Wednesday, May 31, 2006

memory lane.....

A couple of weeks ago, one of my uncles called Mom and asked if we'd like to go to a place called "Memory Lane" while we were in East Tennessee for the Memorial Day weekend. We thought it would be fun, but we had no idea we'd enjoy it as much as we did.

Memory Lane is in Rogersville, TN. Otis Eldridge, owner of the property, is a big collector of 50's memorabilia, and he decided to turn his collection into a unique showcase. There's a country store stocked with all kinds of '50's-era goods; the stainless steel Studebaker diner (an actual diner from Virginia that was moved on-site and restored a couple of years ago); an actual Texaco station and Ford dealership; a 1949 pre-fab home from Rogersville; and many other buildings.

The buildings were great, but for me it was all about the cars. Oh, the cars, the beautiful American cars from the '40's to the '70's that were on display for the car show. That was when America knew how to build cars. Frankly, I don't think I'll ever buy another American made car because they're just not built to last any more. The only time I'd ever go back on my word would be to buy a classic. Something like a '60's Mustang, or a late-'50's Corvette. Oh, the Corvette. Mr. Eldridge owns a 1956 Corvette that's been completely restored. Someone there told me that it's worth around $100,000.

There were other cars there, cars that just made you smile when you looked at them. There was a 1942 Ford convertible that was unbelievable. There were Camaros, more Mustangs and Corvettes, trucks of all kinds. Meg picked out a late-70's model Corvette with t-tops as her favorite, and Sara went with a classic late-70's convertible Beetle. Neither daughter is holding her breath for either car. They both know that if anyone gets a classic car, it's gonna' be ol' Dad. And ol' Dad isn't holding his breath for one, either.

Here are some pictures from Memory Lane.....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

maybe they were going to donate the funds to a charity.....

Earlier this year in separate incidents, two physical education teachers at Ernest Ward Middle School in Pensacola, Fla., were arrested and charged with bribery for allowing students to avoid gym classes by paying the teachers money. Tamara B. Tootle, 39, charged in April, allegedly gave students credits at $1 per student per class, and Terence Braxton, 28, arrested in February, pleaded guilty in May to a similar scheme, admitting to making at least $230. [Tampa Tribune-AP, 4-8-06] [Pensacola News Journal, 5-18-06]

Friday, May 26, 2006

man, talk about being depressed.....

Some of us have a list of things we'd like to do before we die. I have one, although I've never taken the time to write the list on paper. Here are some of mine:

- See Billy Joel in concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City
- See The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia and the British Open at St. Andrews
- Visit Australia with the bride
- Watch our kids grow up and lead healthy, happy lives

You get the idea. These are things I'd either love to see happen or expect to see happen. These are some of my dreams.

Then there's one a little further down the list that had to be crossed off because of recent events. I'm so upset over it that I don't know if I can get through this post without breaking down. But I'll be strong. I've always wanted to see Snoop Dogg in concert in London, England. There, I said it. But will it ever come about? NOOOOOOO!!!!! Why? Because he's been banned from ever setting foot in the U.K. ever again. Apparently there was some sort of *alledged incident* in the first class lounge of British Airways at the Heathrow Airport in April, in which his entourage clashed with police. Seven officers *claimed* to have been injured in the clashes, which prompted the caution and resulted in Snoop being banned from flying British Airways for life. Fuh shizzle. Now, because of his criminal record in the U.S., Snoop will not be allowed back into the U.K.

The dreams of this American man have been dashed, shattered. I hope all of you British policemen are happy.....

Thursday, May 25, 2006

these two words say it all.....

