Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

GT/UGA Game Notes

ABC rolls out backup announcers, as it’s not exactly a marquee game. But Sean McDonough is a pro, as is Holly Rowe. Georgia also fields a backup bulldog. Guess Snoopy’s brother Spike wasn’t available.

Tech’s defense often starts slow…but they need to stop them soon. Two clips by the UGA WR on that first long run.

One day Tech’s poor placekicking is going to lose the game. Hope it’s not tonight.

Nesbitt hurt…how bad? If Tech’s defense steps up, Jaybo can beat UGA. He’s getting a slow start, but let him get the cobwebs out. We need Josh next week.

First quarter ends…UGA 7, Tech 0.

Blair makes the straightaway 42 yarder. Often when he misses his first kick, he has a bad night. His made kick barely squeaked past the same right upright. He didn’t adjust much from his first kick…not a good thing.

Great tackle on the kickoff by number 38. Tech has some good special team players.

UGA fumble followed by a dropped pass. Tech’s Thomas also dropped a pass. Third GT player gets hurt. Tech isn’t stopping the UGA running game. Means that when Cox starts passing, the receivers will be wide open. Wonder what all the Tech fans who were bragging about the Orange Bowl are thinking now, with 12:45 left.

Whew…another dropped pass! Matthew Stafford on the sidelines, rockin a Detroit Tigers cap. Even the dropped and missed passes open up the running game. Run after run for the Dogs. With Nesbitt out, Tech can only win a low-scoring game. Like the Clemson loss earlier today, it says much about the competitive difference between the SEC and ACC. Much better to save Josh for next week than have him get hurt worse.

McDonough calls out the too-loud Tech PA system, a just statement. UGA kick a field goal to make the score 10-7. WSB pregame interviews the head coach’s wives…the first media exposure I’d seen for CPJ’s wife. Great blimp shots of downtown Atlanta.

Interception. I hate it when Tech throws on first down. Had it been incomplete, second & ten would’ve been tough for Jaybo. Looked like Cox moved too much to draw GT offsides. I’m sure the defense is getting tired. Cox misses another receiver, then makes a tougher throw for the touch. Coming just before the half, that hurts. 17-3 Georgia.

Nesbitt returns, and looks bad getting sacked. Returning to the field for the last play of the half, a UGA player gives Stafford a hearty slap. Don’t know what adjustments CPJ can make at halftime to turn this thing around.

Will CPJ protect Nesbitt in the second half? 76 yard pass and run…just what we needed! 17-10, just one minute into the second half. That’s what single coverage will do for you.
Make that 24-10, as Caleb King answers. Tech can’t win a high scoring game tonight. Tech defenders continue to over-pursue. Tech moves the ball, then goes for it on fourth and nine…first down! Another poor pitch by Josh, but Anthony Allen still gets the first down. Nesbitt for three. Offsides UGA. Dwyer TD makes it 24-17.

Is this Dwyer’s last game at Grant Field? UGA fumble. Tech just can’t stop UGA’s running backs. It’s got to be the scheme. UGA survives another fumble. Second & long? No problem, just run the ball. And running opens up the passing game…23 yard completion. Field goal makes it 27-17. To win the game. at some point Tech must make Georgia punt.

“Nice looking tackle” says announcer Millen about a clothes-line tackle. Tech penalty. UGA penalty looked worse than it was…Rennie Curran ran into Gamble and pushed him. Tech fumbles: the first nail in the coffin? Quarter ends, Georgia up 27-17.

Some Tech fans post surprised posts on Facebook. Given the injuries, and the superior SEC competition UGA faces, it shouldn’t be a shocker. So many GT fans thought this would be a cakewalk…and next week’s ACC Championship game as well. Clemson’s loss today will make them even more fired up next week. Is the ever-cocky CPJ above losing the Georgia game to get Tech sharp for the ACCCG? Surely not.

