Friday, September 30, 2005

paging dr. ross, dr. greene and dr. carter.....

.....your former TV drama is close to flat-lining. The characters are weak and the storylines are much too predictable. The bride and I may not be "on call" for future episodes.....

Thursday, September 29, 2005

but, it's only 3:20.....

That's what my body was telling me this morning when the alarm clock went off. Whenever I travel to the west coast (which is rare, thankfully), it takes about 2-3 days to get adjusted once I get there, and 2-3 days to get adjusted once I get back. True to form, I got there Saturday and felt like I had adjusted by Monday. Now I'm back here on Thursday, and it will probably take until Saturday to get used to central time again.

On the way home from the airport, I got caught up on all the stories and things that had happened with the girls while I was gone. It's good to be back home.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ready for home again.....

As I write this, it’s not even 7:00 PM and I’m feeling the time change. My plane leaves tomorrow morning at 8:28, which means I’ll need to catch the 6:00 AM shuttle to the airport. But leaving early puts me into Nashville by 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, and that will give me time to spend with my 3 girls.

Overall the conference was good. I got to sit in on a few good sessions, and I was able to hear 3 “famous” people speak: Carolyn Kepcher, EVP with Trump’s organization, and the scary woman on “The Apprentice” (she was OK at best as a speaker); Mike Abrashoff, former commander of the U.S.S. Benfold (very good, low-key motivational type of speaker); and Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that beat the Russians and went on to win the gold medal (very good - even though nothing he said was earth-shattering, the way he said it was great.)

But the best thing about the conference is that Dad and I got to hang out together during the week. We spent most of the afternoon today at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. I rode an official San Francisco cable car for the first time today. Cool way to travel, in both the hip meaning of the word and temperature-wise.

So in less than 24 hours, I’ll be home with my girls. Can’t get here fast enough for me…..

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

feeling fat and amazed.....

After watching a dismal first half of football Monday night, Dad and I went to supper earlier than we had planned. We walked a couple of blocks and found the place we had seen earlier in the day, Daily Grill. If I had a pin right now, I’d poke my stomach with it. I had their cheeseburger, which is 12 ounces of ground sirloin. Along with fries. Again, I need a pin.

I’m having trouble saying “no” to food lately. Any kind of food. Today was French toast with fresh strawberries and blueberries for breakfast, followed by a roast beef sandwich at Lefty O’Doul’s for lunch, then supper. I may need to pay for an extra seat on the plane ride back.

If I don’t get back to running soon, things are going to get ugly…..

Gutsiest performance by a UT team ever. They stunk it up in the first half, only to come back and win it in OT. I was ready for Fulmer to be fired on the way to supper; now he’s the greatest coach in college football.....

Monday, September 26, 2005

4-star hotel.....

Two ways to tell that you’re in a 4-start hotel (according to the MC at our conference):

- The TV remote isn’t nailed down to the nightstand
- The toilet paper is folded to a point. (personally I’ve never seen the need for such pinpoint accuracy)

Actually there’s another way to tell – in spite of paying over $200 a night, they STILL charge you for high-speed internet connectivity…..

Sunday, September 25, 2005

lost in san francisco.....

Dad and I decided to walk down to Fisherman’s Wharf from the Hilton. Big mistake because I got us turned around. I was sure we were going the wrong way, so we took a right when we should have kept going straight. But we finally made it and had dinner at Chic’s, a seafood place on Pier 39. Very good, plus we had fun getting lost and just talking.

We waited over a half-hour for a cable car, and ended up getting a cab back to the hotel. The driver could have stood a bath, but at least the cab was warm…..

Saturday, September 24, 2005

no, not that guy.....

Standing in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on Saturday, I’m already sizing up my potential seat mates for the 3-hour-and-45-minute flight to San Francisco. The plane is about 15 minutes late for takeoff already, and people are getting restless.

There’s the really large guy (RLG). That’s who I usually have to sit beside. Then there’s the overly chatty lady (OCL) who’s talking to everyone with whom she comes into contact. And over to my left is the overtly gay guy (OGG) who’s grooving to his i-pod. I’m standing there wondering which one of these it will be.

But it wasn’t RLG, OCL or OGG. It was Faye. Faye from Maryland. Faye seemed amazed that I was watching sitcoms on my notebook computer. Faye liked to lean over me about every 37.2 seconds and look out the window. Faye could tell what my profession was because of the book I was reading. Faye was with a travel group.

