Friday, April 29, 2011

Expedition Extra: Alyssa's Adventures

During one of several delightful conversations I had with Alyssa on this Expedition, I told her I'd taken so many notes on the escapades she alone had engineered, that I was making her the sole subject of one of my recaps. She thought it was a capital idea. It wasn't hard, as she is a quite newsworthy senior. So here it goes, though I already published several tidbits on Alyssa in my first two episodes.

Alyssa started pestering me back in middle school, and we've been buddies ever since. I think she likes it best when I tell her to love on her mother. On many retreats and expeditions Mrs. Hanson and I have had fun swapping stories about the latest antics our children have performed, thought she's been kinda busy running things on the last few LS trips. I think Denise has been staying away from me on purpose, knowing I'm constantly taking notes to feed these recaps. On this entire first Expedition Denise did little of note, except selflessly serve Mr. & Mrs. D. Hopefully I was more help than hindrance.

But back to Alyssa.

After lunch on Cumberland the groups hiked to the boardwalk on the southeastern tip of the island. It was low tide, and not too far away in the marsh a brown raccoon ignored us, instead busily digging for crayfish. Ever the scientist, Alyssa hypothesized that perhaps this nocturnal creature was boldly out during mid-day because it was rabid. Then Alyssa reenacted the raccoon scene from Elf. You had to see it.

On the beach Mrs. D taught on the beached Right Whale we discovered. Alyssa told me how the Right Whale got it's name: Because of it's size and amount of whale fat that made it float, it made the "right" whale to hunt. I'm not sure Mrs. D's definition was exactly the same. Later I tried to mess up the definition, but did a poor job.

While many played games on the return trip to St Marys, Alyssa and I had a delightful chat. We spoke of college, hair-styles, and how bittersweet the upcoming summer will be as the seniors go their separate ways. With or without our busy family members, her dad and I plan on attending our third annual Braves game together.

During another chap meeting Alyssa interrupted yet again. She thought the door was locked, and her face turned red when she couldn't open it. But when someone easily opened the door for her, her face got even redder. As we all laughed, she stammered "You...didn't...see...anything!"

Young Caleb was talking to his mother: "There are these two girls in the skit. One is the Servant Leader on my team. Her name is Kara. And the not so smart one..."

During Friday rotations, Kevin's group was headed to the weighing & measuring shelter. Alyssa approached, walking with Bailey. I brightened, smiled, and waved a huge hello. Loudly I hollered "HELLO BAILEY!" As Alyssa GLARED for several long seconds, I explained. "Hey! You're graduating! I need new friends!" "NO!" Alyssa said, still glaring.

Good thing no one's reading these recaps. Everyone would want their own!

The first Expedition I chaperoned was in 2005, when Will was in seventh grade. Since then I've been on eight more LS trips, watching this group of seniors grow from timid little squirts into fine young men and beautiful young ladies...Will's beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Each year's LS seniors have been great to work with, but I'd been looking forward to watching this bunch lead as seniors for a very long time. Great job, guys. Y'all will certainly be missed.


Students play "signs" on the return trip from Cumberland Island. Will is on the left in the white cap. Next is Joel, Josh, Thomas, and Anna. Kevin is behind Will, in the Astros cap. Next to him is Mr. D. Amber's dad crosses his legs in the back, and chaperone Joe looks cool with his backwards cap, seated on the right.

Expedition Day 4 - Holt & the Bee

Friday the waves were slightly rougher, but the seining went on nonetheless. We had a few late-arriving men available to sein, but Joe and Mr. Bellerjeau still joined in the fun. After completing an early chore I arrived on the beach and asked Mr. D which group I should help. He surveyed both groups and reached a conclusion. "Charles is down there, so go help the other group." Shows you how highly Mr. D values my scientific expertise, I suppose.

Holt somehow caught a bee, which he proudly held by the wings. Later someone said he ate it. The rest of us were treated to popsicles. Earlier, the usual Living Science lunch sandwiches were greeted by shouts of "SANDWICHES!" and "I love sandwiches!"

There was alot for the students to get in that day, and little for the chaperones to do, except chat, take pictures, help with lunch and dinner, and break down equipment at the end of the day. Late in the afternoon several of the chap ladies gathered around Mrs. D, and an impromptu ladies conference broke out. The ladies asked questions, and Mrs. D held court for over an hour, dispensing wisdom. I was fortunate enough to sit in for some of her talk. One nugget: If you're doing it out of comdenation, you're creating deaf ears.

My arms and legs had been bitten by so many bugs that I looked like I had the measles. While us chaps chatted, I spied Nurse Mary's old school calomine lotion. With nothing else to do, I coated my arms in the soothing pink liquid. Later Mary used the calomine lotion to sooth several student's bites (until she ran out, for some reason).

Just before our pizza dinner the servant leaders headed to their cars, ready to head back to the hotel to prepare for the evening activities. Mrs. Hanson relayed a message from Mrs. D: After the skit, Mr. Ellis and I would be selected winners of the best teacher "election." I quickly told David, and we shared some ideas. I considered accepting the award as Krypto, but the needed costumes were unavailable. I was unaware the he also had a superhero alter-ego, but he didn want to go that far. We decided to play it by ear.

Meanwhile, the middle-schoolers were introduced to a complicated four-part game as they waited for pizza. As the instructions droned on for what seemed like 15 minutes, Joe and I saw several blank stares. We didn't think the complex game would fly, but we were soon proven wrong. Both the boys AND girls went to work untying human knots, climbing through ropes, throwing a ball, and performing human wheelbarrows. The game was a hit, and only two students were injured in 15 minutes of action. Anna suffered her THIRD injury of the week, bloodying her knee pretty good.

