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Monday, December 15, 2008

A Special Tribute

We're a proud aunt and uncle again as of December 9 at 9:30am. Brooke Elyse was born in Holland Hospital four days early. To celebrate the occasion, we hosted an episode of Dancing With The Stars with our nephew, Brooke's older brother, Grant.
Grant showed great versatility in his dancing repertoire throughout the evening, cutting a rug like no 2-year old ever has before. Kathi and Grant kicked off the evening dancing a waltz to the song, "Splish Splash I was Takin' a Bath." Grant showed off his dance s-gills while Kathi showed that she is a dance a-fish-ionado by flutter-kicking all across the dance floor. The judges marked Grant down for having a "water-log," but other than that, it was a whale of a performance.

In the night cap, Chad and Grant danced a memorable waltz to the tune of "Lady in Red." They looked better than Lance Bass.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Acceptance Speech

There are so many people we have to thank as we receive the 2008 Big Ten Football Championship trophy. It takes so much effort from so many people. Its been such a great season and we don't have much time so we'll get right into it. We hope we don't leave anyone out.

First off, we'd like to thank our friends and family. Without them we wouldn't be here today.

We'd like to thank Coastal Carolina for even showing up to start the season. It was very courageous on their part to come to Beaver Stadium knowing full well that they would leave with a loss.

We'd like to thank the Oregon State fans that shared their brownies and propane with us at our tailgate when we ran out. Grandma with the orange sweater on from two cars over bakes a mean double chocolate fudge mix with frosting.




We'd like to thank Temple for pulling their quarterback after one play. They have been our doormat for the past three seasons but this time they gave us a game ... for a quarter.


We'd like to thank Illinois for bringing the heat during our first prime time full stadium white out. Chad would like to express special appreciation to the octogenarian sitting next to him that talked presidential politics throughout the first quarter. Kathi and her pregnant sister would like to give a shout out to the guy who sold them their "aisle" seats (aisle as in "aisle" never be able to get out of my row to go to the bathroom).

We'd like to thank Michigan for their entire miserable season. It gave such joy to so many of us in Happy Valley. Chad thought he heard angels when we sacked Michigan's quarterback in the end zone for a safety. The angels turned out to be the "faithful" followers of JoePa.

We'd like to thank the shirtless fans in front of us for keeping us entertained during the Indiana game. Their groggy rendition of the song, "Sweet Caroline" rivals that of any crooners in history.

Finally, we'd like to mention that a lot went into our frosty season finale against Michigan State. If it weren't for the 6'6" frat boy that showed us how he could kick himself in the face while standing straight up, we would have been bored waiting in line to get into the game. If it weren't for the four pairs of socks, three pairs of gloves, six pairs of pants, twelve shirts, five hoods, three winter hats (one of them was Russian) and one #24 white Penn State jersey, we would have frozen our (nittany lion) tails off during the game. As it was, our eyelids froze shut, leaving us to enjoy large chunks of the third and fourth quarters on tape delay in hyperthermic chambers later that night.

But we couldn't have done it without the players and coaches. Although we are accepting this prestigious trophy, the award is really for them. They are the ones that got us here. All we had to do was cheer.

So with roses between our teeth and another trophy on our minds, we're going to visit the Little Old Lady From Pasadena. What a senior year its been for us!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guessing Game

Can anyone guess by looking at these two pictures which one of us is pregnant?!!




If you guessed Kathi...you are correct! If you guessed Chad...well then there's just something wrong with you.
Little Baby Carlson is 13 weeks old (in utero of course) and will be making its appearance around May 12. Until then, we will continue to make guesses on whether we're going to be mommies or daddies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

American Politics, Jamaican Agriculture, and Greek Life

Fall weekends in a college town means sunny Saturday afternoons with crispy leaves at football games. Following Penn State (#3 in the polls behind Obama and McCain - er, wait, wrong poll) has kept us busy and given us some experiences we will never forget.

A few weeks ago, Kathi's family came out east for a weekend of football and volleyball. We all cheered our hearts out as PSU's defending champion and top-ranked volleyball team beat Iowa and PSU's top ten football team routed Illinois in a prime time white out (Kathi's dad enjoyed finally being able to root for a winning team for once this fall). Between the two games we saw the receiver of the Immaculate Reception join the product of the Immaculate Conception as Franco Harris headlined the Barack Obama campaign's tailgate right next to ours. (Todd Palin actually showed up to a PSU Republicans tailgate last week).




Unfortunately, we did not get to see the #2-ranked tennis duo of Larry and Eric try to upend the #1 seeded Chad Sampras and Kathi Graf. Eric couldn't play the match because he twisted his ankle while teaching his kindergarten kids Lance Bass dance moves and Larry's tennis raquet was made of wood....wood!


The next weekend we travelled west to Columbus, Ohio to watch Chad's sister play soccer against the Buckeyes. We spent Saturday night in nearby Zanesville (a.k.a. the middle of nowhere) watching the Nittany Lions paste the Wisconsin Badgers in another prime time football game. We celebrated the victory until 12:30 in the morning and then hit up our king-sized bed (it was longer than Kathi). Trying to fall asleep, we realized that we weren't the only ones celebrating the big win. We smelled something strange coming through the frame of the door joining our room to the adjacent one.



