Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Meme

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate? Eggnog, definitely eggnog. My 6-year-old really enjoys it, too, and likes to drink eggnog with her dad. Or she likes to drink her dad’s eggnog … something like that.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Just puts them under the tree. But for some weird reason, he thinks his elves have to assemble it, in the loving room floor at 1 or 2 in the morning so that it is fully assembled when the child wakes up. Annoying little elves.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I used to say white, but that’s all anybody does anymore, so I’m going with colored. But it has to be a solid color like all red or all blue. Multicolored lights are still ugly.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No!

5. When do you put your decorations up? Whenever we get around to it.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? All of them. I even like green bean casserole. Basically, I like to eat during the holidays and it really doesn’t matter if we are having the traditional turkey and dressing or enchiladas, it’s all good.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? As I have mentioned before in these meme’s I have long since forgotten my childhood. It must have been traumatic.

8. When or how did you learn the truth about Santa? Never believed in Santa. I told you it was traumatic.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Sometimes yes, Sometimes no

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Let the kid do it. This year it is decorated, but all the ornaments are on one side. But, hey, I didn’t have to do it.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it. It makes things more interesting.

12. Can you ice skate? Sure … maybe … I would like to think that I can if I ever tried.

13. Have you ever fallen on the ice? What kind of stupid question is this? Show me someone who hasn’t fallen on the ice and I’ll show you an habitual liar with serious delusions of grandeur.

14. Do you remember your favorite gift? Of course I do. If I didn’t remember it, it wouldn’t be my favorite, now would it?

15. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family gatherings and time off from work. It’s also pretty cool to see your child’s face light up throughout all the excitement.

16. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pumpkin dessert that my wife makes.

17. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I kind of like the rather new tradition that my family has started, having Christmas on New Year’s. It allows us to visit both families during the holidays and the excitement of opening gifts isn’t blown all in one wad.

18. What tops your tree? An Angel.

19. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Depends. Generally I really prefer giving gifts, but there are those people that I really don’t like that I’m expected to give gifts too. It’s not that I prefer getting gifts from them. I would really prefer that we do away with all the false pretenses and crap like that and just let people know what we really think of them.

20. What is your favorite Christmas Song? “What Child is This” is pretty cool, and I really love Whiteheart’s version of The Little Drummer Boy. It rocks.

21. CANDY CANES!! YUCK OR YUM?? Yuck. What a waste of candy. Does anybody ever eat the whole thing? Or do you just suck on it until the end of it gets really sharp and pointed and then you try to pierce the top of the empty Cool Whip bowl when your throwing it in the trash.

22. What is your favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is pretty good, and I like Nightmare Before Christmas. Gremlins and Die Hard provide some moments of entertainment. I really don’t like those sappy, disgusting holiday movies.

23. Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman or Charlie Brown? Charlie Brown. I’m so indifferent to the other two that I can’t even think of anything derogatory to say about them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It Must be Monday

The day started off like most other days. I woke up.
Then things took a turn for the Monday.

While getting ready for work, my wife comes in and says she needs to leave early. She asks if I can take the child to school. Of course I say sure and begin working on the child to get her all spit polished for her day. While rushing around to put the finishing touches on her, my wife comes in the back door and yells, “I just blew up the garage door opener!”

Our garage door opener has been rather cantankerous lately. We would have to nurse it first thing on a cold morning, working it up and down until if finally opened all the way. We had no such luck today. I ran out to the garage where I was met by a fully smoking door opener. As black smoke billowed out of the motor, I began working on detaching the device so that my wife could get to work. Yes, I know door openers are supposed to have a release button, but if this one does, it is well hidden. I’m guessing it was put in 30 years ago and has finally just worn out. I finally get the arm detached only to find out that the door still won't open because the door hits the arem on the way up. Frustrating.

While working on the door, my child starts laughing.

“Daddy’s got water on his boom-boom.”

Boom-boom, of course, is the descriptor we used for "rear end" when she was really small and it just kind of stuck.

How in the world could I have gotten a wet spot on my rear end? As I was rushing around, dealing with the garage door I had a hunch where the liquid may have originated. Racing into the house to grab my stuff so I can drive my wife to work, I decide to check out my hunch.

Sure enough, I was right. My child had spilled her milk on the living room chair and I had sat in it while brushing her hair. Now, not only was I trying to get my wife to work on time, but I was going to have to return home to wash and dry my pants before I went to work.

We finally decided that I would just drive the family to school in my vehicle. While heading that way, I proceeded to make my daughter cry as I scolded her for not telling anyone that she had spilled her milk. I told her I wasn’t mad for spilling of the the milk, but for not telling anyone and trying to hide it because it was now going to cause me extra time.

After dropping them off at school (my wife is a teacher), I raced back home, disrobed, washed the pants and dried them with the iron, dressed again and headed for the office.

And after all that, I still made it to work on time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

To Proofread, or Not to Proofread?

We’ve all done it. Anyone who has ever written anything comes to that point where you just want to get it over with and you don’t want to see it anymore. Therefore, you cut corners and fail to give it that one last read, assuming that everything is will be fine, only to find a glaring mistake once it is too late to correct.

Working as a journalist, I have had more than my fair share of mistakes. Many of which are pointed out so graciously by blue-haired, bitter, old women who desperately need a life.

I had to chuckle, however, as I glanced over a story written by a co-worker. I was about to send it to the local media outlets. Our school’s annual “scholarship pageant” will be held within the next couple of weeks. Being a good, faith-based institution we are especially careful not to call it a beauty pageant. In fact, we are so worried about stereotyping that we go way out of our way to not pick the prettiest girl, even if she is also the most deserving. ... but that's a soap box for another post.

Anyway, about four paragraphs down, as the story talked about the talents and abilities of the young ladies it said, "... it will be a touch decision for the judges.”

… ooops!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Silly questions ...

I stole this from my sister who said I should do this.

1. List two things that are true of you that are not stereotypically true of members of some group that you belong to.
a. I never sleep past 7 a.m., even on weekends, no matter how late I stay up the night before.
b. I cook the majority of my own meals.

2. List two unusual talents that you have.
a. I can wiggle my eyes back and forth really quickly.
b. I can curl my tongue.

3. List two unusual weaknesses that you have.
a. I have a very strong gag reflex. I get the dry heaves while brushing my teeth.
b. There may be others, but I’m not going to tip off my mortal enemies in fear that they may use the information against me.

4. List two unusual things that you aspire to.
a. I want to write a book.
b. … apparently I have very low aspirations for myself …

5. List two words that you use more than most people do.
a. I don’t use any words more than other people. No catch phrases, no identifying statements. Some people think I am rather quiet and don’t talk much at all. They apparently just haven’t found the right topic to get me motivated.
b. …………….

6. List two foods that you dislike and most other people like
a. onions
b. more onions

7. List two strange habits that you have
a. I am not a habitual person … or I’m habitually not a person; something like that
b. I tend to fabricate the nature of my unorthodox behavior.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Inquiring Minds Part II ...

... And furthermore, just because a mouse has a bigger head, ears, eyes and teeth, does that really make it a new species? I've seen humans like that and we don't classify them as a new species.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Inquiring minds ...

Breaking news from the world of science!

It appears that a new species of mouse has been discovered on Cyprus. I just read an article on the MSNBC Web site that says, and I quote:

“The "living fossil" mouse has a bigger head, ears, eyes and teeth than other European mice and is found only on Cyprus…"

My question is, if they just found it … it has just recently been discovered … it has been hidden and undetected for however many thousands of years (or perhaps just a few days) … then how do they know it is found “only on Cyprus?”

… just thought I’d ask.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What can we do?

I should be working right now, but I must admit that the thought of being a slave to anything at the moment is relatively unpleasant.

I’m sure anyone who is half-way human and some of those who aren’t have heard all about the school shootings in the news lately. I don’t know the full stories about what all is going on and I don’t care to know. Watching the news programs disturb me a great deal. I get so tired of hearing all the crap surrounding the idiots in society. I hate hearing all the bad news all the time. And that’s exactly how new stations should promote themselves … “All bad news! All the time!”

To top it off, the reason I don’t really feel like working at the moment is that we had a shooting/non-shooting at the local high school this morning. I haven’t heard any of the facts, but unsubstantiated rumors say that no one was injured and there were no fatalities. Radio reports are saying there were no shots fired at all, but a mother of a high school student just walked past my door after picking up her son who said he heard the shots and hit the ground.

At this point, I don’t know the truth and I don’t really care. It still invokes in me a rage, born from disgust, discouragement and cloud of depression about the state of society. I would love to rid the world of stupid, bad people, but that is not an option. The Christian in me knows that we should love these people, pity their situations and pray for them, but the human in me wants to see them disappear.

Why do I get so upset about these things? My wife is a teacher in the school system. My daughter is a first-grader in the school system. The university for which I work currently has student teachers working in the school system, several of whom I consider friends. And some of those were at the high school this morning.

… As I walked out of the class just the day before, a young lady in the class walked beside me. This class is doubling as an undergraduate level course for traditional students like her, as well as a graduate level class for old(er) people like me. As we exited the building she said in a somewhat light-hearted manner, “I thought we were all going to die today.”

Our class ran a little long and in the process one of the students for the next class came into the room. He was a big guy, a wide body, with a slicked back pony tail and had the general look of someone who might want to thwart the government. I can’t really explain the look other than to say he didn’t really look like the proverbial alter boy. He was wearing an oversized shirt and moderately baggy pants.