No, I wasn’t rude to Faye. She was a sweet lady, and I was cordial. And it could have been worse…..I could have had to do “the bump” with OGG…...

Friday, September 23, 2005

this newscast brought to you by exxon.....

"Let's take a look at today's GasTracker forecast. As we begin the morning, regular unleaded should start off at $2.77. But as we get on into the day, noon-time prices will hit $2.96, and for your commute home we'll be looking at $3.29 a gallon. Back to you, Jane."

"OK, thanks for that update, Bob. Now we take you to "Mike On The Move" who's on location at Crazy Eddie's Gas-n-Go. Mike, how are things looking at the pump?"

"Thanks, Jane. It's been slow going for folks all morning long. I've not seen lines smaller than 3 to a pump for the last hour. Now, we want to remind people {wink}{wink}that they don't need to come and fill their tanks up just because we believe gas prices will double, maybe triple, within the next 48 hours. I repeat, double or triple within the next 24 hours.

"I have Crazy Eddie himself here with me. Eddie, can you believe the panic we've created?"

"Mike, this is unbelievable. I'd like to thank the entire Action 8 news team for all they've done to help promote my gas station and the oil industry as a whole. Without you and the hundreds of other dedicated news hounds who scare the whiz out of the public, record profits in the oil industry wouldn't be possible. My family I just can't thank you enough!" (Crazy Edding and Mike embrace, and a tear falls from Mike's cheek.)

"Jane, this makes getting up in the morning worth it all. Knowing that we've made a difference in someone's life, it's just, I don't know.....{sniff}{hack}{cough}{sniff}"

"Thanks for that touching moment, Mike. Again, we're not in the business to alarm you, but gas prices could double or triple within the next 12 hours, so there's no real reason to rush out and fill up your tanks.

"We're gonna take a break, but just ahead we've got a story about a man who recently paid more money for a tank of gas than he paid for his first home. Stay tuned."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

piling on.....

Seems that UT fans are all piling on Randy Sanders for the Vols' offensive woes these days. True, he doesn't actually drop passes, fumble the ball or run incorrect routes, but it does come back to him. Especially when you've got an All-American kind of running back who's ripping off 7-8 yards a carry and you decide to abandon the running game completely.

But I've done a little more in-depth scientific research on UT's problems, and it does look like most of the blame can be left at Sanders' doorstep. What's this research? Playstation II.

Last night I had a rematch of UT-Florida using NCAA Football on the PS2. Just like in the real game, the defense held Florida. But unlike Saturday night's game, I mixed up the play-calling on offense. Riggs had 140 yards. The fullback had a few carries. And the run actually set up the pass. Novel approach, no?

Some may scoff and say using the PS2 to simulate a game is an inaccurate science at best. All I know is that my offense beat Florida, and Randy's didn't.....

Note to Randy - LSU's on the agenda this weekend. You think the fans are ticked off now? If the offense sputters again and we're 1-2 after Saturday night, some fans may order a U-Haul to show up in your driveway Sunday morning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Ever go in a store when there are more salespeople there than customers? Seems that when this happens the salespeople are eager. Like feeding time at the zoo.

I attended a vendor fair after work yesterday. Same situation. There were more vendors than customers. More customers were hanging out in the bar than in the exhibit hall. Big mistake on the vendors' part. NEVER have an open bar outside the exhibit hall.

I saw a few "work friends" and milled around a bit. I stayed about an hour or so then left. I don't think there were too many contracts signed.....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

i could get use to this.....

I've got a meeting after work tonight until 7:00, so I decided to come in a couple of hours later than normal today. I've gotta' be honest, I like this.

Since I'm usually in the office by 6:40, I typically don't get up early enough to do much besides get ready, eat and leave. This morning I was able to get up, take a walk, read the paper and check my e-mails before leaving the house. The traffic wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was actually able to find a decent parking spot. And all the stuff that I do before 7:00 was done by someone else when I got here.

I wonder how I'll feel about coming in late when 4:oo rolls around this afternoon.....

Monday, September 19, 2005

yep, i'm guilty.....

OK, I admit it. Philip Fulmer, Randy Sanders, the media, they all duped me. I believed that Tennessee had a shot at the national title this year. In other words, I drank the Kool-Aid.

At the end of the first half, I still believed that we were going to win. The defense was putting Leak on his rear end, and he looked to be losing confidence. And there was nothing special about our special teams. Three big miscues - a blocked field goal (no one bothered to put a helmet on the guy who blocked it), a fumbled punt return (you have to look at the ball all the way into your hands), and a botched fake punt (huge freshman mistake) led to a loss in the Swamp.

