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Plog #4: “Words, Words, Words”

In this week’s drive home, I talk about communication. Which, as a sentence, just seems redundant to type out.

But yes, there’s been a lot of miscommunication happening around the ice in my life lately, and – with trepidation and a touch of humor – I do my best to hash it out. From needing to make sure everyone on my team is on the same page, to not being afraid to step up to the plate and just saying what you mean, to even the simple need to communication anything at all, this plog deals with how curlers can talk to each other more effectively – on the ice and off.  Enjoy!

-Eric 🙂

(Eric Reithel is a resident blogger and plogger for Windy City Curling. As both a student of theater and someone who makes his living in radio – he knows how to talk. If nothing else, that is something he knows that he can do. If you’d like to engage in a conversation with him, you can find him on Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)

Plog #2: “When It’s Good, It’s Good.”

This week’s driving home plog is rooted in joy. Last week was a tumultuous time of getting lost “In the Tank.” This week, not so much. And in an effort to start honing in on answers to the very questions I ask about mysteries of curling life that can lead to a beginner’s improvement, I offer this plog. Why? Because something I tried working on this week seemed to go well, and – even if it doesn’t work for everyone – I’m making an effort to share. Who knows? It may lead to someone out there chasing this idea with their own thoughts into finding something that works for them.

So what was this whimsical idea of mine? Simple: I became my own cheerleader.

That sounds really corny (amongst other descriptors one could use), but for those of you who know me, it’s completely my style. And it kind of worked in a weird way! I think we all find methods to cheer ourselves on, or to raise our own confidence, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So this week’s plog details my efforts of surfacing out of the tank, and finding my own inner-cheerleader in the process.

-Eric 🙂

(Eric Reithel is a resident blogger, continuing plogger, and now-former self-flogger for Windy City Curling. His musings are his own and do not reflect the views of anyone with a remotely normal sense of humor or thought process. Watch him cheer on life via his Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)

Plog #1: “Forgiveness”

So I’ve been meaning to do a podcast for a while now. I mean, it’s been three months since I’ve written a blog, for which I can only apologize and say, “God, my life…”(Windy City curlers know the details. And no, my turning thirty a week ago, despite my joking about it, is NOT one of the reasons. I happily accept my progression of time here on Earth. Usually.)

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve recently found myself facing is this weird state of writer’s block where all of my “Oh, this would be a great blog!” ideas turn into “Actually, that would make a better podcast topic!” As such, I’ve written nothing. And since I fail at technology and WordPress plugins, the podcast has also yet to surface. But that is something I’m still hoping to work on moving forward into 2015. (By the way, Happy New Year!) To those of you out there I requested an interview of for said podcast – I’m still game if you are.

But I digress…

In an effort to rectify my lack of authoring new material, I humbly offer this placeholder: a plog.

“What is a plog?” you ask.

I have no idea. It’s a word I made up as a portmanteau of “podcast” and “log” in the same way a vlog is a mash-up of “video” and “log” (only I greatly lack whatever the Hell it is that drives people to spout their musings on YouTube in sweatpants and morning hair. You’re welcome). But, since I have a face for radio, you get this instead. Enjoy!

-Eric 🙂

P.S. – Yes, I know in the plog itself I called this whole thing, Into the House. I may not have any answers, but if there’s one thing I learned on the drive home, it’s that my ability to title something on the fly is utter sh*t. That mistake has since been remedied in favor of something much simpler.

(Eric Reithel is the resident blogger, brand-new plogger, and self-flogger for Windy City Curling. His musings are his own and do not reflect the views of anyone with a remotely normal sense of self-esteem. You can find more of them over on his Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)

Bonspiels are More Than Just Curling

Although I’ve always wanted to, I have never had the opportunity to do much traveling.

That is one intriguing thing about curling.  When “The Big Spiel” was announced, I thought this would make a good road trip.  Rounding up a team, Windy City Curling made its way to Minnesota.

THE DRIVE
We lucked out in terms of weather.  Although, Phil was ready for anything.

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We left on early on a Thursday and missed a lot of the snow storms that hit the area.  Only a couple bad spots.

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The drive went pretty quick.  Lots of talk about curling, the hope of expanding our club, and some international curling (which Phil is an expert about).  The first hour of tunes went to Phil, the driver – meaning French country music.  None of us in the car, including Phil, speak French.  Most of the drive, luckly, was dedicated to 80’s and 90’s rap and hip-hop.

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HOCKEY NIGHT IN MINNESOTA
One of the highlights of the trip was heading to the Xcel Energy Center to see the Chicago Blackhawks square off against the Minnesota Wild.  Greg and Phil were in full-blown Chicago regalia … meanwhile yours truly is actually a Detroit fan.  So, I was rooting for Minnesota.

