Friday, October 29, 2004

half-days are great

Before coming to my present job, I worked in the same industry, but in a much larger company. Going from upper management to head person was nice, what I had always wanted to do all along. One of the perks of being in a larger company is that vendors love you, want to sell you all kinds of things, and end up taking you to play golf quite a bit between the months of March and October. (Once at a convention in Memphis, we even had a vendor take us to Tunica, Mississppi in a white stretch limo. When I see those guys these days, even though that's been over 10 years ago, that trip is one of the first things we talk about.) Perks like that are a little more scarce here. We do most of the same things, just on a smaller scale. Sales can be made, but the profit margins are smaller for vendors.

Every now and then a vendor will call with a tee time, and today is one such day. It's Friday, with a forcasted high of 82 and sunny, I'm in the office until 11:00, then off to vendor lunch and vendor golf at an exclusive country club . I'm telling you, it doesn't get much better than that for me. Plus, the bride and I have a date tonight! This has the makings of a really nice day......

Thursday, October 28, 2004

overcoming fear(s)

For those who have seen The Passion of The Christ, you know that it's a graphic display of the last few hours of Jesus' life on earth. It was rated R for the gore and violence. When it first came out, we were concerned about letting Meg see it with the youth from church, but we figured she was old enough to handle it. When it was over, she was pretty freaked, but not because of the blood and gore. It was the children who turned into demons that got to her. And those short scenes, totalling maybe 30 seconds, have haunted her to this day. She's fallen asleep several nights since then, and this has been going on for over 8 months, with the lights on. Last night in youth group, they showed a scene, and she came home in tears. We talked with her about it, and it seemed to help, but this is something that she's going to have to work out on her own. We can't take it away, even though we'd give anything to do just that.

How different is her fear from fears that adults have? When you get down to it, it's not really that different at all. We all have fears that we deal with every day. They may seem irrational to some people, but to us they're very real. What may be a big deal to me may seem like nothing to someone else. In one of my favorite books, The Pleasure of My Company, the character Daniel has fears and quirky tendancies that I can't begin to comprehend. Daniel could not step down off of curbs. He had certain routes he could take to go places (walking only, no cars). When he took walks, he would only get on and off the sidewalk by entering where a driveway was cut out of the sidewalk. My favorite quirk was that the total wattage of light bulbs burning in his apartment had to be 1,125 at all times. Any time he turned one light out, he had to turn another light on that used the same watt bulb somewhere else in the apartment. To me, the curb thing is completely illogical. (However, a small part of the anal retentive side of me almost understands the light bulb thing.....) But to Daniel, the curb was his weakness, his achilles heel.

How do we deal with the "demons" in our lives? For me, prayer seems to help most. Even at times when the fear seems to grip its tightest, prayer eventually helps. I often wonder how people who profess no faith can deal with life at its most extreme times. Maybe faith in Someone besides themselves makes no sense. To me, I can't imagine life without that kind of faith. I'm not perfect, and neither is my faith always perfect, but I don't have to be. If I was perfect, I wouldn't need faith......

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

life stages

I pulled into the driveway yesterday afternoon, and as usual Sara and her "students" are playing school. Whenever she's outside, she always comes over to my car door and welcomes me home with a kiss. She then says, "Daddy, look!" and she's waving some oddly-shaped piece of paper in front of me. It's an invitation to a Halloween party Friday night. And, it's from SPENCER! Apparently, Spencer hand-delivered the invitation yesterday afternoon. This is the Spencer from kindergarten, the Spencer who's been "THE boy" for almost five years now. Oh, sure, there have been others, but it's mainly been Spencer. And remember, Sara is still 9.

Later that night, the bride, Meg and I watched a video of Meg when she was about 16-18 months old. She danced in part of the video. In another part, I tried (in vain) to get her dressed after a bath. This used to be a game we played, where she would run back and forth in her bed, avoiding me while I attempted to put her pj's on. Then there was the part of the tape where I sang to her, trying to get her to sleep, walking her back and forth, until she finally laid her head on my shoulder. Now she spends the majority of her time with a phone on her own shoulder.

The bride and I have been blessed with two healthy, happy, well-adjusted daughters. Looking back at yesterday, it's interesting to see the differences in both girls. Sara's still not embarrassed about kissing her daddy in front of her friends; Meg would rather I not talk to her around her friends. I know they both love me, but they show it in different ways. Sara's always been more demonstrative, and I know that will change eventually. Meg used to be affectionate towards me, but it changed, too. (For her own benefit, I usually shield my face whenever I see her at church.) It's all a part of growing up and growing older.

Part of me wants both of them to stay in that cuddly 18-month-old stage. However, as I've said before, their growth and maturing will just allow for me to be cuddly with the bride more often. And that's a good here's to that stage - may it continue for the next 50 or so years.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

ah, daughters.....

