Friday, June 30, 2006


How does the world's most popular and important game, the most popular youth sport in America, and one of the last pure sports suffer from such indifference in this country?

As I write this I am watching Germany and Argentina in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup. Argentina just scored on a brilliant set piece header to silence the hometown German fans in the 49th minute.

Last week we were moored at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island (more on that later) and in the hip little dockside bar that served me up some wireless Internet, I watched Argentina beat Mexico in overtime to advance. There were 15 of us crammed in this little bar in the middle of an 80 degree day watching soccer on a cheap ass television with a sketchy satellite signal. It was a great afternoon.

But that's not the point here. Why do Americans dislike this game so much?

Don't give me the low scoring argument.

Last night's Mariners-Diamondbacks game ended 3-2.

Don't give me the lack of "action" argument.

In soccer the action never stops. The play is always moving, for 90 minutes. In American football the play stops every 4 seconds.

Oh, and in the paper last week I read a commentator arguing that the game was too complicated.

Please. The rule books for American sports are mindboggling and so nuanced that they have to change every year. They tweak the rules in the NBA and NFL every month, and we don't even trust the officials enough to call the game, so we have to use computers and cameras to call the games. Try explaining American football to a newcomer. False starts, offsides, men in motion...

Here's what it is...

Americans are idiots. We look at a sport that the rest of the world has endless passion for and we dismiss it out of hand. Because we can't claim it as our own, we turn away and create our own games. We aren't as good at it as Ghana or the Ukraine, so we quit like a sore loser on the playground. "Oh yeah, well I didn't want to play with you anyway!" So what if the USA lost in the World Cup, it's a dumb game anyway.

Americans are ruled by rules. There is nothing pure in this country anymore. We have even ruined baseball, the closest thing we had to a pure sport.

Americans are stupidly fixated on superstars and individual accomplishments. This gives us, instead of wonderful teamwork and strategy, Barry Bonds...

You would think that since so many of us played this game as kids we would have a greater affinity for and understanding of the doesn't privilege size over speed or speed over size or one skill over another. There is a place on the soccer field for any reasonably athletic kid.

(oh, and there's a reason that so many kids play soccer: it has a short learning curve, it doesn't take expensive equipment, and you can play with as many kids as you happen to have around at the time. Try playing baseball with 6 kids.)

Look folks, watch soccer. It's a beautiful game.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Missed Me?

So you noticed I was away did you?

Here I am.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Channeling my Inner Jack Johnson

Finals week always feels like summer camp around campus. Not for the students, of course, who are racing around trying to get extensions on papers and cheat sheets for exams.

For faculty, though, the mood is high. We don’t have classes to teach and we don’t yet have finals to grade. Lunches go long(er than usual) and normally pathetic and reclusive social scientists migrate out to local Chinese restaurants for the $5.95 lunch special. They still actually talk about work, but it’s a start. Come on, guys. Branch out. Talk about music, or baseball, or sex...wait. Stick with what you know.

So Wednesday I broke several office rules, including, but not limited to, the footwear expectation. It’s warm out, even if it’s raining, and the bare feet are my attempt to channel my inner Jack Johnson. I missed the Kokua Festival this year, and I won't make it to NYC for Jack's Central Park show...give me a break on this one.

I also failed to show up for my own final. Nice. Tenure? Sure, I’ll have some of that.

Cause? Or Effect?
Wednesday night, after cleansing my guilt-ridden soul after my day at “work”, I went through the vacant Former Casa GVB one last time to check all the cupboards and drawers for forgotten treasures. Then I jumped on the Fuji for the ride back up to our current/temporary/massively weird living situation at the In Laws’. 17 miles on winding, hilly roads with no shoulder in a 15 knot breeze. Fun. It was a short distance so I went all out and averaged 23 mph with a high of 41. Weeeee.

But it occurred to me as I almost wiped out on a particularly sharp curve that I was riding way more aggressively than I had in the past. I was diving into turns and getting down in the dropouts more. Hmmm. Where did this behavior come from? Where else in my life am I behaving this way? Ask Mrs. GVB.

Call it the A3 Factor. Everything is fast these days. I need desperately to get back on the boat and remember what it’s like to go slow again. Even then, I imagine I will be sailing The Hood pretty hard when we leave next week for our first long summer cruise. Why do 5.5 knots when you can do 5.7?!

From the Mouths of Babes
5 Year Old: “Mommy, can we take Daddy’s new car to school today?”
Mrs. GVB: “Um, no. It’s called Daddy’s New Car for a reason.”
5 Year Old: “It’s sooo way cooler than your car.”
Mrs. GVB: “I’m aware. As soon as you grow up and move out I can get one, too.”