Another UGA field goal: 30-17. Good return for Tech. I hate reverses, but Stephen Hill is fearless. After two first downs, a holding penalty on Tech. With 10:15 to go, a field goal won’t help much. As I type this, the announcers agree with me. Completion for another first. Clock ticks. Interference, but was the pass catchable? Didn’t look like it…a break for Tech. Nesbitt sneak for the touch: 30-24.

Can the Tech D come up with a stop? Clip by the UGA fullback. Face mask by the tight end…both no calls. Caleb breaks loose again…second nail in the coffin, with four minutes left. Millen is a terrible announcer, saying the UGA kicker is good because he wears a linebacker number.

Then Blair Walsh misses wide left. Could loom large for Tech…but they have zero margin for error, with the clock under three minutes. Fumble on third and short, and this is the game…fourth and one with 1:53 left. Roddy Jones gets eight, and stops the clock…1:49 left.

I was thinking a quick score would be good, but I hate the first down pass. Three open receivers, but Nesbitt misses them. Fourth and long, and Thomas drops the ball. No way Tech can win throwing four straight passes…bad play-calling in my book.

Give Georgia credit. Having followed Tech all year, I'm not at all surprised at the outcome.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Newhart Trivia

1. Jerry Van Dyke was the first choice to play George Utley, but his audition for the role was unsuccessful.
2. Larry always wears a quarter in his ear.
3. Exterior scenes of the Stratford Inn were those of the Waybury Inn in Vermont.
4. Early episodes of the show were videotaped, later episodes were filmed.
5. The opening credits are outtakes of On Golden Pond (1981). If you look closely you can see Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in the car. (that's why I say the opening theme is one big joke...that and the Henry Mancini theme song!-DCM).
6. Julia Duffy was pregnant during several episodes of the show and had to hide her condition by wearing baggy clothes and standing behind furniture.
7. Larry, Daryl and Daryl were supposed to be one time characters but the studio audience's reaction to their introduction was so spontaneous the producers used them again.

These facts copied from the WGN America website.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

long sleeve running shirts

I’m a sucker for long-sleeved crew-neck running shirts…whenever I see a nice one at a thrift store I grab it, even though I don’t need any more. Decided to make a list, to see just how many I had. I ranked them, putting my favorites at the top.

1. FILA navy…big, but nice

2. Nike navy/grey…nice, but too big

3. Lands End Navy…just right

4. Lands End Black

5. Black off-brand

6. Nike grey

7. Russell Catawba Athletics cotton navy

8. Reebok silver…kinda slinky, like under armor

9. Hind red…a little tight, and bright

10. Hind royal…same as the red one, but brighter

11. Puma white…tight, can’t wear underneath.

12. Starter white…too tight, gave to Will.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Long Productive Weekend

Got a lot done around the house this weekend. Washed windows, got rid of almost all the piles in our bedroom. Hopefully I can keep the momentum up…got more windows to wash, etc.

Took Will up to Living Science Friday afternoon and had an audience with founder/teacher Mrs. D. She’s letting me write the script for the spring expedition skit…four nights, at least 20 minutes long. Like KidStuf, I hope to include actors bursting into song. Hopefully I’ll put a dent in it over Thanksgiving…I already have two pages of notes. Kyle will have a huge role, and I’ll have to bring fellow senior DJ out of his shell. Or not...Kyle just dropped out, making my job harder.

Couldn’t believe UGA lost. Turnovers killed them. Felt bad for Cox. We had an old small group gathering, and watched some of it there. Jeff, the marriage group leader, had thought about giving his UGA tickets away, but went with his wife and freshman daughter. She dates David Norman, an outspoken Tech fan. He went, and took a great deal of ribbing from his buddies.

Will chose Alyssa’s party over going to the Clemson game. Her mom said there were over 45 kids there, so it was a big success. Walked right past David Hurt’s car going inside…I hadn’t seen him.

Sunday night we watched the series finale of Newhart. Was familiar with the last scene with Suzanne Pleshette, but not how the town sold out and left. Also forgot that Larry’s brothers Darrell and Darrell actually spoke.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Was looking forward to going to Saturday’s Clemson/Virginia game. Ceil wanted me to drive the 20 MPG van instead of the 40 MPG Civic to ferry the Jefferson-Abbeville crowd. But Will decided to stay home and go to a party, so the trip is off.

