Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Glory Days

Don Head posted a bunch of old pictures yesterday. Several from old youth banquets in the 70's and 80's as well as Camp SPdL 1983 (above). He had to know I would post some here. Those were the days.
One of my first Mighty Mite teams at SPdL, around 1980.
Assistant coach Sharon Langley.
Back row: Patricia Starnes, Elizabeth Flack, Wynne Jarboe, Val Goetz, and the Seydel sister.
Front row: Chad Eaton, two whose names I forget, and Scott O Seydel.
Before my time, but a fascinating photo from First Baptist. Don is second from the top left, with Steve Giles in glasses. At the top right are Andy Stanley and Dick Jarrell. Coach Frank Gudger with John Lewis to his left. Scott Atchison is front left, and Bill Jarrell front right.

Saturday afternoon C came home from shopping saying "Turn on the TV!" I hadn't really known about Charlottesville until then. I didn't really read up on it much, except for an article I think by Eric Erikson saying all these protests and unrest - white supremacy, gay rights and marriage, black lives matter, etc. - is due to America moving away from God. Bryant Wright only mentioned it briefly, and for the most part stuck to his prepared sermon.

I watched a decent amount of the PGA Championship as well. Louie Giglio spent time up there, hanging out with his bud Louis Oosthuizen. When Steph Curry played on the Web.com<http://Web.com> Tour last weekend, he beat four golfers: three pros and one amateur.

Monday was Will's first day working in a doctor's office. Another picture stolen from Mary-Clayton. Will has visited 18 states this year, more than any other year in his life: AL CT GA LA MA MD ME MS NC NH NY PA RI SC TN TX VA WV. Also Peru.
Had Dreamland BBQ for the monthly sales meeting. In our meeting a new manager was introduced. He will be working in my old department. Been with the company 35 years, in Buffalo, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and now Atlanta. He went longer than usual for a guest, listing several of his goals. Number one was communication. To listen and over-communicate. He said "you don't have to be the one blabbing all the time...silence is good."

Worked until 6:30 Monday night. It was Ceil's first day of classes. Also Anna's. M worked. Baked chicken, with potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions in the pot. Also salad. Nothing big on TV: some Braves, The Middle.

The SI College Football Issue ranks Florida 18th, UGA 16th (& SEC East champs), Auburn 10th, and Clemson 7th, with Bama and FSU beating Ohio State and Oklahoma State in the title game. I can't see Oklahoma State getting the nod over media darling USC, unless the Trojans stumble. You heard it here first: look for Clemson to knock off FSU this year.
Office prank:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Who is the Racist?

The violent white supremacist protests this weekend in Charlottesville were wrong. I know far too little about these issues to make an intelligent comment beyond that. One of the few columns I read about the protests did seem to make sense.
In the meantime, my own blog has received its first comment claiming racism. Might as well make a blog post out of it.

