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Saturday, July 11, 2009


Right now I live in apartment. I have Mediacom cable and Internet. I do not have a home phone nor do I need one. My bill this month was $159.78. I think this is absolutely ridiculous!
Here is the breakdown:
  • Family Cable $58.95
  1. Basic $23.95
  2. Expanded $35.00
  • DVR Service $9.95
  • DVR Receiver $6.00
  • Mediamax 2Star $59.00
  1. Showtime
  2. Starz
  3. Internet Access
  4. Modem
  • Digital Plus $10.00
  • Digital Sports Tier $3.95
Total for Service: $147.85

  • Franchise fee $5.36
  • Regulatory fee $0.07
  • Sales tax $6.50
Total for Fees, & Taxes: $11.93

So I called about trying to get the rate lowered. Basically my option is to drop a service. Naturally I would prefer to drop the channels I watch the least - Basic cable. Sorry can't do that because it is required to have the rest of the channels. I've tried to drop Showtime & Starz several times but have been told my Internet will still be around $50. Since the Internet is pretty much a necessity these days I cannot drop it. Also the DVR has been a godsend; it's not going anywhere.
Basically my options came down to dropping the Digital Plus service and the Digital Sports Tier. The first contains many channels I watch regularly including Fox Soccer, BBC America, G4, and (ahem) Nicktoons (What? The new Wolverine & Iron Man cartoons are on there!). My wife also frequently DVRs shows in this range. The second package consists of several college sports channels and a second soccer channel, Gol TV. With regular airings of the German & Spanish soccer leagues, I would hate to lose Gol. In addition the Sports Tier features all of my college hockey and lacrosse games.
Still, $160.00 for cable is freaking nuts. Our phones barely cost that with four lines, texting, and a bajillion minutes (we split that bill with with mother-in-law & brother-in-law). Our electric -even during the peak summer months - is still less than 2/3 of that.
On my third call in less than a month, I finally got a rep that gave a damn. She offered to drop my Showtime & Starz and replace it with Internet service on a one year promotion for $19.95. I also ended up dropping the Sports Tier college lax season in Omaha; trying to find time to watch DVRed games was a difficult task last year. My new bill will be around $115 per month. Still not great, but a hell of a lot better...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Website, etc Poll

It has been a week since the big changes occurred. I am curious about your thoughts on the formal reformatting of this blog, the new Central Iowa Lacrosse Association website, and the new CILA message boards.

The poll gives me a vague idea of how people are responding; the fact that only four people have registered thus far tells me that the boards may be going over like a fart in church. Still, if I could receive some actual feedback -as a comment below, on the boards, or via email - I would consider making adjustments. I received an email a couple of days ago (which inspired the poll & this post) stating that "message boards suck" and that RSS feeds (like in this blog) are the way to go. While that comment was somewhat helpful, I am sticking with the relaunch unless somebody says otherwise.

The launch of the new site came about for a couple of reasons:
  1. People had a hard time finding stuff on this site. Being a blog, this site is very difficult to organize. The new site gave me plenty of options and the flexibility to have things organized efficiently.
  2. I have had inquiries about potential youth programs. While I have nothing specific in mind right now, I definitely think Des Moines needs a solid youth program. Incorporating a tab for such a program seemed like a good idea. Again, the new site helped with the organization.
  3. The same can be said about a womens' program. Yes there is a grass roots movement in Waukee. But they do not have a website of their own or really much organization. I have offered space on the new site to them.
  4. Having all of the metro's programs Incorporated under one organized site should help increase the sport's exposure. This should lead to more participation.
  5. The new website provides me with a place to post forms, rules, etc. Sure I had most of that stuff randomly scattered about this blog, but I think it is much better now that everything can be easily accessed.
  6. There is no longer a need to rack my brain thinking of lacrosse-related posts to keep this blog alive. The Summer Open Lacrosse League is going. The Open Box Lacrosse League should be happening. Valley is set and I have heard jack squat from other interested high schools. Without fresh posts, the blog slips on Google whereas the website does not rely on such ranking.
I know the website is not the greatest thing ever, but it did not cost me anything and I was familiar with its structure after making Valley's website. Since that website went over so well, I figured people would appreciate our new site. I also think that it makes CILA look a little more credible if nothing else.

As far as the message boards go, I wanted to give people a chance to interact online. The adult hockey league uses them (mostly to bitch about the MISF) and they seem to be a useful tool sometimes. What better way, I thought, to get feedback from area players than to give them a forum? I figured the forums would be a way for people to offer anonymous (if they choose) suggestions and advice. YOUR OPINIONS MATTER!!!!! Just give some constructive feedback, alternative solutions, or anything else that can help me make the situation better for you!

I also started the forums to give us a place to hold our polls. People had complained that some polls may have gotten tainted by non-laxers, so I thought this would be a win-win. Judging by the response - or lack thereof - to the box league polls, I guess I was wrong.

Please help me out. Since I juggle the websites and stuff with everything else in my life, and since I have never tried to run anything like this before, I could really use all of the help that I can get. I want the websites to be as accessible and user friendly as possible. I can try to make whatever changes necessary, but I am not sure what those changes will be...

Remember, you cannot please everybody all of the time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Adidas Lacrosse

I don't have any pics because I am not technically savvy enough to figure out how to snag them off of the new Adidas Lacrosse Site.