Typical soundtrack at the Stapleton household on any given night:

"Sara, stop, ow!!!!!"
(stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp)
"Ow, Meg, stop!!!! Mom, she hit me!"
"She hit me first!!!!!"
"OK, what's going on up there?!?!?!"
And so it goes......

I never got all the details, but yesterday we lost a remote control and a cordless phone due to a couple of fights similar to this. Sara threw the remote at Meg yesterday morning and it broke. (Scooter told Meg that if she had stool still and let it hit her, the remote would still be working.) Then yesterday afternoon, for some reason, Sara threw a glass of water on Meg while Meg was (I think) on the phone. Now when we try to use it, it sounds like a vulture being castrated. Ah, daughters.....

There's 6 1/2 and 7 1/2 years between my two sisters and me. I used to do stuff to them all the time, so I know what it's like. I'd hide in their room before they went to bed, wait about 5 minutes and then just start talking to them. Blood-curdling screams would ensue, I'd run out of their room and duck into my room like nothing happened. Of course I always got caught, but most of the time it was worth it. There's almost 10 years between the bride and her brother, so I don't believe she ever went through any of these types of tussles growing up. But she's pretty calm about it most of the time. I'm usually not. I'm like Sergeant King from the movie No Time for Sergeants. I like my ocean/pond (home) to be calm with no waves. Smooth sailing.

But, alas, that's not always possible. At least for now it's not. But I can imagine that one day in the not-too-distant future, the house will be quiet and the bride and I will long for the noise once again. Until then, I'm thinking of buying a couple of referee shirts and whistles for us so that arbitration during the scraps will be a little more organized.....

Monday, October 25, 2004

wanted - used bp monitor

The bride's cousin asked her if I ever checked my blood pressure during UT football games. Valid question. I might learn that watching a close Tennessee game creates a higher reading that if I were to run a couple of miles. Interesting.....

I'm not sure why I get so demonstrative during Big Orange games. I wasn't always this way. I've always been a fan, but the yelling and screaming didn't come along until Peyton Manning came on the scene and winning ten games a season become a regular thing. I remember the bride banishing me to the workshop during the '98 Orange Bowl. Nebraska (the "N" on the helmet stands for Nowledge) was slaughtering UT, and I came unglued. They couldn't do anything right, and Nebraska could do no wrong. I'll admit, I got out of hand. But it was cold in that workshop in January. I think I got a cold. (sniff-sniff) Then they won it all in '98-'99, and it's almost become expected. I know, that's wrong, and I try not to think that way. But once you've had a taste of the success.....

So UT survived, I survived, and they go on to play South Carolina next weekend. My neighbor/friend, Chad the 'Bama fan, even came over and congratulated me on the win. (Like I had anything to do with it, but I'll take it.) I hope they come up with some new offensive schemes in the meantime. Maybe Randy Sanders will get creative this week; yeah, right......

The rest of the weekend was good. Softball season closed out, and we won both games in our double-header. Sara played first, and made all three put-outs (unassisted!) in the first inning. Meg and "that boy" had a good time at the homecoming dance Friday night. Beautiful day in Middle Tennessee yesterday! Upper 70's and sunny. A little warm for October, but I'll take days like that any time.

If you live in the Nashville area, be sure to come to PumpkinFest in Franklin on Saturday. They close all the downtown streets to automobile traffic and there are booths all over the place. Plenty of entertainment and food. It's got a great small-town atmosphere, and very family-friendly. Our church sponsors the kids' rides and games, and the event staff give us part of one street to set everything up. And because it's free, our street is usually the busiest. The bride and I will be working the mini-golf booth from 2:30 until 3:30, so stop by and visit for awhile if you can.

Friday, October 22, 2004

it's on now.....

So I'm in the garage when it happened, just back from a 2-mile walk with the bride, and it's starting to get dark outside. Allow me to set the stage:

I'm working on Sara's scooter because the part I ordered for it came in yesterday's mail. I saw it on the dresser when I came home, and was a bit apprehensive about the project. I have the distinct misfortune of screwing things up worse than they originally were when I go to fix things. The instructions say 30 minutes to assemble? Multiply that by four for me. I usually feel mentally impaired during projects like that. So, Sara asked me about it approximately 3 minutes later with a "Can you fix my scooter, Daddy?" The look on her face was not unlike the look Sally Struthers used to have on her face when she asked for donations to feed hungry children. I told her that I'd take care of it after our walk. While the bride was changing clothes for our walk, I went into the kitchen to open the box and inspect the part. (The reason I'm having to install a new ignition is because the keys to the scooter have been lost. It came with 2 keys, on the same ring, and we never separated them. They don't sell the keys, but rather the new ignition with the keys. Nice.) So I look, and it appears to be very simple. It's even got a nice plug on the end of the wires that can be connected to the plug on the scooter, so I'm thinking it'll take 5 minutes, she'll be riding and I'll be the hero. Easy as that.

