Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Youth Sports as a Microcosm of Society, or "Why it's Great to be a Coach"

As my kids have grown up, we've eventually realized they needed some sort of competitive activity to prepare them for life as an adult, or we just wanted them out of the house for a few days a week during the summer. Either way, being Italian in heritage, and having played for years myself, soccer was the sport of choice. Also the extreme amount of running and low equipment costs were attractive.

Let me warn you, if you don't have kids, of you do and they have not yet played on a team of any sort, you will be amazed at the emotion that comes out of even the meekest people once their kid gets on the field. I am not meek, so naturally I had a hard time watching my daughter's soccer team play. Even worse were the practices. No wind sprints? How is a six year old going to build endurance without a few laps before and after practice? After all, these are my memories of playing when I was a lad. So after one season, I took it upon myself to coach my daughter's team. Ever see "Kicking and Screaming"? That movie is a lot funnier when you are a coach.

 This season I coached Sophia's 8 year old team.  I'd like to think I'm a lot softer on the kids than my coaches were.  No laps, but I do get them to do some sit-ups and leg lifts.  When they learn the mental part of the game, and seeing them get rewarded for doing what was asked of them is probably the best feeling as a coach.  Example:  During our last game, the smallest girl on the team, instead of following the ball to the corner, took off to the front of the net where she got a great pass and scored.  You just don't get any happier for a kid than that.

Anyway, it IS a lot of work, so a general pat on the back to all of you who coach youth sports, and those of you who have kids in sports who appreciate your coaches.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Matthew Day!

I'm sure everyone is aware of the security issues with Facebook.  Posting so much of your personal info on a mildly secure site should make everyone a bit nervous.  If not, think of it as leaving your bank card in your backyard all night, sure there's a gate to jump, and they'll need you PIN #, but there is valuable info there for the taking.

Same thing with Facebook, or really, any site that asks for more than your email address.  Don't get me started on how badly companies and advertisers want your contact info.  They pay money for it, that's the reasoning behind all these "sign up to win" promotions.  They want your # and they want it bad.

So in an effort to protect myself, I altered my birthdate on my facebook profile.  No, you wouldn't be able to walk into a bank and say "My name is Matt Pavone, my birthday is Aug 10, gimme my money please".  But financial institutions sometimes use your date of birth as a way of checking that they are dealing with the actual client.  So if someone was trying to steal my identity (and who wouldn't want it? I have my own blog!), knowing my date of birth puts them one step closer.

So to those of you who wished me a happy birthday this week, thank you, my birthday is only a couple days away, so I appreciate the early wishes.  I admit when I altered the date, I failed to realize I would get a slew of messages on my false birthday (or as my sister called it "Matthew Day").  Good thing I at least went with something close to the actual date, and not sometime in March.

On a side note, I have an identical twin brother, and after sharing 30ish birthdays with someone, it was kinda nice to have one to myself.

Happy Matthew Day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Cousins' Bar-Bee-Cue! The Origins:

Before you get all insulted, I am aware that the title is not the preferred spelling of Barbecue. 

A few years ago, I had the idea that my wife and i should move out of our hometown of St. Catharines, and to a place called Brantford, about 1 hour away.  We did.  After settling in for about 4-5 months, we realized that very few of our family were popping in for visits, so we decided to have a 'housewarming' party that summer. We did. More on this later.

Unfortunately for my wife, my brother happened to give me a book that Christmas called "Championship Barbecue" by Paul Kirk.  It explains why food cooked over hot coals for 18 hours is so good (called 'smoking'), and how to do it.  After tasting some pork my brother Mike had made, I was sold.  I went and bought a Weber kettle grill, the same grill in every backyard in the 1950's.  This began a habit of cooking all day, smelling like smoke, and eating at 11:30 at night.  

What does this have to do with our housewarming? Well not being prepared to cook in competitions just yet, I figured a big party was the way to show off a bit of what I had learned.  Of course by now I had my wife involved, she being the cook in the family she's had no problems making the best food off the pit.  So between the two of us we started smoking almost a week ahead of time, never really sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We don't have a big yard, so we had to limit the guests to just our siblings, cousins,and their kids. No aunts, uncles, parents or grandparents allowed.

The party went off great, we had about 50 people crammed into our backyard, on one of the hottest days of the year.  Although the food was good, the biggest surprise was how great a time we all had.  Food aside, it's all about great times with family.   Five years later and the BBQ is now an annual tradition, and it's the highlight of our year.  Yes it is a lot of work, but having all grown up now, I don't get to see my cousins very often, so this was a great way to stay in touch.   Plus everyone is so appreciative.  That's europeans for ya.

There you are, the story of why/how we started having this thing we call "The Cousin's BBQ".  The family keeps growing, as does the guest list, and my wife and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blog up and Running...er, walking.

Ok so it's here, and I'm posting.  Having said that IF you are reading this post, good for you, you have nothing better to do than read nonsense, but hey, that's the web.  Come back time after time to re-read this spectacular piece of writing, and possibly more on bits of info on anything from food to sports and whatnot.

Also, I like this site, not that I'm paid to like it, it's well done, and rare to find sites such as this.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blog Cold Storage

Put out to pasture, these literary gems are still worth reading and reviewing from time to time.  Enjoy!