Friday, December 15, 2006

Dave O'Brien:

Started to regularly read Dave O’Brien’s column. Some that post comments aren’t reading O’Brien’s posts very carefully…guess some are just more emotional than analytical. One guy said we should’ve kept Giles, Glavine, Maddux, Sheffield, Furcal, Farnsworth, and Millwood. I figure just to pay the seven he mentioned would take over 90 million a year…and the team wouldn’t be as good as it is today. Add Andruw, Smoltz, Hampton, and Chipper (there would be no Hudson or Wickman) and the payroll would be over 120 million for 11 guys.

I’m a recent convert to DOB, and am quickly learning to do the same…scrolling through the posts to find his updates. I’m not wise to the music references. Does look like JS is focused on pitching.

With the increased MLB revenues, perhaps JS is saving up to make a run at Andruw. Houston and the LAD will tempt, especially the Astros short LF porch and deep pockets. Or JS could lock up JF, LaRoche, and McCann instead. Can’t blame JS for not overpaying for average talent. Next postseason could be even more interesting.

The Christmas Crunch

Ceil is starting to buckle under the Christmas crunch. We are going to Florida with my family, hopefully leaving early next Thursday, which is the right thing to do…even if it isn’t the wise thing to do (you might’ve read the unsent letter I wrote over a month ago, that I posted Wednesday). I talked to my sister and was upfront about stuff, but she couldn’t understand. I know I am lazy and selfish, and mainly want to do what I want to do…so isn’t this big of me to actually do what someone else wants!

There are so many other things I’d rather be doing. Perhaps next year I’ll do a better job. We’ll probably be eating out more through Christmas just to give Ceil more time to get ready and do her running around.

Just realized I’ll only be working one day the week after Christmas…Thursday. Unless we come back the day after Christmas, which I doubt. Might as well use the vacation day. The plan is to drive straight from Florida to SC on 10 & 95, Tallahassee to Florence. Some Christmas Eve. May have to break out the cargo carrier for the van, killing the MPG.

As usual, December is relatively busy, as people want to clear off problems.Orlando continues to call a bunch…I’m going back the week of Jan 7th. Our office went with the Atlanta Sales Office Thursday night to eat at Fogo de Chao, on Piedmont in Buckhead. You know I didn’t mind the eating, and the company was good.

Thoughts on Files

Helping mom set up a simple filing system. She’s concerned her ADD is a hinderance, since ADD people have organizational problems. Her situation is ideal, because she is retired and has time to regularly keep up a filing system. My parents look at so many things through a microscope, since they have the time. Immediately going to Publix to cash in the mystery coupon, etc. Here’s what I told her for starters…

Random thoughts on filing…
Half the trick is having the time to actually do the filing. One you have the basics down, if you can work on it for about an hour several days a week, you’ll get caught up. Then the filing time will be reduced to as little as 5 minutes a day. You can file things as you get them.

A key is to always be able to close the drawer, and not leave files spread out on a desk or table. If you leave stuff out, by the time you come back to it you’ll have go through it again to remember what it is.

Once you get the medical records organized, perhaps you can create an Excel or Word document to summarize them by date. Then you’ll have a single piece of paper or two that you can take to Doctor’s appointments. This will allow old records from previous years to be filed away, preventing un-needed clutter. At year end all records from that year can be taken out of the files and packaged up, perhaps boxed in the basement or attic.

My filing system…
Used to consider myself organized, but I don’t have time to file…it is the lowest of priorities. I barely have time to pay the bills, much less file them. So I have one file for bills/bank statements/tax return stuff, one file for semi-permanent stuff for the house, investments, and taxes, a file for medical stuff, a file for each car. There are perhaps ten files for major categories.

I throw paperwork in these various files all year. At year end I take a few hours to sort it all out and organize, giving me the information needed to do my taxes. This is the time I go through and throw away any stuff I don’t want to keep. I use a stapler, rubber bands, paper clips, and perhaps file folders. The whole packet for the year gets bundled up and boxed away. This way the files don’t get too large, and it’s easier to stay organized.

