Saturday, May 31, 2014

Habits of the Mentally Strong

Nine Essential Habits of Mentally Strong People, from the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/18/the-9-essential-qualitie_n_4760403.html

See things objectively. Look past your emotions and first impressions. See things clearly and evenly. Think of creative solutions/actions.

Let go of entitlements. Don’t expect a life free from obstacles or setbacks. Many millennials have unrealistic expectations and strongly resist accepting negative feedback. Life can be derailed at any moment. Don’t waste effort feeling wronged when things don’t do your way. My weakness.

Keep an even keel. A cool head is a tremendous asset when dealing with challenging situations.

Don’t aspire to be happy all the time – this leads to an unhealthy attitude toward negative emotions and experiences. Letting different feelings coexist is a key component of resiliency.

Be a realistic optimist. Get up after you fall. Find solutions to the problem at hand. Have the hopefulness of the optimist and clarity of the pessimist. This gives both the motivation and critical thinking required to solve problems.

Live in the present – rather than dwelling in the past or anticipating the future. Allows you to see things as they really are. By focusing on what’s in front of you, no baggage is carried over and only what matters is considered. My weakness. Some argue this point.

Be persistent in pursuing your goals. Studies have found that grit and persistence accounts for success in life more than IQ, good looks, physical health, or emotional health.

Know when it’s time to let go. We control our own actions – but not the results of those actions. Accept what you cannot control.

Love your life. Most important. Find joy in not just accepting, but embracing the things that happen to you. Obstacles are life itself – be grateful and appreciative of them.

Also three “don’ts”: don’t dwell on the past, resent the success of others, or feel sorry for yourself.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Inspiration

Over the years working for the same company you get to know people in other cities. I have visited our Charlotte plant several times, and often talk to them on the phone. In 2001 I spent a month in Charlotte converting them to a new computer system. One of the guys I worked most closely with was Mike Nauman, who worked in the same fabrication group as me. Mike’s positive outlook and pleasant demeanor makes him a person you want to hang around. Over a year ago we heard that Mike’s wife was critically ill. What follows is the heartwarming story recently posted on our company website, along with some of the results of the 5K the Charlotte employees participated in.

Ryerson is committed to supporting employees and the community. Below is a story about Mike Nauman, General Manager of Goldsboro and Carolinas-Virginia Plate & Fabrication. On April 26, Ryerson employees in North Carolina joined together in Charlotte one sunny Saturday morning to walk or run a 5k race.

It was a beautiful day to get up and go outside, but the real reason employees came together was Mike Nauman, General Manager of the Goldsboro and Carolinas-Virginia Plate & Fabrication. More specifically, it was for Mike’s wife, Martha. In February 2013, Martha was rushed to the hospital with sepsis, which came several days after contracting bacterial pneumonia. At that time, medication that forced blood from her extremities to her heart to revive her vital organs saved her life, but lack of blood flow in her extremities resulted in the amputation of both feet and complications in her left hand.

An avid athlete, Martha has spent the past year surrounded by family and friends as she recovers and learns to walk again with prosthetics. To continue building hope and encouragement, friends and family asked themselves: what’s the next step toward healing?

“In light of Martha’s love of athletics, in December 2013, her school district came together with an idea to host a 5k walk and run for awareness and to benefit a non-profit of her choosing,” said Mike. “They really wanted to do something for her that she could look forward to (and more importantly to Martha, support the students in Governors Village-Nathaniel Alexander, which is the school where she taught for many years and where the race was physically held). Additionally, our daughter Emily was a huge help, not only in preparing for the race, but being a constant support system for her mother. In terms of a race beneficiary, a natural choice at this time in Martha’s recovery was the Limbs for Life Foundation, a global non-profit organization that provides prosthetic care for those who cannot ordinarily afford it and raise awareness of the challenges facing amputees.”

The event was hosted by Chick-fil-A, as part of the organization’s race series. Ryerson was a primary sponsor at the event, which drew an impressive crowd. Among them were approximately 25 Ryerson employees, including Kevin Richardson, President of the South/East Region. Participating employees wore bright blue, identical shirts to show camaraderie and support for Martha and Mike. 

“We are so thankful for Ryerson’s involvement -- which has been so gracious -- and for the people who came out to support the cause and most importantly, Martha. It was pretty emotional,” said Mike. “Martha walked the entire event over the course of a little over an hour and a half. As we were coming up to the end of the race, the idea came about of her running across the finish line. It was unexpected, and unprecedented, as she was still really getting acclimated to a new way of moving, but she did, and it was unbelievable.”

PL..time.gender.place..name..group
130 30.53  42 13 Emily Nauman F20-24
136 31.05  92   8 Kevin Richardson M50-54
188 33.59  72   3 Tina Hines F40-44
282 41.47 129 13 Cameron Nauman F10-14
283 41.59 130  7 Lara Nauman F40-44
322 46.09 151 11 Brenda Richardson F50-54
334 47.35 173 13 Will Nauman M0-9
335 47.35 174 15 13 Billy Nauman F40-44
455 59.00 245 25 Marsha Stockunas F35-39
456 59.07 211 20 Duncan Stockunas M0-9
457 59.10 212 18 Jason Stockunas M35-39
458 59.10 213 18 Bob Goulder M50-54
523 1.39.49 292 23 Martha Nauman F50-54
524 1.39.51 232 20 Mike Nauman M50-54

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Reluctant Centerfielder

Tommy LaStella had a good debut, with the two hits and several decent plays in the field – including turning the clutch DP with the baserunner bearing down on him after CJ hesitated. BJ had plenty of time to catch that pop fly, even though he ran a long way and TLS was right on top of it. Later BJ deferred to Justin on a ball in the gap. Aren’t centerfielders supposed to take charge and go after the ball? I almost tweeted “BJ Upton: the reluctant centerfielder.” At least BJ’s bat is coming around.

