Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Off into the sunset

This post will mark the end of "Marty Rochlin has a blog?"

I do love to write, but it's hard to keep up the pace required for a good blog.

The blog had some good momentum a year ago with several updates from vacation in Ocean City, MD. Maybe I'll use Twitter or Facebook to share an occasional random thought, or maybe the blog will come back to life in another form.

I have dabbled in some writing as it relates to working in public education - assorted books, articles and presentation are swimming around in my head, all in search of a canvas. Part of this summer will be spent developing some of those ideas - coming up in December, I'll be presenting with a colleague at a school conference in Atlanta, GA. We have some decent ideas about teacher professional development, creating and sustaining a positive work climate, and helping schools and staffs make plans to address challenges. Maybe we get discovered or noticed.

Some of you teased me about writing, and some others encouraged me to write more often.

Either way, you read the blog. Thanks for that. Have a great summer.


Monday, June 7, 2010

The blog is bogged down

I'm working on something new - honest. Updates have been lacking. Not that I'm ever speechless, but I haven't carved out the time to post.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's Go Streaking!

As much as I love the silliness of the blog's title (and the picture to the right), I'm talking about baseball. My Orioles ended quite a terrible streak - nine straight losses. Brian Matusz pitched well, and super-sub Ty Wigington knocked the ball over the yard in the win over Oakland.

This streak reminds me of a previous awful Orioles streak - in July of 2008, the O's ended a streak of 15 consecutive losses on Sundays. The streak was so bad, team management tried this ploy:

In an effort to reverse their struggles in Sunday games this season, the Orioles have announced the first-ever "We Win, You Win" promotion at Camden Yards. The team is encouraging fans to come out to provide extra support for the ballclub at the Sunday, July 6 game vs. the Texas Rangers at 1:35 p.m. If the Orioles defeat the Rangers that day, all fans in attendance will receive a complimentary ticket in the same seating category to any future non-prime game.

The O's lost on July 6, July 13 and July 20 before beating the Angels on July 27.

That season through June 30, the Orioles were 40-27 ... in all games not played on Sunday. The team's 1-12 mark on Sundays was bad. That season, the Orioles had a final record of 68-93. Yuck.

Speaking of streaks, the Orioles are on their way to their 13th consecutive season of missing the playoffs. After back-to-back appearances in 1996 and 1997,the O's have not played baseball after the first weekend in October. Maybe they signed a non-compete clause with the Ravens and Art Modell.

What a fall from grace. The Orioles won 100 games in back to back seasons in 1979 and 1980. They won the Word Series in 1983, and missed out on the playoffs on the last day of the 1982 season - Don Sutton and the Brewers outlasted the O's and Jim Palmer. After the historically bad season of 1988 (remember 0-21?), the "Why Not?" Orioles of 1989 nearly made the playoffs before being edged out the the Blue Jays during the season's final weekend.

The O's moved into Camden Yards in 1992, and after a few years of mediocrity, landed in the post season in 1996 and 1997. Then, Davey Johnson was run out of town, Jon Miller was run out of town, and you already know the rest of the story.

Good bye for now.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Anybody know what a gaucho is?

What better time than Spring Break than for me to once again to re-enter the Blogosphere as a credible, reliable web journalist?

So, as I type here from Sea Colony in Bethany Beach, DE, it is my hope to get back into the swing of things.

Here goes nothing:

I must say that I am quite jealous of the school systems that still have a Break of at least five school days. It would be splendid to be able to enjoy the warm weather, watch an endless amount of baseball, and take in The Masters on TV, not in-person), but it is not to be.

That being said, Frederick County says goodbye to students on June 11 … other systems head into the third week of June. I suppose I can rub it in then.

Speaking of baseball, your fearless blogger spent a weekend in Tampa, FL taking in Spring Training (not to mention NCAA basketball on big TVs, and a Capitals-Lightning hockey game). I met a college friend for festivities that commenced on Thursday evening - we were seated at our table and eating Buffalo wings in time for the Ohio-Georgetown tip-off. That upset was the beginning of a compelling evening of game viewing, pub fare, and cold beverages.