Several times during the week Tia and Joanna hosted the "Who am I?" game. Students dutifully stood, then sat when eliminated. Tia's bright personality was the highlight of the game, and she insisted on having each "winner"'s picture taken with her.

The wonderful skit came to it's decisive conclusion, though we didn't want it to end. Mrs. D actually had the students vote for their favorite teachers, and during the break the they were supposedly counted. Though the teachers supposedly knew there would be no winner, Will was thrown for a loop when Mrs. D announced "The winners, with 58 votes...Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ellis!" David and I scream, hug, and excitedly run about. Mrs. D ill-advisedly handed me the microphone, and I pull out the speech I'd jotted down. My first line was ONLY said for laughs: "We may not have written the skit, but we still got the last laugh!" I continued my speech, which was going to mention all three teaching teams. But Mr. Ellis looked like he had something to say, so I handed him the mic. His "I voted for us 58 times!" line was so good, there was no need to continue. Ad-libbing, I compared this acceptance speech to my speech at Will's mugging, which I hear was infamously long. Finally, I pointed to Mr. Landrum, asking him to play the video we had prepared (earlier I'd asked Charles to play any video he had that might be funny). I thought his choice was excellent...a video on toothpick bridge building. Unfortunately, many students didn't get it.

Letters from the parents were read, which is always a special time. Worship got off to an unusual start. Matthew Flurry couldn't find his sidekick Caleb, and was quite upset. I thought he was looking for a parent, after reading his letter. I found his mother in the back, and she came to his rescue. But later the youngest Flurry boy was MIA. Fortunately, after a few frantic minutes, he was found on the front row of singing students.

After worship the 8th graders went ghost crabbing, which was Anna's favorite part of the week. I got in trouble with Mrs. Hanson for taking Holt to the house, to get his flashlight. At 2 am Matthew Flurry throws up, but he feels fine afterwards. His dad says pizza does that to him.

Sand Sculptures

On Day One of the 2011 Spring Expedition, Matthew helps create his team's sand sculpture.

Will's Thursday Game

Will’s team won another easy game Thursday, beating Holy Spirit Prep 13-0 on the road in Buckhead. It was a good game for Will to get back into practice, after his long layoff. Batting leadoff, Will reached base all four times, collecting two singles and a double…making him his team’s most productive offensive player.

On the mound he pitched two hitless innings, striking out five batters. Will played third base the first two innings and shortstop the last inning, handling his only grounder flawlessly.

1st inning…Will led the game off with a line drive single to right field. He stole second, advanced to third on a single to left, and scored on a home run.

2nd inning…Hit a chopper down the third base line, reaching when the third-baseman’s throw was off the mark. This drove in the runner from third. With a runner on third ahead of him, Will advanced to second. He then tagged up on a fly ball to short right field and advanced to third, before the inning ended.

4th inning…Will doubled deep into the leftfield corner, driving in the runner from second.

5th inning…With two out, the pitcher threw three straight balls to Will. Needing all the hitting practice possible (and with nothing to gain from a walk), I encouraged him to swing. He lined a 3-0 single over the shortstop's head to left, driving in the runner from second.

Will…3-4, run, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB…10 productivity points

Tanner…2-3, 2B, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBI…9 points

Adam…1-3, HR, run, 3 RBI…6 points

Patrick…2-3, 2 runs, RBI…5 points

Franklin…1-3, 2 runs, SB…4 points

Nathan…1-3, run, SB…3 points

Sam…1-1, BB, run…3 points

Braeden…1-3, run…2 points

Ray…BB, run…2 points

Russell…BB, run…2 points

Michael…0-2, sac fly, RBI…1 point

Jordan…1-2…one point


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fielding: The Stats Don't Lie

Tuesday was the first time all year I got to drive Will to his game. Having not played in over a month, he still did pretty well. While he was out, his team lost at least two games due to fielding errors. Parents act surprised, though they shouldn’t be. Last night’s stats…

12 innings

52 batters faced

21 strikeouts

15 putouts in field

07 walks

06 hits

04 errors…a fielding percentage of .789. This doesn’t include throws to the wrong base, etc, that allowed runners to advance without an error being charged. Some may have not ruled them errors, but they were still plays that should’ve been made.

When Crown plays a decent team that puts the ball in play, they could be in trouble. Offensively, too many players swing for the fences and run the bases too recklessly. Bloop hits and pops/flies/grounders are celebrated as hits, that would’ve been outs by decent teams. There’s more concern over batting average and stolen bases than playing the game properly. But perhaps that’s boys being boys. Will is certainly guilty of reckless baserunning. You don’t see such play out of ECB teams, or East Cobb public school teams.

At least six Living Science girls attended Thursday’s game, but that included catcher Nathan’s two sisters. Lucy and her mom came, lending me a conversational distraction from all the bad plays.

Stayed up and watched over half the Braves game Tuesday night. Monday night Will said he watched the whole 13 inning affair, before leaving out at 7 am for his small group.

Tuesday Ceil, Matthew, and I ate lunch at Zaxbys. It was possibly Will’s last-ever home game, so I attended that instead of the showcase for Anna & Matthew’s Broadway class. Anna wasn’t thrilled about singing solos in front of people, though the normally mild-mannered Matthew seemed to enjoy it. Ceil said the whole thing didn’t last very long.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Group Six

Matthew's Expedition group, in front of the Dungeness Ruins on Cumberland Island. In the rear are leaders Joel, Amber, and Jessica.

Up front are Laura, Gooie, Jacob, Matthew, Oliver, Alaina, Hannah, and Tanner.

Jacob is Elin's little brother. Alaina is in The Wiz, with Anna.