So we take our walk, and I get out my few tools to start the project. Taking it apart is no problem. Then I look at the wiring. No plug to connect the plug from the new part into. Great. So much for a 5-minute project. I strip the wiring, then realize that I have this great electrical wiring kit that I bought when I installed my car's CD player 3 years ago. (The manual said 90 minutes, it took me almost 7 hours.) So I use the kit, only to have the wires come undone. I hook them up again. Just as I'm lifting the wiring back into the scooter's housing, the dog (Wally - 50% beagle/50% basset/100% annoying) lets out this guttural howl. I'm concentrating on getting this thing fixed, so I'm almost in a zone - until I hear the stupid dog baying. I jerk, thereby disconnecting the wires again. I'm livid, having worked on the project for about 45 minutes. What's he barking at? Who knows with this dog! We once saw him barking at a leaf! So I go out to tell the stupid dog to shut up, and I see what he's barking at. A car is driving by with something sticking out of the sunroof. I immediatly think that it's some teenagers of a rival high school, because it looks like it's a flag they're waving and tomorrow night is Centennial's homecoming. The car goes to the end of the street, turns around and heads back my way. The driver is saying something, and I finally understand him: "It's on now! It's on now!" I then realize that it's my neighbor, Chad, waving his Alabama flag at me, taunting me about the UT/Alabama game this weekend. I started smiling and shaking my head. He may have thought that he ticked me off, because the look on my face was pretty stern, only because I was furious with the dog.

After supper, I created something on the computer to attach to his license plate that said "Beat Bama" and "Go Vols", with a couple of UT helmets on the sides and an orange and white checker board in the middle. Around 7:00, under the veil of darkness, I affixed this to his license plate with some very sticky tape. Chances are he drove to work without knowing about it. The beauty of this is that he has a University of Alabama plate. Perfect. Oh, and for good measure, I left a message on his answering machine a little earlier this morning. I didn't say anything, I simply put the phone receiver up to my computer speakers and played "Rocky Top".

Ah, yes, the UT/Alabama rivalry. Younger fans may think UT's biggest rival is Florida. That's more of a new thing, created by the cockiness of Steve Spurrier. But 'Bama is the team Coach Fulmer wants to beat most every year. He even mentions it when recruiting players by saying things like "I need you to help us beat Alabama". The game kicks off in about 27 hours. One thing I can't argue with Chad about is this - it's on now, baby.....

Oh, yeah, I was finally able to fix the scooter. And the spare key has been put away so that this won't have to be done again.....

Thursday, October 21, 2004

baha burrito rocks

Apparently, I've been living in a cave because until about an hour ago I was the only person in the Nashville area who had not eaten at Baha Burrito. It's awesome.....


Like them or not, the Boston Red Sox define perseverance. No team has EVER come back from a 3-0 defecit and won a post-season series. After the 19-8 drubbing they took in Game 3, most people thought it was over. Even the diehard BoSox fans who "still believed" had to have a measure of doubt about them. I mean, come on, the curse of the Bambino and all. There's no way they could do it!

But they did! They're a great example to those who've been told that something was impossible, or to those who want to give up because the odds are against them. They've also created a pattern for other teams, whether they're in sports or in business. Things may be down, things may look dark, you may be facing the "impossible", but it CAN be done. Ever been there? Yeah, me too.

So the report cards did come home, and they were very good - A's and B's for both girls. We were pleased.

Well, it's almost time to meet the bride for lunch at Rafferty's. She called me earlier and left me this very sexy voice mail about rendezvousing for a romantic lunch for two. OK, she didn't. Just thought I'd throw that out to see if anyone was paying attention......

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

fire drills in inclement weather

Many of the people in our building are convinced that they guy in charge of fire drills likes to schedule them just for the heck of it. Like he's sitting in his office, looking out the window and laughing as he watches everyone stand in the rain, waiting for the "all clear" horn so that they can return to their dry offices. I play golf with this guy, so I may have to give him some grief next time out.

Isn't it amazing how the absence of one person in an office can change the attitude of an entire staff? Nuff said about that.

Our meeting with Mrs. Wood, Sara's teacher, went well. It turns out that she and Sara have a certain chemistry together. She made A/B honor roll for the first 9 weeks.

Meg's report card should be in tomorrow's mail. I hope she was able to keep her averages up for the last 4 weeks of the term. Her mind's on homecoming and the dance this Friday night. She looks beautiful in her dress!

