Monday, May 28, 2007


One thing led to another and a quiet moment in our back yard turned to complete mayhem thanks to our kids and neighbors. F*U*N was had by all. From left: Peanut, Quinn, Z-Man, Beaner, M-Kat, Ms. Hally, RB and the green line from RB's back... is the schwing!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

May 27 - Act III

Brianna who is spending the night with Chalupa will celebrate cracking her birthaday egg this evening. Notice the smile of anticipation (Brianna) and the fearless look of bravery (Buzz Daddy) - and of course, the egg.
Here we see the look of ten-year-old satisfaction, anda is-that-all-you've-got look of confidence.
Oh yeah, and the yoke of damage
So after ten years this young lady has broken two eggs upon on this head. It appears to be a battle of wills. The biggest loser... is the egg. We'll see what happens next year.

May 27 - Act II

[Peanut rocks, Chalupa prepares to hit, Alana watches, and Beaner waits]
The Great Badminton Exposition began at 12:30 and continued until 5:30. There were a total of eight (or nine) different players who filtered through. If the weather holds, this marathon will continue into a second day.

May 27 - ACT I

Buzz Daddy holds Bid Dawg while he gets Baptised by Father Paul. In the background you can see Beaner who was the crucifer for tthis morning's service.

In attendance were (from left) Side Track, Big Dawg, Beaner, Chalupa (who was also acolyte for the Pentacost service), HRB, Pat, Peanut and Delma (the Godmother). Missing was Uncle Pffft who has prior commitments.
It was also the annual Jazz Service. Radical for Episcopalians, yes; but it was also a delightful, and snappy change of pace.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ack! Steinbrenner

No doubt The Boss is a maverick. His penchant for buying players (some might argue, pennants and perhaps championships) is undisputedly a point of derision. Lord knows he’s been the target for many of my venomous outbursts. His personality, position and some of his inexplicable actions regarding players and managers will always be cause for a certain amount of criticism and second-guessing.

On the other hand, I have to wonder what baseball would be like without George. I think some of his leadership (albeit firm-handed and financially leveraged) allows him to say things like “he’s a good Yankee player”, and “He knows how to compete like a Yankee”, or “If he wants to be a Yankee, then he has to live up to the Yankee standards”. He has set a clear set of standards for his players and building a winning organizaiton. Not only is George an indelible part of the Yankee BRAND, but he is also (to a degree) the embodiment of some of Baseball’s rich heritage, tradition, and lore.

We know his players have to be up-standing citizens or they’re gone. They are summarily admonished for public outbursts and/or any sort of unprofessional public display or activity. They know they have to be clean-cut and professional or their gone. They know they have to produce, or their gone. And most importantly, they have to win, or they're gone.
But there must be a compassionate side to George as well. I believe his players are asked (if not strongly encouraged) to perform hours of public service and most do. And wasn't it The Boss who (rightly or wrongly) gave Dwight Gooden a second chance when he was in legal trouble (or was that Darryl Strawberry, I can't remember?). And there have been many times he has gone to bat (so to speak) to defend players and managers from the the axe and or pen of angry, impatient Yankee fans and media who are looking for a sacrificial dupe to assume the burdens and blame for loss and failure. I also can not deny that George does many postive things himself for charities and countless local causes, especially those that involve youth.

So yes, George Steinbrenner is a complex man. I still hope he loses, and at the same time I hope he uses his axe sparingly. But ironcially most of all, I hope he sticks around. Baseball fans need someone on the top of the industry’s financial mountain to criticize, to blame, to condemn, and to quietly envy for his power, influence and success in a sport I so thoroughly enjoy.

Chalupa Turns Ten!

With limited fan fare, due to the algorythimic scheduling of sports activities, Chalupa celebrated her 10th birthday with a small gathering of family. Seen here with her brother, BD, she is opening one of her gifts, a "personalized" metal soccer ball bank. Oooohhhh. Aaaahhhhh.

If you'd like a personalize metal soccer ball bank, click on The Front Door link at the bottom of this Blog and start shopping NOW!

[In the spirit of full disclosure: I work for the company that sells product through The Front Door, which therefore may construe this last submission as paid advertisement. Hey, a guy's gotta make a living, right?]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Win and a Loss

Chalupa (far left) prepares to take the field and defend her goal in this evenings soccer match against Takapee Shokopee. She remains unscored against this season. In the second half she played offense and defense. Monkey Doo Ice 3 - Takapee Shokopee 1.

From left: Chalupa, Serina, Blonde (peeking through in the back), Morgan, Syd, General, Kaylee, and The Boot.

