Thursday, January 07, 2016

2015 Year In Review

Facebook has this automated "Year In Review" thing where it takes your pictures/updates/whatever from the year and pieces them together. Well, I figured I could write my own "Year In Review" instead, and it'll be way better! Or at least have fewer pictures and more statistics. Way more statistics.

Road Trips

Two big road trips this year: I went to Louisiana for three days to burn up "use or lose it" vacation time, and we took the family to the Ozarks for a week in October. The Ozarks trip was great! Couldn't have imagined a week-long road trip going any better with a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old in tow. We also went to Jacksonville twice, Toledo twice, Pennsylvania once (all to visit family), and did a quick weekend trip to the Virginia mountains. I also flew to San Diego for work - not really a road trip, but it was my first visit to San Diego County.

So, all that means lots of new counties visited for the entire family this year:
- Me: 112 new counties; national total 1,792 (57.0%)
- Marla: 112 new counties; national total 644 (20.5%)
- Bruce: 178 new counties; national total 262 (8.3%)

Bruce is currently 16½ months old, and at that age, Marla's national county count was 313, plus 5 in Canada. So, Bruce is a bit behind Marla's pace. And given that we drove Marla to Colorado at 21½ months, keeping up is only going to get harder.

Also, states:
- Marla: 1 new state (Illinois); national total 25/50. It took Marla less than two years to get her first 24 states, and another 2½ years after that to get the 25th state. The "easiest-to-get-to" state that Marla has not visited yet is Indiana; all of the others will require a bit more work.
- Bruce: 8 new states; national total 15/50. Bruce hasn't been to Delaware or New Jersey, among lots of other states. But we can now say he's been to the Central Time Zone.

I put 17,511 miles on the Subaru this year, only slightly more than the total driving I did between the Honda and Subaru the year before. My annual goal is 20,000 miles per year, but I've actually only surpassed that goal once in the last eight years. As long of a road trip as that Ozarks trip was - about 3,000 miles in a little over a week - it wasn't enough!

Nights Away From Home

Related to all of the driving stats: In years in which we're NOT having a new baby, I'm typically away from home between 40 and 50 nights each year. This year, though: only 36 nights away from home. You know, now that we have two kids instead of just one...maybe I should adjust my expectations?

I've been tracking where we spend the night every night since before Marla and Bruce were born. Here are the number of overnights we've had in each state for both Marla and Bruce:


Curling

Big year for Triangle Curling! Hard to believe at this point, but the grand opening of the new curling building only happened 9 months ago. Since then, I've been curling...a lot.

Well, really not that much more than normal. Here are the number of curling games I've played each year, along with my won-loss record:


I did curl more in 2015 than I have any other year, but not by that much compared to 2010-2012. Those years, I traveled to out-of-town bonspiels much more than I do these days; almost all of my games in 2015 were at home. In fact, I haven't curled outside of North Carolina since August 2013.

So, yes: while 2015 was the best curling year ever in terms of quantity, it was the worst in terms of winning percentage. It turns out, I was a much better "arena ice curler" than I am a "dedicated curling ice curler", at least relative to the competition. The reasons for that deserve their own future post, perhaps.

By the way, I played game #300 on New Year's Day. We won! I also played game #301; we lost.

Restaurant Serving Times

Speaking of things that we don't do as often now that we have kids, let's talk about going out to eat. Since 1994, every time we go to a "sit down" restaurant (where a waiter/waitress comes to your table to take your order and serves your food some time later), I've timed how long it has taken the restaurant to serve my food, starting when I give my order and ending when I get my food. I have a spreadsheet and everything!

The spreadsheet only goes back to 2004, not 1994, but since then, I've gone out to eat at least 20 times every year. Not this year: just 18. Going out to eat at a restaurant that does not serve the food right away (i.e. not fast food) is very difficult when you have young children, and not that much fun. So, we don't do it often. I'm actually surprised we did it that many times.

So, owing to small sample space, the fastest serving time of the year wasn't really that great: 9 minutes, 35 seconds, by Danny's BBQ in Cary, NC. Every other year, there has been at least one serving time under 7 minutes, but not this year. And that's not to say I didn't try - we visited almost all of the traditionally fast restaurants.

We went to two-time defending champion Lexington BBQ, which clocked in at 12:57. Turns out, they are much slower when your wife orders chicken fingers. But that was what I wanted to find out: Would they be just as fast when you ask for something other than barbecue? The answer is: No.