Had a restful evening yesterday. The bride and I did a 2-mile walk, then I was able to read (John Grisham's The Summons) and watch the ALCS game. Game 7 is tonight, and it should be a good one.
Saw Scooter today. He took one of my golf clubs and had a friend put a new shaft in it for me, and he actually delivered it to my office this morning. He's one of these guys who buys things because they're great deals. Don't get me wrong, I love him like a brother and he's one of my best friends, but it's hilarious. He showed me two nice golf shirts, probably worth $50 each. He got them at Ross for $0.99 each. The catch? They're XXL's, and he's a large or maybe an XL with a few shirts. But he couldn't turn down the deal. He's been a huge help to us over the years in buying cars. Because of his contacts with some local dealers, I've been able to get great deals on cars. That's just the way he is, he'd do anything he could for his friends. Friends like that are great to have.

It's been a pretty busy day here in the office. Tomorrow should be another busy one. Beats digging ditches, though. I'm very blessed to be in my current job. Is this where I retire? Maybe, maybe not. I'm leaning more towards "not", but it could go either way. But for now, I look to stay here for at least a little while longer.....

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

arts & crafts night

How long has it been since you've had a good ol' arts and crafts night? I think it's safe to say that it's been quite some time for me, but I had one such night last evening.

Anytime I hear the words "school" and "project" in the same sentence, I automatically get a bit edgy. Beads of sweat start to form on my brow as if I were in a sauna. Why the apprehension? I guess there are two reasons. First, I didn't care for them growing up. Second, my angelic offspring tend to take the word "procrastination" to a new level. There have been many times over the years that the bride and I were working well into the night on a project for the angels that was due the following day. Because of this, I now have a new rule - all school projects have to be completed 2 days before they're due. That way, if something terrible happens, we've got an extra 24 hours.

We started on Sunday night. Sara was to create a timeline of her life using photographs. She was to arrange the pictures on poster board sequentially and draw a timeline. We looked through a 36" x 18" box of pictures, and she came up with 10. Of course the ones we thought were so cute, she hated. ("Oh, but Sara, this one of you on the potty is so sweet!") Long story short, we spent around 2 1/2 hours completing the project last night. (This was the bride's "Bunco" night. We begged her to stay home, but once you get the gambling addiction in your blood.....) And Sara actually thanked me several times while we were working on it. She didn't whine or complain, so that actually made it bearable. Plus, since Meg was babysitting, it gave us some one-on-one time, and that was nice. The upside is that we don't have to rush around like crazy tonight. The project is complete, so the deadline is now moot.

Report cards come out either today or tomorrow for both girls. This will determine how much phone time Meg will get, and how much TV time Sara will get. I'm amazed at how the threat of losing phone privileges can be so much motivation to a teenaged girl.

After a short parent/teacher conference with Sara's teacher this afternoon (Sara's only complaint so far this year is being stuck sitting beside/across from an extremely gassy little boy), I hope to be able to relax and stay away from any arts and crafts. I'm still trying to get the Elmer's glue off my hands......

Monday, October 18, 2004

book recommendation

The mere sight of this title should give the bride quite a chuckle. Her husband, who until 4 months ago wouldn't have dreamed of reading for pleasure, is now recommending books. So this is for your amusement, dear. Who knows, I may start my own book club like Oprah.....

(I should point out that I had actually read books prior to June this year. I've read all of Lewis Grizzard's books, but when he died I decided that my reading days were over. No, this wasn't done out of a sense of mourning. Just because I had yet to broaden my reading horizons.)

Anyway, I read a book this weekend titled Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. If you haven't read it already, I would suggest that you read it before Christmas. In fact, you need to read it before November 24, because the movie Christmas with The Kranks, based on the book, will be in theaters just in time for the holiday season. And it's rated PG, so the whole family can attend! I think we're going to go the afternoon of opening day. I look forward to seeing it. Plus, I've always heard people say things like "that's different from the book" or "I liked the book better" after a movie; this way, I'll be able to say similar intelligent-sounding things. I may even buy a smoking jacket and start smoking a pipe for the full effect.

Nice, relatively restful weekend. Got the trim painted in the garage. I've never been kicked by a mule, but I would imagine it would be quite painful. Having said that, I believe I'd rather be kicked by a mule than to paint. Especially when I think about painting the garage walls. I'm sure everyone else's garage is dead-bug-free and spider-web-free, but our garage is like a bug burial ground. I believe all the bugs on our cul-de-sac migrate towards our garage just before they take their final breath here on earth. They reach the threshold, see and smell our dog, Wally, then decide to retire there. They must believe that our garage is like Florida is to elderly humans. So the first thing I have to do is clean out the dead bugs and spider webs. I'll probably work on it a wall at a time.