The only bad thing about the TLS debut was his number: the cursed number 7, previously worn by Frenchy, several other second-baseman (Pete Orr and/or Brooks Conrad?), and the dreaded Nick Esasky. When Reed Johnson switched to seven he got hurt and his production plummeted. Has anyone good ever worn that number? According to the Sac Fly blog’s “Braves by the Numbers” post from back in 2010, the following luminaries have donned the Mick’s number in Atlanta: Jeff Burroughs, Joe Pepitone, Jeff Francoeur, Gil Garrido, Brad Komminsk, Kenny Lofton, and JD Drew. Ol’JD did lead the Bravos to a division championship.

Perhaps number 13 might’ve been a better choice for young Tommy. Couldn’t tell, but TLS might’ve been wearing Pumas. Nice story about talking to his dad about Pawtucket hotels, and saying some rooms might be available in Boston. When Jenn Hildreth was interviewing the LaStellas I was only reminded of when Tom Hart was interviewing Evan Gattis’ dad – but LaStella didn’t homer.

Too bad TLS couldn't pull off a miracle at the end of Thursday night's game.

Will said there was a deal at Turner Field where they’d give you an Andrelton bobblehead if you filled out 250 all-star ballots. He didn’t do it. Not sure how it worked, but at one per minute it would take four hours. For a $30.00 bobblehead that is twelve cents per ballot, or $7.50 per hour. Glad I’ve got my Andrelton.
The lead story on Uni-Watch.com today was last night’s Braves batting helmet change from the thick A they’ve worn for years to a thinner A to match the cap. I didn’t notice until I saw today’s blog post. A few weeks ago the ESPN.com Uni-Watch column was about hard-to-notice uniform discreprencies, like how the old-English D on the Tigers caps doesn’t match the D on the jersey. The Braves helmet was mentioned, and I guess the Braves decided to switch. I always kinda liked them being different.

The “Driven” show about Dr. James Andrews was pretty good.   

If the Williams sisters are so good, why do they so often lose in the early rounds? I say they don’t give all their effort all the time – they tank matches (and therefore tournaments – even majors). For that reason they shouldn’t be ranked amongst the all-time greats. I watched the recent Jimmy Connors / John McEnroe match, played in Nashville. McEnroe could’ve beat Connors bad, but kept hitting the ball right to him. Connors is 61 and is coming off hip surgery. He can’t move, and even played in long pants. McEnroe beats guys younger than himself – and he is 55.

Boss’s boss asked me for restaurant recommendations in Marietta. Her sister was staying at the Hilton, I suppose at the conference center. While I researched the Marietta Square I asked for suggestions on FB. Didn’t know if it would be a business dinner or what. After I submitted a list Sue told me it would just be she and her sister. Chicken and the Egg looks best, if not the South City Kitchen in Smryna or Canoe in Vinings. Didn’t know if any of the restaurants on the square would be trendy enough for two ladies.   

What I submitted:
Chicken and the Egg, on Whitlock Ave west of the Square
Smryna’s South City Kitchen is where the stars dine (& me)  
Canoe is Ceil’s favorite, on the Chattahoochee.
Meehans Public House in Vinings
Garrison’s Boiler & Tap in Vinings
Social Vinings.
Maggiano’s Little Italy, at Cumberland Mall.
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen is supposed to be good.
Schillings on the Square
Sugar Cakes Patisserie looks good, though I’ve never been.
Stoney River Cumberland
Cheesecake Factory Cumberland
Papasito’s Mexican Cantina is ok. East of I-75 on Windy Hill

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The LaStella Era Begins

And so the LaStella era begins - with two hits and several fine defensive plays. Tuesday night I wondered if that Pastornicky misplay would come back to haunt him. Could’ve picked a place with less pressure for a debut, but perhaps he’ll pull a Kyle Davies. Someone on Twitter asked how quickly fans would turn on LaStella.
Had a good time at the Braves game last Friday night - sixteen rows up from the third base dugout. We arrived way to early (my fault). We didn't go watch BP, and that made it longer. Our tickets had 755 Club access, so we went up there to check it out before eating H&K burgers. L bought his cap there before the game. We discussed the problem of having large heads.

On the way to Tire Deals Saturday morning I was listening to Dimino and Lemke on 680 talk about past Braves trades. They were taking callers and acting like they were giving away Braves tickets, so I called in. They put me right on. I had to come up with a trade to talk about, so I mentioned Domit/Gilmartin. After saying hello and mentioning those two players, they put me on hold, talked about that trade, and went on to the next caller.  

All too often games on hot holidays just go on and on and on. Glad I didn't know Monday's game was nationally televised, since I watched Chip, Joe, and Smoltz on Fox Sports South. Probably a typical outcome for the nation tuning in. The Braves lost because when they were up 6-1, I asked a Facebook friend who was at the game what the score was. I knew, but kinda wanted to rub it in. Of course it backfired on me.

Seems like Pastornicky is worse defensively than Uggla. Both seem to do worse when the pressure is on. So many things went wrong Monday: BJ misplays a ball into a triple, Pena is hit be his bunt in fair territory, Heyward slides past second.

An interesting tweet response said the Uptons lacked good baseball instincts. I agree. How can this be, if they've played since they were kids? A theory: did they always play outfield? Most MLB players grew up playing shortstop, pitcher, and maybe catcher. They were used to handling the ball frequently and grew to quickly determine what to do with the ball. Outfielders and first baseman are not exposed as much. Interesting that the slow-footed Ryan Domit has the instincts to take home on a wild pitch even with Yadier Molina catching and the game on the line, but the speedy BJ gets thrown out needlessly trying to steal third. 

Will and Joel went to the game Tuesday night. Next week I might go to the Tuesday Mariners game and Saturday Gwinnett game. Told you LaStella would get called up before I made it out to Gwinnett. Seattle is the only MLB team I haven’t ever seen. Neither of my kids were interested in seeing Austin Mahone. Haven’t asked Will yet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Moms Night Out

Saturday afternoon C, M, and I met six friends at Town Center to see “Moms Night Out” – made by that church in Albany that made the movies Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.
Moms Night Out was a good comedy starring Sean (Rudy) Astin, Patricia (Everyone Loves Raymond) Heaton, and country music star Trace Adkins. Filmed in Birmingham. Heaton plays the pastor’s wife of a large Baptist church, who goes on a night out with two younger, harried moms. Adkins plays the tough old tattooed biker dude who delivers the most poignant moment at the end. Though Moms Night Out ends with an all too obvious message like the other movies, I still recommend it. Though there were only eleven people at our showing (our group plus another couple) the film has fared decently in theaters. After the movie we all ate at Five Guys.

