Thursday, January 31, 2008

President Picker

I totally meant to include this information in the other night's blog post about the upcoming caucuses and just forgot. During the last presidential election I used website called presidentmatch.com (now defunct) to figure out how my own views on important issues lined up with those views of the candidates. While I might not be the most politically savvy person in the world (or even in my own household), I still want to make an informed decision when I vote.

So this year I searched for similar websites to help me figure out which candidates I agreed with on important issues. I take these surveys with a grain of salt, mind you--even if I agreed with a candidate 100% I most certainly wouldn't vote for them if I thought he or she was a generally deplorable person. Regardless, I still think this kind of quiz can be helpful and informative. Here are a few links I found:

Candidate Match Game
(from USA Today)

Choose Your Candidate

(from the Washington Post)

Match-O-Matic

(from ABC News)

Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz for 2008

(from GoToQuiz.com)

2008 Presidential Candidate Selector
(from SelectSmart.com)

Glassbooth Election 2008
(from Glassbooth.org)

Select a Candidate 2008
(from a Quad Cities TV station in Illinois)

If I kept searching, I could probably find loads more of these types of surveys, but I think these will probably suffice. They each only take about 5 minutes to fill out, so for a mere 35 minutes of your time you can become a much more informed voter!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Streaks Are Over

I'm so depressed. The basketball season was going so beautifully. I have to admit, at 20-0 on the year, we were looking so invincible that I was completely overconfident that we would win tonight's game. I hadn't really watched K-State play this year, and I was expecting to see the same KSU team that had lost every year in Manhattan since I was 11 years old. I guess the streak had to come to an end at some point, but to have two streaks end at the same time just makes the loss that much more painful. I'll definitely be in mourning for at least the next 20 hours.

You can read the whole story from the Lawrence Journal-World here, but it's probably not even worth your time. The bottom line is that we played poorly, the officiating was terrible, and K-State was amazingly good. That pretty much sums it up.

The good news: it's January and not March. A loss now may bring about mild depression, but a loss in two months will bring me to tears!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sudden Snowstorm

I know I've been blogging a ton about the weather lately, but the last three days have just been so meteorologically bizarre here in Lawrence I have to share. Saturday the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I took the 3 pups on a nice long 4 mile walk for the first time in months, wearing nothing but a sweatshirt. Sunday was also quite mild, and then yesterday we hit a near record high of 60 degrees.

By yesterday evening, you could tell there was a storm on the way. The temp was supposed to be in the mid 20s throughout the day and then drop significantly in the evening, but early in the morning the wind began to howl and snow began blowing sideways. By lunchtime, this was what the backyard looked like at our house.

video

If you look closely, you might be able to tell that flakes are flying horizontally from the 30 mph gusts of wind. There were 40 mph gusts earlier in the morning, plus our backyard is fairly secluded with the fence and houses all around, so you really can't get a feel for how crazy cold and windy it was. I kept the camera in my pocket when I went back to work, where the gusts were a little more visible with all of the blowing snow.

video

Hopefully you're not too nauseated from my shaky photography. :) I don't do a good job walking and filming at the same time, obviously. I'm sure my coworkers who were looking out their windows on that side of the building thought I had completely lost my mind, but I just love the idea that a few years from now I can look back on my blog and say, "Oh yeah, I remember that day back in '08 when the wind was blowing snow tornadoes all over the parking lot!"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Politics, Not As Usual

Obviously the upcoming presidential election is dominating the news these days. Personally, I don't really enjoy politics. First of all, I hate to listen to people debate (argue)--either on t.v. or in person. Secondly, I feel like most political candidates are usually just telling people what they want to hear, rather than being completely honest. For me, elections often feel like trying to pick the lesser of two evils.

So despite the fact that I'm by no means a political junkie, my friend Emily sent me some information the other day that I thought was pretty important and interesting. This year in Kansas, for the first time we actually have a voice in which candidate will get the presidential nomination, which I think is actually kind of exciting!

The Kansas Democratic Party caucus will be held on Super Tuesday, February 5. On the special caucus website you can find out the exact location of your caucus (based on your Senate and Congressional districts) and what exactly happens at the caucus, along with lots more information. Even you're not a registered Democrat you can go to the caucus and change your political affiliation at the door.

The Kansas GOP Caucus will be held on Saturday, February 9. In order to participate in the Republican party caucus, participants must be registered as a Republican by January 25, 2008, so if you're not already a party registrant then you're out of luck on this one. For more information about the caucus visit www.ksgopcaucus.org. Their website isn't quite as informative, but you can at least find out where the Republican Party caucus for your county will be located.