I just had to say it.....
Yep, he won it! He's paid his dues and he deserves it. You may not have heard about how he ended up in Las Vegas to audition. As they always say, things happen for a reason:
Taylor Hicks had been in New Orleans the night before Hurricane Katrina hit, he encountered problems trying to evacuate the city, but he succeeded. Handling matters in a diplomatic manner, the airline responded in kind, providing him a free ticket anywhere in the country. He had planned to attend the Memphis September 5th, American Idol auditions, but they were cancelled; Memphis could not take in the American Idol crowds with incoming victims from Katrina requiring shelter. Instead of forfeiting his efforts to try out for this show, Taylor later used that free ticket to attend the Las Vegas auditions.
As for last night's show, here were the high/low-lights:
Puck 'n Pickler - Funniest part of the show! See, if you're not from the South, you don't understand Kellie Pickler. I grew up with girls like Kellie, and you just have to love them!
Meatloaf - Can't decide if this Meatloaf was half-baked or a bit overdone. Either way, he was terrible.
Toni Braxton - Normally she's a good singer. The bride claims she was lip syncing, but I just think she was bad. Why she took a song about poverty and tried to make it sexy is beyond me. Bad.
Taylor and his harmonica - Finally, we get to hear him play the blues harp. If he had done it during the competition, he would have been disqualified. Outstanding!
Elliott and Mary J. Blige - I was alone on this at home, but I enjoyed the performance. Maybe it's the song, but I liked it.
Group songs - I enjoyed the guys' performances, but the girls were just OK.
So another season is over. And needless to say, I'm glad it turned out the way it did. Back in January Taylor sang "A Change is Gonna' Come". And it did. We don't have an American Idol that came from a mold. We have one that broke the mold.....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

assessment of the finale.....

So last night was it. The final time Taylor and Katharine will perform for our votes. Here's my take on the show:

Katharine's songs:

Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - I thought she sounded better this time than when she first performed it. Still not crazy about it when compared to KT Tunstall's version, but good.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Very good, but I disagree with the judges. I don't think it was as good as the first time. One of the negatives for Katharine on this song was that she did it so well last week, there was nowhere to go but down.

My Destiny - The song was horrible, and it was obvious that Katharine wasn't comfortable with it. The lyrics were trite. When Randy started with the "you look incredible" comment, you knew the judges weren't crazy about it. I actually felt a little sorry for her after this song.

Taylor's songs:

Living for the City - This was my second favorite performance of the year, right behind "Taking it to the Streets". It's also one of my favorite songs of all-time. He sang it better this time by a mile. Home run right out of the gate. (Like how I mixed 2 different sports into one analogy?)

Levon - Another one of my all-time favorites. (Is there any wonder I'm a fan?) He seemed a bit reserved, almost like he was holding back on the song. There were no "hey"s and "woo"s like the first time he performed it. Still a good job.

Do I Make You Proud - Slightly better song than what Katharine had to work with. He took the song and made something out of it. Simon simply said, "You've just won American Idol." I concur.

Just before the show started, I told Meg that nerves would make the difference in the outcome. They did. Katharine looked scared all night, and Taylor looked confident. Taylor was there to win, Katharine seemed to just not want to lose. Both deserved to be there, but one definitely stood out from the other.

Tonight's 2-hour show should be very good. Burt Bacharach and his songs will be on hand, with Dionne Warwick singing "That's What Friends are For". Bucky will sing "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", and Kevin (Chicken Little) will sing "What's New Pussycat". Paris will perform with one of the bride's favorites, Al Jarreau. Chris Daughtry will sing with Live; Elliott does a duet with Mary J. Blige; and Katharine sings with Meatloaf (strange combination, but as Simon said last night, what do I know?). For some reason, they're very tight-lipped about Taylor's duet partner. Early speculation were names like Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker and Elton John. Then it was mentioned that he'd sing with a female artist who was very popular in the mid-to-late-90's. Maybe Bonnie Raitt or Sheryl Crow? What about Prince? (I kid.)

My thanks to the girls for their assistance on the phones last night. After 4 hours of voting, I'm cautiously optimistic. And if there's any justice or logic in this world, Mr. Hicks should come away the winner tonight.....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

apparently, there will be no g-bomb.....

According to Insider TV here are the song choices for the contestants:

Taylor Hicks: "Levon" by Elton John and "Living for the City" by Stevie Wonder. The new single he'll be performing is "Do I Make You Proud" written by Tracy Ackerman, Andrew John Watkins and Paul David Wilson. Tracy Ackerman wrote "Invisible" for Clay Aiken.

Katharine McPhee: The standard "Over the Rainbow" and "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall. The new single she'll perform is called, "My Destiny" written by Hanne Sorvaag.

yeah, dat's right, i gotta' problem wit' it?

So I'm washing our cars Saturday afternoon and our next door neighbors stop in front of our driveway. They rolled the passenger-side window down, started pumping their fists and yelled out "SOUL PATROL!" Apparently Meg, who babysits for them, mentioned to them that I voted for Taylor Hicks every Tuesday night for 2 hours solid. Busted.

