A night out with Spencer and his friends

With Spencer attending a new school this year, it occurred to me that he hadn't seen some of his regular friends in a while. And since our weekends tend to be pretty busy, I suggested to S-man that he invite a couple friends to a Seattle Thunderbirds hockey game so he could hang out with them for a while. So tonight I took Spencer and two of his friends from the last few years down to the Showare Center and took in our third Thunderbirds game of the season.

This was the first time I can remember that I truly got to see Spencer in his element. Normally if I see him with his friends, its either a) in some school or sport activity with lots of parents and kids around, and he's focused on some other task, b) he has friends over but not in my sight, or c) very short stints in passing. With a 30+ minute drive to and from the game, plus 150 minutes of time together in the arena, I felt like Jane Goodall observing monkeys in their element (although I'd argue it's probably easier to make sense of monkeys than three eight year olds).

My favorite part was following the three as they walked to the arena shoulder to shoulder. Spencer was happy, socially confident and comfortable, and responsible. I probably could have told the three I would meet them outside after the game and not seen them for the next couple hours, and they would have been just fine. It's a snapshot in my mind I won't forget.

Thank you, Spence, for allowing me to tag along. Can't wait until we do it again. And not just because I don't have to talk to any adults (that's just a bonus). Just hope the T-Birds put up a better fight next time.


By my recollection, that makes four

As in, four Purdue wins over top ten teams since I started following Purdue football in 1988. (Sheesh I am getting old).

Had to wait until 1996 to see my first - a blistering 9-3 win over #9 Michigan in West Lafayette. A couple years later, Purdue beat #4 Kansas State 37-34 in the Alamo Bowl, and followed that up the next year with a 52-28 drubbing of #5 Michigan State in West Lafayette. And then a 10 year drought until today's big win over Ohio State.

I still remember that 1996 win over Michigan. Back when ESPN2 couldn't even afford capital letters (remember those days?). Amy and I were two of about 33,000 people in attendence to witness that, the week after Jim Colletto announced his resignation. The goalposts came down and were soon deposited in the Wabash River.

The Alamo Bowl win is still probably my favorite win ever by a Purdue team. The defense played phenomenal against a potent, fast offense. It catapulted Roosevelt Colvin and Chike Okeafor into the NFL, and started the Drew Brees legend. Even though Drew had a relatively poor game (he completed less than 50% of his passes, for like barely over 200 yards, and had something like 2TDs and 3 picks), he had a last minute drive that was one for the ages.

The 1999 win over #5 MSU wasn't really an upset. Purdue was ranked in the top 25 at the time, and MSU, while piling up Ws, wasn't exactly a dominant team that year. I expected Purdue to own MSU, as did everyone in the stadium, and that's what happened. If I remember right Purdue jumped out to a 28-7 lead by early 2nd quarter and never looked back.

And then the drought. Much has been made of Purdue's inability to beat a ranked team, let alone a top 10 team, since 2003. Six years is a long time. Even Colletto managed Ws against ranked Cal and West Virginia, and Akers beat OSU in Columbus.

Since moving to Seattle, days where Purdue plays a top ten team is pretty much treated like a holiday, even in the past few down years under Tiller. We plan our day around it, make a party out of it, and of course wind up disappointed.

So today, while I hurried up after Spencer's soccer game to start the recording of the game, I also didn't treat it with the specialness reserved for Spoilermaker opportunities. What were the odds? I mean, this is a Purdue team that needed two late TDs to pull within 7 of mighty Northern Illinois. Sheesh.

Today's game reminded me of the 1996 win over Michigan. You watch this team, and you say "you know, there's some talent here. Not NFL talent, but talented kids who can play football." Then you watch them shoot themselves in the foot week in and week out. Then they put it together and bite someone, and actually look pretty good in the process.

Boiler Up. Who knows when we'll see a W again, let alone against a top ten team. Here's to it not being 10 years...


Spencer's Eee PC

A few weeks back Woot had Asus' Eee PC 900 for $170. I checked the memory, it had 1GB, and I damn near ordered two of them. Makes a perfect learning laptop for Spencer.

I didn't realize it didn't come with Windows - it comes installed with Linux. But it's bundled in a user-friendly way. It comes with StarOffice, and I had to play with it to upgrade FireFox to 3.0. Took a few tries, but eventually got it right.

Wireless connectivity is pretty easy, and it charges quickly. Best of all it's intuitive enough for an eight year old. I was a little worried about the X-Windows interface but that hasn't been an issue.

If there's a downside is that I will have to download some basic features to allow Spencer to do some more things with it (like view HD movies, which are not supported by the default media player).

So Spencer now has a laptop. He loves it. And like most people he's figured out how to play games on it. Although he's already created his first spreadsheet :)

I think the Lions have a QB of the future

After four games, Matt Stafford is showing he belongs in the NFL. I've only caught one of his games, but from looking at highlights he looks good. Strong arm, looking off safeties, going through his reads, and stepping up in the pocket when he needs to. Reading NFL defenses will take time, but I like his progress vs. what I remember from other top QBs drafted in their first year like Aikman and Manning. Can't remember a time in 35 years I've been excited about a Lions' QB.


All these bitter pills are starting to taste the same

No, I'm not talking about the Obamas crashing-and-burning in their attempt to land Chicago the 2016 Olympics (apparently the IOC is smarter than the average American). Another Saturday, another WTF happened relative to Purdue football. Danny Hope now reminds me of Jim Colletto. I don't think that's a good thing, although I didn't exactly hate Jim Colletto or the time he was here. He elevated the program from joke-of-the-nation to we're-not-as-bad-as-IU. Which was a step up.

I realize Tiller left a pretty bare cupboard. Still, I expected more out of this team at this point. I just have an eerie feeling that, just like Colletto had some early success, Hope just won't get over the hump.

And damn UW for not closing the door on ND. Not that I care about UW, but any ND loss automatically makes it a great weekend.