Sunday, April 11, 2021

Results of the March Madness Hopefuls! ESPN Tournament Challenge #MarchMadness #results

Photo by Wallace Chuck from Pexels

So good to have March Madness again this year! We had a good group participating in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. We had 25+ participate in the selections this year. A wide range of picks started out the tournament. The selected winners ranged from a dozen votes to single votes to win it all.

  • Gonzaga (12)
  • Illinois (4)
  • Michigan (3)
  • Kansas (2)
  • Alabama (1)
  • Baylor (1)
  • Iowa (1)
  • Oklahoma State (1)
  • Villanova (1)
  • West Virginia (1)

Gonzaga had the most votes with 12 followed by Illinois (4), Michigan (3), and Kansas (2). The remaining teams all had one vote each to win the tournament. For the majority of the rounds, Javier G was at the top of the leader board. Going into the championship game Monday night, Javi was leading the group with the most points. Following the end of the game the winner of the group was Dina H. She was the only one in our group to have Baylor winning.

Winners in the March Madness Hopefuls!

With a narrow margin of points, Dina H beat out Javi G 1,240 to 1,140. Followed by tsh34081. I am not sure who tsh34081 is but they came in third in our challenge. Congrats to Dina on winning the bracket this year with the only one picking Baylor from our league.

How did Dina compare to the entry winning all of ESPN? The winner of the entire ESPN bracket won with 1,690 points. What a fun tournament to watch. There were some heart breakers, some buzzer beaters, and a lot of efforts to watch in March Madness no one was able to enjoy a year ago. We are so happy to have it back and finish another tournament challenge.

Congrats to the winners, Dina H, Javi G, and tsh34081. 

Tent Set up with Happy Dog and Happy Tent Owners #Camping #Adventure

Picture of our New Tent Ready for an Adventure

Carrie and I are going to try camping. Sure, we have both been camping a few times in our lives, but not with our own gear. For Christmas, we got a tent and we spent Saturday, April 3 in the afternoon attempting to put it together in our back yard. You know, so we test out the process before we get to a camp site and realize we have not idea what we are doing. The process went well!

We did the test run of putting it up in our back yard, but did not spend the night in the back yard. We are old and want to get some comfortable items so we can sleep on them when we are at the camp site. After getting the tent put together, we spent a while reviewing cots, mats, etc., for items that can make the camp site comfortable. Of course, we do not want to spend a lot on items in the event we go and camp and do not like it, so trying to keep costs down but also find items that will make the stay comfortable.

Carrie had the great idea to record us putting the tent together, so I set it up as time-lapse. It worked out great! If you watch carefully, you can see us put it up once and then take it down as we used the shorter poles instead of the long poles for the center section. The process went well and we now know how to put it together and which poles to use.


We are making plans to find our first camp site. Carrie has done the research and make a selection of Pomona, KS. Our plan is to do a test run of two night stay at this first camp site. See how it goes, what other items we might need, and whether we like the process. We plan to take Oliver with us, so that will be interesting. I think he will have a lot of fun at a camp site with us, visiting other campers, and smelling or hearing the noises that come with being away from home. The next phase of our plan would be to camp with Greg and Erin at another location. We need to do so before it gets hot, so trying to determine the best time to do the second camping date.

Oliver had a great time after we set up the tent. He thought it was fun to hear his paws on the tent floor. As you can see, he was jumping and running around like it was a big game. Carrie and I both laughing at him. Finally, he flew out the front of the tent and did two running laps around the tent before settling in the grass to rest. He spent Sunday sleeping most of the day as he had a fun Saturday helping us with the tent.

More pictures, or video, later this month as we begin our camping experience. We both can hardly wait and looking forward to taking Oliver with us on our adventures.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter! Have a wonderful Easter Sunday. 