None of us are looking forward to Thanksgiving, except the kids can’t wait to go to SC Thursday night or Friday. Don’t know if there will be a Clemson@SC ticket for Will, much less me. The boys/men will go paintballing Friday. I’ve done that twice…now I’m retired. Don’t know if I can watch GT/UGA in peace. I’d just as soon stay home and work on much needed projects.

In SC 15-1/2 year olds can get their drivers license. Will’s cousin was given a spruced-up pickup truck by his other grandfather, and has been driving for three months. Tuesday someone pulled out in front of him, and he was rear-ended…totaling the pickup. Wednesday he was involved in another fender-bender. Thursday HIS cousin, his next-door neighbor and a college junior, had a wreck.

Took off Friday. Ate for free at Fuddruckers Thursday, and just missed seeing the Ogre and Brad, who sits next to me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Follow Through

The Look

That's Charlie V in the background, in right.

These photos made Monday's UniWatch. Forgot to mention Will's name, so they were titled "David Murphy's Son".


Note the lefty of five southpaws on Henry's Rockies.


I’ve mostly lost my MyCokeRewards enthusiasm. Will caught the fever for a while, and was logging numbers into my account. He got a pair of Nike spikes and slides. Earlier I got him a pair of adidas running shoes, Ceil some magazines, and extended my SI subscription twice. Right now I have caps piled up around the house. Was thinking about putting a bunch in next weekend if I have to go to SC. I have about 650 points and not 200 to put in (probably only 100)…so it’s going to take a while to get to 1000 again. Got an email saying there will be new things happening in MyCokeRewards in 2010.

Matthew is crazy about stamps these days, perhaps because that’s the ChickfilA kids meal prize.

UniWatch Mention

Sent the pictures of Will pitching and hitting in stirrups to UniWatch, and they posted them Monday. I forgot to mention Will’s name, so the Flicker photo file they created was named “David Murphy’s Son”. Will’s ex-teammate Josiah noticed the catcher was a lefty.

Will’s coaches posted who made his home-school spring team, Crown. His classmate Charlie V didn’t make it. He was the one who was so excited when he hit the home run. I’m sure Charlie is quite disappointed. Just ran the stats for the fall team. Will led in many categories but the two youngest Howard brothers, hitting near the bottom of the order, were tops in average, OBP, & OB+SLG. But in nine games, together they were caught stealing seven times.

Didn’t realize Will did not allow an earned run the entire fall, and only one unearned run in his 15.3 innings. He struck out 30 and walked only six, throwing 64% strikes. BAA was .157 and OBA .259. And he doesn’t like to pitch. His batting stats should’ve been better give the competition: .417 average and .517 on base. Five of his ten hits were doubles.

Actually watched chunks of the last three Hawks games, against the Celtics, Hornets, and Blazers. Nice to win at Boston, and come back and beat the Hornets the next night…even without Chris Paul. Then they were down ten most of the Blazers game, then finally came back. Should be an interesting year. Josh Smith still worries me, he’s not a warrior. Perhaps he’ll learn from vets like Joe Smith and Crawford.

Speaking of the Hawks, Will became Facebook friends with Lang, then noticed Lang was friends with Al Horford (who had 1500 friends). Now Will is friends with Horford, and I think Chris Paul as well. I tried to become friends with Louie Giglio, but he had evidentially reached the max…he has 5001 friends. Noticed one of them was Catherine Norman.

Monday, November 16, 2009


The SPdL Chapel Choir Reunion is planned for February 27. It starts at 10 am and runs into later that afternoon, with lunch served. I know Jim & Kimberly Johnson are coming…at least 50 more have RSVP’d. Andy Collins goaded Mr. Condra into it. I was fortunate enough to attend the Tech Homecoming game, and was able to stop by and see Bobby Evans and Harriett at the BSU. Most of the crowd had moved on, but Andy Berquist was there.