The Vols improved to 5-1 Saturday night, beating Ole Miss 21-17. I had a first during the game - I actually threw my glasses. Ainge threw an interception, which was quickly returned for a touchdown. I took my glasses off, and I had the presence of mind to fold them and throw them into a pillow resting on a chair across the room. No damage done, just more amusement for my bride. She continued to read her book. To her credit, she's learned to "overlook" most of my conduct during UT games. Maybe "learned" isn't the right word, it's more like she's conditioned herself over the past 16+ years.

The Titans are in a world of hurt. Not looking good for the home team. We could be facing a few non-sell-outs, which could mean no televised broadcast for the Nashville area. That would be a first for us. The Titans have pretty much been winners since they moved to town. We're getting a taste of what so many other franchises have gone through over the years.

I'll close with something I heard from a speaker in chapel the other day:

"Exhortation without explanation leads to frustration."

Think of that the next time you have to discipline kids or an employee. It'll really make you think......

Friday, October 15, 2004

only one way to do things.....not!

I'll admit that there are times when I can be narrow minded. (Just ask my teenaged daughter!) But over time I've learned that there's more than one way to do things.

Ever worked or existed around people who think there's only one way to do things? These people, I've seen them for years, can absolutely suck the creative juices out of their environment.

My internal-makeup is predominantly left-brain oriented - logical, sequential, analytical, rational, objective, looking at the small stuff. However, after taking several personality tests of the years, I've learned that I have quite a bit of creativity, I'm adept at macro-management skills, and I'm somewhat intuitive. This allows me to step back from the middle of the scrum and see things from a wider perspective.

I become frustrated when those around me "judge" others because of "poor choices" they've made. Just because someone does something different from how I would have done it doesn't necessarily make them a bad person. As far as I'm concerned, everyone is different, and everyone has different priorities. Think about how boring the world would be if everyone was left-brained! While I could never imagine a day-to-day life like the one Paul McCartney has lived, I can certainly appreciate how much he has added to the world through his music. Also, Paul McCartney would be bored out of his mind if he led a life like mine, but he understands that left-brained people like me have helped to help manage his success over the years. (No, I haven't talked to Paul personally about this, but I would imagine he's grateful for detail-people in his business. Besides, this ain't no documentary here, I'm just trying to prove a point.)

As I grow closer to the complete OF status, I'm very careful to keep my mind open to new ideas. With one teenager in the house, and another one warming up in the bullpen, I really don't have much of an option. It's either adapt or abscond.....and I have no intention of doing the latter. I gotta see how this kids turn out......

Thursday, October 14, 2004

career focus

The last thing I want to do after a long day at work is to come home and do the same thing there. It's funny how that changes as you get older.

Every day after school, Sara rushes in, puts up her stuff (sometimes), and heads out into the garage to play......SCHOOL! We have around 6 or 7 regular students; occasionally she'll have to "recruit" a few on the cul-de-sac. The ages can vary, anwhere from 3 to 11. And since it's our garage, Miss Stapleton is usually the teacher.

Last month, Sara learned that her school had a bunch of old teacher's guides and text books that they were giving away, and she pounced on them. Susie had to sign some kind of permission note. So she comes home with several, and says she wants more. After a couple of visits, her teacher, Mrs. Wood, said that she thought Sara had enough books for now. This was devastating news to Sara! She said it wasn't fair, and that there were tons of books left over. I think she's since convinced Mrs. Wood into letting her have a few more.

I asked Sara the other day why she wants to be a teacher. She said, "Because you get to be in charge and show people how to do stuff." I asked her if any of her teachers helped her realize that she wants to be a teacher, and she said, "Yeah, Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Campbell." (Sara looped with Mrs. Campbell in first and second grade, and has looped with Mrs. Wood in third and fourth grade.) Sometimes teachers, especially elementary school teachers, don't get alot of credit for their work. It's at times tiring and thankless. But both Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Campbell have made an impact on Sara. And they're the reason she wants to be a teacher.......

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

want a 34% return on investment?

Who wouldn't? I did it, and you can, too! (I may have to do an infomercial.....)

Here's all you need to do:

Buy an electric scooter (on sale) from Target. Wait for it to be recalled by the manufacturer for some odd reason like it either started and ran on its own, or because it started a couple of house fires. Take it back to Target, in either working or non-working condition. Wait in line for the clerk to get an authorization. Receive in cash more than you paid for it, even if you have the receipt that clearly shows you bought it for $50 less. It's that simple!

