2008 Olympic Gold Medalists

2008 Olympic Gold Medalists
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Day!!! My family will be playing a little family picnic ball on the court. Supposed to be 70 degrees or so tomorrow so..... play ball!!!

Just wanted to update on training and comment on some things.

Training started November 5th for me. Officially got back in the weight room with my trainer Bob Alejo. This is our third week in now. Starting slowly which is good for the body. Still sore as all get up though. No ball work with the exception of the highly intense family games of which the boys are dominating still!

I will not be playing in the Hot Winter Nights this year. I was thinking of playing in the Northwest stops but after discussing it with various people I decided against it. Takes an entire week out of the training regimen and I personally think the guaranteed money is just average. Word on the street says that Phil, Kerri and Misty will not be playing at all either. I have heard that most of the other top players will be playing in at least one if not several.

Phil and I's first planned event is the FIVB event in Australia at the end of March. That will kick off the new season for us and will allow us to stay away from touching the ball too soon for our own good. I know some people like to start even now or in December but I always like to start as late as I possibly can. There is plenty of volley to be had in 2008 and starting early makes it tough to stay up for volley in the late months of summer and fall.

Eat lots of Turkey!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Saga Ends (Almost)

It is the end of February now and all that remains to do is to shape up the court, put the drainage in and put the sand in. Like I said in the last blog though, I have to let the rains subside and the court dry out. Any tractor that went into the pit right now would be spinning mud all over the place.

I talked with Mark to see what days would work for him. We finally settle on a Monday and Tuesday that we will both be in town in June. Works for me since we have to let everything dry out anyways and that will probably take through April. Mark sets up all the heavy equipment we need to rent as well as sets up the shipments of sand that will be coming in.

I posted a little about putting in the sand back in June. Basically I flew back from Atlanta on Sunday night but got stuck in Vegas due to a cancelled flight to SB. Had to get back though so I rented a car and burned the midnight oil as well as the freeways. Got home at 6:30am with the sun coming up and Mark about 20 minutes away from showing up. Started shaping things up at 7:30am and finished that up by the end of the day. Not as easy as it sounds to shape up a volleyball court. Kind of a long process.

The next day the sand was due to arrive around 1pm. In the morning we put in a special french drainage system and did some knick knacks to prepare the court for the sand. Sand started coming in at the requested time. I believe it ended up being about 10 or 12 loads of sand. A load being a semi-truck bed with 2 beds per truck. Mark was hustling moving the sand from the dumping end of the court to the other end. Thank God for heavy equipment. We got all the sand in and spread it out by nightfall. The court, minus net and lines, looked fantastic.

Two days later I left for Charleston and then on to Europe for a couple of weeks. Needed to focus on my job rather than putting up the court. I wanted to put up the court but I needed to dig some holes in the sand and measuring ect... I started the process but didn't get it done until mid-September. Took a lot more adjusting than I had thought it would. I should have had the AVP crew to come over and put it in. They are the professionals. Have to give a huge Thank You to Dave Culpepper from the AVP crew. Without him I would never had been able to put up the net. Thanks Dave!!

So now I have a court to play on in the backyard. We have had a bunch of family games with girls against boys. My wife and daughter vs. the son and I. I have to say the boys have been pretty dominant so far. :) We play a half court kind of game rather than the full court. Probably be a year until both kids can go for full court play. Lots of fun though. Probably play tonight since the high temp is supposed to be about 85 degrees today. Yesterday was beautiful.

The almost part of the post is because the court morphed into doing a ton of landscaping. We put a very nice brick wall around the majority of the court to hold the dirt and water out from the mounds. (The court is slightly sunken in from the level of the ground around.) We put in a bunch of sod throughout places in the yard that had been dirt. We put flagstone walkways where there had been dirt walkways throughout the yard. That part is almost done. We put in a second wall on the other side of the mounds to hold in dirt and water from running into the yard. Basically our mounds are surrounded by block walls. Looks really nice and the guys putting it in are doing a great job. Although it ain't cheap. Have a guy putting a metal grille over a window that could be broken on the guest house. Wanted to have that done before I have any serious games on the court. We have to finish up some landscaping on the mounds as well. Put in some lavender and stuff like that. Something that when the ball flies into it will not pop the ball but at the same time will not die.

The sand cost about $10,000 and we put 3 different types of sand in. The first 6 inches was building sand which isn't the best to play on but is about 3 times less $$$ than the good sand. The next layer was the good sand but had not been dried out to kill any plant seeds ect... The third layer was the good stuff but dried out. That is the most expensive and we topped off the court with about 6 inches of the stuff. The middle of the court is about 2 feet deep and the outer part of the court is about a foot deep. Probably a little more than I needed but it helped with the drainage and I don't think we are ever going to have to worry about hitting bottom on this court.