Speaking of movies, Bryan Coley reports that (1) Crackerjack DVD’s should hit Wal-Mart by Christmas and (2) son Houston just received his first royalty check from YouTube.

Saturday morning I went to my favorite tire place to get one new tire. I had spotted a bubble on one tire and had planned on getting it replaced Saturday. When I showed it to Ceil before I left Saturday morning the bubble had a small crack in it. Had a nice chat with the left-handed owner of Tire Deals while his guys quickly replaced the tire. He’s been in business for 17 years, so I’ve been a customer for almost the whole time. I first spotted his ad in the AJC sports section, which really dates me, he said. On the way home I stopped by RaceTrac for a breakfast burrito, the ATM, and the post office to mail two EBay packages. Back home I cleaned up.

Sunday Ceil’s friend Estella was baptized at PCC. I watched the Braves, drove M down to the Five Guys near PCC, and got a decent amount done around the house – including sorting out more old clothes and getting some ready for EBay.

Monday we pulled everything out from under our bed, dusted, and organized, cleaned. Ceil says she’s going to paint the room. I also did a lot of laundry and dishes. M went out for wings with friends and C, A, and I had hot dogs. Watched 24. I was exhausted from all the work.   

Last year I joined the neighborhood pool because for years Matthew liked to go around 8 or 9 pm. We’d usually have the pool to ourselves. Anna never liked going. Last year we only went once, so this year I didn’t join. Friday Anna calls, wanting to go lay out at the pool. She went anyway. As I suspected, someone let her in.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Foods You Shouldn't Eat

Websites often publish lists like this. I forgot where I saw this one, but took note because it was so applicable to be. By copying it down and publishing it here, it does me better than just reading it the one time. Now if I can only stick to it.

1. Soft Drinks (guilty)
2. Hot Dogs (guilty)
3. High Calorie Pastries (guilty)
4. Canned Fruit
5. Artificial Sweeteners (guilty)
6. Farmed Salmon
7. Microwave Popcorn
8. Swordfish
9. Hydrogenated Oils
10. Condiments that require no refrigeration
11. Fried Foods (guilty)
12. Genetically Modified Foods (soybeans, corn, chicken)
13. Apples, strawberries, & grapes grown with pesticides
14. Refined white fours
15. Bacon (guilty)
16. Milk
17. Junk Food (guilty)
18. Regular Potato Chips
20. Canned Tomatoes
21. Frozen Dinners
22. Donuts (guilty)
23. Low Fat Foods (guilty)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sales by MLB Team

Since I’ve been on EBay I have sold items for every MLB team except four: Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, and Tigers. I have items from those four teams that I can offer to sell. Also have a bunch of old MLB souvenir batting helmets I need to sell – at least twenty. Not sure how well any of the old caps would sell. Many have shrunk in size.

Angels: unsold halo cap, unsold helmet
Astros: flatbill cap, unsold melba jersey
Athletics: road jersey, green terrycloth jersey
Blue Jays: minor league jersey
Braves: pullover, Gwinnett cap, bobbleheads, jerseys, tee
Brewers: throwback jacket
Cardinals: McGwire jersey, pullover, Musial jersey, Fredbird
Cubs: navy jersey, tee, unsold jersey
Diamondbacks: unsold helmet
Dodgers: home jersey
Giants: seal mascot, unsold tee
Indians: Belle jersey, home jersey, mascot
Mariners: Ichiro jersey, navy BP jersey
Marlins: two teal jerseys
Mets: all-star jersey
Nationals: pullover
Orioles: orange BP jersey
Padres: brown Winfield jersey
Phillies: green jersey, throwback tee, mascot
Pirates: Veracruz jersey
Rangers: tee
Rays: unsold soft ball
Red Sox: Starter jacket, unsold jersey
Reds: road jersey, throwback jersey, mascot
Rockies: all-star jersey
Royals: BP jersey, Monarchs jersey
Tigers: unsold jersey, unsold helmet
Twins: home jersey
White Sox: black MJ jersey, BP jersey
Yankees: navy BP jersey, Jeter tee

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Video

When Anna and Will were over at the Normans on Sunday night they made a video of the four Norman boys singing. Anna and David's fiancé sang backup and Will shot the video. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtUHiooSLN8

Tuesday Will's longtime high school classmates Joel Norman and Kara Arps came over to visit. Joel stayed for supper. 

Second straight strong starting pitching performance AND offensive outburst for the Braves Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning there wasn't much going on at work. At lunch my new boss asked me to help Brad with his overwhelming Catipillar account. Afterward lunch I got a call to help fix a problem in the other building. While there my phone started ringing, and I was swamped with problems and emergencies the rest of the afternoon. Didn't leave until 5:45, worn out both mentally and physically.

Stopped by Kroger on the way home. Ceil cooked fixings for burritos – another dinner with all five family members. Will planted some covering plants at the end of the driveway, and M cut the grass. Anna helped with the dishes. Watched some of the Braves and some of the American Idol finale. Went to bed at ten.

790 dropped all local sports programming. I didn't see any names that 680 should pick up, except Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham. When they get together they lighten up and have a good time. Mike Bell is funny but often crude. Perhaps 680 will find someone to replace Perry. I've never listened to that new sports talk station.

Gave up reading a book about FDR and the Supreme Court. Just couldn't get into it, though I did learn a little. Probably should've stuck with it. Today I started Things That Matter, a book by Fox News correspondent Charles Krauthammer. A compilation of his Washington Post columns. Pretty good so far.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bang for One Buck

Good game Thursday night. I did the dollar ticket routine. Wore my royal Braves shirt and Boston Braves cap. Changed into the Braves shirt under the interstate bridge. A couple of kids saw me, and I told them not to laugh, that they'd be old one day. In the dollar line I befriended a young man in a Chipper All Star jersey. I'd seen him in the past at BP. Goes to about 30 games per year, including most bobblehead games. Talked to Johnny during Braves BP, but the Brewers didn't take BP.