I do have files just for stuff I want to save. Stuff gets thrown in there and perhaps I’ll look at it once a year at best. It’s fun to look at, but over half the time I look for a particular item, I can’t find that item. More often I find things that I’ve completely forgotten about. Whenever I go through one of these files, if I see anything to throw it away, I do so.

I also have files that are only on the computer…my checking account, calendar, investments, auto records, etc. No need to print them out…I always can look it up on the PC. I keep unpaid bills separate, in a place where I won’t forget to pay them!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Letter to Nita (Unsent)

You and Brad deserve a nice vacation. Y’all have been givers for years to your parents, certainly much more than us. You are generous to share the vacation with us.

Not everyone has the personality, circumstances, or aptitude to accomplish as much as everyone else. I feel I must explain the mindset we use in making decisions on how we spend our time. I realize some have a hard time reading an entire email, or listening & comprehending an entire conversation...myself included.

Working & commuting takes up 12 hours of my day. Ceil could spend much more time teaching our 3 children, as well as preparing to teach. Every Sunday Ceil uses half the day to prepare lesson plans for the week ahead. Eating healthy meals is another priority, which takes more time and money. These are the priorities we have set. Our children are a tremendous help with the cooking and chores. They are involved in far fewer activities than their friends. Will takes classes at Living Science and plays baseball. Anna takes ballet. Matthew does the least…he only plays baseball half the year, due to how busy we already are & lack of money (that’s why they don’t take violin).

We are far from a perfect family…we know have many faults. We could use more time to spend with our children, on school and at play. We could spend a lot more time with friends and serving in ministry. There’s always work needed on the house and cars. Obviously it would be nice to get down to Macon more. I could manage my time better, but I’m not wasting four hour chunks of time…we don’t see many movies or watch lots of TV.

Recently I worked in Orlando for two weeks. My drive down and back was paid for, as were my hotel and meals. Couldn’t have been a more opportune time for Ceil and the kids to come down to Disney, but the list of things already going on was so great that they didn’t go. Same with PGA golf passes. Would’ve loved to go…so would Ceil and Will. Two passes were used, but it didn’t work out for us.

It’d be great to attend all the Georgia Tech, Braves, Falcons, and soccer games we’re offered tickets to. There are so many festivals, events, concerts, movies, etc. in Atlanta and North Georgia that would be great as well. There are also dozens of ministry opportunities at churches in the area. Most often we have a conflict. Even when we don’t, the fact that we’re away the day before and/or after factors in…it’s hard to enjoy an event if the attendee hasn’t rested up from the last event. I can count on my fingers the things I get to do in a year. Though never easy, we say no.

These days there are dozens of trips kids can take. Beach trips, Disney trips, ski retreats, DiscipleNow weekends, sports camps, even baseball lock-ins! Busy parents are willing to pay big bucks to drop their kids off for weeks at a time. This year alone Will has been to New York, Washington DC, Jekyll Island, Myrtle Beach, Lake Burton (twice)…and 14 major league sporting events. When can a kid go to a Florida island? Kids today do so much, have so much…these camps and retreats and lock-ins are no longer wide-eyed adventures. Instead it’s just another day of entertainment they come to expect. Ride the Pink Pig? Big deal, they say…give me Goliath. Exactly what we’re trying to avoid with our children. Instead let them entertain themselves, play outside, read books. A hard task in this age of instant entertainment. Kids want, need grownups to spend time with them, not entertainment.

Two select East Cobb baseball teams are currently recruiting Will to play next spring. They’ll play 60 games in less than 4 months. One team has offered to pay his way. As Stuart will tell you, the higher level of competition is needed for Will to improve, if he wants to play at the high school level, let alone college. But we are not ready as a family to invest 4 hours a day for 4 or 5 days a week to Will’s baseball, as nice as it would be. Does a 13-year old need to spend 20 hours/week on one extracurricular activity? Would he still like baseball in two years? If God wants Will to be a baseball player, God must have another way.

Joyful holidays like Christmas bring added expectations for time and expenditure. Events last the entire month and take time away from the regular stuff that must be done, in addition to decorating and shopping. Party-goers we are not…we usually attend only one or two Christmas parties at most. Many years we are so overwhelmed we don’t send out Christmas cards. We do travel to Jefferson, but not for any extended stay. We never go early because we’re still making Christmas preparations, and after Christmas I have to return to work. Our children have fun at Christmas, but Ceil and I are stressed and overextended. It should not be this way.