On Sara's birthday in March, she took her birthday money and bought an electric scooter from Target for $163 (including tax). About 6 weeks ago, it stopped working for no apparent reason. I contacted the manufacturer, they said it was the controller. A controller would cost $35, plus about $10 shipping. Or I could send it to the manufacturer and they would repair it for a total cost (including shipping) of around $150. Sure, where do I sign..... Looked around for someone to repair it, to no avail. Then a friend in our Sunday School class said he bought one for his daughter and took it back for a refund because hers was recalled. I didn't think Sara's had been recalled, so since we had the receipt they would allow us a same-day credit in the department from which the item came - automotive. How much car wax will that buy? (Sure, Susie had her eye on some faux leopard skin seat covers for the van and some spinners.) After some brief research, I learned that Sara's scooter had actually been recalled. So we took it back Sunday and received a refund for the full retail price plus tax ($218), even though we brought them the receipt that clearly showed we had bought the scooter for $50 less. I had since ordered a scooter for her through e-bay for about $110, so she was able to get her money back on the old scooter, pay for a new one, and then have money left over. Quite the deal, no?

How can you take advantage of this? It will involve some time travel, since Target no longer sells this scooter. However, once you figure out how to travel back to March 2004, you'll have it made. Just buy the scooter, or several scooters, hold onto them for about 5 months, and then cash in. Cha-ching!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

i almost forgot

Yesterday's post was pretty much a rant, touched off by something that happened not long after I got to work. It pretty much framed my day, so much so that I neglected to write about what a great sports weekend it was for the Stapleton household.

It started off with a big win Saturday morning for our softball team. We won the first game, lost the second, but the first game was a classic. We won, 9-8 with a play at the plate. It was 9-7, 2 down in the last inning, runner on first. We're home team, and out in the field. I'm thinking that the worst that could happen would be that they tie us and we go in to bat, I've got the heart of my order up in the bottom-half of the inning, and we'll get a run and win it. So the batter hits a BOMB to right field. Where's my weakest player on the team? You guessed it! But something happened that I can't explain. She got the ball and fired it to the cut-off! Perfect! My first-baseman, the cut-off, then thows a one-hopper to the catcher. The catcher catches it, blocks the plate, and tags the runner. Game over! We later found out that this team we played had not only not lost any games this season, but they had also never been behind all season. I was very proud of my girls! Sara made 2 HUGE plays at shortstop that saved at least 3 runs. Big win!

Then that afternoon the Big Orange showed up in unbelievable fashion and shut down the Bulldogs of Georgia. Eric Ainge, freshman QB, is coming of age quick, and doing a great job of it; he's the real deal. Gerald Riggs had a tremendous game at tailback. And the defense was great! We owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Big win! Susie was very appreciative of my behavior during the game. I only got animated during the Georgia's final drive, and that was mainly due to officiating.

Then, to top it off, LSU came back and beat Florida later that night! Big win! UT's now in control, and if everything falls into place, we might just meet Auburn in the SEC Championship game. However, they've got to take care of things every week between now and then. Still alot of football to be played yet.

Then the Titans won big at Lambeau Field last night. My only regret is that Bret Farve didn't have a better game. He needed to have a big game for my fantasy team to remain undefeated. Didn't happen, but I'm still 4-1.

Here's a suggestion. Next time you see someone with a sour look on their face, say something nice to them. Doesn't have to be anything big, just nice. Not only will it freak them out, but it will also do more for them than you know. That sour look could just be the tip of the iceberg, and your kind word could possibly melt some of it away. You never know how badly some people need encouragement until you ask. Emotional pain is often difficult to detect.....

Monday, October 11, 2004


Remember being a kid, getting in trouble for something, and trying to blame someone or something else for the problem? From "you didn't tell me" to "but she said...."; as a parent I've heard them all. And as a former kid, I used quite a few (if not all) of them. And alot of times, it's over stuff that's pretty inconsequential when looking at the big picture. But there comes a time when you have to take responsibility for things.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about a pet peeve I have concerning people who feel that they have to make others around them look bad in order to make themselves look good. Ever noticed that those people are usually deflectors? When asked about why something did or didn't happen, they say stuff like "well I thought so-and-so did....." or "it's not my fault". I've worked with people like this over the past 18 years. They get caught doing something wrong, so they try to deflect their guilt by pointing out someone else's short-comings. The bottom line is that you messed up - deal with it, take your medicine and get on with life.

This is something Susie and I try to teach our girls. I have a saying with Meg and Sara - "If you're gonna' play, you gotta' pay!" We use this one alot when they beg to stay up late and they have a hard time waking up the next morning. My dad always taught me that nothing is free, there's a cost for everything. If you do one thing, you're going to have to give up something else. That's just the way life is.

I'll readily admit that I've got more than my share of faults. I'm not trying to pick at splinters here with others and thereby "deflect" from my own deficiencies so that no one can see them. It's just amazing how some people want authority but refuse to accept responsibility. You can't really have one without the other.....