Friday kicked off in style - at the Waffle House. Our scattered and covered adventure next took us to Kissimmee, FL for a Grapefruit League contest between the Astros and Blue Jays. Not even the poor quality of the baseball or the sleepy state of the crowd could take away from the experience of watching baseball from the sunny bleachers.

Saturday would be a double feature - Orioles / Pirates from Sarasota, followed by Alex Ovechkin's return from suspension for the Washington Capitals. As the official were dropping the puck for that game, Northern Iowa was completing its upset win over Kansas. The arena in-house TV people were wise to show the game on the screens around the concourse.

You are probably wondering about the other dining experiences from the trip ... well, that very topic leads me to this:

Is there anything better than a Brazilian Steakhouse? I mean, seriously ... a dining patron starts and stops the delivery of food with the flip of a red / green disc. Waiters dressed like gauchos
rush to your table offering one of the fourteen or so meets that a grilled in the kitchen. Before the parade of meats, you can choose from many selections at a salad bar that is the size of a Starbucks. While you are eating the meats, traditional side dishes that include plantains, cheese rolls and mashed potatoes are delivered and served family-style.

We hit just such an establishment on the Friday of our Tampa trip, and I had been to one in Baltimore about a month prior to that. While the excursion is not cheap, I capitalized on Baltimore's "Restaurant Week" the first time, and there happened to be a discount in Tampa too.

Did I mention that the whole premise is all-you-can-eat?

Simply stated, "dee-lish."

There are other all-you-can-eat places out there - some are good, and some not so much. I enjoy an occasional AUCE crab experience. You can't go with kids, or with any company that loses interest in the work involved. But if you find the right place that happens to offer this deal and has a good ball game on the TV that faces your table, go for it.

IHOP has an all-you-can-eat pancake deal. I've never had it, so I can't comment except to say that I'd like to have it - like, now!

Olive Garden offers a seasonal "never-ending-pasta-bowl," which is a neat idea. Not for the quantity factor - you can ask for another bowl of pasta and try a different sauce each round. So for the diner that like a variety of flavors, this might be up your alley.

Pizza is fun in an AUCE setting. Pizza Hut has offered for quite some time (at least since I was in college, so 15 years or so) a lunch buffet of salad, breadsticks, pizza and dessert items. For about $7.00, it's decent. One warning - don't go on a day that the school's are off ... the buffet gets over-run by kids, and their use of tongs is imperfect.

You can also get pizza at CiCi's pizza buffet - there's one in Catonsville that Lilly loves because the buffet is just the right height for her, and there is an arcade inside. I think there's a daddy-daughter date night headed there next week during her Break.

And finally (and briefly) ...

Go O's ... thanks, Terps ... poor Wizards ... keep making moves, Purple Birds.

Happy Easter

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The blogger is a slacker

Yup, that's me. But let's make up for lost time ...

It has snowed a bit recently - that's an understatement. Snow-Pacalypse Part 2 threw a wrench into lots of Super Bowl plans (nice job, Saints), and wiped out 2 days of school. Now, for good measure, there's another boat load of snow about to hit us, wiping out the rest of the school week ... and Spring Break.

I am grateful that I have job flexibility to work from home on days when administrators are scheduled to report. So, I can keep up on email while drinking coffee and lounging around in sweatpants.

I am also grateful for ibuprofen.

Back to the school topic for a minute ... without getting too deep, all of this snow is taking away instructional days that the kids and teachers need to get ready for the big MSA tests. The test results label a school as "failing" or "succeeding." If you are a school that struggles, any days lost for test prep are an issue. Complicating the issue, at least for our school, is the fact that we planned a two-week, after-school MSA test prep program for kids on the edge of pass / fail. The snow has wiped out the first few days of that. The test dates cannot be moved, as there are other vendors tied to test printing, shipping, scanning and scoring who are locked into many tests in many states. So, we cross our fingers and hope the kids and teachers can rise to the occasion.

It's snowing ... again ... ouch, I think my back is about to hurt.