I will spend the day connecting with my family. I plan to call my sisters, my brother, and my Mom. I plan to watch some baseball. There might be some golf watching in there too. Might even do a Zoom session with everyone if I can get it set up and sent out early in the day. There is a chance for a nap but hopefully not during the baseball game. Easter Sunday evening I will be at the Shirrons’ enjoying a wonderful dinner and spending time with family.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Bally Sports Kansas City New #Royals Graphics #TogetherRoyal #BallySports

Bally Sports Kansas City Copied from Twitter Bally Sports Tweet

The start of the MLB season started on Thursday, April 1 and with it we saw a new branded channel. Formerly Fox Sports Midwest. It seems like we have watched Royals baseball on Fox Sports Midwest forever, but looking it up the channel launched in March 2008 (according to Wiki). The new branding is Bally SportsBally Sports officially launched April 1 but their web site still says “Coming Soon” and the app on my iPhone and Roku devices still says Fox Sports Go. The rumor was that everything was going to change on Opening Day of baseball, but that does not appear to have happened.

What did change was the broadcast. Broadcasters saying “Bally Sports” now and graphics indicate we are watching “Bally Sports” just to remind us over and over. I am still upset that I cannot get Royals baseball on YouTube TV and have to watch through my Mom’s streaming account from Midco. I am happy that is working and hope it continues to work to watch Royals baseball. I am one of the lucky ones as many people are not able to watch their favorite teams with blackouts or their provider no longer carrying the games (see Contract Disputes posted back in January).

Fox Sports Midwest Graphics
For years we have had the same graphics and I have to admit I missed them when I first started watching the game on Thursday. I was so used to seeing the layout in the lower right hand corner when watching Royals baseball that I missed not seeing it in the corner. I am not sure, but I would guess the graphic for pitcher, batter, score, inning, outs, and count had not changed since Fox Sports Midwest launched in 2008, or if it did change it was not by much.

Having seen the same graphics for so many years, I get set in my ways, and expect to see them to start the new season. I think it will be fine with the new graphics, but I can still complain about what I do not like and then compliment the new changes that I do like.

Bally Sports Kansas City Graphics

Typical information on the graphics with the score on the left. Inning, bases, outs, and count in the middle. Then on the right side displays other games. The whole graphic is along the bottom of the screen. The center section is also where it displays MPH for a pitch. 

The addition of the running scores of other games is a new addition. I do not recall where scores of other games would post/scroll on Fox Sports Midwest  but I believe it might have been at the top and only if there was an interesting game in session. The most part, I do not think they showed scores of other games at all. That is a nice new addition with the scrolling scores to help keep an eye on those other games.

Center Graphic with Inning, bases, outs, and count from Bally Sports
The center section section where it displays inning, who is on base, outs, and count needs some work is fine, but could use some color changes. Instead of outs showing as black dots, I would rather see red. The other complaint is that outs usually show left to right so it is odd to see them right to left. Again, not a huge issue, but it is going to take a little while to get used to the change. Although it appears this was only for the first game of the season on Opening Day. The second game of the season on Saturday had corrected the sequence of going left to right on outs, so it was better.

Overall, I like the new graphics and especially the scrolling scores of other games. It will take a while to get used to saying Bally Sports Kanas City, but I am sure we will all get used to it as they say it over-and-over throughout the game, commercials, and via social media.

I am so excited to be watching baseball and happy that at least for now, I get to watch Royals baseball. Enjoy the season for whatever team you follow.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

4 Months Peloton and Losing Weight Motivation

John Haverty Weight Tracking Since November 2020
Weight Tracking from November 2020 to March 2021

Making progress at exercising and reducing weight. As with much of the population, 2020 and COVID caused me to max out my weight. Pants did not fit, did not feel great, and did nothing really other than work, watch TV, eat, sleep, and drink lots of beer. As indicated in November 2020 post (see New Peloton Bike+ Delivered...), we have been exercising and enjoying our Peloton experience.

When we received the bike back in November 2020, I was at my largest weight of my life of 259.2. Granted, I think a few times I have gone above 260 during 2020 year, but toward the end of the year and through the summer months, we started trying to focus more on eating better and not having a beer every evening, so by the time I started exercising it was a lower weight.

From -- Blue Tape Measuring on Clear Glass Square Weighing Scale
A lot of variation in my weight, as I would expect, but I did not expect to go three or four weeks at a time and not lose, or gain, a thing. The dates between February 13 and March 5, I remained a constant 256 with just an increase, or decrease, in a point. Suddenly, I went from 256.2 up to 258.2 and the following week I went down to 252.2. The most recent weigh-in being 251.2. 