Friday, October 08, 2004

teaching and grace

Those of us who receive grace on a regular basis may not appreciate it that much, or as much as we really should. How do we react to those we come in contact with every day who are doing things we "don't approve of"? Do we extend grace, or do we simply judge and/or condemn?

When I was younger, lethargy set in anytime there was homework or a school project to be done. The only time I excelled at something was when I thought there was something in it for me. I realize now that I actually did have a vested interest in my education, but back then there just wasn't a connection. Now we're trying to keep that from happening with our kids. Both daughters continue to bring us so much joy, but there are times when being a parent isn't alot of fun. I'd love to be liked all the time by my girls, but sometimes rules and boundaries are necessary. Making corrections sometimes hurts, but hopefully it helps to prevent that same pain later on in life for them. Part of me says that I shouldn't be so hard on them because, after all, I used to be the same way. But, and I hate to sound like a parent here by using parent-logic, it's different. It's my job to take care of my daughters and see that they have the tools to succeed in life. Still, it's not always alot of fun.

A friend of mine posted on his blog yesterday about possibly doing an AIDS walk, and wanted to get opinions from others on whether or not he should do it. The "WWJD" logic was used, and he pointed out that he would not be supporting the gay lifestyle, but rather supporting AIDS research. Plus, he pointed out that gays aren't the only ones who are contracting AIDS. I've gotta be honest with you, I'm not sure what I would do. My gut reaction is to avoid something like that completely, because it would "appear" that my walking would support the gay lifestyle. But is that extending grace? It's a comfort-level thing. I guess I'm just glad I'm not in his shoes, having to make this decision.

All I know is that I've had grace poured out on me for years, and I try to remind myself of that on a constant basis. I try not to be so hard on people and their shortcomings, because I know mine are innumerable. And I try to remember where I'd be without grace. A chilling thought.....

Thursday, October 07, 2004

life decisions

I had lunch with a good friend today. He talked about going through some rough times over the past couple of years, struggling with his job situation. He talked about praying through some things, how things just seemed to be put on hold for some reason.

It made me think back to a little over seven years ago. I was stuggling with my job, wanting to do more elsewhere but scared of the unknown. I prayed and prayed, and felt like I was on an island where my prayers just couldn't get through. I finally left that job and took another job outside of the industry. For awhile, I thought I had made a huge mistake. I hated my new job. I hated the thought of getting up Monday through Friday because I knew I had to go to work. I was miserable. The job that I now have became available about 3 months into the bad job, and within 2 months I was hired. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you enjoy what you do for a living. When I look back on the events, it's obvious that God knew exactly what he was doing for me, even though I wasn't completely sold at all times.

Things aren't perfect now by any means. Problems still exist, just different ones. Being "the boss" over everyone has its upsides, but it can also have its downsides. I can play the bad guy, but never as bad as I'd sometimes like to be. Knowing I have the responsibility over the economic well-being of others at work can sometimes be a little stressful. All in all, though, I'm glad I'm here and by far like my job more days than I dislike it.

Back to my friend, one thing we're both fortunate enough to have is supportive wives. I can't tell you the number of times Susie said things like "we'll be fine" or "don't worry, I'm here for you." Most guys feel like they're the ones who should be saying these things. But like they say, the more strands a rope has, the stronger the rope will be. And I'm grateful for the rope that Susie and I form together.....

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

fast food upselling

Is it just me, or is it getting more difficult to order a meal in a fast food restaurant?

The bride and I met for lunch at Captain D's in Brentwood. She went to the rest room (mark one more off the list) while I stood in line to order.

"Welcome to Captain D's, will this be dine in or carry out?"

"Dine in, please."

"What can I get for you?"

"I'd like a number w...."

(Into the microphone) "Fish and fries!"

"...but I'd like green beans instead of fr...."

"Make 'dat green beans instead of fries. Small, medium, or large drink?"

"Doesn't it come with a drink?"

"Yes, small."

"Then that's what size I'd l...."

"Would you like to add a piece of fish, shrimp or chicken to your order?"

"No, thank y...."

"A piece of key lime pie, cheese cake or chocolate cake?"

"No, thank y...."

"Anything else?"

"Yes, I need a number f....."

"Fish and chicken! What size drink?"

And so we repeat the whole process again.

I understand that they're trying to move me through the line, hence the origin of the term "fast food." And I know that the employees are trained to up-sell the heck out of everything. But when you combine the two, it can be quite annoying.

I will have to admit that the lady behind the register could probably make more money in a profession that required mind-reading because as you probably noticed, I didn't even have to complete my sentences. She knew EXACTLY what I wanted! Hmmmmm.....she must have teenagers at home.....

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

do unto others.....

