NCAA Tournament Blog (Day 2)

Not sure if I made this clear last night or not., the company I work for, has sent me to Spokane, WA for the NCAA tournament games that Texas A&M is playing in. Today our game is against Utah State (who’s mascot is the Aggies as well), and if we win we’ll play the winner of Purdue/Siena on Sunday afternoon.

I’m excited to be here, but it’s not nearly as fun going out of town and not having Jen along with me. For a while now I’ve seen guys go out of town without their wives (even though we aren’t married yet) and have a hard time with it. I have to admit I’ve never quite understood why it’s so hard…now, I get it.

5:30 AM: Woke up at 530 this morning and hated myself for it. Trying to get back to sleep with Gabe rustling around in the room wasn’t the easiest thing to do. You ever notice how hard things like going pee become in the morning when you aren’t awake? I dont even try getting a drink of water in the middle of the night, nearly impossible.

8:30 AM: Finally got out of bed and wanted to do a little workout. Got some crossfitting done in the room. After that I’m pretty sure that Gabe thinks I’m crazy. Oh well though. Showered and got going to breakfast.

9:45 AM: Went to a little place called Molly’s. The girl at the coffee bar reccomended we give it a try this morning, and I always like taking a local’s pick for breakfasts.

I think if I had to eat one meal for the rest of my life it would be breakfast. You can really eat anything at breakfast (as my fiancee has recently taught me), but nothing beats some eggs and coffee.

Ate with Looch this morning. I’ve been to the tournament literally every year A&M has been this decade, and I’ve worked at TexAgs for going on four years now, and I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had a meal with Billy. Dude is genuinely funny! I guess this shouldn’t surprise me, but he also really loves A&M. Great conversation about how we should be able to play today, and how his drive over from Seattle went yesterday afternoon.

(Maybe more on this later if we win, I hear he’s buying dinner since I got breakfast.)

10:30 AM: Got back to the hotel room and started packing up my stuff to leave for the game. I picked up my backpack and I swear this thing weighs at least 50 pounds when it’s loaded down. Cameras, lenses, video camera, wires, headphones, battery pack, and camera light all add up.

11:00 AM: We jump on the media shuttle to head to the arena. Driving through Spokane you get a lot of different perspectives of this city. At one point you see nothing but giant buildings (in the same way that you would experience somewhere like Lincoln, Nebraska), and then drive over one of the coolest rives you’ve ever seen. I don’t know the name of the river that we crossed over, but there was a set of rapids running right next to the middle of downtown.

My initial thoughts on Spokane are this: 1)beautiful city that clearly has money, 2)not as big as I would have imagined, 3)the people are awesome, and very friendly. Seems like a blue collar kind of town, or at least as blue collar as you can get here in the Northwest.

11:30 AM: Spokane Arena is…underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re running a great tournament here (though as a photographer I’d have to pay $350 for wired internet access, that’s just dumb!). You can tell though that like many of the locations for these first round games, it wasn’t built for big time college basketball.

Why is it that the NCAA can’t play tourney games in places built to hold college basketball games? I understand it’s all about revenue and how many people you can sell tickets too, but why not give the fans a better experience at a game? Not to mention the football caverns they play sweet 16 round games in, and the final four. I haven’t seen a basketball game from one of those stadiums yet, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be the best place to catch a game.

12:03 PM: Siena/Purdue is happening right now. The Siena band is sitting right in front of me, and for a small school they aren’t half bad.

One of my buddies has been harping on me for years the the Aggie basketball band (what’s the name?), should wear rugby style polos like the [url=]Marquette[/url] band wears. I think the Ags should institute the same thing next year. Or an entire band of costumed bandsmen.

Speaking of which, SASQUATCH just walked into Spokane areana and sat down wearing an Aggie sweatshirt. I LOVE the direction the students have taken in Reed arena. It’s like Halloween every night in that place, and it makes for so much fun watching games.

[i]If we make it to Houston for weekend 2 of the tourney, I really hope to see Gumby, the Panda, 15 Green Man’s, and the tu girl rocking it out in Reliant.[/i] But that might be getting a bit ahead of myself…a guy can dream can’t he?

