Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coaches vs. Obesity

You may have already seen this, but my friend Beth sent this to me via email this morning, with a subject line of "1st Annual Coaches vs. Obesity Classic." Classic is right. I think it's freakin' hilarious, although if you're like my husband you probably don't find it nearly as amusing.



While clearly a fake picture (Mangino is much fatter than that in person), it still cracks me up. I love it that formerly fatter coaches Bill Parcells and Charlie Weis are there cheering on Mangino and the Tennessee coach, who in real life isn't fat at all, comparatively speaking. It would have probably been a funnier picture if the larger coach behind them, who Chad tells me is Ralph Friedgen from Maryland, was the one Mangino was wrestling. Chad and I were having an argument earlier about who is bigger in real life. I think Mangino has at least a chin on Friedgen--maybe you can be the judge.

What I think is so funny is that the alumni and students of all these other schools make these funny jokes and pictures with Mangino as the butt, but KU fans don't find them offensive at all! There's no denying that Mangino is morbidly obese, so we've learned to just embrace the bulge and laugh right along!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MyUbby

Since I'm guessing I won't get finished with my next 3-Day synopsis for a few more days, today I'm posting something that I actually meant to share before I left for San Diego. One of Chad's best friends from high school (Ted) and his wife (Aimee, who is also from our high school) recently started their own online business, called myubby. Ubby is what their son Joseph (now 6) named his very special blanket. Since his ubby has been such an important part of his life, they decided to make a site where other people can make very special one-of-a-kind blankies of their own.

It's a very neat concept and a really cool website, where you can pick fabrics, colors, patterns, trim and stitching for a custom ubby, and get an idea of what it will look like when it's all finished. It's a great gift idea for new babies! Check it out at myubby.com!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3-Day: Day 1

On Friday morning, November 9, Vikkie and I got up just before 5 a.m. I'd called a cab the night before to pick us up at 5:30, and thankfully, there was a knock on our door by 5:25. We loaded up our stuff in the cab and headed south towards Del Mar, where the opening ceremonies were scheduled to start at 7 a.m. at the county fairgrounds. Our trip there was rather uneventful, except for the moment when we passed an adorable little downtown shopping area, which the cab driver informed us was downtown Encinitas, which we'd been trying to walk to the day before. I guess we just didn't walk far enough, which was probably better since we would have definitely put in more than five miles that day had we actually reached the downtown! It was an 8.5 mile drive from northern Encinitas (an area they call Leucadia) that was supposed to take us about 11 minutes, but once we got near the fairgrounds, the traffic slowed down to a crawl, since thousands of other drivers were also trying to drop off their friends and loved ones at opening ceremonies as well! We had guessed it would probably be about a $20 cab ride to Del Mar, but as we were inching our way into the drop off area I glanced up at the still ticking meter, which was ringing up at $23. Thankfully, a couple of minutes later the very kind driver shut the timer off, so that we only had to pay for any additional mileage, which couldn't have been more than a quarter mile. We sat there in traffic for another 15-20 minutes waiting to get to the unloading area, so we were very thankful that a) we'd left the hotel plenty early, and b) we had a very generous cab driver. What a blessing!

We finally got to the unloading area and dropped our bags off at one of about 10 semis, where one of the awesome volunteer crew members loaded it onto the truck specific to our tent area at camp. (There were 550 crew members who volunteered for the San Diego event this year!) We walked about a half mile through the grounds to where the opening ceremony would be held, and I quickly realized these fairgrounds weren't at all like the fairgrounds we have in Douglas County! The Del Mar Fairgrounds and the nearby equestrian park host several major San Diego events throughout the year, and the beautiful buildings all over the grounds are a far cry from the metal farm buildings that litter the fairgrounds here in Lawrence.

We stood around for at least 30 minutes before the staff started leading us in some stretches (which I've never really understood since I'm not sure why anyone would need to stretch before walking), and finally the opening ceremonies began. The national spokesperson of the 3-Day was the emcee of the program, and she did a really good job. Last year it was a different woman who was a little cheesy and very scripted, but this year's spokesperson was so much better. The program also incorporated these big flags with different milestones and events written on them, which were first presented by a group of survivors who were getting ready to start the walk themselves. It was very moving and also very cool because the flags were all carried by different walkers for all 60 miles of the 3 days! People would just carry a flag for a while until they passed someone else on the route, and then they'd pass it along, with the goal being that eventually every one of the 4,600 walkers would have carried the flag at some point during the 3 days.