It is sure interesting how the body works and decides it is time to let go of the weight. My weigh-in days are Sunday mornings. A few changes during the time I stayed at relatively the same weight included eating more vegetarian dinners during the week with a meat introduced on the weekend. For the past few months since prior to when we got the bike, I have been limiting myself to only beer on the weekends (with a few exceptions such as watching sporting events during the week), so that has helped with weight decrease. Amazing how much weight can be lost just by doing away with any type of alcohol!

I have increased my bike riding to four times a week with at least one of the days being at least an hour of riding. The other three days are typically 30 minute blocks but broken up into smaller chunks or even two twenty minute rides that are easier than my 60 minute block. I continue to have fun and enjoy the experience that is Pelton. I am also trying to stay motivated to work out everyday with the Peloton app by doing weights, mediation, or Yoga. 

My motivation for doing the other non-bike days has been tough the past week or two. I tend to skip weights, or cardio, for mediation which is not ideal. Carrie tells me at least I am focusing on myself, but it feels as though I am cheating on the process. I have debated to just doing the four days of bike riding and not worrying about the other, but I do enjoy the feeling after I finish cardio or weights.

As the weather gets warmer, I do intend to introduce running into my workout again which will likely be one of my four days of workout. As I get older, I notice my knees hurt even following bike riding, so I am not sure how long I will be able to continue my runs. I do enjoy running outside though as compared to a treadmill but Oliver gets a walk following my run and I love how excited he gets when I put on my running shoes.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
What are your exercise routines? How do you keep yourself motivated? What is your favorite workout? Do you wake up and workout in the morning? Do you work out in the middle of the day? Or, wait until the last of the day to get your workout completed? 

I would love to hear from you and discuss through comments on this post, Twitter, or FaceBook.

Vaccine One is Done and Second Shot is Scheduled #MyTime #Vaccine

Carrie and I Got Our First Shot
Carrie and I were able to take advantage of the early vaccinations for Shawnee County thanks in large part to various staff at Washburn University. We received notice from Washburn that we could sign up on Friday, March 12 and we had our appointment scheduled for our first shot on Tuesday, March 16. Grateful to have our first shot and be scheduled for our second shot on April 8.

The process was extremely easy. We did not have to wait at all to get into the Expo Center, to be seen, or get our shot. The process was very smooth.

Following our first shot, we both experienced minor discomfort in our arms and shoulder where we had the shot. A dull feeling was all we both encountered. Tenderness at the point of the shot, but nothing more. We have heard that the second shot might have more side effects, but looking forward to getting our second and final shot on April 8.

As more and more of our community, and country, get the vaccine, the hope is that before long we will be back to normal activity in terms of going out, seeing family, friends, and strangers. We will all be wearing masks for the foreseeable future even after the vaccine from what I can tell but really at this point wearing the mask is second nature. I hardly think about it when I grab it to put it on.

Following our second shot on April 8, I will post another update to share how that goes for us both. Everyone I have spoken to thus far as not had terrible reactions to the second shot although a few people have had some reactions. I am excited to get it completed and will continue to wear my mask when out in public.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Oscar Movie Nominations and Impressions of Those We Have Watched So Far

The nominations have been announced for the 2021 Oscar Awards. Carrie and I have already watched half of the movies and plan to finish up the four four before April 25.

Having watched half of the nominated movies, I will post a brief description of each and my reaction to each movie thus far.

Watched Movies

Judas and the Black Messiah is a story of Bill O’Neal infiltrating the Black Panthers. Based on true events the movie kept my attention throughout. Powerful story of true events that I had never heard before. At this point through four movies watched, this is in the top two of my favorite movies.

Nomadland is a story of a woman who lost everything and lives in her van traveling the country. Another movie based on true events with some of the actors in this movie being people living as nomads. While not in my top two movies, it is a very well done movie and compelling story that kept me watching to the end.