In late March I posted pictures from the SunTrust Park open house. Thanks to a link posted on Uni Watch, the post became one of the most widely read ever on my blog. Then months later, this comment:
"Racism is the only reason downtown Atlanta couldn't have seen similar redevelopment, capitalism and this level of fun. How many decades did that area languish because racists refused to spend their money to build, develop, and surround Turner Field similarly. Great photos to reflect the truth."
The comment was written by "FBlogs." I checked his profile, which didn't have much on it. The problem with BlogSpot is that in order to comment you must first register. Most times it's not worth the trouble. Surely this is the reason I don't get many comments.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including Mr. FBlogs. There is some truth to his statement. The area around Turner Field did languish for the twenty years the Braves called it home, as well as the thirty years they inhabited Atlanta Stadium. I will try to not call any person or group racist. But thankful for any comment, I was quick to reply:
"I agree. The Braves repeated attempts to develop the community around Turner Field during their 20 year stay were consistently turned down by their landlord - the city of Atlanta. The Braves offered the city 75% of any revenues generated - a generous deal. But the city refused to give up their beloved parking revenues. From a 2013 article in the AJC: "When pursuing such a development for the parking lots surrounding Turner Field, the Braves proposed an arrangement in which they would receive only 25 percent of the revenue. Those negotiations with the city of Atlanta ended last month."
I'm a sucker for stadium stories. I may not catch all of them, but I sniff out most of them. Atlanta Stadium was in place, along with the surrounding City of Atlanta-owned parking lots, since the mid-1960's. Over the years more old houses were torn down and more parking lots were built to the south, across Georgia Avenue. The city was able to reap parking revenues for the 81 Braves games every year for over fifty years.
When MARTA built rail in the late 1970's, plans for a stadium station were nixed by the city, who didn't want to lose their parking revenues. The closest stations were built over a mile away.
The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games built a new stadium, paid to convert the stadium into a baseball facility, and have Atlanta Fulton County Stadium torn down (replaced by more city-owned parking). Lighting at Turner Field was among the worst in baseball.
Compared to other teams, the Braves were at a competitive disadvantage due to lower revenues. Most teams reap parking proceeds, but the Braves did not. As an independent business, the Braves knew success on the field would bring in more money, which in turn could be spent on buying better players to ensure further success.
The team looked for any way possible to increase revenues and attendance. They knew the better the fan experience, the higher attendance would be. They upgraded the food options at the stadium, as well. Several times they drew up plans to place shops and restaurants and parking decks on the barren parking lots, giving the city 75% of the revenue – but the city balked. They proposed development even after a multimillion dollar putt putt complex failed miserably. To say "racists refused to spend their money to build, develop, and surround Turner Field similarly" is incorrect / ignorant / uninformed, and / or pointing fingers in the wrong direction.
The rest is history. The city got in bed with both the Falcons (nine games in a 1.5 billion dollar oft-delayed stadium whose roof doesn't work) and the Hawks (40 games in an 18 year old arena undergoing a massive overhaul) but not the Braves, a perennial playoff contender playing 82 games. The Braves were coming up on the end of their lease, faced with the business decision of whether to sign a new lease on a stadium in need of millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs. With their attention locked in on the Falcons and Hawks, the city was slow to negotiate with the Braves.
Knowing the need for increased revenue streams in order to field a competitive team, the Braves looked at all options available. Race had nothing to do with it. While the Hawks fan base was centered inside the perimeter, studies showed the Braves large multi-state fan base is centered in Cobb County. After the Braves announced their plans to build in Cobb, the mud began flying. The city raced to cover its tracks. The liberal AJC, who themselves had left downtown for the suburbs, blasted the Braves again and again without fairly reporting the team's side of the story. Other less biased media outlets reported the true facts, including The Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Saporta Report.
Contrary to public opinion, the Braves themselves made all the decisions related to the move. Parent company Liberty Media gave them the go-ahead and stayed out of the way. I may be naïve, but huge multi-billion dollar businesses have too much at stake to make decisions based on racism and hate. Indeed, if the Braves had their way, the development around SunTrust park COULD have happened around Turner Field.
You'd like to think the government of a large metropolitan city would place the best interests of its citizens ahead of race, special interests, and lining their own pockets, but that isn't the age we live in.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Baxter State Park

I'm totally stealing Mary-Clayton's vacation pictures to post today.
They just returned from their road trip to Baxter State Park in Maine.
Not sure I could make it up this mountain.
At the beginning of the Appalachian Trail.
Not sure but this could be Knife's Edge, the twelve hour hike they took.
Yesterday MC documented the haircut she gave Will.
Tomorrow Will starts work in a doctor's office.

Today the Brewers gave out the Bob Uecker magic 8-Ball.
Smaller than the original and not black, but I'll take it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Life Imitates Seinfeld

The latest Seinfeld analogy: I was telling a story about not knowing exactly how to pronounce someone's name, which is similar to Jerry not knowing the name of the girl he was seeing.

Last Saturday while the Brooklyn Cyclones were giving out the Soup Nazi bobblehead, the  gave out the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary bobblehead.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Life in the Slow Lane