Will's Tuesday Doubleheader

Playing for the first time in 32 days (with just one muddy practice in between), Will played every inning of Crown’s doubleheader sweep over South Atlanta Tuesday afternoon. Though quite rusty, he was the second most productive player on the team.

Will made it on base in seven of the eight times he came to bat.

Game One: Leadoff hitter

1st inning: Will walked on four pitches, then went first to third...ON A BUNT! He didn’t realize the pitcher hadn’t thrown to first after dropping the bunt. The third-baseman had charged, so no one was covering third. Will slid into third ahead of the diving pitcher, who was trying to tag him out. He then scored on a single.

2nd inning: Will singled to right, stole second and third, and scored on an error.

Game Two:

1st inning: With runners on second and third Will singled up the middle. The runner on third scored, but the slow runner on second was thrown out at the plate, ending the inning.

3rd inning: Will hit a grounder in the hole at short. The shortstop bobbled the ball, and Will beat the throw to first. He stole second and scored on a double.

4th.inning: Will walked, and advanced to third before the inning ended.

5th inning: Will reached first when the shortstop’s throw pulled the first-baseman off the bag. He stole second, but again the inning ended.

In game Two Will was the starting pitcher. He was credited with the win, despite little defensive support. He struck out five in three innings, throwing 60% strikes. After run-ruling South Atlanta in Game One, Crown started backups at five positions in Game Two, weakening the defense at six positions.

In the third the leadoff batter walked, after Will just missed with several close pitches. The catcher couldn’t block a tough pitch, allowing the runner to advance to second. The next batter hit a slow grounder right where the second-baseman normally plays, but he couldn’t reach the ball after holding the runner close to the base. The runner on first broke for second, but the catcher aired his second straight throw into centerfield. A grounder through the hole into leftfield easily scored the runner from second. The throw from leftfield missed the first cutoff man, then was dropped by the backup third-baseman, allowing the batter to reach second base. A passed ball put the runner at third base. Rattled, Will walked the next batter, putting runners on first and third. Again, the runner on first broke for second, and again the catcher aired the ball into centerfield, allowing the runner on third to score.

So Will had faced four batters in the inning, and six defensive miscues had led to three runs to score. With a runner on second, the next batter was a tall, athletic, Jason Heyward wannabe. In the previous inning he had hit a tremendous shot high off the tall centerfield wall, over 365 feet away. Will threw three straight curveballs to strike Rumeal out, making him look bad in the process (and his loudmouth mother!). Then Will struck out the next two batters as well, stranding the runner on second.

If Crown plays like they did yesterday, they will not win next week’s Florida tournament.

Braeden…6-7, HR, 3 doubles, 6 RBI, 2 SB, 6 runs, HBP…25 points

Will…2-6, 2 BB, 3 runs, 3 SB, RBI…11 points

Patrick…2-3, BB, 3 runs, 2 RBI, 2 SB…10 points

Adam…3-4, 2 runs, RBI, SB…7 points

Nathan…1-3, 2 BB, 3 runs…6 points

Nick…1-2, 2 runs, RBI…4 points

Ian…1-3, 2B, 2 RBI, CS…4 points

Tanner…1-4, run, sac, RBI…4 points

Sam…0-3, run…1 point

Jake…0-1, BB, HBP, run…3 points

Franklin…1-3, RBI…2 points

Jordan…1-3, RBI…2 points

Michael…0-4, 2 runs…2 points





Monday, April 25, 2011

The Dance

Marie Antionette and King Louis (Alyssa and Joel) end the magical evening with a dance.

Expedition Day 3: Games on the Lido Deck

Thursday we boarded our cars at 6:30 and headed south to lovely St. Marys, to board the Cumberland Princess. Mr. Bellerjeau rode shotgun, and we had a great chat. Soon we were on our voyage to Cumberland Island. Along the way we scouted islands where we could set up future Living Science expeditions. Four wild horses were there to greet us when we arrived, answering Mrs. D's prayers.

We set out walking southeast. Joel was losing his voice, so he took the day off from teaching. We all wanted to hear his wonderful French accent that evening, so Kevin spoke for the two groups. Amber got Group Five engaged in a quick ninja game while Joel paced off a nature walk. I was able to have one of several great conversations with Mrs. Hill.

At the Dungeness Ruins we found a fig tree that had killed off a palm tree, providing teaching fodder for Mrs. D and Kevin (and later groups). My Matthew and the other 6th graders much enjoyed the crab races. We hiked to the bath house and ate lunch, then continued on to the tertiary dunes on the southern tip of the island.

With just scattered trees and brush, and tall dunes as far as the eye can see in all directions, this area looks like a desert. When I say "This is where NASA filmed Mission to Mars", Kevin responds "Really?!" Joel cracks up. While the middle schoolers are easily fooled because they don't know me, it's hard to slip one past Kevin. I am proud. Thirty minutes later Kevin isn't fooled by my next quip.

As I take pictures of the barren plain, young Bailey thinks I'm following her. She was in the background of a shot of the group in front of an interesting tree, though it's hard to pick her out of the crowd. Hopefully she didn't tell her parents that I'm weird. I'm sure you readers will vouch for me, right?

Out on the beach Mrs. D lets us take off our shoes as we walk the mile northward in the surf. As we hiked I got to know the delightful Mr. McKenzie. We had chaperoned together on the 2009 Merritt Island Retreat. He had the best bug protectant: long sleeves and pants. John is involved at Passion City Church, and we spoke at length about that. Later I walked the beach with Mrs. D and pitched my "ghost seining" idea. She loved it, with one caveat: Since sharks are nocturnal, the chap men would pull BOTH sides of the net.