(Blogger's note ... I wrote a bunch of clever stuff about this weekend being a festive one on account of my birthday, Lilly's birthday and Valentine's Day. I saved it, went to have dinner, and now it's gone. This is the second time my material has disappeared this week - I wrote about tee shirts and Chuck Norris last weekend, but that is gone too).

That's all for now - I'm off to find the person responsible for deleting my stuff.


Friday, January 22, 2010

How do you pass the time when school is delayed? BLOG!

We have another school delay today ... not everyone in Frederick County - just us mountain folks!

The blog is committed to posting more regularly ... the problem is the blogger.

Let's catch up on what's up and what's down:

My poor Ravens ... all of the bad habits that they extinguished in the Patriots victory were re-ignited against the Colts. Not enough running plays ... turnovers ... penalties ... and Ed Reed being spectacularly good and bad on the same play.

We watched the game in Delaware - for a few reasons. Primarily, we wanted to go and hang with Pam's father who was home recovering from knee replacement surgery. It was a long weekend due to the MLK holiday, so we could relax and stay for a while. Raven QB Joe Flacco attended the University of Delaware, so we thought it would create good karma to watch the game in "The First State." Lastly, I wanted Grotto Pizza. Mission accomplished.

Colts vs. Jets? I'll pull for the guys in green, but my head says the Colts are headed to the Super Bowl. I see New Orleans winning against the Vikings, and a subsequent media frenzy about Brett Favre and retirement. Deja vu.

I'm working on plans to head to Florida for a Spring Training "guys" weekend in March. I haven't been to Spring Training since a spring break during college - the year was 1993 (1996 was a cruise; 1995 was a trip home; 1994 was a roadtrip to Florida). Tentatively, headquarters will be Tampa, which provides a central location to take in home games for the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Blue Jays. There will also be plenty of March Madness action on TV that weekend, so sports will rule the days and the nights.

We spent a good deal of time this past week working on "the book project." The "we" refers to my work buddy / co-assistant-principal Meg ... and yes, she puts up with me voluntarily. Update - the book project (related to education, but I'll keep the specifics under wraps so no one steals our millions) is now two books. We plan to roll out the book ideas in the form of magazine articles, and then see if that leads to commercial publishing or self-publishing. So, even if we don't become rich and famous, we'll enjoy the smell of duplicator fluid as we hand-crank book pages from an old-school ditto machine.

In case you hadn't recovered from holiday shopping yet, there are two big birthdays right around the corner - Marty and Lilly. I'm February 12, while Miss Lilly is February 16. We haven't posted our gift registries yet, but stay tuned. Oh, and you have permission from your husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend to take the money you were thinking about spending on Valentine's Day and get Marty and Lilly something nice.

To quote the Bartles and James team, "Thank you for your support."

Pitchers and catchers report in 27 days - Go O's!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blogging about Football ... and Life?

Forgive me in advance for the very football-centric theme of this post, but the Ravens game was compelling, and it really got me thinking.

The Ravens surprised everyone, except perhaps themselves, with today's 33-14 defeat of the New England Patriots. There were just too many factors for the Ravens to overcome to win the game - Tom Brady's mystique, playing a Patriots team that had not lost at home this season, the genius of Patriot coach Bill Belichick, the Ravens' habit of losing games because of penalties and/or turnovers.

And then the game started. On January 10, 2010, the Ravens looked like the team from January 2009. On the road, against a division champion, the Ravens rolled on to a lopsided win on the strength of a running game and defense. The irony is this ... for much of the 2009 season, the Ravens preferred to pass the ball. Why?

The team that achieved an 11-5 record in 2008, plus two playoff wins, ran the ball 592 times and passed the ball 433 times (1025 total plays). This year, the team finished 9-7. The team ran the ball 468 times, and passed the ball 510 times (978 total plays). Coincidence?

As the 2009 season began, the Ravens returned Pro Bowler LeRon McClain, Willis McGahee, and Ray Rice. Rice was injured at the end of the 2008 season. In addition to the runners, the Ravens added Matt Birk and Michael Oher to the offensive line. Yet the team's run attempts decreased by 124, and the passes increased by 77.