Chad tried stuffing towels and pillows in the cracks but we couldn't keep the smell of marijuana out of our room. Kathi fought the urge to go buy a bucket of chicken wings and we called the front desk to ask for assistance. A red-eyed, frizzy-haired woman knocked on the door a few minutes later offering us a new room and a price reduction, saying she'd "take care of the problem." We happily (frugally) accepted Fran's offer and let her re-join the party in our neighbors room. We're guessing that this kind of behavior will end her streak of three straight employee of the month awards.





We returned to Pennsylvania to host 15 of our friends and family members for the Michigan game. After a crispy afternoon of tailgating, we got everybody into the stadium for $60 or less - no mean feat, considering many from our crew wore maize and blue.



Kathi, Shawna, and Bria sat in the senior rows of the student section. The girls all said they felt like students again. In reality they looked like elementary students while waving their pom poms in people's faces and repeatedly falling off their bleacher. Did they even know there was a game going on? I think the saying goes, "you can take the girls out of Hamilton, Lake Odessa and ... Holland (c'mon Bria - you're better than that), but you can't take Hamilton, Lake Odessa, and Holland out of the girls."

Chad and Jeff took the scalped student tickets in the junior section. They got to their seats and realized that they were occupied. "Oh my gosh, you must be the one's that bought Christina's tickets," said Jenny, the Valley Girl that was in their seats with her boy toy sporting a "don't even think about it" look. Jenny promptly informed them that they couldn't sit there because she had blocked off all the seats around her for her BFFs - that's right, they were in Sorority Central. Chad and Jeff forced their way into the row right next to Jenny's boyfriend, commenting on how nice the flipped up collars on his shirts looked, before switching with a few Delta Xi's on the aisle of their row for some more room.

Chad and Jeff discussed during the first quarter of the game that Michigan can't be taken lightly. Kathi, Shawna, and Bria discussed during the first half that Appalachian Outdoors is the best place to shop for cute winter scarves (wait, who was sitting in Sorority Central). But when Penn State's Jared Odrick sacked Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan in the end zone for a safety, nobody had to discuss anything anymore. All the problems of the world (and our voices) went away during that one cathartic moment. 110,000 screaming fans never sounded so wonderful to our ears.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Japan Days 1 and 2

So, I had a 13 hour flight to a sport philosophy conference in Japan that got a little boring, so I thought I'd write a blog entry for the trip. If you are not interested in reading this, then don't - I won't be offended. Also, if it doesn't sound as good as our usual blog entries, then that is because my better half hasn't been able to help. Even though I know nothing about the Japanese culture or language, I had a good feeling at the beginning of the trip. At 5:50am John and I sat at the (only) gate at State College's airport waiting to board our flight. We had spent the last 25 minutes listening to a long-winded sports law professor we know talk about how annoyed he gets with "academic blow-hards" (profs that talk too much) and clean his ears and nose out with his pinky, when a woman on the other side of me threw me an elbow, saying she heard we were going to Tokyo.Yes! How providential!! This gave me an out with the sports law complainer (while John kept listening) and an in with the Japanese. The woman next to me (we'll call her Tina - I didn't catch her name but that's what she looked like) said that Yamaha paid for a vacation for her family to visit Tokyo because they had sold a lot of Rhinos and bikes at their central PA store.Tina, a caucasian, was not the expert I hoped for, but I gave her a chance anyway.


Chad: Can you tell me a bit about Tokyo?

Tina: Well, the culture is a lot different than ours.

Chad: I figured that. I don't even know the language.

Tina: Yeah, that's different than ours, too. You won't understand it.

Chad: (pause, with confused Jim Halpert look) Right. I thought so. I have a student here at PSU that's from Tokyo and she said I'll probably get lost.

Tina: Oh no, don't worry about that. They have a big sign that says "Narita Airport" when you get there and it says "Tokyo" there, too.

Chad: (long pause, with confused look) Right. Thanks. I kind of meant when I get into Tokyo. I think the pilot will get us to the airport.

Tina: Well you might get lost because you won't understand the language, but others will be able to find you.

Chad: Right. Because I'm tall and I have blond hair.

Tina: No, because you won't have a black or navy blue suit on. Everyone wears suits. There's probably like a million of them in Tokyo.

Chad: (longer pause, with confused look) Right. I thought there were more like 10 million people in Tokyo, so there's at least a million suits. But the women don't wear suits, do they?

Tina: No, but you won't be able to understand them because they're speaking Japanese. There culture is so different from ours. Oh, and by the way, remember to exchange your yen before you get back, especially if you have a lot of it. It just isn't as good back here.



Our 6am flight finally took off at 7:02.



