Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Lifetime of Loving Shoes

I was around twelve when I started loving shoes. As a young sports fan, I loved the way some Falcons taped their shoes, pulled up their socks, wore sweatbands, cut their sleeves, and wore cool facemasks. But shoes were the easiest to love: where-ever I was, I would check out the shoes on people’s feet.

My first favorite shoes, in junior high, were called “Jox”, by Thom McCann. The store was across town, near Westgate Mall. I remember a blue and white pair. Next came the classic suede Pro-Keds. I ran through a red pair, then navy, and even gold (with black stripes). I didn’t even know that pro basketball players were wearing them…even Pistol Pete Maravich. I was cool, and didn’t even know it. I wore holes in the toes and heels, then carefully taped over the holes, so I could keep on wearing them.

For my Friday-night varsity football games I taped up my cleats just like the pros did, to the point of started a team-wide trend. Teammates would come to me for approval and advice. Our team looked good. As a senior the team wore white Spot-Bilts. I stuck to my black pair with a little less white tape…like my idol Fred Biletnikoff.

In college I found a shoe store on North Druid Hills that had a great sale section. Laughing, the Suggs’ uncle David called it “the Gentile store.” I would buy canvas Nike “All-Court” shoes, similar what John McEnroe wore…white with a blue swoosh. Then a black pair, with white shoestrings. A pair of trendy Asahis, and a preppy pair of Tretorns. All for ten bucks a pair. Without much money, I couldn’t really expand my love of shoes. Even when I started working, buying extra shoes was a luxury I tried to avoid.

When we got married, Ceil discovered sneakers were a good thing to give me as a gift. I wore a cool pair of purple-trimmed Fila sneakers in Bermuda on our honeymoon. I could play basketball rocking black Reebok high-tops like the Celtics Dennis Johnson. Later I bought a pair of Nike Air Flight Lites, just like in the Super Dave TV ad. Lang’s feet were growing, so he handed down his black Converse Weapons and white Reebok high-tops. Times were good.

Every February I found a way into the Super Show down at the World Congress Center, the largest sneaker convention in the world. There I could check out styles that would be hitting the stores in the upcoming months, and take home bags of glossy folders and other samples. Stars were on hand for autographs. The Super Show is where I laid my eyes on Nike’s latest running shoe: the sandal-like Huarache. Soon I would be one of the first to wear them.

During the height of the sneaker craze, one of the best shoe stores in town was The Sport Shoe. Every year they would bring all their unsold shoes to an empty K-Mart and sell them cheap. I remember buying my first two pair of New Balance shoes at those sales. After the sneaker craze died down, stores like the Sport Shoe all went out of business. Shoes were often on my Christmas list: New Balance 993’s, Nike sandals, and more. Since I was careful to only wear old shoes when I did yardwork and such.

Later Niketown opened in Phipps Plaza. In those days before we had kids, Ceil and I might go out to eat at a place like Micks, then walk around the mall. At Niketown I discovered a simple brown leather shoe that looked like a baked potato: the Air Moc. “Who wore these?” I asked a Niketown employee. “Musicians” was his reply. Eventually I bought a pair on the sale rack of the Sport Shoes Outlet in Commerce. Years later I bought a new high-topped pair at Goodwill.

Only when I discovered thrift stores in the late 1990’s was I able to finally expand my shoe collection. Occasionally I would stumble across a style that I love, in good condition, and snap them up for just a few dollars. Sneakers, dress shoes, golf shoes. Sneakers and cleats for young Will. I’m still on the lookout for certain shoes, like cool boots or plastic Croc-like Pumas. Soon I may sell some rarely worn shoes on eBay, like the extra Air Mocs.

My children are starting to follow in my footsteps. Anna has a couple pair of high-heels. Will’s tastes are different than mine…he went through a sissy shoe stage, before settling on outdoor shoes. He disdains the trendy Under Armour spikes and sneakers seeming worn by the majority of his jock teammates (a good thing). Matthew rocks Chuck Taylors, adidas Sambas and shell-toes, Nike Hyperdunks, Air Jordans, and Toms. He wore the coolest sneakers in his basketball leagues. Ceil even has certain brands to which she remains loyal.

Thursday trivia night is a place I can pull out snazzy shoes, like my red Puma Suedes. I think I’ve worn all my Pumas to Trivia. Too bad my blue suede Converse One-Stars are falling apart from old age, or I’d wear them. I can’t yet bear to throw them away. The older I’ve gotten, loafers and other leather-type shoes have gradually taken the place of sneakers. Driving shoes and thick-soled Timberland loafers are worn more often, unless I’m going to be walking or on my feet for an extended time. During summer I’m usually in flip-flops…even at church.

When I started my blog it had a shoe theme, and I have continued to post photographs of most of the shoes that I get. Last year I created a minor Facebook stir when I described white leather New Balance walking shoes as “old man shoes.”

These days I have more shoes than I need, but it’s still a fun hobby. As I’ve aged, shoes are less of an obsession…but it still gives me something to look at when I’m in a crowd of people.

Thrift Store Shopping

I really didn’t discover thrift stores until the late 90’s. In 1999 I was traveling to Lawrenceville to work, and at lunchtime I often cruised around the unfamiliar area. To kill time, I walked in a thrift store, and realized there were hidden treasures there waiting to be found. Will was at the age where he loved to wear football and baseball jerseys, and there were plenty to be found at thrift stores, for only a dollar or three. There was one Steve Young jersey he wore for years. There were interesting, high-quality T-shirts for both him and me.

The main drag in Roswell is littered with thrift stores, and stopping in soon became a favorite pastime. After a rough day at work, I’ve found a good way to unwind is to stop by a thrift store and browse. Unless I’m trying to kill time, I rarely hit more than one thrift store every few days. With at least six good stores on my way home from work, I rarely hit the same one more than once a month. When I happen to be in a less-traveled part of town, I can visit a thrift store there. The Goodwill Stores in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Johns Creek often have good selections. When I’m out-of-town, it’s fun to find a thrift store.

