We go back to school today – Pool School – where we learn all about taking care of our new swimming pool. Hopefully, they can set up the fountain to run when we want and properly hook-up the underwater light. The pool also gets converted from chlorine to salt this afternoon. We’ll probably start with a maintenance program until we get the feel for its care. At some point, we’ll probably end up installing a heater, but I’m content with the temperature for my morning laps. I’ve gotten in it every day since we’ve moved in, slowly putting a dent in its cost-per-use.
There’s a lot to learn about our new house, as we’re gradually trained on the use of associated appliances, electronics, and mechanics. We know all about smoke alarms and got our new central vacuum accessories yesterday. We’re ordering rugs and furniture to reduce the hollow echo, as we continue to wait for our lonely furniture that sits in the Portland warehouse. No word from North American Van Lines despite several calls this week. They supposedly continue to refund us $100/day penalty that now amounts to over $1000. Plantation shutters and lanai blinds have been ordered for much needed privacy from the close-by neighbors. I’ve met the people on both sides now, but those across the street seem much friendlier.
New home celebrations continue, as we get settled. Two pictures have been hung on the wall and we own a new ladder. Today is my wife’s eldest daughter turns 40. My son and his wife presented us with a wall hanging of “Happy Together” in honor of our 20th anniversary last week. Two of their three kids have birthdays in May, as we soon flip to our second Florida month. Last night we went to the neighborhood ballpark for dinner, where the sunset was much more entertaining than the game. The Braves, now our home team, drubbed the struggling Cubs 10-0. They took them to school – not Pool School.
“Dodgertown” in Vero Beach was closed and extensive renovations are being done by MLB, so the closed I could get was the front iron gates. Our friend grew up there, her dad a pitcher for the 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers. He set a rookie record for 27 strike outs in two successive games before an injury ended his career. The park’s historical significance also reflects the 1947 signing of Jackie Robinson. Corona also affected visits this year to Cubs/White Sox Spring training in Phoenix and a Cardinals/Rangers exhibition game at the new Globe Life Park in Arlington.
I found myself in front of the TV again last night with the Chiefs and Buccaneers headed to the Super Bowl. I also monitored another IU Basketball loss, this time to Rutgers after the surprising Iowa victory. The game against Michigan State this weekend has already been stomped out by the pandemic, so we’ll have to live with this disappointment for at least a full week before Illinois comes to town. That game will then likely lead to further despair, as tourney chances once again have been sadly derailed.
We returned our rental car to the airport last night only to find a dent in the hood. I remember parking at a Cracker Barrell restaurant the other day under the shade of a coconut tree. Could one have fallen and caused this costly damage or was it like that when we picked it up? It’s just another hassle we’ll have to deal with on this journey. I’ve run the beach path and street in front of our hotel the past two mornings past all the Art Deco hotels in our area. The once heavily congested Ocean Avenue has been shut down to traffic, so the restaurants have all expanded into the streets. It’s now a much more pleasant atmosphere on the beach front if there’s such a thing as a plus-side to the Coronavirus outbreak. Running near the water and in the sun is always a nice distraction from the dreary streets of downtown Portland.
It’s a New Year with hopes of an I.U. Outback Bowl victory. Last year, they fell short against Tennessee with a late game letdown. With last night’s Ohio State Sugar Bowl domination of Clemson, this Hoosier team is even stronger than I thought. We came so close against the Buckeyes, plus Northwestern throttled Auburn, so the BIG 10 has proven to be a very formidable league, especially against the highly touted SEC. Indiana can add to the 3-0 conference bowl record today with a victory over Old Miss in Tampa. This would set the stage for more respect when next year’s postseason slate is determined.
The Hoosiers should have played in the top tier Citrus Bowl instead of Northwestern but fell in the final rankings to #11 despite a convincing win over Wisconsin, the other BIG bowl representative. Clearly politics played a role, just as Notre Dame was awarded a playoff spot despite the Clemson blow-out loss. Coach Tom Allen has vaulted the I.U. program into the upper echelon of a powerful conference. They can prove their worth today! My other team, #25 Oregon, plays #10 Iowa State later today in the Fiesta Bowl.
Meanwhile, basketball continues to struggle, but did manage to pull-off an OT win over Penn State. Another W against Maryland next week and they can even their BIG record after an 0-2 start. Basketball used to be the big sport on campus in Bloomington, but surprisingly football has proven to be more successful in recent years. In the Bob Knight era it was “The Magic of 60.” If the Hoosiers got to 60 before their opponent victory was eminent. However, with the addition of the 3-point shot, 70 is now coach Archie Miller’s defining number. With his leadership, in conference play (including the B1G tourney) the Hoosiers are 18-7 when scoring 70 or more points and 10-30 when scoring below 70 points. 70 is the new 60 going forward.
Purdue basketball is off to a 7-4 start, but 2-2 in the conference. They play #15 Illinois this afternoon, after losing to #14 Rutgers. It would be nice to see a ranked Purdue or Indiana program. Unfortunately, both rivals will be in the lower half of the BIG since the league is loaded with 7 nationally ranked teams. Here on the West coast, the undefeated Zags are still the #1 team in the country while the Oregon Ducks (6-1) stand at #21.
On the baseball front, the Cubs continue to clean house with the trade of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres. Yu has been the pitching leader for the last two years, with Cy Young consideration. There’s also talk of dealing my favorite and IU alum, Kyle Schwarber. Rizzo and Bryant will soon become free agents, so the World Series Champions of 2016 are seeing their winning foundation deteriorate. Today, however, my concern is football the Indiana Hoosiers in the Outback Bowl.
Today started like most every other day in 2020 with a run and a blog post. There’s little indication that it will change soon. I do appreciate this mild December weather with clear blue skies, a rarity in Portland this time of year. We also continue to remain healthy and active. Travel would be nice, but not likely the remainder of this year and probably into next. Today’s calendar features a trip to the dentist for a cleaning. Basketball on TV keeps me entertained. Sadly, there’s not much variety in my life these days and little spice to go with it. The words are from a William Cowper’s poem called “The Task,” written in 1785: “Variety is the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.”
We watched an old Bill Murry movie called Quick Change as a change of pace last night. It was slap-stick comedy and somewhat disappointing. A couple more episodes of Suits filled the evening. I broke out a bottle of WhistlePig whiskey that I received as part of a Flaviar subscription. Tonight, they’re attempting to break the world record for participation in a virtual toast. I’ve yet to decide whether or not to get involved in this tribute to Dean Martin. Too many of the TV shows I’ve been watching are centered around the office beverage cart. They’ve finally tempted me enough to make my happy hour a sip or two of whiskey rather than a glass of wine. Variety is the spice of life thanks to Flaviar.
I.U. finished third in the Maui Invitational after bouncing back from their poor performance against Texas to whip Stanford. Times have certainly changed to the point where Texas is now ranked higher than Indiana in basketball but lower in football. It’s always been the other way around as long as I can remember. Hoosier Football can take another giant leap with a victory over Wisconsin on Saturday. Injuries and Covid may be the determining factor. I do like the possibility that Ohio State may not be able to get in enough games to qualify for the BIG Championship. If I.U. somehow wins, it will be interesting to see if Michigan will thwart the rival Buckeye’s bid to compete for a title by simply not playing. In the world of baseball, former I.U. star and Cubs’ World Series hero Kyle Schwarber is now a free agent. Thankfully for me, there’s always variety in the world of sports when all else fails.