The game used store had fitted caps for sale, but they were the 2013 navy spring training caps with the red A with white trim. I didn't like that style, so I didn't get one. Not crazy about those navy 2014 spring training caps with the cursive a…the a is too large. Glad they're not wearing them for BP. I wore my cap last night and looked terrible. Some are too tight and look bad. The Boston cap is a little big and it doesn't look good.

Went up to the upper deck and was cleaning out emails on my phone. Didn't care about running down the battery because I knew there were charging stations, and I thought I might leave before the game ended. When the game started two innings passed without incident.

I usually try to avoid conversations with ushers, but one approached, asking if I was alone and if I wanted to move down to a better seat. Kinda weird, but I agreed. Had a nice chat as we walked to the elevator and down to the first row behind the SunTrust seats. Larry has worked in customer relations for ten years. After his first year he was named Braves employee of the year, out of over three thousand employees. They gave him an autographed jersey (included Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Bobby, Chipper, Andruw, etc).
The seat was great and the game got exciting. Since they were playing the Brewers, I should've worn my Uecker jersey. Sat my four black ladies who'd received the same treatment as me. We had a great time chatting and enjoying our good fortune. Friday morning they flew to Charlotte for a weekend of NASCAR races. Later I spied Andy Stanley sitting with his two sons, three rows behind the SunTrust sign. He's sat there before. One of his sons might've seen me taking their picture. Since I had the great seats I stayed to the end.  

Walking out of the stadium I saw Marshall's son, and we chatted on the way to our cars. Marshall was out of town at a bridge tournament. His son is minister of music at Shurling Hills Baptist in Warner Robins. Drove out of the parking lot at 11:10. Hadn't eaten, so I tried three drive thru's without success. Stopped a RaceTrac to fill up my drink cup and still made it home by 11:50.

Will is driving my Civic to Hilton Head Friday evening to meet up with MC's family for the long weekend. The CRV has a bubble on a tire, so I'll get it replaced tomorrow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ranking Georgia's Cities

Curbed Atlanta blasted Movoto’s recent rating of Georgia’s Top Ten place to live. Communities with populations greater than 10,000 were ranked by total amenities, total crimes, tax rates, unemployment, commute time, general quality of life (cost of living, home prices, income, student/teacher ratios, etc.) and weather (temperature and air quality). With the exception of Decatur, no intown Atlanta community cracked the top 50 – of the 81 ranked.

Movoto is a national real estate website. http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/best-places-in-georgia/  Curbed Atlanta is a real estate website serving urban Atlanta. http://atlanta.curbed.com/archives/2014/05/20/everything-itp-snubbed-in-list-of-georgias-best-places.php  Considering their clientele, their reaction to the rating was typical. While those living intown may place greater importance on certain city attributes than others, but which do you use more – air or museums?  

1. Canton: historic downtown, low crime & unemployment
2. Peachtree City: great quality of life, trails, low crime
3. Athens: great amenities, short commute, low unemployment
4. Alpharetta: high quality of life, quality amenities
5. Perry: quaint, charming, cozy, welcoming, safe
6. Fayetteville: low taxes & unemployment, secret garden
7. Duluth: safe, high quality of life, variety of amenities
8. Woodstock: historic downtown packed with charm, amenities
9. Norcross: low taxes & unemployment & student/teacher ratio
10. Kennesaw: unique festivals & events, low crime

11. Gainesville: low unemployment, variety of places to go
12. Marietta: active downtown square
13. Valdosta: most amenities in far south Georgia
14. Warner Robins: air force base and more
15. Lawrenceville
16. Savannah: great destination, restaurants
17. Decatur
18. Buford
19. Roswell
20. Smyrna

21. Pooler
22. Newnan
23. Suwanee
24. Columbus
25. Snellville
26. Acworth
27. Thomasville
28. Dalton
29. Carrollton
30. Richmond Hill

31. Lilburn
32. Powder Springs
33. Sugar Hill
34. Calhoun
35. Rome
36. Cusseta
37. Cartersville
38. Winder
39. St. Marys
40. Stockbridge

41. Grovetown
42. Statesboro
43. Douglasville
44. Dallas
45. Villa Rica
46. Kingsland
47. Hinesville
48. McDonough
49. Johns Creek
50. Sandy Springs


ITP vs OTP

A recent study named the top fifty places to live in Georgia. Forty-nine were outside Atlanta's perimeter highway. The AJC, always looking to create debate, spun the story as a slam on those living inside the perimeter (ITP). Those living inside the perimeter were quick to defend their place as "better" than life outside the perimeter (OTP). Some grew up in the suburbs and moved ITP to be "cool" or escape their previous life. Some out-of-towners moved straight ITP and know little of life OTP - then attack using sweeping, inaccurate generalities. Those OTP are quicker to defend than attack.

ITP's decry the OTP location of the new Braves stadium, which has an Atlanta address. Traffic at the 75/285 intersection is bad - but not as bad as the downtown connector. ITP's fail to mention this. I speak from experience: 16 years living ITP and 20 years OTP. ITP's think life revolves around downtown Atlanta, where EVERYONE works (not). In fact many OTP's rarely need to venture ITP. Not everyone commutes downtown. Some reverse commute. I cross commute. ITP traffic is not just bad during rush hour. The downtown connector is usually jammed all day, and often late at night as well. Buckhead traffic is jammed on nights and weekends. OTP traffic can be bad as well, but it's nothing like ITP.

Often ITP's say the OTP landscape is littered with strip malls and Applebee's. Unlike many ITP shopping centers, most OTP strip malls are full of open, thriving, clean, legitimate businesses. And there are just as many unique restaurants OTP as ITP. Most ITPers have never seen the thriving downtowns of suburban areas like Duluth, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta, Norcross, Stone Mountain, etc. - full of quaint (but less crowded) restaurants, shops, and businesses similar but often-times nicer than Decatur, Little Five Points, or Virginia Highland. Buckhead and Midtown used to feature small shops and restaurants, but most have been bulldozed to make way for more and more high-rises.