Even though it doesn't necessarily sound like a barrel of monkeys to me, it does sound like a great way to get involved!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fun With Photos

I saw a picture online today that gave me the strange urge to have some creative fun with Photoshop. I love all the filters you can put on pictures to make crazy effects. For lack of something more interesting to talk about, I thought I'd share some of my fun creations!

Chad and I in "plastic wrap"

Chad and the dogs in some sort of artistic brush stroke called "sumi-e" whatever that means

Eric and I looking like cartoons with the "cutout" filter

A "photocopy" of Eric and me


You can tell I'm easily entertained!! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Freakin' Cold

Late last night when I let the dogs out, the temperature here was like 5 degrees, which meant that the wind chill was at least 5 below. The wind was blowing so hard yesterday evening our whole house was whistling. This morning as I drove to work, the bank clock showed a big fat goose egg--zero degrees--but thankfully the wind had died down overnight so it probably only felt like zero instead of 10 below. How sad is it when you're thankful for zero degrees!? I know I'm always talking about how much I love the snow, but the bitter freezing cold is a whole other story and I have to say I'm quite tired of it!

So yesterday over the lunch hour the empty gas light in my car came on, and of course I ignored it, as I've often been known to do. On the way home from work, with the wind howling the way it was, I wasn't about to stop and get out of my car until I was safe in the confines of my own garage. This morning, gas was again a no-go; per my previous remark, it was ZERO. I almost put it off until tomorrow when it's supposed to be a little warmer, and then heading home for lunch today I finally broke down and filled up. I decided that getting out of the car to stand for a few minutes in the cold would be better than getting out of the car to walk in the cold when I ran out of gas!

I still wish I could have held out one more day to get gas, since filling up when it was 12 degrees today at lunch wasn't exactly ideal. Tomorrow we're supposed to have a high of 39!! It's going to feel like a heat wave! :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fresco's Photo Session

I've kind of been slacking on the old blog posts the last few days, and I really don't have an excuse since I had the entire day off on Monday for MLK Day. I was kind of a sloth and slept way in that morning, but in my defense, I spent several hours of my afternoon volunteering at the humane society, taking pictures and videos of the adoptable dogs in the freezing cold. That was probably kind of a silly way to spend my vacation day, but then again I don't really claim to be normal.

Speaking of adoptable dogs, I wanted to share some new pictures of our sweet little boy Fresco. I've been snapping shots of him like crazy in the 11 days since he's been home, trying to capture his loving and snuggly personality. I can't even begin to describe how great he's been doing since he got here. He has matured so much in the last few months I can hardly believe it, but then again, I guess maybe he's been through so many traumatic changes lately he's been forced to grow up rather quickly!

The biggest change we've seen in Fresco's behavior is with regard to his interaction with Hope. When he was here last fall, all he wanted to do was wrestle with his foster sister. These days, she tries and tries to get him to wrestle, but all he does is run away from her! I don't exactly know why, but he wants no part of Hope's advances. I feel kind of bad that he won't wrestle since they had so much fun and got such good exercise in their previous matches, but it's also very nice that we're not having to send them outside all the time since it's freezing cold!

Fresco's been doing so well in so many other areas too. He's had no accidents in the house even though for the last month he'd been having to potty in his kennel at the shelter. He's had no "arguments" with either of the dogs over toys or food, in fact, when I took this picture tonight it was the first time he'd even played with any toys. Hope has even been trying to instigate fights with him by throwing her toys all over the floor in front of him and playing with them, but he won't even pick one up in front of her. It's so weird. He's doing well on his basic commands: sit and shake (which we worked on last time he was here), stay and come (which he worked on with his most recent family), lay down and off (which he's been working on this week). He's been a perfect little gentleman except for the couple of times I've caught him "pre-washing" dirty dishes I've left in the sink. He's so tall he can just put his paws up and lean right into the sink to lick them, and his amazingly sensitive nose just can't seem to resist doing so when no one is around!

It's so weird that he's so much better behaved than he was before. My theories are that a) the vet who came to do a neurological assessment of him at the trainer's suggestion (Dr. King) is actually a pet communicator too, and she told him he'd better be on his best behavior in his new home or else (okay, I'll admit that's really far-fetched), or b) he finally associated his bad behavior with "the slammer" and is on his best behavior so he doesn't have to go back, or c) he's just matured a lot in the last few months, or d) he's just tired after a month of spinning around and jumping around in his kennel at the shelter and sleeping in his own poop (which is Chad's theory). Who knows, maybe it's just a combination of factors. Regardless, we are so thankful for his good behavior and so happy to have him here!