We also went out of our way - WAY out of our way - to revisit another two-time champion, personal favorite Waffle Shop in State College, PA. Our first time at Waffle Shop (or even in State College for that matter) in five years! But, they also clocked in over 10 minutes, at 11:46. Unfortunately, though, we never made it to Ideal Hot Dog in Toledo this year - another former two-time champion. Missed opportunity for them!

The slowest time of the year was a truly epic performance by Red Robin in Raleigh: 45 minutes, 40 seconds. That's the 5th slowest of ALL TIME, and that does go back to 1994. We're not going back, at least not to that location.

Our Children Are Approximately One Year Older Than They Were At This Time Last Year

So, here's the thing with kids. No matter how good or bad a job you do as parents, they get older! Well, as long as you keep them alive. So far, so good.

It's really hard to gauge one's success at parents statistically. As someone who is (obviously) obsessed with statistics, that can be very hard for me.

Coming Up In 2016

Here's what is on tap for 2016:

The USA Curling National Championships are being held in Jacksonville (yes, the Florida one) February 6-13. We're taking most of the week off from work to attend, and I can't even tell you how excited I am about this.

Disney World! While we're in Florida for the curling, we're going to take the kids to Magic Kingdom for a day. We hate big crowds, and so if we're going to do a Magic Kingdom trip, a Tuesday in February sounds like the perfect time for us to go. Also, we won't have the freedom to do this next year, because...

Marla starts Kindergarten! This is the big one. Brand new and exciting adventures await!

A lot more curling! My goal is to play 50 games this year. By the way, I also have a lifetime goal: 2,000 games. If I play 40-50 games each year, then I'll get to 2,000 in my late 60s or 70s. If that sounds crazy, it's not - not unlike golf, you can curl well into your 70s, maybe even your 80s. The trick will be to not die of heart disease or cancer before then.

Road trips...??? Beyond our almost-week in Florida for curling and Disney, I have no idea what kind of road trips we're going to pursue this year. Bruce will be at a tough age for national park-type traveling this year. If he's anything like Marla was, then he'll be too big for a carrier, and too small to walk himself, which makes any kind of non-strollerable hiking excursion mostly impossible. After the curling/Disney trip, we'll put together a road trip plan for the summer. I mean, we're taking Marla to Magic Kingdom - basically the best place in the world for a 4-year-old girl - so maybe we can justify making the next trip not quite so kid-centric. (Iowa it is! MOOR COUNTIES FOR DADDY!!!)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I know (a few) people like my blog posts, and I appreciate all the clicks I've gotten over the nine (!) years of the blog's existence...but writing these things takes time, and I don't really feel like doing it anymore.

Instead, I think taking and posting pictures is much faster, easier, more social-media-friendly (no clicks required!), and encourages more frequent updates. So, I've started an Instagram account, and will focus most of my energy towards that effort: instagram.com/chrisallen_nc
(I'll also cross-post most pictures to Facebook, but probably not Twitter.)

I'll still use the blog for whenever I feel like posting some obscure statistics or something. But, Instagram and Facebook will be the best places to find me. (Still not sold on Google+ - just seems like an extra place to have to post stuff.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Bicycling Trip in Asia: Part 2

Skip to the latest update

I ride my bicycle a lot. It's good exercise, and so to help motivate me to keep doing that, I track my bicycling distance and plot it on a map, as if I were on a long cross-continent journey.

I've been doing this since October 2009, during which time I've "ridden" from my front door to Homer, Alaska (28½ months); across Australia, Sydney to Perth (14 months); and halfway across Asia, Singapore to New Delhi (19½ months). Bicycling is a) still fun and b) still good exercise, so let's keep going!

The second half of my fictional Bicycling Trip in Asia will take me 3,586 miles from New Delhi to Istanbul. All this is part of a lifelong goal of mine to ride my bicycle "around the world", in a manner of speaking: North America first, then Australia, now Asia, then eventually Europe, Africa, South America, and then North America again. If I can maintain my pace from Asia Part 1 (46 miles per week), that would put me in Istanbul in summer 2016.

LAST UPDATE: 11 May 2016 (usually updated every week or two)

This Google Map shows my progress. Each placemark indicates one week. Blue route = completed route. The routes shown on the map may not be exact, but are close enough for my purposes.