After the program ended and the flag bearers began walking, there was unfortunately a lot of standing around, as all 4,600 people had to be funneled through a fairly small chute so that they could be scanned by more volunteers. (Each time the walkers go on or off the route, their credentials are scanned so that every walker is always accounted for.) We finally started walking at 7:26 a.m.! After the first few miles we came to the first really scenic area on the route, which was a long bridge along the ocean coming up on the hill to Torrey Pines State Reserve. It was along that stretch of road that we first came upon the many, many supporters who were out cheering for the walkers. I can't even explain how many people decorated their cars, costumed themselves and came out to encourage the 3-Day participants all weekend long. They called themselves "walker stalkers," because they followed the walkers all around town, offering trinkets ("flair" for our waist packs and lanyards) and stickers and candy and muffins and cheers and hugs and support. It was just amazing! It made the walk go by so much more quickly because around almost every corner there was a new group of supports cheering you on, many of whom were decked out in such hilarious outfits you just couldn't help but laugh!

Anyway, after stopping and getting a snack at our first pit stop we started up the very long hill at Torrey Pines. This hill was pretty killer--the elevation increased steadily for over a mile--but the view was gorgeous. We walked past the famous Torrey Pines golf course before the plateau final leveled off. Soon after leaving the reserve we hit the outskirts of the beautiful city of La Jolla. We skimmed the beautiful beaches and rock formations along the coast of that area until stopping in a beautiful grassy area for an early lunch at about 10:30, just over 11 miles into the day. Once we stopped walking, the breeze off the ocean made it really chilly, since it was a pretty cloudy day. After a rest of 30 minutes or so, we headed back out onto the trail, blowing through some residential areas, small business districts, a couple of cheering stations (which were difficult to distinguish since there were so many people cheering all along the route) and a few quick pit stops during the late morning. We made an extra stop at a hardware store since we forgot a flashlight, and then powered through the last 4 or 5 miles to end up at the beautiful Mission Bay Park at around 1:20 in the afternoon. We felt good about our pace over the 22 mile course that day, given that only 2 people passed us the entire time. We passed a few thousand people and were the 70th and 71st people to come into camp.

After arriving at camp and locating our campsite and gear, we set up our tent and got settled into our temporary home. We milled around camp for a while and checked out the post office tent, the snack tent, the stretching area, the 3-Day store, and the La Croix tent, where a La Croix rep provides these awesome foot massagers for walkers when they're finished, along with lots of different flavored waters. After a good foot massage we headed back to our tent to get our shower stuff and fresh clothes, and then headed off to the mobile shower trucks to enjoy a nice, hot shower!

By the time we were all cleaned up, dinner was being served in the dining tent, and we enjoyed a nice meal of pasta, salad and rolls. When we were done eating we went back to the "lounge" tent, where we watched a little TV, called our families and waved to them on the webcam, and then went by and visited the remembrance tent, where walkers memorialize their loved ones lost to breast cancer. We started getting tired by 7:30 or so, so we headed back to our tent and got ready for bed, and I'm pretty sure we were asleep by 8 or 8:30! It's amazing how tired walking 22 miles in a day will make you! :)

Hopefully soon I'll get finished detailing days 2 and 3, but until then, check out some new pictures I loaded onto my Picasa page that Vikkie recently sent from her camera!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am Depressed

What can I say. Last night was miserably depressing. Our beloved Jayhawks' amazing run came to an end. First, let me just say that I'm still so proud of their storybook season. I'm just so depressed it didn't have a storybook ending!

The bottom line is that we played a Missouri team who I think was more talented and more experienced (by way of a more challenging schedule) than we were, so we needed to play a solid game with no mistakes in order to beat them. We'd gotten off to a slow started in many of our other games this year, but since we were just a better team than most of our opponents, were able to take the extra "warm up" time to get settled down without too much backlash. Not so with the Missouri Tigers. We managed to drive down the field several times in the first half, but with two very costly interceptions in the red zone and two missed field goals, we were lucky to only be down 14-0 at halftime.

I can't help but think that the pressure of this huge game, the unusually large venue and the national TV audience were all contributing factors to the nerves that were likely behindLawrence Journal World Picture these unusual errors by our offense. Reesing has been interception free for so many games, and Webb had only one other game this year where he wasn't totally reliable on field goals. I just can't imagine how nervous they must have been playing in such a huge game with their whole season on the line. Once they got settled down and synced up in the second half, the offense was very productive, like the offense we'd been seeing all year. Todd made some amazing throws, and Meier and Briscoe both had amazing receptions for huge gains at critical moments. Our defense gave up a lot of short passes which added up to a lot of yards throughout the whole game, but we still managed to hold the Mizzou offense to under their 42 points per game scoring average on the season. To me, that was kind of a moral victory, and the fact that we came back from a 21 point deficit and made it a very interesting and exciting game at the end was definitely something of which our boys should be proud. Our Jayhawks played hard and never gave up even when it looked like it might be a blowout.