I never was a speed demon, but have been driving slower than ever these days. I might’ve told you about driving down to Macon a few weeks ago in the slow lane, not passing. Last Friday I did the same thing on my trip to Augusta and back. 285 is so wide I try to get in a lane where there’s not as much traffic. People are whizzing past me.
I hate getting on 400 north from 285 west. I get into the turn lane as early as possible, merging in with cars entering 285 from Perimeter Mall. Invariably several cars wait til the last second to zoom over several lanes of traffic, cutting in without warning. Then on 400 people illegally use the far right rush hour only lane, passing everyone doing 80 in a 45 MPH zone.
I like driving slow and having cars pass me, them weaving and accelerating as fast as they can – then I pull up next to them at every red light. I’m getting places at the same time they are.
Tuesday: worked until 6:30 then took a load to Goodwill. Mailed a box at the post office. Deposited a check at the bank. Stopped by the convenience store. Ceil cooked black beans and rice. M’s friend Noni ate with us. Watched some of the Braves. C worked on an art project and I packaged another box. Still got two more bobbles to ship. I’ve sold five in the past week.   
Worked until 6:40 Wednesday night. Made good time to the library and checked out a Paul McCartney autobiography. Ceil cooked boneless BBQ chicken breasts. Also salad and baked potato coins. M worked.
Watched the special on Princess Diana. 95% of the Diana program was nothing new. Not even sure 5% was new, just stuff I didn’t know or had forgot. She always knew that Charles and Camilla were close, and worried about it even when she was walking down the aisle. Camilla is in white at the top right, to the left of the red hat. 
Watched some of the Panthers/Texans. Deshaun Watson looked good, though one pass sailed high, allowing his receiver to be hit hard in the ribs. Another pass was dropped. Interesting how Watson’s first game was back close to where he went to school, in a stadium he had played in several times. A decent amount of orange in the stands. My brother-in-law and his wife went to the game. I missed most of Christian McCaffrey’s playing time, though I did see one nice run up the middle.
Also watched some of the Braves, who made a late charge. Anna’s friend Josh went to his second straight game. J&A are going to the game on her birthday, so I’ll see her there.
Thursday: Worked til 6:50. Went downstairs and it was raining super big time. Waited 5-10 minutes before leaving. C wasn’t feeling good. M and Noni came home wanting supper. We sent them to the grocery for hot dogs. Ceil’s idea. M cooked them, and we ate at 9:45. M and Noni had two each.
Maybe the Falcons new offensive coordination Steve Sarkisian was trying to not be like last year’s offensive coordinator Shanahan, who was passing the ball late in the Super Bowl when he should have been running it.

This spring Florida Gators kicker Eddy Pineira kicked an 81 yard field goal in pads. Last year he went 21-25 including 3-3 form 50-plus yards. Sports Illustrated ranks him the 100th best player in the nation.
My dad thinks a lot of the people he used to email are now on Facebook, and don’t check their email any more. He's probably right. 
For the longest time Colon got by and did well, perhaps relying on veteran guile. Not sure what happened this year. You’d think the pitching coach would’ve let him do his thing. The Braves gave him several months to get untracked, but he never did. The Braves let him go was because the rookie Newcomb was ready to be called up. Colon was supposedly a good teammate. The whole time he struggled Don Sutton thought it was only a matter of time before he got untracked. Maybe Colon will win comeback player of the year.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

BSU State Convention

Think back in time to 1980, and how the world was then. The Southern Baptist Convention still ruled supreme. College students by the hundreds flocked to Baptist Student Unions across the Southeast. At Georgia Tech we’d have over one hundred attend our weekly meeting. Once we had Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. speak.

Every summer dozens of students would serve as summer missionaries, traveling across the state and country. A few went overseas. Those selected braves several rounds of interviews, were commissioned, and held up as the best BSU could offer. The crown jewel of summer missionaries was a spot on one of the two four person Youth Revival Teams that traveled around the state leading worship services. You had to be a good speaker as well as musical. Jeff Yearwood, Tom Jennings, Donna Freemon, and Robin Perdue all served on the YRT.

All year we’d dream up fund-raising activities to raise money for summer missions. One day Mary Deaton raced up to me and exclaimed “Murf, let’s swallow a goldfish to raise money for summer missions!” Back then I wasn’t good at swallowing pills. I would chew up awful tasting pills. But to see Mary swallow a goldfish, I had to say yes. Doug Kleppin drew up a huge poster of my open mustachioed mouth, with an innocent goldfish swimming inside – similar to the Jaws movie poster (which I kept for years). We got the goldfish and named them. One was called Sparky. A “save the goldfish” fundraising campaign was started. The $600.00 was raised, and at a Thursday night meeting we swallowed the goldfish. Nothing to it.

An annual fund-raiser was the 24 hour marathon basketball game against UGA. We’d host the game at Tech one year, then travel to Athens the next. We’d keep a running score, and play 24 separate hour long games as well. The intramural men’s team would play the first hour, and follow that with different hours: all-girl hour, freshmen hour, alumni hour, coed hour, and even the dreaded chicken fight hour (with girls on guys shoulders). Tech would win most of the games. I wasn’t the best basketball player, but tried to play more hours than anyone else – as many as 17 out of the 24 hours. My senior year I realized it would be neat to start the marathon game – so I told everyone I was starting, and that was that. I didn’t contribute much against the players much better than me. Once during “memory verse hour” all my shots were falling. For the basket to count the player scoring the goal had to recite a memory verse. By the end of the hour I had recited almost every verse I knew.