Current road: D.100 / E.80
Current location: Yalniztepe, Koyulhisar, Sivas, Turkey
(City, District, Province, Country)
Total distance traveled (Part 2): 3,044 miles in 71 weeks
Total distance traveled (Asia): 6,946 miles in 155 weeks
27 Apr - 4 May distance: 27 miles (ranked T-54th / 71 weeks)
4 May - 11 May distance: 80 miles (ranked 1st / 71 weeks)
New Delhi to Istanbul: 84.9% complete (542 miles to go)
Singapore to Istanbul: 92.8% complete
Singapore to Gibraltar (ish): 69.0% complete (3,118 miles to go)

Upcoming points of interest
Koyulhisar: 6 miles
Tokat province: 20 miles
Erbaa: 84 miles
Amasya: 129 miles
Bosphorus / Europe-Asia border: 542 miles
Bulgaria border: 705 miles

Time spent in each country
(Italics: in progress. This reflects the entire Singapore-Gibraltar route, not just "Asia Part 2". Individual states/provinces also listed for the current country.)

Singapore: 4 days (19 miles, 33 miles/week)
Malaysia: 77 days (510 miles, 46 miles/week)
Thailand: 156 days (920 miles, 41 miles/week)
Myanmar: 129 days (852 miles, 46 miles/week)
India: 285 days (1,905 miles, 47 miles/week)
Pakistan: 54 days (364 miles, 47 miles/week)
Afghanistan: 113 days (742 miles, 46 miles/week)
Iran: 203 days (1,222 miles, 42 miles/week)
Turkey: 65 days (413/1,118 miles, 44 miles/week)
- Agri: 19 days (121 miles, 45 miles/week)
- Erzurum: 15 days (116 miles, 54 miles/week)
- Tunceli: less than 1 day (17 miles, ∞ miles/week)
- Erzincan: 27 days (112 miles, 29 miles/week)
- Sivas: 4 days (46/66 miles, 81 miles/week)
- Tokat: (73 miles)
- Amasya: (88 miles)
- Corum: (46 miles)
- Kastamonu: (30 miles)
- Cankiri: (65 miles)
- Karabuk: (9 miles)
- Bolu: (69 miles)
- Duzce: (33 miles)
- Sakarya: (38 miles)
- Kocaeli: (47 miles)
- Istanbul: (88 miles)
- Tekirdag: (26 miles)
- Kirklareli: (37 miles)
- Edirne: (37 miles)
Bulgaria: (228 miles)
Serbia: (279 miles)
Croatia: (190 miles)
Slovenia: (118 miles)
Italy: (434 miles)
France: (330 miles)
Spain: (834 miles)


Trip log
(Only showing country and state lines, and major cities, to make this log shorter)

3 Jan 2015: Start of Part 2 - New Delhi, India
8 Jan 2015: State - Haryana, India
17 Jan 2015: City - Panipat, India
25 Jan 2015: City - Ambala, India
27 Jan 2015: State - Punjab, India
5 Feb 2015: City - Ludhiana, India
23 Feb 2015: City - Amritsar, India
3 Mar 2015: Country - Pakistan (Province - Punjab)
3 Mar 2015: City - Lahore, Pakistan
21 Mar 2015: City - Bhalwal, Pakistan
3 Apr 2015: Province - Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan
3 Apr 2015: Province - Punjab, Pakistan (re-entered)
3 Apr 2015: Province - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
18 Apr 2015: City - Peshawar, Pakistan
21 Apr 2015: Province - Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan
26 Apr 2015: Country - Afghanistan (Province - Nangarhar)
26 Apr 2015: City - Jalalabad, Afghanistan
28 Apr 2015: Province - Laghman, Afghanistan
7 May 2015: Province - Kabul, Afghanistan
14 May 2015: City - Kabul, Afghanistan
17 May 2015: Province - Maidan Wardak, Afghanistan
28 May 2015: City - Behsud, Afghanistan
1 Jun 2015: Province - Bamyan, Afghanistan
13 Jun 2015: City - Panjab, Afghanistan
13 Jun 2015: Province - Ghor, Afghanistan
4 Jul 2015: City - Chaghcharan, Afghanistan
19 Jul 2015: Province - Herat, Afghanistan
2 Aug 2015: City - Herat, Afghanistan
17 Aug 2015: Country - Iran (Province - Razavi Khorasan)
23 Aug 2015: City - Torbat-e Jam, Iran
3 Sep 2015: City - Mashhad, Iran
12 Sep 2015: City - Nishapur, Iran
23 Sep 2015: City - Sabzevar, Iran
3 Oct 2015: Province - Semnan, Iran
26 Oct 2015: City - Shahrud, Iran
3 Nov 2015: City - Damghan, Iran
14 Nov 2015: City - Semnan, Iran
21 Nov 2015: City - Garmsar, Iran
3 Dec 2015: Province - Tehran, Iran
5 Dec 2015: City - Tehran, Iran
8 Dec 2015: Province - Alborz, Iran
11 Dec 2015: City - Karaj, Iran
15 Dec 2015: Province - Qazvin, Iran
20 Dec 2015: City - Qazvin, Iran
31 Dec 2015: Province - Zanjan, Iran
10 Jan 2016: City - Zanjan, Iran
17 Jan 2016: Province - East Azerbaijan, Iran
14 Feb 2016: City - Tabriz, Iran
20 Feb 2016: City - Marand, Iran
25 Feb 2016: Province - West Azerbaijan, Iran
7 Mar 2016: Country - Turkey (Province - Agri)
12 Mar 2016: City - Dogubeyazit, Turkey
21 Mar 2016: City - Agri, Turkey
26 Mar 2016: Province - Erzurum, Turkey
10 Apr 2016: City - Erzurum, Turkey
10 Apr 2016: Province - Erzincan, Turkey
23 Apr 2016: Province - Tunceli, Turkey
23 Apr 2016: Province - Erzincan, Turkey
28 Apr 2016: City - Erzincan, Turkey
7 May 2016: Province - Sivas, Turkey

