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.