Proud Rooster Indeed

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Note: today’s post is about college baseball, but also partially about history. If you have an interest in either of those things, stick around. Otherwise, this might be a little boring today. Just fair warning.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, the finals of the College World Series were scheduled to take place in Omaha, Nebraska. Here’s how we got there.

The NCAA baseball tournament starts with 64 teams playing in 16 four-team regional brackets. These brackets are played as a double elimination tournament, with the winners of each of the 16 regional brackets moving on to the super regionals round. This round consists of eight best-of-three series between two of the 16 regional winners. The eight winners of the super regionals then move on to the College World Series. The CWS repeats the process of the earlier rounds, with two four-team double elimination brackets and the winners playing one another in a best-of-three series to determine the national champion. This year’s finals series had the Arizona Wildcats, the 2012 national champion, facing off against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in their first College World Series appearance.

Now, earlier, I said that the finals were scheduled to take place on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Wednesday game was necessary, since Arizona won 3-0 on Monday night and Coastal won 5-4 on Tuesday night, forcing a deciding game three. However, the weather in Omaha wasn’t cooperative on Wednesday night and after a lengthy rain delay, it was decided that game three would be postponed until Thursday, time to be determined.

Before we head into game three, let’s look back a little bit, to my own personal history.

I am a North Carolina native, and while Coastal Carolina University is located in Conway, South Carolina, just outside Myrtle Beach, the fact that it was a Carolinas-based team versus Arizona in the finals made my decision of who to root for an easy one. Never mind this being the Chanticleers’ first College World Series appearance – this was as close to a hometown team as I was going to get in the series, so my allegiance was to Coastal.

Having said that, I was eager to follow the game through online updates while I was doing my radio show. It would give me some added emotion that I could bring to the airwaves while I was spinning the tunes and I was looking forward to it.

After I got my show all prepped and was setting things up for me to track the scoreboard, I noticed something in my sports website’s sidebar. I noticed a photo of a suspiciously large looking trophy being lifted by a bunch of guys wearing teal and black.

Remember that part earlier where I said that game three was moved to Thursday, time to be determined? Well, I never got the memo that the game time had been moved up to an afternoon start, and not an evening one, so by the time I got around to tracking the score, it was already all over.

Game three’s final score was 5-4. And just like that, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are the 2016 NCAA baseball national champions. It’s their first national championship in any sport. A win for the under–

What’s that, you say? “What’s a Chanticleer? How is it even pronounced?” Well, glad you asked, because this is where the history part of things come in. Before we get to that, though, let’s answer the second question first – the word is correctly pronounced SHON-ti-clear. It’s often shortened to Shonts. Now for the first question.

Before Coastal Carolina became a full-fledged university, it was known as the University of South Carolina-Coastal Carolina College, and was part of the University of South Carolina system of universities and colleges. USC’s athletic mascot is the Gamecocks (yes, it’s a rooster, and yes, they chant “GO COCKS” at games) and so Coastal Carolina thought a mascot change of their own was in order, to play alongside the theme of the flagship university in the system. And so they arrived at the Chanticleers.

At this point, it’s probably best to let Coastal’s athletics website take over the narrative.

Chanticleer comes from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. More specifically, he comes from the Nun’s Priest Tale, a story within Canterbury Tales. The Chanticleer is a proud and fierce rooster who dominates the barnyard. For the best description of Chanticleer, we turn to Chaucer’s words. “For crowing there was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold.” With all of his splendor and great looks, Chanticleer is also greatly feared and mightily respected by all.

And there you go. They dove into history to come up with a unique name that fit their rooster criteria. Straight out of the Canterbury Tales. Coastal Carolina became independent of the University of South Carolina system when they became a full-fledged university in their own right, but after some discussion about changing the mascot again, i was decided to let it ride, and so Coastal’s athletic programs are known as the Chanticleers to this day.