I still need to convince the shelter director and trainer that he is an adoptable dog, since the trainer's opinion is that he would need years of professional training before being able to go to a new permanent home. That's like a running joke with us--every time he's snuggled up and laying in our laps we have to laugh about how "unadoptable" he is. He will be so perfect for someone who can shower him with the attention that he craves, and who has no other dogs of whom he will start getting jealous! First in my arsenal of evidence for his "adoptability" is his new photo album, which has pictures from his first stay with us last fall and new ones from his current visit. Check out what a handsome boy he is!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Disney Dynasty

I feel the need to expound (vent) a bit on our visit to Epcot. I had been to Epcot (and Disney World) with my family when I was about 13--the summer after 8th grade, I think. Despite the fact that I was past the age at which you might think Disney related activities would be enjoyable, I remember loving Epcot. I loved the World Showcase side of the park where you were able to visit a miniature version of so many different countries. You could see the native architecture, purchase their wares, eat their food, and be entertained with the music and dance of their culture by various street performers. While all of the World Showcase is still at Epcot, and while I still enjoyed it, I have to admit that it's become more like one big gift shop. Each "country" was mostly just a couple of restaurants and about 5 little shops full of knick-knacks. The educational displays in some countries didn't look like they'd been updated or spruced up in the 22 years since I was there the last time. Some of the the countries had an "attraction," like the "viking boat voyage" in Norway, and then a few others had a short "Circle-Vision 360 degree" film (we didn't actually see any of those), but most of it just seemed like shops encouraging to you spend more money. Granted, Chad and I were functioning on 4 hours of sleep and it was late in the day, so maybe if we'd been more rested and awake it would have been a little more enjoyable!

The other side of Epcot, called Future World, was so fascinating when I was a kid. I remember feeling like I'd learned so much--like my eyes had been opened to worlds I'd never dreamed of. Let's just say that now, Future World isn't quite as futuristic as it was 22 years ago. The "Innoventions" attractions were especially suspect, consisting of some sort of robot building activity for kids and some run-down gadgets that clearly hadn't been updated in a really long time. The "Spaceship Earth" exhibits were pretty much just a bunch of video games sponsored by Siemens, with another section that said it was closed until February 2008, even though it was opened by the end of the day. There were a few of the major attractions in Future World which had been updated, such as the "Universe of Energy," hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, which might have been more interesting and educational if we hadn't been so darn tired--Chad and I both dozed off during the 45 minute movie!

One of the most disappointing updates of the old attractions to me was what is now the "Finding Nemo" ride. It used to be this amazing and educational ride through "The Living Seas" that made me want to be a marine biologist. Now you basically stand in line for an hour to watch a long trailer for the movie while riding in a clam. That wasn't the only part of the park that felt like an advertisement either. Every single exhibit was sponsored by some huge corporation: Nestle, General Motors, Hewlett Packard, etc. The "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" 3-D film was quite cute and entertaining, but in the waiting area before the movie you were subjected to a 30 minute commercial for Kodak. Even the hand washing tips in the rest rooms were "brought to you by Brawny"! As if Disney doesn't make enough money on their own? They need other companies to pay them to make ends meet? It was really kind of annoying.

There were actually a few really cool, newer attractions at Epcot, but unfortunately the lines were so insanely long for these we were only able to ride one! They have these special tickets for the most popular rides called "Fast Passes" which get you into a priority line so that you don't have to wait as long, because they issue just a certain number of them for each hour of the day. It sounds like a great plan, but unfortunately we didn't realize how quickly they'd been gone. We picked up our first one just after noon (about an hour after we got there), but then weren't eligible for another Fast Pass until 2 p.m. When we went back to the "Test Track" racing ride that we were hoping to get on, all of the Fast Passes for the entire day had already been given out. We went to the other big rides to find the same problem, with the regular lines being 2-3 hours long. Clearly we didn't have the patience for that! The one I really would have loved to do was the hang-gliding simulating movie/ride called "Soarin'." The only cool one we did get to do was the "Mission: SPACE" adventure that simulated us blasting off in a rocket (experiencing some serious g-forces) and then landing on the surface of Mars. It was really fun, and because we had a Fast Pass for the attraction, we only had to wait in line about 30 minutes!

All in all, I guess I'm glad we actually went to Epcot, even though it wasn't really our cup of tea. It would have been way worse had the Disney Dynasty been our only destination in Florida. At least we didn't plan an entire vacation around a bunch of theme parks we ended up not liking!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Man Cold

My friend Gina sent this to me just a little while ago. I could not stop laughing. I think it's a keeper!