Really, I have to say that the most frustrating thing about the game was the fact that we played it at Arrowhead stadium. I certainly can't say for sure that we would have won at Memorial Stadium, but I do know that we would have had a much better chance with the home field advantage. The game last night was not even remotely close to a home game. KU had been issued more tickets, but then a huge chunk of the tickets were given to Chiefs ticket holders, a lot of whom likely sold theirs to the highest bidder. The pre-game estimate was that the attendance would be 60-70% KU fans with the rest being Missouri people. This wasn't even close to the case. The breakdown looked to be more like 50/50, and it sounded more like 70/30 in favor of the Tigers. It was so frustrating to be surrounded by so many Missouri fans in what was supposed to be a home game for us! Not only that, but the Missouri fans are just more knowledgeable when it comes to football than KU fans, presumably because they've been better at football for several years, and because they have only one cheer to learn--M-I-Z-(pause)-Z-O-U--which just about drove me crazy last night! I'm sure that not all of the KU season ticket holders from Lawrence game to the game (because of the cold temperature and late hour), which means that there were tens of thousands of KU "fans" there who probably hadn't been to a KU game in years! For example, although the people behind us had their faces painted in crimson and blue, they would not stop their deafening screams every time we were on offense!!! Really? You don't know any better than to be quiet when our quarterback is trying to bark out the plays to his teammates? Really. I can't even tell you how much their football incompetence annoyed me. The Missouri fans were so loud when they were on defense, which made calling audibles very difficult for our quarterback. It certainly didn't help that there were KU morons sitting behind us screaming "Go Jayhawks" and helping the Mizzou efforts, which I'm pretty sure wouldn't have happened had we been at Memorial Stadium. I hope our evil Orc of an A.D. is happy with his greed. Maybe he thinks the cool million our athletics department received to move the game to Arrowhead (in addition to the millions he's already milked from donors through the points system) was worth risking our shot at the Big 12 North title. I, however, do not.

Although we were freezing the entire evening and we were very sad about the outcome of the game, we at least had fun tailgating with some friends beforehand. And just because our Jayhawks are no longer undefeated, that doesn't mean Chad and and I won't be there to support them in whatever bowl game they play at the end of the season. We're in. Who's coming with us? :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I've Never Been So Nervous

We're on our way to KC for the biggest, most important, most hyped football game of our entire life. I can't even explain how nervous we are. A few hours ago, Chad was pretty sure he was going to throw up at some point before kickoff. Right now I'm sweating profusely even though it's freezing outside. I can't handle the pressure!! Everyone please say a prayer for our Jayhawks!! BEAT THOSE EVIL TIGERS!!!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope everyone is finding lots of reasons for thankfulness today. Here are just a few things for which I'm thankful this year:

*I'm thankful that today we were able to have a great meal with some of Chad's family. His mom Joanie hosted Thanksgiving dinner for her three sons and two grandsons and some other family members, so we were able to spend time with Joanie and her husband Rory, Chad's brother Mark and his wife Jen and our nephews, and Chad's brother Jonathan and his girlfriend Molly. Here are just a couple of pictures from the day.

Jonathan and Chad

Quinn and Miles doing "magic" card "tricks"

*I'm thankful that tomorrow we'll get to have another Thanksgiving dinner with my mom, and that Chad's dad, mom and grandma Decker will be coming to visit us on Sunday.

*I'm thankful that I was able to spend a wonderful week in San Diego, participate in an amazing 3-Day event, and spend a day with my brother.

*I'm thankful for my loving husband and best friend who makes me laugh all the time!

*I'm thankful for our wonderful dogs Celtic and Hope, and especially that Hope survived her battle with cancer earlier this year.

*I'm thankful that we have a church that we love, jobs we enjoy and friends that we adore all right here in the wonderful city of Lawrence.

*I'm thankful for our 11-0 Jayhawks, and that in just under 48 hours we'll be watching them play for the Big 12 North title!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Food Stylist?

Since I know I'm not going to finish my story about Day 1 of the 3-Day this evening, I thought I'd quickly share something that I found rather thought provoking instead. Last week I was running a report at work for which I had to query the job title of a bunch of alumni in our database. While double checking my data, I came across a woman on my list with the job title of "Food Stylist." I wracked my brain for a while trying to think of what in the world a food stylist would do. Arrange pictures for a photo shoot? Prepare platters in a fancy restaurant? Was it maybe just a typo? Those were really the only options I could come up with. I Googled the words and found this info about food stylists on a website about prospective careers:

"Food stylists prepare food for trade shows, commercials, movies, & photographs."

