday, and potentially 4-5 (let's hope 4) big games in Brooklyn.  The season's not done.  This team could have held their heads low and given up, but they're still fighting.  

GO MASON.



Thursday, March 06, 2014

"Morning Song" video



I tried my darndest to get tickets to last Friday night's Avett Brothers concert at the Patriot Center, but it was too no avail...I was clicking for updates for deals on StubHub until the concert started at 8 pm.  Oh, well.  I'll have to get my fill from videos for now until the next time they visit Mason.  This video for "Morning Song" just came out - it's one of the better songs on their album from the fall.  

Speaking of concerts:  Our beloved Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens concerts, entitled "Groovin' in the Garden," have been put on hold by the Ginter for the next two years.  So, no Josh Ritter in Richmond - at least there - for 2014 and 2015.  Bummer news.  Ritter was also in DC this past weekend performing two sold-out shows - but, they were "trio" shows, which isn't as appealing to me as the full band experience.

Monday, March 03, 2014

What's going on

It's been a long time since I posted a "What's going on" post, but since it's a snow day in the DC area (again), I thought it was a good time for an update. Yes:  It's March, but we're are getting hit again today with another deluge of the white stuff.  As I type, I can hear the snow plow doing its thing in the cul-de-sac and my neighbor using his snow blower.  At some point, Spring will arrive.  I know I will be ready for it - bring it on.

Personally, 2014 will be about a new job for me.  I start a new one on 3/31 and conclude my time at my current employer on 3/28.  I don't like to go into a lot of detail on here about professional stuff, but it should mean more job security, more compensation, more interesting work, and a chance to work with a very good friend.  Those are all things to look forward to, even though I'm always hesitant to institute change in my life if I don't have to do it.  Onward and upward, in the words of that good friend.  

The kiddos have missed a ton of school so far in 2014 because of Mother Nature.  They missed school today because of the snow, and I bet tomorrow gets axed as well.  So, I assume their spring break day after Easter will be gone next, along with additional time added to the end of each schoolday or the end of the school year.  

Sophia is still staying busy with Girl Scouts and ballet.  We definitely made a good choice by changing ballet studios, even if she doesn't have the opportunity to dance on the big stage like she did at the former studio.  This studio's owner/instructor is a good person who cares about teaching young girls how to dance.  The other studio was all about bringing in dollars.  I know we are happier as parents, and she never seems to stop smiling when she's in the ballet studio.  We want her to try other forms of dance in the summer/next school year, too.  Sophia turns the big 1-0 on June 4.

Tyler is officially signed up for another year of t-ball, even though he wasn't big on t-ball in the fall.  We're trying the new Bull Run Little League in PWC.  I heard a lot of negatives about our former league from inside sources, and I really appreciated the feedback on the new league that I got back from the local guy who's starting up BRLL.  Tyler may get a chance to play for one of the dads who helped his fall team, too.  I would like him to eventually try lacrosse, but he's still too young and too little.  The lax league is U9, and Tyler just turns 6 on May 2.

Julie is staying busy on the home front, since there's always a ton to do.  She's been able to volunteer in school for the first time on a regular basis this year since both kiddos are in school full-time.  She's been doing some sewing jobs on the side, too.  Of course, her biggest "obligation" since the end of September is taking care of new family member Copper.  Puppies - they're a handful...in more ways than one.  

In terms of extended family, my father has recovered well from his heart surgery.  He may not still have an energy back to 100%, but knowing my dad, he'll get there.  I hope he takes it easy in 2014 and starts to enjoy life instead of working so much (hint, hint).  You only get so many years on this Earth, so why spend them on a job when you get spend them with family and grandchildren?  I know he has a new granddaughter in Pittsburgh that he's itching to meet for the first time.  I hope my twin is ready for the waterfall of emotions. :)

We are still trying to figure out our summer plans for 2014, in terms of where we want to go on vacation.  Copper adds a new element - we haven't decided if we want him to be part of our travels or not.  More than likely, he'll be boarded and stay behind.  We have considered Asheville, NC and Toronto, Canada - two very diverse options.  But, we are considering and researching other options as well.  We may try to work in a couple three-day family weekends, too.  We'll see how it goes.

That's about it for now.  I'll try to post more often, but no promises.  Have a great snow day, and think Spring...maybe it'll work if we all wish together.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Mason gets swept by GW in year 1 of the A-10

A long, long time ago now, Mason was picked to finish 8th in the A-10 and GW was picked to finish below us at 11th.  It's amazing how things have changed since October.  For the 2nd time this season, Mason fell short to the Colonials - our closest, in terms of distance, A-10 rival.  GW beat Mason today 66-58 in a game that was my Patriots' for the taking when we closed a deficit to one point with about 10 to play.  But, again, an opponent was too much for Mason - GW went on another run, and we were toast again.  