At most stores I traverse a regular path, slowly making a large circle around the store. I usually hit the shoe section first, then proceed to other favorite sections close by. Other regular sections include T-shirts, dress shirts, golf shirts, Hawaiian shirts, sweaters, shorts, sporting goods, bobbleheads, nick-knacks, and dishes.

Most of the time I’m not looking for anything in particular, just looking to see what jumps out at me. A favorite style shoe. Anything Masters. A valuable jersey. A nice jacket. A baseball glove or bat, or a fitted, wool MLB cap. Golf clubs and bags. I usually skip the pants section, unless I’m in need of a pair. When I recently got into reading I spent lots of time browsing the book section, but that takes too long. When the kids were younger I’d find all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books at thrift stores. Also interesting toys. Will wore out shoes so fast, it was good to find them so cheap.

When I do buy clothes, I only buy garments that are nearly new, in excellent shape, and still in style. Elite brand names like Polo, Callaway, Ashworth, Nike, Puma, Gap, etc. I could buy Abercrombie, but don’t. There would be plenty of women’s clothes to buy for Ceil and Anna, but they’d rather I didn’t. Matthew is warming up to the idea, and Will occasionally stops by thrift stores on his own. The only problem is all the hideous sweaters he brings home. I’ve created a monster!

When I began working on a personal computer, I created a spreadsheet to list all my finds. I’ve been spending between ten and twenty dollars per month, generally saving ninety percent on my purchases. I could go on and on about the valuable jerseys I’ve found at thrift stores…some worth hundreds of dollars. Stumbling upon those give me the biggest thrill. After over twelve years, our closets are full. I’ve finally started selling these treasures on eBay. Hopefully this will become just as much fun.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Will's Doubles Leads DH Sweep


At 9 am Saturday Will stroked the first pitch of the season over the centerfielder’s head for a stand-up double, setting the tone for the doubleheader sweep of Grace Baptist, at Legion Park in Austell. Will smashed the ball almost on a hard straight line. The centerfielder leaped, and barely touched the ball as it sailed past. On Nathan’s fly ball to center, Will tagged and advanced to third. Later the catcher threw to third, attempting a pickoff, but the ball hit Will and rolled toward the shortstop, allowing Will time to score the first run of the game.

Crown would build on the lead, and Will played a major role. In the fourth he led off the inning with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on Braeden’s groundout. With a big lead, by the fifth inning Crown was only advancing one base at a time. With the bases loaded, Will singled to left, driving in the runner from third.

Coach Rosemond emptied the bench in Game Two. Will caught the last two innings. He only batted once, and again hit a hard, low, deep line drive that hit the very top of the left field fence…barely missing a home run. On second with a double, Will stole third, and scored on Casey’s single. The next inning Will was on deck when the game ended. Will finished the day as the most productive offensive player on either team.

Doubleheaders can run quite long (9 am to 1:33 pm), but Saturday’s was made most pleasurable with the appearance of Don Head, my dear old friend from Second-Ponce de Leon. We had a great time catching up and reliving old times…my voice wore out from talking so much. Don told at least two hilarious stories I hadn’t heard, one about walking into the wrong cabin at Rock Eagle as an impressionable 6th grader. Matthew hung out with Justin, and Ceil chatted with the other moms, practically ignoring Don.

Crown has three home games this week, at 4:30 Tuesday, and a late afternoon doubleheader Thursday. After originally being scheduled to pitch the second half of Saturday’s game two, Will is now scheduled to start the 4 pm Game One on Thursday. Like last year, games can be followed on the internet, at Gamechanger.io.

Will: 3-4, 2 doubles, BB, 4 runs, 3 SB, RBI

#7: 2-3, 2 runs, 2 RBI, SB

Franklin: 2-6, 3 runs, 5 RBI, BB, HBP, 3 SB

Andrew: 2-3, 2 runs, 2 RBI

Casey: 1-2, 3 BB, 3 runs, RBI, SB

Ray: 2-4, run, BB, 4 RBI

Patrick: 1-3, 2 BB, HBP, 2 runs, 2 RBI

Adam: 3-4, RBI, 2 runs, BB

Braeden: 3-7, 4 RBI, run, SB

Nathan: 1-5, triple, BB, 2 runs, RBI

#12: 1-3, 2 runs, BB

Charlie: 1-3, run

Sam: 0-5

Slugging Percentage: Will 1.250, Adam .750, Andrew .667, #7 .667, Nathan .600, Ray .500, Casey .500, Braeden 429, Charlie .333, #12 .333, Franklin .333, Patrick .333.

OPS: Will 2.050, Adam 1.550, Andrew 1.334, #7 1.334, Patrick 1.133, Ray 1.000, Casey 1.000, #12 1.000, Braeden .858, Franklin .833, Nathan .800.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Abducted...Two Straight Nights

Anna rented “Abducted” Tuesday night. OK, but the target audience was teenagers.

On the drive home Wednesday night I learned Anna’s small group at church was going to a movie together…way over in Johns Creek at the intersection of State Bridge and Peachtree Parkway, across from the Atlanta Athletic Club. Didn’t make sense to go home, so I shopped. Bought a Titleist cap with a Baltimore Oriole body bird on the side.

With my iPhone, its a lot easier to pass the time and actually “accomplish” something. In addition to Facebook, Titter, LinkedIn, and the internet, I can check and reply to email, manage my eBay and Craig’s List transactions, and more. I really haven’t been much of a Facebooker lately. All the kids seem to have migrated to Twitter and Pinerest. I saw where Lang got a Pinerest. I’m getting too old to keep up with all that stuff.

They’re building a huge hand in the Passion parking lot…103 feet tall. Supposed to represent freedom. For Monday night’s anti-human trafficking event. The hand is made out of thousands of messages written by students at January’s Passion Conference. Joel said he could see the hand when he passes by on the Marta train, headed to Georgia State. I’ve also seen some stuff about a minister’s conference.

I know I need to swing by to pick up those Grisham books. I still have two at home I haven’t read…Ford Country, and one more. In the attic I uncovered a copy of Ball Four, by Jim Bouton. I’ll have to read it as well.