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Epcrap and the HoJo from Hell

I mentioned the other day that aside from the wonderful Orange Bowl experience, our trip to Florida wasn't exactly ideal. In fact, had it not been for the KU win in the big game, it would have been a complete disaster of a vacation. So many things went wrong it was actually laughable, and thankfully most of the time we did laugh because there wasn't much else we could do!

Since we all know I tend to be long-winded, and since this post is already fairly untimely since the trip happened almost two weeks ago, I'm going to try a more concise and organized outline format to save time and spare us all some unnecessary blathering. So, here were the few hits and mostly misses of our trip:

Hit #1:
AirTran flight goes well. No delays, professional staff, luggage arrives. Snack leaves much to be desired, but funny self-deprecating humor about said snack on side of pretzel package makes up for lack of food.

Miss #1:
Forget that we're flying over the lunch hour and therefore forget to eat early lunch or snack before boarding. As friends know, hubby gets super cranky on empty stomach, exacerbating trials to come.

Miss #2:
Land in Orlando, head straight to luggage pickup and call shuttle service to off-site Advantage rent-a-car location. Tell Advantage we need shuttle. Receive dead air in response. Call back and request shuttle again; receive 2nd hang up. Chad calls back and requests shuttle; receives 3rd hang up. On 4th call they indicate shuttle is coming and where we should wait.

Miss #3:
Wait 20 minutes. Call back after 20 Enterprise shuttles & 15 Hertz shuttles pass by. After two more hang ups, told shuttle is delayed but on its way.

Miss #4:
Wait some more. Call back after 20 more minutes. Are told we probably just aren't looking for the right van. Chad cries"bull" and gets another hang up. Calls back to no answer. I call back to no answer. As I walk to other rental car counter, Chad calls to say shuttle arrived.

Hit #2:
Arrive at Advantage location and infuriated husband immediately speaks with manager. Manager is kind; takes 10% off bill and gives us upgrade, although claims that hang up calls were not routed through their location--lie.

Miss #5:
Upgrade turns out to be 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible--not very cool or practical and impossible to use because it's 50 degrees outside. Wait another 10 minutes for car to be brought up from lot; receive snide comment from woman at counter saying we'll only have to wait another hour. Confirms suspicion that she was hanger-upper from previous conversations.

Miss #6:
Because of rental car fiasco and bad directions from rental car company, don't make dinner date with friends in Miami. During drive south, don't even see ocean even though drive is right along coast. Trees block view. :(

Miss #7:
Stop for lunch/dinner half way to Miami. Return to car; hit keyless entry remote and nothing happens. Unlock car with key, which sets of car alarm.

Miss #8:
Trying to find interior light in convertible, Chad accidentally hits button to put top down. Tries to put top back up, but procedure won't finish before going down completely. Get's stuck halfway because luggage in trunk is blocking roof apparatus. Thought of driving to Miami with top half down makes us laugh and horrifies at same time. Thankfully, top eventually returns and locks in up position.

Miss #9:
Arrive at Howard Johnson. Rude staff directs us to room 222, which has sign on door that says "Meeting Room." Upon entering, we find 6 person conference table and bed which folds down from wall, along with TV that doesn't work well or even face bed. Chad calls to explain that room is not acceptable; is told to "calm down" by rude person at front desk.

Miss #10:
Retrieve keys for new room, one of which does not work. New room is well decorated and clean, although deadbolt and security chain are both broken. Maintenance is gone for night and no one can fix. Heat does not work so spend first night freezing since temp is way below normal.

Miss #11:
Call Advantage to request exchange of car at Miami location. Are told they don't have a Miami location. They offer suggestion of going by Chrysler dealership to see if remote can be reprogrammed. Instead we set off alarm every time car is entered for entire trip. Embarrassment abounds.

Miss #12:
Continental breakfast at HoJo is horrible. International travelers steal our seats. Maintenance staff comes and fixes locks, interrupting our morning for at least an hour. Chad gets key card reprogrammed; still doesn't work. Asks to have staff come unlock room safe for use; safe does not work because battery is dead. Thankfully, hubby realizes this before putting valuables inside.

Miss #13:
Attempt lunch at Daisy Dukes Saloon, official headquarters of KU alumni for weekend. Building is so crowded we can hardly move. Are told wait will be "a really long time." Choose to look for another restaurant.

Hit #3:
Spot interesting restaurant for lunch called Bahama Breeze; think it's local so we stop. Turns out to be a chain, but still have a wonderful meal!!

Miss #14:
Trip to beach is dismal and cold. Try to take drive along ocean but can't see ocean through all tall hotels along beach.

Hit #4:
Orange Bowl victory! The only hit that matters. Can't even call off and on rain during game "miss" because game was go great!

Hit #5:
Have good parking spot so don't sit in traffic for long leaving game. Talk to friends later who sat in traffic for hours afterwards.