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Random Stat Updates: 5/19/15

Here are various statistical updates from the past...oh, two or three months? I've got some catching up to do.

Restaurant serving times

Last weekend, it took Red Robin of Raleigh 45 minutes, 40 seconds - from when I order to when the food arrives - to serve my dinner. Going back 20 years, that's the 5th slowest of all-time, and the slowest time anywhere since our wedding rehearsal dinner in 2008. And I was one of the lucky ones: other people in our party got the wrong order, or didn't get their food at all. Overall it was the most putrid performance by a restaurant in quite some time, and one for the record books for sure. (Our three prior Red Robin visits all clocked in under 20 minutes, however, so I haven't written them off forever...just for a while.)

With a 3-year-old and a 0-year-old, it's hard to go out to dinner these days. If we do go out, it's either fast food or fast casual (e.g. Boston Market) - neither of which is eligible for timing. Or, we go early enough to beat the crowds - as in, 4 or 4:30 for dinner, in order to minimize the amount of time we have to sit there waiting with two impatient and/or tired children, not to mention get the kids to bed on time. So, 2015 will likely be my first year with fewer than 20 eligible restaurant visits. (Last year's total was 21.)

But, I do still have to go to Lexington BBQ and Ideal Hot Dog this year. Between them, they've won "fastest time of the year" for each of the last four years. The fastest of 2015 so far is Danny's BBQ, at 9:35 - that's fast, but that likely won't stand for the rest of the year.

County visitation

Last weekend, my roadgeek friends and I drove US 360 from (almost) end to (almost) end: (Didn't have time for the whole thing, but we did most of it.)



Except for some, well, downtrodden parts of Richmond, it wasn't the most interesting of drives. But, combined with the drive up into Virginia, I got two new counties out of it! Only six more Virginia counties to go! Also, I've now visited every county within a 200-mile radius of home. Charles City and Essex counties were the two counties closest to home I had yet to visit; now the closest is Bath County, VA.

As a family, we haven't done many road trips this year. I've been to Louisiana and San Diego this year, but the rest of the family has only left North Carolina once in 2015, and that was for a funeral. The year after our second child was born always figured to be our least-traveled year, so it's alright, but I think it's time we start doing family road trips again. We're staying home for Memorial Day, but we have several trips planned for the summer and fall.

Since I don't publish my "by the numbers" page anymore, here are our current county totals:
- Chris: 1,731 (55.1%)
- Marla: 533 (17.0%)
- Bruce: 89 (2.8%)
- Subaru: 114 (3.6%)

Bruce is nearly 9 months old now; by the time Marla was 9 months old, she had already visited 173 counties. You've got some catching up to do, Bruce!

Bicycling

My fictional "Bicycling Trip in Asia" is now in a place I will almost certainly never visit, let alone bike in: Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the most desolate section of the entire Singapore-to-Gibraltar route, in terms of points of interest and landmarks that can help keep me motivated to ride a little extra each weekend. But, it can't be any more desolate than Adelaide to Perth was, right?