“When he came in,” the young lady said, “he had his arms down by his side and I couldn’t see his hands. I wasn’t sure if he was carrying his books or a gun.”

Although she said it in a light-hearted manner, I could tell there was a hint of seriousness about it as well. In moments like that, you realize how much these situations affect the people around us. While that thought never crossed my mind, it had crossed hers and it is apparently something some of our students worry about. And what could I do? I couldn’t reassure her. I couldn’t tell her not to worry because that will never happen here. I couldn’t tell her that if someone did attack our school they would surely choose to shoot up the education building, not the business building.

So what did I do? I reassured her that we had all survived. … Boy, that’s a big help isn’t it.

I guess there’s no real point to this blog entry other than to say I just don’t understand what makes people do this kind of thing. And furthermore, I have no idea what can be done to prevent it.

… I guess that’s why I’m not ultimately in charge. Thank God.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Sign of the Times

A sign of the times, or simply a linguistic faux pas? I’ll let you decide.

Last weekend was freshmen orientation weekend out the ol' alma mater. This is a weekend where the kiddies come in, play games, get introduced to various university faculty and staff members, learn the rules and, among other things, participate in various service projects.

One such project involved a large group of newbies and their group leaders, students who volunteered to help teach the fish the ropes, cleaning up an area of road near our town’s cemetery.

Being the PR whore that I am, when I got wind of the project I grabbed my camera and rushed out to make sure the work was properly documented and sent to the local paper. Not that we would ever do something like that just for the public relations value, but you just can’t buy that kind of advertising.

Obviously, I have been out to the cemetery many times. I have several family members buried out there and I drive by it every time I visit my sister. However, I have never run across the family plot for our university’s founder.

He was a doctor who donated land and money to jump start the school back in 1908. He died in 1948 and is buried in the cemetery along with his wife, parents and one child.

As we are currently making plans to celebrate our centennial, one idea is to plan some special junk out at the family plot. Therefore, I thought I should know where it is. Another university employee who has done a lot of research and work on the idea was serving water and crackers to the students who must have felt like they were on a chain gang as they were lining up next to a chain link fence, hoeing and digging up weeds by the bucket fulls, dragging them to the dump truck and sweating profusely in the 90-degree temeperatures on a very humid day. I broke a pretty good sweat just standing there watching.

By the way, who in their right mind would decide that wearing flip-flops to go out and dig up weeds and trash in the hot/humid West Texas sun would ever be a good idea? Freshmen!

Anyway ... I ran across said employee as she completed handing out bottles of water. We struck up a conversation at which point I asked her, “Will you show me Dr. John’s Web site.”

Gives a whole new meaning to “visit myspace,” doesn’t it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

petty poetry

There once was a man with a shoe.
It smelled like a big pile of poo.
He turned about,
But it knocked him out.
Thank goodness he didn't have two.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Surviving the frontier

I typically don’t like flying, although I am becoming more accustomed to it. But it’s just not natural. The only thing I dislike more than the thought of being on board a massive passenger jet as it plummets to its fiery doom is the thought of drowning in a cold, unforgiving body of water. I’ve always heard people say that drowning is a peaceful way to die, but how do they know? Have they done it?

I’m not really afraid of flying. I’m secure in my Christianity and I know that all my post-life arrangements have been taken care of. I also realize that if I’m suddenly called home to glory, I won’t have to worry about making the house payment at the end of the month. Life will be much easier when it’s over.

Still, flying is just not natural. (Unless you're a seagull)

However, when duty calls, one must answer. To this end, a co-worker and I boarded a plane for Alaska last Sunday. We had a week’s worth of work ahead of us in the northern most state, a place neither of us had been before.

The flight was relatively uneventful and the airline only lost one piece of luggage. As my co-worker was discussing this at the flight counter at 3 a.m. on a Monday morning in Fairbanks, Alaska, the lady working there pointed out that we should be happy. After all, five of our six pieces showed up. Interesting concept, but apparently she failed to realize that we really wanted all six pieces of luggage.

All in all, though, our experience was good. We ate our fill of reindeer sausage, fish and crab legs. And the fact that there was about 22 hours of sunlight a day didn’t bother us much when we turned in each night.

The scenery around Fairbanks was really interesting. From a distance, the mountains were a gorgeous, imposing image in every direction. But on further inspection … let’s just say I didn’t know that Alaska had that much swampy, marsh land.

And the trees were none too impressive. The landscape was covered with black fir trees. These were skinny, scraggly trees reaching skyward with awkwardly placed limbs and fronds. They are called black fir trees for a reason … because they are black except for some blueish-greenish fronds on the ends of their scrawny little limbs. Apparently, they are one of the few trees that will grow in that cold, marsh land.

Anchorage was a little different. There was more green greenery covering the mountains, and there was, of course, earthquakes.

At roughly 5:20 a.m. on Thursday morning I awoke to the violent shaking of my motel room. The quake nearly rattled me completely off the bed. It didn’t last long, however. By the time I realized what was going on, it was over. My co-worker got online and discovered that it was a 4.9 on the Richter scale, centered about 4 miles from where we were staying.

I can honestly say I didn’t mind the quake so much. It was no big deal. But I was angry that it woke me up so early in the morning. I’m not someone who can just crawl back in bed after I have woken up, especially when I was scheduled to be up in another hour-and-a-half anyway. The problem was that it was 5:20 a.m. on Thursday and I knew I wouldn’t see another bed until we got home at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Another thing one should know about Alaska is that every business of any type is apparently required by law to have a bear on display as you enter through the front door. Our motel in Anchorage had two. I referred to this as the “Bear in a Box” phenomenon, drawing a few chuckles from our Alaskan hosts as we sat down to lunch on Thursday afternoon.

It was at this lunch that I experienced another strange Alaskan phenomenon known to locals as chicken fried steak. Being from Texas, I know darn good and well what a chicken fried steak is. Legend has it that the western cuisine originally found its way onto the plate in Lamesa, Texas, my birth place. Being a connoisseur of this West Texas staple I decided to try the Alaskan variety to see if they do it justice.

Now … don’t get me wrong … I like sausage gravy. My mom used to make it all the time. It is a rare treat to find a restaurant that actually cooks the sausage, then makes the gravy using sausage grease. A lot of places will dump some crumbled up sausage into their already prepared gravy mix and call it sausage gravy, but we all know that is not the real deal. However, it is safe to say that sausage gravy belongs on a biscuit, not on a breaded, deep fried processed meat patty. Apparently, Alaskans are unaware of this notion. The taste sensation was somewhat unique. The mixing of the meats created a sensory overload for my taste buds. It’s not that it was bad, but I just wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be eating. But then, why would expect anything different. This was, in fact, the only time I have ever been served chicken fried steak in a bowl.

The flight home wasn't too bad. I was seated on the back row of the plane. The only seat behind me was the lavatory, a seat that saw plenty of action throughout the nearly seven hour flight. I wish someone would explain to me what the fascination is with airplane lavatories. As soon as the plane is off the ground, people are lining up for the lavatory. Flight attendants are moving serving carts one way or another to make room for the constant stream of people wandering up and down the isle in search of relief. Do these people not use the bathroom before they get on the plane? My idea of a good time is not spending seven hours on a cramped airplane eagerly anticipating my turn in the john. But maybe that’s just me.

I also understand that people flying coach are going to experience a certain level of discomfort during a seven-hour flight. The seats are cramped and there is very little leg room. And I know that people want to lean their seats back and try to relax as much as possible during the flight. However, I would like to believe that most people would be kind and gentle when they prepare to lean back, invading the personal space of the person behind them. Once again, apparently that’s just me.

I’m a little above average in height, making plane rides all the more uncomfortable. The person sitting in front of me apparently had no concern for anyone else’s needs during the flight home. As soon as the wheels left the runway, the older gentlemen slammed his seat as far back as it would go, crashing into my knees. The two people sitting next to me looked in disbelief as a pained expression crossed my face.

No apology. No explanation. No moving the seat back up even a whisker to alleviate the pressure on my joints. But that was OK. I’m sure this gentleman didn’t rest very well because I know he felt it every time I shifted in my seat. Which turned out to be quite often … you know … since the seats were so cramped and uncomfortable.

But we made it back no worse for the wear. I survived the plane flight and all of our luggage made it back, too. Which is a good thing. We will need it next week when we head for Austin.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Just one of the Girls

Girls …

We’ve all heard the stories about how some prissy young thing refuses to delve into any type of physical activity because she doesn’t want to break a nail. But you never really expect to hear someone say that. I mean, really … it’s just a literary allusion of mythical proportions, isn’t it? Especially in West Texas where little girls grow up dipping Garrett’s sweet snuff and showing livestock at the county fair. Sure, they may dress cute, but when they are pushing a hog or steer around the show ring, you realize there is nothing cute about them. They’re tough.

My last few posts have concerned the 9- and 10-year-old softball team that I was coaching with my brother-in-law. Girls, of course. We were down to the last week of the season, engulfed in tournament play. Each game was crucial. We needed to win if we wanted to keep playing.

I missed the first three games of the tournament due to a work retreat. Our girls won two of those games. After one loss, we were riding the fence. One more loss and we were out of the tournament.

