As much as I got used to Blog City, they decided to eliminate free blogs, and I couldn't see spending $45 each year on a service I use so infrequently. I decided to switch over to Blogger, Google's blog service. I created an account some time ago, just to check it out, and it seems adequate, and the price (free) is just right.
So, Christmas is right around the corner. I'm writing this Saturday night, two days away from Christmas. Brenda and I have been fighting "teh sick." We both got flu shots this year, but we've spent the last two weeks dealing with assorted problems culminating in well... liqui-poo, headaches, chills, and a special Holiday fever! Friday started fine, but we spent Friday night taking turns polluting the bathroom, and hoping the nausea wouldn't result in a communion with the porcelein god. Thankfully, it didn't, but I was up nearly the entire night, and Brenda crashed at about 9 PM, after feeling miserable a bit earlier in the evening than I did.
Saturday was better, though we were both a little wiped out from the previous night. We did manage to go shopping, or rather I slept in the car while Brenda and Gwen hit the store. I did hit Michael's for a last minute addition to my homemade art kit for the girls. I had already picked up a pencils, graphite pencils, kneaded erasers, gum erasers, tortillions, and those nifty sandpaper sharpeners (as well as more typical ones for harder pencils). Oh, then I bought three small sketch pads, and three full size ones for the girls. I put everything in a neat little plastic organizer that latches shut. I added a big set of pastels, chalks, and colored pencils today (the first two purchased at Michael's). I already had a big set of unused colored pencils I bought for myself and never used! Oh, and I got another small package of tortillions, which are used to smudge/smear pastels and chalks around. Neat stuff. I wrapped it and concluded our Christmas shopping for the year.
Despite my mother's assurance that she wouldn't spend as much as she did last year, the tree is absolutely stuffed with gifts. We had planned to get little more than $100 gift certificates to Ross, a discount clothing store (like TJ Maxx) the girls all like. Well, naturally we had to have a few things for them to open, and that continued to increase, and now I wonder just how much we spent. Whatever the case, my mother topped my effort, and there are dozens of gifts, big and small, under the tree. I'm sure they'll be happy, although I couldn't get Gwen a fish or cell phone. I *may* get her a cell phone, but that'll have to wait until her birthday, after I've had a chance to find a decent plan, and I'm still not sure about that. Realistically, she only has one friend she would call frequently, and she has the same service we do (T-Mobile) so it would be free anyway ;p
I'm sure she would prefer a phone of her own, but 100 minutes for $20 seems like an awful deal. I think I have a 2000 minute account ;p
Anyway, what else has been going on?
* Brenda had a good annual performance evalutation at work. She wasn't really certain how she was handling the move from accounting to cost management. Her new job has a lot more to do with communication skills and a persons' knowledge of Boeing rather than their technical expertise with accounting. Fortunately, she's a more talented communicator than she gives herself credit for.
* The Pistons are doing very well. They got over their plague of injuries, and Rodney Stuckey played his first NBA game on Friday (against the Grizzlies). He only played five minutes, but had two points and two assists, without a turnover, so that's encouraging. I suspect he'll add a dimension they've lacked for a long time. They're actually second in the East, behind the Celtics, and second overall in the NBA. They just played thier first season match against the Celtics, at Boston, and won the game by two points (a pair of free throws, courtesy of Billups with 0.2 seconds left). Overall, I think the Celtics are playing far better than I figured they would... but they are a single injury away from being a struggle to make the playoffs at all, and I question how they'll hold up with the long minutes their big three stars are logging. Meanwhile, the Pistons starters have been putting in about three quarters a game, often taking the entire fourth quarter off. Their bench is vastly improved.
* Bench status:
** Jason Maxiell is still the standout. He might not be a lock for sixth man of the year with Ginobli playing off the bench, but he's definitely in the running for most improved player and is like a lightning bolt off the bench. He's earning the title "the Putback King," getting offensive rebounds and converting a miss to a thunderous dunk.