So apparently my first guess wasn't such a bad one! Who knew--and who knew food stylists need a bachelor's degree and can earn up to $850 a day and face a lot of competition in their industry?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3-Day: Getting There

I should probably start my 3-Day adventure story with Day 1, but since I can't leave any detail unmentioned, I think I'll actually begin with the events leading up to Day 1. Vikkie and I flew into San Diego on Thursday morning, November 8, on a flight that was supposed to leave at 7:55 a.m. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, and soon after checking our bags we wandered over to our gate and began going through the very minimal security line at KCI. As we were putting on our shoes and waiting for our carry on bags to be scanned, Vikkie starts telling me how she has unknowingly and accidentally, on multiple occasions, carried "illegal" substances and/or items (like tweezers and hand lotion) through security and onto planes. As she was bragging about getting away with her contraband, her body language apparently indicated she was trying to hide something, because the security guard flagged her purse as one that needed a good going through. With his rubber-gloved hands, he started carefully removing each item from the bag, with clear instructions to Vikkie that she wasn't allowed to touch any of her stuff that he set on the table. He found a few liquid items that needed to be "baggied," but after a short time seemed to be getting to the bottom of the contents. Unfortunately, one of the last things he pulled out of Vikkie's purse was (drum roll, please) a pocket knife. Oops. Obviously, she didn't realize it was in there--it was given to her husband Brett at some recent family gathering and then soon passed off to her for safe keeping. Unfortunately, that was the exact reason she couldn't just have the security guard pitch it--because it belonged to Brett's grandfather and had sentimental value! So, Vikkie had to leave the gate and head out to the self mail station so that she could mail the thing home. As I was standing there waiting for her to return, with all of her stuff and my stuff in tow, I heard the flight attendant's voice on the loudspeaker: "If passengers Kim Loochay and Vikkie Wysee would please come to gate 34 immediately, our flight to San Diego will leave on time." Ack!

I ran to the counter to beg the attendant for mercy, telling her that I had to wait for Vikkie because I didn't know if she even had her boarding pass to get on the plane or if it was stuffed away in the bag I was holding. I ran back to the security counter, trying to peer back through the glass outside the gate to see if I could catch Vikkie's eye to let her know I was going to get on the plane and save our seats (ah, I love Southwest). I couldn't see her at all, so I had to just stand there with all our stuff, knowing that a whole bunch of people were waiting on us! A few minutes later Vikkie appeared at the front of the security line, and I passed along her stuff as she put her shoes on and then ran back to the gate to let the flight attendant know she was on her way. Thankfully, the flight wasn't totally full, so we still found two seats together and didn't get too many dirty looks from the passengers who were waiting, who hopefully didn't realize we were the people who were delaying the takeoff.

Ironically, as we approached San Diego I happened to look up at the seats in front of us and noticed that the occupants were holding some 3-Day materials from the website. What are the odds that they were sitting in the row right in front of us!? I suggested that since Vikkie was definitely more outgoing than me, she should introduce us as fellow walkers, which she did by saying "Excuse me, my friend was just eavesdropping and she heard you all were doing the 3-Day as well." Nice. Regardless of her tactics, it was nice to meet some fellow people from KC and be able to see their familiar faces out on the route during the weekend!

Since we gained 2 hours on the way it was still pretty early in the morning when we arrived in San Diego. Although our original plan was to take the train up to our hotel in Encinitas, we ended up calling a shuttle service. We decided that lugging our huge bags onto a bus, then onto a train, then onto another bus to get to our hotel wasn't worth the money we'd save doing so! We made it to our quaint little hotel by 10:30 or so, which was very cute on the outside and looked liked it had been recently remodeled. Our room, however, did not appear as though it had been remodeled in about 40 years. The remote control was about the only thing that looked like it was relatively new. Big is the new small, apparently. Thankfully, it was only for one night, was relatively inexpensive and was fairly clean.

After dumping off our stuff in our room we headed west on foot, since we knew we were within walking distance from the beach. We walked just a couple of blocks uphill until we came to the last street parallel with the coast, where we could see the ocean, but couldn't get to it without cutting through someone's backyard. The houses along this street were kind of interesting, because some were tiny and run down, while others were absolutely gorgeous. We were making wild guesses about how much they must cost, and later confirmed that our guesses weren't too outlandish when we found a home that was for sale: $3.5 million.