Ceil and I are excited about a new small group we just joined, focusing on marriage enrichment. A counselor we’ve been to is leading it, and his wife. They are also friends, their daughter went to school & youth with Will. Appears to be a deep, honest look at our relationship. Another couple we’re close to is also in the group.

Facebook has been a great tool to see what old friends are doing. It helps keep tabs on the friends the kids are hanging out with. Some call it a time-waster, but in five minutes every few days I can get updates on lots of people…Fred O, Dave Travis, Brett & Donna Freemon, and many others from the BSU and SPdL. On Halloween Dave Stewart wore a 30 year-old Charlie’s Trading Post shirt. Fun to see the pictures people share, and what they’re up to. Buddy Brinkley and Don Head are bi-vocational pastors. Dr. Headley builds massive treehouses and goes on scouting trips with his boys. Al Rahn drives a tractor. Even Bob & Myra have Facebooks!

Ceil and the kids are doing well. Matthew (11) has his moments, but started taking some light ADHD medication, which has helped him concentrate on school. He’s been helping Ceil in a 3-year old Sunday School class, where he is quite popular with his students. Anna (13) is becoming a young lady, takes ballet 4 days a week, and is chatting more and more with friends. Will (16) stills plays baseball, teaches Sunday School, and still spends a lot of time with the Norman boys.

Will and I just returned from his school trip to the Kennedy Space Center, & the nearby Merritt Island Wilderness Area. On the school trips, parents sent a letter of encouragement for their child to read…a special time. Will was the first to stand up on the Florida retreat and walk across the room to give his parent a hug (& tell me he loved me). That eased the tension, and younger students followed his example. Will is the hugger type and wants to be close to me, which helps. Anna is a tougher nut, but softens when I help her with homework. Ceil works at their Veritas School the one day they all take classes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More JFK Reading

Just started another JFK book, about his entire life…called “An Unfinished Life”. It’s not Reckless Youth, which I’d already read. Didn’t know that one was made into a TV miniseries. “Forever Young” was a good one about JFK Jr. Found out his father barely won a letter at Harvard playing baseball. In high school he led the city of Boston in hitting, earning him “The Mayor’s Cup”, presented to him by mayor “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, his future father-in-law.

Anna always gets the short end of the stick. She’s been pretty busy. She has ballet four times a week…Monday thru Thursday. Lots of school and friends. Hard to believe she’s doing the “big girl” dances at ballet.

Often I feel like I spend too much time on trivial things. Like my mom…ever since it was decided Thanksgiving would be at our house, she’s been calling every day. The other night she called at 10 pm for Ceil, who was already in bed. Ceil and I are the last-second types, of course.

The rainy commutes have been rough. Don’t know why Atlanta Street thru Roswell was jammed last night, while the river was clear. This AM I took Will & two others to Living Science. Got there too early, at 7:45. Crossed Sandy Plains near the library. After almost two hours in the car, it was hard to climb out. Got back to exercising these last two weeks, so I’m sore.

Saw some of the Hawks/Knicks last night, and figured Lang was there. Nice that he was on Holman’s radio broadcast. It’s hard to hear way out here in the burbs.

Fuddruckers yesterday for lunch, with the Ogre. His remodeled kitchen may not be finished in time for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Busy, Productive Weekend

Took off Friday & took Ceil around town. They didn’t have her size at the Sandy Springs Abbadabbas, and my brain froze when I couldn’t remember where Little Five Points was (all I could think was Virginia Highlands). We were headed to Decatur anyway, so we hopped on 400 downtown, then over to Little Five via the parkway. We spent some time driving around Euclid, Clifton, and Ponce, then the little streets in downtown Decatur looking at the little shops.

Ceil wanted to eat at the Dekalb Farmers Market…food was weird but good (squash lasagna). After getting groceries she went to Intown Quilters, while I hit a Play It Again Sports next door at North Dekalb Mall. Found an interesting Akadema Ozzie Smith baseball glove, but it looked too small for Will. Went home through rush-hour traffic, got the kids, and ate a late supper at Chili’s…Ceil had a gift certificate.