With the loss, Mason falls to 10-18 on the season and 3-11 in the A-10.  We are currently in 12th place in the conference, one game ahead of Fordham.  We need to upset LaSalle (struggling themselves at 14-14 this season after a Sweet 16 season last year) and beat Duquesne again next Saturday at home in order to avoid the 12/13 game in the A-10 tournament.  I still think we have the potential for a tourney run based on how competitive we've been even in losses, but based on today, it's hard to have too much hope.  My team beats itself when games are on the line.  It's frustrating to watch.

Sherrod Wright led the way again today for Mason with 16 pts.  Bryon Allen added 14 pts. and went over 1000 for his career.  Our weakness again today was what almost did us in during the 2nd half vs. Richmond:  We are horrible at defensing the three-point shot.  We seem to let a different guard for every team go off on us in the 2nd half.  Watch out for the Explorers and Dukes this week:  Both have guards capable of doing the same thing (including Micah Mason of Duquesne, the best three-point shooter in the country). 

I'm hoping Mason ends the regular season "strong" with two more wins, so I can be a little optimistic going into Brooklyn.  Hey, it's the only thing I have left in this miserable 2013-14 season.  

GO MASON.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pics from Pittsburgh




It's been a very hectic week since we got back from a family trip to Burgh on Monday afternoon, so I stole a few pics from my twin sister Stacey off Facebook to share.  We visited our new niece/cousin Lilly (three weeks old as of Monday) last weekend and Julie's 92-year old grandmother.  I'll post some pics from our own camera sometime soon, because I'd like to share some of Julie's grandmother as well.  Hooray old and young!

Mason crushes the Spiders' NCAA tourney bubble dreams

Mason's main role the rest of the season is the role of spoiler.  We got to play it last night vs. an 18-win Richmond Spiders team at home.  It was UR's first trip to Fairfax since 2001, and they didn't leave happy.

Led by Wright's 19 pts. and Allen's 18, the Patriots defeated the Spiders 69-60 in a game that was a lot different at the half.  Mason led by 21 at the half, and got up by 23 in the 2nd half, but the Spiders stormed back behind three-point shooting.  They were also kept in this game by their stud guard, Anthony.  It wasn't enough, as the Patriots shot too well in this game to lose - over 56% overall.  Mason also dominated inside with 46 points in the paint.  

Patrick Holloway added 10 points off the bench (including a huge 5-point run with under three minutes to go) and Jalen Jenkins added 7 points, 9 rebounds, AND 5 assists (this kid's future is so darn bright).  You know it's a good game when Erik Copes adds something (he had 7 points).

With the win, Mason improves to 10-17 on the season and 3-10 in the A-10.  We are now in 11th place out of 13 teams in the conference, so we are briefly out of the March 12 12/13 game in the A-10 tourney.  Mason returns to action on Sunday vs. GW in Foggy Bottom.  They beat us too easy at home, so it's time to get payback and play that spoiler role again.

It's all about Brooklyn.  GO MASON.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mason loses (another) heartbreaking game in OT to no. 10 St. Louis for the 2nd time this season



Mason was .9 seconds away from beating the no. 10 team in the country last night. .9.

But, once again, this season's team is about heartbreak, nothing more.  Mason's Jalen Jenkins made two clutch free throws to give Mason the lead.  Unfortunately, Mason allowed St. Louis's best player - hot as Hades in the 2nd half - Jett to take the inboards and drive the length of the court.  Mason's freshman PG Moore fouled him on the arm.  Jett made one of two free throws, enough to force the game into OT.  Despite a four-point lead in OT, Mason couldn't hold back the Billikens. It was our second loss in OT to the league's best team this season.

Congrats to Mason's Sherrod Wright for a stellar effort in the loss.  He poured in a career-high 34 points and did everything he could to keep his team in the game.  Mason's Jenkins was impressive again, finishing with 16 pts. and 8 rbs.  I have no clue what Hewitt is doing with his rotation - some of his early-season regulars like Edwards (former starter), Gujanicic, and Okoloji are barely touching the court anymore.  I think all of those guys have something to give.  But, what do I know?  I'm not the head coach of a 9-17, 2-10 team.

From the Post:


“Two overtime [games], so it’s not like we have any magic on those guys,” Billikens Coach Jim Crews said of the tight games with the Patriots. “We’re just fortunate.”