Interesting that Jack Wilson has a full sized infield in his back yard. I’m reading lots of positive comments about the Braves…comments that always seem to slip past the hater’s attention. Nice to be getting a lot of Braves info again.

Will says his new teammate is good, but Will isn’t as impressed with him as everyone else. I’ll get my first look in the morning. The catcher got stitches on his face, so Will might have to catch game one, the pitch game two. He got hurt snowboarding. Said he was going back out to snowboard, so I’m not sure whether he’ll play Saturday. Will’s games were moved from Loganville to Austell, and from 11 am to 9 am. Closer, but not by much.

For most of the past two weeks I haven’t felt right. Not a good time for the restrooms to be out of order at work. I need to get back exercising, maybe that will help. I feel ok so far today.

NBA Roundup

Seemed like the year the Hawk talk was especially loud about drafting a shooter…they drafted John Battle. I can’t remember what positions the players who have already committed to Tech play, or if any of them are shooters. Seems like USA Today has a Jeremy Lin story every day.

Do you think the egos of LeBron / Wade / Bosh led the Heat to purposely go after Lin, so a national audience wouldn’t see the latest wunderkind embarrass the big boys? Can all teams shut down Lin in same way? Shouldn’t the Knicks high-dollar players be able to step up and shoulder the load?

Too bad that rookie from Tech got hurt, Shumpert. Supposedly in the Slam Dunk Contest Shumpert was going to leap over Lin to dunk…while Lin was “sleeping” on a couch. I hear Spike Lee has been sitting courtside at MSG wearing either Lin’s Harvard jersey, or his high school jersey. I almost bought a red HEAT shirt last night, but I couldn’t bring myself to.

Read about Jeremy Lin’s consecutive Sports Illustrated covers in USA Today. He’s not the first: eleven others have achieved the feat since 1990. Dirk Nowitzki was the most recent, during the 2011 NBA Finals. Michael Jordan is the only one to be on three straight SI covers. I’ve been subscribing to Sports Illustrated since the late 1970’s. Can’t say I blame SI. They say Lin-mania is twice as big in China, that he could make more than Tiger Woods did in his prime.

Whenever UConn is on, we watch Jeremy Lamb. Hopefully one day Tech will play good games all the time. Gotta remember that this was a rebuilding year. What will the expectation be for next year? Improvement, perhaps, and maybe a middle of the pack finish?

The Wright Brothers

Four Wright stories: When I was in the SPdL singles department (83-87), Bryant spoke at a banquet we had. He was growing up at SPdL before my time. He seems to be just what the JFBC congregation wants in a pastor. Not long ago Will heard his son preach, at their location north of Lake Allatoona.

For a while Ceil and I attended a special parenting Sunday School class at Johnson Ferry, during the 8:30 hour. It really helped us get out the door early on Sunday mornings. Then we’d attend the 9:30 worship service. One Sunday we went to the 8:30 class, but since there was a guest preacher, we decided to do to the 11 am service at North Point. We arrived just as the 9 am service was letting out. As we walked in, we passed Bryant walking out.

His parents are good people. When I worked for Jim Suggs (84-87), he had George come in and deliver a motivational speech. I always remember that he talked about how we all use just a fraction of our brainpower, and if we could just use a tiny bit more, we’d be heads and shoulders above the rest.

Scot and I used to work out together at 6 am at the FLC. One year we ran the Peachtree together. We were in the back of the pack, with all the slow runners. Still, he wanted to run fast, so we had to weave through the crowd. We probably ran seven or eight miles.

LAST PLACE!

After losing last week, Joel tried to find a new lucky shirt. I wore the same shirt. Based on our performance, perhaps I should have as well.

1. LANGUAGE: In prayer, what final word means “so be it” in Hebrew? Easy...Amen. Five points.

2. FAMOUS PEOPLE: What is the title of the spiritual leader of Tibet? I was pretty sure it was the Dahlia lama, so we only wagered one point.

3. AMERICA: Which is the flattest state? Joel thought…Kansas? Wyoming? I thought “Wyoming?” I knew: Florida. Three points. For the record, Joel was only half crazy…Kansas is second flattest.

4. ALCOHOL: What is the profession of Captain Henry Morgan? Either pirate or ship captain. We guessed wrong…he was a pirate. I should’ve given more effort. But why is HE being attacked in the commercial? A three point miss.

5. POT POURI: Which two countries share the most frequently crossed border in the world? We had to choose between Mexico or Canada. Guessing Canada, we went for it, wagering five points. It was Mexico, of course.

6. MOVIES: Which actor is the voice of woody, the cowboy doll in Toy Story? Tom Hanks, of course. One lousy point. Toy Story is Erin’s favorite Disney movie.

7. SPORTS: President George W Bush was the owner of what professional sports team? The Texas Rangers.

8. HISTORY: What two word term stands for the time after the fall of the Roman Empire, but before the beginning of the Renaissance? The Dark Ages (or the Middle Ages). Three points.

9. AMERICA: Which letter is the first letter of the most states? Will and Joel started listing…more M’s than A’s. That’s what we turned in. Then they starting listing the N’s. Wait! Will run up and changed to N. As it turned out, there are eight M’s AND N’s. Three points.

10. CAPITALS: Name the capital: Greece (Athens), Indonesia (Jakarta), Panama (Panama City), Venezuela (Caracas), Columbia (Bogota). We got three of five, for six points. Missing out on eight first round points really hurt. Our 25 points were twelve behind Bama’s perfect score. Four teams were one point back with 36. Even last week’s losers, Team Frickin Awful, were ahead of us.

11. TELEVISION: What song was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit, pleading for “more cowbell”? Classic skit, starring Christopher Walken. But I didn’t remember the song. Joel did: Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Six points.

12. MUSIC: In 2000, what rapper survived being shot nine times? Joel knew: 50 Cent. Joel was six years old in 2000. Four points.

13. FAMOUS PEOPLE: In 1998, what 73 year-old actor became president of the National Rifle Association? I knew: Charlton Heston. Two points. Three straight second-round correct answers. Joel wondered: Can we come back? I wondered: Did Joel just jinx us?