Novelist John Grisham wrote a little book called “Skipping Christmas.” Family, neighbors, friends, and co-workers were amazed when a couple decides to go away for Christmas. It was made into the movie “Christmas With the Kranks”…dealing with the gyrations people go through during the holidays.

The stress and activity increase the closer Christmas Eve comes. Ceil’s schedule is more flexible than mine, so the brunt of this stress and activity fall on her. I work until 5 pm on Friday December 22nd…I’ve used all my vacation days. Atlanta traffic is bad every day, particularly Friday. December Fridays are the worst…parties, shopping, everyone leaving town. I’ll get home at six. Even if our 7-year old van was packed and filled with gas, the earliest we could traverse the 385 miles and arrive on St. George Island would be 2 am. Whoever drives will be worn out. Saturday would be fun, but an 8 hour return trip is not a fun Christmas Eve…and Ceil and I would just be starting our Christmas duties. Anyway, could mom make the trip?

A trip to a Florida island sounds wonderful. But not so fast. One day of fun and two days of packing, unpacking, and over 18 hours of travel…during the most stressful weekend of the year. $85.00 in gas for a day at the beach.

What is the wise thing to do?

Releasing Giles

Can't blame the Braves for releasing Giles, as his declining production the last 3 years the justification for not paying him six million a year. He didn't rank in the top ten among NL second-baseman, while McCann, Andruw, Chipper, LaRoche, and Diaz ranked in the top five at their position, and Renteria ranked sixth. Andruw will be gone after this year. Chipper will stay because no one will assume his salary. Seems like the sentiment is slightly in favor of the Braves in releasing Giles. Of course 680’s Perry Lorintino was against the move.

Giles’ .728 OPS last year did not rank in the top ten for NL second-baseman. Does this justify paying him six million a year? The Braves think not. The public shakes it’s head when outlandish salaries are given to players, but when one of their favorites is let go, they don’t understand why…refusing to believe the diminishing statistics.


The only thing about Giles is that his salary replaces the left-fielder’s salary. There would be an outcry if Giles went to the Mets, not that JS would worry about that. It wouldn’t affect attendance. Resigned to Giles being non-tendered, but wondered if they’d hang onto him into spring training to see if they could trade him then – but with the way they were going after trades last week, probably not…considering how they’re right at $80 million already.

Can’t blame the Braves for not getting sucked in to overpaying for middling, aging, and injured talent. For every Jason Schmidt or Adam Wainwright deemed expendable based on performance and expectation but blossom elsewhere, you can count two Bruce Chen’s who became journeymen, bouncing from team to team. Jason Marquis and Kevin Millwood had some success, but not commensurate with the money they were paid. In return the Braves received lower-priced players who helped them win pennants.

Hopefully age will catch up with the Mets next summer. But Julio Franco would then keep the team from imploding emotionally!

Every time I go to SC I grab a few late 1980’s Sports Illustrateds from a pile of old magazines to go through. One had an article about Series Goats by Bob James. He made the comment that the public always remembers one event, while there are usually several factors that contribute to that game being lost, as well as the other three games the team loses.

Howard Stern came out on Letterman last night dressed as Santa, without pants, and gave Paul, Dave, and the entire audience Sirrius satellite radios. Said he was the white Oprah.

Last week betting on the underdog on all NFL games, you would be 9 winners and 5 losers. The same record even with the points.

The guys in the small group went to see The Illusionist, and it was pretty good…one of our better selections. We had small group Friday night…we met at El Porton for dinner. We may do that Marriage Perspectives 8 week class taught by a facilitator from NP. Saturday afternoon Will had a Colt baseball practice, so I helped out. Turned out to be a beautiful day. The kids made gingerbread houses at a friend’s Saturday night. Sunday I took the boys to get haircuts, and then they watched High School Musical, while Ceil shopped. I rented The DaVinci Code (I liked it, just not as well as the book).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Letter to Uni-Watch

I’m sure you are familiar with the Braves distinctive “feather” unis worn by Hank Aaron in the 1970’s. Since polyester unis were coming into use around that time, I always assumed those were double-knit. I was amazed to find a wool feather jersey on display in the Braves museum at Turner Field…evidently worn at least for the first year.

