Oh, Dometer

Last weekend we control-cruised nearly 1,700 miles between Thursday morning and late Sunday night, sojourning into the deep Heartlands to see Ph.’s season-opening soccer match. And these photos provide some version of things, a lazily composed string of photos.

Alma Mater

Park’s Mackay Hall.

Powell Gardens

Friday morning we stopped by Powell Gardens next to UMKC. D. reminisced about often spending her most head-clearing lunch hours here during her administrative stint in auxiliary services.

Powell Gardens

More Powell Gardens.

UMKC's New Student Center

By accident we stumbled into the grand opening of UMKC’s new student center–an incredible facility whose third-floor veranda looks onto the Plaza and Nelson-Atkins. D.’s former colleagues showed us around: 300-seat movie theater, conference ballroom, 30+ impressive work stations for student organizations, restaurants, etc.

Lies, Lies, Lies

Friday late afternoon Is. fell asleep in the car. To extend her nap, we re-routed and stopped by US Toy where D. loaded up on classroom stuff. After Is. woke up, she and I entered the store, passing time in the puppets aisle and with her trying on Halloween costumes, one of which we eventually settled on.

Zarda BBQball

This is a basketball court in Blue Springs directly behind the Zarda BBQ on MO 7 Highway. Why relevant? I played here a lot in the summer of 1993. Nice to see kids shooting around, as if some from those days never left.

Blue Springs

Railroad Park. Nice enough, although I was thinking on our stroll that perhaps it should be renamed Goose Shit Park.

Julian Field

At the men’s soccer match between Park and U. of Sioux Falls. USF netted a pair of corner-sent headers in the first half. Park answered with a goal early in the second half before eventually losing, 3-1. Great to catch a match and see many friends and former colleagues, even if the result was a loss and the post-game mood was somewhat somber.

Soccer Media Guide

The 2010 Park University Men’s Soccer media guide is available, and it’s worth a look–impressively produced. I say this not only because Ph. is in there (p. 11), but also because I used to do the work of creating materials like this (and in many ways not quite like this, not this good anyway) at PU. Without going into too much reminiscence about how shoestrung and cobbled together pieces like this once were, let me just say it has come a long way, indeed.

The guide answers every important question about the Pirates this year, except this one: Is August 12 too soon to book a trip to Orange Beach, Ala., for the NAIA National Tournament in late November?

Comfort Inventory 7

  • Signed off on an MA thesis today, the first I’ve helped with at EMU. I was involved as a second reader; second readings I did provide. The project suggests that understanding professor rating sites as rhetorical ecologies (i.e., more than Bitzereal situations) might aid institutions in recognizing (and adapting to better allow for) the complex rhetoricity of in-house course evaluations. And the candidate–Good luck!–will be taking up a doctoral program at Tennessee this fall.
  • Summer cold. Phlegm follows different viscosity rules in July than in January: rollicking, splashy, underwater swim rules. My lungs report that the rules are strange, unfamiliar.
  • Two meetings tomorrow, another Wednesday.  In between, assuming a couple of bona fide work days are in store, I intend to massage my temples with one hand and register keystrokes with the other until I have the third section of this article drafted. Third of five. I might have more to say about one of the meetings if there’s time enough.
  • Our streak of six years sharing the Honda Element as our only vehicle ended today. I am almost as proud of this streak (2,190 days) as I assume Cal Ripken Jr. must be of his consecutive games record (2,632 games). I don’t count the 18 months in Syracuse we picked up a free 1986 Grand Am for Ph. to rattle and lurch stylishly between home and school and work.  If you’d seen that car–even better, if you’d ridden in it, you would forgive me this doctoring of the official motor vehicle ledger.  We never once drive it someplace as a family. We got it for the cost of repairs to get it rolling down the road and turned it around on Craigstlist for a few hundred bucks last summer. And anyway, we have been sharing one car for a heckuva long time. But not now. We might’ve gone another route if public transportation around here was viable, but for now, our enlarged carbon footprint will toddle toward cataclysm right along with all the rest of the 1:1 auto:motorists.
  • Is. starts a five-week summer preschool tomorrow. Requires packed lunches. We stood many minutes in the lunch pail aisle at Target last evening undeciding between Dora, Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, and Toy Story.  And then out of the blue, Mystery Machine. Declared she liked the Scooby Doo box better than the others. Oh, and important about that Twitter link is that it’s from last summer when, after we’d paid and as she and I stood in line for the Times Square Toys-R-Us ferris wheel, she told me in no uncertain terms we wouldn’t be riding in the car with E.T. mounted to it.
  • The Spain-Netherlands match yesterday wasn’t the most enthralling of the tournament, but this year’s World Cup delivered many spectacular moments. I watched more than I should have. And while I’m overall pleased with my second place finish in the Skitchy Pitch FC pool, I have to hand it to WC-OuijaBoard who climbed ranks down the stretch by selecting not only match winners but exact scores, too.