Today, in the biggest game of the year, against seemingly insurmountable odds (not to mention a whole league and its officials, who paranoid Raven conspiracy theorists believe want the Patriots to win and the Raven to lose), the Ravens reverted back to their old formula. The Ravens ran the ball on 52 of 62 total plays. There was not one fumble on a run attempt. The 52 carries led to 234 yards. All three running backs scored a touchdown (Rice had two).

Teams that run the ball successfully can affect a game in this way - it keeps a defense rested, it keeps the opponent's offense off of the field, it takes up more time (making it easier to protect a lead), and it takes the wind out of the other team's sails. When a team gives up lots of yards on running plays, it becomes deflated, and deflated teams are often defeated.

The Ravens ran their way to an improbable appearance in the AFC Championship game a year ago by running the ball. The team lost its way a bit this year to the tune of 9-7, but when the bright lights of the playoffs went on, the team reined in Joe Flacco and let the three-headed-monster running back trio win the game.

And then there's the defense. Folks thought the defense was in deep trouble for the Patriots game. People assumed that Tom Brady, Randy Moss and friends would have their way with a unit that sorely missed Rex Ryan, Bart Scott and the injured Samari Rolle, Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb. The defense had quite a day - 4 turnovers, 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, allowing only 64 rushing yards, and limiting Randy Moss to 48 yards receiving.

This is where football and life begin to reflect one another. The Ravens reminded me of an important lesson - be yourself. The Ravens are, and have always been, a team that runs the ball and plays defense. So while it was nice to see the team try to sling the ball around this year, to thine own self be true.

I'm real big into books on tape these days. I was listening to an author named Parker Palmer. He talks about a person living an "authentic life" - that is, we need to present to the world on the outside, what we are on the inside, and that in order to do this, we should be true to ourselves.


In real life, that means don't be someone that you are not. Don't be a phony, a fake, a fraud. People see through the false exteriors. When you say something out of character, or do something out of context, you cause raised eyebrows. I don't mean the surprise bouquet of flowers, or buying bagels for the folks in the office at work. Just be consistent. Mean what you say, keep your word, and be sincere.

In football, it means RUN THE BALL. Run the ball until they can stop you. And when they decide to position all of their defensive players in such a way to stop the run, throw it, and score points. Simple.

Defensively, the game plan from the first Colts game was a good one. The Ravens held the Colts to 17 points - and the Ravens held a 15-14 lead with 10 minutes remaining. With just under 3 minutes remaining, the Ravens trailed 17-15 but were in field goal range. But a costly interception ended the drive. The question on everyone's mind - why weren't the Ravens running the ball?

Side note - a key play that game was Ed Reed attempting a lateral after an interception. The play resulted in a fumble, and the Colts took a knee to end the game. Ed was up to the same tricks again today ... the lateral was successful, and the play helped set up the Ravens' third touchdown.

Wow, that was a long blog, and mostly about football.

Other stuff that happened recently:

A snow day on Friday ... looks like we're in for quite a winter, with most of January and all of February waiting in the wings.

Our new favorite family TV show is "Man vs. Food." I went to college with the host, Adam Richman. The show is a riot - check it out on the Travel Channel.

I'm looking for an idea for a mini-vacation - Pam and I have a credit with Southwest Airlines that we'd like to use toward a long weekend getaway. Feedback welcome.

School tomorrow - I need to iron, make lunches and get my beauty rest.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blogging ... Twitter-Style

So what is this Twitter thing all about? After doing some reading and research, I think I may be on the verge joining the revolution.

Sure, Facebook is cool, but I do not turn to Facebook for videos, pictures, games, quizzes or just trying to check out who's doing what. I use Facebook to pose a random thought / joke, and to see what other silliness people are up to. Facebook works this way for me - there are some folks whose updates I look for, and other folks who I expect to comment on my updates. Then there are the people who seek you out - people from the old neighborhood, or from grade school, or from college, or from work, or from camp, etc. We'll exchange a few notes, and then it's back to "out of sight, out of mind." No ill will ... there's just too much going on to keep up.