I did agree the Braves grey flannel jersey on display in Cincinnati was a thing a beauty, with the Indian Chief sleeve patch and dark tomahawk. Guess in these politically correct times we’ll never see an Indian patch on a regular basis.

Chin straps…give me the simple two-fastener model, like Brett Farve. I adore that Packer helmet from the early 60’s, with the wonderful old grey facemask. Hey! On the HelmetHut site are photos of a Chicago Bears early-1960s reunion…but the caption reads looking to the future” instead of the past. Is this a typo, or are the Bears joining the ranks and returning to a throwback helmet? (Paul replied - he'll look into this).

MORE: Who I like is a factor in who I pick, which isn't good. I don't like Ohio State.

Our office has been invited to the company dinner at a place down from the Buckhead Waffle House...Fogo de Chow. Next Thursday. I'm getting old...can't eat as much, don't really want to eat as much. Used to love places like Golden Corral, but we went there for lunch yesterday and I didn't really enjoy it. Fogo should be better, but I'm not a huge beef man.The company should be ok, but spouses aren't invited. Hope to get to know Tom Browning, who used to play basketball at Tech...perhaps for Coach Hyder. Heard of him? I'm guessing he's about 60 years old.

Nice Braves Trade

I was reading Dave O'Brien's blog as the Rameriz trade unfolded Wednesday night, while Ceil and Anna watched HGTV White House Christmas. This morning I had a message from the famous Sleepless In Seattle, saying the Braves got the better end of the deal.

O'Brien thought the LaRoche-to-Pittsburgh deal was off the table, as was a Giles/LaRoche-to-Baltimore deal. That Pittsburgh closer looks great on paper...JS must've backed off due to his heath. Sounds like any deal to get Rocko Baldelli from TB would be a long-shot...I'd rather keep Hudson.

Good reading: Dave O'Brien's piece on the Braves being over-budget. Sounds like they're resigned to playing Thorman due to salary considerations. Hopefully they'll be able to get something good for Giles, and not just give him away. The Angels' Chone Figgins/1B prospect deal wouldn't be too bad...I remember the initial letdown when the Braves got Estrada for Millwood...then Estrada made the All-Star team (then we gave him away due to salary constraints).

Also watched the end of the Hawks win...nice. Hopefully these close wins will continue to pile up.

Over the last week the thought had crossed my mind that I never check for comments on Sac Fly…usually after I post a blog I view the blog quickly to double-check for errors, but I rarely scan down the page. Then last night I was checking my yahoo email, and there was an email from yesterday alerting me to the blog comment. So should I ever get comments, I’ll know eventually, as I only check my yahoo email every few days. I need to change it to my other email, which I check a couple of times a day.

My FoxSports blog actually has a few dedicated readers, based on the responses I get. One guy mainly checks out my Falcons posts, and another reads the Braves posts. Yesterday he asked had I heard any trade talks, shortly before I posted some of the jabber we had discussed the last couple of days. Every now and then a real active and popular FoxSports blogger will add a comment/compliment, which is nice. I rarely comment on other FoxSports blogs because I don’t have the time, but every now and then get sucked into commenting on Uni-Watch, which I’ve taken to reading daily.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Paper Airplanes

The last few weeks Matthew has been making different things out of paper, with scissors and tape. He’s made cars with wheels, computers, CDs, phones, people, different kinds of sea plants and creatures, etc. If he’s studying something in school, he’ll create it out of paper. Every day it’s something different…today it’s movie tickets.

Got out the tree last night. Didn’t take long for Matthew to start making paper ornaments and hanging them on the tree.

Last night I went to see "The Devil Wears Prada"...Glenn Close plays the villain very well, it was good and funny. Also lots of NYC and Paris street scenes. The Guardian looks good, with Kevin Cosner and Ashton Kutcher. Pirates 2 was good, except the ending was like The Empire Strikes Back…you know there will be sequel.