14. GEOGRAPHY: What Chinese River was named for the color of its silt? Not sure, I answered the Ganges, wagering only two points. It was the Yellow River.

15. BUSINESS: In 2002, what related business did eBay purchase? We didn’t know. PayPal crossed my mind, but it seemed newer than 2002, so I didn’t add it to the discussion. A four point miss. I chided Joel for knowing what rapper was shot in 200, without knowing eBay bought PayPal.

16. NATURE: What is the most visited US National Park? We listed several, and answered Yellowstone. It was The Great Smokey Mountains National Park. A six point miss.

17. SPORTS: What is the team mascot of the University of Chicago? I answered Bulldogs. It was the Maroons, or the Phoenix. Another two point miss.

18. COFFEE: Per capita, what is the top coffee-drinking nation? We guessed Brazil. It was Finland, Several similar European countries rounded out the top ten. Another four point miss.

19. MUSIC: What hit Michael Jackson song does Rihanna sample in her hit song “Please Don’t Stop the Music”? We could only guess. Most of the high school kids knew: “Wanna Be Startin Something” Our sixth straight miss. Sure enough, going to the final question, we were tied for last place…25 points behind the Floppy Fishes.

20. STATES: Based on total average temperature, name the five warmest US states, in order. We guessed Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, and Hawaii, but only got the last two right. We missed Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia. Sure enough, we tied for last place, with 43 points. The Floppy Fish won, with 68.

Erin must’ve had a rough Valentine’s Day, since her musical theme was “Love Stinks.” She spun several classics, including: Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Clash’s Should I Stay (or Should I Go), Kelly Clarkston’s Since You’ve Been Gone, La Rous’ Bulletproof, Bill Withers Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone), Hit the Road Jack, Heartbreak Hotel, This is How I Fell, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?, Tainted Love, Say My Name, Someone I Used to Know, and Billy Joel’s Jealousy. When Erin played Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walkin, I joked to her “this song was popular when I was your age.” Her face lit up as she said “Have you seen the video? They weren’t wearing pants!”

On the way home I had to pick up some milk at the Stinky Kroger. What song blared over the PA? Love Stinks. It was that kind of night.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Will's Team Opens Saturday in Austell

The varsity double header in Loganville this Saturday has been cancelled. They are saying the field is not ready and they do not want to chance anything with the possibility of rain.

Will is playing a 9 am doubleheader this Saturday in Austell, at Legion Park. He’s scheduled to pitch the second half of game two, taking the mound around noon.

Hope Don Head can drop by!

Heres the link for Legion Park in Austell.

http://maps.yahoo.com/#q=Legion+Park%2C+Austell%2C+GA++30106&conf=1&start=1&lat=33.819561&lon=-84.642029&zoom=13&mvt=m&trf=0

Stephen Hill: NFL Prospect?

USA Today ranked the top 150 NFL draft-eligible players, that the paper says will go in the first five rounds. Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill is ranked 61st overall, and is rated the 7th best receiver in the draft – projected as a second round pick. When Hill declared himself eligible for the draft, forgoing his senior year at Tech, he did so in spite of being rated a late round draft pick, at best.

Perhaps due to his height, Hill is ranked ahead of receiver Nick Toon of Wisconsin (71), Heisman runner-up running back LaMichael James of Oregon (94), Bulldog-beating quarterback Kirk Cousins of Michigan State (83), and Georgia center Ben Jones (65). In reality, all will be drafted ahead of the slippery-fingered Tech receiver.

All-SEC wide receiver Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina is ranked as the fifth best receiver, the 47th best player overall…just fourteen spots ahead of Hill. In reality, Jeffery is tons better than Hill.

Stephen made a name for himself by making a few leaping and diving catches. Tech’s option attack meant Hill almost never drew double-coverage, leading to several break-away touchdowns for Hill. But these were a product of the offensive system, not Hill’s ability. Just as often as Hill would make a great catch, he also dropped just as many balls right in his hands.

Unlike the much heavier Bay Bay Thomas, the skinny Hill will have a hard time separating himself from hard-hitting NFL defensive backs. At 6’4” and 206 pounds, Hill is in fact the skinniest of all 150 players.

You wish a young man well as he chases his dreams. Already an NFL long-shot, Stephen Hill is also forgoing a free college education. His future does not look bright.

That said, NFL teams love tall receivers, regardless of obvious defects. Here's saying Hill is a late round pick, and makes a team's practice squad. For a year or two.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Straight Weeks



I can't remember Sports Illustrated featuring the same athlete on the cover two straight weeks...not even Michael Jordan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prima Donnas

Good to see Kobe has a clear head, and knows Gasol is a key to their success…Andrew Bynum appears to be too injury prone. If I were the Lakers I would trade Bynum for Howard. I’m just not a big Dwight Howard fan. Great player, but he seems to be a big prima donna. Everyone talks about what a wonderful guy he is, but there are too many warning flags for him to really be a good guy. He may be the next LeBron, spending his entire career chasing an elusive championship.

Tech…perhaps they’re better without Rice. Perhaps this suspension will teach him that the world doesn’t revolve around him. Since he’s not a lottery pick, NBA teams could shy away from troublemakers like him. So many kids (and their mothers) say suspensions were “misunderstandings” when in fact the misunderstanding was on THEIR part, not the coach’s.

Through Twitter, its easier to learn what’s going on in the mind of players. There are a couple of Will’s teammates whose tweets are quite entertaining. One is a self-described “baseball stud” who constantly brags…even though this fall he struck out almost every time he batted. Another player, starting his junior home-school season, is convinced he will pitch in college. We’ll see…the season starts Saturday.

Will’s team should be good. They have all their best players back from last year, three of the weaker links have moved on, and they’ve added several strong players. Saturday Will had a five-hour baseball practice. He pitched during the scrimmage. Sounds like he wants to play shortstop, but there’s a senior from Huntsville Alabama on the team competing for the spot. The senior is going to UAB next year.

I’ve been wondering about the Knicks…when everyone returns, will they still be as good (and will Lin mix with the stars).