12:15 PM: Cornell as the 12 just took down Temple in the 5. Here’s to hoping that’s the 12/5 upset for this year.

Let’s BTHO Utah State!

12:16 PM: Oh, and there won’t be any pics until after the game. I’ll have a gallery up after we finish playing, but unlike last year I’m not going to be able to get anything up from pregame. The $350 just isn’t worth it.

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NCAA Tournament Blog (will be updated daily)

Back with another edition of my ever popular tournament blog. Last year’s edition was ridiculed at times, but we all know that you enjoyed the read.

5:30 AM: Gabe and I start for Austin. It was early, and I hadn’t officially woken up yet (read: Had any coffee), and would have loved the chance to sleep just a bit on the ride there. But, Gabe being the talker that he is, talked. haha it wasn’t annoying, and in fact he had some really interesting things to say. I learned more about the game of baseball than I thought possible before 9 AM.

6:15 AM: I finally get some coffee. Between learning why playing in college isn’t the worst move for a baseball player, and hearing why TAMU doesn’t have any big name major leaguer’s right now, I’m ready to get on the plane.

7:45 AM: I like the Austin airport for a few reasons. 1) It’s small. You can check in, get through the security checkpoint, and find your gate in about 10 minutes. Honestly, what other airport in a city of any size gives you the abiliity to do this? IAH is a crap hole compared to this place. 2) Food options. I had some breakfast tacos, but could have eaten bbq this early in the morning. Love this state. 3) I can’t really think of another reason, but needed a third to justify making a list.

9:10 AM: Got on the plane and had to sit in the middle row between two other dudes. Airplane ettiqutte would have suggested that I find a row where I (being a larger guy) could have sat either on the aisle, or next to the window. Such options weren’t available. Sitting between two other dudes, none of us were too happy, and armspace was at a premium the entire flight.

10:00 AM (CST): Why is it that sleeping on planes sucks so bad? I can sleep in a car no problem, but get me on an airplane and I’m an insomniac. I think it’s something about the lack of leg room, and not having anything to lean my head against.

11:45 AM (CST): We just flew over the Grand Canyon. I’ve seen it from ground level, but seeing it from the air was a really cool experience.

(At some point in the flight we had a time change. That’s why there was a crazy jump back in time here.)

10:45 AM (LVN): Some ladies just won $100 on slots. You’d have thought she won the lottery. Their daughters are sitting looking bored out of their minds.

11:30 AM (LVN): Just saw a guy that could have been the ghost of Robert Goulay. Seriously, he had the pedo-mustache and all. Along with having more cougars than any airport I’ve ever been in, this place isn’t half bad. BYU and Florida is on the TV, and we’re about to get on our next plane. Next stop, Spokane WA.

11:40 AM (LVN): What in the world is going on so far? ND loses. Nova is getting beat by Robert Morris, and BYU is trying to give away ANOTHER loss in the first round to a Florida team that has sucked for the last 4 years.

What happened to Florida anyway? Did they just catch lightning in a bottle for those two years and make Donovan look like a genius? Why hasn’t he been able to recruit based on those two championships? If i were a Gator fan I’d be pissed that we weren’t able to keep up the momentum of those couple of years and keep going.

If things continue like they are my bracket is done after today. Seriously, done.

12:30 PM: Hanging out with BoerneGator in the Vegas airport. Dude is funny. Checking out his computer screen is hilarious. Screen falls off if you hold it the wrong way, but the computer still works.

12:50 PM: (From now on I’ll be posting in mountain time, its just easier that way.) I get on the plane and BoerneGator didn’t save me a seat like I had asked. Thanks bro. But, I did get a seat next to Donald Sloan’s “Basketball Mom.” In reality she was his high school english teacher who has continued to support Donald throughout college both in school and out. One of the nicest ladies I’ve likely ever met. Some highlights from our conversation:

-I told her she had the ‘teacher vibe,’ and she didn’t believe me. Well, turns out she not only taught AP English but also French 1-3. When I heard that my initial reaction was, “Oh, wow I took 3 years of French in high school!” Which was promptly met by 15 minutes of her speaking to me in French. Needless to say, I couldn’t communicate with her, and got rather anxious.

