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Minnesota Blah – Tribulations and Tears

While watching the Twins invariably blow their 3-0 first inning lead to the Yankees last night, it got me thinking of how horrible it is to be a Minnesota sports fan. As I’m sure you know, the majority of sports fandom is based on where you’re from. A person who grew up in St. Louis, will obviously be more drawn to the local teams. Unfortunately, I was born in Minnesota and spent my formative years in the 90’s. I will argue that no fan base has had their heart ripped out more over the last 25 years than Minnesota. I was so distraught yesterday, I started compiling a list in my head…. which led to this post. Below is a blow-by-blow account of everything Minnesota has done to be horrible since I’ve been old enough to keep track….

1989 – Vikings trade half their franchise for Herschel Walker – This trade was so bad that it has its own wikipedia page… So bad that it has its own 30 for 30 titled ‘The Great Trade Robbery’… The Vikings got a 27 year old up running back and the Cowboys ended up with 3 Super Bowl titles. The Vikings gave up 5 players and 8 draft picks (Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, etc.)…. seriously…. Fun fact… Herschel never ran for 1000 years in a season for Minnesota and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. This is my first Vikings memory and they only go downhill from here…

1993 – Minnesota North Stars move to Dallas – The US Hockey Hall of Fame is literally in Minnesota… almost half of the 1980 miracle on ice team was from Minnesota…. They were two years removed from the Stanley Cup Finals…. Ugh, I’m still pissed.

1996 – Twins – Kirby Puckett goes blind – Kirby woke up one day in March and found he couldn’t see. After some tests it was determined he had a glaucoma. After multiple surgeries, his vision didn’t return and he was forced to retire. The sad part is that this might have been able to be prevented with regular eye exams. The Twins haven’t been the same since he left. After he retired, he had sever domestic issues that called into question his character. I will say this… I miss Kirby the ball player. Such a giant part of my childhood, over in a day by something that may have been preventable.

1998 – Vikings lose NFC Championship Game in Crushing Fashion… The Vikings rolled all year to a 15-1 record. Their kicker had not missed a kick all year (perfect on field goals and extra points)…. of course… all the Vikings have to do to go to the Super Bowl is to make a 39 yard field goal… What happens… he misses it. Of course. However, the Vikings got the ball back with 49 seconds left… instead of playing to win… the Vikings take a knee on 3rd and 7… and then promptly lose in overtime. I could write a million words on this… No Vikings loss has hurt more and was my first exposure to what it means to be a Vikings fan. It hurt too much to look up the actual video so this will have to do…

2000 – Glen Taylor gets caught making a secret contract with Joe Smith (JOE FRICKING SMITH) – The Timberwolves were fined a record $3.5 million and were stripped of their next 5 first round draft picks… this wasted the prime of Kevin Garnett. The Wolves are just now starting to recover.

2001 – Vikings lose 41-0 to Giants in NFC Championship Game – After starting the season 11-2, Super Bowl fever was in full effect. The Vikings then promptly lost the final 3 games and lost home field advantage for the entire playoffs to the New York Giants who finished 12-4. After taking care of New Orleans in their first playoff game, hopes were high that the Vikes had righted the ship and even came into the game favored on the road… Unfortunately, they promptly suffered their first ever playoff shutout loss and worst playoff loss in franchise history. I quit watching at halftime when it was 34-0. For context, at halftime… the 34 points by the Giants were their season high.

2002 – MLB tries to contract the Twins – The Twins were so ineptly run by owner Carl Pohlad (who started his fortune by foreclosing on people during the depression) that MLB thought they were better off by shutting down the franchise.

2003 – Vikings miss the playoffs on final play versus Arizona – The 2003 Vikings started 6-0 and were the clear Super Bowl favorites… However, the season started going pear shaped as they kept losing to bad teams (fun fact, they lost to every team that finished 4-12 that year). Coming into the final game, all the Vikings had to do was to beat the 3-13 Arizona Cardinals and they were playoff bound… Well, of course… Arizona wins on the last play of the game. The receiver clearly didn’t get two feet in-bounds on the catch, but was ruled that he was pushed mid-air by the defense so a touchdown was awarded… this was such garbage that the NFL has since changed the rule… Only the Vikings could lose this way.