At one point everyone moves away from the water to see something near the dunes: the remains of right whale that had been beached a week or two ago. From a distance it looked like where someone had built a fire. Since flounders whose left eyes migrate to the right are called winter flounders, I ask Mrs. D if the right whale is a winter. She doesn't get it, but Mrs. Smith and Alyssa did.

On the beach I find a broken sand dollar. Actually, it was a sand quarter.

As we leave the beach Kevin stops Groups 5 and 6 to teach on primary dunes. As Joanna's Group One passes us on the long boardwalk, several of us chaperones bringing up the rear look at each other. "Must be an advanced class!" "They must've been promoted to the secondary dunes!" "Ah! Science humor!" quips Joe. "Of the worst kind!" I respond. When a chap lady asks why I'm taking notes, Joe says there will be a test.

Kevin says the secondary dunes were formed several hundred years ago. He points east. "See those little baby dunes closer to the ocean? One day they may grow up to be big secondary dunes like these." Always good to speak the language of your students!

Young Peter LOVED Cumberland Island, and begged his mother to return some day. If he becomes a Servant Leader, I explain, he can come back in four years. But he doesn't want to be a Servant Leader, he says. When I ask why, he answers "Too much stress!" I point to Kevin and ask "Are you stressed?" But Peter is not convinced. He adds "And you have to be MEAN to little kids!"

Games break out on the return trip to St. Marys. Several students circle round for a slapping game, where one person is eliminated each round. Tiny eighth-grader Caroline eventually eliminates tall seniors Amber and Kara. Then an even larger group plays "Signs", a game I'd scarcely seen before. Young Reeves is perplexed when Kevin is chosen to deliver signs. You see, Kevin wasn't even playing the game. On the week two return voyage Kevin leans back...and the Astros cap he's worn on every LS trip blows off, into the drink.

As we dock, I notice several St Marys businesses: Lang's Charters, Lang's Seafood, Lang's Marina, the boat Lang's Pride. Didn't know my friend Lang had invested so widely. On the return trip to Jekyll our young boys are pumped, particularly Caleb. Matthew Flurry was engrossed drawing several more cartoons: Larry the Cucumber being blown up by atomic bombs.

Before the skit Mrs. D asks which adults know the difference between male and female Wax Myrtles. Sensing an opportunity, I start to raise my hand. Just then Mrs. D adds: "...and be truthful, because GOD knows!" I quickly lower my hand, drawing laughs from the Ellis's behind me.

Without warning Caleb is called to the front to retell the famous story of being pinched by a crab. He expertly spins the yarn, embellishing in all the right places. I thought I was there.

Expedition Day Two: Fish Tales

At breakfast Wednesday, Mrs. Smith asks Holt if he slept well. Actually, he stayed up until 3 am writing notes and working on his teaching script, "even though Kevin went on to bed". I joke with Julie that I heard Kevin saying the very opposite. Turns out there was a great deal more to the story.

Before we'd left our hotel room that morning, I heard a ruckus outside. Will and Joel were knocking on room 522 next door, to wake Mr Ostrowidzki (from here on out we'll call him Joe). Great plan, except Joe was in room 722. Luckily, no serial killer answered 522's door.

Mr. D had four of us chap men set up the girls changing tent next to the restroom, leaving Joe to carry beach supplies by himself. As we walked off, we told him we'd be back after a round of golf. Needing duct tape to secure the tent, I asked the nearest Servant Leader if she knew anyone near who had some. Someone like Chase, Chandler, or Mallory. Instead Amber replied "I have some." When I told her I was not at all impressed, she added "I've got Zip Ties too!

The Seining was very muddy, and early on quite cold. Joel, Holt, and I were told our screaming scared away the fish. We laughed so hard we could hardly hold the net. The mud was up to our knees! Later we resorted to fish calls to attract specimens: dolphin, whale, and gull were the most popular. Later Will, Holt, Joel, Caleb, and other guys caught the largest flounder Mrs. D had ever seen. That evening Mrs. D taught on flounders, and told the difference between summer and winter flounder. I listened, and learned. At 51, you never know when that kind of info will prove handy. Thankfully Mary dozens of wonderful pictures with Ceil's camera, including one of Kassie showing a shrimp to an inquisitive 6th grader.

Though all the action was at the water's edge, Matthew languished on a towel near the boardwalk, uncharacteristically under the weather. He must've caught a bug, for I knew he'd much rather be in the middle of all the kids. He hadn't eaten much during the exciting first day, and by Wednesday he felt so poorly that I could only get him to nibble. Fortunately the chap moms gave him a large dose of mothering. At lunch he went back for a second sandwich, and I knew he was on the rebound.

The chore of returning the caught fish to the sea was taken seriously by Elizabeth. Concerned they wouldn't survive the extended time out of the water, she looked for signs of life when she placed them back in the ocean. Early on one fish just floated. In disgust, Elizabeth flung it further out in the Joel, Holt, and Caleb watched. "Fish killer!" they cried. "It was already dead!" she exclaimed. "Because you gave it a heart attack throwing it into the ocean!" exclaimed Joel. For the rest of the day Elizabeth made it her mission to gently place each fish, crab, ray, and squid back in the surf. She even learned to protect the air-filled, floating baby squid from gulls until they refilled with water.

When Joel accidentally pulled the arms off a crab, Holt wouldn't let him forget. Then on the very next sein the same crab was caught, and Holt continued his diatribe. Later we set the record for most people holding the net on one sein: eleven. I was going to sit that one out until we decided to go for the record. Four on the deep end, and seven on the shallow side.

During the after-lunch rotations Joe and I topped off our tanks, and snuck back to the hotel to freshen up. I returned to find Anna on the ground, being attended to by Nurse Ellis. Something in her foot. While we waited for the dinner meat to arrive (late, though not the chuck team's fault) the 8th-graders tossed the football. Anna sprained her finger pretty bad.