Like many debates, the ITPers think their lifestyle is the only way to live. Any other lifestyle often is inferior and wrong - including the very lifestyle they were raised in. While there are still many neighborhoods with older quaint homes, even many of these get razed so McMansions can be squeezed in on the same small lot.

Looking at the chart below, which area would you say has the best quality of life?

..........ITP vs OTP..........
Higher COST OF LIVING lower
Higher CRIME lower
Worse TRAFFIC better
Great RESTAURANTS just as good
Great AMENITIES good
Bad SCHOOLS much better
Expensive PARKING free
Scarce PARKING plentiful
Higher UNEMPLOYMENT lower
Worse AIR QUALITY better
Higher TAX RATES lower

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Days of our Lives

Friday I had leftover chicken, rice, and gravy for lunch. Felt bad the rest of the day. Anna went to her school’s graduation, then a party afterwards. Then she spent the night at Brittany’s. Ceil and Will went to the grocery store. Eventually we ate hot dogs, fries, baked beans, and slaw.

Saturday Ceil and Will went to Costco. I cleaned upstairs and outside. Ceil cleaned out the extra bedroom/sewing room/art room. Will washed dishes. Later Will went over to the Norman’s house. Ceil and Matthew went to the grocery store and brought back PaPa John’s pizza. Couldn’t go out to eat Saturday night because Anna was at another graduation party. She’s been to so many parties that she is running out of different outfits to wear.

Sunday Ceil, Will, and Anna each drove down to PCC in separate cars. Anna came home at noon. Ceil got back at four. Will went over to the Normans. I drove M down to PCC at 3 pm and picked him up at 7:30. So we put over 240 miles on three vehicles. Later Ceil went to the grocery store for the third straight day. Part of it is that we are running around all the time and never plan ahead. Not that school has let out perhaps things will calm down.

I swung by a thrift store and was looking at shirts when another customer walked up and handed me a shirt. It normally sells for $200-$400 but was too big for him. It was just the kind of shirt I was looking for, a blue check. Now I have to dig out some cufflinks. I still have some that were my grandfathers.

Monday night all five of us were to Outback Steakhouse in Roswell – Ceil’s treat. I was wary of the bun, so I skipped my usual burger and got chicken tenders and baked potato. Ceil got a chicken dish with potato. Anna a grilled chicken ceasar salad. Matthew baby back ribs. Will got a baked potato and chicken sandwich. The bun looked ok. When I changed my fries for a potato both C and A groaned – they wanted to eat fries off my plate. Anna and Matthew didn’t eat the blooming onion, so there was plenty for W, C, and me. Too spicy for me though. After ordering salad and missing out on fries, Anna wanted to order the chocolate thunder from down under (she decided not to). Good food and a good time.

Back home we all watched 24 – very good. Afterwards I watched the end of the Braves game. Also very good. Another quality start from Minor, who also scored on a sacrifice fly. Didn’t get much sleep due to too much Coke Zero at Outback AND our dog not sleeping. Finally I went downstairs to sleep. Then the dog came downstairs! He needed to go outside at 3:30 am. Afterwards I was going to shut him out of the bedroom, but he bounded up the stairs ahead of me. I went back to the couch. Finally got to sleep about the time the alarm rang. Tired today.

This summer Joel Norman is leading worship for a camp ministry in Texas and Tennessee. Yesterday Charles Norman reported to his summer job at Camp Highland in Ellijay, where Will served the last two summers. David Norman is getting married on July 26 or August 2. Will enjoyed his first day at the botanical garden.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fed Up With BJ

Rough road trip for the Braves. Thank goodness Sunday I was only able to change over to the game with two out in the top of the ninth, bases loaded full count to Schafer.
I know BJ was hitting 30 or 40 points higher than last year, but after Saturday I’d had enough. The dropped ball Friday night was a tough catch. Though I’m ok with scoring that one a hit, the team needs balls like that to be caught. If you rank all the centerfielders in the MLB by defense, BJ is far below average – behind Schafer in my book. After Saturday’s four strikeouts supposedly he went inside and watched the tape. He’s been working with Walker and Fletcher for months. Fredi pulled the plug on Uggla. Surely his patience is wearing thin with BJ. This weekend I was wondering about the AAA option myself. Last year he did well at Gwinnett. I wish he’d go to Rome – if BJ plays much more in Gwinnett then the GBraves will have a BJ bobblehead night, like they did Gattis. Nah, the GBraves are smarter than that.  

Justin botches at least two balls in left. Schafer loses one in the sun. Backpedaling Pastornicky doesn’t give way to a gold glover with a runner on third, though even though Heyward pulled up, it looked like a tough catch for Jason. A tough hard shot went off Freddie’s wrist and he was hit in the back – sure hope he is ok. Just a tough weekend to watch, especially when the Cards do everything so well. Great the Braves could capitalize when Matheny trotted his closer out a fourth straight day. Not knowing that, I was watching the pitch count climb to 23.

Gattis threw one into centerfield. He has a strong arm but a weird throwing motion. I like Evan, but it’s doubtful he’ll be signed to a long term deal.

I know that Sundays Fredi (like Bobby before him) fills the lineup with bench players. But when I saw the lineup I thought it may have been too quick to give Pastornicky a day off.  He did have a long day Saturday. Everyone is calling for LaStella, but should he get called up and then fall flat, those same fans will quickly wash their hands of them. 

The guys on Facebook’s Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Club are the worst. Jordan Hutchinson knows all and is never wrong. I’ve tried not to comment, though sometimes when they’re obviously wrong I just can’t resist. Still funny that people on Twitter think they know more than DOB, who has been a beat writer for years. If they are so smart why don’t they have thousands of people following them?
I was wrong about the missed tag at third and foot not on the bag at first Saturday. Gotta tip your cap to Molina for following through on the play – something Harang did not do. I like the Cardinals and can appreciate the hard work Yadier put in to make himself such a great player, though I’m not a big fan of his.