This guy will bull over anyone standing in his way to get an order, but then wonders why no one goes out of their way to help them. Today he had an order all messed up, waiting on people to respond to emails (instead of picking up the phone), and he was just digging himself a hole. He stopped by my desk twice, but I could tell he wasn’t listening to a word I was saying. I spend a good amount of time helping people solve problems quite unrelated to my job duties, but knew the blame for this entire screw-up would be blamed on me. We finally got the order headed in the right direction.

Marathon Weekend

Friday night I took Anna to meet some friends at the Roswell Chickfila. Then C, W, M and I ate at Willys. Afterward we watched Moneyball.

Saturday I did a lot of housework, then took M to his game. Playing man-to-man, Matthew was assigned the opponent’s best player, and he shut him down. That night I mostly read my book.

Got up early Sunday and drove Will to his half-marathon, over at Town Center Mall. He did well, finishing under two hours. It was cold and misty, so I watched the 5K race from my car. Last Friday morning I read on Twitter that he was running the half, his first. He had talked about it, but I didn’t know he signed up. Back home I watched the movie Invincible before the basketball banquet. Took a nap, and did more work around the house.

I wonder if Pastornicky’s 26 errors in 2010 will be reduced once he has Freeman at first base taking his throws. Usually USA Today has something to say about the Phillies, but one day last week there was more on the Braves, including a defense of why they should contend for the division, more than the Marlins. I guess the AJC bloggers don’t read the USA Today, if they read at all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Anna's Art


Anna, Brittany, and Emily display thier artwork, created from melting crayons on canvas. To enlarge, just click on the photo.

Tenacious D



Matthew defends, as teammate Ethan moves into position, during Saturday's game.

Matthew's Defense Spurs Reds Win

Matthew’s Reds won 33-19 Saturday, scoring the first ten points and the last twelve points of the game. The Reds switched from zone defense to man-to-man, and Matthew was assigned the Black team’s best player. Perhaps the best player in the league, Matthew did a great job of shuttling him down, contributing to the victory in a large way.

After scoring early in the second quarter to take a ten-nothing lead, the Black team outscored the Reds 19-11 over the next two quarters. With just a two point lead, the Reds ran off the last twelve points of the game.

Leading scorer and primary ballhandler Ryan missed the game, and there were questions as to who would take up his slack. In recent games Ryan had been turning the ball over more than he’d been scoring, and Darryl’s frantic pace of play had also been leading to numerous turnovers. Saturday Darryl got in early foul trouble, so Coach P sat him out, saving him for the end of the game.

Big Chris led the way with 16 points and 18 rebounds, going 7-20 from the field. Most of his shots were putback layups of rebounds right under the basket. Had he made half the shots he missed, Chris would’ve had 38 points (but only seven rebounds). Chris played 35 minutes of the 40 minute game. Matthew, Tristan, and Sam played 30 minutes, and Ethan, Darryl, and Fletcher played 25 minutes.

RED…2…8…11…13…19…19…25…33

BLK.…0…0.….5.….8…11…17…19…19

At Sunday’s awards banquet Ernie Johnson Jr. used Jeremy Lin as an example of persistence for the youngsters emulate, how we should always be ready when we are called on. He said that the player’s “Trust God.” trophies mirrored the mindset he has lived ever since he suffered from cancer, to trust God no matter what. Unlike many celebrity speakers, Ernie went out of his way to mix with the kids and parents, posing for pictures and sticking his head in the kitchen to thank the food servers. Without being asked, Ernie handed out trophies to the kids. He said the Michael Jordan was the greatest ever, “better than Kobe.” While telling a story from his Little League youth, the father of six voiced his displeasure with select travel teams. He regretted missing some of his kid’s activities, due to work. Afterward he said Lang was “a real good guy”.

Chris: 16 pt, 18 RB, 6 steals, 3 assists, 2 blk, turnover, foul, 7-29, 2-2

Fletcher: 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 3-6

Ethan: 4 points, 4 rebounds, foul, 2-7

Darryl: 4 pt, 8 RB, 3 steals, assist, 7 turnovers, 3 fouls, 2-12

Sam: 3 points, 4 RB, 3 steals, assist, turnover, 1-9, 1-2

Tristan: 5 rebounds, 4 steals, turnover, 3 fouls, 0-1

Matthew: 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, foul, 0-3

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney & The Star Spangled Banner

My children and their friends were born after the height of Whitney Houston’s popularity, so they have little knowledge of her meteoric career or wonderful voice. I’m hardly a huge fan, but her rendition of the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl is something everyone should be familiar with. I had forgotten the context of the event, with the US having recently entered the Persian Gulf War. Like many young students, I’ll copy and paste (and credit) Wikipedia:

With America entangled in the Persian Gulf War, Houston performed "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991. Due to overwhelming response to her rendition, it was released as a commercial single of her performance, and reached the Top 20 on the US Hot 100, making her the only act to turn the national anthem into a pop hit of that magnitude (Jose Feliciano's version reached No. 50 in 1968). Houston donated all her share of the proceeds to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.

Her rendition was considered the benchmark for singers and critically acclaimed. Rolling Stone commented that "her singing stirs such strong patriotism. Unforgettable." The performance ranked No. 1 on the 25 most memorable music moments in NFL history list. VH1 listed the performance as one of the greatest moments that rocked TV. Following the attacks on 9/11, it was released again by Arista Records, with all profits going towards the firefighters and victims of the attacks. This time it peaked at No. 6 in the Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Later in 1991, Houston put together her Welcome Home Heroes concert with HBO for the soldiers fighting in the Persian Gulf War and their families. The free concert took place at Naval Station Norfolk, in front of 3,500 servicemen and women. HBO descrambled the concert so that it was free for everyone to watch…giving HBO its highest ratings ever.

The Wikipedia page is full of other charitable good works, that most people never knew about.

Its fitting that Houston is now compared to Elvis and Michael Jackson. But unlike these male megastars, Whitney hadn’t sheltered herself within a Graceland or Netherland Ranch. Therefore her decline and subsequent drug-related death could resonate and impact louder. Perhaps in the future the families and handlers of celebrities with substance-abuse problems will be more proactive in reaching out to help. Perhaps.