Things I’ll Miss
Today is my last day on campus for the summer. Sure, I’ll pop in to check on things once in a while and have meals with The Colleague, who is trapped here teaching full time for the summer, but I’m shutting down the office and hanging out the “Gone Climbing/Sailing/Riding/Running” sign. Among the things I will miss about the school year (this is NOT a comprehensive list):

-The Aloha
-My several boyfriends’ places (Anthony, Rory, and Arnie among them)
-The daily anticipation of the next mental meltdown from the Outgoing Dean (who yesterday actually mistook NPAW for Mrs. GVB. This is not an easy mistake to make).
-Rumor and Innuendo

Next Up
Today, a gym session with the Cap’n.

This weekend with Dad GVB at the beach for Father’s Day.

And stay tuned for my predictable World Cup Soccer rant. Here’s the headline: “Americans Are Stupid”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Day After

Buyer's remorse? Naah. Hangover? Naah. A little sleepy from being up all night on IM. Who invented IM? It seems to have caught on...

Anyway, a lot to get to today, so let's get started.

Al is Back!

The hearty young Jewish athlete from Long Island is mixing it up. He's no longer just bi. He's tri. Cool. Running and cycling I can buy into. The swimming would kill me. Just more proof that Al is a better man than I. Welcome back, Al.

Dude, Where's My Car?

Slept in this morning (see above "up all night on IM comment"). Overnight the A3 turned into a green Toyota minivan. Hmmm. Mrs. GVB with my car? I hope she doesn't see the trip odometer from yesterday...I might have driven 230 miles on my 50 mile round trip to work. Woops. Speaking of driving...I haven't had a speeding ticket since I was 16...

This is The Way We Do it on the Rez

One of my detours took me through the winding two lane roads of the Tulalip Rez on the way home last night. The Audi owner's manual specifically says that I shouldn't redline the car or run it above 130 mph until it is broken in at roughly 1000 miles. I obeyed that rule...

Tribal Cop: "New car?"
GVB: "Yeah. Just got it."
TC: "Nice. You hit 97 there."
GVB: "Really? Sorry about that." (97? Is that all?)
TC: "You live on the Rez?"
GVB: "Not anymore. Just moved north to Stanwood."
TC: "Ah. You tribal? 'Cause if you're tribal I can let you go. So, you're tribal, right? If not I have to call the sheriff, you know. I can't arrest you for dangerous driving. And they don't like coming out here. If it's tribal, we just deal with it ourselves, you know?"
GVB: "So you're saying I'm tribal?"
TC: "This is what I'm saying."
GVB: "Totally tribal, enit?"
TC: "Take it easy, 'cousin'"


Went by the former Casa GVB to check the mail and put the last garbage out on the curb. Opened the mailbox to find this: THIS RESIDENCE IS VACANT. On the back it says, "VANDALS AND UNDERAGE DRINKERS, PLEASE BREAK IN AND TRASH THE JOINT."


Congrats to NPAW who is officially done with her servitude at the University of Washington. Let's all join in and kick her ass to study for the GRE!

Seriously, NPAW, the GRE. Now.

A House is not a Home

The New Casa GVB is completely framed and they started the roofing today. Pictures soon. Ish.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Finals Week

It's finals week. Here is your exam. Please answer each question, providing explanation of your answer where needed. This exam is worth 84.3% of your final grade.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. The sexiest compact car on the American market is:
a. Saab 9.2
b. Mercedes C240
c. Volkswagon Jetta TDI
d. Honda Civic
e. None of these

2. The Germans are best at:
a. Cuisine
b. Consumer Electronics
c. International Relations
d. Luxury Car Engineering

3. Which is coolest?
a. A Toyota Prius traveling 90 MPH
b. A Chevy Tahoe traveling 80 MPH
c. A Honda Pilot traveling 100 MPH
d. An Audi A3 going the speed limit.

4. What is the best indicator of GVB's midlife crisis?
a. His new house.
b. His new bike.
c. Massive depression.
c. His several girl and boyfriends.

True/False Questions

5. The Audi A3 kicks much ass. (true/false)

Bonus Essay Question
In less than 300 words, explain why the Audi A3 kicks so much ass. Be as specific as possible.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Say Goodnight, Al

So Al Bangorhard tells me that he's hanging up the blog now that he hung a 3 hour 42 minute marathon time on the metropolis of Buffalo, NY.

Farewell, Al. Don't worry, none of us think you are big blog pussy. Honest.

I, for one, will mostly miss the photos of your gnarly damn feet. That and your barely closeted addiction to the 80s.

When you pick up the cycling again, just change "toes" to "nuts" and come on back.