World Cup Pool

Yahoo! World Soccer 2010
Group: Skitchy Pitch FC (Group ID #18444)
Password: ewm

World Cup matches get started in a little more than a week, and because I am a glutton for the slow agony that comes with choosing incorrectly the results of matches spread over many weeks, I’ve set up a friendly and low stakes (i.e., shallow consequences) pool for the event. You should consider joining. You get points for picking results in group play. Bonus points are tacked on if you get the score exactly right. When group play ends, there will be another round of selections based on tournament match-ups. If you have any questions for me, I probably don’t know the answer. Nevertheless, you can reach me by email at dmueller AT earthwidemoth.com.

First Soccer

Getting Organized

Conditions were unkind cruel Saturday for Is.’s first soccer outing of the spring: 45F, gusting winds, light rain, swampy pitch. For a first-time experience, I would call this one heckuva difficult test–a hard check of their pre-K grit. Just forty-five minutes out there proved some admirable soccer stick-to-it-ness for these kids and their families. They typically run a 30-minute practice followed by a 15-minute game, but Team Green, our “opponent,” wanted to start the match early because their parents and kids were mutinous with complaining about the elements. We got the game underway without much if any practice session. Having served many seasons as Ph.’s coach, I am strictly a parent this time around (yeah, I’ll volunteer to hand out the shirts or distribute snack, but no coaching). Is. is three-almost-four; Ph.’s soccer rounds helped us put youth sports in perspective years ago. And so Saturday was a lot of fun. Is. ended the session with a smile, and she has asked to kick around several times since.

Reflecting on the event, Is. said, “I’m on the blue team.”

And Adult

Ph. turns 18 today. Among my many feelings on this day: That was

I’ve blogged most of his teenage birthdays. You’ll see those entries
listed over at the right, in the Yesterblog (the On This Day in EWM History
feature). And I suppose this entry marks the conclusion of Ph. birthday-blogging,
enjoyable though the practice has been. I mean, adult children can blog their
own birthdays.

To make this celebratory entry stand tall among the others, I had to dig for
a few minutes in the photo album, dredge up a couple of photos that, for me
anyway, span (or somehow thematically encapsulate) Ph.’s childhood. Chose

1.) Giddy-up: this one is from when Ph. was about four years old, when my mom
took him to ride the ponies at some ranch near Raytown, Mo. Apparently
they made a fine time of it. Yes, those are leather chaps.

2.) Scorching the Tiffany Springs nets: here, Ph. is drilling a ball past me
on one of the many, many extended shoot-arounds we enjoyed at the Tiffany
Springs fields just north of Kansas City (bordering on the south edge of MCI
airport). I’d guess he was eight or nine in this photo–the days when we’d hang
around at the field until long after everyone else had (sensibly) gone home.