Sunday I listened to a good chunk of the game on radio. Love those guys. While they rightly discussed the league-wide growing strikeout problem, the guy on the postgame show talked about the need for a true leadoff hitter – despite acknowledging that MOST teams don’t have a true leadoff hitter.

Will might go to a game this week with Joel and Kevin, since the GF’s are out of town. Haley Hurt is in Europe.

Johnny went out to a game in San Francisco last week, and spent the weekend in Yosemite. Zack Hample isn’t Johnny Pierce’s hero, but Johnny has read many articles about him, including his blog. Hample seems like a pest for me. At least he raises money for charity.

I see you are conversing with the King, Chuck Oliver. I like him. Last week he said something that made me realize that he makes a list of all the college football games he watches. He was talking about a player from Wisconsin, and he knew which games he saw him play. Said the player did not stand out to him. He probably watches games and takes notes. One time he went to Las Vegas to broadcast an Arena League game. Instead of going out on the town during his free time, he stayed in his room and watched some rinky-dink game.ugh weekend.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cost Up/MPG Down

Cars seem to cost more and more but get lower and lower MPG. My 1985 VW Golf, 1995 VW, and 2005 Civic all got 33 MPG. Of the seven cheapest cars on the market, only two got similar MPG, and all are far smaller than the Golf/Jetta/Civic. Even our big Honda CRV SUV gets comparable MPG as three of the cars on the list.

Here’s the list, with the suggested price, city MPG, highway MPG, and combined MPG. I’ve added the Honda Fit and Civic at the bottom.

12800 27 36 30 Nissan Versa (size ok)
12995 31 39 34 Chevy Spark
13790 34 42 37 Mitsubishi Mirage
14020 34 38 36 Smartcar Pure (tiny)
14700 28 36 31 Kia Rio (size ok)
14925 27 38 31 Ford Fiesta
14995 26 35 30 Chevy Sonic

15425 27 35 30 Honda Fit
18190 28 38 33 Honda Civic

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Ballpark: Thumbs Up

The paintings of the new Braves stadium look great. 41500 seats – most between the foul poles. That will be plenty. Big overhanging roof to provide shade for the fans. Drawings show diamond facing west, meaning the batter will be looking into the sun. Southpaws would be northpaws. Not sure if that is right. No sign of a giant Coke bottle or cow performing the tomahawk chop. 

As usual, fans not fully aware of all the issues are making ignorant comments, like this: Falcons to break ground on a new dome, while a perfectly good structure sits next door. Waste of money. What about the teachers? Promises never kept to spruce up area around old dome. And so it goes.
So Uggla has finally been benched. Since management had stuck with Uggla for so long it seemed like they will continue to ride him until late August or September like they did last year. There was talk during the off-season that a change could be made, perhaps leading to an early trigger. Pastornicky's minor league stats are superior to LaStella's, though most don't realize that.
We hadn't discussed Ernesto Mejia's departure for Japan. Hit a home run in his first at bat. After Freddie signed his long-term deal and no trades developed, Ernesto must've known he was stuck. He started the season tearing up the AAA pitching. Hope Freddie doesn't get hurt, or his eyes get worse. But Terdo or Cunningham would still be better call-ups than Ernesto – both are hitting well.

BJ is great when he just tries to make contact. He is no Andruw out in center, but who is? Hope he sticks with the glasses.

So many on Twitter tweet without thinking, and demand answers from DOB. Pretty sure I couldn't handle it as well as DOB. Many act like he's running the team. Sometimes I'll check the profile of the crazy poster. Some accounts are new and many haven't tweeted much or have many followers. What makes them experts?  I stopped following Mark Bowman, just because most of his tweets are so similar to DOB's.

People forget (or aren't aware) that the Braves aren't the only team that strikes out a lot – in fact the Cardinals are one of the few teams that don't strike out much. When your email came through I had just turned to the Sports Illustrated to the article about the negative impact all the strikeouts are having on the fans.

See that play where Heyward avoided Buster Posey's tag? Close play. I'm wondering if Posey's past injury had anything to do with him being so far away from the plate. Hopefully Minor can repeat last night's excellent pitching performance. For the time being Fredi will stick to a six man rotation: Teheran, Sanatana, Minor, Floyd, Harang, and Wood.  

TUESDAY'S GAME: Wonder if Posey's previous injury had anything to do with him being so far out in front of the plate when Heyward slid. Not 100% sure he was safe, but Posey didn't complain and the replays weren't conclusive.

Nice to see Gattis hit his first big league triple. He had six in the minors, including four in 49 games. The White Bear leads all NL catchers in home runs and slugging percentage. He has twice as many homers as Brian McCann, and also leads the ex-Brave in hits, RBI, average, on base, slugging, and OPS – at a fraction of the salary. Having Gattis allows the Braves the payroll flexibility to consider eating Uggla's salary, as well as locking up the young core of Freeman, Simmons, Johnson, and Kimbrel. After and early slump Chris Johnson is regaining his hitting form.

EBAY: Couldn't resist placing the only bid on a 2003 all-star edition Harry the Hawk bobblehead, standing on a special star shaped base. Six more of my items will sell this weekend: a Hawks tee, Mitchell & Ness tee, Oakland Athletics jersey, five American Eagle shirts, two Under Armor shirts, and a Roswell Rockets tee. Maybe more. Last week I sold a FootJoy golf shirt, Polo pullover, Olympics tee, alligator shirt, and eight golf shirts.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Silent Killer

The murdered/kidnapped elderly couple in Putman County don’t live far from George O’Leary on the lake. Then yesterday someone docked a boat at their dock (they probably ran out of gas). Ben Rothlisberger’s house is nearby as well. Today we learned that Mandi, one of our young sales reps, was in the bar in Milledgeville when Big Ben got into trouble. Ben had asked Mandi and her friend to come back to his private party room, but they turned him down. Mandi’s boyfriend had been playing in the Cardinals organization. The Cardinals don’t strike out a lot. It all ties together – Yadier Molina is the killer.  