-We talked about ‘The Baptism.’ And, while she seemed rather conservative, she admitted to LOVING the dunk.

-In reality the majority of the conversation was spent with her telling me how amazing of a person Sloan is in ‘real life.’ We talked about his life after school, the ways that she works to motivate the guy, and who he is when no one else is looking.

-Part of the conversation was about Lamarcus Aldridge, who she went to support in NYC when he was selected at #2 in the NBA draft.

Really cool lady.

1:30 PM: Sat behind some WKU fans who bought tickets to this pod to watch some quality basketball. They said they like the Ags to advance past this weekend. I’m not sure if they were just saying that because everyone around them was an Aggie fan, but they seemed like cool dudes.

3:20 PM: Landed in Spokane. Flying in is like flying over a gigantic Christmas Tree farm. Every tree that you can see looks like something you’d cut down and stick ornaments on in your living room. ‘Washington: Here It’s Christmas All Year Long!’

3:50 PM: Our ride to the hotel was a Lincoln Towne Car. That’s right, TexAgs rides in style. In reality though, the hotel we’re staying at with the NCAA media (Hotel Davenport) sends that car for anyone who pays the transfer price. Still feel like a high roller though.

4:30 PM: Get to the Hotel and about to head out to grab some food.

5:15 PM: A UW fan just came in and asked for the restaraunt to change the channel to ESPN so she could watch the Huskies play. The waiter changed it to ESPN so that she could watch the game. What neither of them knew, but that Gabe tried to explain, is that all of the games will be shown on CBS, and that it’s up to the local affiliate to determine which game is aired.

She walked off in a huff clearly thinking that we were full of it, and then came back a few minutes later to watch her team play.

The worst part of the whole story? She was an ‘annoying fan.’ Meaning she screamed for no good reason, had very little game knowledge, and…I’m not sure what else. I guess I just got annoyed.

5:50 PM: Went and grabbed some food at a pub down the street. Had some fish and chips. Good stuff. The real winner from the meal was the beer, Mac and Jack’s smoky amber ale. It tasted like a sweet spiced amber with a nice finish and a great flavor.

I’m excited to taste some of the local IPA’s around this part of the country. Anyone know of anything from Washington state worth trying? I’d like to stick with stuff that’s made around this area if at all possible.

6:00 PM: Got a free cookie from the Barista at the Starbucks downstairs in the hotel. Pretty sweet!

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A Boxing Day to Remember

This October Jen Borden and I started dating. We’ve been great friends for about four years or so, but we had just never given dating a chance.

Things went really well, and by the end of October I knew that she was the woman destined to be my wife. I started praying a lot more, having conversations with LOTS of people, dreaming, and hoping for good things in the near future.

I bought a ring, talked to her dad, and made some plans for the engagement night. Here is that story…

The ring! But not on her finger.

If you know Jen you know she doesn’t necessarily love a big surprise. I’m pretty sure she was the kid growing up that liked to find her Christmas presents and peek before Christmas morning. I on the other hand, was the kid that didn’t look for my presents, and would wait patiently on December 25th for my parents to give the ‘all clear’ signal before running into the living room to check out my bounty of gifts. With this in mind I started talking with Jen about marriage pretty early on. I wanted her to catch up to the same line of thinking that I was experiencing, for her and for me (you don’t propose unless you know the answer is going to be “YES!”).

I liked the idea of a Boxing Day proposal because I had never celebrated Boxing Day before, and who doesn’t love a new holiday to add to the calendar year? Plus, we wouldn’t get to do Christmas with each other, and this was a great excuse to take her out to a nice dinner without arrousing any real suspicions. It was with this excuse that I told her I’d pick her up at 5 on Dec. 26th, and we’d go out to a nice dinner…oh, and I wanted her to dress up.