Feb 16th Trivia: Close, But No...

After two straight wins, chances of a three-peat were diminished by the absence of trivia master Erin. In her place was Jason, a self-described “short Chinese guy with straight black hair.” His backwards cap, flannel shirt, Chuck Taylors, and Tennessee Volunteers bedazzled MacBook only added to his aura. Not to mention his questions.

1. LITERATURE: Lucy Manette, who was half English and half French, is a character in what classic novel? Birthday boy Joel knew, as did Will: A Tale of two Cities. Five Points.

2. SCIENCE: Pulmonary refers to what organ in the body? Tough question. Sounded like heart to me, but Will and Joel thought it both heart and lungs. I finally had to make them turn in an answer. Since it was so iffy, we only wagered one point. Heart was right, but later Bama protested, and credit was given for lungs as well. Had we wagered three, it might’ve made a difference in the game.

3. HISTORY: Clara Barton is best known for starting what? At first I jotted down Girl Scouts, but then I wrote down Red Cross. We went with Girl Scouts. Wrong. A three point miss.

4. MATH: Using the order of operations, what is 5 + 3 x 5 - 7? Will knew: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. His answer of 13 gave us five points.

5. SPACE: What are the inner planets also known as? Huh? I suggested something to do with rock. Terrestrial, said Joel, though he wasn’t sure. We finally turned it in, and it was right. One point.

6. GREEK MYTHOLOGY: Homer tells the story of the Trojan War in what epic book? Since The Odyssey was the story of an ocean voyage, we answered The Iliad. Three points.

7. MAPS: Which lines measure the distance north and south? Joel knew, and answered quickly: Latitude. Will hadn’t heard the question, and wanted him to get his answer back…while working his smart phone. Knowing the question was only north / south and not also east / west, we stayed put. Five points.

8. SPORTS: The SEC is adding two new teams in 2012. Name them, AND their mascots. We knew it was the Texas A&M Aggies, but what is Missouri’s mascot? I was pretty sure it was Tigers, but we only wagered one point. Should’ve wagered three.

9. GEOGRAPHY: The Mason Dixon line is the boundary between what two states? I wasn’t sure. For some reason I thought it was Kentucky & Tennessee, if not Virginia & North Carolina. A more reasonable answer would’ve been Pennsylvania & Maryland. Another three point miss.

10. ART: We were given a handout, and had to name the artist who painted

…Mona Lisa…Joel knew: Leonardo da Vinci.

…The Screamer…we were all wrong: Edvard Munch.

…Starry Night…Joel knew: Van Gogh.

…The Fountain…Joel was wrong: Marcel Duchamp.

…a black & white photograph of a western mountain: Joel & I knew: Ansell Adams.

At the half we had 27 points. Holy Moses had 28, and Bama 29. The Grindelows were in fourth place, with only 22. Jason’s music was interesting, but less wide-ranging than Erin’s: Coldplay, Gungor, Switchfoot. When the chubby Coffee Joe lookalike walked by in his black adidas track jacket, with three red stripes AND MATCHING SHOES, Will ribbed Joel: the guy reminded him of a certain absent Doorhinges team member / Sac Fly blog reader.

11. CANADA: Montreal is situated on the banks of what river? I thought it might be the St. Lawrence River. It was the Ottawa River. A two point miss. Erin usually has a question about America, not Canada.

12. COFFEE: What does ristretto mean? No idea. Jason said it was “a shot pulled short, making it sweeter.” Huh? A four point miss.

13. DISNEY: What was the first full length color animated motion picture? Co-worker Chris had a similar question just the night before. Had I listened to her answer, we would’ve won the game. I thought the answer was Pinocchio. It was Snow White…a six point miss. Out of the first twelve questions, it was our fifth wrong answer. Joel and Will seemed unconcerned, as involved as they were in their ongoing paper football game.

14. ENVIRONMENT: What eco-friendly clothing & outdoor company is also the name of a mountain range in Argentina? Will knew: Patagonia. Six points, but most teams probably got it right.

15. STATES: What state is known as the land of a thousand lakes? I knew, and Will concurred: Minnesota. Four points, but again it was easy.

16. ACRONYMS: What do the following stand for: CEO, CFO, CIO? The first two were easy, and I guessed correctly on the third: Chief Information Officer. Two points.

17. LANDMARKS: The longest outdoor covered escalator system is 800 meters long, in the Far East. What city is it in? I saw this information earlier in the week, but hadn’t read it. We guessed Beijing. Jason had been there: Hong Kong.

18. PHOTOGRAPHY: What war photographer served in five wars, helped found Magnum Photography, and was killed in battle? Will and Joel gave up, and loudly continued their night-long paper football game. What did the other teams think, with us winning while hardly paying attention? They probably hated us all the more. But at the next table, Bama urged them to keep playing. Meanwhile, I racked my brain for an answer. The best I could come up with was Getty, from Google Images and Uni-Watch. It was Robert Capa. Since no team got it right, Jason gave every team ten points.

19. CURRENT EVENTS: Name the skateboarder/snowboarder who was the first to score a perfect 100 in the super half pipe. Every team knew: Shawn White. Six points. Going into Final Jeopardy, we remained in third place, four points behind Bama.

20. MUSIC: Whitney Houston is the only artist to record seven consecutive number one hits. Name them. Great, I thought. This week I had paid scant attention to most of the coverage of Houston’s career, though I had read a few interesting articles. I came up with two: I Will Always Love You, and I Want to Dance With Somebody. I got Dance right. The other six: Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know, The Greatest Love of All, Didn’t We Almost Have All, So Emotional, and Where Do Broken Hearts Go.