Meanwhile across town, Beaner's Peppers team did not fare so well against one of the other two Monkey Doo Teams. It could be a long season of Softball for that kid.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Five to Zero - Another Win for U11

(U11) Monkey Doo United 5 - New Ulm - nil. Here we see Peanut charging the ball. If you look closely at the young lady just ahead to the left of Peanut, you can see how the wind was blowing. It was a good match for Peanut who is gaining confidence and agressiveness. She didn't let the bigger girls push her around as much. And were it not for a shoe-string-desperate reach by the goalie, Peanut would have made an additional contribution to her team's score. She'll get one... it's a matter of time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Both Hot and Cold

An apt description for the weekend. Sat. was hot, and the pic on the right was Sunday. Peanut, Side Track, Big Dawg and Tootsie are struggling to stay warm during the resumption of Beaner's softball tournament on Sunday morning. She lost this game 13 - 12. A cold start to a cold morning.

Buzz Daddy and Tootsie stayed behind for the second game, while Sidetrack took the rest of the crew to the other side of the Twin Cities for the resumption of Chalupa's soccer tournament. The weather was not any better there.

Chalupa's soccer team shut the other team out on the way to a 4-0 victory. They remain undefeatedly HOT and have not been scored against so far this season. Unfortnately Beaner lost the second game (very cold) forcing elimination from the remaining portion of the tournament.

And if you think all this running around is busy... just wait. We're just getting warmed up!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday's Results

Two tournaments, in two different parts of the state.

Beaner played three softball games. They are now 2 and 1 going into tomorrow's final game of the tournament. No highlights, no lowlights, no injuries!

Chalupa played two soccer matches. After two shut-outs, they are 2 and 0 going into tomorrow's games. Chalupa scored a goal in the second game and didn't allow anything into her onion bag when she tended goal. Between matches we checked in on the Fergasons (Hawkeye friends from Iowa) who live a few blocks from the soccer pitch.

One of the hightlights of the day was our neighbor (dork/brother of one of the soccer players). He (in white) and his older brother (in blue) constructed a lengthy straw and convinced the Goth waitress to hold the contraption while he sucked on it. The picture doesn't come close to doing this display of stupidity any justice, but it does convey a certain level of lunacy and entertainment.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A New Cuz Amoungst Us!

Our Cousins Patrick and Julie Vernon have now joined the club of Parenthood. Welcome Susanna Frances Vernon! This is a first for the Taylor Tabloid. The proud posting of the expansion of our extended family.

Ok: so are you ready for this.... Patrick is a son of Charles Vernon (Charlie Pops - my father's first cousin). At this point I'll spare you the details of siblings, uncles, aunts, great uncles, great aunts and cousins so vast it boggles the mind. But PATRICK, our proud new father is our second cousin AND second cousin once removed to my children. This makes Susanna a third coursin to Peanut, Chalupa, Beaner and Buzz Daddy.

If you bump into Patrick, ask him about baby powder and Aunt Sarah's basement! Whoooweee what a great time sock-skiing-bumper-kids on linolium flooring... :) I'm sure you get the gist. Now this maniac is a Father. Welcome to the family Susanna and we look forward to meeting you soon! Congrats Pat and Julie!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Three Stooges

This picture was just submitted by Mrs. N. It was taken at the post-race neighborhood bon fire (rire pit) in our old neighborhood. From left: "Coach" with fruit in his beer! (in namby, pamby Badger fashion); Next is Mr. N. who sports a healthy grin as we were ganging up on Coach for his propencity to only golf on 5-star courses at someone elses expense. Despite the fruit in his beer, he has descriminating tastes when it comes to hitting the links; and of course on the far right is Buzz Daddy who is simply enjoying good beer, good company and a healthy dose of crap from his former neighbors.

Who Say's You Can't Go Home Again?

This pic gives us all some idea what it would have been like had we remained in our old digs (green house in the background). Nokidoe gets props for the rabbit ears on Peanut while Beaner towers above the brood.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Back in the "Hood"

Back in the "Hood" for the weekend the family stayed with former neighbors. At the behest of Mrs Kravits, a photo-shoot was summarily held in front of Goose Poop Pond. From the left - Mrs. Kravits, Beaner, Chalupa, Binzie, Peanut, Nokidoe, and Big Dawg.
Later that night there was a small gathering of souls around a fire pit in the middle of the court. Here we see Mrs. T.M. and son, Ryan, pictured with Beaner. Others in attendance included the rest of the McCurdy's (M & Collin), the entire Norfolk Clan, and two of the three delinquents (Will and Holly) from the end of the court. The kids ran around like possessed demons whilst the adults (and the two delinquents) got caught up with one another and shared a few tall tales. It was a terrific event tossed together by our gracious hosts, the ever talented Mrs. Kravits and equally talented husband, Coach.