Our weekends at home often revolve around our exercise schedules: Amber gets time for a run, and I get time for a bike ride. Once you add in curling (Amber curls Sunday afternoons), church (every 2-3 weeks on average), a family outing of some kind, and errands like the weekly Publix trip, the whole weekend is pretty much gone. Staying motivated to maintain our exercise routine is harder than it's ever been, but we've been able to do it to this point.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Curling Recaps: 5/3-5/12/15

The Triangle Curling Club has its own building now. Have you heard? This week is the third week of our first set of leagues on dedicated ice, and it's been a learning experience. Everything I learned about curling strategy on arena ice? Throw it out the window! Watching hours upon hours of championship curling helps some, but it's no substitute for experience.

Let's start with something extremely simple. You're the yellow team, and you have one rock in the house, and that's it. What do you do?


On arena ice, your options were really limited. If that yellow rock was on a "predictable line" that was easy to hit, you'd pretty much have to throw a guard along that line. Alternatively, you could throw another one in the house, depending on the ice conditions and "zamboni lines". Really, those were your two and only two options, and often, the ice conditions told you which play was the better play, and whether or not you had hammer really didn't affect the strategy much. But on real curling ice...you can make pretty much any shot you want! More importantly, the other team can also make pretty much any shot they want. Sure, you can still guard or split the house, but if the guard's not perfect, the other team could still reach your rock, depending on how good they are. But if your team is struggling with weight, there are more "plan B" shots available if you throw one on the same line, but then maybe you set up a double take-out. Aaahhh! And this is with just one rock in play! On top of that, you had better know where to put the broom, because that rock will curl, and if you're a few inches off (or the shooter is a few inches off the broom), that makes a big difference! That's what I've been struggling with the most so far. That and, of course, making my own shots, which when you're the Skip is kind of important. We can talk strategy all we want, but I still have to hit the broom...

As of today I have still only Skipped a total of 15 games on dedicated curling ice. My opponents have Skipped hundreds, maybe even thousands. So, I am a long, long way from having figured it out yet. There are SO many variables; I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at a situation and immediately know the optimal call. Arena ice was "the great equalizer" - I could occasionally beat some of the club's best and most experienced curlers head-to-head on arena ice. On dedicated ice, though, it's a lot harder to make up that gap, both in terms of strategy and shot-making. So far, we're 0-2. Also, we haven't scored more than one point in an end yet. Something to shoot for tonight!

Monday League: May 4, 2015

End.........12345678 |TTL
-------------------------
Allen.......01010011 | 04
Hunneyman...10104000 | 06

Monday League: May 11, 2015

End.........12345678 |TTL
-------------------------
M. Jackson..31311011 | 11
Allen.......00000100 | 01

But, I did win a pickup game as Skip earlier in the month:

Sunday Pickup: May 3, 2015

End.........123456 |TTL
-----------------------
Feinson.....020001 | 03
Allen.......302130 | 09

But in the Tuesday league, where I play Vice - probably my best position - and don't have to worry about strategy or anything other than shot-making and occasional sweeping, we're 2-0:

Tuesday League: May 5, 2015
(my team: Jaun)

End.........12345678 |TTL
-------------------------
K. Jackson..20101100 | 05
Jaun........01040023 | 10

Tuesday League: May 12, 2015
(my team: Jaun)

End.........12345678 |TTL
-------------------------
Jaun........01500010 | 07
Mitchell....10001202 | 06

I curl again tonight, and tomorrow night, and twice next week, and twice the week after that...I mean, isn't this great? Better yet, this building is permanent, and I have DECADES of this to look forward to!

(By the way, we won't always be curling in May and June. We are this year because that's how long it took to open the building. October through April or May will be the curling schedule most years.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jury Duty II

The first time I had jury duty in 2011, I was really excited! I ended up on a jury almost immediately, and the trial went into a second day. In the end, I was actually a little dissatisfied with how the trial went down.

So when I had to back for jury duty again this week...meh. I'd willingly serve on a jury if I was picked, but I would rather not be picked. And, that's what happened. After getting a ridiculously long lunch - at 11, they said "We won't need anyone until after lunch, so come back at 2:30" - a bunch of prospective jurors were taken to a courtroom. Actually, they wanted to take everyone to the courtroom just so everyone could watch the proceedings, rather than be stuck in the jury pool room. But the courtroom wasn't big enough for everyone, so instead, 15 people were chosen at random to stay behind and not go to the courtroom. I was one of those 15, so I never left the jury pool room. But I still had to stay all the way until 5 PM in case I was needed, which I wasn't. So, back to work the next day.