We got into DC in plenty of time (5 hours) to catch our connection to Tokyo. John and I had some schoolwork to do so I opened my notebook and he plugged his in as we sat at our gate as far from blow-hards and central PA Japanese experts as possible. We split the difference between an old homeless (-looking) Japanese woman on one side of the room and a mother and 3-year old son on the other.The Japanese woman wasn't actually homeless, but her tattered clothing, frizzy hair, and the way she intermittently coughed up phlegm into a hanky didn't help her cause at all.
The 3-year old boy, on the other hand, was not homeless. In fact, he was very mannerly for being an annoying and ranbunctious little tike. He greeted everyone that walked down the hallway by asking, "What's your name?" It was cute as he met George and said his own name was Maharis. But after meeting Carlos, Joe, Wayne, and Bob, it got old. (One wonders if a young Calvin Broadus asked a similar question often as a child before producing his first hit "What's My Name?" under his more popular name, Snoop Dogg).


We shared row 33 on our 13 hour flight with Maharis and his mother, while the (homeless) Japanese woman with a cough sat in row 34.

Japan Day 3

Armed with courage and adventurous-ness, John and I set out on our own to navigate through this land of short, pigeon-toed people that are suspect drivers. Well, actually it was more an attitude of frugality with which we set out. The guided bus tour of Tokyo for sport philosophers cost 6000 yen ($60) and we didn't want to pay that, so we opted for the "Idiot's Guide Themselves in Tokyo" tour.


Like veteran world travelers, we navigated a changeover at Tokyo's busiest subway station, going from the blue line to the orange line on our way to three tourist attractions that boasted no entrance fee. (It wasn't until the way back that we realized we had been paying the children's price at the computerized ticket booths - in Japanese, the word "children" looks like the word "one-way," which happens to look like every other word in the Japanese lexicon to non-Japanese speakers.) We walked to the Imperial Palace first. Seeing the deep moat and majestic stone walls surrounding its grounds whetted our appetite for taking in Japan's most sacred structure.
The East Gate to the Palace was closed. We couldn't read the sign but the 4'7", 90-pound guard with a scowl indicated that we should go elsewhere. We met a similar fate (and guard) at the Southeast Gate. And at the West Gate. And at the North Gate. It just so happens that John and I were mistaken when we understood the Imperial Palace website's claim that "No Admission will be taken on Thursdays." We thought that meant we didn't have to pay. They meant it was closed.While the 2-mile walk around the Palace gave us a beautiful view of the entire aforementioned moat and stone wall, it also led us to our next destination - the Imperial Gardens. Deceivingly, when the Japanese talk about gardens, they really only mean "grassy areas with trees." We had seen one of those before so we left, toured the National Art Museum and caught the subway back. John enjoys the subway because its the only time he's taller than a large group of people unless he goes back to his elementary school. I enjoy the subway because I get a chance to mingle with the "rocars" - the people that are from the area.

Congratulating ourselves on our ability to navigate congested and foreign commuter traffic, we hopped off the train and went directly across the street to the local grocer for some sushi. Unfortunately, with sushi in hand, we took a wrong turn out of the grocery store. An hour and fifteen minutes later we still hadn't completed the seven minute walk to our hotel. After unsuccessfully asking directions to a Japanese cop who pulled out a Japanese map that looked like some of the abstract art we saw at the museum, we were officially lost. So, with our tails between our legs we found a park pavilion where a homeless man had just vacated a picnic table and sat down to eat our raw fish and rice. Sad and dejected, we ate in silence except for the piped in American oldies music that made the lingering smell of homeless men oddly familiar.

As we left the park, set on retracing every one of our missteps, we noticed an outdoor croquet field across the street ... that we had seen earlier that morning ... from our bedroom windows ... next door to our hotel.

Japan - The Highlight

What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? In Japan they call it Sumo wrestling, a traditional sport to the gods of Shintoism that has become one of Japan's most lucrative professional sports. I have wanted to see this sporting event more than any other since I found out about it from a Japanese foreign exchange student I met in the first grade.
What happens when you put a 6'3", 165-pound sport philosophy grad student in a building full of 400+ pound professional wrestlers that are built like rhinos? The grad student gets hurt. No, I did not actually get into the ring with the pony-tailed human road blocks - I would've come back in two pieces. And no, I did not get a chance to put on the sumo uniform - it looks like they're wearing thongs the size of papasan chairs (neither skinny nor fat guys should ever wear what they wear).

I did, however, sustain an injury that prevented me from ever trying my hand (and gut) at Sumo. While walking around the crowded concourse of Ryogoku Kokugikan trying to find the gate to my seat, I made a fatal mistake that changed the course of the rest of my trip. I wore flip-flops. In all my haste to get to my seat and watch the scantily clothed obese men squat and ram into each other, I did my own ramming. While looking to my left and walking to my right, I rammed into an ex-sumo-wrestler-turned-usher. As I rammed into him, my upper body went flying backwards and my lower body got caught underneath him. My entire foot slid underneath his except for my right toenail, which violently ripped off my foot and stuck into the weight-flattened rubber sole of his shoe.
"Yeeooow!" My primal scream sounded eerily similar to the Japanese word for "fire." My opponent (usher) quickly realized my mistake and calmed the frenzied crowd before they hit the exits. Embarrassed and in a great deal of pain, he then showed me to my seat. From my nose-bleed seat, I wondered, "do sumo wrestlers ever lose toenails?" Many of them had their ankles and feet wrapped in ace bandages and one of the yokozunas (grand champions) even had what looked like an athletic tape diaper underneath his papasan thong. I'll take nine toenails to having to wear that kind of outfit anyday.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Changes

State College, a sleepy summer mountain town of roughly 40,000 residents rapidly transforms at the end of every August into a diverse and cosmopolitan 80,000 residents electrified by the onset of football season. The average age changes from 62.4 in the summer to 21 (coincidentally) in the fall. Here are the tales of how our lives change with the advent of the student body back in action.