As much as I hate to say it, Florida took advantage of our mistakes and scored off of them. Now we have another away game in another hostile environment at LSU this Saturday night. Looking at the rest of our schedule, we may be in for a 4-loss season. And this was supposed to be the year for a title chase.....

Saturday, September 17, 2005

the end is near.....

Many people say we're getting close to the end of time. They point to last year's tsunami in Asia, then to the damage caused by hurricane Katrina. But the final piece of the puzzle is slowly falling into place that proves we're getting close to the end. And here it is:

The Vanderbilt football team is 3-0. I have to let that sink in. 3. and. 0. On top of that, they were mentioned and semi-featured on College Gameday on ESPN this morning.

Um, yeah.....

Thursday, September 15, 2005

put it in writing.....

Ever do any forward thinking? Twenty years ago that would have meant making sure I had a racquetball court reserved for later in the week. Over time you do more forward thinking, and you take it a little more seriously.

I've started writing my thoughts down whenever I've got a big decision to make. They say it helps to put it in writing. While it may not make things instantly obvious, it can be a start. By just letting your thoughts fly and recording them, you can come back and review them later. They may not make any sense later, or they may lead you to consider things you didn't think about before.

Meg and I were on a walk the other day and she started talking about what she wanted her minor to be in college? HUH? She's thinking about her college minor at 15? I think I was too busy counting down the days until my first car date when I was 15. (By the way, I came home 45 minutes late from my first car date and got grounded for 6 weeks. Time management wasn't my thing back then.)

I've been accused of over-planning things, from my work schedule even to vacations. I do tend to go overboard at times, but the way I look at it - it's better than not planning at all.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

words of wisdom.....

Some movies get right to the crux of the matter and start dispensing deep, meaningful dialog right from the beginning. Steve Martin's first movie, The Jerk, is one such movie. His character, Navin R. Johnson, is given three pieces of advice as he is leaving home to find his special purpose:

Lord loves a working man
Don't trust "whitey"
See a doctor, get rid of it

Navin, born a poor black child, overcomes obstacles and barriers in this rages-to-riches-to-rags-again story. The moral of the movie is that sometimes when you look for happiness, you realize that it was right in front of you the whole time.

Who couldn't build their life on such pillars of strength? Thank you, Carl Reiner, for enhancing the lives of so many people over the past 26 years with this cinematic masterpiece. I, for one, am forever changed.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

it's hurricane season.....

Being a parent can be challenging. It can also be a learning process. Like learning how to stay out of fights between sisters. I was very proud of the bride and me for doing just this last night.

It was a little after 8:00, and the girls were going through their normal nightly rituals. Then, without warning, hurricane Sara stuck, followed by tropical storm Meg. As both systems circled each other, I fully expected meteorologist-wanna-be, the bride, to step in and attempt to remedy the situation. But it didn't happen. As I sat downstairs attempting to read a book, winds apparently swept through the upstairs portion of our house because doors slammed and I heard that something got broken.

Just like any fierce storm, it was over with as quickly as it started. I stayed downstairs, determined to wait and hear the damage report from the cleanup crew who began their assesment soon after the weather cleared.

Successful parentling can only occur if one keeps his sanity. One way to do that is to regularly stay on the outside looking in. Sure there are times when being in the middle of a situation is needed. But in some cases it's just as valuable to let kids learn things on their own, rather than having their mom or dad fix things for them.....

Monday, September 12, 2005

gonna' be a long season.....

If you're a Titans fan, the NFL season could be a long one. After scoring on their opening drive, the defense gave up 34 points in the loss to the Steelers. Granted, Pittsburgh has a much better team. But the defense seemed to be lost most of the day. Tackles were missed or not finished off for most of the game. I watched part of the Ravens/Colts game last night and imagined what Baltimore's defense would do to our offense.

Centennial won again Friday night. It got a little scary in the 4th, but they were able to pull out another win. The bride and I were able to have dinner out alone at J. Alexanders before the ballgame.

The bride and I worked with some of our youth group from church Saturday. Our task was to drive 6 kids around our neighborhood and collect canned goods for Graceworks. Their food pantry has really taken a hit because of all the needs created by the hurricane. There were about 50 kids that showed up that morning, and we were able to collect enough to fill up the beds of 3 pickup trucks.