The statewide conventions at Rock Eagle in the fall and spring were also big events. Students from BSU’s all around the state converged at Rock Eagle. Long before social media, this was one of the few ways to make friends outside your own school (or meet girls). There were seminars and worship services and family altars where all the Tech students had a time of sharing. There was plenty of fun to be had as well: cookouts, long midnight hikes through the woods so freshmen could get their first look at the majestic eagle made of rock.
The talent show on Saturday night was often the highlight of the convention. Many small schools would send out a soloist, and other schools had their BSU choir sing a song. Many of the songs and skits were serious. Then it’s time for the great big GT BSU. One year Dave Nelson re-enacted Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show" 

I had never taken part in the BSU state convention talent show. I wasn’t particularly musically inclined. But one year it was decided we would perform Steve Martin’s hit song King Tut. I had “sung” King Tut at a GT BSU meeting (wearing sunglasses and an olive army jumpsuit I liked to hang out in back then). A picture of me as King Tut was featured in the Blueprint, Tech’s class yearbook, with my roomie Don Sells on guitar.
But for state convention we of course had to go all out. A full rock band was drafted, dubbed the Tut-Uncommons. Roomies Wayne Smith and Don Sells on guitar. Seems like Dave Nelson had a role. But that wasn’t enough. Dancing girls in sheets – togas. I know Melissa Jennings was one of them. Not sure who else. Didn’t we realize this was a Christian convention?

Some crafty soul fashioned an outfit for me, a costume similar to the one Steve Martin had worn on SNL. Gold stuff on my head, shoulders and waist (over shorts). You could tell I wasn’t wearing a shirt. And the piece de resistance: roller skates (borrowed from the old Second-Ponce gym). Not my strong suit.

I remember standing backstage. The curtain opened and the band started playing. Then I pushed off something and launched myself onstage, rolling out and grabbing hold of the mic stand to stop. The crowd – one thousand strong - went wild. I had to hold onto the microphone so I wouldn’t roll away. During the bridge I tried to skate around the stage. As I sang I looked out into the audience. A special guest speaker at that convention was Keith Parks, the older stern-looking head of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. He was sitting on the front row with campus ministers and other leaders. Parks was not smiling. At that moment any thoughts I might’ve had about going into full time Christian ministry went down the drain.

As expected, the performance was the talk of the convention. There may still be an old scrapbook in the Baptist Center with a picture of me in costume, with a dancing girl behind me. I probably need to find that picture. Not sure if the talent show rules were changed after my performance, but they may have been.

The next day, since I held the statewide title of Area Representative (along with current Public Commission Chairman Tim Echols, then an ambitious young UGA student with political aspirations) I had been tasked with giving a prayer. Beforehand I stood backstage – right next to Keith Parks. It was probably just my imagination, but it seemed like his eyes were glaring through the back of my head.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Summer Reading List

The Patriot Threat: A Novel (Cotton Malone #10), by Steve Berry. Another great read from the Camden SC resident.
Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,
by Susan Cain. Read it a second time.
Paul McCartney: A Life, by Peter Ames Carlin
Seriously – I’m Kidding, by Ellen DeGeneres. After her first two books of a three book deal, Ellen must’ve run out of things to say. Nonsensical rambling, as if written by her absent-minded character Dory.
Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball, by John Feinstein. Interesting stories of veterans, rookies, managers, and umpires - mostly from the International League.
Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Series, by Ken Follett.
Thought I hadn’t finished it, so I read it again.
The Rainmaker, by John Grisham. Excellent.
The Whistler: a Novel, by John Grisham.
Eleven Rings: the Soul of Success, by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. Jackson shares an overview of his life story, including a glimpse into tidbits of his spirituality: a mishmash of Christianity, Buddhism, and American Indian spirituality.  
Ballplayer, by Chipper Jones and Carroll Rogers Walton. Excellent for several reasons. Chipper shares his life story from birth past retirement, a few technical and mechanical stories, anecdotes about teammates both famous and obscure, gives credit to coaches, teammates, parents, and family, as well as his own failures and regrets.
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories. Stephen King’s sixth collection of short stories. “Drunken Fireworks” is a must read.
On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. Excellent and personal. King also shares details from his accident and recovery.
Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. His first book. Not sure I recommend it. Not particularly a comedy, though there is a hilarious case of mistaken identity.
You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television, by Al Michaels and L Jon Wertheim.
Hard to believe all the classic events Michaels was able to witness,
from the miracle on ice to the World Series earthquake.

Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations, by Craig Nelson.
Behind the Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, by Bob Newhart.
Killing Reagan: the Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency,
by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values,
by Robert M Pirsig. Nice story, but I’m not sure I “got it.”
No big enlightening here.
Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler.
Always interesting to go behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live.
I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, by Martin Short. Another re-read. Picked up things I’d missed the first time through.
In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving,
by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy. Backstory from “The Blind Side” family.
Taking in Michael Oher was not an isolated event.