Ice Age 50 Mile Report

Another picture of folks mulling around aimlessly before the start of another trail run event. This was the 26th annual Ice Age 50 Mile Trail Run held in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine Forrest, just outside of Eagle, WI.

The gentleman standing undern the "R", in the white shirt, head down, with his back to the camera is none other than Bob Michael. He was Buzz Daddy's little league teammate (Mets) back in the day. Then just a few years later we would race each other in area track meets. And now, many (many) years later, we're still running amok on hill and dale at silly events like this. Sure gives credence to the old saying..."the more things change, the more they remain the same."

Buzz Daddy successfully completed 50 miles with better than expected results. After 8 hours and 39 minutes on the trail, he placed 35th out of 242 runners and 6th in his age group. No injuries and no lost toe nails. Life's good. Life's very good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"G.I." Joe - Reports in from St. Croix

A little bit of background - by Buzz Daddy: From our far flung correspondent "G.I." Joe who recently competed in a half Iron Man (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) competition in St. Croix. I first met Joe during the run portion of an Iron Man competition where I was pacing Crazy. Joe was doubled over getting sick on the side of the road as we caught up to him. He would continue to do so through-out the event. Thereafter he has been called "G.I." Joe for gastro-intestinal. Since our introduction, Joe has joined Team F*U*N as one of our more colorful members. He, like Crazy Pete, suffers sever and sometimes debilitating stomach problems and cramps during ultra events which has become the subject of many on-going philisophical debates and race day experiments (as you will see) about diet, hydration and physiology. This story was shared with me by Crazy and I thought it was as good a first-hand account of what goes on behind the scenes and during an extreme athletic event. This article is a bit longer than most submissions, but the tale is good and the ending is supreme. Enjoy! -B.D.

St. Croix Half Iron Man Summary - by "G.I." Joe Hensel

I thought I'd let you know in detail how things went last weekend. There were a few things going on. First, there was the matter of the race. We deplaned in the warm Caribbean air at about 9:30 Friday night, gathered my bike case, our luggage, picked up the car, to leave for the beachside hotel. After quickly getting used to driving on the left side of the road, we found our way by an indirect route. The narrow roads and bad surface didn't discourage me too much, and Britta was in good spirits too.

First, my early morning swim left my mouth with a brackish taste. It had been a while since I had swum in salt water. Then, I went to the office to pick up Scott's bike (my friend from New Orleans who was joining me for the race), which he had shipped earlier that week. His flight had been rescheduled from Friday to Saturday, and he would have little time to put it together that afternoon. I set up my bike and his, and followed that up with a run to the grocery. After this, we left for the airport to pick up him and his significant other, Angela. They were pretty tired from their 6:00 AM departure. We picked up our race numbers, got something to eat, and headed to our HQ for a little afternoon workout to loosen up a bit and get the travel kinks out. We went for a 10 minute jog, during which I probably lost a quart of fluid. It was hot! This wasn't New Hampshire.

Leading up to the race, there had been lots of talk about the "Beast", a .7 mi climb on the bike course with a grade that ranged between 14 and 21%. In the race material, the suggested gearing was 39 front and 24 rear for pros, 39 and 26 for elite amateurs, and so on. I had 39 front and 23 rear. I was a little worried. The ride course was looped, so you had to go over that hill twice. As I lay awake that night, I was hoping I wouldn't have to walk the second time. Nothing I could do about it anymore.

The next morning, I woke early and got my things together, which included the ring which I had secretly put in my fanny pack along with the chain I was using to wear it around my neck during the ride and run portion of the race. Everything was ready. Scott and I met up and rode the mile to the race start. There was the usual nervous energy in the transition area. I saw most of the new friends I had made over the last day, got everything set up and made my way over to the swim start. There was a 75 yard swim to a small island which was where the waves would depart from.

The swim course took us about 20 yds out to a sharp left hand turn, after which we would swim out into the protected harbor. The air temperature was probably about 80 at 6:30 AM, and it looked like it was going to be hot and humid. While waiting on the island, I was told that if you took the wrong lane on some portions of the Beast, you could be riding on a whopping 27% grade for very short portions. More good news. The swim waves began leaving, and my turn came up.
The water was warm and calm, and I was eager to get things under way.