The Patriots have lost six straight in Fairfax, their longest home skid in 21 years. They are 14-14 in the past two seasons at Patriot Center after a 29-1 run from 2010 to 2012.

Despite their lowly place, the Patriots have caused problems for the front-runners. They won at Massachusetts and should have beaten the Minutemen in Fairfax; they lost by four to Saint Joseph’s; and three weeks ago, they let an upset slip away at Saint Louis.

Yeah, the good old days of dominance at home are over.  Well, the good old days of having a winning team are over.  Let's hope the Hewitt experiment is over soon, because it's clearly not working.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Homecoming flop - Mason falls to 2-9 in the A-10

Well, I'm glad I didn't drag my family to yesterday's Mason Homecoming game in Fairfax.  The Patriots fell by 12 to St. Bonaventure, despite great efforts from guards Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright.  Those two had 46 points combined in the 85-73 loss.  They got little help from the front court, including Erik Copes - a game after a double-double - who finished with zero points and five fouls.  Freshman Jalen Jenkins was off offensively in this one, too, finishing 0-5 from the field despite 7/8 from the line.  

It doesn't get any easier for this 9-16 (2-9, A-10) team:  Next up is no. 12 ranked St. Louis on Wednesday at home.  The Billikens have won 17 games in a row, setting a school record.  I watched some of their game vs. VCU on Saturday, and felt a lot of jealousy.  Their fans, in a packed arena, have a nationally-ranked team to enjoy.  It's not the same in Fairfax.  I watched our game on television, and noticed the large areas of empty seats in our season-ticket holder seats.  This season is an embarrassment.  

With the loss, Mason is guaranteed a losing record when we enter the A-10 tourney in Brooklyn.  We are tied for last in the A-10 with Fordham and Rhode Island, but both of those teams beat us in our one and only match-ups in league play.  So, we're the bottom dwellers...again. We are destined for the 12/13 play-in game in the A-10 tourney on March 12.

But, there is hope in the spring.  Mason's baseball team was picked 5th of 12 A-10 teams in the A-10 preseason poll.  The Patriots started the season this weekend with two straight wins vs. Morehead State and USC Upstate.  Mason baseball hasn't started the season 2-0 since 2010, and they scored 21 runs in the two wins.  They return to action today vs. Morehead State.  Kudos, Patriots.  Keep it up. Maybe there's hope for my alma mater on the diamond.  By the way, St. Louis and VCU are two of the highly-regarded baseball programs in the A-10.  We face both programs in Fairfax

GO MASON.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow day







It took four years, but we finally got significant snowfall in the Bristow area.  From Wednesday night into Thursday, over a foot of snow (with some sleet mixed in) fell on us.  More snow is predicted overnight tonight, but only a few inches or less.  After this winter's brutal coldness and weather, I know I'm not the only one itching for spring.  Bring it on. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mason gets revenge over UMASS to win its 2nd in the A-10

On Wednesday night, Mason turned in its most complete effort of the season with a 91-80 win over UMASS - avenging a one-point loss at home against the Minutemen.  Overall, this was an impressive performance:  Mason had five guys in double figures - Wright with 22, Allen with 19, Holloway with 13, Moore and Copes with 12 apiece.  Copes is showing a lot right now, too - he had 15 rebounds to notch his 4th career double-double.  Mason shot 47% from the field, 53% from behind the arc, and 75% from the line.  The best part of the evening:  We held UMASS's high-scoring and cocky PG Chaz Williams to only 8 pts. on 3/15 shooting.  He scored the game winner vs. us in Fairfax. 

With the win, Mason improves to 9-15 overall and 2-8 in A-10.  We are now in a 4-way tie at the bottom at the A-10 standings, but at least we're not by ourselves anymore.  Rhode Island, Fordham, and Duquesne are also 2-8.  We lost to R.I. and Fordham, and beat Duquesne.  We need a win over St. Bonaventure in our Homecoming Game this Saturday evening to stay within a good distance from them and it would be nice to hold the tiebreaker over another A-10 opponent.  The Bonnies are 4-6 in the standings. 

For Mason, the goal should be to take one game at a time, and get ready for Brooklyn.  Anything can happen in a tourney, and this team is still playing with heart despite the horrific nine-game skid.  I don't give Hewitt credit for much, but his team didn't give up.  I don't know if that's a sign of his coaching or a sign of his players, but last night's win over a 19 win team showed a lot.  The Patriots aren't done yet.

Keep it up, Patriots.  GO MASON.

Oh Captain, my Captain...Jeter announces 2014 will be his last



As a Yankees fan, I knew this day would one day come.  On Wednesday, it became official:  Yankees SS and Captain Derek Jeter will make 2014 his last one in MLB.   

