I raked the leaves in front of the house this morning, and the yard looks so much better.  It was getting to be an embarrassment.  The problem was that we’ve been trying to let the spot where we’ve had a burn pile in past years grow back in (even though Harvey’s been using it as his personal sandbox) so we didn’t want to have a fire, and our trash company apparently won’t pick up yard debris, so I haven’t been sure what to do with all the leaves and pine straw.  I ended up raking it all around trees and into flower beds.  Two or three foot high stacks of yard debris don’t look the best, but they should flatten out after some time, and at least what grass we do have in the front yard is now showing.

Now I’ve got to figure out what to do with all the stuff in the back and side yards.

While I was doing that Amanda either cleaned up inside or organized all her jewelry stuff.  Amy Warkentien was coming by later to make a few things.

I’m so woefully out of shape.  My heart was beating hard after just a bit of raking.  To help remedy that, I went out surfing.  Yes, surfing in December.  Lars (Mike Boscaljon, but definitely Lars in surf-related situations) texted me while I was raking and asked about going out.  I called Barry Frazelle to see how the water was and he said we’d need to go out soon if we were going, so I finished, as I said before, the part of the yard in front of the house then headed on out to Wrightsville Beach for some surfing.

It was a beautiful day today.  I had my windows rolled down and it was at least 70 degrees out.  I got to Anna and Barry’s, changed into my wetsuit, waited a minute for Lars to appear then we went on out.  The water wasn’t bad in our 4-3 wetsuits, but I didn’t wear any gloves this time and immediately regretted it.  The water was ice cold and my hands didn’t get used to it until they turned red and had a nearly burning sensation.

Despite that, we had some fun.  The waves weren’t very strong, but we caught some good near-shore breaks.  There were two waves in particular that I had a very good time on.  They were the ones that you just sort of drop into and keep on going.  Of course, we were so near the shore and they were so weak, like I said, that we couldn’t ride them far.  I’m not good at catching a wave at an angle yet.

On the way out to Wrightsville I called Chris Reeves and left him a message.  We played phone tag a couple months ago.  I wanted to let him know, if he hadn’t noticed via Facebook, that we’re having a baby.  I then called Kelia Pless to thank her for the Christmas card she and her husband John sent us and check with her about how she’s doing with her pregnancy.  I think she’s due January 1.  I didn’t get her though, so I just left a message about all that.  Then I called Chris Mowbray to thank her for her card and see how she’s doing with her twins, who are due in a couple months.  (See, we know a lot of pregnant people!)  We chatted for a few minutes and she asked how Amanda was doing.

Anyway, after the surfing Lars and I talked to the Frazelles for a few minutes and Barry gave me a couple CDs to listen to.  Realizing I wasn’t going to make it home for the Duke-Xavier tipoff, I asked Amanda to set the DVR to record it for me.  Lars and I ate at Wendy’s then we went on our merry ways.

Not able to find the Duke-Xavier game on the radio, I listened to UNC struggle with Valparaiso.  As I was getting home the Heels started to get a little run and it turns out they went with that, ending up winning 85-63

Michael Mercer was leaving when I got home.  Amy Warkentien was making jewelry with Amanda in the kitchen while Nick Warkentien was sitting on the couch, having been watching the Carolina game with Michael.  Nick doesn’t really care about college hoops anyway, and the game was quickly changed to the beginning of the Duke-Xavier game on the DVR.

So here’s the deal.  Duke is ranked 6 and Xavier 7.  Vegas had Duke as a six point favorite, but I had already prepared myself for the possibility that the Blue Devils might not pull it out.  On the way home I cheated and checked the score, which, at one point, was 18-1 in Duke’s favor.  Holy crap, right?  The Musketeers didn’t even score a field goal until five minutes in.  Duke lead at the half by 31 points, and throughout most of the first half Jon Scheyer by himself had scored more than Xavier’s entire team.  Gerald Henderson even came alive, offensively, for the first time in a while and Brian Zoubek had a good game as well.

The first half was one of the best halves of a basketball game I think I’ve ever seen.  I was upset though, because a few minutes into the second half the HD CBS station decided to cut to Michigan State (22) and Texas (5).  Amanda suggested checking out the standard definition CBS channel, and that one did have the Duke game, but of course it looked terrible compared to the HD.  I had to miss a few minutes of the action too, since I was DVRing the HD channel and wasn’t quite compltely caught up at that time.

Anyway, Duke let the lead slip in the second half, I’m guessing because the freshmen got some more burn or with such a huge lead the Blue Devils just stopped playing with such intensity.  Or maybe the shots just started falling for Xavier.  I don’t know, I didn’t get to see it.  Anyway, Duke won 82-64, which is great against another top ten team, but if I’m honest I was a little disappointed they let a thirty point blowout dwindle down to under twenty.  Just spoiled, I guess.

Michigan State ended up upsetting Texas, Gonzaga lost in overtime to UConn (my second most-hated team) and Davidson got embarrassed by Purdue.  There was some good basketball today, but aside from Duke winning and Texas losing (I only pulled against them because they’re ranked higher than Duke) all the outcomes were against what I’d have wanted.  Not that I cared much.  Oh, Kentucky beat Appalachian State pretty good, which is good.

Anyway, Amy had to leave for work at the Hilton after a while and Nick took off a little after that.  My brother, Adam Dotsey, invited me and Amanda over for dinner.  At first I declined because he said they were having spicy food and Amanda didn’t think she was up for spicy food, but she called back and asked details about it.  Deciding the Indian-themed chicken Renee Sikes was fixing wouldn’t be outside her pregnancy comfort levels, we decided to go after picking up some bread they ordered on the way.

We took Bruce with us (at Adam’s invitation), but he wasn’t feeling too playful with Dobja, Adam and Renee’s papillon.  We had a good time with them, and the chicken wasn’t too spicy at all.  We ate it in what I guess is the Indian way, which was by scooping up the chicken and rice with strips of bread.  It was tasty.  After dinner we played Phase 10, which Amanda won pretty comfortably.  I came in second place if you go by which phase you were on, but last in points.  Renee got stuck in some early phases, but I think she and Adam ended up on the same phase.

The car companies are now getting a bailout too.  I know it’s going to save a LOT of jobs, but without them having come up with strategies for getting better, I’m really not sure that it’s not putting a bandaid on a severed limb.  The unions are already upset at the suggestion that their members work for the same wages as the competition, when really their ridiculously high wages are, I’m pretty sure, a reason that some cars are so expensive.  I think unions serve a purpose when there are real problems in a workplace, but I think that they end up doing a lot of harm too.  Okay, the auto bailout and unions are two different topics (for the most part), but I think they’re both problems.

Zach Dotsey