Saturday I got a car wash and oil change, then Ceil and Will took off for Clemson. Went to the Picture Show…Anna wanted to see Harry Potter. Sat A & M down in the theatre, then I went over and watched GI Joe instead. While I watched the Tech and Clemson games Matthew baked gluten-free brownees. I spent eight hours standing up, doing laundry and putting away summer clothes. Still got more to do.

Every week Connie Morris is happy with the Tech win, while I nitpick about Johnson calling too many passing plays. Sure, the receivers are open, but Nesbitt can’t pass accurately enough to hit them. Stayed up real late waiting for C and W to return (after 2 am!). Should’ve watched Taylor Swift on SNL, but I kept waiting for ESPN to recap the GT OT thriller…maybe I missed it, but they hardly mentioned it.

Got up and took the kids to North Point, riding the shuttle with my new retreat friends, the Howells. Ceil slept in, then came to the second service. I liked the bad karaoke singer, but thought he was funnier the first time they had him. Took a nap Sunday afternoon (so did Ceil) then took Will to youth group, and Matthew to Moes. Ceil and Anna went shopping and to Willies. Missed my beloved Sunday night Newhart fix on WGN.

Moes has the free $5.00 with purchase of a $25.00 gift card again.

Could be a long year for Tech hoops. Hewitt is good at choosing his words so he won’t get boxed into a corner. He got into an argument with Jeff Schultz about whether or not GT would make the NCAA tourney. If they don’t have a good year this year, he’ll just say his team was too young. Then Favors will leave, giving Hewitt an excuse for next year. All the while he just rakes in the big bucks. Perhaps football is taking in more money these days, giving the GTAA enough money to buy out Hewitt.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wilderness Van

In the wilderness, watching wildcats, gators, boar, etc with the windows down & sliding doors open.

L-R: Will, Nathan, Marshall, tall Holt, & little Charles. Mr. Howell co-pilots for me.

Note Will holding on with one hand, and holding his mother's expensive camera with the other.

Facebook News Flash

Big news in the Facebook world: Lang finally signed up. His sister posted a welcome, which basically told everyone the news. Don’t know how long he’s been up, but he already has 90 friends (now 127), including several from his old high school group (& David Aldridge).

Interesting to see the stir he causes in people, and the reactions already posted on his page. In dealing with people from his past (like me) he is genuine and authentic, sharing what people want to hear: stories from his larger-than-life life. He does this without bragging, sharing stories only because people want to hear. I’m not surprised he turned out to do such a fine fellow.

His first post “I’m here” reminded me of the first Nike / Tiger Woods “Hello World” commercial. His profile picture is one I’d seen, wrestling with Shaq. Didn’t take him long to approve my friend request…he’s still in the Facebook “honeymoon” stage: checking often. Lang flew in last Friday for the Hawks opener, bought his dad a new outdoor grille, and cooked supper.

Meanwhile, Will wants to work for Hooters so he can go to World Series games.

Got Will to post a photo on my page of our van on the retreat, with the doors open and the guys hanging off the sides. Will is seen with his mother’s expensive camera around his neck.

Glenn, a co-worker I’ve run several Peachtree’s with, flew to NYC last Saturday and ran the marathon. Said it was a huge thrill. He’s my age, and has run marathons in Chicago and DC. Wants to get his time down to qualify for Boston.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Lucy & Holt

The normally photogentic Lucy has to smile at Holt's antics, as Mary-Clayton looks on. Alyssa's mother Denise looks on from the chaperone table in the back.

Halloween Weekend

Month end Friday wasn’t that bad. Had our best month of the year.

That night Will went to a costume party for his Wednesday Veritas school. Ceil took Anna to her friend Molly’s house, where Ceil stayed til midnight sewing Halloween costumes. I took Matthew to see that hamster spy move G-Force at the Picture Show. Then we went got to Moes at 8:45. The guy was sweeping up, even though the sign said they’d be open til ten. After that we went over to Molly’s, and went with her dad Jim (& Anna, Molly, & two other girls) to get Will and Molly’s brother Spencer from the party. Saw basketball star Connor, and his dad. Also playmaker Audrey.