The start was pretty congested, especially with that turn so early on, but afterwards, I got into a good rhythm the race was under way in earnest. The calm water changed to increasing swells as I got to the turnaround, but it was at no point difficult. I felt good as I wrapped up my swim. The new goggles suggested by Tomasz worked out great and were really comfortable. The visibility in the water was much better than the lakes I'm used to swimming in, so that was a bit of fun. I could see scuba divers on the bottom filming us as we swam over them. Overall, a pretty pleasant swim.

I exited the water and checked my watch. 37 and change, which was a little disappointing, but not too bad. I had been hoping for under 35. I thought the top pros swam a little slower than I would have expected, so maybe the current had an effect. I ran over to my bike. The first thing I wanted to do was put the ring around my neck. Britta was standing pretty near, so I had to turn away and get my jersey on before she could get a peek. I didn't know if she had figured anything out, but was trying to be secretive as possible. I donned my fanny pack, number, helmet, grabbed the bike, and ran out onto the road, amidst cheers of "Go get 'em mon!" The crowds were great!

Once out on the bike course, I really focused on conserving strength for the 2 attacks on the Beast. It was very warm and a bit windy, and I was immediately drenched in sweat. The route took us about 2.5 miles out of town and back to transition, after which we went from a 2 lane road to winding through the streets of Christiansted on one lane (if you could call it a lane) road with sharp turns that were easy to miss if you weren't careful. About a half mile of this lead onto more open highway, and they had closed the whole route to non- race traffic. That helped quite a bit. I was still holding back until my first ascent of the Beast, but to that point there had been many lesser hills to contend with.

More than the climbs, the descents were all very winding and tight, with moderate to very poor road conditions. Some curves had sand and gravel, some were too tight or too pothole filled to get any speed, and in general, you had to keep your eyes glued to the road. That was a little disappointing, because we were offered some amazing views. Overall, a very beautiful course.

I was getting closer to the Beast. I had been staying hydrated and taking in gels to keep my energy up, but taking your hands off the bars to fuel was a tricky business. I'm glad I had the gels taped to my top tube, because when I ran out of them and had to go to bars stored in my pockets, it was pretty tough to find road smooth enough to get them out, open them up, and then get them into my mouth. I have to say the FEBs (Filter's Energy Bars, made by the lovely Britta) were very good fuel and easy on my stomach.

The Beast began with a very sharp left turn and a road that seemed to go straight up. I knew that I would have to be in my easiest gear the whole way, so I made no bones about it and shifted down before on the grind. They had the distance and grade marked, so you knew exactly where you were. I was probably far enough up that most of the riders were pretty strong, so I didn't see too many walkers. Those who came through later told me that they estimated that more than 50% of the riders were walking. It seemed that my weight training had paid off. It was hard, but I wasn't having too much trouble, even with my time trial bike, which doesn't have good gearing or geometry for aggressive climbing. I was having no problems, and passing quite a few racers. .1 miles went by, .2, no problems. At .3, my chain came off the front ring and I almost fell over. That's not too much of a problem, but I knew it would be hard to get started again on that grade. I put the chain on, clipped one shoe in and started to ride. The chain came off before I could get the other shoe back in. I tried again and off came the chain! A third try, and a third time off. I decided to run the rest of the way up the hill. Off came the shoes and I took on the Beast on foot.

One side of the road was pretty smooth, and one pretty rough. To stay out of the way of the riders I had to walk on the rough (wild) side. Ouch! I need to toughen up my feet. While running, I noticed that my chain had actually broken. This was a bit more serious, and could have ended my race right there. I had .4 miles to go to the top, but once I got there I had no way to fix my chain, and without that I wouldn't be able to go the remaining 35 miles of the ride. I stopped to untangle it from my derailleur and cassette, and continued up the hill, to cries of "Brokin' chain mon, oh no!" I thought at the top there would be an aid station and perhaps some help. I had to finish the race.

When I got to the top, there was a crew of bike mechanics who took care of the chain in short order. They had to take 2 links out, but there was no other way. I thanked them profusely, told them of my mission, and got on my way, happy to be back on the road. However, the missing links (ha ha) made shifting an adventure, and when I was on my big ring, the rear derailleur was at times almost horizontal to the ground. Certain gears wouldn't work, and in general, it was a little off. I continued riding, still conserving my legs for the next assault on that hill.