2003 – Present – Twins lose to Yankees in the playoffs – Here is a quick history of this series in the playoffs…

  • 2003 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 1
  • 2004 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 1
  • 2009 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 0
  • 2010 Twins lose to Yankees 3 games to 0
  • 2017 Twins lose to Yankees 1 game to 0

All told, that adds up to the Twins going 2 – 13 versus the Yankees. Ugly. Then to make it worse, the great Joe Posnanski has these fun facts…

“The Yankees’ record against the Twins since 2002 — and this includes four soul-crushing postseason series for Minnesota — is now 89-33.

Repeating: New York is now 89-33 against Minnesota since 2002. That’s a .730 winning percentage — basically three wins out of four. That would calculate to 118 wins in a 162-game season.”

2009 Brett Favre Interception in NFC Championship Game – Again, the Vikings started out hot on their way to a 10-1 record. The started to slow at the end of the year going 2-3 over their last 5 games, but still good enough to win their division and get a first round bye. They crushed the Cowboys in the division round 34-3 which activated Vikings fever. They then traveled to New Orleans for the Championship game. The Vikes played horrible with 5 turnovers… but somehow, the game was tied 28-28 when the Vikings received a Saints punt at the 21 yard line with 2:49 left. The Vikings made it within field goal range with 19 seconds left…. in true Minnesota fashion, they quickly got a 12 men on the field penalty which moved the ball back to the 38. The sensible thing to do would be to run a quick throw or run to the middle of the field to set up the winning field goal…. Instead…. the Vikings called some crazy roll-out pass play which led to what is referred to ‘The Brett Favre Interception’… Watch for yourself…. This is inexplicable.

2014 – Adrian Peterson Beats his Child – Minnesota had their next hero in Adrian Peterson filling the void when Kevin Garnett was traded away. He was so revered in Minnesota that they called him ‘Purple Jesus’. I think he may have gotten confused with real-Jesus and the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ mantra and instead used the rod on his 4 year-old to the extent that he was charged with ‘reckless or negligent injury to a child’. The NFL suspended him for 6 games and we all came to the realization that we were worshiping a false idol.

2015 – Missed 27 yard kick in playoffs vs. Seattle – The Vikings played a hard-fought game with Seattle. Final drive, Vikes find themselves down 10-9… They rally to the 9 yard line with 26 seconds left… A chip-shot field goal…. This is the Vikings so I think everyone knew what was going to happen next… Blair Walsh misses left. Of course he does. Watch here

2016 – Teddy Bridgewater almost loses a leg – Since this is the Vikings… I came into the 2016 season with decent expectations… Unfortunately, in one of the most freak accidents ever to take place on a football field… Teddy Bridgewater, their franchise quarterback, suffered a non-contact injury where he tore his ACL and suffered structural damage, including a dislocation of the knee joint to the point where there was talk of amputating the leg…. seriously. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary but as of October 2017, he hasn’t played since.

Others that didn’t make the list….

  • Joe Mauer concussions
  • Prince dying

What did I miss? Leave a comment below.

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So You’re Going to Europe?!

I recently had the privilege of going on a two week whirlwind vacation through Europe. This was my first time traveling as an adult to Europe so there were a lot of unknowns. I thought I would write a quick blog post on some of the lessons learned and hopefully subsequent posts on each city.

The trip consisted of flying into Munich, spending two nights in the Austrian Alps, two nights in Venice, four nights in Florence, two nights in the Piedmont region, and one night in Milan.

Here are some of the lessons learned from the trip.