Worked around the house Saturday, and posted more retreat pictures on Facebook. Waited all day for the GA/FL game, then had to take Will over near NP Mall for a party at 3:45. Got back, and had to take Anna over to Molly’s at 4:45. Got back & realized the front walk & driveway needed to be cleared before the trick-or-treaters came. Slipped on mud covering part of the walk, due to all the rain. Worked to clear all that off for about an hour…so I missed just about all of GA/FL.

Just a few kids came by for candy. Ceil & Anna returned at halftime of the Tech game, then I went after Matthew, who had gone out with friends in their two neighborhoods. Watched the rest of the Tech game over there. Will went straight to another party with his Living Science friends, at my chaperone pal Sandy’s house. First year ever Will didn’t trick-or-treat. Guess Joel was there, but I’m not sure.

My Hooters neighbor went to Series Game One in New York. Had upper deck seats, then upgraded to lower deck…and found a lady & son outside Yankee Stadium to give his extras to. She was overjoyed. Will, of course, wants to work for Hooters.

Didn’t do much Sunday after church.

With Clemson/FSU kickoff not until 7:45 Saturday, Ceil is trying to decide what to do with her two tickets. I told her I would drive her and Will up there if she wanted to go, since it’s her birthday weekend. Matthew and I could hang out, try for tickets, eat, or go to a movie.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


In her Lemke-autographed Braves cap, Alyssa pitches. Kevin (orange) & Josh play the field.


At our Titusville hotel, Will is about to pounce on a whiffleball. NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building is in the background, 15 miles away (the two launch pads can barely be made out to the left of the VAB).

Merritt Island National Wilderness Area

Were I better photographer, you could see the space shuttle on the launch pad behind Caleb, Will, and Michael. Also the new Aries rocket on the other launch pad.

RETREAT Conclusion: Gators, Songwriting, & Coming Home

Friday we journeyed back to the wilderness, to survey the foliage under the transact lines. Unlike the first retreat, we didn’t handle snakes or alligators…fine by me. Upon arrival, Mr. D had Mr. Mason, Mr. Vollenweider, and me scout the area, to make sure the coast was clear. Mr. V called us over to see some interesting “bicycle” tracks. Not exactly a place you’d ride a bike, unless you’re Jeff Pipe. I noticed smaller tracks to each side of the “tire” track…GATOR! Great.

Michael had me stationed at the 0.0 mark with Will and Caleb, which was precisely where the gator had exited the water. From my vantage point I could see the launch pads behind the boys, but unfortunately they didn’t show up in my photographs. Russ reported how much nicer the weather was than the scorching first retreat…a gentle breeze was keeping us cool.

The Servant Leaders did a great job all week. With fewer and smaller groups, the pressure was greater and the job tougher. The other upperclassmen also ministered to those around them, making sure everyone was included, as much as possible.

Mrs. Howell was back in action, wandering around with her camera. When it was time to pack up, we saw her, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Mason, and Mrs. Hanson emerge from the scrub brush a hundred yards away. As they got closer, it was apparent Mrs. Hanson’s leg was bleeding. What happened?

Her story: Feeling something rough on her leg, she screamed “What’s that…a gator?” Mr. Mason, realizing others must be warned, pushed her out of the way, and broke out in a run. Summoning the strength God gives frail mothers in times of distress, Mrs. Hanson, without looking, reached down and snatched away the offending beast. Once in the clear calmer heads prevailed, and she realized the tiny scratch had been inflicted by a small scrub.

Again Mrs. Ellis saved the day, applying a small band-aid.

After sandwiches at the Shetler Shelter, chap ladies Arps and Martin finally got what was coming to them for not wearing matching shirts: Patricia saw two lizards scattering about in her minivan. A detailed search could not smoke out the beasts. That night they were sure to wear the same outfit, and I was the first to notice.