Miss #15:
Leave stadium at 12:30 a.m. Can't find open restaurant to get bite; end up at McDonald's drive through, though do enjoy fruit & walnut salad. :)

Miss #16:
Arrive back at HoJo after 1 a.m. Thursday night dance party going on in restaurant area. Elevators are broken. Use scary stairwell to go to 6th floor. Neither key card works in door. Walk back down 4 flights to find courtesy phone and call front desk. Climb back up stairs and sit outside room in dirty hallway to wait for staff. Staff comes to open door; lets us in w/out checking ID, card, anything. Very alarming. Finally in room, can still hear dance party 5 floors below, while trying to sleep at 2 a.m.

Miss #17:
Awake at 6 a.m.; pack up and drive to Orlando. Arrive at Epcot about 11 a.m. and proceed to spend the majority of our day standing in line, being bombarded with corporate sponsorships (I could seriously write an entire blog on this topic alone) and being cold. Hubby starts calling the park Epcrap.

Hit #6:
Leave Epcot to go find better place to eat not involving giving money to Disney. Find great restaurant called Kool's Oak Fire Grill and have amazing seafood. Rest of the area looks like Branson.

Miss #18:
Find resort from hotels.com reservations. Arrive at gate and are told reservation can't be found. Call hotels.com, who confirms reservation again and gives us person to call. Confusion came because resort also owns motel across street, where our room was.

Miss #19:
Awake at 5 a.m. next morning to prepare for flight home. Set off car alarm (as always) at 6 a.m. right outside our room.

Hit #7:
Arrive at rental car location, drop off car and catch first available shuttle back to airport.

Miss #20:
Stand in Sky Cap line outside airport for 15 minutes until they determine computers are down.

Hit #8:
Stand in Air Tran line for 30 minutes. Hardly any line at security; pass through quickly. Arrive at gate with hour+ to spare before flight. Flight home is smooth and arrives on time.

So there are all of the hits and misses of our trip in a nutshell--a very large nutshell. The moral of the story is: you get what you pay for! Never again will we stay in a HoJo or rent a car from Advantage!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dirty Pictures

Since tonight I didn't finish the blog post that I actually started today (once again), I thought I'd instead share something a coworker emailed me a few months ago. Being that I have no artistic ability whatsoever, I think this is absolutely amazing. This artist named Scott Wade does incredibly detailed artwork on the back of his filthy car. You can check out some great photos of his work on his website!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Three Dog Night

Tonight there is an extra puppy in our bedroom. Not a new dog or a visiting canine friend, but a more familiar furry face to our family. Today marked the return of our former foster dog Fresco, who we are fostering once again. Early last month, Fresco was taken back to the shelter after his second failed adoption. Initially, we were reluctant to bring him home again, thinking maybe the best option would be for him to be at the shelter, where the trainer there could work with him on some of his behavioral problems. Unfortunately, during the last month he hasn't gotten nearly the attention and exercise at the shelter that he needed. He became more and more agitated and hyper in his kennel, to the point that the trainer thought he was crazy and the director thought he was unadoptable. They wanted to put him down (again), so I begged my husband and begged the director at the shelter, who both agreed that we could foster him again and give him one more chance for a successful adoption.

So far, his first day back has been a good one. He's been very well behaved, calm and loving--everything we know he can be.


I think our boy is happy to be home. :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Holy cow. I probably would have fallen asleep by now if it weren't for Chad's Blackberry. We're sitting at a work related event (Chad won't let me mention names)which involves lots of awards, speeches, speakers and motivational talks. I can't even begin to explain how boring it is. The keynote speaker is blathering on about milkshakes in Baltimore--seriously, I have no idea what he's talking about. The guy in front of us is one of those loud talkers who keeps making comments about the speech so that everyone around can hear. I couldn't be much more bored and annoyed.

Chad is getting irritated with me because I'm not paying attention.He's telling me I need to look up once in a while to at least pretend like I'm listening to the speaker. Really, I think he's just jealous because I've got the Blackberry and he doesn't!:)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In Your Face

I meant to post this right after my brother sent it to me, which was right after KU was selected to go to the Orange Bowl and Missouri got stuck picking cotton. You've probably already seen it by now because I think it's been all over the Internets at this point. I'm going to pretend that it's still relevant since the Orange Bowl was just one week ago today.