From the NY Times:


The greatest compliment we can give Derek Jeter, as he prepares to leave the grandest stage in baseball, is that he never let us down. He has made thousands of outs and hundreds of errors and finished most of his seasons without a championship. Yet he never disappointed us.

This is no small feat for the modern athlete, in an age of endless traps and temptations. 

From cheating to preening to taunting — even to defensible acts, like fleeing to a new team in free agency — the hero, almost invariably, breaks our heart sometime. Not Jeter.

and...

No superstar in sports is more accessible than Jeter, who is available by his locker before and after almost every game, mainly to take pressure off teammates. Group interviews can play out like jousting matches, which Jeter always wins. He cannot be baited into saying something that will linger as a story. He does not raise his voice, rarely shows irritation and never goes off the record.

Jeter is often called boring, but that is not quite right. His reverence for Yankees history, and his place in it, is endearing. He insists on using a recording of the late Bob Sheppard, the public-address announcer whose career began the same day as Mickey Mantle’s, before his home at-bats.

At the old Stadium, Jeter dressed next to the empty locker of another captain, Thurman Munson, who was killed in a plane crash in 1979. When Phil Rizzuto, his long-ago predecessor at shortstop, died in 2007, Jeter revealed that Rizzuto’s autograph was the only one in his collection.

Jeter asked for just one artifact from the original Stadium: the overhead sign from the dugout runway with Joe DiMaggio’s famous quotation, thanking the Lord for making him a Yankee. 

There's no Yankee who I have worshiped more my lifetime as a Yankees fan than Derek Jeter.  I wish him a healthy and productive 2014 season, and I hope he gets the adoration that he deserves he goes from series to series this season.  Lastly, I hope for one more title - no. 28 for the Yankees and no. 6 for Jeter - in October.  This hero deserves to go out on top.

GO YANKEES.  THANK YOU, JETER.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lax season is here


The Boys of Summer may be returning this week, but the Boys of Spring are already playing.  One of my favorite seasons - lacrosse here - officially began with games last week, and it has already featured some dandies:  Loyola/UVA in an OT thriller, UVA/Richmond in Richmond's first-ever men's lax game, and Hopkins/OSU's 3 OT classic on Sunday (above) to name a few.  I'll do my best to watch as many games as possible on ESPNU, and keep up with the Division I Top 20

I'm excited to see how the locals stack up when high school lax officially starts next Monday, and keep up with my nephew's lax season in the NJ 'burbs.  Plus, Tyler turns 6 in May, so he's another year closer to starting his own lax-playing days.  

As always, the college game wraps up on Memorial Day weekend.  This year, the Final Four is back in Bawlmer - the home sweet home of lacrosse.  

Stay tuned for more updates on lax throughout the spring.  Keep laxin'.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Seek and find, seek and find - Part 2

My family decided not to attend our normal church together as a family, so I went solo to another local church to check it out.  Today, I went to Park Valley Church in nearby Haymarket.  It was similar to National Community Church in many ways, but there were many differences as well.

Unlike NCC, this church actually has a church building.  It's located right next to the big-dollar Dominion Valley community in Haymarket.  I recall they used to meet at one of the nearby schools (maybe Battlefield H.S.), but they built their own building at some point.  I entered the church today and noticed a few things right away - coffee on the right, baptismal pool on the left.  Okay, interesting.  In the Baptist churches of my youth, many had baptismal pools, but they weren't located in the church lobby.  I didn't realize coffee and Christianity went so hand-and-hand, but they seems to be a trend as well (even in my regular Episcopal church). 

The 'sanctuary" - if that's what you call a modern gathering place for contemporary Christian churches - focused on the modern with a video screen above the fancily-designed stage where the worship band was about to perform.  Unlike NCC, this church actually had a cross on the wall. 

I'm not sure what I think about the pop/rock band movement in churches.  Today, there was a band of five individuals - two on electric guitars, one on a regular guitar, one guy on drums wearing a stocking hat indoors, and one guy - I assume - on keyboards, but I could only see the back of an Apple computer.  There was also a female lead singer, who didn't play any instruments, but swayed from side-to-side moving one of her arms in a swaying motion.  The music was contemporary Christian...or, something you'd hear and easily forget.  In other words:  It's not "The Old-Rugged Cross" or "Amazing Grace."  If I could find a church that played Americana-like music, I'd probably be there every Sunday.