After two days of brainstorming and planning with co-workers in the mountains of New Mexico, we loaded up the vehicles and headed for home, arriving in town about 45 minutes before our teams’ next scheduled game. I quickly changed into my softball duds and headed for the field.

As we were sitting in the dugout, waiting for the game, little KW walked in. This girl is quite an athlete. When the season started it was obvious that we weren’t going to have enough girls to regularly field a team, so another player basically recruited her to play for us.

KW was willing to play every position. She was fast and quick and threw the ball harder than most boys her age. There were times in practice when I would back up first base while she was at shortstop, or I would catch while she worked on her pitching. I was frightened. The girl had an unorthodox motion in which she didn’t really throw the ball, but whipped it across the diamond. Therefore, although the ball generally reached its intended target, it never got there by traveling a straight line. We eventually moved her to first base when she wasn’t pitching because our other first basemen would run away when she tried to throw them the ball. This girl wasn’t scared of anything.

After comparing our haircuts prior to a game (my spiked do was considerably shorter than her lengthy locks), I told her that I would cut her hair like mine if she didn’t pitch better. She dug in and fired off some good pitches, then looked at me and grinned. The other coach nicknamed her “Trouble” because she was inevitably giving someone fits – usually members of the other team. After every game she would run the length of the foul line doing flips, and it was her idea for the team to circle up at home plate and kick dirt on the plate in a show of team unity after every win.

She was scrappy. She was tough. She was sitting in the dugout staring at me with a look of uncertainty clouding her big brown eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Slowly she uncovered her hands and lifted them up where I could see. There, before my eyes, were perfectly symmetrical nails, gleaming with a clear coat of polish. Not a nick. Not a scratch. Perfectly manicured hands.

“I don’t want to hurt my nails,” she said.

I suddenly realized that amid all the bravado, the talk, the chatter, the steely 9-year-old eyes glaring out from under that visor, that in fact, deep down, this bastion of athletic ability was still a little girl.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A season apart

I suddenly realized that it has been a while since I have waxed eloquent … or expectorated profusely … upon the annals of the Internet. I guess you could say that I have been a little busy with my class work and coaching softball. And my job really gets in the way of the important things.

Anyway, softball is going great. Our little troopers are 6-1-1 with another big game tonight. Somehow we have managed to work our way toward the top of the league standings. I’m not real sure how this has been accomplished because Jackson and I don’t do a whole lot of coaching. Or at least it doesn’t seem that way.

Jackson has worked diligently with the pitchers and when our girls are on, there is nobody in the league that is any better. As for my role, I’ve determined that I am more of the sports psychologist. I take it upon myself to keep the team loose and focused.

We have two really good pitchers, but they tend to get a little tight when they realize there is another team waiting to hit the ball. It’s amazing how seriously they take the game. You can see the tension on their faces. They don’t want to fail. When they don’t do something exactly perfect, they look at us with big questioning eyes waiting for us to impart wisdom that, quite frankly, isn’t always there. We don’t always have the answers for why the pitch isn’t flying directly over the plate.

Our standard line is to just relax and have fun.

“Karli,” I ask, “Why are you so tight? There is no pressure out here … we’re just going to make you run extra laps if you don’t throw strikes….. Victoria, pretend that’s me behind the plate and pitch like you did in practice the other day when you were trying to hurt me.”

Our team has an interesting dynamic. We live within a predominately Hispanic society. Only two of the seven teams in our league have white coaches. Ours and one other. Of course nobody can stand the coach of the other team because he is a real pain in the rear. He is the type of guy who takes it ultra seriously. His team is there to win and nothing else is acceptable.

To say the least, his girls really don’t have that much fun. They are scared of getting yelled at if they do something wrong. Heck, the last time we played him, he yelled across the diamond at his assistant coach, a high school girl, because he thought she did something that she didn’t do. He spent the whole time complaining about how the umpires were cheating him and about how bad our girls were. We won 8-1.

We get him again tonight and I hope I just enter the game with the right attitude. I want to beat him so bad, but I have to realize that this is not about me or Jackson. This is about our girls having fun and playing hard. If we lose, so be it. Just as long as our team did its best, that is all that matters.

Now, as far as our interesting dynamic is concerned. Like I said the majority of the league is Hispanic. There a few white girls on the pain’s team, one of whom is his daughter. She is just the sweetest kid in the world. After our last game she told my wife, who was her third- and fourth-grade teacher, that she wished she played for our team. That, my friends, is a tragedy. But she saw how our girls were having fun while she and her teammates were constantly under pressure to be perfect. There is no doubt her team is very talented. They may have the most talent in the league. Their problem is that they are too uptight … a reflection of their coach’s attitudes.

Of our 11 girls, six of them are white three are Hispanic and we have the only two black girls that I have seen in the league. We had another Hispanic girl, but her parents pulled her off our team after the first game. Jackson and I got the distinct feeling that they would rather have their child playing for a Hispanic coach. That is perfectly fine with us, but it was interesting to be on this side of discrimination.

I think the cultural mix on our team is great. All of our girls get along and there are no preconceived notions or expectations placed on each other. Our girls are great, and they are smart and have a good understanding of the game.

I have often said that coaches receive way too much credit and way too much blame for how their team performs. I firmly believe that and this experience has verified that notion. There are times in the field that our girls constantly make the right decisions about where to throw the ball, what base to cover or who should be the cut-off on a throw from the outfield. These aren’t things that Jackson and I have spent much time covering in practice, but these kids are really making us look good.

It will be interesting to see how the season turns out. We have four games left, prior to the post-season tournament. I would love to see our girls win the regular season and the tournament, but I know that will be extremely difficult. The great thing about kids at this age is that they are visibly better every time they take the field. The pitching is better, the hitting is better and the fielding is better, so who knows what will happen when the teams meet for the tournament.

However, when it is all said and done, I just hope that our girls can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had fun. After all, isn’t that what sports are all about?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Game Two ...

Youth sports in America.

You never really know what to expect. Happy kids. Unhappy parents. Disgruntled coaches. Unorganized administration. Well, last week we had it all.

Jackson and I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to coaching 9- and 10-year-old girls' softball: Have Fun. This is what we try to instill in our young competitors. To this end, Jackson and I agreed that we should only practice a couple of nights a week, depending on how many games we play that week. We also agree that we shouldn't practice on Saturday or Sunday. God forbid that parents be forced to spend time with their children as opposed to pawning them off on strangers who just happen to be supervising a youth sports team. We also agree that we should keep things simple … just the basics. We aren’t going to try to turn your 10-year-old into Big-Leaguer over night.

Well, last week we had our first parental run in. We scheduled practice on Tuesday and Thursday with a game on Friday. We showed up at our usual time on Tuesday and practiced for about 30-45 minutes while storm clouds rolled into the area.

As we took a break from some fielding practice, I noticed lightning rip through the evening sky to our north. It was a good distance off, but I began to get a little concerned. Soon the low rumble of thunder rolled over us as another streak split the sky.

“Uh, Jackson,” I said. “I think we should quit.”

Another team was practicing nearby and yet another was waiting for our backstop. Those teams showed no signs of quitting because of a little lightening. I however, tend to play it safe around the forces of nature. I figure quitting practice a little early is far better than attending some 9-year-old's funeral simply because we wanted to make sure she could complete that throw to first base.

Jackson and I, along with a couple of parents, watched the clouds for a few minutes and decided it would be best to call off practice. After all, we only had five of our team members there anyway.

As Wednesday rolled around, Jackson and I discussed the weather forecast and its impending effects on Thursday’s practice. We received more than an inch of rain Tuesday night and were scheduled to get some on Thursday as well. Jackson and I made an executive decision to cancel Thursday’s practice and just encourage the girls to be at the game on Friday.

Apparently this didn’t go over well with at least one parent. It amazes me how ultra-competitive and stupid some parents can be. They think that if their child isn’t on the field for several hours every day with coaches berating them and pointing out everything they are doing wrong in an attempt to force them to get better, then their child isn’t properly benefiting from the program.

This, of course, goes against our philosophy of having fun. Heck, Jackson and I don’t even try to make the girls do every little thing correctly. We have a few things that we are focused on. We tend to think that if the girls at this age can do a couple of things correctly they will be a step ahead of the competition at the next level. Therefore, we focus on one or two things that we are trying to get our girls to do instinctively.

Well, one ultra-competitive overlord decided to pull his girl from our team. It’s a shame. She was a nice kid and she was having fun. We let her play the position she wanted to play even though we have other girls who could do a better job. The other girls, however, were happy playing other positions so we left this one where she wanted to be. Dearest mommy and daddy, however, felt that we weren’t doing enough to further her athletic career, so they called the league president and requested that their daughter be placed on another team. They specifically requested two teams, one of which we were scheduled to play on Friday night.

(Big Grin! You know where this is going, don’t you?)

Friday night rolled around. Due to the desertion and two other players not being able to attend for family reasons (divorce can really be ugly), we were left with seven girls. Jackson and I, however, were determined to get our girls a game. This is, of course, what they are here for.

The other team, coached by the league president, had no problem letting our team play with seven players. We had a full infield and only one outfielder who really enjoyed being the only player out there. She loves to run and is pretty good at it.

As mentioned in a previous post, we have been searching for a good pitcher and have found a real fire-baller who Jackson has worked with quite a bit. This girl can actually throw strikes … consecutively. That is utterly amazing for girls this age. Jackson has worked on her mechanics and at our last practice she was firing pitches on a rope. Some pitches even had a little movement on them which you never expect to see at this level.