This isn't nearly as funny if you've never seen Good Will Hunting (which, sadly, I haven't...I know, I know, it's a great movie and I really should see it), so if you have no frame of reference like me (and like Donny, for you Lebowski lovers) you can watch the scene on YouTube here (kid's beware of the language!). Regardless, what you probably didn't know about this image is that the creative person who actually doctored it to reflect Jayhawks vs. Tigers was my brother's friend Seth. Seth is a Lawrence native who also went to KU, and in addition to having Photoshop talents he is also an accomplished director. You can read all about him in this article from the Lawrence Journal-World. So there's something you probably didn't know, unless you're my brother, which you're probably not. How you like them apples?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Orange Bowl Breakdown

I'm guessing that anyone who actually cared about the outcome of the Orange Bowl already watched the Orange Bowl, so it seems a little silly to provide a play-by-play here on my blog. However, since this blog is partially my own personal journal (made public to the world), I want record my favorite highlights so that years later I can go back and read this and remember my own view of this history-making game and how much fun we had being there!

We actually went to the stadium about 3 hours before the game, planning to meet some friends at the Budweiser tailgate party, where they had live music, food, drinks, games and other random entertainment. The cover charge was $20 a person, but in a lucky turn of events Chad and I walked through what we thought was the entrance, only to find there was no one there to take our money. We finally decided that they must not be charging anything since it was relatively close to game time (it had actually started at like 11 that morning). We later realized that we had just missed the actual entrance and accidentally walked through a random break in the fencing! Our lucky mistake saved us $40 and we were still able to hang out with our friends Robyn and Dan during the pregame. The weather was chilly and it sprinkled off and on, but I had about 6 layers of clothing on so it was actually tolerable being outside!

We headed into the stadium at least 30 minutes before kickoff and watched the team warm up a little and just absorbed the general excitement of the atmosphere. Our seats were in the 6th row, but they were actually looking straight down the goal line, so the view of the entire field wasn't really very good. The stadium never filled up entirely, so we probably could have moved to better seats, but it was kind of fun being that close, plus we were sitting with some friends from Lawrence. The other fun part about being so close to the field is that I really felt like we contributed when it came to making noise on defense! Those of you who know me may or may not know that I can whistle really wicked loud. I'd like to think that I personally threw the Virginia Tech offense off track on a couple of occasions with my piercing shriek of a birdcall. ;)

One of the other cool things about being so close to the end zone was that the Fox Sports pregame show was going on practically right in front of us. Not that we're huge fans of Jimmy Johnson or Chris Rose, but it's always kind of fun to see famous and semi-famous people in person. They were joined by John Riggins, who was one of KU's best running backs ever. In the picture to the left you can see the Fox Sports set just a few rows down from where Chad was standing. Another thing that signaled that this game was totally "big time" was the blimp overhead. None of my pictures of the blimp turned out at all, but it was really cool because not only did it have text ads scrolling on the side, but also an occasional video ad which was somehow projected on its walls as well. It was amazing to see a video screen that was visible so far up in the air!

As the we neared kickoff the seats began to fill up a little more, and thousands of KU fans spread out through our half of the stadium. The two sides were separated pretty nicely, so that there weren't a lot of Virginia Tech fans in our area and vice versa. Even though they weren't rude and obnoxious and drunk and disorderly fans like those we encountered at the Missouri game, I still didn't really want them sitting near us!

The first quarter of the game was obviously pretty thrilling, as our amazing defense had two huge sacks on the Hokie's very first drive. We drove down the field pretty well in our first drive, but then Scott Webb missed the field goal at the end. He's never done very well with field goals when he doesn't get to warm up with a PAT first, so I wasn't entirely surprised. It was obviously hugely disappointing, especially because in person it appeared to be a pretty easy chip shot. As I looked at the stats after the game though, it was actually a 44 yard attempt, so it's not like it was an automatic "make"! Thankfully, our disappointment about the missed kick was quickly squelched by Aqib Talib's interception and 60 yard return for a touchdown. After the touchdown, Chad looked at our friend Terry and said, "That's it--he's definitely going pro now!" Chad was absolutely right about that!

I think that KU scoring first was pretty huge in the sense that it got the crowd so fired up. The KU fans did a great job getting loud and crazy. Unlike the Missouri game, it appeared that loyal traveling Jayhawks actually know when to cheer and when to be quiet!

KU's defense continued to play tough and registered another sack on the ensuing drive, forcing Tech to to attempt and miss a 49 yard field goal. Our next offensive drive stalled out, which brought out our punter Kyle Tucker for the first time of the night, who really had a huge game with some amazingly big (and uncharacteristicly consistent) punts! On the next V. Tech possession, KU had another sack and another interception which lead to an eventual 32 yard field goal from Scott Webb. Like I said, he seems to do much better after having a made extra point under his belt!

