Alison plays shortstopAlison plays short

Last Fall Alison played on a baseball team for the first time and really enjoyed it. She was one of two girls playing for the Diamondbacks of the South Austin Little League (SALSA). SALSA is one of the oldest Little Leagues in Texas

This year SALSA launched their first ever girls’ softball team, and Alison decided to join that team rather than play baseball. The team is called The Swingin’ Bats and is coached by a former Stanford softball player and a current softball player, so the girls are getting first-rate instruction.

Last weekend the Swingin’ Bats played their first game at the home field of the Lake Travis Racers. The offensive showdown ended in a 15-15 tie. You can view pictures of the game here.

My beloved Longhorns were thrashed by a USC team that taught our freshmen how defense wins games. Even though Kevin Durant scored 30 points the Trojans absolutely shut down DJ Augustin and a 19-0 run early in the second half created an insurmountable task for the young Longhorns. More than one NBA analyst has gone on record saying that Durant would be wise to stay in college for another year to bulk up, work on defense, and polish his skills. While these are all wise and logical points, I expect they will not amount to more than a few minutes of consideration when Kevin is offered tens of millions of dollars as the top pick in the NBA draft.

Meanwhile, my tournament predications are not worthy of much respect this year, as my 70% correct puts me into the lower third of the competitors in this year’s pool. All hope is not lost, though, as most of my Great 8 and Final 4 teams are still alive going into the Sweet Sixteen. For those who care to review the details, here are the Final Four predictions for my two entries:

Entry 1:
Final 4: Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State
Finals: Kansas vs. North Carolina
Champion: Kansas (137 total points scored by both teams)

Entry 2:
Final 4: Wisconsin (out) UCLA, Georgetown, Ohio State
Finals: UCLA vs Georgetown
Champion: UCLA (141 total points scored by both teams)

For the past two years I was away from television and on a spring break cruise with my family when the NCAA Basketball Tournament seedings were announced. After watching the Longhorns lose a heartbreaking overtime game to the Kansas Jayhawks for the Big 12 Tourney Championship I think I’d like to go back to that pattern. It’s hard to get wound up about basketball when you’re swimming with dolphins in the cool blue waters of the Caribbean.

The Longhorns overcame some enormous deficits to win the games that enabled them to play for the Big 12 Tourney Championship, and displayed incredible fortitude as they battled against Kansas, just announced along with North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio State as number 1 seeds. But as quickly as their leads would expand when things were going right, they would disappear in seconds when the youthful Longhorns would begin committing turnovers and rushing their shots.

Here’s hoping that this amazing freshman class, led by Kevin Durant, the best player in the country without dispute, will learn from their disappointments and play deep into the NCAA’s. And here’s hoping that Kevin thinks hard about what a great time he had at Texas and how much more he could learn if he decided to stay another year instead of accepting the top pick in the NBA draft … hey, a Longhorn fan can dream!

The NCAA didn’t do the Longhorns any favors by sending them to Spokane, WA and seeding them into the same bracket with USC and North Carolina. And do you think it’s an accident that we are playing a team called the “Aggies” in the first round? Both the Texas Aggies and the Jayhawks got seedings in regions that appear at first examination to be less competitive than the Horns’.

I’ll post my brackets online here before the tourney begins so you can watch my progress in the annual office pool.

2007 Honda Odyssey

On February 10 our family traveled to San Antonio in our trusty 1997 Honda Accord EX Wagon and returned to Austin in a shiny silver pearl 2007 Honda Odyssey EXL minivan. The wagon had served us well and even with over 110K miles on it was the most reliable car in our fleet, with the coldest air conditioner in the summertime. But as we came to need more room to carry flocks of Brownie Scouts and parents-in-law it became clear that the wagon’s 5 passenger limit was not enough.

After shopping Odyssey prices across Honda dealers in Austin, Round Rock, Killeen, and San Antonio it was clear that the best deal to be found was at Gunn Honda. We’ve always been loyal customers of First Texas Honda in Austin, but a $2K difference in price/trade-in was impossible to keep me from driving to San Antonio. I found the Honda Odyssey Prices Paid & Buying Experiences forum at Edmunds.com invaluable for learning about the best deals available.

Rayma and Alison both shed tears when we turned over the keys to our wagon, but both are growing to like the Odyssey. Alison is especially fond of the built in DVD player. Rayma likes the multizone climate control.

Right now I can’t think of a car I would like more than my MINI Cooper S, but I certainly am eager to see what the 2008 Honda Accord looks like when it finally debuts later this year. I told our great salesperson at Gunn that I might be back sooner than planned if it proves irresistible; he promised to provide a full report as soon as the new Accords arrive since he is as excited as I am about the changes. I really enjoyed working with him and think his low-key approach with speedy responses to any questions I sent via email is the way of the future for automobile sales.

Well, it’s only taken me about six months to tackle migrating Rancho Chase from the CapMac server to it’s new home at Wirenine. I was really not looking forward to the steps involved with creating a SQL dump of my existing WP database, opening it up and changing server locations and other parameters that are different, uploading it to the new server, making sure all of the other files from the prior WordPress installation are copied over to corresponding locations on the new server, and hoping that once launched everything works properly. Especially since I already have a working WordPress 2.0x installation at ranchochase.com!

In the end I took a simpler path that literally took less than two minutes. I used Aaron Brazell’s awesome WordPress to WordPress Import Plugin to export the existing blog content into a WXR file that I then imported into the existing WordPress blog located within my server space at Wirenine.

I need to get the plugins I installed on the CapMac server WP installation mirrored on the Wirenine WP install, then I will be ready to roll for blogging at ranchochase.com. Maybe I can even update my blog more often than once every six months!