Sound of Metal is a top two of the movies I have watched so far. This movie is based on a true story as well about a man that loses his hearing and his struggle through the process. The acting is excellent from the entire cast. The directing was also very good with special effects where I had myself questioning if I had lost my hearing while watching the movie. It helped to make a connection with he main character. I highly recommend watching this movie.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is about the trial of seven individuals that started at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. This is close to being in my top two movies watched thus far. Had some funny moments and also surprising as the story unfolds that this happened in our country.

Not Watched Yet

Mank sounds interesting about a 1930’s process of writing Citizen Kane. I do not believe I have ever watched Citizen Kane but might have to do so following watching of this movie.

Manari looks very interesting. A Korean family starts a farm in Arkansas in the 1980’s. I think this will be an interesting movie to watch and look forward to doing so before the Oscars.

The Father is a movie about a father who refuses assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he ages, he begins to question everything about him including those that love him.

Promising Young Woman is a story about a woman who has something bad happen in her past and then seeks out revenge against those that went against her. Again, sounds interesting and look forward to seeing how this plays out.

In Summary

There appear to be a number of nominated movies that are based on true events. Of the four we have watched so far, all four were based on true events. After we watch the other four, I will do another update on impressions of those movies and whether they too are based on true events.

If I had to pick my favorite movie today, I would say it would be Sound of Metal. Although after we watched Judas and the Black Messiah, I told Carrie it was my favorite movie. So, it might depend on the day which is my favorite. All four have been very good and highly recommend watching any or all of them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day and a Little Luck to You

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Happy St. Patrick's Day! A year ago, this day came and went and I barely noticed. Today, at least I am able to acknowledge it is St. Patrick's Day. Much like last year, there will not be any celebrating taking place on my part by drinking green beer or going out on the town. No, instead, it will be spent doing our regular routine. 

I hope you have a good St. Patrick's Day celebration. Stay safe. Be smart and Top of the Irish to you!

Good time to remind you if you have not already to complete your ESPN Tournament Challenge. A little different this year with play-in games being Thursday and then round one games on Friday/Saturday and round two games on Sunday/Monday. Get your picks in now!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

March Madness 2021 ESPN Tournament Challenge

ESPN Tournament Challenge Picture

It is good to have basketball again. Be sure to get your bracket created so you can be sure to take part in the 2021 ESPN Tournament Challenge. It is free, it is fun, and you might even win something (from ESPN) if you pick the correct picks. Make your pick today!

Directions for joining are listed below.
  1. Visit ESPN which will take you directly to the March Madness Hopefuls.
  2. If you are already signed into the ESPN web site, you can immediately create your bracket. If not sign into the site and then you will be taken to the March Madness Hopefuls group or you can search for March Madness Hopefuls to join.
  3. Join the group.
  4. Repeat the above process to create additional brackets. In the March Madness Hopefuls bracket, you can have three entries.
Be sure to submit your entries by 10:00 am CST Thursday, March 18. This will make sure you get your entries submitted and have time to get them submitted. First game tips at 11:15 am on Thursday March 18.

If you have any questions or problems, please post a comment to this post.

Good luck and enjoy March Madness!

Mower Replacement for Haverty Never Ends

Trees are starting to bud, grass is starting to turn green, and I see my neighbors starting to work on their lawns. I guess it means it is almost spring time in Kansas! I am so excited for spring to arrive and looking forward to green trees, grass, and spending more time outside.

As the spring starts, I am once again reviewing lawn mowers to purchase. This will be my third lawn mower since 2006. The first mower I had was a Honda mower which I loved, but a problem with the handle a few years ago and I was told it was cheaper to replace rather than repair. Basically, the weld came undone on the left side of the handle causing the whole unit to be useless. So, I order a Troy-Bilt self-propelled mower. I had it for about four or five years. 

I sent in the Troy-Bilt mower over the winter months for routine maintenance. I soon received a call to tell me it was badly damaged and could not be repaired. Seriously? Turns out that last summer when I was mowing one evening I went over a metal leg on our hammock and the blade caught on the leg. It scared the crap out of me and of course the mower stopped immediately. It bent up the leg on the hammock pretty good but from what I could tell, the mower was not damaged. I continued mowing and mowed the rest of the summer/fall 2020 season with that mower.