MONDAY: Stopped by the cleaners on the way home. Ceil called, needing me to stop by Kroger for trash bags. Since I wasn’t feeling well I stopped at the first Kroger I passed, and picked up some Powerade and cereal to snack on. Later she needed corn starch, so I had to stop at a second Kroger. Will and Mary-Clayton had been potting plants, and stayed for dinner – baked burritos again. I only ate one, and skipped the rice. Ate at 7:45 and watched 24 at nine. At ten I watched the Braves while packaging Ebay items.  

TUESDAY: Worked until 5:30. Earlier W and MC went to Morgan Falls Park, potted plants, and baked cookies. Ceil baked chicken and gravy, with rice, for dinner. I was up late helping M and A with school, so today I am tired. M had to gather info on the Whiskey Rebellion, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Manhattan Project. His history book did not mention the Manhattan Project a single time. Anna had two Advanced Placement papers to write. I helped with a paper on the effectiveness of labor unions between 1875 and 1900. Let me know if you have any questions. While we worked I had the Braves game muted.

WEDNESDAY: Crazy day at work. Had to help Anna again last night write papers…comparing and contrasting the economic policies of Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Also comparing the foreign policy and military strategy of the Korea War and Vietnam. Great stuff. Ceil went to art, Will went to Chattanooga, and Matthew went to the FBC Atlanta youth group with a friend. Anna and I had Duck Dynasty on the TV while we worked. Actually saw an episode I hadn’t seen before. Ceil came in and turned it to Burn Notice.

THURSDAY: Watched Walter Mitty for the first time last night. Great movie – one of my all-time favorites. Finally realized that Ben Stiller looks like my friend Steve Falis, especially in that movie. A long time ago someone said I was Walter Mittyesque. Think I’ll read the James Thurber book. Anna slept over a Brittany’s house last night. Will went with MC’s family to Greenville SC. They arrived back after we had gone to bed.

Haven’t been reading much about the Donnan trial. It is amazing the coach of a major football school would get involved with something like that. Interesting that during a recess in the trial that he would ask a sportswriter about a current coach.

Civic passed 200,000 miles last Friday. Nothing big on tap for the weekend. Plenty of cleaning and laundry to do.

Tech loses basketball player Carter, who will transfer. Why do players think the grass is always greener on the other side? Perhaps he didn’t like the program or coach. He averaged 11 points last year. Whatever happened to commitment and sticking to a decision? Things sure have changed. Kids today grow up switching basketball programs and schools every year. They’re used to the nomadic life, to live with constant change. Not my idea of fun.

Two offices were added at work, and pals Dennis and Debbie quickly moved in. Newcomer Andrea snapped up the last office nearest the Ogre. Earlier Tim and Eric swapped places, and now my talkative neighbor Godzilla has to move into Debbie’s old spot. Then my team-member Dialysis moves back next to me. Still two open spots that are supposed to be filled soon (nicknames not all by my design). We’re supposed to log on a particular way to lessen drain on the computer network. Since my computer works fine, I don’t do that.   

See Elin Nordigren’s graduation speech? Good for her.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Air Paterno

Usually your favorite product goes away before you realize it's been discontinued. Hate it when they discontinue a brand of cereal I like. Used to love a cereal called Buck Wheats. Had a maple flavor. Eventually another cereal comes along with a similar taste, but you have to be on the lookout.   

And I hate it when they discontinue a particular style shoe that I've been wearing for years. But if you buy several pair, eventually they will disintegrate right there in the closet. Guess that didn't happen to Joe Paterno. He wore the same style plain black Nike coaching shoes for thirty years. When they were discontinued Nike made up several pairs for Joe Pa. They were know as "Air Paternos". He was on his last pair the year he died (above). Guess that makes sense.  
 
I like that Dr. Pepper Ten, with ten calories. Of course I also like Diet Dr. Pepper, and Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. But the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper  tastes like cough medicine. Too many different tastes. Anna doesn't drink too much cola (none of my kids do, but they love tea), but she does like Dr. Pepper. The Dr. Pepper Ten mountain man commercials are the greatest thing on TV – especially the one with the bear paddling the canoe.
 
Interesting looking article about Donald Sterling in the latest Sports Illustrated. Something about whether the NBA's suspension and fine would stand up in court. I'll report back once I read it. Someone asking why it's ok for Beyonce to make $50 million and not OK for a CEO who has 3000 employees and $100 million in profit to make $5 million.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Golf Courses I've Played

Best I can remember, I’ve played 19 different golf courses, in six different states.

Birmingham Alabama (twice)
Bobby Jones Golf Course, Atlanta (a few times)
Browns Mill, South Atlanta
Chandler Park, East Atlanta (many times)
Boscobel, Clemson South Carolina

Dallas, Texas
Georgia State Park
Grey, GA
Griffin, GA
The Hooch, Duluth, GA (twice)

Keowee Key, Seneca SC
Little Rock, Arkansas
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
North Myrtle Beach par three (several times)
Nashville, Tennessee par three

Peachtree Golf Center, Duluth, GA (several times)
Royal Lakes, Gainesville, GA
Steel Canyon, Sandy Springs, GA
White Plains, Jefferson, SC (several times)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fueling the Fire

The joke on Twitter is that if you don’t post it on Facebook, it didn’t happen. So many people record everything they do or read on Facebook. Mother’s Day is no exception. While it is a sweet sentiment to post your mother’s photo, wishing a mother a happy Mother’s Day on Facebook seems hardly personal to me. Instead it seems like just one more “LOOK AT ME!” moment that we have so much of in this day and age. I probably used to be that way, sometimes for fun, or out of boredom. But if Ceil is not on Facebook, why would I wish her a happy Mother’s Day there? Just to show off. Some mothers even use the occasion to brag about their kids.