We finally got over to Haulover Canal to watch the manatees. The sunny conditions made for great viewing. Mr. Landrum cast out his net, and several students took their turn. Back at the hotel there was time for swimming and whiffleball. JT and Conner did some amazing flips into the pool. I took got some great shots of the whiffleball arguments…many with the water, VAB, & launch pads in the background. More manatees were observed, right next to the hotel.

After dinner Alyssa & Christy finally got to debut the new Who What Where song. Wednesday night as I was frantically preparing for the chap skit, Alyssa interrupts, needing a new song written immediately (not knowing that genius takes time!). We were able to crank out a few lines, and luckily didn’t have to sing it until I was able to add a few finishing touches. Still, Alyssa was hesitant to sing it without me. This seemed odd to me, since she’s such a ham. I later discovered it was the Spiderman Song tune she wasn’t familiar with. Ever time she’d sing one line, then look at me…cracking me up. Hopefully we entertained.

Who What Where, Who What Where.
Friendly neighborhood Who What Where.
Instant Skit! Who needs props?
Mrs. Switzer, you’re the tops!

Who What Where? We’ll show you.
Capes and wigs, to name a few

To us, retreats are a real fun journey.
Forget the tennis tourney,
‘Cause we’ve got your Who What Where!

Singing, we had to compete against the Elvis impersonator down the hall. In the back, Mrs. Howell took particular delight in photographing her husband holding little Daniel, reminding her of the days not too long ago when Marshall was that size. Kara cracked up when Kyle was asked his college course of study…he has it narrowed down to six wide-ranging topics.

The parent’s encouraging letters were passed out and read…a sweet time that set the tone for the final night. It was just was special for the parents sitting back observing, knowing each student and their family. The Redeemer skit added to the evening. It’s fun to see God work through whoever’s in it. Matthew’s youth was perfect for his “man” role. Woodard’s penetrating eyes captured the essence of evil (thank goodness he was only acting). Kyle was quite expressive as Christ.

At breakfast Saturday Mona glanced at her watch with a satisfied look on her face. She boasts: “Ha! Eight o’clock, and I’ve already got one kid in trouble. It’s going to be a good day!” In the lobby, Mr. D spots an elderly man checking out. It’s yesterday’s astronaut of the day, Jerry Carr. BTW, Carr spent over 2-1/2 straight MONTHS in space on the last SkyLab mission in 1973-74. We should’ve hit him up for FREE autographs!

When roomates Caleb, Michael T, & Josh emerged with styled hair, Caleb said "We're like the three little bears." Haha, he had his stories mixed up. Charles Norman quote: "I'm not into boundaries, Holt, but I think you crossed the line."

My return car: Will, Matt Ellis, JT, Chase, Holt, and Gerald (shotgun). Gerald and I had to chuckle at the other’s singing, actually making up the lyrics as they went. Should I write an Expedition Skit/Musical, I know who’s helping me score. When not napping, Gerald reported on the cool cars we passed…a subject he’s expert in. The boys appreciate my “help” with chemistry (no, it’s MONOXIDE!).

At our Valdosta stop, Mrs. Taylor’s mother passed out homemade pecan pies. Gerald ate FIVE gorditas at the Zebulon Taco Bell, while others opted for Chick-fil-A. Mona’s car required a couple of unscheduled whether stops, so Group B was able to arrive back at the property first, welcomed by a large host of family and friends. Good times.

Anyone still reading? If you made it all the way, you get a merit badge! Thanks.

RETREAT: Terror at the Space Center!

OK, perhaps the title is a BIT overdramatic. We’ll see. Anyway, our never-ending story continued Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center. Over the communicator Mr. D has the caravan park on the first row, next to a line of trees. I want to point out the many ordinary blackbirds flittering about, but demur.

Mr. Howell and I are assigned a secret mission, involving Michael & Michelle’s Group. National security could be at stake. Mrs. Howell, Mrs. McPherson, & the Taylors tag along. After entering the “park” the obligatory LS group photo is taken. The “Rocket Garden” provides another photo op. The boys are photographed holding up the Saturn V with both hands…then the ladies strike the same pose, needing only one finger.