After walking a few more blocks to the south we were able to find a beach access area with a switchback path down the steep bluff to the beach. We decided to come back later after finding something to each for lunch. We walked down to the main drag (Highway 101) and walked past lots of shops and restaurants until we found a cute local place where we ate some "Chipotleish" burritos. We asked the restaurant cashier where the downtown area was, hoping to do a little shopping to kill some time during the afternoon. He directed us "about 6 blocks" south, so we started walking. We passed lots of little shops (although the most abundant businesses along the highway were, by far, hair salons and chiropractors, interestingly enough) but never really came to any stretch of stores that felt like a downtown. After walking 8-10 blocks, we finally decided that maybe the Encinitas downtown must not be much to look at, so we headed back west to go to the beach.

As we walked toward the ocean again, we came across so many beautiful flowers and plants that were just so unlike anything we see here in Kansas. How fun it must be to have flowers blooming all year round! Although the day was quite cloudy and chilly, the ocean was still so beautiful. The bluffs that tower over the beach in that area are very scenic, and the vastness of the waterfront just never ceases to amaze me. We had a nice leisurely stroll along the beach for a mile or so until we came back to the public access point we'd passed by earlier in the day. We climbed the bluff back to the road and headed back to our hotel. Although it felt as though we'd already had a very full day, when we got back to our room it was still only around 2:00!

Since we still had several hours before dark, we contemplated taking the train back into San Diego to find something to do, but since the train station was two miles away, we decided that lounging and relaxing would be a better option than walking to and from the station. We watched a little T.V., then headed back out on foot to look for somewhere we could buy magazines or some other relaxing reading material. After checking out a little fruit market next door, we ended up walking at least a half mile to the nearest 7-11 to pick up some water and entertainment. It seems ridiculous that we walked like 5 miles on the day before we were scheduled to start our 60!

We lounged around for another hour or so reading mags and watching the tube, then walked a block or so up the street to a little pizza joint where we each had a big slice for dinner. We picked up some ice cream on the way back to the hotel and proceeded to pig out once we got there, figuring we'd burn most of those calories in the next few days. Although it was only about 8:00 by this time, it felt like 10 to us and we were pretty pooped out since we'd gotten up extra early! We watched a little more TV before hitting the hay around 9, which was great because we had to get up before 5 the next morning to begin our adventure! I'll get to that story very soon!

(Honestly, I have to admit that the sheer length of this post is quite frightening to me. Seriously, how did I manage to take the events of one day, a day that was a precursor to the main event, and turn them into a novel? It's insane. It truly takes detail orientation to a new level. I promise in the future I'll try to be a little more concise!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Who Are You?

I may have mentioned at some point that I have one of those faces that is completely forgettable. It's kind of a running joke with Chad and I, since there were a couple of people at our old church who would regularly introduce themselves to us, even after having met us on multiple (I'm talking like at least 4) occasions. It really got to be quite comical, albeit pretty annoying since we'd gone to church there for 7 years. To be honest, it was actually a contributing factor to us looking for another church--our old one was just so big people became just (unrecognizable) faces in the crowd.

That's really beside the point. The point is that after this afternoon's Thanksgiving luncheon at the KU Alumni Association, where I spend part of my work week, I had one of those very funny "who are you?" moments. Granted, I've only worked at KU Alumni for a year, and granted, I'm only there 3 afternoons a week, but there are barely over 40 people who work at this office and there were less than 40 who actually attended the luncheon. There were 4 tables of people, with only 7-8 people at a table. You'd think you might notice someone who was sitting at the next table over, but apparently not.

So here's the story: after I finished eating lunch I headed back to my office, which happens to be right next to the stairwell to the third floor, where most of the other offices in the building are. As I was sitting at my desk working on my computer, people trailed out of the room where we ate, and many passed by my office on their way upstairs. One of my male co-workers paused at my door and said something to the effect of "Did you know we had Thanksgiving lunch today?" I paused for a second, half thinking he was joking. When I realized he was serious, I replied with, "Uh....I was there." He trailed off as he walked up the stairs, something about not knowing if I'd gotten the announcement. It was pretty awkward and very funny, but I'm so used to it I'm no longer offended. In this guy's defense, although we've been at several of the same meetings/functions, we'd never been introduced formally, so there's no reason he would find my face especially familiar. The irony is, as he was clearing his table after lunch he glanced in my direction, and I remember thinking that he looked like he'd gained some weight since his employee "mugshot" was taken. It's just funny that he seemed to look right at me and then 10 minutes later didn't remember having looked right at me! Oh well. Honestly, I'm not a person who likes to stand out in a crowd, so I guess having a forgettable face isn't really such a bad thing! :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