Speaking of Graceworks, that place is unbelievably busy since the hurricane. People were lined up in their cars and trucks to donate food, clothes, furniture and all kinds of other items. The bride has worked there over the past week or so, and several families from the gulf coast have come through there. She said that some of their stories will just break your heart.

Friday, September 09, 2005

back to school.....

The bride and I went to open house at Centennial last night. We came away feeling good about two things. First, we're glad that Meg's in a very good high school, one that will prepare her for college. Second, we're glad that we've already done the high school thing. I mean after working a full day and then going through a full day of classes, I was beat when we got home.

We knew the day would come when Meg would like spending time with her friends as much (or more) than her family. I remember telling her when she was about 5 that this would happen. She would roll her eyes and tell me that this just wouldn't happen. But it's just natural, all part of growing up. Adults just aren't fun to hang with on a constant basis. Last Friday night was the true sign of change, though.

The four of us were going to the Centennial game, but Meg was going to meet several friends for tailgating before the game. We told her that we'd drop her off, then we remaining three would go grab a bite to eat. On the way, Meg said that she wanted to be dropped off at Sonic where she'd wait for her friends and then walk back across the street for tailgating and the game. Being adults, that made no sense to us? Why do that? Why not just let us drop you off in the school parking lot where the tailgating takes place? So she gave in, but several hundred feet from the tailgating, she said, "OK, you can just drop me off here." Again, this made no sense to logical adults. Later we realized that she didn't want her friends (particularly her junior and senior friends) to see her dropped off by Mommy and Daddy. Then, and only then, did it make sense to us. Independence had reared its head.

Does this worry me? Not at all. I'd much rather she be outgoing than introverted. But is she embarrassed of her family? I'm sure there's a little bit of that for every teenager. Besides, I'm sure I've given her plenty of reasons to be wary of me being around her friends......

Thursday, September 08, 2005

if you don't like it, you can move.....

Franklin Mayor Tom Miller has ticked a few residents off. He has received calls, letters and e-mails from some in the Franklin community who are critical of his plan to house 500 refugees at the former CPS manufacturing plant on Columbia Avenue. Mayor Miller had this to say at the Franklin City Hall meeting Tuesday night:

"For those people in the community who think we're doing the wrong thing, don't call me. Don't send me an e-mail. Because this is the right thing to do."

Some Franklin residents are concerned that crime and violence will naturally follow these people when they move into the old CPS plant.

Later, the mayor added, "These are fellow Americans.....if you don't like what we're doing - if you don't like the fact that we're bringing people from the gulf coast here - you can move."

And I thought the city of Brentwood was being snobbish us when they wouldn't let us use their library for free any more.....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

and the "duh!" award goes to.....

The following is a portion of an article posted by the AP yesterday:

Kids May Mimic Parents' Smoking, Drinking

Associated Press Writer
September 6, 2005, 7:55 AM EDT

CHICAGO -- Preschoolers pretending to shop for a Barbie doll's social evening were more likely to choose cigarettes if their parents smoked, and wine or beer if their parents drank, a study found.

Researchers observing the children's play found that the ones who watched PG-13 or R-rated movies also were more likely to choose alcohol for Barbie.

A 4-year-old girl chose Barbie-sized tobacco in the pretend store and said: "I need this for my man. A man needs cigarettes." A 6-year-old boy offered the doll cigarettes and said: "Honey, have some smokes. Do you like smokes? I like smokes."

Parents who watched from behind a one-way mirror were surprised by their children's choices, said study co-author Madeline Dalton of Dartmouth Medical School. "It's a very humbling experience to be a parent and see your children mimic your behaviors," she said.

The study suggests that prevention efforts should target younger children, Dalton said. It was published Monday in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Wait, I'm confused. You mean to tell me that children will actually imitate what their parents do? I've been a parent for over 15 years now, and I had no idea. Why wasn't this study done years ago so that I would have known about this BEFORE I became a parent? I know, it's the government's fault.....

To call this new information is absurd. Just spend one evening with our family around the dinner table and you'll observe learned behavior within 5 minutes after the prayer. Just be careful when anyone leans to one side.....they're not picking up a fork they dropped, they're preparing for the symphony.....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

long weekend and stuff that happened.....

Long weekends make it difficult to come back to work. Especially since the weather was so perfect here, AND college football's season started.

We watched Centennial get its first win of the season Friday night, as they beat Independence 28-6. The bride kept saying something like "it's a perfect night for football", and the rest of us repeated that line several times over the weekend.