1. It takes twice as long to get anywhere in town. The migratory student population includes 18-21 year old Jersey kids driving expensive SUVs and living at an altogether faster pace of life (Chad needs to be reminded to look both ways before crossing the street), and international grad students trying to acclimate themselves to American culture (we heard our upstairs neighbors teaching their 3-year old "Jingle Bells" - in August!?!).
2. We were invited to our first wedding reception since becoming Keystone Staters. An alum of Chad's program exchanged vows earlier in the summer in California before having a reception back home in State College. After meeting him twice, Chad made enough of an impression on the new groom to receive an invite to the reception. Apparently impressions are easily made on this newly married sport philosopher, as Nigel the goat also received an invite. Nigel wore out his welcome quickly by drooling on the refreshments and becoming the party pooper - literally.3. The transience of move-in week on campus reverberates to the surrounding mountain towns as well, as flocks of "mountain people" swarm to the tented fields of the Grange County Fair - America's oldest covered fair. Every industrial corporation, including Kathi's employer, expects a massive decrease in production during this week as its tractor-pullin', animal-showin', tank-top-wearin', chew-spittin', cousin-datin' employees flock to the fairgrounds in neighboring Centre Hall. To fit in, Kathi had Chad wear his favorite #40 Coors Light Sterling Marlin racing shirt. It worked - as Chad fielded numerous queries about Marlin's crash at Brooklyn (we actually did not see it, but learned to act disappointed).4. To celebrate Chad's 28th birthday, Penn State invited its other 20,000 most die-hard fans for a pep rally the night before the opening game. We arrived 45 minutes early for 50th row seats to hear JoePa give a very inspirational speech about how he told President Lyndon B. Johnson to "shove it" when Johnson chose Texas as national champions instead of the undefeated Nittany Lions. Paterno's speech was so inspirational that he had students foaming at the mouth - so much so, that Kathi and Chad almost got spit on by a still-motivated fan from a 6th story apartment building later that night (beer may or may not have been a factor in the incident).5. We arrived 2 hours early for our (Penn State's) game against Coastal Carolina and got seats four rows off the field. We tried yelling at JoePa before and during the game but he didn't hear us. Unfortunately, his players and assistant coaches seem to have the same problem.6. In third-generation Carlson tradition, Kathi made Chad a red and white Waldorf Astoria cake for his birthday. This cake is time consuming and frustrating to make, but heaven-on-earth to eat. In the past, the baking of this cake has forced a normally serene Kathi to throw things, kick things, cuss, and hit the bottle in an effort to attain the frosting's right consistency. In only four short years, she is a WAWA (Waldorf Astoria World Authority). Shawna - best of luck as you make yours for Jeff.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bark in the Park

At week's end, our hometown State College Spikes, a Pittsburgh Pirates short-season Single A baseball affiliate, had a strong hold on the title of "Worst Team in All of Professional Baseball." With a record of 10-40, they are so bad that Dick Farrand, a resident at Centre County's assisted living community, who is a contagiously positive sports enthusiast, turned down an opportunity to go see his beloved Spikes play with his fellow community-members because, "They stink." In an effort to boost fan attendance, the Spikes offered a "Bring your Dog to the Game" Night on August 6. Neither Kathi nor Chad are dog-lovers (a better term for us would be "Dog-gedly Anti-Pooch"), but some of our friends have canines and so we joined them at the park.

To our amazement, the Spikes were "Lucky Dogs" that night, pulling off a flea-infested come from behind victory. They scored four runs shortly after the "Seventh Inning Scratch" to win 4-2. While Chad spent the evening brainstorming bad dog puns to share with other fans after the game, Kathi sat downwind from a shedding golden retriever and right in front of an excited and long-tailed mutt. She spent half-innings inhaling dog hair and getting slapped in the head by the mutt's tail. Chad told her to just not to make any "bones" about it - it wasn't that "ruff."

A New Member

We're proud to finally announce a new member to our family. Kathi and I have spent considerable time and energy trying to figure out the perfect way to tell everybody and we thought now is the time to post a blog and let everyone know.

We are pleased to announce that on July 26, Shawna Lee Buche became the newest member of the Carlson family. She and Chad's brother got married in Ionia, Michigan near her hometown of Lake Odessa in between the high-class Ionia Free Fair and Michigan's finest in the Ionia County Correctional facility (some of whom seemed to be in attendance at the wedding).

