* One of my simplest pleasures - watching the Reds play - hasn't been all that much fun this week. They just got swept by the Dodgers in the first three games of a ten-game homestand, and the games weren't even good ones. The pitching staff, which has been overhauled so much lately, wasn't good in any phase of the game, and the offense, supposedly this team's strong point, just sucked. Inexplicably, manager Jerry Narron last night decided to rest Brandon Phillips, the one player who actually has been getting some hits lately. At any rate, I'm hoping the Reds just ran into a hot team and will right the ship shortly and aren't beginning a slide out of contention. It's been a lot of fun to pull for a team that's actually playing for something this long into the season for a change.
* Of course, if they are falling out of it, it isn't going to bother me for all that long. My absolute favorite time of year, the high school football season, begins exactly three weeks from today when my Troy Trojans play host to Dublin Coffman (the full schedule can be found in the right-hand column). From there it'll be a full-on descent into football madness for me. High school football is where it starts for me, but I love college and NFL as well. This season will include a trip to Cleveland Browns stadium for the first-ever Division I college game held there (my BGSU Falcons vs. the Wisconsin Badgers) as well as a trip to Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium for my first-ever NFL game (the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons).
* Brandi and I are planning on a nice, quiet weekend at home. With not much going on, I decided I'm going teach her how to play chess. It has been so long since I've played that a refresher was in order, so I checked Chess For Dummies out from the library. That wasn't a bad idea in any case, because all I really know about chess anyway is the very basics (i.e. how the board is set up and how the pieces move) and I'm interested in learning more about theory and strategy. Now, I love to read, but when it comes to non-fiction, I'm just like my friend Patrick - I can't get through it. This chess book has been different so far. I started looking through it last night, and even though I'm not terribly far into it, I've learned a lot already and I'm fascinated. So I'll probably be learning just as much this weekend as Brandi, who has never played chess at all and will be starting from scratch. I'm ready to break out my chess set (marble, and one of my prized possessions) and get to work.
* Speaking of Patrick and games, check out his new venture: Squid Games Studios. Patrick and I played games together a lot in our younger days - mainly video games, sure, but other types too. Solarquest is the board game that comes immediately to mind, and we also went through quite a period with the Star Wars Roleplaying Game (when it was published by West End Games as opposed to whatever company has taken it over and broken it in the meantime). I think the idea of Patrick designing new games is an awesome one. As a player, I'm sure he'll design games that are fun, and as an intellectual, I'm sure he'll design games that are challenging.
* For my own endeavors...I also requested from the library a book on Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-on-One. I've mentioned before that I have a basic knowledge of Photoshop, and just that basic knowledge lets me create some pretty cool stuff (click here for some examples) and have a lot of fun doing it. I know it can do a lot more, though, and I want to learn how. I want to do it mostly because I think it's fun, but I certainly wouldn't mind if I was able to perhaps go somewhere with it professionally. The Wood County library had to get the book from another library, but I hope it comes in today so I can start digging into it over the weekend.
* Once I tackle Photoshop a little bit, I think the next related hobby I'll dive into is digital photography. I'm fascinated by really good artistic photography, and it makes me want to take pictures like that myself. I do okay taking snapshots with my regular 5MP camera, which has a bunch of preset modes I play around with, but I would love to be able to adjust the settings myself and actually know what I was doing in order to achieve particular effects or whatever. If ever again I find myself with some discretionary income, a more powerful and sophisticated camera is pretty high on the wishlist.