  • Only spending two nights in a big city isn’t long enough. I wish I had another night in Munich, Venice, and the Austrian Alps.
  • Almost everywhere took credit cards. Especially the restaurants.
  • Schedule at least two hours between flights. This is more important coming back because you’ll need to clear customs. I had a short window between flights at JFK. Once the flight was delayed out of Milan, I knew I was going to miss the connection. It made a long day of travel even worse.
  • Google Fi was a great way to get phone service in Europe. I had a Nexus 5x that I wasn’t using anymore so I signed up for Google Fi. The reception was great in every city. Google Maps was a lifesaver, as was Google Translate. I have Verizon and it would have been a $40 charge to use the phone in Europe and that only included 100 MBs of data. That would have been used navigating from the airport to the hotel.
  • Google Maps and Google Translate are amazing. I don’t know how people traveled before without them. I used them both every day for so many things.
  • Uber sucks in Europe. I tried Uber in Munich and there was only one car available. Then he couldn’t find me. After 20 minutes, I hired a cab, which is what I should have done in the first place.
  • Pack a water bottle (or 2)! The Camelbak was a lifesaver. It’s hot in Europe in the summer and free water isn’t super available in Europe. Having the Camelbak saved a lot of money and kept me hydrated.
  • The booze on the international flights really was free. I had heard rumors, but it was true on both Delta international flights.
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  • Hotels in Europe don’t use a cover sheet. It’s literally the fitted sheet then the comforter. Be prepared!
  • We did laundry one day at a laundry mat in Florence, but we also brought Tide Sink Packets (Link) and a clothesline (Link) for laundry at the various hotels. They were the real MVP of the trip.
  • Bring a good converter. I brought this one with 3 plugs and 4 usb ports. It did a great job.

If you have anything I’ve missed or any questions, drop a note in the comments below.

Running with Dogs – Hints and Things I’ve Learned

One of my favorite things in life is running with my weimaraners. I’ve been lucky enough to have three amazing pups who all liked to go for runs. Tobey-boy has loved running from Day 1. Something as simple as moving my running shoes gets him excited. Lili was a bit reluctant to run at first but eventually came around. Her favorite runs were when we would run to a remote location she and could run and play off leash with Tobey-boy. Baby Leo is still a work in progress. He likes running, but hates the gentle leader and isn’t as great on a leash as the others.

IMG_1996Mark & Tobey at the CHA Dog Jog

Anyway….Below are some things I’ve learned and some things to watch out for. If you have any others tips or hints that you think would be helpful, please drop a note in the comments.

  1. Not all dogs can/want to run – This probably goes without saying, but it’s worth pointing out. Not all dogs are built to run. Weims are a special sporting breed of dog with a seemingly endless supply of energy. A lot of dogs aren’t made for running or especially for running long distances. No one knows the dog’s temperament better than the owner. If the dog has a lot of energy, then running might be right.
  2. Start out with short distances – This is the same rule as for people. When you start training for a marathon, your first run isn’t going to be 26.2 miles. This is the same for dogs. They need to be eased into running longer distances just like humans. When I started running with Baby Leo, our first run was ½ a mile around the block. This was to get him familiar with running on a leash and also to make sure he doesn’t overdo it and hurt himself. Now that we’ve been running for almost a year, he’s up in the 7-8 mile range. My longest run with Tobey was in the 10 mile range but we started small and built up to that range. Also, if your pup is a bit overweight, that should also be taken into consideration.
  3. Find the right leash/harness – Having control over your dog is critical when running. There are so many more distractions than playing in the yard or even walking on leash (because the distractions come much faster). I can’t count the number of times that Tobey has been fixated on another dog or a bird… or come to think of it… anything that moves. I use a choke collar with him (and sometimes a gentle choke). This allows me to pull him back quickly if he lunges for anything or is in danger. Lili and Baby Leo used gentle leaders. Both of them would throw fits to get it off, but again, it served a purpose. I’ve also incorporated a harness with Baby Leo. This is as much for my health as with the dogs as it only takes one awkward step to pull a muscle and put both of us on the shelf for weeks or even months.
  4. Check the pavement – When running in summer, always always always check the pavement temperature. There are a few ways I do this… the most obvious way is to put your hand or bare feet on the ground and feel how hot it is. If you can’t handle the heat by leaving your hand/feet on the ground without moving, then it’s too hot for your dog. Another way to read the dog. If they keep lifting up paws and moving locations to avoid the heat on their paws, then it’s best to call the run.
  5. Listen to the dog – Always be aware of the dog and what they’re trying to tell you. I can recall one particular run where Lili started to fall behind a little bit, which was not normal for her. I thought maybe she may have been distracted so I kept running. After another minute or two, I realized something was wrong. Sure enough, she had a cut on her paw. Her slowing down was letting me know something was wrong.