After being pronounced man and wife, the bride and groom exited the chapel to NBC's "The Office" theme song and the entire wedding party rode on a purple-painted school bus to the reception overlooking barbed-wire fences and guards with shotguns (okay, now we're exaggerating). All four hundred guests had a great time since there were no fun-haters allowed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A "Great" Morning

Although the title of our blog is "Happenings in Happy Valley," we've had some complaints that most of our posts don't deal with our happenings in Happy Valley so much as our happenings when we travel outside Happy Valley. So to give you what you want, we've decided to post about our time in Happy Valley. Here's an entry about our Saturday morning. Doesn't sound interesting? Well, you asked for it.

At 7:30am, Kathi woke up even though this is the only morning of the week that she can sleep in. The Coupon Queen of the Valley couldn't resist scanning the deals in the morning newspaper. It paid off, as she took her coupons to Giant grocery store and paid $2.54 for two bags full of items that should have cost $25.88. In related news, Giant grocery store will soon be going out of business. In unrelated news, Chad was still asleep when Kathi returned home from the store.

At 11am, we decided to head out and hit the tennis ball around. We love playing tennis together. Since our wedding day, we have enjoyed playing tennis together more than any other sport. Our tennis dates started as Chad teaching Kathi how to play the game but have now progressed to competitive best-two-out-of-three-set matches. Kathi has really become a good player (or Chad is just an exceptional coach - you decide).
Our tennis dates have coincidentally given us glimpses of famous people on campus. For instance, last time we played, we saw PSU's wide receiver's coach, Mike McQuery, walking by (yes, he is the red-headed coach that is best known for getting chewed out by JoePa on the sideline at least once a game). The time before that, we saw the Penn State men's basketball coaching staff pass by on the courts. Before that, it was the starting five of the women's basketball heading towards the gym. Prior to that, we played next to a men's basketball player that was actually playing tennis with one of his coaches. Penn State athletes may not be famous or worthy of note to many people, but they are to us (Chad).
One would think that these brushes with greatness heavily favor Kathi during our matches, but they don't. Although Chad always loses focus when (somewhat) well-known players and coaches walk by, Kathi always gets self-conscious too, because they are usually gawking at her (even the women's basketball players).This morning was no exception. At the gas station on our way to the courts, we saw Big Phil Taylor. Phil tips the scales at 6'3" and a beefy 330 pounds, and spent a great deal of last football season as a starting defensive tackle. However, Phil has made more headlines recently as the subject of what JoePa has termed "the media's witchhunt" of Penn State's football program. Last week Taylor was kicked off the team for repeated off the field incidents in which he violated public law (mostly fighting).
Looking at Phil's SUV-sized frame and wondering who would ever want to fight him as we left the gas station, we had another brush with greatness. Travelling down Atherton St. (State College, PA's busiest street), we ran into a bit of a traffic jam because there was a guy in a motor scooter going well below the speed limit downhill in the left lane. We passed on the right and noticed that it was Chad's advisor, R. Scott Kretchmar. The 64-year old, who is among the best known sports philosophers in the world, loves his motorized scooter and claims that it is a part of his efforts to "go green." Unlike Harry Dunn and Lloyd Christmas' scooter, Dr. Kretchmar's gets 80 miles to the gallon. We smiled and waved at the only person with a driver's license that we've ever seen on a moped.
Once we arrived at the well-maintained courts overlooking Mount Nittany, we changed from seeing great people to emulating great people. With the looks of Kournikova, Kathi had spurts where she played like Sharapova and others where she acted like McEnroe (Chad had to dock her one point for slamming her racquet down in disgust, she then slammed her racquet down again, using explicit language to tell Chad what she thought of his point-penalty). Apparently not everyone is happy all the time in Happy Valley, but it was a "great" morning nonetheless.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Houseboat

When the topic of Raystown Lake, south central Pennsylvania's gem on the dammed (not damned) Juniata River, comes up, rumors abound. So we invited some friends from Michigan down to check on the rumors' veracity. So Josh, Steph, Charlie, Abby, Mike, Laura, Chad, and Kathi left dock on Boat #7 for a 3-day tour ... a 3-day tour.


First, Raystown Lake claims to have the second largest lake monster in the world. While the Loch Ness monster of Scotland takes the cake as larger and more violent, "Raystown Ray" measures a formidable 40-50 feet in length but is widely believed to be herbivorous - posing little threat to tourists past the initial surprise of seeing a large water dinosaur.
Although we did not see Ray during our Fourth of July weekend excursion (maybe he was scared by the booming fireworks), we did see many large objects in the water (this includes turtles, blue gill, seaweed, white whales, a river rat, and Chad, who now weighs a chubby 167.5 pounds after gorging himself while on vacation).