Now, back to my “win for the underdog” comment. True, this is the first time in 60 years that a team in their first College World Series appearance has won it. And true, it would stand to reason that the budget for Arizona’s baseball team is larger than Coastal’s, because Arizona’s a much larger school in a Power Five conference. (The Chanticleers represent the Big South Conference for the last time this year before moving to the Sun Belt Conference for 2016-2017.) But Coastal’s 55 wins this season led all teams nationwide, and Arizona’s coach said in a post-game interview that Coastal was the best team they’d faced all year. Not sure how “underdog” they really were in the finals.

So there you have it, my post about general sports geekiness. I’ll sum it up with the fact that I love sports, although I rarely feel an urge to watch. It’s fine enough for me to track the progress and outcomes on the Internet. I’m a stats junkie, after all. I once had the results of the NCAA Division III rowing championships texted to me, and my wife will never let me live down that I’m that much of a stats junkie.

We’ll be back to the usual mental health struggles tomorrow, most likely. But for now, I just wanted to, um … crow about the Chanticleers and their well-earned national championship.

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Life Snippets

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We’re going to have a guest in town from Houston tonight – she’s got professional development activities locally tomorrow – and so the second evening of my wife’s new work schedule will involve a great deal of socialization. This is a good thing – this is a dear friend of ours from way back – and I’m looking forward to it.

Nothing really earth shattering in the book today. Lots of laying groundwork for the rest of the book – it’s still the introduction, and I’m not reading for speed, I’m reading to comprehend concepts, which takes me longer than I’d read strictly for entertainment – but still good information.

The last couple of days have been pretty good. No real lows to speak of, no highs either, just …  a couple of days. Nothing to write home about, but that also means that they haven’t been much to write about either.

Tonight we’re having one-pot lo mein. It’s a fairly simple recipe – everything goes in the pot, the pot gets stirred frequently through the process, it simmers down into a sauce, and you serve. It’s a tasty recipe and it’s one we enjoy doing. There will be socialization tonight, along with following basketball and softball scores (championship series for one, championship game for the other) online.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting with our guest in the morning and since it’s show day, most of my afternoon is dedicated to programming and most of the evening is dedicated to broadcasting. I don’t get much done on show days, but I can still keep track of my checklists and get everything done. There’s also hockey to keep an eye on Thursday night, so I’ll be a little distracted. (I don’t watch sports that often – we don’t have cable – but I track scores and progress online. Besides, I couldn’t watch the game during my radio show.)

Friday I think I’m going to start work on my notes from my last therapy session and get some work done on that front.

Saturday is show day, and programming that show takes longer than my Thursday show does, so we’ll be at it for the better part of the day.

Sunday is do-nothing day, and I’m glad for it.

So that’s enough rambling, I suppose. Our guest is here and it’s time to go prep dinner anyway.

NaBloPoMo Day 8: Sunday Wrapup

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I don’t really have an agenda for writing today. No well-thought out cohesive commentary on the things that are going on in my world. So today, you’re going to be treated to what a typical day for me is like, at least in my head. Here are my thoughts on this beautiful, comfortable Sunday.

  • I love this time of year. The temperatures are finally dipping to the levels that we don’t have to have the AC on all the time (in fact, it hasn’t even been turned on since early this morning, and it barely ran overnight). The windows are open, and it’s a gorgeous day. Both of us are pretty low on energy today, since we’ve been through the ringer trying to adult (more on that word later in this post) over the past few days, so rather than get ourselves out of the house to go enjoy it somewhere we’ve just been sitting on the couch goofing off on the computer while we watched the day go by from the second floor. Rather than having a railing for our balcony, we have a half-wall instead, meaning that there’s nothing we can see out of our living room window except for the second floor and above of the apartment building across the way. It’s days like today that make me wish I were a little better prepared to handle life out where there are people. I miss being outdoors, and I miss being healthy enough to go take advantage of it some place besides lapping our apartment complex.
  • As I said in a recent post, I am a Panthers fan. Today’s game nearly gave me yet another heart attack. We won, but the Packers were DANGEROUSLY close to being able to tie the game late. Little more cushion next week, please guys. My blood pressure thanks you.
  • The financial situation that I wrote about yesterday was resolved yesterday. They reversed the charge so fast it was back in our bank the day we called. Finally, our provider does the right thing.
  • I really need to start talking to my therapist about how to process the events in my past that have exacerbated my mental illnesses, and start learning how to work through them in any situation, even work. It is not a delightful thing to be stuck at home all day with extremely little to do. I miss working. I miss being able to work, to contribute to society. I want to make getting back to that point a higher priority, which means we’re going to be minimizing what’s going on now from week to week and concentrating on what happened back then to lead up to this point.