11-0

I have to put off blogging about my San Diego trip for one more day, because today I can't not talk about our amazing Jayhawks! We witnessed history being made this afternoon, as KU improved their record in football to 11-0 for the first time in history! It wasn't a super exciting game actually, as KU beat the Iowa State Cyclones easily, 45-7. Our offense had a really good day, racking up an amazing 566 total yards. Our defense played really well too, except for the one ISU drive where we gave them several first downs and ultimately 7 points because of multiple penalties against us. In fact, that was really the only problem the whole day. Before today, we had the lowest average number of penalties per game of any team in the NCAA, with only 3.7 per game. In today's game, we had 9 penalties which lost us 98 total yards. Hopefully that's not a problem that continues into next week, because I'm sure we can't afford to lose those yards against Missouri! I'm already so nervous for the game next weekend!!!! As Chad just put it, "It's the biggest game ever for all time for Kansas."

I wish I'd taken my camera to today's game, not because I wanted to capture any game action, but because of the pregame festivities. Today there were actually planes skywriting above Memorial Stadium before the game--they wrote a big KU right in the middle of the sky and I didn't even get a picture! There was also a flyover with some military helicopters, which was kind of neat, but not nearly as cool as the flyover by two F-18 fighters before the KU/Nebraska game two weeks ago! That day I did have my camera, with which I also captured a great picture of the skydivers who came floating onto the field right before the game. It was pretty cool! The funny part was that the crowd was cheering on the skydivers until they noticed that the 2nd or 3rd one had a purple and white parachute. He was booed onto the field by 50,000+ Jayhawk fans, as I don't know if he was really even a Wildcat! It was pretty funny, but not quite as funny as when one of the refs accidentally said "Time out, Kansas State" when KU called a timeout. The crowd went absolutely ballistic! The ref tried to correct himself, but the boos from the crowd were so deafening no one heard him say "Correction--time out, Kansas." KU football fans are taking their games very seriously this year!

All this talk about the fun football festivities in Lawrence is making me even more excited and nervous for the most important football game in KU history next weekend! Rock Chalk, Jayhawks!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Absolutely Amazing!

I arrived home from my trip to San Diego very late Wednesday night, and although I was so excited to talk about my 3-Day adventure, I didn't get a chance to blog last night because we went to the KU basketball game (even though my mind was totally on KU football). This is totally beside the point, but it's a great time to be a KU sports fan!!

Tonight I spent some much needed quality time with my husband, so I don't really have time to start any 3-Day stories now either, but I did manage to at least get my pictures loaded today. As you might guess from the slide show, we had a great time and the walk was incredible! I promise I'll tell more detailed stories later, but for now, I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm On My Way

I really intended to post something about our beloved Jayhawks last night, but yesterday was such a chaotic day as I did all the last minute things you
always have to do before leaving on a trip. I spent the evening packing, so I never even had the chance to post a farewell to all my family and friends until now, as Chad is taking me to the airport. So goodbye for now, friends--I'm off to San Diego. I'll have lots to blog about upon my return next Thursday!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Steelers Football, Part 2

I know everyone has been sitting on pins and needles waiting for me to finish my riveting story about the Steelers game a couple of weeks ago, so I'll attempt to make this worth reading. Actually, I guess when I think about it, there isn't a whole lot left to tell. I'm sure despite the lack of actual important information in this story, I'll find a way to make it take up entirely too much space, being that I always feel the need to include each and every tiny detail!

I mentioned yesterday how amazed I was at the huge number of Steelers fans at the stadium. If my estimate of 20% Pittsburgh fans was correct, that would mean that there were around 15,000 people waving Terrible Towels in the stadium of 76,125 people. This also means that there were around 61,000 Denver fans present, and let me tell you, that many people make a LOT of noise! I've only been to one other NFL game in my life (at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2001), so maybe this much noise is normal, but I was just astounded at how loud the crowd got on 3rd downs! You could certainly hear the 15,000 Steelers fans cheer throughout the stadium, but when those Bronco fans needed to be loud, it felt like the entire stadium was shaking, which was pretty darn freaky when you're in the second row from the top! I tried to capture the intense noise on video:

video


Okay, so it's not exactly the same as being there.

Despite the crazy loud Broncos fans, the Steelers were able to drive down the field and score on their very first drive, which definitely silenced the crowd a bit. The rest of the first half was all Denver, with some costly turnovers by Big Ben leading to 21 unanswered points by the Broncos. In the third quarter, the Steelers were able to score their second touchdown, but they also allowed the Broncos to score, so they were still down by 14. In an amazing fourth period, the Steelers scored two more touchdowns to tie the game with only 1:10 remaining in regulation. Immediately, Chad made the comment that they'd scored too early, leaving too much time on the clock, and he was absolutely right. Denver QB Jay Cutler drove the team right down the field, and future hall of fame kicker Jason Elam booted a 49 yard field goal with one second on the clock to win it. Uff da. Of course, that was my very simple synopsis of the game. For a more professional write up, you can check the Denver Post.