Second, we had heard claims of the people of Pennsyl-tucky. This is a group rumored to inhabit the area of central PA between Bradford in the north and Chambersburg in the south - a group that lives in Pennsylvania but, based on their appearance and behavior, should live in Kentucky. In a move not dissimilar from the Mormon trek from Illinois to Utah or the Seminole tribe's Trail of Tears, Pennsyl-tuckians reportedly moved north and east from Kentucky when semi-annual dentist visits came into vogue and mulletts went out of vogue, but lost a lot of their troops as they passed through West Virginia.
Rich Rodriguez's wife/sister, a member of this latter group, proved the truth of this rumor as she joined our houseboat for our tribute to the Pennsyl-tuckians - "Redneck/NASCAR Night" (see Coach Rod's wife/sister in the white tank top? It says Michigan on it - real trashy!).
During our Redneck/NASCAR Night festivities, we saw other houseboats float by with its cargo dressed in similar attire to ours. "I built this gut 12 oz. at a time," read one guy's shirt on an empty-beer-can-strewn Boat #16. His buddy wore cut-off denim with a picture of a wolf on it.

Excited to see that others had the same idea we did about dress-up theme nights, we yelled to Boat 16, "Are you guys celebrating Redneck/NASCAR Night, too?" We saw them three days later when we checked-out and they were still celebrating Redneck/NASCAR Night as they drove off in their pick-up trucks.
We did, however, get a chance to meet some locals, as an Amish couple joined us for our Celebrity Couple theme night. Moses and Abigail Klopfenstein got to spend some quality time with pseudo-Kid Rock and Pam Anderson, pseudo-Britney and K-Fed, and pseudo-Dwight Schrute and Angela. While Moses remained stoic and out of his element, Abigail seemed to enjoy herself. Finally, we celebrated 80s night in honor of the air temperature, the water temperature, the amount of times we played "Catch Phrase," and the decade in which we grew up. Chad played rock star, Josh played Miami Vice, Charlie played Caddyshack, Kathi played New Kids on the Block, Steph played Saved by the Bell, Abby played Cyndi Lauper, and Mike and Laura played Richard Simmons and Denise Austin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I've Been Tagged

So...thanks in part to Zoetie, it appears Kathi has been tagged to list 5 random things about herself. Here goes...

1 - Since my parents never got me the cocker spaniel I always dreamed of having, I took matters into my own hands and found a pet. His name was Perky...and he was a bird...a dead bird...whose eyes would pop open whenever you squeezed his neck. Perky was a part of the family for 3 days until my parents found out about him (smelled him) and made me give him a proper burial. Best friend I ever had.

2 - Since my 16th birthday in 1997, I have had 9 jobs, 3 boyfriends, 7 different residences, 15 different hairstyles (and 1 perm!), 4 surgeries, 3 trips abroad, 5 bridesmaid dresses, 3 formal dresses in college, 2 prom dresses, and only 1 car. That's right, the white 1994 Grand Am is still alive and (barely) kicking.

3 - Sometimes my toes turn purple (more often than not actually). Weird.

4 - Hi my name is Kathi. And I am addicted to...cutting coupons. It all started at Giant Foodstores in PA where they double all coupons up to a dollar. One time I paid $ .64 on a bill that should have been $ 18.73. Another time I paid $ 18.15 on a bill that should have been $ 86.29. I'm not sorry for my actions or the people I've hurt in the process. I can't help it...its who I am.

5 - Most of you would think I always walked the straight and narrow, but one day I did not. In the middle of winter of my 1st grade year I got kicked out of gym class. Mrs. VanderKolk was at wits end with our class and warned that the next person to say a word was "outta of there." However I missed that ultimatum while I was trying to tell the person in front of me in line that he needed to move up...he was crowding my space. Mrs. VanderKolk pointed me towards the door where I sat by the drinking fountain in the hallway wallowing in self pity until the 6th graders came walking down the hallway. I couldn't be seen, so I jetted towards the bathroom for what I thought was a few seconds while the older kids passed. 35 minutes later, the search party was successful in finding me . Needless to say, Mrs. VanderKolk learned her lesson to never kick me out of class again.


How could you kick that little face out of gym class? :)



Alrighty, that's all I got. I tag Corrie, Luke, and Grant.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lake Placid

We spent most of Chad's First Quarter 2008 paycheck filling up on gas for our Memorial Day weekend trip up to Lake Placid, NY. Luckily, our trusty '98 Nissan Maxima (the younger of our two cars) is fuel efficient and so we had a little money left over for some crackers.