Maybe you can find a writer to do it all for you?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Fucking F Word (and moving)

I’ve had worse runs.

Once in San Francisco I really needed a bathroom (in the business district on a Sunday?) and never did quite find one in time.

Another time I tried to run early in the morning after a late night of Bombay Sapphire experimentation (hmmm, that was in San Francisco, too. What’s up with that?). Between the massive stomach cramps and the vomiting, that run ended badly.

Last year some redneck clipped me on the shoulder with his side mirror.

I’ll stop there, but the point is that I’ve had some bad runs for some pretty obvious reasons.

Today? I was really looking forward to doing an easy 8 on the Centennial Trail. 4 miles uphill out, 4 downhill coming back.

After wrapping up a somewhat work-related phone call in the parking lot, I set out at an 8:30 pace, planning for an 8:00 overall.

The first 3 were fine. I held my pace and lost my mind a little bit. When the four mile mark popped into sight, I just hit a wall. There was nothing I could do to make myself want to turn and head back to the car. It was torture just to think about the remaining miles. I contemplated walking back. I contemplated a nice bivouac under a maple tree. I looked for a cab, of which there are precious few out in the woods of Arlington.


I made the turn and headed back. I can surely do this.

Mile 5: The wind picks up in my face.


Mile 6: That mild soreness I’ve had in my right knee for a few days becomes more noticeable.

Mile 7: My undercharged Nano gives up in the middle of Joss Stone’s Right to be Wrong.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Mile 8: The knee really hurts now. Something is up.

8 miles
1 hour 8 minutes.
17,000 dead slugs
1 fucked up knee

What’s up with hitting that wall at 4 miles? Gotta be fuel, right? Sigh.

What’s up with the knee? I have a sad feeling it is the new cycling shoes. Gotta check into that.

On the Packing Front
Almost packed up now. Yesterday I discovered a cache of papers in a cupboard, including my master’s thesis, which is mostly stories about drinking and sex. Interesting.

Also in there was a nice collection of letters and postcards. Anyone recognize these postmarks? Provide the correct name for each location.

Kew Gardens, NY
Plymouth, NH
Birmingham, AL
Las Vegas, NV
Almira, WA
New York, NY
Kemmerer, WY
Yongsan, Korea
Boulder, CO
Reno, NV

Good luck. Half a serving of two-day-old California rolls and a warm Asahi for the highest score.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Milestones, Money, and the Russian Mafia

For Sale: Shit We Don't Want
Who knew the Russian Mafia shopped at garage sales? In a last ditch effort to not have to pack all of the shit we have accrued over the years, we stooped to the suburban standby and held a garage sale.

Actually, because the 5 year old insisted that we had already sold the garage with the house, we had to call it a moving sale.

And actually, because I mostly gave everything away, it was more a dodge of having to drive to Goodwill this week with all this crap.

The Russian Mafia arrived around noon with no English and 50 dollars. They left with an old mountain bike and some Rollerblades. Watch yourselves out there.

We made enough at the crap sale to buy three bottles of really good scotch.

Move Update
Most of the house is packed. I left out a bottle opener, two pair of underwear (not mine), the Playstation, and a toothbrush. The kids are now sleeping on the floor and have only one complete change of clothes between them, so we flip coins each morning to see who gets to wear the bottoms, who gets to wear the tops. Interestingly, this is a game Mrs. GVB and I play also.

We'll be out of here next weekend. Weeee.

It's Been 6 Good Years. But Go Away Now.
Truckasaurus is no longer a part of the immediate family. Sad but true. Dad In Law paid me just over Blue Book for it. So now I have the cash AND access to the truck, which I actually use as a truck about three times a year. Cap'n, apologize to Casey for me.

Others who might be sad. Sorry. But I'll make it up to you.

And selling Truckasaurus will cause some other things to happen here soon. Stay tuned.

It's Been a Good 2 Months. Please Don't Leave.
The Fuji turned over 500 miles today on a 38 mile trek from Casa GVB Current to Casa GVB Future and back. I marked the occasion with some Gu and a swig of plastic tainted water from the Camelback.

The ride totals:
38 miles
1 hour 54 minutes
1 coyote (alive and stalking me from the brush)
1 coyote (dead with a single wheel track through it)
1 bee in my helmet. Weeeee.
3 bugs in my teeth.
13 sunburned rednecks jumping off the railroad bridge into the Stillaguamish River.
4 dogs chasing me past the Stanwood Fairgrounds
2 Stanwood preteens making out at the elementary school
2 stories currently framed on Casa GVB Future
1 pizza consumed entirely by me after my ride.

That's all I know. Except this: Take it from me, when in doubt, use Body Glide. Seriously.