We handed our pitcher the ball and lined up with our seven girls against their full compliment of players. Our outfielder chased down a couple of balls … our first baseman got a big hit … our third baseman made a great fielding play … and our pitcher mowed down their hitters.

In the end, our rag-tag little group of ballers walked away with a much-deserved 12-2 victory. And Jackson and I couldn’t help but grin.

Afterall, that’s good coaching.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The First Day of School

I can’t say that I actually remember any of my first days of school. Kindergarten is a hazy fog. I remember my fifth birthday because I thought I would be able to go to school the next day because obviously I was old enough. But they wouldn’t let me in. How disappointing. I can’t even remember with any clarity where we actually lived or what school I did time at for my kindergarten year. I guess I huffed too much paste in the boys’ room and killed off those weak brain cells.

I have no recollection of my first day of junior high, high school or even college. Nothing in particular really stands out about any of those days, except for the first few days of third grade that I spent disease ridden in a hospital bed.

But tomorrow … Tomorrow is the first day of graduate school. I hear stories all the time about people with a family working a full-time job and attending grad school in the evenings. I never really thought I would end up doing that myself. Had I really intended to pursue a graduate degree, I should have started immediately after finishing my baccalaureate degree. That would have been the smart thing, and that's what I tell students now if they are anticipating future education. But let’s face it, when planning a career in journalism, a graduate degree is definitely not required. Heck, a college education isn’t even a prerequisite to get a job as a reporter. (Please feel free to insert your own jokes about pinheaded journalists.)

(Dramatic music builds in the background ) But, alas, as the winds of change blow wistfully across my career paths, I sway toward the lure of higher education, reshaping my will in order to fulfill a higher calling that has been thrust upon me by fate. I must, at long last, return to the classroom where I will face the demons that lie before me in an attempt to climb the next rung on the corporate ladder. (music builds to a crescendo) After all, to advance in the field of higher education one must advance academically as well. (music fades)

OK, so my reaction might be somewhat dramatic, but how would you like to be going back to school when you're 33? It’s easy for me to sit around with college kids and rehash stories of the good old days and offer them advice about which professors to take (I work at my alma mater), and which ones to stay away from. But it’s not so easy to sit here thinking about returning to the classroom and having to take another 37 hours -- 40 if you count the leveling course.

Can I do the work? Sure. That is not the question. The questions surround the time commitment that I will have to make for the next three years. I hope to finish in two, but that may not be an option. I have to work classes around my schedule. The university will foot the bill for four classes (12 hours) a year, but if I want to finish in two years I will have to take an additional two courses, paying for the tuition out of my own pocket. Finding the classes will be easy enough. I work at our main campus and we have three other campuses within an 80 mile radius where courses are offered, as well as our virtual campus that houses all our online courses.

Yet, the fact remains that I am a moderately impatient person. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine. I will start my first class tomorrow and want to complete the whole degree within a year. After all, as a full-time student I regularly took between 30 and 35 hours a year, not counting summer terms. It’s at this point that I have to tell myself, ‘Idiot! Those weren’t graduate level courses.’

Oh well, since this first course is a leveling course (junior/senior level) I can use it to get back into the swing of things. I assume I’ll have to spend some time in the library – yuck! I never liked spending time in the library. They are always so depressingly quiet, and librarians have a tendency to be strange. But I will be better able to judge how things will work once I am back in the classroom. Then perhaps I can double up during some terms and try to finish in two years, culminating in a magnificent graduation ceremony where I will be decked out in colors.

And the most important thing about earning a graduate degree? Once you have a decorative robe, you no longer have to feel like a piece of trash wearing a Hefty bag while marching in the convocation line with all the Ph.Ds during the year’s first chapel service.

After all, we must have our goals.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Seventh Inning Stretch

There we were, standing in the dugout. The hot West Texas sun was beating down on our pale, sun-burn prone skin. There was no shade on our side of the field, but that was OK. It was the first softball game of the season and we were just excited to be there. Of course, by “we” I’m referring to myself, the other coach and the six girls who were wondering if we would have enough people to field a team.

Eventually, two more girls showed up and we knew, by rule, we were allowed to play with eight. Our young warriors warmed up on the sideline as Jackson and I penciled in a lineup and batting order.

This was it … the moment of truth. If you have never experienced 9 and 10-year-old girls softball, then you haven’t … well, I’d like to say that you haven’t lived, but that would just be blatantly incorrect. What I should say is that if you haven’t experienced 9 and 10-year-old girls softball, then you haven’t experienced 9 and 10-year-old girls softball, because quite frankly, there is nothing else like it.

The fact that I’m helping coach this team is amazing in and of itself. But then again, Jackson needed someone who knew how to keep a scorebook; something I can do in my sleep should the need ever arise. Jackson’s daughter, my niece, is on the team. He needed help coaching and apparently I was the logical choice.

For someone who generally hides when there are large or small groups of children around, coaching youth league softball isn’t exactly a dream come true. However, since it is sports related, I have been able to tolerate it so far. The kids aren’t that bad and if you can keep them busy doing stuff, they don’t really have time to annoy you. I can definitely think of worse things to do.

Anyway, the game was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was anything but. If you play pitcher or catcher in this league you see a lot of action. If you play anywhere else, you can use the time to finish your homework, check your email on your palm pilot, talk on your cell phone or brush up on your psyche-out chants if you don't feel like lugging your electronic equipment onto the field with you. This is apparently why you hear singing and chanting coming from the dugouts of high school softball teams. All those girls must have played youth league softball where they never had anything else to do.

As a sports reporter, I once talked to a high school softball player and applauded her and her teammates for not being like every other team in the state which found it necessary to rattle off those annoying sing-songy chants throughout the entire game. She agreed, thinking it was kind of stupid.

At her next game, however, the team decided to start chanting. I was sitting near the dugout taking pictures and keeping a score book. When I heard the sudden noise I looked over at her, giving her one of those “what-the-heck” kind of looks. To her credit she was not taking part in the singing. She returned my gaze then promptly turned around and told her teammates to stop it because it was embarrassing. I had to like that girl.

At our Tuesday evening game, however, our young kids had nothing better to do since the game really didn’t involve them. They worked on their songs and chants while watching the grass grow in the outfield. The pitcher and catcher tossed the ball back and forth in a failed attempt to get the other team out.

All-in-all it was a stunning tale of inadequacy as the two teams combined to score 17 runs on 2 hits in two innings of play. The game was called when the time limit expired.

That’s right, 17 runs (we lost 9-8) on 2 hits. There were a grand total of 27 bases on balls issued. Neither team managed to get three outs in any particular inning. Due to league rules you are only allowed a certain number of batters per inning. When that number had batted, the inning was over.

To our credit, our team got both hits. And our pitcher did manage to strike out a couple of batters in the second inning, but walking 27 batters doesn’t make for exciting softball.

Needless to say, at practice today, our girls are going to work on pitching.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What's in a name

Well, I have finally decided to take the plunge. I am returning to the classroom in search of that elusive master’s degree. I have kicked around the idea for several years but continued to have hang-ups concerning what degree to pursue.

My undergraduate degree is in communications. Let’s face it, working in the communications field is not that difficult. While it helps to have a degree it is not required. And furthermore, a graduate degree in communications will do little good unless you want to teach in that field.

My other option was along the same lines – a master’s degree in education. Once again I don’t really want to teach, but I could have specialized in English and taught creative writing or something like that at a high school level. Lord knows an alarmingly large number of high school students definitely need a little help learning how to write. Some are quite eloquent. Others, however, couldn't write the sentence “See Spot run” if you spotted them “see” and “run.”

There is another big drawback to pursuing a master’s degree in education at my university, dealing with certain personnel issues. I don’t think I would be able to stomach taking classes from certain individuals. I'll just leave it at that.

But I had an epiphany the other day as I sat in a small office in our business building. Our virtual campus is housed in the business building and I was talking with the director of the VC when the Division Chair of our business department wandered in.

At this point I have to side track to tell you the name of the Division Chair. I promise you that this is absolutely, positively, 100 percent true. I could not make this up no matter how hard I tried.

Our Division Chair is a military man complete with short, cropped hair and demanding demeanor, although he is very good natured and has a good sense of humor. He grew up in a small town 20 miles east of here and was always known by his middle name – Brian or Byron or something like that. It wasn’t until he stood before a large congregation of students at Texas A&M University as a freshman that he realized how humorous his name really is. Our budding young Division Chair was required to stand before this large group and introduce himself. As he walked up on stage, he decided to use his name as it appeared on all of his official documents. This proud, young, military man stood before the group and introduced himself as Otto. B. Schacht. (last name pronounced Shot). To top it off, he married a woman named Madonna.

Needless to say this man is good for a story or two.

Anyway as we were talking I suddenly realized that a degree in management would be perfect for me. I have since checked on all the criteria and will soon be registered to pursue a master’s of art in management.

Of course, I just want to be known on all my official documents as Jonathan R. Petty, MAM.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cool kid

Isn't she cool?

My daughter is a regular little fashionista. I don't really know if "fashionista" is a word, but that is the way I describe her. She has a definite sense of style, be it wearing cowboy boots with a miniskirt, or matching her shoes and hair ribbons. She does an excellent job for a 6-year-old.