Before the results were announced, three teams opted to leave. Jason was consistent with his grading: two points were given for each right answer. Down four going in, there was no way we could win after only getting one of the seven songs. Team Frickin Awful was the only team to get three songs, but remained in last place. Three teams got two right, and all but one other team got one. Bama won, and we placed tied for third.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

An article in USA Today yesterday said home-schoolers, on average, scored 37 points above public school students on standardized achievement tests. The most recent survey (2007) shows more than 1.5 million children in the US are being home-schooled, up from 1.1 million in 2003. That’s 2.9% of the school age population.

My other life: Now that I’m hanging out at trivia every Thursday night, I’m starting to see some of the regulars around town…people Ceil doesn’t know. Saturday night a trivia girl sat behind us at the movies. Wednesday night at Kroger I saw another lady from trivia. I spent the entire Kroger trip chatting with people I knew: also the grandfather of Matthew’s teammate, and the sports-loving checkout clerk.

In the breakroom the dish soap is in a plain container with a simple computer-generated label taped on: DISH SOAP. At lunch today I picked it up and took it over to two tables of co-workers, telling them it was the generic brand. None of the six thought it was as funny as I did. Perhaps many of my “hilarious” Facebook posts fall flat as well.

At supper the other day Matthew was feeling puny, after being fit for braces. While talking about Valentines candy I got him to laugh with a quip from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when Willie Wonka’s dentist father uttered in disgust: “LOLLIPOPS! Cavities on a stick!”

Ricky Williams: No Herschel

Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams recently announced his retirement. This past season he gained 444 yards rushing for the Ravens, giving him 10,009 for his career…26th on the all-time rushing list. Still, there’s no way he should ever be admitted to the elite Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though he led the league in rushing in 2002, he missed parts of three seasons (two due to suspensions for failed drug tests).

Even adding his 2606 career receiving yards, Williams only ranks 64th all-time in all-purpose yards. He only made one Pro Bowl, and was only named All Pro one year. In eleven seasons, the Tyler Rose scored 74 touchdowns in 147 games. His career long run was 68 yards, and a long reception of 59 yards.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ernie Johnson Jr. to Speak

This coming Sunday, Ernie Johnson Jr. is speaking at Matthew's Awards Banquet, and at both services at Mt. Zion UMC (9 & 11 am). Mt. Zion is two miles north of Johnson Ferry Baptist, the first church on the right. Matthew's team won last night. He played well. They started off playing zone defense, as they had all year, then switched to man-to-man.

Several months ago three new sales territories were added in our Atlanta region. Sales did not increase according to plan, and they were consolidated into one territory, to be covered by Trey. Brandon returns to inside sales. Tim's job was eliminated. He had only been back with the company a short time. Compared to the outgoing personalities of Trey and Brandon, Tim was more reserved.

Long-time employees Darren (inside sales) and Jamie (Charleston plant manager) also recently left the company for greener pastures. Mike moves down from Charlotte to replace Jamie.

Clayton moves from inside sales to purchasing to help replace Kruck, who took another job. Sam has been overwhelmed, and Martha, Sandra, Kenn, and others have at least four weeks of vacation.

Lin-Mania

If Jeremy Lin continues to get lots of playing time, next season he will be elected as a starter to the NBA All-Star Game…he'll surely get the on-line vote from the Far East. You heard it here first.

I did not know Lin was a Christian, but he seemed bright, cheerful, and respectful in his post-game interview Friday night. I watched most of the fourth quarter, and was following Lang's comments (& others) on Twitter.

BONUS COVERAGE: In the interest of Lin-mania, I'm re-printing Reid's accounts of last night's game-winner over Toronto (and other stuff):

I thought before the game last night that if I was going to bet $50.00 on the game, I would bet on the Knicks. But, if I had to bet $5,000.00, I would bet on Toronto. I fire up the computer just after 7:00, and sure enough Toronto is up by 7. As the game goes on, the lead climbs to 12 or 13. Lin only has 9 at halftime.

Second half starts, and still the Knicks trail not making up ground. Lin finally gets up to 13, and I'm thinking he is not going to make 20. Fourth quarter. The Knicks still trail but get to within 2 with about 4 min to go.

Then Toronto extends the lead back to 7. Lin gets 19, and I'm just hoping for 20. Then one minute to go, and the Knicks climb to within 3, and I have a slight hope. Then with a few seconds to go it is tied, and I have real hope, although I really think OT. Then, the score jumps to 90-87 FINAL. After a few minutes, I find out that Lin scored with .5 sec to go.

I'm running in to tell wifey. I go back to the computer and start watching reruns of the last shot. Then switch to ESPN2 for more reruns. Some were saying he should make the all star team this year.

Friday night I watched the whole Knick/Laker game where Lin logged 38. It was wild. E even got into it especially when she heard he was a Christian. He reminds me so much of Maravich except he doesn't shoot every time he has the ball. He is good at setting up his teammates. I love it when he spins around his defenders and lays it up. Lang was at the game.

I was interested early Sat morning to see Lin's sports cards selling around $10.00 to $20.00. I put in a few bids, but by later in the day, some were up in the hundreds of dollars. I waited until the dust settled and got one yesterday for $20.00.

The thing that impressed me about Lin was in his interviews. Normally, they only ask two questions. They were asking Lin 4, 5, and 6 questions, and he was in no hurry to leave. Even at half time. There was an interesting article on yesterdays CNN web page comparing Lin and Tebow.

Reds Win on Valentine's Day

Matthew played another good game, and his Reds came back late in the fourth quarter to beat the Celtics on Valentines Night. Playing half the game, Matthew played tight defense, grabbed two rebounds, and made an athletic spin move to shake off a defender.

For the first three quarters the Reds maintained a five point lead, and hit a late shot to go enter the fourth quarter ahead by seven. Then in five minutes the Reds turned the ball over at least five times. The Celtics reeled off ten straight points, most on uncontested fast breaks…turning the seven-point deficit into a three point lead.

But after a timeout and substitutions, the momentum turned decisively. The Reds went on a ten point run of their own, and won with a 33-27 score. Gunner Ethan had his best five minutes, scoring two baskets and making a steal. Courtmates Chris, Darryl, and Rolf also scored, and Sam added two steals and an assist.