On our trek north through the Appalachians, we passed the city of Scranton, PA, home of "The Office" (if you didn't know that, then ... we will attack you with the North) and Dunder-Mifflin paper company. Although we didn't have time to stop and see the sights, we did see road signs that piqued our interest and brought back fond memories of our Thursday evenings from 9-9:30pm over the past few years. The Steamtown Mall is where Michael and the girls went to "dish" about Jan and other things. Lake Wallenpaupack is where the entire office took their "booze cruise." We can't believe these places even exist!! Is Schrute Farms, then, a real place, too? And where can we sign up for the "Michael-Scott-Dunder-Mifflin-Scranton-Meredith-Palmer-Memorial-Celebrity-Rabies-Awareness-Race-For-The-Cure-Pro-Am" 5K charity run?
We also noticed signs for Penn State University's Scranton Campus - and Chad almost wet his pants with excitement. A whole new world has opened up to us. We feel like Columbus sailing the ocean blue. Chad is thinking about transferring to this smaller branch campus and practiced his Michael Scott face and Kevin Malone smile (can you guess which is which?) for material if they do grad student interviews there. We don't think PSU-Scranton's Theatre Department will be needing his services.
We continued north through the Catskills and into the Adirondacks to a city that has hosted two Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980). Lake Placid, however, didn't even look big enough to host two county fairs. It reminded us of Beulah, MI - a town with some charm overlooking an inland lake where the men are men and the women are too.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Lake Placid's Hilton Resort hosted the 2008 conference of the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) and Chad was scheduled to present a paper. Centrally located, the Hilton has a beautiful view of Mirror Lake, but since we spent all our money on gas and crackers, we stayed a mile and a half from the lake in the homely Swiss Acres Inn. The SAI did not have refridgerators in the rooms and we could hear conversations from guests in the rooms on each side of us and above us, but our reservation did get us one free scrambled egg at breakfast and a free drink at dinner (making it totally worth it - we got tired of crackers).
NASSH is the world's largest sports history organization and is a very reputable group. Sports historians, however, are often derogatorily labelled as "sports fans with typewriters." Whoever came up with that needs to a)come and see this conference to understand the depth and excellence of research being done, and b)quit living in the Stone Age - no one uses typewriters anymore.

Many of the conference's sessions were very interesting (to anyone that appreciates sports history - those people are called "nerds," and there were plenty of us them/us at the conference). Yet some presentations just didn't whet Chad's appetite. So he and the other three Penn State grad students at the conference decided to forego sessions on "Modern History of Snowboarding from a Jungian Perspective," "The Sacred Peace Run of the Wabanaki People," and "Anti-Semitism in the Lake Placid Club" to meet up with their families and hold their own Lake Placid Olympics.
Kathi took these games very seriously, spending time stretching before our first event. It paid off for her as she won mini-golf on Pirate's Cove, defeating everyone in the field despite some strong gender bias sentiments early on. The boys she beat got a taste of what it felt like on the playground at recess back at Sandyview Elementary School in Overisel, MI in the late 1980s. When Kathi wants to win a sporting event, she does so (she also peed in the sandbox at Sandyview Elementary in first grade).
The next event was the Polar Bear Swim in Lake Placid. The crowd expected Chad to have a poor showing in this dreadful dip in sub-40 degree water because he doesn't have much body fat for insulation. However, once he took his shirt off and showed enough body hair to prove the theory of evolution, the crowd's fears subsided. Chad tied for second place, avoided hypothermia, and had to deal with other symptoms that accompany men in cold water.

The third, final, and most competitive event was the bobsled. Lake Placid natives take their bobsledding seriously, finding sponsors for their sleds and all. Feeling like NASCAR racers (and never wanting to feel like that again) we were in the Budweiser bobsled. Our competition included one sport historian that received his bobsled license in 1937 (one has to be 12 to attain that license - you do the math) and a British sport historian named Norman that spent the entire weekend flexing his calf muscles for the grad students and proclaiming to have the best gastrocnemius' (scientific term for calf) of any septo-genarian in the world. We will say it again, competition was fierce (old).

However, we never actually got a chance to compete. The judges at the starting blocks deemed Kathi to be perfect for the race with an athletic and petite body, but they disqualified Chad for having legs that are too skinny. They admitted that no one wants to look at his chicken legs in the saggy spandex outfits required for bobsledders by NY state law. Chad argued to no avail that it would look no worse on him than on the 83-year old expert or the 75-year old calf-y Brit.
At least we got to drive through Scranton on the way home.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Newest Penn State Convert

Much to Gampa's dismay, Grant became the newest Nittany Lion fan this weekend. It took a lot of time, but he really seemed to understand the pride involved with being a Nittany Lion (that's right, we brainwashed him). At last, a belly-showing, bottle-drinking, Beaver Stadium-going JoePa fan.
video

Mothers Day

Since LeBron James' mom rushed the court to defend her son after he was intentionally fouled, many other mother's have come to the aide of their sons. Its a liberating and empowering Mother's Day tribute to the women behind the powerful men of the world. Just as Gloria James tried to pick a fight with a man twice her size to stick up for her 6'8" 250-pound son, the Boyz II Men's moms told them they really love that annoying song "Mama," Donovan McNabb's mom said she will continue to serve Campbell's Chunky Soup, "Babs" Bush told the nation that her son really does know that Africa is a continent and not a country, and Stacy's mom has still got it going on.


Our nephew Grant had more than just his mother sticking up for him this Mother's Day. He had his "Gama" and "Auntie" there by his side. Grant's mother bought him a schoolbus tent that they set up in the basement. This schoolbus is not a normal length bus, in fact it looks like a "short bus." When Chad saw this, he could barely contain his excitement at this perfect opportunity for "short bus" jokes, plus it would be a few months until Grant outweighs Chad to be able to physically retaliate.
Unfortunately, no one else in the family found the "short bus" to be an object of humor except Grant's dad who made Chad promise not to make any "short bus" jokes on the blog (these are not "short bus" jokes as much as jokes about "short bus" jokes, or meta-"short bus" jokes, in philosophy lingo). Auntie Kathi and Gama came to Grant's rescue and had a great time with him in the schoolbus tent as they all sang/screamed, "The wheels on the bus go round and round..."