Sure would hate to see LaRoche go. Brayan Pena can hit for average, and there’s also D. Ward, but even together that doesn’t replace Adam’s defense and bat. You would have that closer/setup man, as well as Thorman and Salty, and that Hawaiian kid that jumped from Rome to Myrtle Beach. Perhaps JS thinks LaRoche can’t put up numbers like last year’s second half, year after year. Amazing that pitchers are so valuable these days that you'd consider trading an almost all-star first-baseman for a pitcher. Surely JS has other moves up his sleeve. Salty needs another year in the minors - or at least half the season.

Monday I worked on looking up answers to a quiz from the Uni-Watch web site, about old uniform details. I had some more looking up to do last night when I got home, but when I left work I left my answers on my desk. Like most tests, I procrastinated studying. Should've read my copy of Ball Four this past weekend. I got most of them, but had to guess on a few.. I figured several would ace the test.

Whether Reggie?

Play Reggie Ball? Hopefully Gailey doesn't make decisions based on his reaction to the AJC. I've been frustrated with Ball for years and figured Bennett wasn't a good enough option. Does make me wonder why they never got a good QB recruit. Is this a slump that Ball is in, or just inconsistency? The press has been particularly unimpressed the last two postgame interviews by Ball...does he just not care any more? He did run hard against Wake, but I've never seen him throw worse. Big difference between Ball and Matt Stafford.

Interesting comments in the Bradley column...that Gailey played Ball to stay on the good side of Atlanta high school coaches. Other comments are revealing about poor coaching decisions. Any chance to bring in offensive genius Ken Whisenhunt? We need to keep that defensive coach.

Figured GT would play like they did. Hate to waste the great defensive effort the last two games. After falling flat in a few of the most recent bowl games, hopefully that won't happen again, since West Virginia will be tough anyway. The GT defense is so good that they could've beaten UGA and Wake had they not turned the ball over (and kept throwing it out of bounds when the defensive strategy was to commit pass interference). I just hope they don't get embarrassed in the Gator Bowl.

Sounds like the new AD is on the ball, and wants to build a winner. Hard to clean house after a 9 win season. Calvin sure could've been a lot more productive. After not running reverses for 2-1/2 years, why did they try it on 3rd and one? I hate end-arounds!

But I wanted Ball benched before Bradley wrote that column. The QB doesn't need to be a running threat when you've got other weapons...look at UGA, Auburn, etc. I like Florida and Arkansas' offenses...letting different players take the snaps and throw passes, since so many athletes were HS QBs.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

ACC: Typical Tech Game

Another typical Georgia Tech game today in the ACC Championship: good defense, irratic passing from Reggie Ball, dropped passes, questionable play-calling from Patrick Nix, and stupid penalties.

Typical ending: On 4th and ten Ball can’t get a pass off, instead running out of bounds. Has he ever made a good play with the game on the line? (save the victory at Clemson won by Calvin). Gailey then punted, never to see the ball again.

Wake usually plays turnover-free and mistake-free football, but has several penalties. Passes are completed when the QB can get the ball off, but Wake has yet to solve the GT pass rush. Tech needed to score more and not turn the ball over to win.

Ball’s 4th down interception was thrown into a mass of four defenders, and the return past the line of scrimmage made the play a disaster. Luckily it was the only turnover. Nessler and Griese correctly called out Ball on the Jacket’s second drive, when he missed two wide open deep receivers for touchdowns. The 4th quarter / 1st down INT was like a punt, but the defense had just sat down. The tired defense gave up an 80 yard drive for the game-winning FG.

Calvin has dropped two today, after having a drop or two in the last few games. James Johnson hasn’t stepped up. All ACC RB Choice hasn’t gotten enough touches to establish himself. A great strategy to throw deep against single-coverage, but it backfires with Ball throwing out of bounds or far off the mark.

The hurried 4th down QB sneak was another bad play. It is bad coaching and bad QB leadership to let the clock run down and not getting a measurement. To his credit, Ball ran better than he had all year.

Nessler and Griese are among the best announcers in the country. Why they need the inane Paul McGuire to rant in the rain is beyond me. Several times Nessler, Griese, and replays have shown McGuire’s comments to be far off the mark.