And finally, five good things that happened this week:

  1. We’re tending toward the use of “adult” as a verb in today’s lexicon. “I adulted so hard,” someone might say. “I don’t want to adult today,” another might complain. Over the past few days, I’ve adulted very hard. It’s been a challenge trying to manage our budget for this month due to unexpected expenses, but so far we seem to be managing decently. Financial planning always takes a lot out of me, since it’s somewhat depressing seeing the blueprint of how all of our money drains away right in front of me, but I persevere through it. To many people, this is assumed to be just a thing to do, no big deal. To someone with mental illnesses, tackling this kind of preparatory exercise can be easily overwhelming, and I needed today to just be, no real agenda or anything.
  2. The Panthers won again. Yes, I’m putting that as a good thing. This is the best start they’ve ever had and I’m excited to see just how good they’ll be in the second half of the season.
  3. I got to follow through on a yearly tradition in the house, that being the watching of V for Vendetta on November 5th. (Okay. So. We started it at five minutes to midnight on the 5th and the vast majority of the movie actually ran on the 6th, but at least some of it happened the day of, right?)
  4. I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to food. One egg and three strips of bacon in the morning. Two ham and turkey wraps for lunch. A smattering of variety at dinnertime. Recently we tried a new ham and turkey for our wraps. Neither of us were very impressed, myself to the point that I could barely choke down even one of the things. We finally made the decision to switch back to the ham and turkey we know we like and that made all the difference in the world. I’m back to wolfing them down like crazy.
  5. I managed to get through the week without any meltdowns into irrationality. There was some self-doubt scattered throughout the week, but nothing was bad enough to get to the point that I couldn’t listen to reason when it was told to me.

NaBloPoMo Day 3: An Imperfect Perfection

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Today is the day that I alienate a lot of my readers. I won’t be talking about my feelings or my health or any of that, oh no.

Today I’m going to talk about football.

It is important to note that, despite living in Houston for nearly 10 years and Austin for nearly three, I was born and raised in North Carolina, living in the state until I was almost 26. As a result, my sports allegiances are first and foremost to the teams in North Carolina – the Hornets, the Panthers, and the Hurricanes. I have my favorite teams here in Texas – the Texans, the Astros, the Rockets and Spurs – but my loyalty will always be with my Carolina teams first.

Last night the Panthers hosted the Colts in Charlotte. At one point in the fourth quarter it was 23-6 Panthers, and I figured it would be safe for me to tune in through the NFL Mobile app. (This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite perks of being a Verizon customer. It allows me to tune into almost any game I want for the teams I declare allegiance to.) Note the word “safe” there. I have a bit of a superstition that if I watch the game, my team will lose, so I tend not to watch a lot of football. (I watched most of the game last week against the Eagles as an experiment of the NFL Mobile app, and was pleased with it, not to mention my team won fairly handily.)

Then the score went to 23-13.

Then it was 23-20.

And then, with time expiring on the clock, it was 23-23. To overtime we went.

I was very tempted to turn off the game, convinced that the Colts pulled themselves back into the game because I was watching. But I persevered, despite my nerves.