I showed up at her house a few minutes earlier than she had anticipated, and I asked her to put on some shorts and a tshirt and come talk to me really quick, I wanted to show her something. When she came downstairs I gave her a giftcard to Anthropologie (her favorite store) for ‘One Dress of Her Choice.’ I knew she’d love this gift, and it took away some of the surprise, but I still got to have fun with her reaction. Off we went to the store, and she started shopping.

It wasn’t too long before I was planted on a plush couch in the store reading a book about Luck, when she emerged looking more beautiful than ever. She picked out a black dress with stitched in flowers around the bust. She was cute, fun, and gorgeous. I was so excited! I offered to buy her some earrings and a necklace to go along with the new dress, and she took me up on the earrings, but turned down the offer for the necklace. Strange, I know.

We left from the store and went to the restaraunt for dinner. The Grove is a nice place at Discovery Green in downtown Houston, a park where we had our first date. We had an amazing dinner, and talked for a long time. After dinner I let her know that I had a surprise for desert and that I needed to run to the car to grab the desert. I ran out to the car, grabbed the ring, a letter I had written her, and a cooler containing a piece of pecan pie from Goode Co. BBQ and a bottle of champagne.

It was then, on the chilly December night that we set up a blanket overlooking downtown Houston and enjoyed a piece of super sweet pie. We talked, laughed and I broke out the letter containing exactly what I would say. Long story short, I asked, and she said yes!!! Wow, what a great feeling!

My amazing friend Cabe came out and took pictures for us right after I popped the question, capturing the excitement, fun, and overwhelming butterflies we were both feeling.

Following the photoshoot, we met family, friends and friends to be at a wine bar in Houston for drinks and laughs.

Thank you Jen, for this night and for making me so very happy. Pictures from the night below:


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The Faith Required

Good Lord people. I know I haven’t updated my blog in a long time. I know I told you I would, and then didn’t. It’s been hard to motivate myself to get on this thing. Other stuff has been on my plate, and sadly the blog suffers in those times.

I’m at home still from a bit of a Thanksgiving day break. I shot the game Thursday night, and realized I had been on national TV when after a 5 yard TD run by Christine Michael, I got a flurry of text messages saying things like, “DUDE! You were just on TV!!” Thanks to all of you who let me know. Sadly, Jen and my family both missed that magical moment, my 15 minutes if you will, but I’m glad some of my adoring public was able to see it happen.

Coming home brings back lots of memories. Things like Thanksgivings past, old habits, and relationships that have taken a backseat in recent times. Though, it is good coming back. Realizing that to some people you’ll always be that 17 year old with a car who thinks they know everything. This is likely to be the case the rest of my life, and I’m not entirely convinced this is a bad thing.

It feels really good to have someone on your side. I know, I live in a wonderful community with wonderful people who I know really do care for me. There is just something to having a history with someone. A shared experience that lets you know everything is going to be fine. I like being able to dream with people I’ve known for years. They have a sense of where I’ve come from, and often have a wonderful way of looking at the things that might come.

No one ever told me that my mid-20’s would be a time of change. You set yourself up for change in high school (though, most of that change really sucks, and you don’t like it at the time, and if you’re like me, you don’t really like it int he rearview mirror either), college allows you to find an identity that you choose–one that isn’t determined by your parents, your friends when you were 5 years old, or the place you grew up–one that can be more of who you really are, but post college…well that’s a world I still don’t understand. It’s exciting though. This feels like the first time in my life where the rubber is starting to meet the road. Where the things I’ve become, and the people I’m starting to do these things with more and more, are really what I like seeing in myself.

That past history is fun, and it is important to me to be able to look back at it with fondness. But it’s the future that gets me really excited. The person I’m to become, the person that I’m to do that with, and the ways and means by which that will happen. Who knows what in the world life will be like in five years. I don’t. I think that might take some of the fun away from it…to know exactly what will happen before it happens. I like the not knowing, and the faith that is required to do that.

Hmm… here are a few pics from Thanksgiving night at Kyle Field. The Aggies lost 49-39 but put up a hell of a fight. I love those big games, and hopefully next year we can have a few more big time moments!


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Ok, so I’m not dead.