Tech has yet to throw Calvin on a fade route, instead putting him in motion and running him on end-arounds on 3rd & one – when Johnson hasn’t run these plays in college (except the last game or two). Bell has made two FGs, but is too unreliable to ride all the way to victory. Tech needs to get in the end zone. After driving the ball down the field on the first drive, Nix hasn’t called those plays again.

Another bad call: Instead of donning the good-looking gold jerseys they won in all year, Tech breaks out the navy jerseys they wore in the 1980’s…when they were winning three games a year. I know, they wore them in 1990 when they won the national championship.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Will's First Basketball Practice

Will did ok in his first basketball practice. The coach worked them hard for two hours, with many drills Will was unfamiliar with. Will likes to mix it up underneath, which is good. They had him playing wing. Since all he's played is half-court, maybe 3 on 3, he has a lot to learn about transitions, positioning, etc. Today his ankle is sore, as it often is after baseball. He wore 3/4 high shoes, so Monday he may wear high-tops.

The Flight Basketball organization has 4 teams: 6th & 7th grade, 8th, JV, and Varsity. Depending on age and ability, boys can play on multiple teams. Little Charles Norman plays on the 6th/7th and dresses out on the 8th, getting a little PT. Joel Norman plays 8th & JV. David Norman is growing taller and plays JV and Varsity. Yesterday I didn't recognize him. Willis Norman is 16, drives, stands at least 6'8", and plays varsity. This week he got his first dunk in a game. Since Will turned 13 in July, he may play some for the 6th/7th grade team as well.

See where the Charlotte Observer reported Vick could be traded, perhaps for draft picks, possibly to Oakland. The other rumor was Spurrier going to Bama. South Carolina fans would be devastated, Clemson fans would rejoice.

Matthew wore his new Mickey shirt yesterday, as part of his all-navy ensemble.

Top Ten Bad College Football Unis

10. Oregon State: Don’t like the black on black. Nice stripes, though.
9. Clemson: Purple on purple? Plus the ugly, skinny Nike stripes. Nice helmet.
8. West Virginia: Great team. Hate the Broncos look.
7. Cal: See West Virginia.
6. NC State: Always bad.
5. Georgia Tech: Hate the black masks and huge neck stripes. Loved this year’s throwbacks.
4. Mississippi State: Should stay away from the burgundy pants.
3. Maryland: Red pants without stripes, coupled with black shoes and socks, makes the team look like midgets.
2. Boston College: Such an old school name and place – why do they have their funky names and numbers?
1. Wake Forest/Vandy/Army/Navy/Purdue/Southern Miss/Central Florida/Missouri: Gold helmets and pants together with black jerseys. Great when left simple, like the Irish. But the more complicated the uni gets, the uglier it gets as well.

Best Looking NCAA Football unis:

I give extra Credit for the old school look. A great helmet covers up an average uni.
My List:
1. USC: Same great uni OJ wore.
2. Notre Dame: Green is ok as long as they wear them sparingly.
3. Texas: The all white look does need a few stripes throw in on the pants, but it’s still classic.
4. Michigan: This year’s Nike jersey didn’t mess up the look too bad.
5. Alabama: Great when Stallings brought back white helmets.
6. LSU: Love the stripes. They rarely wear purple.
7. Tennessee: Orange, but they keep it simple.
8. Georgia: Nike hasn’t messed up the look…pants stripes are great.
9. UCLA: Great colors and stripes.
10. Penn State: Grey facemasks are needed to complete the look.
11. Ohio State: Took a step back when they changed the jersey stripes this year.
12. Auburn: Coordinated stripes not screwed up by Under Amour.
13. Oklahoma: Simple and unchanged (like the state?)
14. Nebraska: See Oklahoma.
15. Arkansas: See Oklahoma.
16. Miami: Even Nike stripes everywhere hasn’t kept them from looking good. I like the orange jerseys with white pants.
17. FSU: A rare team that looks good without stripes on the gold pants. But looked great with stripes on white pants this year.
18. North Carolina: Always simple and consistent. Great color.
19. BYU: A great move back to unis from the glory years.
20. Oregon: Everyone hates them, but there are some neat features. Except the yellow.