Earlier tonight I stood out in the damp cold and watched Ph.’s eighth match
of the season, a 1-0 win over Central Square. This is his senior season,
and they’re struggling, although struggling well, since tonight was their
second win in a row to move them to 3-5-1. On an injured/short-handed/overmatched team? Struggle well.

I’ve been withholding a lot of frustrations about the program, about the
coach, about the ways Ph. has developed as a varsity soccer athlete for three years now,
and I won’t air out all (any?) of those frustrations here. Suffice it to say that
he is the head captain, and they are getting better. He is also the starting
sweeper, shoring up the defense, and playing a position he has never
played before. All of us in the M-H household scratched our heads about
that decision when it came up a few weeks ago. Ph. has always played
forward or wing, even center mid on a few occasions, usually to give the regular
CM a rest. But sweeper?

It was clear early on that Ph. was initially unhappy with the assignment, struggling with the
vocalism, timing, and attitude required to play the position well. Sweepers are
gritty and mean. They direct traffic. They anticipate runs. His athleticism and
soccer smarts helped him cover what would be considered mistakes for most
sweepers: getting out of position, not talking out the matchups on a restart,
mis-judging a ball. Of course, tonight I saw something completely
different. I frankly wasn’t sure that it would happen (much less happen
this quickly), but he has developed, in two or three weeks, an impressive
facility for the position. He covered through balls, stepped up when the
stopper was compromised, talked to his outside defenders and keeper, encouraged
his teammates, and played an all around great game in the back. He’s
adapted to it, and I mention it largely because it is a credit to him more than
anyone else.

Yeah, that’s all. No venting of frustrations (yet!). Just saying
that Ph. had a great game tonight.

Field & Bleacher

What the kids were doing today:

vs. Binghamton, Oct. 6

vs. Binghamton, Oct. 6

I didn’t get around to taking any photos of Ph. until the second half, and although he played well, the unseasonably warm temps (a record, 85F and balmy) had everyone on the field pretty tuckered out by then. The topmost photo is of him running the right wing, getting ready to receive a pass from a teammate. The bottom photo came at the end of the match, which turned out to be a 4-1 win over Binghamton despite wrapping up seven minutes ahead of schedule due to lightning on the horizon. The middle clip–that’s Is. carefree-stepping to the end-of-game tunes. She’s been going to Toddler Tango sessions on most Saturday mornings, and this footage does indeed suggest that the sessions are paying off, no?

No. 20

I’ve been helping Ph. set up a Flickr
account for photos I
take at his soccer matches. Can’t say that I’ve taken many good ones this season
in the three matches I’ve attended so far. Maybe Tuesday. Until then, here’s a
shot I snapped when NHS hosted Watertown last week.

vs. Watertown, 9/26/06

Ball’s in the net and Ph.’s is nearby. He didn’t score in the match, but it’s
a fun photo for its suggestion to the contrary. So what if the keeper’s reaching in the other direction? Ph. did, however, net a goal in
the next day’s match (a home match I unfortunately missed). Something, even if
it was a lopsided win.


As in, sophomore year. The Syr. public school year is still ten days away,
but Ph. jumps on a bus first thing in the morning, headed to a four-way soccer
scrimmage somewhere or other (you’re right, I should know, but the
details…elusive!). And that means his soccer season is underway. Schedule’s below the fold. Season
preview? I don’t know. Maybe this:

1. Play your heart out;
2. When taking a corner, pick a few blades a grass and toss them in the air to
see if there’s a breeze.  Whether or not it makes a difference, it sure
looks smart;
and 3. If I bother to charge up the camera and walk, photographer-like, on the sidelines, smile. 
Should be smiling already anyway, considering how much fun it’s going to be.

To fans in the CNY area, in an effort to promote attendance, if you come out
to a home match, not only will I treat you to a soda, but I’ll also share some
sunflower seeds (or licorice or whatever else is the snack food of the hour).

Added: Apologies for the junked-up code in the table below. I’ll repair it some other time

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