I haven’t blogged in quite a while. It isn’t that I don’t like this blog anymore, it’s just that life as of late hasn’t been full of things to write about. Not that I’ve just been sitting on my butt doing nothing, rather the opposite has been true, I’ve been going and haven’t really stopped to write much of anything.

I’m turning a few things over in my head that should make for better posts in the near future, so I suppose you could say this entry is really just to say that Calves from the Stall isn’t dead, it’s just been on a hiatus. But, this week it comes ROARING BACK!! (Sorry I just e-yelled at you. Rude I know, but I gotsta keep you on your toes… keep ya guessing.)

Until I find the time to pen some real thoughts, here’s a blog I’ve been having a lot of fun with lately:

1001 Rules for My Unborn Son

This guy’s hilarious. I tried to convey some of the same things in a post I made a while back (About Being a Guy), but Lemond takes it to a level I never even dreamed of. Good stuff right there.

Oh, and another site actually used something I wrote a while back from the entry about Texas in a Day. Texas Outdoor Movie Blogs quoted little ole me. Pretty cool.

Alright, check back again in a day or so as I’ll have something to really share with you. Until then…


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Football Season is Upon Us

Most of the year is pretty chill around my office. This week though marks the beginning of Aggie Football Practice. Fun, but tiring. Here are a couple of shots I took this morning out at practice.


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Unit #3

Haven’t blogged in a while. Not too sure why, just haven’t felt the need to get anything out of my head where this blog is the most appropriate place for that to happen.

I have moved as of late, and some great things are happening as a result. Though I’m going to start off by listing, as I see them, the crappy things about moving:

1. Packing. This is the most outrageously daunting task I undertake each year. Looking at all of the things I’ve accumulated, all the dust that has settled, and all of the things I still insist of clinging too makes me a bit sad. Though finding that one book you’ve been searching for, or having a chance to rummage through old pictures is often a wonderful result of a move. Still not sure that it’s worth it.

2. Cleaning. This sucks. Plain and simple.

3. New places. I don’t consider myself averse to change. I can embrace new surroundings and new people with relative ease, but not when moving. I have a hard time eating when I move to a new house. I have a hard time connecting with friends for the first week or so of living in a new home. I think when I’m comfortable and know what to expect is when I’m often functioning at my most complete, and the move mixed with a new bed, new lighting, new toilet throw me for a loop and it takes some time to adjust.

Living in the place Ian and I do now, Eagle Town homes, has been wonderful thus far. I hear lots of talk from friends of mine wanting to ‘live in community’ or do ‘communal living’ with one another. For a time this seemed like a pipe dream, or something that would be difficult at best to achieve. That to say, I wasn’t ever going to go out of my way to make something like this happen. After all, I own a car, and don’t mind driving 10 minutes to visit someone. The Eagle complex though doesn’t just boast a number of refurbished homes, it also houses 8 close friends. Friends who like coming over a drinking a beer and reading poetry. Friends that like making pancakes in the morning and sharing them with two single guys out of love and a hint of pity. Friends who don’t mind you stopping by to provide comic relief as they feverishly remodel their home while preparing to sell another.

These things are good. Having other believers close by is good. Though at some point this could easily fall apart and become just another dull part of my life if allowed to do so. I want to fight against that feeling. I want to fight for living as a family with these people. The other night Tim said something that’s been rattling around in my head ever since, “Community is something you see in the rear view mirror.” Wait, what? His point was that community shouldn’t be the goal we are shooting for. Community is the overflow of living with people as a family.

I like that. I like living with a family, and them being my community as a result.

So to my new family, welcome to me. Welcome to the things that are both good and bad about who I am, and who I am becoming. To all of you, I say that I can’t wait to get used to your wonderful expressions of love, and your shortfalls while seeking to live true life. This is going to be good. I just know it.

I guess moving isn’t so bad. Once you get all of your crap packed up and transported, all the dust and grime wiped away from the old place, and as soon as waking up in a new room doesn’t kinda freak you out any more, you realize you’re at home with family. That’s reassuring to me. Now if I could only find fresh pancakes every morning this thing would end up working out better than I ever imagined.


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