She obviously loves pink, but has been known to wear other colors. A while back she decided she wanted to wear her black mini skirt. I said OK as long as she picked out some other clothes to go with it. She came back with black shoes, black tights and a black long-sleeve t-shirt with a pink lace spider emblazoned on the front. She showed them to me and asked if they would go good together. Even I knew enough to say yes.

Once she was all decked out with her hair fixed the way she wanted it (she's good about telling us if she wants a pony tail, dog ears, half pony tail or leave it down) she looked at herself in the mirror and said, "(Aunt) Rachel would like this outfit."

I wonder what she'll be like when she's a teenager.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Because I have nothing better to say

Accent: Texan/southern. It has gotten worse over the years. When I was in college and spent a lot of time working in radio; I had very little accent. I had taken classes on pronunciation and things like that. I actually enjoyed speaking properly. But, alas, I fell off the annunciation wagon and am drowning in my cultural norm.

Booze: No thanks. Voluntarily tried a sip of non-alcoholic beer once and it was disgusting. I managed to make it through college without drinking which was quite an accomplishment since my roommates and friends “tied one on” every once in awhile.

Chore I hate: Mopping. I wish someone would invent self-cleaning floors.

Dog or Cat: Cat. Two in fact, Bogey and Bacall.

Essential Electronics: Television/DVD player

Favorite Cologne: I’ve never been all that interested in cologne. I currently use Old Spice body spray, however. Glacial Falls is my favorite.

Gold or Silver: Unfortunately, silver does not work with my coloring, so I have to go with gold, although I am currently wearing a silver watch and a silver chain. But I could never pull off silver framed glasses. They just look bad on me.

Hometown: I was born in “The Table,” but I don’t really have a hometown. I guess I claim wherever I am currently living as my hometown.

Insomnia: Only when I can’t sleep. Just kidding. I have never really suffered from insomnia. For some reason, I have always been able to successfully shut off my brain. And of course, some may say that is its constant state.

Job Title: Assistant Director of Communications. Only because a few years ago someone thought “communications” was more politically correct than “public relations.” I personally tell people that I am a professional butt kisser. I earned my B.A. in B.S.

Kids: One 6-year-old girl. She’s growing up too fast. She will graduate from kindergarten in a few weeks. Of course I tend to agree with Mr. Incredible on his assessment of elementary school graduations … “They keep finding new ways to celebrate mediocrity.”

Living Arrangements: I own my home (sort of) where I live with my wife and child. My wife wants another kid, but I don’t. I tell people we have a very expensive form of birth control … it’s called a two bedroom house.

Most admirable trait: **Gee, I have so many!** I don’t know if it’s admirable, but it’s fun. I consider myself and “equal opportunity insulter.” I pick on everybody from superiors to subordinates. Punching peoples’ buttons is a hobby of mine.

Number of sexual partners: One … but don’t tell my wife … and why are you asking anyway?

Overnight stays in the hospital: One. I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 7 years old. I gave myself my first shot. By my estimation, I have given myself more than 21,000 shots since then. “Look, Ma! No track marks!”

Phobias: Scared of heights and small cramped spaces. So you can imagine that I’m not a big fan of flying. It’s just not natural.

Quote: See Mr. Incredibles' quote above about "celebrating mediocrity."

Religion: Christian

Siblings: None of consequence. But I do have an older sister. I tell people my parents quit when they finally got it right.

Time I wake up: 6 a.m. weekdays and no later than 7:30 on the weekends. I get a back ache if I lay in bed too long. Plus the 6-year-old is a pretty good weekend alarm clock. She has to have her Saturday morning McDonald’s.

Unusual talent or skill: I can wiggle my eyes back and forth really quickly. I have never met anyone else that can do that, so I don’t know what it looks like. I would try to do it in a mirror, but I can’t really see anything when I do it. I’ve been told it looks weird.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Onions. Vile, filthy, abomination of the vegetable kingdom

Worst habit: I bite my nails

Yummy foods I make: I make really good steak burritos of my own design. No onions, though.

Zodiac sign: Scorpio.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Somebody wet my pants

You know you are in West Texas when you walk into a room and the only topic of conversation is the rain, and you experience the childlike exuberance with which those participating embrace the topic.

Needless to say, it rained here this afternoon ... a much needed rain. There was a nice, slow sprinkle falling when I left my office for lunch. Just enough to dampen the atmosphere and make the ceramic tile in our entry way extremely slick. This is always entertaining since I work in the building where old folks with money come to leave donations. We just hope they fall on the way out after they have already dropped off their checks.

Coming back from lunch, the rain had all but stopped. I had an appointment in the science building on the other side of the campus, which for our small campus is roughly the equivalent of four city blocks. I decided to walk and breathe in the fresh air.

Upon leaving the science building, there was still barely a sprinkle. I thought I would head over the gymnasium to pick up some information from a couple of coaches. The gym is sort of on the way back to my office, if you take the circuitous route and sneak up on my building from behind, but it is still at least three blocks from the science building.

I hike to the Hutch through the damp afternoon air, watching the grass turn green before my very eyes. I spend about an hour in the gymnasium talking to various head coaches, one of whom was just named golf coach of the year in our region. That’s fairly significant since four of the top eight teams (including us) in the country are in our region.

As I polish off the interview and gently place my notepad and recorder in my pocket to protect it from the dampness and head back up stairs and toward the outer doors, I suddenly remember what this part of the world is famous for during this time of year … momentary torrential downpours.

… and I got wet.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

To hum? Or not to hum?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you suddenly realize that you are in public, doing something that could be potentially embarrassing? I had such a moment yesterday while traipsing through Wal Mart after supper.

The moment was conceived Tuesday evening as I watched a few minutes of American Idol. Why I would ever admit to this in a public forum baffles me, but nothing else was on and I had a headache and didn’t feel like doing anything constructive with my time. Anyway, for some unknown reason, one of the songs periodically raced through my moderately uncluttered brain all day Wednesday.

However, making your way to the fitting rooms, where your wife is helping your daughter try on some new pants, by walking through the women’s underwear area is probably not the best time or place one should be overheard humming or whistling the tune to Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls.”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Time for a meme

I stole this from another blog. I just thought I'd throw it out here for the heck of it.

1) Who is the last person you high-fived? My daughter last night at supper.
2) If you were drafted into a war, would you survive? Probably not. I would get tired of waiting for the know-it-alls to figure everything out and would eventually try to do it all on my own.
3) Do you sleep with the TV on? Only when napping.
4) Have you ever drunk milk straight out of the carton? Yes.
5) Have you ever won a spelling bee? On.
6) Have you ever been stung by a bee? No, but I have been stung by wasps several times.
7) How fast can you type? I haven’t timed myself since high school, but I imagine it is faster than the 30 words a minute I could do then.
8) Are you afraid of the dark? Only when I’m scared.
9) Eye color – Sometimes blueish, sometimes greenish.
10) Have you ever made out at a drive-in? No.
11) When is the last time you chose a bath over a shower? Never. I only take a bath if a shower is not an option.
12) Do you knock on wood? All the time.
13) Do you floss daily? No, but I knock on wood, so my teeth are safe.
14) What happened to question #14? I don’t know, but this is how it read when I stole it off of someone else’s blog.
15) Can you hula hoop? The convex nature of my abdomen is not conducive to the curvature of the hoop.
16) Are you good at keeping secrets? Yes … well, the important ones.
17) What do you want for Christmas? A concave abdomen.
18) Do you know the Muffin Man? Yes, I snacked on his immediate family early last week.
19) Do you talk in your sleep? No.
20) Who wrote the book of love? Never read the book. I went straight to the Cliff’s Notes.
21) Have you ever flown a kite? In West Texas, you don’t fly kites … you kind of throw one up there and hang on for the ride.
22) Do you wish on your fallen lashes? No.
23) Do you consider yourself successful? Somewhat.
24) How many people are on your contact list of your cell? Five. However, I carry a small contact card in my wallet with several more phone numbers on it.
25) Have you ever asked for a pony? Not that I remember.
26) Plans for tomorrow? Work, then take my daughter to McDonald’s for supper since my wife will be out of town.
27) Can you juggle? As a matter of fact, yes I can.
28) Missing someone now? No, I found them all yesterday.
29) When was the last time you told someone I Love You? This morning.
30) And truly meant it? This morning.
31) How often do you drink? Whenever I’m thirsty, but never alcohol.
32) How are you feeling today? Partly cloudy.
33) What do you say too much? I try to maintain a certain level of eloquence with my conversational skills, refraining from repetition of colloquialisms or phrases.
34) Have you ever been suspended or expelled from school? No. But don’t ask me if I should have.
35) What are you looking forward to? Saturday.
36) Have you ever crawled through a window? Yes. But only because I locked myself out of the house.
37) Have you ever eaten dog food? No. But my sister has.
38) Can you handle the truth? I prefer the truth.
39) Do you like green eggs and ham? Of course.
40) Any cool scars? I have a small scar on my left index finger that I got while wrapping a Christmas present for my grandmother when I was but a wee child. We bought her kitchen knifes.

Now it's your turn. I expect full disclosure.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Didn't Jesus blow up parliament?

I saw an interesting movie last week. While on our mini-vacation, the wife and I ditched the offspring and headed out for dinner and a movie. Since my wife went shopping earlier in the day I was allowed to choose the movie. And what should a self-respecting, red-blooded, American male choose? … V for Vendetta, of course.