Compared to the audience at NCC, this crowd was different.  They sang very few of the songs, and there were no raising of the hands.  I may have preferred the last part.  The 50-something guy next to me fell asleep and stayed that way during the entire service.  They did the usual turn around and shake the hand of your neighbor thingie, and one guy gave me a look-over before he decided to shake my hand.  Interesting.  I don't have cooties, dude.  Overall, the congregation looked a lot like me:  White, middle-class, casually-dressed, and fond of coffee.

The best part, in my opinion, was the sermon.  The lead pastor - there's soooooo many pastors in this contemporary churches...do they get confused on who does what? - was a man named Barry White.  He was similar to Mark Batterson of NCC - 40-something with graying hair, a button-down shirt (untucked), and a pair of jeans.  White preached a bit too long for my tastes, but I liked his sense of humor, use of scripture, and personal antidotes to convey his message.  Some of his words have stuck with me the rest of today, so I consider that a good thing. 

I left there with the masses, since this church was packed and gearing up for another two services (they have four-five total on Sunday mornings and one on Saturday).  I got a cup of free java to go, and picked up a little literature to read at a later date.  Who knows...I may be back in the future - I may not.  But, it was worth checking out on a gray winter day.

The painful streak is over: Mason finally wins an A-10 game


It took a lot longer than I expected, but Mason finally has a win in the A-10.  After nine painful losses in a row, including 8 in the A-10, Mason won its first-ever A-10 game on Saturday in Pittsburgh.  Honestly, if you can't beat Duquesne, it may be time to return to the Colonial.  For the Patriots, the team was led by Sherrod Wright with 23 pts. and Bryon Allen with 17 pts.  Jalen Jenkins had another fine effort with 10 pts. and 6 rbs.  As a team, this was a good shooting effort:  50% from the field, over 40% from the 3-pt. line, and over 70% from the FT line. 

Win the win, Mason "improves" to 8-15 overall and 1-8 in the conference.  We're still in dead-last place, but we're only one game behind Duquesne.  I think our homecoming game next Saturday vs. St. Bonaventure will be critical, since we only have one game against the Bonnies and they're close enough near the bottom of the standings to catch.  I'd like for us to avoid the 12/13 game in the A-10 tourney on March 12 and start our tourney play on day 2 on March 13.  We'll see. 

A one-game winning streak may not turn around a horrific season, but it's a start.  I'd LOVE to get payback on UMASS on Wed. night at their place.  We should have upset them the first time when they were nationally-ranked; plus, their coach and players were a bunch of jerks. 

Congrats on the win, Patriots.  Let's keep 'em comin'.

GO MASON.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Head and the Heart on Jimmy Kimmel



Talk about timing:  A week after mentioning The Head and the Heart on here, they appear on national TV on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  I put two songs by them on my latest mix CD - "Shake," which I posted last week - and this good one, "Another Story."  Yeah...I think I may have to break down and purchase their first two albums...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Welcome to the family, Lilly




On Monday eve at 11:44 pm, my newest niece - Lilly - entered the world.  Congrats to my twin sister Stacey and my brother-n-law Greg on their little bundle of joy.  Life will never be the same...and that's a great thing.

Different night, same story: Mason gets destroyed by Dayton to fall to 0-8 in A-10

Instead of losing a close, heartbreaking battle, Mason decided to get blown out in this one.  At least they're mixing it up a little, right?  If you want to read about the debacle, here's the link.  Mason's one and potentially only shot at getting wins in the A-10 this season is their games vs. Duquesne.  The first one is this Saturday in Pittsburgh.  We also wrap up the regular season vs. Duquesne at home.

GO MASON...soooo ready for this season to be over.  I'm thinking a run through the A-10 tourney to the Big Dance is unlikely...

Monday, February 03, 2014

Copper at Vint Hill Dog Park



It's been awhile since I posted a pic of Copper on here.  Here's our dog yesterday at the nearby Vint Hill Dog Park.  We didn't know this dog park was close to us until yesterday.  It's only about 10 minutes away.  On a nice spring or fall day (and yesterday was oddly in the 60s, but a tad muddy), it seems like the perfect place to take a four-legged friend.  Copper turns 7 months on February 5. 

Mason falls to 0-7 in the A-10, 7-14 overall and loses its 8 straight game

Another Mason game, the same result:  Mason leads most of the 2nd half over no. 19 St. Louis.  Blows it in the last minute of the game.  Loses it in OT.  The Patriots blew a career-high 30 pt. game from Bryon Allen.  If you want to read more, click on the link.  Next loss:  Wed. at home vs. Dayton. 


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sing-along time.


It's been a long time since I posted any music that's new to me and worth listening to - here's a few from a mix CD I made last weekend.  Enjoy.  You may end up wanting more.






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