While I am not ready to sing its praises, the second generation gear looks significantly better than the original line. I am not sure if the company itself took an active role this time around (a third party created the first generation under license), but a lot more trademark Adidas technology (ClimaCool, ClimaLite, etc) worked its way into the line. Everything definitely looks more unique and usable than before. Their patent-pending vented cuff is an idea so stupidly brilliant that I am surprised nobody else did it.

While the gloves look legit, I would definitely hold off until some third party reviews pop up. The same goes for the elbow pads. However, I am interested in the shoulder pads as they look like an improved version of the Brine Rhinoskin. Having several detachable and customizable pads on a ClimaCool shirt sounds great for the SOLL...

If I get a chance to score some gear or at least find an honest review, I will pass along the performance specs.

By the way, the old site still has the first generation of Adidas Lax gear on display.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Des Moines Menace

Since I started getting back into soccer about a decade ago, I have enjoyed going to watch the Des Moines Menace. Sure they are only an amateur Premier Development Club, but the team is professionally run and is essentially a college all star squad. Players come from schools around the country to spend their summer playing for the Menace. Quite a few former players have advanced to the professional ranks, including some becoming starters on Major League Soccer teams.
I have watched the Menace achieve some pretty amazing things. When they had their best season ever in 2005, I had full season tickets. I watched as the USL-2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds went down on penalties. A few family members joined me when the Menace beat the heavily favored USL-1 Charleston Battery in a tight game. When the Menace traveled to Atlanta and destroyed the USL-1 Silverbacks 5-1, I followed the online text feed. I was one of many that took the bus ride to Kansas City to watch the Menace play the MLS Wizards in a historical fourth round match. The ride home following the 6-1 loss was a long and stinky one (it was around 100 degrees in KC that night).
That same season, the Menace qualified for the Central Conference playoffs by finishing second overall in the Heartland Division. After defeating the number one seeded Chicago Fire Premier 4-0, they beat the Michigan Bucks 4-1 to win the conference championship. In the PDL semifinals, they hosted Orange County and stayed alive with a 2-1 victory. They then traveled to El Paso, TX to face the Southern Conference champion Patriots. The game was televised nation-wide on Fox Soccer Channel. Mediacom carried it on channel 22 and we watched it at my in-laws' house. After both full and extra time finished with no goals being scored, the teams advanced to penalties. Outstanding efforts by Andy Gruenebaum (now with the MLS Columbus Crew) saw us take the edge in penalty kicks and win the League Championship.
The following year I cut my ticket package down to a partial season flex pack due to a busy schedule. Over the last couple of seasons I continued with the flex packs as they allowed me to make it to many games and still have a life outside of soccer. Unfortunately this year I did not purchase a flex pack. I had a feeling that I would not be able to make even that much of a time commitment and I was right. Still, I figured that I would at least make it to a couple of games.
With only two home games remaining, it looks like this will be the first time since I started following the Menace that I will not have made a single game. I have commitments on both next Saturday (7/11) and the following Saturday (7/18) that prevent me from attending. Saying I am sad at missing my favorite local summer sports team's entire season is not exactly right. It is more that I am disappointed with myself for not making the time to go. My only remedy, which does me no good this year, is to be sure to purchase a 2010 flex pack. At least then I know I will be a better fan next season...
In the meantime, if you are looking for something to do over the next two Saturdays, I strongly encourage you to hit a game. Even though Valley Stadium sucks for soccer, the on field product is top notch!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Des Moines - Cricket Haven?

I'm sure that the little chirping bugs immediately spring to your mind, but I am not talking insects here. About a decade ago, several intrepid men undertook an effort that mirrors my own work in the last year. Just as I have been working to build a lacrosse program since October, in 1998 "a rag tag group of players calling themselves the Sharks" started playing cricket in the metro. After toiling to make inroads, the group adopted the name The Knights Cricket Club in 1999.
Unlike lacrosse, cricket truly is a foreign sport. Other than having a bat, ball, and pitcher, there is little resemblance to any other sport in the United States. Even those implements are completely different than our own - the bat is flat on one side, the ball is incredibly small, and the "pitcher" is called a bowler. There are eleven players per team, two bases, and three little sticks called wickets. I am not going to get into attempting to describe the rules; the Knights' website has a great description of play written with baseball terms. Making things worse, cricket uses a very large and very specialized field. Again, there is nothing like it in the US sporting world.
Whereas we could pretty much grab and random football or soccer field (or even a flat grass/turf area) to play lacrosse, cricket demands certain conditions and measurements. After playing on poor surfaces and making local soccer clubs unhappy, the Knights managed to convince the West Des Moines Parks & Recreation Department to build a proper cricket ground at Holiday Park. The Holiday Park Oval is the first dedicated cricket ground in the Midwestern US.
Since the Knights' founding, two more teams have joined them at HPO - the Iowa Bulls and the Elite Cricket Club. All three teams compete in the Cricket League of Iowa. The league also features two teams from Cedar Rapids, a team from Omaha, and a team from Ames representing Iowa State University.
The CLIA will begin its second round of 2009 league play on Saturday, July 11. Try to make it out sometime and support something different. Help keep some variety in Des Moines' sports.
Ps. After each team bats, there is a "tea time." But in the good old US of A, the tea is BEER!

Tribe 7