Obviously, even though the outcome wasn't what we'd hoped for, we certainly couldn't deny that the game was exciting--down to the last second! Chad had kind of suspected that the Steelers would lose, since statistically speaking, the team with a bye the previous week usually wins. That made the loss not quite so disappointing for him, and of course, KU's victory the day before helped as well. All in all, it was loads of fun, and the weather didn't even turn out to be that bad despite the snowstorm earlier in the day! There were a few flurries a couple of times during the game, but the wind wasn't blowing very hard at all, which definitely saved us from freezing our tails off.

One highlight of the game (that wasn't actually part of the game at all) was the halftime show. This consisted of about 30 elementary school football players from the local Boys & Girls Club scrimmaging against a bunch of different NFL mascots. It was so funny--it totally reminded me of the Laff-A-Lympics cartoon from my childhood. The little kids were trying so hard to play an organized game of football, and yet the mascots were cheating their tails off in order to win. Some of the mascots were the inflatable type mascots with a person inside, and the funniest thing was Arizona Cardinals "air" mascot that was like 8 feet tall would line up opposite some tiny forth grader and start pecking him in the head over and over again before the ball was hiked. As the mascots' cheating got more blatant, the kids started adding more and more players to the team, until there was at least 30 little kids in full pads running around the field trying to tackle adults in mascot outfits. It was so hilarious, although I'm sure my description just isn't doing it justice! I tried to get a few pictures (which you can view along with all the rest of our pictures from the game) so you could at least get an idea of what I was talking about, but I'm sure it probably looks and sounds pretty lame. You'll just have to take my word for it that we were laughing hysterically! Oh, and because I'm sure you want to know, the little kids ended up winning. :)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Steelers Football

Tonight I'd really like to talk about the most incredible football season KU has ever had, but I think that will have to wait until tomorrow. Although it's been over two weeks since we took our wonderful trip to Colorado and attended the Steelers/Broncos game, I feel like tonight's a fitting night to tell the story, since the Steelers are currently manhandling the Ravens, 38-7. Even though the story is a little untimely, I still want to get the story "on paper" in case I forget someday what a great time we had!

I think we already established that we woke up the Sunday morning of the game to find it was snowing heavily in Denver. While we'd brought along lots of warm clothing for the game, we still weren't thrilled with the idea of sitting at the top of Mile High stadium in a blizzard! In the late morning we went over to our friends' Steve and Becky's house in Golden, where we enjoyed a lovely brunch and some time with their adorable kids. Thankfully, the snow stopped by the time we left Golden in the early afternoon, and the weather even cleared up enough for us to get out and walk a few a miles along the beautiful river hike/bike path near Glass House.

Soon after our afternoon walk, we started putting on all of our layers, preparing for the cold evening of football. We walked over to a nearby restaurant and met Steve and Becky for dinner, and despite the chilly weather, we happened to see a guy riding one of those crazy old-fashioned bicycles with the humongous front wheels (which are apparently called penny-farthings) right by the restaurant window. So completely random. I managed to sort of get a picture of the guy as he passed, but that really has nothing to do with the important events of the evening!

After dinner we started walking the almost 1.5 miles along the river path to Invesco Field at Mile High. Once we started walking and got our bodies warmed up, the cold night (it was about 32 degrees) wasn't too bad at all. When we arrived at the stadium, I was completely shocked at how many Pittsburgh fans where there, completely decked out in their Steelers attire! I had somehow imagined Chad and I being all alone in our black and gold, but my imagination wasn't even close! I'd estimate that 20-25% of the people in the stadium were waving their Terrible Towels! It was crazy!

After we picked up our tickets at will call, we rushed through the sea of people trying to figure out how to get to the nosebleed section, and finally found some crazy steep escalators to take us up to the top. Those of you who know Chad probably know that he's not fond of heights at all, so when this moving staircase came to a lurching halt when we were almost to the top, Chad's eyes just about popped out of his head (okay, I'll admit that my heart kind of stopped too--we were a long way up and there were a lot of people on that thing). Thankfully, the crowds rushed up the final length of stairs and we got to solid ground before further disaster struck!

We got off the escalator and made it to our section, and when I rounded the corner I found that we were somewhere around row 20, but still had to climb to our seats, which were somewhere around row 60--the second to the last row at the top of the stadium! You have never seen stairs as steep as these! I am not kidding when I say that if you slipped on these steps and fell, you'd go tumbling down flights and flights of steps because of the crazy angle. When we got to the top, I turned to Chad and said "I'm not even scared of heights and this is freaking me out!" Being that he is scared of heights, he didn't appreciate that too much!