Just as well. Maybe in another four years, or however long it takes to get another jury summons, I'll be excited about the prospects of being a juror again.

Speaking of sitting around and waiting, between flying last week and jury duty this week, I thought that would have been plenty of time to listen to the entire "Serial" podcast from start to finish. (Yeah, "Serial" was so last year, but I like to stay a few months behind social trends.) But, nope. Still three episodes to go. Once I finish, though...blog post!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Housewarming Bonspiel

The brand new Triangle Curling Center is open, and our first big tournament/bonspiel starts today! I'm not even playing in it and I'm still really excited!


The new curling center actually opened provisionally last week. By "provisionally", I mean:
- At first, we didn't have parking lot lights installed, so we could only be open during daylight hours. (That's been taken care of since then, so now we can stay open all night, I think...although we can't serve beer and wine all night, of course.)
- There are still a lot of touch-up type things to do - landscaping and whatnot - in the next month or so, otherwise the City of Durham won't extend our Certificate of Occupancy beyond 30 days. Nothing we have to "worry" about, other than just making sure we do what needs to be done.

And by "we", I don't mean, me, specifically. Being with the kids has taken priority, and what free time Amber and I have on weekends we often set aside for our respective exercise routines, so we haven't been able to help much at all with the building work and whatnot. Mostly, we've been limited to helping out with things we can do from the comfort of our own home (for example, putting together the draw for this weekend's bonspiel). So, a huge thank you to all of the club's volunteers who helped make this happen. This was a lot of work. The building opened later than originally expected, but in hindsight, I think it's amazing it happened this quickly! Only 13 months from ceremonial groundbreaking to doors open.

It was always the plan to have a "housewarming" bonspiel including lots of out-of-town teams soon after the building opened. So, we were kind of cutting it close there on time...but not that close, right? It's not like the parking lot lights were just installed today.

Amber and I have put curling in weekend-long bonspiels on the back burner for the time being while the kids are young. We'll get back to it eventually, but we'll still have plenty of opportunities to curl coming up soon. The first leagues in the new building will start in a week or two, and then Amber and I will be curling three times a week between the two of us. (Twice a week for me, once for Amber.)

We also got out on the ice during "open ice time" last week. I played in a pick-up game, which I lost...

End.........1234567 |TTL
------------------------
Foulger.....2032030 | 10
Allen.......0300301 | 07

Curling on dedicated ice is a) GREAT, and b) much more complicated from a strategy standpoint because of all the different options you have. I haven't figured it out yet, especially what to do when I don't have last rock. I know what the "curling textbook" says to do - first two rocks on the center line, remove any rock of the other color whenever possible, and if you get an opportunity to steal a point or two, great, but the most important thing is not giving up 3 or more - but I haven't been able to put this in practice yet. We'll be revisiting this topic in the future. (Keep in mind, I have still only played 12 games ever as a skip on dedicated ice.)

One thing that was nice about open ice time was, we could bring Marla on the ice, too! Of all the sports I watch on television, there's really only one sport that grabs Marla's interest for any length of time, and that's curling. (It's true!) And we watched a lot of curling this winter, to the point where Marla is now independently drawing curling stones on her whiteboard:


So when we took Marla out to our new curling facility, where the lines and circles and rocks look just like they do on television (mostly), she just ate it up.


I enjoyed watching Marla go up and down the ice more than I enjoyed curling myself. Eventually she was actually throwing rocks down the ice, for real! (Well, sort of...let's just say, there may have been a few hog line violations.) Hog line violations aside, she even made her own take-out, without assistance!* My proudest moment as a father.**

(* - I swept her rock to hold it straight, but that's legal assistance, of course.)

(** - Well, maybe not my #1 proudest moment as a father, but it's in the conversation.)

Basically, Marla starts in the hack with a rock in front of her like a real curler, starts running down the ice with the rock (her everyday shoes can actually handle the ice extremely well), and then she lets go whenever she feels like letting go - usually past the hog line, and usually with take-out weight. It's pretty awesome. I'm glad we came out with her when we did, because giving Marla ice time may not be so easy once the ice gets busy with leagues and such.

So, it's been a fun week of curling, culminating with this weekend's Housewarming Bonspiel, for which I'll be a spectator. And this is just WEEK ONE of our new building! We have a lifetime of curling in our new building to look forward to. And I mean, that, too: I've purchased a lifetime membership. (For myself, not for Marla. We thought a lifetime membership for Marla would be jumping the gun too much at this point.)