The movie is based on a graphic novel, or glorified comic book if you will. It is about a “terrorist” who decides it is time to stand up against the oppressive government. I didn’t know much about the movie going in. I had just seen a few commercial trailers and thought the guy wearing the mask and black cape looked really cool wielding his vast array of cutlery.

On the way into the theatre, I took a quick peak at the movie poster on which was a picture of the anti-hero with the statement “People should not fear their government; governments should fear their people.” Interesting concept.

As the movie plays, it is made clear that V, the title character, is not a person, but an idea and as he says, “People die, but ideas never do,” or something along those lines. V is fighting against an oppressive British government of the future that strikingly resembles Hitler’s Nazi regime of the past.

Not to give too much away, but the movie ends with British Parliament being blown to pieces as V’s idea spreads throughout the masses. It is clear that V is not a person, but he is every person.

It was a great movie. I obviously don’t condone blowing up the government. That would just be stupid. But at some point we all have to take a stand for what we believe is right. If that means bucking the status quo, then so-be-it.

However, as I was channel surfing Monday evening I ran across a know-it-all politico who was lashing out against the movie. It was so pathetically obvious that he was a conservative, right-wing Republican spewing rhetoric concerning the liberal Hollywood media. He talked about how horrible the movie was and what kind of bad message it is sending to high school and college students everywhere. He admitted that he sat through it with his two boys … at which point I was thinking, ‘Idiot! Why did you take your boys? It’s obviously not a movie for children.’

Then this faux genius said something that just blew me away … “This movie says that blowing up Parliament is good and Christianity is bad.” I think my brain stopped working for a moment in an attempt to connect with this man on his level.

I couldn’t believe that those words actually fell out of his mouth. I was stunned that he could even begin to draw that conclusion from this movie. It had nothing to do with Christianity. The only thing obviously religious about the film was the fact that one of the people V was after was a church bishop who had apparently strayed from his religious vows. There was no discussion of Christianity in any way, shape, form or fashion. There are some religious overtones as far as martyrdom and sacrifice are concerned, but in no way does this movie portray Christianity in a negative light of any kind.

It is a story about a man who represents everyone, fighting against government leaders who are oppressive and wrong in the way they treat people. He spends his time fighting small battles while cultivating followers and telling them the truth in order to get them to understand until the final climax through which there is a rebirth of the vision and ideals for which he has sacrificed.

Huh … Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I wonder if mister religious right had read any of his Bible lately.

A golfing we shall go

Spring Break. You can always count on the weather to change around here during Spring Break. Last year, we got six inches of snow. This year we had to settle for rain. It was much-needed rain, however, so no one is really complaining.

My goal during Spring Break was to play a few rounds of golf. I originally had anticipated getting in three rounds, but windy, cold weather on Wednesday morning put a quick end to that.

On Thursday, we left for the in-laws. We headed out early in order to make good time. It is nearly a six hour drive and we needed to be there by noon. We stopped for breakfast about an hour down the road where we ran into Spooky and her crew. They were headed the opposite direction on I-40. After a quick bite to eat, it was back in the van and down the road.

We reached my in-laws in pretty good shape and immediately … before I even unloaded the van … my father-in-law, brother-in-law and myself grabbed our clubs and headed for the golf course. I knew it would be an interesting round because I had just spent six hours driving. There’s no real way to loosen up while buckled into a bucket seat, speeding down the highway.

I was right. My golf game started off blazing. I birdied the first hole and parred the second. After two holes, I was 1-under par and three strokes up on the pseudo dad who is generally a much better golfer than I am. That is when things changed. I suddenly remembered that I completely suck at golf. I triple bogied the next hole and things just went down hill from there.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, I wasn’t alone. None of us were playing particularly well that day. In fact, I won a hole with a nine. My father-in-law scored a 10 after hitting two balls out of bounds and my brother-in-law quit the hole before finishing, forcing him to take one more stroke than the worst score … an 11. Golf can be an ugly game. I think some people wear funny looking pants and gaudy shirts just to take away from the fact that their golf game is so ugly.

The next day, my father-in-law and I played a different course. I didn’t have any pars or birdies, but all-in-all I played better. Most of my score card consisted of bogey or double-bogey. There were only three holes which were worse than that.

And while I didn’t win the game either day, nor did I come close to breaking 90, golf is a game that always gives you just enough to keep you coming back for more. After all, I was the only one to birdie a hole during the two days.

I wonder if I can sneak out to the course this weekend …

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Breaking the Spring

Aaaahhhh! Spring Break!
And what exactly does that mean? It means I sit here at my desk with little or nothing to do. The few miniscule jobs that I do have to accomplish can’t really get done because the people I need to talk to are not on campus. The students have disappeared as well, so things really get boring around here. Not to mention that basketball season has ended and the few weeks post basketball are always the most depressing time of the year for me.

However, I am only working two days this week. I decided to take the rest of the week off to spend some extra time with the family. My mini-vacation begins on Wednesday morning. I am getting up at the crack of dawn and heading out to the golf course where I expect to get my rear end waxed by a local math professor. He doesn’t have to work at all this week because the faculty gets spring break off. Faculty …. Thhhpppptt! Just wait until I start spreading rumors about him being into rear-end waxing.

After losing miserably to the Ph.D., I will load the family in the van and we will make the five and a half hour drive to Norman, Okla., to visit the in-laws, where I will no doubt get my hind quarters whipped again on the golf course by my father-in-law.

It’s tough being a golfer. Actually I don’t claim to be a golfer, I just tell people that I enjoy an occasional walk in the park. But, alas, I have taken up a hobby for which I am not well-suited.

It’s tough because I am an ultra-competitive person. I am not a sore loser and I am not a poor winner. I don’t run around and gloat (excessively) when I beat people at things, and I don’t sit in a corner and sulk when I perform poorly. However, I hate losing. I have learned to deal with it because I am a bad golfer.

The sad thing is, the only real competition you have on the golf course is yourself. It’s not like the other guys are playing defense. It’s just you, your club and some dimpled little ball that laughs maniacally as sails out of bounds. But what does it say when you are such a bad golfer that you can’t even beat yourself?

Well, I’ll have fun trying. I might be able to get in as many as three rounds of golf this week. I don’t think I’ve ever played three rounds in one week. I can’t afford it. The stupid game costs way too much. And then you have to buy all the special equipment: gloves, shoes, clubs, balls (because I always seem to lose mine), tees and whatever else you think might improve your game.

To be perfectly honest, however, I don’t wear golf shoes and I still play with the first set of clubs I ever bought. They cost me $75 used and I got them when I was in college so many years ago. I can’t bring myself to invest in the new technology which would supposedly improve my game. I tell people I’m not good enough to justify spending that much money on the sport. Of course, if I spent that much money, I might be a little bit better.

Oh well, I just try to swing easy, hit it straight and keep my goal simple: 90 … all I want to do is break 90. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How uncouth

You will sink in a mire. You like to think you're

normal, but deep down you really just want to

strip off your clothes and roll around in

chicken fat.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, March 06, 2006

Happy Birthday

“Daddy,” she said. In recent weeks, she has gone from calling her parents Mama and Da-da to mommy and daddy. “You have to say ‘Happy Birthday to me!’”

“Happy Birthday to me,” I replied.

Amidst the chaos that ensued as she tried to explain how I had misunderstood her statement, I managed to get a hug and wish the offspring Happy Birthday. My 5-year-old teenager turns 6 today.

We had her birthday party yesterday, but it has been made quite evident to us that today will likewise be a day of celebration. She has made a point to tell her teachers and anyone else at school that her birthday is on March 6. She is fully expecting to be wished “Happy Birthday!” during the morning announcements. Mommy is bringing cupcakes to the class later today, and tonight, it has been requested that we dine a Chili’s so she can have Kraft Macaroni and Cheese served in a fancier bowl than what we have at home. She also wants us to tell them that today is her birthday and she is expecting them to sing to her.

Six years seems like a long time, but the years have flown by. The offspring loves to reminisce about being born and how her toes were cute. She talks about being shown to mommy and being washed and cleaned by the doctors. She remembers that Mimi and Papa and Mamaw and Papaw were all there as well as aunts and uncles and other friends.

That’s quite a memory on the girl, but even her memory isn’t perfect. She still has questions about the day she was born. As we drove to a pizza joint after her party yesterday, the youngster piped up from the back seat …

“Daddy,” she asked, “did you like me when I was a baby?”

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Everyone needs attention

This has been an unusually busy week for me – and it’s only Wednesday. This weekend is homecoming at the old alma mater so that will keep me a little busy, but it won’t be too bad. Most of my stuff will involve athletic activities which I enjoy anyway.

But early this week – like yesterday – I was busy with other activities. It was TAKS testing day in Texas and for those of you who know, the TAKS test is one of the most moronic, idiotic, imbecilic excuses for a government regulated exam that anyone could have come up with.

I can just see the unintelligent legislator who happened across this idea … “Let’s take our entire education system, boil it down into one test and force our children at threat of life, limb and well being to complete this test that doesn’t even make sense to the adults who look at it. And furthermore, everything that every teacher in the entire state of Texas does or says throughout the course of a school year is based solely on the outcome of this one test. And whether or not they are competent enough to teach shall be determined by how some uncaring, degenerate of a third grader performs.”