The students take on the playground. We watch the IMAX Space Station film, narrated by Tom Cruise, with an introduction by a real astronaut. Elsewhere, a sign says someone named Jerry Carr is the astronaut of the day. NASA named the different sections of the parking lot after astronauts.

We eat an early lunch near our cars (and the blackbirds). Many throw bread to the feathered friends. I convince Julie to toss crumbs behind Mrs. Hanson, but no birds take the bait. Sighting national security, Michael Woodard convinces Mrs. D to let me be the lone chaperone attending the NASA-led class. Actually I’m thrilled, knowing it will add a paragraph or two to the Facebook Retreat Recap I’m planning to write. Knowledge-lovin’ chaperone Mr. McKenzie joins me. The other chaps, and most of the Servant Leaders, get the hour off.

In the class our students ask tough questions, led by Pierce and Frances. Caleb, Holt, Alyssa, Will, and Michael Taylor are guinea-pigs for experiments. We learn about the shuttle’s replacement Aries. I snap pictures.

After class we meet up with the rest of the group, and hop one of the “44 air-conditioned buses” for the NASA tour. We pass a huge bald eagle’s nest, the huge mobile launch pad crawler thing, and the huge 53 story Vehicle Assembly Building (no truth to the rumor that they’re building Chevys in there). Watch a video. Climb the observation tower. Snap photos of the two launch pads.

Back in the bus, the elderly bus driver cracks wise “Ask me anything. If I don’t know the answer, we’ll ask my wife. She knows everything!” More videos at the Apollo area. No sign of Ron Howard’s bald brother. Mary Clayton digs the large 70’s-style sunglasses in the video.

We’re funneled out to see a huge Saturn V rocket, an astronaut’s Corvette, the Lunar Rover, and the Apollo 13 capsule. Marshall chats up a retired NASA engineer. Did Caleb really ask him “where’s the bathroom?”? The group hits the concession stand. Margaret Donovan tests the KSC “free refill” policy, after spilling her blue Slurpee. The Howells opt for Peanut M&Ms.

Michael expertly directs his group back to the bus, making sure there’s enough time for everything. Michelle lags behind, purchasing souvenirs. Back at the main Visitors Center we make tracks for the “realistic” Shuttle Launch Experience.” I notice the Howells decide to sit this one out. I make eye contact with Brad, nodding that I’ll continue our secret mission alone.

As we que, videotaped astronauts rave how authentic this “Experience” is. We deposit the contents of our pockets in lockers, lest we lose them. Not a huge fan of thrill rides, I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. Woodard fools Will into thinking the floor is going to drop out from under him. Then, the “Experience.” To me, a huge disappointment.

Afterwards, the circular exit is lined with a plaque from each of the 128 shuttle missions. I note the only two black & white plaques, honoring the last Challenger and Columbia missions. Michael & Michelle then lead us on a beeline back to the IMAX for the Tom Hanks Man on the Moon show.

We pass the Howells again. A group is clustered around Allison. She’s having an allergic reaction, which is strange, because she’s never had one before. As Mrs. D would later tell the group, with Allison’s throat swelling, she was minutes away from suffocating. Who would save Mrs. Howell this time?

Thankfully, the Howells had caught our same bus back to the main area, where Retreat Nurse Pam Ellis was watching her little Daniel play. In her always handy medical kit was a dose of Epinephrine, which wound up saving Allison’s life. Thanks be to God!

But the carnage doesn’t end there. Did you SEE those souvenir prices? Mary Massey purchases a postcard, and gets Jerry Carr’s autograph. The Junior Astronaut helmet is too pricey for Mr. Taylor. We return to our cars, expecting the shade from the trees to cool our cars. Instead we see what liberties the blackbirds have taken on our hoods. A strange man wanders up, looking for Mr. D or Kyle. It’s Kyle’s uncle, bearing gifts from NASA.

With Kyle graduating, perhaps Mrs. Ellis will take his place as Krypto!