The new rules state that if the team with first possession in overtime does not score a touchdown, their opponent gets the ball and the chance to tie or win. If, after one possession each, the game is still tied, the next score wins the game.

Indianapolis got the ball first in overtime and I was very worried.

They scored on their first possession, but it was a field goal, not a touchdown, so with the score now 26-23 Colts the ball went back to the Panthers. I was more than scared that my team would lose.

The Panthers had a good drive but couldn’t end it with a touchdown, settling instead for a field goal. The score was now tied 26-26 with the next score on either side becoming the game winner.

Indianapolis got the ball back and started driving down the field. And then a Colts pass was tipped by a Panthers defender, and then intercepted by another Panthers player.

The Panthers had the ball again, in good field position.

They fought and struggled to get the ball down to the point that their placekicker could make the game-winning field goal, and finally managed to get within range for a 52-yard attempt.

The snap was made, the ball positioned, the kick was up …

… and veering to the side …

… closer and closer to the goalpost …

… and then it sailed through, just inside the goalpost, for the field goal and the win. 29-26 Panthers.

My heart finally started beating again.

My Panthers played a lot of sloppy ball, missing opportunities to put the game away in regulation, but still managed to squeak it out in the end. Just like they’ve done all season.

One analyst predicted the Panthers would finish dead last in their division. Instead, the Panthers stand alone among NFC teams as the only undefeated team in the conference at 7-0. Once considered a fluke, they’re now among the NFL’s elite teams this season. With the win last night, they’ve already tied last year’s win total with more than half the season left to go.

Next Sunday, we host the Packers, who lost this week to drop from the ranks of the undefeated teams. They will be a dangerous, dangerous opponent, by far the best competition we’ve had all season. Just as I’ve done multiple times before, I predict the Panthers will finally lose a game.

But I’ve been wrong in the past, and the Packers are having problems on offense lately. It just might be possible for the Panthers to win this Sunday.

But just to be safe, I’m not going to watch that one. I’m not sure my heart can take another game like the one last night.

October 4, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. I got to spend a lot of time visiting with my best friend and his wife today. He’s also a mentor for me in the SCA, that historical re-enactment thing I do on the occasional weekend, and so we talked about ongoing projects. It’s always good to see the two of them and we don’t get to see them enough.

2. In today’s edition of Sportsball, my baseball team managed to lose both their game and the division today, and yet still clinched the last wild-card spot in the playoffs. (Any baseball fan worth his salt should REALLY know who my team is at this point.) And in a lovely bonus, my football team won today, and is one of the few undefeated teams left in the league after four weeks.

3. I still have a couple of things left to do, but it’s an almost certainty that I will complete my seventh straight day of completing my checklist, making this my longest streak ever under any circumstances. From here on out, any extension of the streak will be filed under “bonus good things” after I list my three for the day.

October 3, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. I like sports, enough to follow how my teams are doing over the Internet but not enough to either subscribe to cable or go to a sports bar or a friend’s to watch the games. Baseball season is winding down, and the closest thing I have to a team is fighting for a spot in the playoffs. For the last several days, things have transpired exactly as they’ve needed to for them to stay in the division race with one more game remaining tomorrow. (Baseball fans should be able to figure out “my team” from that little description.) Go team! Sports well!

2. I had a friend over tonight for our radio show. We had a good time, there were many hi-jinx, and there was a Kahlua crazy cake, made without eggs or milk, but with a TON of boozahol. One tiny piece, about an inch and a half square, gave me a tiny little buzz.

3. Today is day six of total completion of my checklist. This equals my longest string ever (remember, the only other time I did this was during a time when I had one optional check mark that was completed twice and not applicable four times during the string). If I complete my checklist tomorrow, I will have a solid week of compliance, make it one of my three good things one last time, and then drop it to “bonus item” status, since for the past few days it’s really been “two good things plus the checklist.” I’d like to try and look further than “I did everything I was supposed to” for the good in my life.