Anyway, Tuesday was TAKS day which means all the kids in kindergarten, who surprisingly do not have to take the test, need to be shipped out of the school so they won’t disturb those who are taking the test.

My 5-year-old teenager, being of kindergarten age, was being shipped to the metropolitan area 45 miles south to take part in a tour of the Science Spectrum.

I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany my child. Parents of various children went on the trip and were asked to be responsible for children as they toured the facility and played with the various science experiment type stuff.

Everyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy the company of small children. Those who don’t know me should understand that I have been barred by my wife from ever becoming an elementary school teacher because my idea of discipline is to take the first youngster who acts up in a class, bleed him, hang him in the corner and let him drip. I guarantee the rest of the students will behave accordingly for the entire year. Unfortunately, some people would look unkindly on my methods of discipline and might even consider them somewhat extreme.

As we entered the Science Spectrum I noticed that the students in my daughter’s class had selected buddies for the day. My child’s buddy was a young girl who is known to be a trouble maker. My child, God bless her, has chosen to befriend this girl because many of the other students want nothing to do with her.

Therefore, the students I was responsible for were my daughter and her friend. The assistant teacher looked at me apologetically when asking if I would take responsibility for her.

I said I would and you know what? I didn’t have a single problem with her. It was simply a matter of proper communication.

Sure, she got a little rambunctious at times but when she threatened to hit me I calmly looked her in the eye and explained that if she it me, it was only fair that I get to hit her back. When she was bothering me at another point, I told her that if she didn’t stop it, I was going to pull her hair.

“No you won’t,” she challenged.

“Yes I will,” I said matter of factly.

“But I’m just a kid,” she said.

“So,” I replied. “That’s still no excuse to be mean to me. Therefore, if you are mean to me, I am going to be mean to you.”

Apparently she had never had an adult, much less an adult male, explain things to her. Perhaps she doesn’t have much structure in her life. I didn’t get mad at her. I didn’t yell at her. I calmly just told her what I was going to do and made her believe it.

At other times, if she started to get a little wild, I would simply change the subject and talk to her about other things. She would participate in the conversation and would refrain from acting up.

I had no problem with her and all in all we had a pretty good day. As we sat through a movie in the Science Spectrum’s Omniplex, she fell asleep while leaning against my arm. And she even made sure to run over and give me a hug before they loaded the bus to go back to school.

Although I typically cringe at the thought of being around children who don’t belong to me, I also kind of feel sorry for those kids who aren’t given a chance. Everyone expects her to be a trouble maker when really, she isn’t a bad kid. She just needs someone to pay attention to her.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Toughest girl in the 14th grade

There are several reasons I prefer women’s athletics to men’s. One reason is the simple fact that in post-game interviews, girls can generally form complete sentences. A little over a year ago, I interviewed a player for a game preview I was working on for the local paper. When asked what the team needed to work on, she replied, “We need to work on our defense and taking care of the ball. But we are getting there, progressively.”

Simply adding that word “progressively” changed that from a typical jock sentence into a prime example of what differentiates female athletes from men in most cases. I mean, when is the last time you heard a jock use any word that is more than two syllables? Much less, use it correctly.

Another reason I enjoy women’s athletic is because they are less like to showboat, show off, gloat or any of the other crap that ticks me off. I can’t stand all that extra curricular garbage that guys, for some reason, think makes them look cool. Their team may be down by 20 points, but if one of them dunks the ball they have to tug on their jersey, play to the crowd or make some sort of hand gesture that nobody understands as they perform their various renditions of the “look-at-me” dance.

I will admit that I have seen women do the same thing, but on a much lesser scale. And when women do it, it’s really stupid. But for the most part, the female athletes celebrate with simple high 5s for a teammate, or they just run back and play defense.

The same can be said for injuries. Guys always play it up, looking for sympathy. One of my biggest pet peeves is when an athlete supposedly gets hurt, wallows around on the floor like he is dying, takes an extended period of time getting up and then has to be helped off the floor only to return to the game after a few minutes. I literally told a high school athlete one day after witnessing such an incident that if I ever saw him do that I was going to personally kick his hind quarters. That young man went on to play basketball for Bob Knight at Texas Tech University and to the best my knowledge never did anything like that.

Female athletes typically don’t do that. Unfortunately, I have seen some serious injuries at which time the athlete is lying on the court in pain and has to be carried off. But those were legitimate injuries, not a jammed finger or ingrown toenail. For the most part, female athletes would prefer to get off the floor and deal with the minor injuries somewhere else.

Case in point: Last Saturday our women’s basketball team was playing against the No. 10 ranked team in the country. Our team has been struggling through conference play this year, but the young ladies valiantly took the court.

Midway through the second half, a sophomore guard who had just been reinserted into the game waved at the coaches to take her out. Not understanding why she had tired so quickly the coaches sent a player to check in for her. However, since there was no apparent rush, this player stayed in the game and continued to play hard for another trip down the court.

When the whistle finally blew to stop play, this young lady made her way over the bench, looking at her hand. The pinky finger on her left hand was sticking out sideways at an angle. She looked at her finger, looked at her coach and said, “I think it’s broken.”

On Tuesday, the young lady had surgery to repair the finger that had not only broken, but had twisted. Needless to say, she will miss several weeks while the finger heals. For some reason, healthy hands are key when playing basketball.

But as she played on with a broken finger and then came off the court, there was not a complaint, not a whimper, no wallowing around on the floor or jumping up and down at mid-court wanting everyone in the gymnasium to "look at her" … she just kept playing.

Tough kid, and that’s why I appreciate women’s athletics.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I stole this from mi hermana, Spooky.

1) When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought? Huh.
2) How much cash do you have on you? $1.05 all in dimes and nickels – just in case I need a coke at the bookstore later today.
3) What's a word that rhymes with TEST? vest.
4) Planet? Neptune.
5) Who is the fourth person on your missed calls? I don’t miss calls, I just don’t answer the phone.
6) What is your favorite ring on your phone? Whichever one doesn’t sound like everybody else’s.
7) What shirt are you wearing? An off-white polo style with the university logo on it.
8) What do you label yourself as? Right! (as in correct not conservative. Although I am conservative. I’m just not right-wing conservative except on the third Tuesday of every month.)
9) Name the brand of shoes you've recently worn. Ummm... I have no idea. They were brown? (stole the answer from Spooky, also.)
10) Bright room or dark room? Dark or dim. It’s better for doing graphic work on the computer.
11) What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping.
12) What did the last text message on your phone say? Oh Please, I have better things to do than type on a telephone keypad.
13) Where is your nearest 7-11? Big Flat City, 45 miles south of here. (Again, same as Spooky’s, but we do have other convenience stores in the area.)
14) What's a saying you say a lot? I have no catch phrases. I try to vary my responses to things.
15) Who told you they loved you last? Wife.
16) Last furry thing you touched? Ghost kitty.
17) How many drugs have you done in the past three days? Let’s see … I shoot up three times a day and take one pill. Throw in that allergy medicine I took last night and I’m all good.
18) How many rolls of film do you need to get developed? Two, although I doubt that they are still good. I think I have had them around since I graduated from college roughly 10 years ago.
20) Your worst enemy? Stupid people … or administrators who are pathetically slow about doing anything other than holding uneventful meetings.
21) What is your current desktop picture? A picture of a small castle in Ireland. The photo was taken by a former student I know who went there on a study tour last summer.
22) What was the last thing you said to someone? "...I’m not sure who is supposed to pay for that pregnancy ad!"
23) If you had to choose between a millions bucks and being able to fly, which would you choose? Flying. If I could fly, I’d make a million bucks as the star of a freak show, or as a professional basketball player, or by saving money on gas.
24) Do you like someone? Yes. (Whew, that was a tough one.)
25) The last song you listened to? Theme music from The Incredibles. I watched it with the 5-year-old last night.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bless the little cheerleaders

Have you ever caught yourself saying something you never thought you would say?

I found myself in this very situation the other day.

I love sports. I played sports in high school. Made a living for several years as a sports editor of various newspapers and currently maintain a close relationship with a few coaches and teams at the university where I work.

Throughout this time, however, I have found one constant in my opinion … cheerleaders are worthless. They don’t really pay attention to the game and very often have to ask the person next to them how to spell G-O for the next chant they are planning. Even as a strapping young lad in high school, I never really paid attention to the cheerleaders. Quite frankly, I thought the athletes had much more going for them.

Needless to say, I have little use for cheerleaders who typically don’t lead cheers anyway. They do their little flips and gyrations during timeouts, but the real cheerleading comes from the athletes on the bench who actually know what’s going on in the game.

And I have no problem telling cheerleaders this. Last year, we had a student worker in our office who was a cheerleader and I constantly made fun of her. She was a good kid, though, and took it well. I did tell her I might have to change my outlook on cheerleaders after dealing with her for year. A current member of our Sunday school class is an ex-cheerleader. I haven’t really made fun of her, though. Her husband still plays for the basketball team. He’s bigger than me and has really sharp elbows. But they are both nice kids, too.

Back to my point … my 5-year-old teenager has stated for several years now that she wants to be a cheerleader. This hurts my heart. I try to get her to hang out with the athletes as much as possible and her babysitter, whom she adores, is even a basketball player. But that doesn’t change the stubborn offspring’s mind when asked what she wants to do.

“I want to be a cheerleader!”