Friday, May 2, 2008

CityServe

"We're not going to have church. Instead we're going to be the church," our pastor told us a few weeks ago. Calvary cancelled all five of its weekend services and encouraged the church members to go out into the community and serve in place of coming to church for worship.

Our Life Group at church decided we would spend most of the weekend serving, since we are able-bodied and active people. Here are the highlights.

Strawberry Fields. We spent Saturday morning doing yard work at a group home. Our Life Group thought this would be a great opportunity to be able to work and interact with some people that may not get visitors a whole lot. However, when we arrived the social worker in charge of the home told us that all of the residents were non-verbal. Non-verbal is much different than non-communicative, as we found out. Pete, a wheelchair-bound resident that hadn't made a noise in over 10 years, started grunting intermittently as he watched us pull weeds out of the yard and landscaping. We thought Pete was explaining to us what it would be like to watch Monica Seles play Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon but found out later that Pete was trying to let us know that the crabgrass and dandelions we were pulling out at the roots were actually onion grass and tulips. Oops.

West Branch Park. We have some real go-getters in our Life Group that have far more gall than either of us (that isn't saying much). When they said they wanted to go door-to-door at a trailer park asking people if they needed help with anything, we both scrambled for excuses to bow out. Luckily Chad has a collection of "excuse emails" from his students that finally came in handy. Kathi used the common "doctor's appointment" excuse (with women, you just can't ask questions when they pull that card) and Chad used the "my mom gets worried when I'm outside in the wind working up a sweat because I might catch a cold" excuse that a 23-year old former Golden Gloves boxer gave him last year before a tennis class.

Actually we joined our group Sunday morning at the (dirt road) entrance to the (trailer) park (not very) excited about serving the (mobile) community. Feeling like we had been transported to West Virginia, we put on smiles to serve. A bumper sticker in a window reading, "Have you hugged your assault rifle lately?" and a pick-up truck proudly displaying the slogan, "Dodge the Father, Ram the Daughter," on its windshield did not make us feel real comfortable but we had a great time rounding up stray garbage, sweeping off a roof and cleaning out gutters. It was a great experience for us and we hope we are able to help them again in the future.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Soccer Stars

The grad students in the Kinesiology department put together a soccer team in the men's minor league. The 120 teams in the men's minor league were divided into 20 divisions of 6, with the winner of each division moving on to the playoffs.

The Kinesiology Football Club (KFC) had a great season and finished second in Division L, missing the playoffs by one game. KFC squeaked out one goal victories over FC Daddyos, the 313, and the Yetti Brigade, and won by default in a rain-shortened game over a weak Penn State United squad. Did Chad take the IM season too seriously? Aside from scheduling two pre-season practices for his team, playing the last game on a sore and swollen ankle, and being inconsolable for days after the loss to the Erie Football Club, he actually controlled himself pretty well as he went the entire season without getting a yellow card (a feat he did not accomplish last season because of a blatant/instinctive (depends who you ask) elbow to the face of an opponent).

KFC did not win the championship but did take home a few awards. With an average age closing in on 30 they were hands down the oldest team, and with players hailing from 4 continents the team ran away with the United Nations Award. In a closer ballot, KFC lost to Doo Doo Butter, Sea Men, Balls Deep, and Team Name Pending for the worst team name.



Pictured (from left to right). Crouching: Dave Lunt - Utah (aka "Dirk Handlebar" from his days last spring sporting a mullett and a mustache. Dave used his background as a football defensive back in his role as containing outside back); John Gleaves - Portland (a national champion cyclist, John was the goalie and the assistant to the team's equipment manager); Chad (team captain, had to buy child-size shin guards to fit his skinny legs); Julio Gomez - Colombia (grew up in Miami, he dazzled opponents with his footwork on the field and awed his teammates by doing backflips after the games). Standing: Justin Schwartzwelder - Georgia (split time as the team's outside fullback, social coordinator, and fashion consultant); Joel Martin - Binghamton, NY (the defensive specialist turned down more lucrative offers from other IM teams to be a part of something (sorta) special with KFC); Matthew Llewellyn - Wales (the team's equipment manager that looks like Michael Scott, plays like Dwight Schrute, and dresses like Andy Bernard); Andrzej Przybyla - Poland (the attacker intimidated opponents spoke to them in Polish even though he was only saying that he had more consonants in his name than them); Herman Van Werkhoeven (the South African speedster has a natural resemblance to the main character in Grand Theft Auto). Not pictured: Alex Krasnick (the enforcer from Jersey, after the ref cancelled our first game because of an gutter-busting rainstorm he got a red card for telling the ref what he could do with his whistle). Special thanks to Kathi for taking the team picture and to Jana, Maria, Caroline, Kasha, and Katie (the team wives and girlfriends), and Zola, James, and Jeshu (the next generation of KFC) for putting up with the has-beens throughout the season.