After our defense stopped Virginia Tech once again, our offense came out and drove right down the field with a few key plays from our fellow Salina Central Mustang Jake Sharp. After converting fourth-and-one, Todd Reesing knocked down a bad snap that bounced right back up into his hands. When he avoided the sack and completed a 14 yard pass, my gut immediately told me we would win the game. You can't make a play like that without having a little bit of luck on your side! We scored a few plays later on a pass from Todd to Marcus "the mute" Henry (one of Henry's teammates introduced him that way earlier in the year, and my friend Heather confirmed that he was the quietest person she'd ever met when he came to a party at their house [his girlfriend works at Heather's school] and didn't say more than one word the entire evening!).

On the next drive the defense was unable to stop the VT running back from scoring, which made it 17-7. Thankfully for us, this star player had been suspended the entire first quarter for missing a team meeting or something. On our last possession of the half, we didn't even attempt a hail Mary or anything daring and instead just ran out the clock, which was kind of lame and boring, but we were still very thankful to go into halftime with a 10 point lead. Although it was a very exciting first half, I was glad for a chaotic halftime show to distract me from my nerves, which were telling me that the second half wasn't going to be as easy as the first half had been! The halftime show consisted of a song--yes, I said a song--from ZZ Top. It was cool too see them live and I really liked Sharp Dressed Man, but seriously, one song?? You put up this huge stage and shoot this big intro video and enlist about a gazillon high school girls to dance and then play ONE song? Really, ZZ Top? Really.

The second half was obviously more exciting, but unfortunately in stressful sort of way! Our first drive of the quarter went nowhere, and then VT ran our punt all the way back for an 84 yard touchdown. We went three-and-out on our next drive, but thanks to a huge 62 yard punt by Kyle the Hokies had poor field position. Unfortunately, they drove right down the field anyway, thanks in part to a pass interference penalty on us. It felt like our luck had run out when their QB threw up a jump ball right in front of us, which got batted around and ended up laying on their receiver's leg and getting picked up by their tight end in a "look what I found" situation. Since we didn't have the luxury of a replay, it looked like the ref just made a terrible call. Chad emailed our friend Bill and asked if it was actually a catch. Bill's response: "Unfortunately it was. We're leaking oil." Things did seem to be completely falling apart for us! Thankfully, Joe Mortensen made possibly the most important play of the day when he jumped up to block the VT field goal attempt that would have tied the game!

Both offenses punted on their next drives, and then in another huge play of the day KU set up to punt on 4th-and-10 right at mid field. They faked the punt and RB Brandon McAnderson threw a (not very good) pass to a sophomore WR named Micah Brown who I don't remember catching a pass all season. He was so freaking wide open it was awesome! Todd completed the next pass to bring us inside the five yard line, but then on the next carry Brandon fumbled, which we couldn't really see at all because it was on the opposite end of the stadium. The next thing we knew we'd gotten a penalty, but we never really knew what had happened. Apparently the guy who recovered the fumble got a personal foul for 15 yards. Then there was a holding penalty and Reesing threw an interception, which would indicate that our oil leak hadn't exactly stopped!

Thankfully, the Hokies ended up having to punt, but then we went 3-and-out and punted as well. Another big punt by Tucker pinned them back inside their 10, and then Justin Thorton picked off a VT pass and ran it back to the 2 yard line! Todd scored the touchdown fairly easily, putting us back up by 10 in the 4th quarter. There was still a lot of time left (like 11 minutes), but when V. Tech's drive was cut short by a Mike Rivera sack, I was so excited and screamed so loud I thought I'd hemorrhaged my vocal cords! It felt like my throat was bleeding!

Brandon had a big 28 yard run on the next drive with lots of shorter carries by Jake, and we drove all the way down the field before KU was stopped at the 21. On fourth down, we chose to go for the touchdown instead of having Scott kick another field goal, since Scott's not always consistent from that distance. I think he would have made it, since he'd warmed up with several extra points, but there was also a good chance we could have scored a TD. Unfortunately we didn't, which left the door open just a crack for the Hokies. They drove right down the field and scored with just 3 minutes left in the game.

We knew all we needed was to work the clock and get a couple of first downs and the game would be over, but I was still so nervous that someone would fumble in that short amount of time! Thankfully, we recovered the on-side kick and had great field position. Todd threw a pass to Dexton Fields for the initial first down, and then Brandon had a few more short carries (taking good care of the ball), getting the second first down with just a few seconds left on the clock. We were on the VT one yard line, and we could have easily taken it into the end zone in those final seconds for another score. In a show of class, KU took a knee and ran out the clock, as if to say, "In your face, Hokies! We don't need no stinking points!"