** Amir Johnson is being used a bit less than most fans had hoped, but he is doing well on the defensive end, both as a rebounder and shot blocker. I think he'll continue to improve, especially since the Piston's traded away Nazr to the Bobcats.
** Jarvis Hayes hot shooting cooled off a bit. He's been better the last few games, but he went through quite a draught, and I'm sure the Wizard fans complained about that when he played behind Caron Butler. Anyway, I still like him, and think he's a great backup to Prince. His defense isn't great, but he's not a liability, either. When his shot is falling, he looks great out there.
** Arron Afflalo, the rookie shooting guard, is really showing his stuff. He's a superb defender, NBA ready immediately, and he's displaying a great basketball IQ--showing a good shot selection. He's gotten more playing time with Stuckey out and Flip Murray playing point guard, but I wouldn't be surprised if they use Afflalo over Flip if Stuckey can hold down some scoring responsiblity. I envision Afflalo as a long term member of the Pistons.
** Rodney Stucky, obviously, has yet to log many minutes after his broken left hand, but I have a lot of hopes for him. He's tall, fast, and very strong. He can create his own shot, and gets to the rim, either drawing fouls, getting an easy basket, or dishing back to open men. He's running the offense like a true point guard, not the shooting guard most people envisioned him as. I think he's the perfect complement to Billups.
** Flip Murray is still erratic. Sometimes, he plays great ball, but when his shot isn't falling, he seems to get anxious to score, and jacks up bad shot after bad shot. I won't really miss him, even if he's a veteran presence. I think Stuckey and Afflalo will be an ideal pair of reserves.
** Lindsey Hunter is probably going to spend time on the reserve list with Stuckey back in uniform, but he did well against the Celtics, and is still an amazing defender. I think he'll retire after this year, but he still seems capable of playing a reasonable role as a backup player.
** Cheik Samb was assigned to the D-League, and them moved back to Detroit. He's still too raw to be an asset, but it's hard to dislike his ability.
** Walter Hermann is the 6'9" or 6'10" Argentinian player that came from the Bobcats with Primoz Brezec in exchange for Nazr and Dupree. He's capable of playing either small forward or power forward, though he's a little better on the perimeter. He has great three point accuracy, and is a great hustle player/defender. I'm curious how he'll integrate with the team. He looks like Fabio, but he's got game, and I think he's more valuable than a simple expiring contract.
** Primoz Brezec is the 7'1" center that came from the Bobcats, as mentioned above. He really wanted out of Charlotte, and loves the idea of playing for the Pistons. I think Brezec is better than people give him credit for. He's a good rebounder, and decent defender, but he has a great shooting touch for a big man, and I think he'll get some burn time as a Piston.
* I suspect Dumar's is considering trading Brezec, Hermann, and Flip Murray for a key piece, since they're all expiring contracts, worth roughtly $7-$8m total. I don't know what he'll end up doing, but he might be able to snag a very talented player that pushes them over the edge... or he might simply want them as a group. They've all exhibited flashes of great play, and I think Hermann and Brezec are too new to write off. Hermann was rookie of the month last year, and Brezec was a double double machine until his minutes were cut to virtually nothing last year. He's not an all star, but he's not the wasted player people think he is, either. I still think he could be a nice fit in Detroit, and Hermann might be a better backup for Prince than Hayes, but only time will tell.
* I've been playing some video games. I've played a little NBA 2k7 on the PS3, as well as Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2 title) and wiped the dust off Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (PS2 version) to give it another shot. I'm pretty thrilled with the video game collection I've got going. I've got for games to trade in at Gamestop/EB Games, but I'm not postive what I'll get. I'm leaning towards Folklore, but we'll see. I probably won't hit a new game until after my birthday in February, since I've got a lot more to try out still.
Well, that's it for now. I'll switch over my site to link to Blogger in the next few days :)