The ride continued over the treacherous roads, and the heat was beginning to take a toll. I began to have cramps in my legs, even though I had taken a few salt tabs and lots of sodium in my drinks. I kept going, increasing my salt consumption as much as possible. The miles ticked by. Again, the hills continued, with some of the other ones displaying grades of 14 or 15%. The down hills remained tricky, and once in a while my chain would get locked up in both derailleurs. I wondered how things would go my second time on the hard climb. Nothing was stopping me. 47 miles into it, I was chit chatting with another rider, and I happened to ask him when we would get back to the Beast. He told me that we only had to climb it once! It was a looped course, but they meant a figure eight loop. No Beast re-do! I cruised the remaining miles to transition, where I saw Britta and Angela, got a few cheers, and set myself up for the run.

Immediately after dismounting, I took in 10 ounces of Gatorade from my bike, made a smooth transition to running gear, took my salt tabs, and ran out, taking 3 additional cups of Gatorade at the exit. I was running smoothly and strongly, but I knew what lay ahead. Although my stomach was pretty full, I knew I had to hydrate and take in electrolytes. I could tell cramps were just around the corner. Thankfully, it hadn't gotten as hot as it might have as there was pretty good cloud cover on the run, which was pretty exposed. At the first aid station, I drank 2 Gatorades, a water, a Pepsi, and moved on with a sloshing stomach. At this point it had become a task of managing cramping legs and nausea (which might lead to emptying the contents of my stomach). I knew I still had to get more in. The next station I walked through to allow my stomach to empty a bit and get more fluid in. After a few hundred yards of walking, I was able to run again. My stomach began to feel better and I felt it was ok to skip a station. You couldn't do more than one, because cramps were right around the corner, as was dehydration.

As I came closer to the second loop, I saw Scott. It's always good to have someone you know suffering with you. When I got to the turnaround, I saw Britta and Angela, and they gave me boisterous cheers for the road. The volunteers and spectators were also really charged up, and on that level the race was a blast. I made sure to thank as many of the volunteers and interact with as many of the spectators as possible. That's always a lot of fun.

On the second loop of the run, my stomach felt pretty good, but I was always on the brink of cramping. I took in as much Gatorade, water, and cola as I could, but still had to walk off some cramps from time to time. I knew I was almost to my goal, and the most important triathlon finish of my life. I got to the 11 mile mark and saw Chris McCormack, one of the top pro triathletes in the world who had finished 2nd place that day, riding his bike out to the furthest run aid station, where I heard from Scott he was handing out water and encouraging the weary racers. One of the many reasons I love this sport.

I got about 100 yards from what I thought was the finish line and was ready for the big event. When I got to where I thought it should have been, I saw that you had to turn back into town to run another half mile, actually away from the transition area. I hate it when they do that! I plodded (by this time that was about all I could manage) the last yards to the finish line, covered in cola, Gatorade, salt, chain grease, and generally pretty smoked. I crossed at 5:45 and change. All things considered, a satisfying effort.

Britta and Angela were there, full of smiles. I shuffled over to them, greeted both of them, gave Britta a hug and kiss, pulled out the ring, and asked her to marry me. As bad as I must have looked, she said yes! I put the ring on her trembling finger. I then apologized to her that I wasn't able to get down on my knees to ask, but didn't think I would have been able to get up again.

Scott finished about 45 minutes later. We both agreed it was one tough race, but for me, so worth every moment of it. - Joe

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Riding the Light Rail

Here Big Dawg, Beaner and Chalupa are seen behind the plexi-glass panel riding the light rail to the Red Sox game.


While in the cities for soccer and baseball, look what we missed at home. WOW!

Soccer Tournament for Peanut

Seen here, regrouping before the second match, the U11 (under eleven) girls soccer team went on to win the first three games of their tournament in convincing fashion, but lost the championship match 2-1 in very windy conditions.

Peanut (the young lady sitting right "above" the blue cooler) had a few notable moments to include one spectacular breakaway with a shot on goal, and a very important block. She's not Pele yet, but she's on her way.

Going... going.... gone!

First the BIG Yaaawwnn...

...then the nodding-head syndrome...

... and lastly the all-conked-out-in-Dad's-lap finale. Despite all appearances, Boston won an exciting game against the Twinkies in the Metro Dumb 5 - 4. All was not lost for the Twins however as Torii Hunter extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Breakfast Club

Every week, Side Track and I alternate taking one of our daughters out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This means that over the course of six weeks we each get a chance to spend some mono-a-mono time with the girls.
Here is Buzz Daddy with Chalupa enjoying breakfast at our local greasy spoon. What a great way to start the day, huh?