When the company doing maintenance on the mower called me to report major damage to the engine, I knew immediately what had caused the issue. I was told that they could try and repair it but again, like the Honda, the repair would cost more than buying a new mower and it might not fix the issue. No-brainer, I decided to let them keep the mower, pay for the work already completed, and get a new mower as it got warmer and time for mowing again.

So, here we are making another purchase. I actually did like the Troy-Bilt mower I had before, so looking at getting the same brand again. This will hopefully be the last mower I buy for a long time. Stay away from metal and keep from having the handle break on me, should be able to keep over ten years with maintenance and upkeep.

Happy mowing and wish me luck on keeping this mower for a long time to come!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Nostalgia Over Cabin Key Plus Pinewood Derby

It is interesting what triggers memories. Sometimes it is the sound of something or even the taste of a food that brings back memories. In my case, coming across items in the house or on my key chain I carry around each day brought back memories. Our minds are amazing at what makes a connection that we will remember years later and what our mind chooses not to remember or prompt with prompts around our environment. For me, these are good memories that I came across and thought they were interesting to share as I enjoying remembering these items.

Key Brings Back Memories

Old Key Brings Back Memories
Cabin Key Memories

I decided a week or so ago to clean off some of the keys on my key chain as I needed to make room for some work keys and came across a memory. As I looked through the keys on my key chain, I found a key that had notches on the sides in order to tell it apart from the other keys. I do not have a lot of keys on my key chain with nine keys total at the current time, as soon as I saw it I knew what it was and where it used to unlock.

The key was made years ago probably when I was in high school by my dad. The key resembled in shape other keys on my key chain at the time and in order to tell them apart, my dad took the key to the grinder on the work bench and did notches on the sides. I still remember him taking the key from me, grinding it, and handing it back to me saying now I will be able to tell it apart from other similar keys.

The key was my key for our cabin out at Lone Star Lake. Seeing the key and remembering how I got it, who made it, and that I had been carrying it around for all this time brought back a lot of memories. Fond memories of going to the cabin to hang out on a evening, or weekend, to spend time with family and friends. We had a ski boat, paddle, Jon, and other various boats. We had a lot of fun out at Lone Star Lake and spent a lot of weekends growing up and through some of my adult years having fun at Lone Star, working, or a little of both. 

While the key was given to me by my dad and the notches so I could tell it apart from other keys, I also recall it was given to me as I was heading out to the cabin to do work. I remember not looking forward to the work at the time, but now I would love to have that place back to spend time hanging around the lake and enjoying the day.

Pinewood Derby Memories

Pinewood Derby Car from My Childhood
Pinewood Derby Car
While Carrie and I were cleaning out a room in our house, I came across my old pinewood derby car. It had been in a box that my mom gave to me on one of the various times throughout the years she has handed over “my stuff” to do with it what I want. As usual, the stuff handed over to me through the years tends to sit in the same boxes she gave them to us in and then they sit in our house. In this particular case, I found the old pinewood derby car and put it on the shelf in our bedroom.

The pinewood derby car was built and designed with the assistance of my dad way back when I was in grade school. I was in Cub Scouts and still recall doing the building and racing in the gym at Sunset Hill Elementary School in Lawrence, KS. I recall putting on the coins to the car to make it go faster, putting in weights in the back to help with weight, and sending it down the line to test all while my dad was helping me to do the adjustments and tweaks. Where I ended up in placement of the pinewood derby race, I have no idea. It is simply another good memory I recall of my dad and I working on a project together.

What Else Will We Find?

As we continue cleanup and throw out of items from our house, it will be interesting to see what else we come across that sparks memories. As I mentioned at the start, it is interesting how our minds work and just by coming across something familiar from our childhood years brings back memories of that event, person, or experience. It was good to remember these experiences and made me laugh that I had the key on my key chain when our family sold the cabin back in over five years ago. I know I decided at the time to leave the key on my key chain as I wanted to remember the settings. For now, the key will go in my drawer to find another time when I can remember again about the family cabin.