We knew the South Dunes Park squirrels were not at all shy, and we tried to keep watch. While organizing things in my car I noticed a squirrel scampering across the parking lot with an entire breakfast pastry in it's clutches. I headed toward the screened-in gazebo, only to have another squirrel slip under the door ahead of me. Once inside, there were TWO squirrels to chase out! Later Will returned from the beach to find a hole had been chewed in his nice North Face backpack. He had to fix it with duct tape.

As Caleb and Will taught during the skit a young boy piped up and asked a question, having not yet learned to keep quiet during the epic drama. With Caleb returning to the stage, Will looked at the chap, pointed to him in recognition, and said "just one minute!" before scurrying off to help Caleb. That Will never went back to answer the question made it all the more funny.

Matthew Leiner was a natural as T-Rex. Most 6'5" guys couldn't pull off wearing a Barney costume, but Matthew was not at all self-conscious. Little Jason also was well outfitted in the lizard costume. I heard big Zach wore Jason's outfit during the second week. Chase played the serious knight very well, though he ALMOST cracked a smile while frozen. Holt biting Kevin's pancake was priceless.

After the skit Mr. D gathered the chaperones for yet another meeting. Alyssa snuck in, needing the easel. As she carried it off I had the perfect chance to squirt her with Kevin's spray bottle. Several chaps snickered. She instinctively lunged the other way, poking Mr. D in the forehead with the easel. This time no chaps laughed.

For the second straight night, the three little guys in my room went right to sleep. Young cartoonist Matthew Flurry hang close to his best buddy Caleb Faulkner, who was on his first trip away from home. Several times I calmed his mother's concerns, and several nights Caleb wound down by relayed every detail of that day's events. His favorite word, by the way, was "sniff!"


Knights Will and Chase look on as Patsy (Holt) subdues the mighty T-Rex. Sacagawea (Kara) stays safely in the background, in the Living Science Expedition skit.

Expedition Recap Day One: Smells Like Cheez-Its

What happened in my little corner of the Expedition. Remember, the initial trip down is often more tedious than later Expedition Episodes):

Monday night I arrived home after seven. After dinner I discovered our sudden lack of backpacks, but I made it to my favorite store before it closed at nine, to get one. Got back home just in time to run Ceil back to Kroger, for some last minute items. Then I couldn't go to bed until I thoroughly scouting that day's intense thunderstorm, that hit at 11 pm. Still, I made it to bed over 2-1/2 hours before my first co-pilot. At 2 am I realized I hadn't set my alarm, but it really didn't matter. Anna's would beat mine by five minutes.

We easily made it to the property by 5 am. On the way I had Anna start my fake Expedition update posts, which would continue through most of the second Expedition. Nathan Braswell did a wonderful job shepherding in all the young lads into the Spanish Room, allowing me to attend to last minute details (much to Mrs. Hanson's chagrin). To the sound of roosters cock-a-doodle-doing, Group C departed shortly after six.

The young 6th graders in my car could hardly wait to dig into their EPs, and they wanted to turn on the dome lights to do so. When co-pilot Michael Taylor dug into his favorite snack, from the back of the Suburban came the cry "Hmm. Smells like Cheez-Its!" Video game talk found more common ground between the youngsters and Michael. I didn't realize that Luke Skywalker could jump higher than the other characters in the Star Wars game.

Just when Group C caught up to Group B, our leader had to make an unscheduled pit stop for gas. He thought his wife had filled the tank, and she though he did. Someone we still beat the B Group to the Rumble Weather Stop, making for a LONG stop for Group C. Later we made a second unplanned stop at an I-16 rest area. The bumpy I-16 left lane must've unsettled a young stomach (or kidney).

Heavy tractor trailer traffic made it difficult to track entry into new counties. We missed three or four, and had to fudge times. Just as we exited Monroe County Michael and I were amazed to see the clock change minutes, meaning we entered neighboring Bibb County the following minute. Such nerds we were. My passengers were later enthralled by my story of how Twiggs County got it's name: that's where the twiggs came from that the three little pigs used to make their house, that was later blown down by the big bad wolf.

In Metter we had a Living Science first: Whether Stop Live Entertainment! Mr. Ellis humored the crowd, lobbying for toiletry donations for Margaret Hurt. Mr. Arps said it was part of the LS continuous improvement plan. It would not be David's last opportunity to entertain on the trip. Though I've been on many LS trips, this was my first with Mr. Ellis. It was wonderful getting to know him.

At the 95 stop we commemorated the very bench where Noah Maier officially dubbed me Krypto, years ago. Departing one stop, Mrs. Smith tried to pull a Mrs. Wiggins, putting her van in Drive instead of Park. Josh Shetler shot of bottle caps, inside our moving vehicle. Later he made animal noises. The boys played "I'm Going Camping" and "Three Facts, One Lie". I had a great one, but wasn't asked to play. Somewhere along the line the term "Mimic Octopus" was mentioned. On the last leg of the trip I spied a bald eagle nest near a Glynn County bridge, but the other cars were more interested in taking the right exit.

Upon arrival the SL's performed a very average song. We broke into teams, and headed to the beach to make sand sculptures. Over our BBQ dinner the chap men had a good chat about juggling family life during an age when activities try to rob valuable family time. The chap meeting was fun, as every question resulted with morning start times creeping earlier and earlier. And be sure to dress for seining! "What does 'off the island' mean?" asked Mrs. Niebur. "A five mile hike!" I replied.

