June 28, 2007

The Summer of Contentment!

I just have to say that, all in all, this summer is going pretty well. I don't know exactly why I am feeling so satisfied with life right now, but I am. It must be the little things...

My job is a touch on the boring side right now until I my next big project can get going and the class I'm taking this summer has turned out to be retarded at best. And it has been raining for the last 5 months (or so it would seem). None of that is going to get me down though.

I have the greatest family ever with three hilarious kids and an awesome wife. I have a stable job with a boss that laments that I won't work for her forever. I am nearing the end of the road with school and I am getting a newfound burst of motivation that I think I'll be able to ride until May. And I'm just content with life. I don't know how else to say it, things are just good right now, or at least that's what I have convinced myself. And that's good enough for me.

June 21, 2007

History Lesson: Why am I The Loser?

I have been asked a few times since renaming this blog (from whatever it used to be...) why I call myself a loser. First off let's be clear, I call myself The Loser. As for why...

I take you back to the fall of 2003, it was my first year in the RRFFL (a.k.a. Round Rock Fantasy Football League). Coming out of the draft I was very happy with my team and really liked my chances to win the league. Well things went about as poorly as possible and were only compounded by a stupid desperation trade that I made at mid-season. I only ended up winning two games and tied for the worst record in the league. Fast-forward a year and I found myself in a similar situation a couple weeks into the 2004 season. Resorting to the ever popular weapon of a fantasy team name change The Madden Curse quickly became Born to Lose. My team immediately got hot and I only missed winning the title thanks to a Shaun Alexander goal line fumble on the first week of our playoffs (yes, it's scary that I remember these things). Somewhere along the way during all the message board battles Born to Lose was affectionately shortened to B2L. And the rest as they say is history.

Ever since that season almost all of my fantasy teams have had some form of lose or loser in their name. Some of these teams include Lose Big or Go Home!, Lucky in Lose, Mighty Red Losers, Lone Star Losers, el Losero, and Losers for Life. This pattern/superstition has led to an amazing run in my fantasy fortunes. Since the B2L revolution began, my fantasy baseball team Loveable Losers in 2005 is the only team to not finish in the top 3. As for the RRFFL, I took the title in dominating fashion in 2005 with B2L 2k5 and then pulled off the repeat in 2006 with e=B2L (best name ever!). The 2006 triumph was especially sweet since I regularly blew away my opponents despite wearing the defending champ bullseye and having the whole league out to get me. I have also won back-to-back titles in my other fantasy football league as well. Another moment of Loser bliss was in 2005 when I pulled off the fantasy treble. I won my football, baseball, and hockey leagues that year.

So the reality is that I wear the Loser label as a badge of pride. The name has done me well and I don't plan on hanging it up. As we speak Lose on First has a relatively comfortable lead in my fantasy baseball league. And the best part of this whole story for other fantasy players is I've gone into retirement from fantasy football. I don't think it will be permanent, but I definitely won't be playing this year. I have to admit, it's kind of nice going out on top.

June 20, 2007

Book Review: The Children of Hurin

Let's get one thing clear right from the start here... it's hard not to be impressed when a guy who has been dead for over thirty years writes anything, let alone a book this good. Now that we have that out of the way...

This book will obviously appeal largely to Lord of the Rings fans, but they might not get what they are looking for. That's not to imply that they won't be happy with what they get, they are just very different books. One of Tolkien's greatest abilities has always been to adapt his writing style to suit his desire and the mood of the tale (I still have a hard time believing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were both written by the same person). Well The Children of Hurin is no different in that regard.

While The Lord of the Rings was a story of clinging to hope in the face of seemingly unavoidable doom, The Children of Hurin is a tale of an inescapable curse despite moments of triumph. The Children of Hurin revolves mainly around Turin, the son of the titular hero Hurin. After Hurin is captured by the dark lord Morgoth (Sauron's old boss for you Rings fans) his bloodline is cursed and he is bound to a mountaintop where he is forced to witness the curse play out on Turin and his daughter Nienor, who was at that time still unborn.

Most of the book follows Turin as he travels throughout Middle Earth trying to fight back the ever growing forces of Morgoth. Raised for the most part by the elves of Doriath, Turin is a mighty warrior and has many triumphs against Morgoth's minions, but there is a shadow that follows him wherever he travels and Turin's life is one filled with great sorrow. During this time Turin meets in battle and eventually defeats the great dragon Glaurung (one of the most purely evil characters ever), but it is the encounter with Glaurung that ultimately leads to Turin's undoing and the culmination of the curse on the children of Hurin.

I won't go into any more detail because I highly encourage you to read the book for yourself and don't want to give anything away. It is pretty accessible for a Tolkien work and there is even a comprehensive list of names in the appendices in case you lose track of someone or something. This is a good thing since, much like roads in Texas, everything and everyone in Middle Earth seems to have three or four names at least. Turin alone renames himself a number of times as he tries to flee from his past over the course of the book.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent book that is a must read for Tolkien fans. I would also recommend it to anyone looking for a rich piece of fiction to get lost in for a week or two. It's a pretty quick read so you really have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. I could honestly see myself reading The Children of Hurin on an annual basis. If that's not praise enough for a book than I don't know what is.

June 9, 2007

So this is what the other side of the hill looks like!

I'm back! I'm sure you missed me... right? Someone? Anyway, let's get caught up shall we:
  • I turned 30 on Tuesday. I can honestly say that it was no biggie at all. I felt much more like an "old man" on my 20th birthday than I did this time. So I'm 30, life goes on.
  • My break is over and I am back in school for 5 weeks as I take Software Engineering this summer. It shouldn't be that bad as long as the other two guys in my group carry their weight on our project. Then I'll have almost 2 months off to recharge (and work on my correspondence course) before fall semester starts and I get my lunch handed to me.
  • Most of my break was spent writhing in pain as I managed to come down with some random virus that made me feel like crap and randomly attacked my joints in a very painful manner. And that is coming from someone with a history of joint "issues".
  • At least I have this to show for the break. Going forward pretty much any sports related writing/posting that I do will go there. So if you're interested, check it out, and if you aren't then don't (be that way!)
I'm sure there are other things I should be including here, but I can't think of them at the moment. I hope to be posting more regularly now that I'm back on a consistent schedule, but we'll just have to see how that goes.