I can't even begin to explain the joy that we felt in those final seconds when we knew the game was over. The sick with worry feeling in my stomach changed to a sick with excitement feeling! I had to fight back the tears--I was just so happy and so proud of our team. As the crew set up for the presentation ceremony, Celebration by Kool and the Gang rang out and everyone sang along. The crowd was ecstatic and the team was elated! It was such a wonderful moment I tried to capture it with some video.

We stayed and watched the presentation of the Orange Bowl and the presentation of the MVP to Aqib--I loved his comments about people no longer being able to say we haven't played anyone good. So perfect! We got so little respect for the media throughout the season. I think Lee Corso alone must have picked against us a good 5 times this season! Even the Orange Bowl officials apparently didn't think we were going to win--they'd set up the presentation stage facing the V. Tech side of the stadium! It was so great to know that all of those naysayers were having to eat their words, not to mention those whiners from Missouri who thought we didn't deserve to play in the Orange Bowl in the first place!

During and after the presentation ceremony, the players threw oranges into the crowd and interacted with the fans before heading to the locker room. As people took pictures and slapped hands and cheered them on, the Fox post game show was getting ready to start, with Chris, John and Jimmy getting back into position on their stage. Suddenly a couple of the players jumped onto the stage and started hamming it up for the camera behind the news desk, and pretty soon at least half of the team was crowding around the talent trying to get onto TV. I'm guessing they weren't even filming, but it was still pretty funny because the analysts were practically getting mauled and didn't even seem to mind. The 'Hawks were just so excited they were like little kids! I took some more pictures and a little more video (you can see all our pictures here), and then we started the trek through the parking lot to find our car. It was already 12:15 at this point, and since we were planning to get up early, we headed straight back to the hotel and hit the hay after an exciting day!

We were especially thankful for KU's victory because, as some of our friends have already heard, the rest of the trip was pretty hellacious. But that's a story for another day!

Monday, January 07, 2008

In the Meantime...Snowdog

Since I didn't finish writing about our Orange Bowl adventure tonight (as usual, I can't seem to leave out any details), I thought I'd share something even more entertaining in the meantime. My aunt sent me this video the other day that was absolutely hilarious. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Beautiful Bowl (of Oranges)

Honestly, I don't even know what to say about the Orange Bowl. If I had to describe it in one word, I guess it would be amazing. I just can't explain how incredible it was being there and how thankful I am that we were able to go!

In the days leading up to the game, I have to admit that I was less than confident about our chances of winning. I think it was partially because it had been so long since we'd seen the Jayhawks play. Before all of our other games this year we were able to look back at the previous week and recall how well our team had played, and we could draw on that memory for confidence. For this game, it was just impossible to say that we'd been playing well lately, since we hadn't played recently at all! Then after Oklahoma got blown out by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, I started to wonder if the Big 12 was even very good at all. In addition, I think I was starting to buy in to all of the pregame media coverage, in which pretty much every analyst except Lou Holtz expected us to lose. I think it made the victory doubly sweet since we were able to win and prove everyone wrong!

The whole environment was just so intense and electric--it was like no other game that I'd ever been to, that's for sure! I'll write more about it tomorrow, but for now feel free to check out our pictures and the coverage in the Lawrence Journal-World. Congrats to our beloved Jayhawks!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year to You and Merry Christmas to Us

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Day. Chad and I spent our day watching a little football while packing, preparing to enjoy our Christmas present to each other. Tomorrow we're off to Florida to see our Jayhawks play in the Orange Bowl. We're actually flying into Orlando (our friend Terry found some super cheap flights on Air Tran) and then driving the 3 or so hours down to Miami. We figured that since we'd be renting a car anyway, and since the drive along the Florida coastline would be beautiful, it was definitely worth the money we'd save to drive a few extra hours.

We were so looking forward to the beautiful Miami weather, especially since today the wind chill was brutal--in the single digits. Unfortunately, there is a cold front blowing into Miami and the high there tomorrow is supposed to be about 57! That's the same expected temperature during the game on Thursday night, so I guess the good news is that it will feel more like football weather to us!

We're thinking about going to Epcot on Friday since we'll be driving back to Orlando to fly home anyway. Chad's never been, and I was there only once when I was 14. Whether we end up going or not will depend on how tired we are from the game the night before. Hopefully we'll be exhausted because we'll have spent the late evening hours celebrating!!

I'm so nervous about the game already! It's so hard to get a feel for our chances when we haven't seen the Jayhawks play in over a month. I know if we play to our potential we can win, but from what I hear we're pretty evenly matched with the Hokies. It will be a challenge for the boys in blue, to say the least. Hopefully, the Jayhawk faithful will come out in full force and help propel our beloved football team to victory over Virginia Tech. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!