The Expedition Skit started slowly, but soon took off with exceptional early performances from Matt Ellis and the teaching team of Kara & Alyssa. Kara had a big teaching role, and Alyssa performed with confidence, a great comedic talent. Kevin and Holt, last year's dynamic duo, were back, better than ever. Holt performed without inhibition all week, drawing his usually reserved partner to higher theatrical heights. Pierce and Gerald stepped into larger than ever roles (both in the skit and leading groups) and both did so boldly and confidently. Caleb and Will took a couple of quick ideas I had jotted down, and turned them into comedic gold.

I was told the skit came from Answers in Genesis, previously performed by Matt Ellis and Mallory at their church. Mrs. D seamlessly added nightly "Knights at the Museum" teaching scenes, creating a meaty drama you didn't want to end. Sarah is an actress, with a fine accent that rivaled Matt's. I thought her spike heels scandalous, though. One of my 6th graders liked many performers, but thought Mallory was tops. Elizabeth Hanson also had a big speaking part.

Butler Scott Donehoo stole the show. Surely he's had years on dramatic training. When Caleb went AWOL, Scott was enlisted to read his lines. He did so well he was given the part, becoming Lou Gehrig to Caleb's Wally Pipp. The teachers were trying to garner the most votes at the end of the week, to become "Tour Guides". More on the skit in future episodes.

After a very long day, my boys had no problem going to sleep.


Will displays the largest flounder ever caught in Living Science history. Holt looks hungry.

Easter Weekend

Slow weekend. Each night I stayed up late working on my trip recaps. Ceil cooked homemade pizza Friday night. Watched some Royal Wedding stuff on Lifetime, then the Braves.

Saturday Ceil and Will took Anna to her rehearsal, then went Easter shopping. I got a dent into the needed housework, and drove to Johns Creek to pick up Anna. Just before dark I blew off the driveway.

Sunday morning we went to Verizon for the 10:30 Passion City service. Ceil had cooked hot cross buns. Will and Anna first went to the 9 am NP Sunday School. C, M, and I drove to Verizon early, arriving well before 9:30. We were the 29th car in the parking lot (it was easy to count: 14 rows of two). W and A made it to Verizon shortly before the service began. Saw Jennifer Girardeau and her young family.

When Louie came out, he looked down in front and happened to catch someone’s eye, just as he was talking about people looking nice for Easter. Matthew, sitting up front with friends, said Louie was talking to him, as far-fetched as that sounds. Louie usually wears weird designer shoes, but Sunday he sported new white adidas court shoes, with red stripes. Stood out against his black jeans, shirt, and tie. Guess he hasn’t been reading my Facebook posts.

My usher friend John said Friday night’s Chris Tomlin concert sold over 12,000 tickets, and people where squeezing in on the large grassy hill behind the amphitheater. The crowd was much smaller Sunday. The lower seating area was full, but that was about it. Interestingly, there was zero delay leaving the parking lot. Will parked somewhere different, but he arrived home just a minute after me.

I was sick the rest of the day, though I managed to get a little housework done. Big Easter dinner at home. Ceil and I napped and watched the Braves. The kids all had schoolwork to do, and Will mowed three lawns, leaving no time to practice baseball. Ceil went to bed at 8 pm. It was good not having fifty places to go for a change.

Caught the end of an ESPN show comparing Tom Brady to the other QBs drafted before him…Tee Martin, Chris Redman, Drew Henson, etc. Where Peyton Manning is almost overexposed, hardly a peep is heard from Brady. In the interview he tears up talking about his parents.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Throwback Thursday

Wonderful Braves throwbacks on Thursday, complete with Indian chief patch, off-white fabric, red-trimmed pants pockets, and striped stirrups.

Extra Innings

Thursday I left work at four and drove downtown for a focus group at the CNN Center. Listened to the Braves on the way down, then watch several innings at the Braves Store until I went in at 5:40…the 8th inning just ended. Got back to my car around 6:45 and found the game still going. I was almost to 575 when the guy hit the walkoff.

Ceil took A and M up to LS to pick up Will, thinking I couldn’t make it. When I wasn’t needed for the focus group (I still got paid $100), she was able to go to a birthday party. Will arrived back just after 8 pm. Kevin wanted Braves updates.

Ceil is talking about wanting to go to Verizon Sunday morning for Louie’s 10:30 PCC service. Tonight’s PCC concert at Verizon is sold out. Will needs to teach at NP Sunday, and A and M will want to go there as well. Perhaps the kids will take one car, and we’ll take the other.

Got lots of housework to do tomorrow this weekend.

Watched a decent amount of the LA games. I was writing trip recaps, that I’ll start posting tonight.

Steve Martin often tweets multiple texts throughout a day or week, telling humorous stories bit by bit…then reflecting back to something he’d tweeted a week earlier. There was enough down time on the trip to be able to do that. Wednesday’s submarine story was fun, but it was time consuming. The end wasn’t as good as the beginning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The Hargraves girls were excited to learn they were related to Anna.

Caroline's cousin married Anna's "Aunt" Claire.

Back At 'Em

Jekyll trip was good, weather was great: not too hot, with a gentle breeze. The day at Cumberland Island was also nice…it went quicker than the identical trip four years ago. My arms and legs looked like I had the measles, I had so many bug bites. A, M, and I got back last Saturday evening, and Will returns Friday night.

Sunday afternoon I took a nap, and Monday night I went to bed shortly after a late supper. Got plenty of sleep hours on the trip, though I really didn’t sleep that great. The physical exertion wasn’t too bad.

Last night I took A and M to their class in John’s Creek, and didn’t get home until after nine. Ceil went over to David & Laura McDaniel’s home off Moores Mill…Karen Marsh was there.

Not too much else going on…work is pretty well caught up.

Looks like we’ll be in town for Easter. Anna has an all-day rehearsal Saturday.