Facebook is a great place to keep up with what’s going on in the lives of friends, though some take things to an extreme. Do you really need to post eighty pictures of one couple going off to prom? I joked that I was going to post 1,000 prom pictures. It’s another matter to post school trip photos for the parents who didn’t get to go. It was interesting that while few people react to the jokes I post, over sixty friends liked the family photo that Anna posted. But even that won’t change me. I love my family, but I’m not going to overtly and constantly brag about them. Some people do hit a happy medium, like Claire. So many people are interested about how her family is doing, and it’s great that she posts updates and pictures of what’s going on. But she never posts dozens and dozens of pictures of one event.     

You can learn all sorts of things on Facebook. How people you know think politically, religiously, and socially. Unlike at work or Thanksgiving dinner, people talk about anything and everything on Facebook. Some stuff is quite surprising – things I wouldn’t have imagined. But we all have our secrets and bad things that happen to us. Some people don’t mind sharing them. One classmate is deep into spirituality and mysticism.

Social media is also a good place to determine what others think about the hot topics of the day. It really has opened my eyes to all the hate people have in this world - particularly hate for Christianity. The AJC and the local news channels fuel the fire, posting articles and welcoming comments on the juiciest of subjects. They know any news story about Chickfila will bring out the Dan Cathy haters. So many posters blindly accept the theories, suppositions, and unfounded claims of evolutionists about what happened “sixty million years ago” while refusing to listen to the more plausible (and scientifically proven) findings of creationists. People think they are smarter and superior to those who don’t hold the same views they do. Gone are the days of humility, acceptance, and listening. Now if you don’t agree with me you are wrong and should be fired from your job.

Facebook and Twitter give the uneducated a platform to create unrest, be it Chickfila or the Atlanta Braves. A guy who had complained about the Braves recent losing streak posted yesterday that the Braves had swept "only" the lowly Cubs, as if it was no big achievement. I didn’t bother to tell him that all 162 games are in fact equal. At the end of the season a win against the last-place Cubs counts the same as a win against the first place Dodgers or Cardinals. And just because your rival beats you in April or May, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically beat you in September or October. Too many fans think about baseball with a football mentality. In college football one loss can take you out of the championship picture. In baseball every team loses at least 60 games - ten a month. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Every team has winning streaks and losing streaks. Panic and it can severely damage your team.      

It is a shame a pitcher can pitch his heart out for eight innings then not get the win because a reliever blows the save. As traditional as baseball is, it’s doubtful they’ll change the rule. Yet if the starting pitcher does not go four innings, the official scorer can choose who he thinks the winning pitcher can be. It can be any pitcher except the starter. That rule should be in effect at all times – the official scorer should be able to determine who the winning pitcher is in every game. It was fitting that Alex Wood got the win Friday night, after pitching so well several times earlier in the season and having nothing to show for it.

In the age where every team employs so many relief pitchers (a strategy that gained popularity in part thanks to Tony LaRussa) it makes the 300 win mark all the more significant. To win 355 games, as Greg Maddux did, is an achievement worthy of ranking him among the greatest pitchers in history (he ranks 8th all-time).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chuy's Mexican: Just SoSo

For Mother’s Day I gave Ceil the Land of a Thousand Hills coffee mug she wanted. Anna painted her a card. I told the kids we would take her to eat after Matthew’s youth group let out at 5 pm, but just after I dropped him off Ceil called, wanting to go ahead and eat. She had told Will she wanted to eat at Chuy’s, the Mexican place next to Perimeter Mall. W told her that that’s where I said we’d eat. Anna had to get ready and had just eaten lunch, so she just drank Coke.

Chuy’s was good and bad. The décor was great, but the tables and chairs were small and uncomfortable. The service wasn’t anything to write home about – our server could not answer all of our questions. The food was great: Ceil had a large chalupa, Will had the house special chicken enchiladas, and I had the large burrito – just to see if it was really as big as advertised. It was, so I didn’t eat the rice or as many chips.   We didn’t need supper. BTW: the salsa was terrible, and the chips greasy.

The overall Chuy’s experience wasn’t as good as Nuevo Laredo Cantina. When diners arrive wearing low-riding pants and looking like they just rolled out of bed (or Wal-Mart) it makes for a place I’d rather not go. The clientele is much nicer at our local Mexican restaurant, El Porton.      
One other interesting thing about Chuy’s: the silverware came wrapped in a little package marked “Sanitized for your protection”. And on the back of the package was printed three prayers: Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish. Wait til the atheists find out.
Friday night I wanted to rent Mr. Banks or Walter Mitty, but they’d already been rented. Instead I rented The Book Thief, which Ceil had wanted to watch. It was very good. Ceil cooked turkey sausage meatballs. Usually her meatballs are good, but these were too spicy. Even Matthew didn’t like them. Of course, I’ll be the one to eat the leftovers. Anna went to graduation parties both Friday and Saturday night.

Saturday Matthew and Sarah went to see The Monuments Men at the dollar movie. We were able to get Will home Saturday afternoon, and got him unpacked by early evening. Anna even helped. He had traded his tiny dorm fridge for a larger, nicer one – but doesn’t need it next year. So we’ve got to find a place to store it. Later I picked M and S up from the movies and drove Sarah up to Birmingham to meet her mom. On the way we listened to the Prairie Home Companion broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Didn’t get back home until 8:30. Ceil baked chicken burritos for dinner. Ceil, Will, and I watched 24.

Sunday Will left with Ceil early. At the last minute he tossed his clubs in the car and played 18 holes at the North Fulton Golf Course. Playing by himself, he recorded his first ever eagle, shipping in on a par five. He got back to Passion City Church late for the 12:30 service, but in time for the sermon. After putting away all the winter clothes last weekend, this Sunday I packed away a bunch of Will’s winter clothes. Also did a bunch of his laundry.

Did you hear any comments about Charles Marsh speaking next door yesterday, at Christ the King? His new book on Bonhoeffer is supposed to be the cat’s meow.

Oldest Hurt daughter Haley is in Europe right now. This summer she is working down near Seaside Florida. We hardly ever see the Hurts any more. Lila Toholskey is spending her junior year of college studying in Europe. Youngest daughter of Mark and Leah Stephens graduated from Auburn this weekend.