Saturday was a busy day, and one that was a bit scary at times. First, the Vols. Yes, they won, but they scared me to death. Should have been a 35-7 game, but they couldn't get things going after their first two series. So alot of things will have to improve to beat both Florida and LSU on the road. The second scary thing was the near-miss with my car.

I got up Saturday and washed both cars before the UT game started. After the game, I was going to wax my car. When I went to move my car into the garage so it would cool off, I noticed that the battery sounded a little weak. I came in and told the bride that I'd probably need to replace the battery pretty soon. After waxing my car, I got in it to move it back into the driveway. Dead as a doornail. So I decide to go inside and get the bride to steer while I push my car out of the garage. I go to put it in neutral, and I cut my wheels so that they'll be straight. Just a habit that I have, but a habit that turned out to be very valuable. I went inside to get the bride, and she said she'd be right down. While I was inside, I heard Wally barking and muttured "dumb dog, shut up!" I go back to the garage to wait for her, and the garage was empty. My car was nowhere to be seen. I looked out in the driveway, and Wally is sniffing around my car like there's something wrong. There was something wrong! It had rolled out into the driveway on its own, because I put it in neutral and didn't have the emergency brake on! The bride comes out and I said, "Is there something missing here?" She finally realized what had happened, and we both went out to survey the situation. My car had rolled out of the garage, onto the driveway, narrowly missing the bride's van. It had come to a stop on the edge of the grass. I kept thinking about the possible damage that could have occurred had I not cut the wheels straight. As Amy Grant's song says, angels watching over me..... Oh, and I did get the battery replaced Sunday afternoon at Sears.

There were about 8 families at church Sunday morning during the second service who were from either Mississippi or Louisiana. These people either knew they'd lost just about everything, or were unsure about their homes. Made me realize just how bleseed we are as a family. We all went through our closets this weekend and gathered clothes that we weren't using any more. I think we ended up with about 5-6 large bags of clothes.

Tried to do some grout work in the master bath, and something went wrong with the mixing of the grout. Worked on it for 30 minutes and gave up. I'll have to try it again in a couple of weeks.

We watched "Mr. 3000" and "Finding Neverland" this weekend. Both were good, but I liked "Neverland" better. Johnny Depp is an incredible actor. And the young kids in the movie were very good. The boy who played the role of Peter also played the part of Charlie in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Got the yard mowed yesterday morning, then we spent a couple of hours at the pool. Only two more weekends for the pool this year, then it'll be closed until the end of May next year. Summer is gone.

Working on trying to set up car pooling with some guys here at work. Even if I can cut my gas costs in half, that would be a big savings. I guess I'm the average American, I like the independence my car affords me. Like my dad always said, nothing's free, there's a cost to everything. Saving money on gas will cost me a little independence, but it's something that has to happen.

Friday, September 02, 2005

football time in tennessee.....

FINALLY! Kickoff is at 11:30 (CST) tomorrow! UT vs. UAB. My prediction is 45-14 UT, at least that's what it should be, but we'll see. I can't wait to see them play! This year's team has more talent from top to bottom than any team they've had in years. We usually meet Chris and Landon in Knoxville for opening weekend, but this year we're going to the Georgia game instead.

Last night, Adam "Drop Man" Jones got booed as he left the field during the Titans' last pre-season game. The fans aren't being kind to the guy. I'm not sure what he expected after holding out as long as he did.

I think I almost pushed The Bride over the edge last night with the TV remote. There were three football games going on at the same time, and I constantly switched between them for almost 3 hours. It's not that she doesn't like football, because she does, but I think she'd like to watch one game and one game only. But it was the opening night for college football, and I couldn't help myself.

3-day weekend coming up! We don't have any big plans. Centennial football tonight, UT game tomorrow, then other college games the rest of the day. I hope to wax my car tomorrow, then grout the master bathroom shower sometime this weekend. Fun stuff, I know.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

happy anniversary.....

September 1, 1963, Linda Genevieve Fairchild became Mrs. Larry Wade Stapleton, Sr. Actually, Mr. Stapleton didn't have the "Sr." designation beside his name until about 10 1/2 months later when I came along.

They weren't high school sweethearts. In fact, they didn't meet until college. Dad was supposed to go to Virginia Intermont, but received a scholarship to Lincoln Memorial University at the last minute. A year later, Mom showed up on campus. Mom's roommate was Dad's roommate's girlfriend, so they set them up. Mom went to school year-round so that she could graduate in three years and with Dad. They were married after their junior year.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!