Some Cities I've Visited

West to East: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite, Phoenix, Denver, Colorado Springs, Wichita, Kansas City, Winterset, St. Louis, Tulsa, Ft. Smith, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Amarillo, Shreveport, Hattiesburg, Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Auburn, Gulf Shores, Destin, Panama City, St. George Island, Tallahassee, Ocala, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Merritt Island, Charleston, Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach, Colombia, Greenville, Clemson, Florence, Charlotte, Asheville, Winston Salem, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cape Hatteras, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Washington, Baltimore, New York City, Cooperstown, Rochester, Niagara Falls, Boston, Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor, Chicago, Detroit, Springfield, South Bend, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Athens, Columbus, Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, Tybee Island, Bermuda.

Biggest Loser Results

Had I dieted and exercised to the max, I still would not have won my company’s “biggest loser” contest. Alex lost over 15% of his weight dropping over 42 pounds from a beginning weight of 280 pounds. I would’ve had to lose over 35 pounds in three months to beat him.

Carolyn worked hard to win the women’s flight, losing over 11% of her weight. She placed second overall, losing over 27 pounds.

Despite various excuses I still finished in the guys top ten, though I didn’t try as hard as I should’ve. Hopefully the weight I should’ve lost in the first quarter of the year will be lost over the summer. My left knee still hurts, though the pain in my right leg is almost gone.




8.47…Jeff C







6.14…David K













Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Seined!

The water was cold at first, and the mud was almost up to our knees. Our screaming entertained those on the beach. Later we resorted to various fish calls...dolphin, whale, and gull for starters.

Pulling in the net with Joel and Holt.

Friday, April 15, 2011

As long as we imagine we own anything, that thing owns us. As soon as we know that we own nothing, then God owns us. Tozer

Monday, April 11, 2011


For something different, we joined the pregame parade around the field (though you can't tell it from the photo). Here's Matthew standing in centerfield, less than thirty minutes before Sunday's game.

More on the Braves

My fault we lost two to the Phillies. Saturday I bought a Phillies bobblehead…mascots Phil and Phyllis. Bought for a buck. Selling for $45.00 on eBay.

Just noticed yesterday that Conrad changed his number, to seven. Probably a good idea on his part. Still, seven is fresh on everyone’s mind. At least Frenchy is a good fielder!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On our trek around the warning track, we passed right by catcher Brian McCann as he stretched before the game.

Sunday at the Braves Game

Tidbits from today's Braves 3-0 loss to the Phillies....

...Crazy Darrell entertained the ticket line, decked out in a full Braves uniform. At home after the game Anna remembered him from a game last season.

...telling a story, Roy Oswalt emphatically made his point to Kyle Kendrick, waving his arms.

...Cliff Lee threw in LF during Braves BP, then ran in the OF.

...Braves strength coach Phil Falco stopped Brandon Beachy in the outfield during BP, who then dutifully started his running regimen.

...not many home runs hit to LF during BP.

...the designated driver lady is back for another season.

...Rick Camp, Tony Brizzolara, and Jeff Treadway were being interviewed in the fan plaza. I think the fans would’ve rather they sign more autographs. Born in 1957, Tony looked good. Born in 1952, Camp looked pretty scary.

...I felt weird wearing a Teixeira Braves jersey, though no one said anything. Saw at least two others. Saw 2 or 3 light blue fake MURPHY jerseys from Kohls, that I'd almost bought. Also saw one authentic light blue pullover MURPHY jersey.

With little to do and an hour before game time, we cued in the long line for the pregame parade. Lots of boy scouts and several little league teams, but it was open for kids under 14. Took the following pictures…

…coming through the dark tunnel out onto the sunny stadium.

…Fredi Gonzalez sitting in the dugout.

…looking out onto the field from behind the plate.

…Matthew in centerfield, with the full stadium behind him.

…Matthew at the centerfield wall, at the 400 foot mark.

…Brian McCann stretching in RF.

We didn’t walk out onto the field until 1 pm. Still, we made it to our seats on the other side of the stadium before the national anthem. Thankfully, our seats were in the shade.

Quick game/pitchers duel. First pitch at 1:37, final out at 3:31.

We moved downstairs for the Avett Brothers post-game concert, and happened to sit in front of Will’s baseball teammate Ryan Tammuci. RT was there on a double date. Like about half the crowd, the Pope teens danced to the music. One of the girls commented on the singer’s “perfect teeth.”

Of the 35000-40000 fans who attended the game, only 15000-20000 stayed for the concert. Many were college students, who knew all the words to their songs. Matthew liked them better than Switchfoot. They did sing Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away.” I liked them fine, except for the over-dramatic Chinese cello player.

The band rocked the crowd for an hour, and left to a huge ovation. Traffic wasn’t nightmarish on the downtown connector, and I stopped at Taco Bell to get M two burritos to wolf down. We made it home for the dramatic final thirty minutes of the Masters. Then we took Anna to Willys, and Matthew snarfed down ANOTHER burrito.

It was a long day. We all took Will up to Living Science for his 8:30 departure. Ceil went straight from there to North Point. I took the Zech Suburban home, then stopped by Kroger and the bank before picking up Matthew at NP at ten. We made great time, making it to the ticket line in 50 minutes.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez plots stategy before the game.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Pre-Expedition Packing Party

Waiting around at Living Science for Will last night, I uncovered enough gems to start my trip recap early this year...

I’m going to give T shirt suggestions for Denise, who’s one of the few outside the Davis family who knows the Expedition T-shirt color. Graphically, LS T shirts are pretty good: the large circular LS logo, often with a different animal in the middle. Lately the designs have had lots of trim, which doesn’t look as good as a simpler one or two color logo. It’s also time to run through the three basic LS colors (red/purple/orange) again. Also grey.