I view it like this - Twitter is a way to send a text message to a whole bunch of people, and see what they fire back at you.

Blogging requires a bit more intensive writing than Twitter ... as in way more than the 140 character limit that Twitter enforces. I like the Blog platform ... sometimes I want to say a bit more than just posting things like:

"The Ravens are in the playoffs - not Pittsburgh, not Washington."

"I had a 2-hour delay for school on Wednesday - you didn't."

"Gilbert Arenas ... NRA member?"

Then again, posting those kinds of things are kinda fun.

So, if you start to hear from me via Twitter, don't be scared. I'll keep up the blog, and I'll pop in and out of Facebook.

Some quick blog updates:

My Ravens ... tough loss in Pittsburgh, good win in Oakland, Foxboro here we come. I think the Ravens stick with the running game / hard-nosed approach and win a close game. They played New England close in the Patriots' run toward perfection in 2007, and then again earlier this season. The first loss was due to penalties, the next loss was due to choking in the clutch. Third time is the charm. Then, a trip to Indy for a rematch? I won't venture down that road ... until Sunday.

My father-in-law ... had knee replacement surgery. He's doing fine now, recovering and being a model patient. I slipped the doctor a few extra dollars to give Jim a mega-knee ... the Ravens need a reliable place kicker.

My family ... on the Rochlin side is excited to be returning to Bethany Beach this summer. After taking a year off to adjust to life with Isabella, we're all heading back to Sea Colony on July 31. I can taste the Grotto pizza already.

Maybe more snow on Thursday night ... could be a long weekend.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Ringing In - and Blogging In - the New Year

It's good to be back ... I was down but not out ... and now, I'm ready to make up for lost time:

The Great Snow of 2009 (or was it a Blizzard, or Snow-pocalypse, or something else?) not only shut down most of the state of Maryland, but also the Blogger. What started as a bit of a chest cold and cough on Friday became a full-fledged commercial for Nyquil - you know, the coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever thing by Monday. Along the way, I tried to push around a little of the snow on Saturday (so our deck would not collapse), which seemed like a good idea at the time until I felt how my body crashed on Sunday. Thanks to Dennis, we managed to get shoveled out. Before I gave in to the illness, we managed to sneak over to the Albrights to watch the Ravens - Bears game ... on a field that amazingly looked like snow had never landed on it.

Beginning Monday AM, Pam and Lilly took advantage of the cleared-out driveway and the extra time off of school to stay far away from me.

Left to my own devices, I can report the following:

1. The doctor determined via my Monday 12/22 visit that I had a bronchial thing, or the beginnings of pneumonia. She called in an RX to the store, and in the meantime, I headed to Waffle House. I never realized that the road to medical recovery begins with a waffle, scrambled eggs with cheese, and hashbrowns.

2. Watched a few good movies - Star Trek, Grand Torino, and the latest Harry Potter movie (which I had seen most of in the theater, but had to leave it early). I hope the Star Trek crew returns for a sequel or two.

3. I have a new appreciation for hot tea. While I was sick, I had no interest in coffee. Hot tea, with some honey stirred in, hit the spot and helped suppress the chills.

Mostly healed (thanks, Z-pack and cough medicine), we headed to Lewes, DE for Christmas with Pam's folks. As usual, a lovely time was had by all - Lilly loves to set up cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer, and Pam flips through her parents' basket of holiday cards with wide eyes and a steady stream of questions / comments. I love my time in Jim's recliner, nursing cup after cup of Flavia coffee and just relaxing.

On Saturday, the McDonalds from New Jersey joined in for Christmas round two- we spent the day and the night tinkering with Natalie's iTouch, Lilly's DS-lite, and Nick's PSP and DJ Hero. And don't think that the grown ups weren't involved in the tech toys as well ... I helped Jim to set up his new flat screen TV, which made our viewing of "The Polar Express" and "Happy Feet" just delightful.

There is still one more week of the Rochlin family vacation to share, but we'll save that for another blog over the weekend - including a trip to Easton for a Ravens party, an outing to the Gaylord National Resort, Avatar, more snow, New Year's Eve, and more.

Until then -