I'm still relatively young. Not as young as I used to be, but then again neither is anyone else. I can still do most things I've always done, I just end up paying for them later on. For example, I could once eat with reckless abandon and maintain my waistline. Now when I walk down the ice cream aisle at Bi-Lo, I pick up an extra 3 pounds.

Another way to prove to yourself that you're aging happened to me last night. I got home, went running, and came back inside to cool down. While getting some water, I got one of those "by the way" comments from Susie. Long story short, I was volunteered to help put together a couple of storage cabinets with my father-in-law for an elderly friend of the family. Gotta' be honest with you, I didn't have that on my Top 10 list of things to do last night. But I went anyway, amid a series of "I'm sorry"'s from my bride. Truth is, I don't mind doing that kind of thing that much. It's just that, as I would later confirm to myself, this project was more of a Saturday task than a Monday after-work task. So we put the cabinets together, and started heading home around 9:30. At that moment, I realized it was almost my bedtime (way #1 that I could tell I was getting older). I got home and showered, and was in bed by around 10:15. I was a little sore from the evening's activities (way #2 I could tell that I was getting older). However, when I woke up this morning, I felt like I had been in a bar-room brawl (way #3 - sustained pain from the previous night's endeavors). (I'd like to point out that I've never been in a bar-room brawl, but I've seen the movie Roadhouse several times and I would imagine that the pain would be quite intense.)

Looking back, last night wasn't all that bad. The simplest (and best, I suppose) way to view it is that I was able to do something for someone who couldn't do this for themself. I'm sure that when I graduate from OFIT to OF one of these days, I'll be grateful to have someone do these types of chores for me.

Monday, October 04, 2004

let's try this again

I've tried to post about 4 times today, and all 4 times my info was somehow here's my last attempt of the day.

Good first day back. I was only out 2 days, but it seemed like more. I could have used another day to rest up from doing nothing around the house, though. Yep, I can get lazy.

Best quote I've heard from the disappointing UT game Saturday night? My buddy, Chris, said that the best tackle he saw all game was in the stands. Apparently a somewhat intoxicated UT fan had quite enough of some cheering Auburn fans, and dove from 4 rows above and took them both out with one pounce.

The Titans appear to be in trouble, so it looks like a long season for those of us who consider ourselves fans. The salary cap and injuries seem to be the main problems.

The older I get, the more I love Fall. Spring used to be my favorite season, but the Fall seems to hold so much more for me now. College football, baseball playoffs, and cool, crisp evenings. With all the rain we had this summer, we should have some very bold colors on the trees this year. Hopefully we can take another trip down the Natchez Parkway and view some of the foliage.

Susie had one of my favorite foods today - Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I'm jealous. But after binging all weekend long, I'm determined to lose weight starting today. So here's to being hungry!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

and so it goes.....

Well, it's 8:27 PM, and it looks like the Vols are going down hard tonight. Auburn's already up 31-3 at the half. Rather than subject my coronary system to an assault (i.e. heart attack), I believe I'll have to forego the second half. I hate waiting for a game all day long only to watch them lay an egg in front of a national television audience. I do have to admit, Auburn is for real. They look good on both sides of the ball, so my hat's off to them. Only problem is Sara now has to face her teacher (an Auburn grad) Monday morning.....

It's been a nice couple of days off. Got the painting done in the kitchen. Ran Moore Miles with Sara, so she raised a little money for the school. Susie and I ate at a neat place in downtown Franklin Friday for lunch called Sandy's. They're catering the after-party for the premier of "Friday Night Lights" on Monday. Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and others will be there. After lunch, we walked around "Mayberry" (I say that very affectionately) for a while. Came home and just bummed around the rest of the afternoon. Went to the Centennial-Franklin high school football game that night. Franklin was undefeated, and they still are. Centennial gave the game away, and the play-calling on the final drive to potentially put them on top was horrendous. Football just hasn't been good for me this weekend.

On a bright note, our softball team won its double-header today. 14-4 in the first, and 10-6 in the second. Our pitcher was completely on for both games, with over a dozen strikeouts. Plus, a couple of our hitters had some bombs, so that was good.

I dread going back to work on Monday. When I'm off a few days, it's always difficult to get back into the swing of things. I'm quite sure I'm going to enjoy retirement, but I've got another 25 years (at least) before that will happen. I do like my job, but I like setting my own agenda even better. I could get used to more relaxed mornings.

Congratulations to Chris and Kathy for being able to get out of town alone this weekend. Even if it did cause UT to lose (they lose every time Kathy goes to Neyland), it was good for them to get away by themselves. Of course, I'm kidding about Kathy being a jinx (a little). I love them both and hope they have a great weekend.

OK, my heart rate is back down, so I can resume my evening. Next week the Vols go to Georgia, the team that embarrassed LSU earlier today. I'm sure my heart will get another workout then......