It was funny to overhear three certain servant leaders discuss their utility belts. They call them Nerd Belts, though I would never be so cruel.

Spoke to gentle giant Zach about our shared excitement for the trip. Unfortunately he’s on the second expedition. I wanted to make sure he’d have adequate shoes, after his sneaker blew out in St. Augustine. I told him about my seining shoe choice: my grey Pumas that are all torn up.

Kevin and Joel sported fresh haircuts. Last Saturday I’d noticed both were particularly shaggy. Both Will and I need trims before leaving. Alyssa commented on Joel’s doo, as did her mother. Hmmm.

Lately Joanna and I have begun to greet each other with a long, British ”hellooo!” Just this week I saw an old Seinfeld rerun where Jerry enjoyed this very greeting so much that he chose it over a girlfriend. On the trip I’ll be sure to bore Joanna with the story.

I’ll be driving the huge green Zech Suburban, filled with eight middle-school boys. Without an adult co-pilot, I was most interested in who my assigned young servant leader would be. Most of the older SL’s will be already on Jekyll. This was the only information I pried out f Mrs. Hanson. Looks like for the first leg of the trip I’ll have a fun young man riding shotgun.

Years ago Denise shrewdly joined the waiting list for Masters tickets, before it was closed off. This year their number was finally called. I am quite impressed.

When we got home I spent several hours helping everyone pack. Anna couldn’t find a good hat, though Matthew found several. He may go with caps to match each day’s shirt color, like others I know. He’s also taking several pairs of shoes, as am I. Will washed and dried Chap-Stik with his clothes, staining several shirts.

For the past week I’ve been having vivid dreams, that I’ve remembered in detail. Last night’s: I was my current age, but Will and I were playing on my high school football team. There was a game, and we were in the locker room beforehand. A little 9th grader had on MY number 21 jersey. Later I found out that jersey was too small for me, so I had to wear number 32. Fran Tarkenton was the head coach. He had hung his old Vikings helmet in my locker for me to wear.

The locker-room was filled with several different helmet colors and designs, including several that looked like bucket-style gladiator helmets. Despite having my usual game helmet, I spent considerable time picking through all the ancient helmets, looking for good ones to wear. I thought I might find my old practice helmet, a wonderful old suspension model with a single-bar facemask. There were lots of old Eagles helmets. I finally settled on an oldie with a white hard plastic mask, similar to one Lance Rentzal wore for the Cowboys. There was also an OLD first baseman’s mitt.

This from Facebook: a tree fell through the Morris’s house, breaking a skylight and damaging the bathroom.

Anna had a great time with Claire Thursday at the Yellow River Game Ranch, though the twins eventually grew tired.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Nacho Eating Contest "Winner"?

At lunch I went to Taco Mac with nine younger guys. Three of us got the huge chicken nachos plate. If we finished, the other guys would pay. Probably not a good idea.

Mild-mannered Doug went to work and polished off the whole thing pretty quickly. Boastful Clayton started strong, faded, and finally gave up. I started eating constantly and kept eating, but fell behind the other two. Based on the limited time we had, I didn't think I could eat it all. Luckily it took a long time for the check to come, so I was able to finish. I would've never made it had the chips been covered in melted cheese. Instead there was just a whole bunch of chips, some chicken and grated cheese, and a whole bunch of lettuce.

By finishing it all, I got it for free. All afternoon I was full, but not miserable. Need to work out tonight for sure!

Heyward crushed another one last night. SI says he needs to bat second, with McLouth at the bottom of the order.

Cheap tires...good old Tire Deals, across from where Donna Freund worked. I can't remember if they're open on Saturday or not. Go early and avoid the rush. $100.00 for two tires, installed. Cash.

I've been doggedly working all week to get ready for next week's trip.

If the government shuts down on Friday, on Saturday morning this bad boy will be parking in the Loading Zone (Conan O'Brien).

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Psalm 18:28-29

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning- -with your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall. Ps 18:28/29

Bat Attack!

Last night C, A, & M didn't get home until 7 pm. I was bushed, and had about fallen asleep both before and after dinner. Later I got a second wind.

Eventually Anna and Ceil went upstairs. Later I heard Anna screaming, not the usual screams of delight and excitement. As I walked toward the foyer, I could see the shadow of something flying around. In her room, Anna had left the door to the attic open for some reason, and a brown bat flew in her room, then out into the foyer. Eventually it flew through the living room to the dining room, where it perched on the crown molding.

I opened the doors and tried to shoo it outside. It flew into the living room, then flew circles until it got tired and then perched again on the crown molding. The bat kept flying, then perching. It had a wingspan of almost a foot. Eventually I opened the two living room windows. Finally it flew back into the foyer, then out the open front door. At least I hope it flew outside. I didn't actually see it leave, but I did re-check the whole house without finding it.

Watched a good chunk of the Braves game. It was the first one I could just sit there and watch. Down 1-0 in the eighth, Uggla gets thrown out stealing, with Gonzalez up with one out. Hinske on deck. Would Bobby have stolen in that situation? The easy answer is no. What will all the critics say? Eventually the "what would Bobby have done?" question will stop being asked.

They're having a Masters pool here in the office, where you pick the winner and 2 runners-up. Whoever picks the three lowest finishers wins. Any ideas? I picked Michelson, Kuchar, and Baddeley.

Mary is the BIG crusader. She'll be on my Jekyll trip.

Last Friday I dreamt a fellow from work left me a voicemail. He didn't speak it, instead he sang the message, karaoke-style. Ever since then I've had that tune in my head.

I read Lang's article on the food website. At some point I've got to stop talking about working out, and start working out.