    Another example is as Tobey has aged (he’s 11 ½), he simply can’t go as fast or far as he could in his prime. He lets me know when I’m going too fast or far by slowing down. When he does this, I know I need to slow down too or risk hurting him.

  6. Don’t overdo the ice and water afterwards – My biggest fear with the weimaraners is bloat. This is where the accumulation of gas sometimes causes the stomach to rotate or twist on its axis; this is referred to as torsion or volvulus and can be fatal. After a run, I try to limit the water and I don’t give the pups ice. Like humans, they definitely need to re-hydrate, but they need to do it in a safe manner by not allowing them to consuming a large amount of water at one time. For more information, Snopes addressed the topic here.
  7. Don’t feed immediately before or afterwards – Like the old adage of having to wait 30-60 minutes after a meal to go swimming, dogs are the same way. If you feed immediately or afterwards, you’ll probably make your dog sick at minimum and could be considerably worse. I make sure the boys are back to breathing and behaving normally before feeding. Depending on the run, this could be up to an hour afterwards.
  8. Rest is key – Like humans, dogs need time to recover. Depending on how active and where your dog is in age will dictate how much rest is needed. With Tobey (age 11 ½), we never run two days in a row. With Baby Leo, he can run forever so he doesn’t need or get as much rest between runs.
  9. Supplements may help – I’ve found that giving Tobey a cosequin twice daily has helped with his joint health. Sometimes I would notice him limping the day after a run. Giving the cosequin has definitely helped. It may not work with every dog, but if you notice any stiffness or limping, there may be options to help the dog out. The recommendation is always to error on the side of caution when you notice any of the signs.
  10. Have Fun – This is what it’s all about. I absolutely love running with my dogs to the point where I don’t enjoy running solo as much. One of my favorite events each year is the CHA Dog Jog, which is a 5k to raise money for one of the local shelters in Columbus, OH. If you would like to donate to my run this year, please donate here!

    Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to spend some quality time with your dogs than sharing a hobby such as running and by following these guidelines, I’ve been able to keep my dogs happy and healthy. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to as well!

As an added bonus, here are some pictures of me running with the pups.

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Tobey and I at our first CHA Dog Jog in 2008

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Lili and I at the Friends of the Shelter 5k

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Tobey and I at the Defend Your Friend 5k (I think)

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Tobey and I at the Defend Your Friend 5k… I think Tobey was the first dog to finish

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Tobey and I finishing up at one of the CHA Dog Jog’s

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CHA Dog Jog 5k with the Scioto River in the background

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CHA Dog Jog. I know for a fact Tobey won this race. Still one of the great running highlights of my life.

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Me and Lili-Girl at one of the CHA Dog Jog’s

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Me and Baby Leo after his second 5k

Latest Photos

It’s been forever since I posted an update so I thought I would post some quick pictures I’ve taken.

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Tobey and Baby Leo standing guard defending the house. Effects completed by Google Photos

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Baby Leo – Galaxy S8 – Untouched

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Took this picture on the way back from the dog park. I love the color. – Galaxy S8 – Untouched

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Columbus Zoo – One of the new Polar Bear cubs (almost certain Nuniq) – Loved how he was chilling in the water – Galaxy S8 – Untouched

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More Nuniq (in the water) and his sister Neva – Galaxy S8 – Google Photos with the black and white

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Another from the Columbus Zoo. This was one of the sea turtles chilling in a corner. Looks like something out of Finding Nemo – Galaxy S8 – Untouched

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Baby Leo and Tobey Boy – Tobey was playing with a toy and Leo wanted it. Managed to get them to sit still for just a second – Galaxy S8 – Untouched

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This is from our first Fourth of July at our new house. Galaxy S8 – Untouched

Hope you enjoyed the photos and hopefully, I’ll start posting more on a regular basis than once a year.!

Tale of Two Photos

I couldn’t help but notice the similarities of a picture I posted last week of Tobey and Baby Leo looking out the window to another picture taken a few years back of Tobey and our beloved Lillian in a similar pose. Both are pictured below.

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