Although the climb and view down was a bit unnerving, the view of the mountains from the top was gorgeous!!! We were so high up it felt like our heads were in the clouds--it was absolutely breathtaking. Since it was almost dark the pictures didn't turn out that great, but hopefully you can at least get an idea of the kind of view we had!

With our arrival at the top, I'll have to end the story for this evening. I'm tired, and I definitely can't afford to lose any sleep this week--I have a big weekend coming up! Hopefully I can tell the story of the actual game tomorrow!


Friday, November 02, 2007

The Disastertation Party

Tonight we're getting ready to head to a "disastertation party." The name came from the hosts, our friends Jake and Amber, who are both PhD students at KU and are currently working on their dissertations, which they very cleverly refer to as their "disastertations. " The email invite we received last week was just too hilarious not to share. It came under the subject "Friend Abuse/Pizza Party" and read as follows:

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As many of you know my “disastertation” involves sending out approximately 3,000 surveys to small businesses across the country. Well, the time has finally come to send out these surveys, but before that can happen I need to fold, stuff, seal and stamp all 3,000 of them. If I do all of this work myself my projected completion date is somewhere around 2011, which is where you come in! Next Friday night (November 2nd) at about 7:00 Amber and I will be hosting a little survey stuffing “party” and you (and your spouses) are invited! Don’t you feel honored? :)

We will be providing pizza, beer, and possibly a few other culinary delights. It is my sincere hope that you all have made better plans already*, but if not I would really, really, really, really, really, appreciate your help. In addition to the pizza and beer the other benefits that you may receive from helping are:

1) As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself”**.

2) I will be prepared to take as much pre-abuse as the KU fans want to dish out before the nearly assured throttling of NU by KU***

3) I will owe each of you a major “solid” that can be repaid in many forms from pet-sitting to household projects or even serving as a proxy at family gatherings or office parties that you don’t want to attend yourself.

4) Your help will ensure that I graduate in May and then you won’t have to deal with such requests any more!

Thanks,

Jake

*Or at least are able to do so in a reasonable amount of time before you have to reply to this e-mail
**No, I’m not that well read I think I heard it on a commercial while listening to sports talk radio earlier this week
***This is solely the view of the author, other Husker fans in attendance may want to fight back

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With an invite that entertaining, how can we not want attend this fabulous event!? Even though we'll be busy stuffing envelopes, I'm sure we'll still have a great time hanging out with our friends. Of course, I'm also a sucker for free food. :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

And The Winner (sort of) Is...

Last week my friends and readers were kind enough to help me decide on a logo for our 3-Day team. My poll actually had 29 whole votes, although I will admit that I did request votes from a handful of friends who I know aren't normal readers of my blog. It was kind of a landslide, as the voters overwhelmingly chose my first attempt at a logo, which was this:


What I just couldn't come to grips with was that this graphic wasn't the most symmetrical of the three. I just like things balanced! The asymmetry was driving me crazy, so at lunch on the day of the voting, I moved the letters around to be like option #2, which was similar but had the word "for" in between the two jugs. I felt good about the decision when my friends Erin and Amanda both made that exact suggestion later in the day!

Later in the week, I took the modified version of the above image and ironed it onto a white t-shirt. The result wasn't so hot. The image resolution was really poor, plus the white on white just looked kind of weird. In order to change the resolution I had to start over from scratch, basically starting my "artwork" on a bigger canvas. My plan was to try to recreate the same image in a bigger size, and then put it on a colored background, which I set out to do earlier this week.

While I made every attempt at getting the new image to look like the original, since I didn't really remember the techniques I'd used to create the first logo, I wasn't able to reproduce it exactly. The biggest difference is the Jayhawk himself. In the new version he turned out entirely pink--beak and all! I didn't really realize it until I was pretty far into the process, and frankly, I was just too lazy to change it! I guess pink is the color of breast cancer awareness...

After adding the colored background to help the visibility of the whole logo, it looked very little like the image everyone voted for, but I guess that's what happens when you're a not-so-experienced graphic designer! Regardless, here's the final product:

Once I ironed it onto a t-shirt, it looked like this:


I can't help but notice that the whole logo/model/pose looks remarkably similar to my first attempt at designing a t-shirt back in August. Oh well. I guess since the overall themes of the two events (saving boobs from breast cancer) were similar, my lack of creativity is excusable.

Thanks to every who voted last week! I totally appreciate your input, even though the final product wasn't exactly like your favorite! :)