Well, our church started a youth basketball league last year and this year expanded that league to include cheerleading. You know, it’s one of those leagues where people don’t keep score at the games because you just want the kids to have fun. That, my friends, is another huge soap box altogether.

Anyway, my youngster wanted to join the cheerleading along with her other little friends, so my wife and I decided to give it a shot. We paid the fee and collected the little outfit complete with pom-poms, a megaphone and weekly Bible verses that are way too long and have little to do with the day-to-day life a 5-year-old. (Another soap box).

Being the good father, I decided to support my child in this endeavor. Last week, I loaded up my camera and headed out for the games with cheerleader extraordinaire in tow. I snapped away while the little nugget cheered her heart out.

At one point, after a timeout, my daughter leaned over to me and said …

“Da-da, do you like this game?”

“No,” I replied. “I’m just here to watch the cheerleaders.”

Monday, January 09, 2006

KD and the broken nose

I slowly walked into the gym.

I was a little early for my 2 p.m. appointment with the men’s basketball coach, so I decided to watch the women’s team practice for a while. It had been two days since a humiliating beat-down at the hands of a conference opponent and I wanted to see how the young ladies were reacting.

Now you must understand, being a man approaching his mid-30s, 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, there aren’t many things that make me go “eeewwww!” And certainly, a group of college basketball players running up and down the court generally doesn’t fit into that category, aside from dodging a pair of sweaty socks that were thrown at me one day. But that is another story altogether.

Today, however, was different.

Standing on the sidelines was one of the starting guards still decked out in street clothes as her teammates pounded the hardwood under the scrutiny of their coach. You see, while the team took it on its proverbial chin the preceding Saturday, this young lady took it on the nose – literally. A sophomore, roughly 5-foot-8 and 100-and-nothing pounds dripping wet, this young lady plays much tougher than she looks. She is not afraid to take the ball to the basket among the bigger, stronger players, and has suffered a few injuries.

On Saturday, however, a trip to the backboard landed her in the hospital. As the team was hoping to claw back into the game shortly after halftime, this young lady crashed the boards looking for a rebound. All she found, however, was the heel of her teammates hand as it came crashing down across the bridge of her nose. After the 10-count, play was stopped to attend to the injury.

The coaches and trainers rushed to the court, as the young lady lay on her back clutching her face. Although I knew she had been hit in the nose, it was difficult to really tell what the injury was because there was not a drop of blood anywhere on the court.

She was helped off the court and taken to the training room where a doctor looked at her and diagnosed that she had indeed broken her nose.

Two days later, she stood on the edge of the court cheering her teammates as they worked. I walked across the gym floor to where she was standing. If I hadn’t known better I never would have guessed she had a broken nose. There was a little swelling, but very little bruising or discoloration. Her pettite glasses rested carefully on the bridge of her nose, giving her a rather studious look as she surveyed the court.

“Hey, girl,” I said as she turned toward me. “Way to take a punch.”

She smiled as we began to discuss the injury and her impending treatment. It turns out that she is going to be fitted for a face mask and then play the rest of the season. In her words, she wasn’t even going to miss a game. The coach, however, is going to wait for the doctor’s clearance before he allows her back on the court.

Due to the way her nose was broken, it was impossible for doctor to set it without minor surgery. However, if she plays the rest of the season the nose will heal itself slightly out of position, although no one would notice by looking at her.

She explained that after the season, the doctor will have to break her nose again and set it properly. This, of course, sent shudders down my spine, but she said she could handle it as long as they knock her out first.

As we continued our conversation I told her I was amazed at the lack of bruising and overall appearance. I've seen broken noses before and many times they are accompanied by a pair of black eyes.

“… And I can’t believe it didn’t bleed,” I said.

“I know,” she agreed. “The doctor looked at it and said there was definitely blood in there, but it had been stopped up.”

“That’s kind of weird,” I said, wondering how you stop a major nose bleed without even trying. I mean, I’ve woken up on dry winter mornings and have done little more than sit up in bed and my nose starts bleeding.

As I contemplated the strangeness of the situation and how the blood flow could collect without ever releasing, I wasn't really prepared for what she said next.

“Yeah,” she said. “But this morning I had a really big sneeze ……….


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Over the river and through the woods

The holidays are over and it’s back to work. Surprisingly, I was ready to return to a semblance of normalcy after a rather hectic week in which my wife, child and I visited both sets of grandparents, opened a lot of presents, ate too much food, got too little sleep, circumvented grass fires, drove through a snow storm, crossed the continental divide, dodged a few deer, worked in a round of golf, watched a few basketball games, nearly fell off a mountain, drove 2,189 miles and spent $245 on gas.

Was it worth it? Absolutely … except perhaps the part about nearly falling off a mountain.

After spending Christmas weekend in Norman, Okla., with my in-laws, we loaded the van and headed west for Grand Junction, Colo., where our college basketball team was playing a few games. We apparently got out of the Oklahoma City area just before the fires started on Tuesday.

The drive to Grand Junction was uneventful and gorgeous as we followed highway 50 through Colorado which runs alongside the Arkansas River for several miles. The drive through Gunnison was gorgeous as the snow-covered mountains overlooked the frozen lake.

My daughter kept asking if we were “stuck,” or “driving in circles” since we crossed the lake several times as we wound through the mountains.

We made it to Grand Junction with no trouble at all where we watched the basketball team play a couple of games. The team played really well even though it lost one of the two games.

My favorite player played great. I didn’t really get to tell her that prior to leaving Friday, because we were in a hurry to get on the road, but I’ll make it a priority to point out to her that I thought she played great over the weekend. She boosted her scoring average by more than a point and played solid defense. She also didn't make any big mistakes which has always been one of her strengths as a player.

The final game finished around 8 p.m. (Texas time) on Friday night. I knew the bus was returning home that night, so I had made plans to leave after the game as well. We were heading different directions because the family and I had to drive farther south and decided to cut across New Mexico.

While the bus had a rather uneventful return trip, aside from the stench of a loaded restroom tank and one player’s illness, our trip was far more taxing.

We had to dodge a herd of deer on a two-lane highway at one point. We came through unscathed, although a little rattled, but that was nothing compared to what we were about to face.

When a mountain pass becomes treacherous, highway departments should really consider posting signs that read “Stupid flatlanders must stop now!” There were plenty of signs reading “Chains required on all commercial vehicles.” But what the heck does that mean for me?

At one point as we trudged along in the snow and ice, we passed a sign that said the summit is 13 miles. “Good,” I think to myself. “If we can reach the top, we should be OK.” It took us an hour to reach the top of the mountain from that point.

And just to add anxiety to the already harrowing trip, as we reached a flat area on top of the mountain, we passed a sign that read “Chains or snow tires required on all vehicles beyond this point.”

Great! Here we are at the top of the mountain in a vehicle ill-equipped to continue the journey. My options are to turn around and go back down the way we came or break the law – and it was pointed out that proceeding without the proper equipment was unlawful – and go down the mountain by continuing forward.

I decided that if I had to go down the mountain one way or another, I was going to continue going forward.

The minutes passed into hours and the anxiety never lessened as we continued down the mountain only to discover that we had to reach the summit two more times before truly beginning the trek down. But our trusty van and its front-wheel drive, never slipped and never skidded on the ice, for which we gave much thanks to God. We were also lucky enough to fall in behind a snow plow and follow the freshly plowed highway much of the way down.

We were fortunate that after a long, hard day of cheering for her favorite team, my 5-year-old was asleep the entire trip. Had she been awake, I’m sure she would have constantly been asking … “Da-da, are we going to boom?” You see, the word “crash” has been outlawed in our van after we bumped bumpers with another vehicle backing out of a driveway one day a year or so ago.

After several days of hearing our 5-year-old repeat the story and reprimand us for “crashing,” my wife finally told her that the word “crash” is a bad word and must not be repeated in the van. She has stuck with that rule, occasionally correcting us if we use the word in casual conversation.

But we didn’t crash or boom.

By my calculations, it is approximately 170 miles from Grand Junction to Durango. For a West Texas boy, 170 miles means about 2 and a half hours of road time. But on the fateful night in the driving snow, it took us more than five hours to make that trip.

We eventually stopped about an hour south of Durango, in Bloomfield, N.M., where we stayed at a Super 8. Our room smelled as if it had housed someone’s hunting dogs the night before. The smell was probably similar to what the team was experiencing on their bus ride home with the loaded sewer tank. But at 3 a.m. and completely exhausted from the tense travel, what else were we going to do? If we passed up this motel, it was another two hours until we reached civilization.

We decided to sleep for four hours before returning to the road. After all, we still had roughly 11 hours of road time ahead of us before reaching my parents house on New Year’s Eve.

Needless to say, that 11 hours was nothing. We even killed an hour in Albuquerque eating a late breakfast. We traded our 10 to 20-mile per hour drive the night before for a pleasant 80-mile per hour pace on Saturday and finally came to a stop at 5 p.m.

The next day we took communion at my father’s church, dug into a big pile of world famous steak fingers then drove the final 2 and a half hours home. It was nice to get home and see that our cats were still alive and hadn’t destroyed the house. It was nice to finally sleep in our own beds, and it was nice to look around and see nothing but flat land, albeit burning out of control in several places.

After 2,189 miles in eight days, one gets a little road weary. But it won’t last long. After all, I have to get back on the road this Saturday if I’m going to watch the team play in Oklahoma City.