R…5…8…11…15…15…23…23…33

C…2…2…..6…10…12…16…26…27

The last game of the season is Saturday. Sunday Ernie Johnson Jr is speaking at the awards banquet, as well as at both church services.

Chris: 10 pts, 8 RB, 4 steals, 4 assists, turnover (4-7, 2-2)

Darryl: 7 pts, RB, 4 steals, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls (3-4)

Chris: 6 pts, 3 RB, steal, block, 6 turnovers, 2 fouls (2-9)

Ethan: 4 points, 3 rebound, steal (2-9)

Rolf: 2 pts, 9 RB, 2 steals, turnover (1-4)

Sam: 2 pts, RB, 5 steals, assist, 4 turnovers, 2 fouls (1-10)

Tristan: 2 points, rebound, 4 steals, turnover, foul

Matthew: 2 rebounds, steal, assist (0-2)

Blondie: steal, 3 turnovers (0-4)

Blondie also had his best game, taking four shots and even dribbling the ball up court. His real name is Matthew, and Rolf’s name is actually Fletcher.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Braces

Matthew got braces yesterday, and he wasn’t feeling well last night. Went to bed earlier than usual. Hopefully he’ll be ready for his game tonight. He and Anna had a good time on their Passion retreat, up in Rome.

When it comes to braces, Jerry Capps is who everyone raves about. He’s on Lassiter Road, near the Mr Clean carwash, I guess. We used to teach his daughters back in the 80’s, and Ceil used to hang with his wife.

We need to get finished with the kitchen. Ceil was on the phone with the contractor last night. All that’s left is the knobs, and touching up the paint. The dining room ceiling has been repaired, but the bathroom tiles need fixing. We’re getting the garage ceiling fixed. In the spring we’ll get it painted.

Looking forward to Will’s baseball season starting, on the 25th. I need to make a final push to get the tax stuff ready.

During a round Tiger seems to be in his own world, hardly acknowledging his playing partners. I would think it would be Tiger’s playing partners distracting him. I wonder if there will be anything about this in Hank Haney’s book, or that fictional book “The Swinger” that’s supposedly based on Tiger.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spikes



These four dollar Nike spikes cleaned up nicely for Will. They're the same exact model he's worn in the past. I just hope they're not too big. They're in great shape.

Packing (Too) Light

Got a bunch cleaned up this weekend, but we still have a long way to go. While cleaning up I noticed Matthew had only taken one pair of shoes on his youth retreat. Sure enough, he stepped in the mud, and had to borrow someone else’s shoes…that were way too big. I also noticed two sweaters that he didn’t take. When he came home he was wearing a sweater and a tee shirt…without a flannel type shirt (he packed several of them). Of course, he said he froze all weekend.

Friday night Ceil and Will went to Margaret Hurt’s coming-of-age tea party celebration at Living Science. David Hurt had to make a short speech. Will spoke, and I’m sure Mary Hurt spoke as well.

After eating at Chipotle Saturday, we went to see “The Vow.” Great movie…based on a true story. Dozens of teenage girls were in the theater, and they were quite vocal when the guy had his shirt off. Kelly Clark had gone to the 4 pm show. The dagger girl from trivia was sitting behind me…maybe not a good thing.

All weekend we watched a lot of the Pebble Beach tournament. Ceil watched Sandra Bulloch in “Miss Congeniality” (her favorite). I watched the Parent Trap, listening for a line that Anna had quipped.

Sunday night we watched the Grammys. Nice to see Glen Campbell honored. Joel and Mary-Clayton came over for pancakes, so I had to clean up and make two trips to Kroger (and one to Trader Joes). I finally got deep into by Rosenberg book, The Twelfth Imam.

I downloaded the eBay app on my iPhone, so now I can post things for sell and take a picture with my camera phone. Before I had been dreading taking pictures with our camera and transferring them to the computer before being able to post them on eBay. Problem solved.

Looks like that little NOLA restaurant in Roswell closed down. Also the Mexican restaurant called “The Bridge”

Last night I dreamed Mary Hubert visited North Point. Bruce came as well. Becky was at the service, but rushed out right when it ended. Joel was there, but he hadn’t ridden with Becky. Andy spoke, and walked around the worshippers, kinda like a theater in the round. He had hurt his knee, and was wearing a brace. Both pants legs had been pulled up, and he looked like he was wearing riding britches, or football pants

Watched the last ten minutes of the Duke/UNC game. With 7 minutes to go, I knew there was a chance they could come back. Interesting play was Duke’s next-to-last three, when UNC’s Zeller tipped the ball into the basket. The refs huddled and signaled three, but did you notice that ESPN only added two to the score. The game was tied, but the screen showed 83-82. Interesting that after the announcers only said that it was a three. It does make sense, with the final score being 85-84. I was trying to look at arena scoreboards to see that score, because I was confused. Great ending.

Current Puma Inventory

Now I have eight pair of Pumas. All are fun to own, though I rarely wear them. Perhaps I’ll sell five of them. Due to their cracking soles, I know to stay away from the good-looking California model.

Canvas: dark blue / off white. Nearly new. Too Chuck Taylor-ish for me. Maybe I’ll sell them, or give them to Joel.

Suede: red / white. Bought new. I should sell them.

Roma: white / blue / blue tongue. Great shape. I should sell them.

Roma: white / blue / white tongue. Beaten up, but decent looking.

Brasil: white / green. OK shape.

Track: blue / grey / white. A slit in the fabric, but I could still sell.

Running: grey / orange / white. Keepers.

California (kids): grey / white. Worn by all three kids. I should sell.

Thrown away due to cracking soles:

California: red / white. I loved these most.

California: grey / red

California (youth): white / navy.

Did not buy for same reason:

California: white / navy

Other sneakers:

New Balance 993 grey…kinda wide

New Balance 992 grey…anniversary model. Too wide

New Balance 993 black…bought new. OK fit.

New Balance 991 grey…old.

Chuck Taylor low tops…white. Makes me look fatter.

Reebok Pump running shoes…highlighter yellow. Use them as house shoes, since they’re slip-ons.

Air Jordans…too big, but they’re warm, and fun to look at.