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For those who didn’t know, Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts) was born in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, outside the weather was a bit nasty.  The Minnesota faithful were a bit late getting there.  I’m guessing at puck drop, the stadium wasn’t half full.

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It was really cool having Jessica Schultz from the US Olympic Team join us for the game!  Flashing back, I was able to interview Jess about a year ago for the blog.  We kept in touch throughout the year, and she was able to join us for the game.  The weather caused her and her friend Lysa to miss the first period, but they made it just as the Wild scored their first goal of the night.

IMG_0327 (2)Pictured (left to right):  Lysa, Jessica, Dan, Phil, Greg, Greg’s friend

It was cool to get to know Jessica more.  You could tell in her eyes and smile that she just has this natural spark for life, which was really cool.  She was heading to Honduras the week after on a mission trip – she works as a Physical Therapy Assistant.  Heard more about her future, getting ready for a half marathon on more.  Truly, an awesome person.  Everyone, stop now and go buy a Rock Life hoodie.

CLUBS AND FOOD (probably a little too much about food)
The Big Spiel took place in three different clubs in the Twin Cities area.

Four Seasons Curling Club
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Four Seasons Curling Club is the home of the US National Team Performance Center and Curling Night in America.  This was also the first rink we visited in our trip to Minnesota.  (Notice in the picture how the left-most sheet is empty — let’s just say the game went quickly).  The club definitely felt new, almost having the “new car smell.”  It was a great sheet of ice, and interestingly had sponsor logos in the houses.  I’d say that this was a distraction, but out team definitely had a bit of nerves (a bit of a theme for the trip).

But, lets talk about food.  The ongoing joke leading up to the bonspiel was the search for a Jucy Lucy (a cheese-stuffed burger).  We had one at Gabe’s, the restaurant at the Club.  The Jucy Lucy is a brilliant invention, as I’ve always disliked restaurants that throw a cold piece of cheese on a burger.  Gabe’s had some truly tasty food, including the gouda fries which one of our competitors had.  The walleye fries sounded good as well.

St. Paul Curling Club

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Eight sheets of ice for 1,200 members – St. Paul Curling Club is the largest curling club in America.  Although I have very little experience in curling, this felt like the home of curling.  This two-story club features a great restaurant and bar one the second floor.  Uniquely, this club’s second-floor men room actually had a window view to the curling ice below.  I was a bit worried that I’d accidentally step too far back from the ‘privacy wall’ at the urinal …

Now, my favorite meal of the trip — even surpassing the Jucy Lucy (yes, that’s spelled correctly) and the Walleye I had at the Wild game — was poutine.

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Bacon, gravy, cheese and french fries.  This was the first time I have ever had this tasty dish, and I put the half marathon training on the shelf.  Words can’t describe the deliciousness.

Our second, Phil, had a fun experience at St. Paul.  He had wanted the chance to meet US Olympic Skip John Shuster, who happened to be curling on the sheet next to us.  I’ll link to Phil’s story, in his own words, further below.

Frogtown Curling Club

IMG_0448Pictured (left to right):  Dan, Phil, Greg, and Nate 

We were only at Frogtown for one draw, but is the home of “The Shot.”  Take a look at the link below for an article written by Greg.

Frogtown is a converted-hockey rink that now is a dedicated curling ice.  We had heard throughout the weekend that it was going to be really cold at Frogtown – the curling ice is not insulated.  But, to be honest, Frogtown felt like home to us.

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With tables, lounge chairs and couches – it just felt like home.   Pinball machines in the corners, and I swear I saw someone had a 12-pack of Blatz.  There was a few people, underneath a few blankets, enjoying the competition up close.  The previous draw, including our friends from the Houston Curling Club, were watching from the warming room.

A GREAT TRIP
From a venture to Surly Brewing Company, a late-night ‘magic’ find of a Mexican restaurant at 3am (assisted by Siri or all things), and a hilarious stop for beer at a place called Dancing with the Sands (where I even was answering their phones on their behalf), the trip to Minnesota was a great trip.  We never even stopped on the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities.  And personally, I still want to visit some touristy places like the Mall of America or even St. Paul’s Cathedral (which Red Bull was setting up a giant ramp for an event later in the month).

It’s funny, Phil kept saying how cool it would be to live in the area.  He’s not the only one who thought that.  Great job TCCA, St. Paul CC, Frogtown CC and Four Seasons CC.  Great job St. Paul.

Dan Mulka may not be the best curler, but he makes a heck of a chicken parmesean.  He is the owner of Biggest Bark Marketing and works full time doing the marketing for a local waterpark.  

MORE STORIES ABOUT THE BIG SPIEL
“The Shot” by Greg Torkelson
“Curling Next To Royalty” by Phil Darin

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