The landscaping and other stuff is costing a bundle. Not really sure how much that will end up running as it is on going still. Some of it we would have done regardless as it needed to be done to improve the yard. The flagstone not only looks nicer but helps keep the dirt out of the house. The stones will be surrounded by grass so there won't be any dirt areas that kids and dogs will be walking on and tracking it in the house. Should be done with it all by the new year and everything will look great come training time in February, March and April. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Saga Continues

So I ended up losing from March until October/November. I was busy with the tour and Mark was busy fighting fires. The fire season lasted until early December that year but I was able to do a little work around the court.

Over the summer the court had drained out and dried up. Then sometime in September a soft area developed at the lowest point of the court. That confounded me for about 2 months. The drier the weather the harder the area became but it never completed dried up like the other areas of the court. We finally figured it out when we did about 5 loads of laundry in one day. The soft area had a little water in it and that water turned a bit sudsy. Turns out we needed to take care of our septic system. It was very very old and the dry well was no longer working so was full and draining to the lowest possible point. We think it might have been from the original "settlers". It was at least 35 years old as I was told by the experts.

That was the next big hurdle. We did not want to do anything to the court until that was taken care of. So we had the septic tank pumped out as it was full. Then they took a little camera gadget attached to a wire line and followed the pipe from our septic tank. It took him to the dry well and sure enough it wasn't very dry. The dry well was also an illegal one and that is how we knew it was so old. They were the kind that little kids in Texas and elsewhere have fallen into and been trapped. New dry wells are filled with gravel while old ones were empty pits covered by brick, concrete and then dirt. The brick and concrete eventually age and deteriorate and fall into the dry well. Then all you have is about 3 feet of dirt over a 30 foot deep pit about 3 to 4 feet wide. Pretty sketchy when you think about how the dirt could give way and someone fall in.

We also applied for a permit for a new dry well and received it but had to jump through a bunch of testing hoops to get it. That ran us around another grand or so and also took about 3 months. Finally got that all taken care of and I dug up the old well and had it pumped out and filled with gravel. We had the new well put in and all the piping ect... for septic tank, old well and new well taken care of.

Now I am sitting on the verge of a new AVP/FIVB season as it is now the end of January and I am out another $6,000. It is also the rainy season and I can't really do any work on the court until it dries out. Also need to find a weekend where both Mark and I can take care of business. Lost of issues to deal with.

So to recap: I am in around $12,000 deep so far and all I have is an unshaped pit in my backyard. I have been at this for a year now and won't be able to do anything more for at least 3 months because of the rains ect... The good part is we have jumped through all the hurdles with the county and neighbors and just need to finish it up. The bad part is I will be spending a lot more money to put sand in as well as shape it up and do the landscaping.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Beach Court (Part II)

The next step was to look into suitable drainage and then getting the sand in. Unfortunately, all of that was put on hold when my wife called me and said that some guy from the county of Santa Barbara had come by and put a work stoppage tag on the project. That was a couple of days after we had finished digging it all out.

Up to this point I had spent around $800 for the rental of the heavy equipment. Getting rid of all the greens, trash, ect... ended up costing quite a bit more than I anticipated. A couple hundred under $3,000. I was already in over $3500. I was hoping to be about a grand less than that but that is how it flies I guess.

Couldn't finish the court as I wanted because of the work stoppage order. Seems that if you move over 50 cubic yards of dirt on your property you have to get a land use permit in Santa Barbara County. Normally they would never bother with a beach volleyball court, but we have a wonderful neighbor who likes to get involved in everything and was afraid I was doing a commercial court or something. The county got a complaint and therefore they had to investigate it. The county guy actually apologized to me and seemed a little bit embarrassed and annoyed to be out busting a guy who wanted to put a little beach volleyball court in his backyard. He had bigger fish to fry and this was essentially a waste of his time. Now I had to jump through all the county hoops to get the land permit and this would take time.

To make matters worse, along came a deluge of rain in the month of March. Instead of a beach volleyball court in my backyard, I now had a duckpond!! I had to submit a ton of plans which fortunately Mark was familiar with and did all of the drawings. I submitted the plans along with a nice donation of almost $2G to the county to be able to build my beach court as well as all the fines because I did not get the permit before beginning the project even though every person I spoke with shook their head and asked me why on earth I was getting a permit for this beach court?

The plans eventually received the stamp of approval but I had already lost 2 months time as it was now late April of 2006. I also still had a my duck pond that was starting to dry out now but not enough so that I could start anything. To complicate matters I had already began the 2006 beach season and my weekends were now spoken for until late September. Mark, the guy helping me out, had the official start of fire season too so he was essentially out as well.

My project was now on hold until early fall depending on when they called the fire season. I was already in over $5G and the nice shaping ect... that Mark had done of the court was gone from all the rain beating down into the court. My troubles had only just begone though.