HOWEVER, they did say they tried to vote for Taylor for about 30 minutes and couldn't get through. AND some other neighbors also tried and couldn't get through. So it's not just me. But now people are blaming me for tying up the phone lines.....

A year ago, I would have said I'd NEVER vote for ANYONE on American Idol. It's a television show, it's entertaining, and I hope my favorite wins. End of story. But a few months ago there was this guy that auditioned who was different. He didn't seem to fit in with the others. He had *gasp* grey hair. He sang the first few notes of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna' Come" and I told the bride, "That's my winner, right there!"

Now, let me address an issue that's come up at our house. SOMEONE accused me of having a man-crush on Taylor. UNTRUE! That's just sick. I'm a fan, that's it. Just like I'm a fan of Billy Joel, Michael McDonald and Ray Charles. So there.

The format is supposed to be like this tonight: Taylor won the coin toss last week and chose to go second. They each will be doing either 2 songs they've done on the show already, OR one song they've done AND a new one of their choosing, PLUS what they show calls the "winner's single" (the single that's released by the winner the day after the winner is declared). Sources tell me that the G-bomb will be dropped tonight. What's the G-bomb? It's a little song Mr. Hicks does in honor of a guy named Ray Charles called "Georgia". Fans have been wanting him to sing it all season, but he's been saving it for the right moment. Tonight is that moment, and there's a good chance that he closes the show with it. If you haven't heard Taylor's version, click here. (Click on "MP3 Downloads" on the right-hand side of the screen, might be down towards the bottom. Then look for "Georgia (Full Version)".)

Tonight's vote will undoubtedly be close. My hope is that Taylor gets enough votes to win because he deserves it. He's proven week in and week out that he's got what it takes to make it in the music business. And this Soul Patroller will be doing his part to help him win.....

Monday, May 22, 2006

another school year is gone.....

By the end of this week, the school year will officially be over for Meg and Sara. It's actually been over for about 2-3 weeks, especially for Sara. Every day for the past couple of weeks, she's come home and told us about a movie or a DVD she watched in class that day. Meg has 3 exams this week and that's it for her.

Also by the end of this week, the bride and I will be parents of both a high school junior and a 6th grader. This doesn't seem possible because I can still remember both grades vividly. That, plus the fact that I daily rotate my actions from that of a 6th grader to that of a high school junior.

I've said here countless times that I'm proud of our daughters. And every year, every day, we have more and more reasons to be proud. Here's to many more years and reasons to come.....

Friday, May 19, 2006

like nailing jello to a tree.....

Mom and Dad gave us a little plaque that we have hanging in our laundry room and it says, "Raising teenagers is like trying to nail Jello to a tree". Coaching a rec league softball team of teenage girls is similar.

Meg's regular coach wasn't at the game last night, so we did a "coaching-by-committee" thing. Luckily I only had to coach solo for about an inning-and-a-half. That was enough.

I guess it's hard to stay motivated as a player when your cell phone is constantly going off in the dugout.....

Thursday, May 18, 2006

and then there were two.....

Was I surprised that Elliott was voted off last night? No, not really. None of his three songs were very strong. Was I disappointed? Yes. (The picture to the left was taken right after it was announced that Elliott was going home. Katharine's smile apparently ticked off the Yamaniacs. That and the fact that her mom was jumping up and down. This could be good for Taylor.)

Katharine can sing, but I'm not a big fan. Her rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" got her into the finale. Many (inculding me) felt that she should have been gone the week that Chris left. But she got a reprieve of sorts and she made it through to the finale.

All three of Taylor's songs were strong. I've been waiting for him to sing "Try a Little Tenderness" for several weeks. (He was originally going to do this song during love songs week, but producers pulled it 24 hours before the show. Their reason? They felt that this wasn't a song Bocelli would sing.) And last night's "Takin' it to the Streets" is my favorite for the whole season.

So one more week, one more show, three more songs for each contestant. My hope is that AI doesn't make them both sing the same type of sappy song that Carrie and Bo had to sing last year. But even if they do, let's just say I like Mr. Hicks' chances.....

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

oh, so close.....

I've never had a hole-in-one. I've come close twice. Same course, same hole, just a week apart. I hit the flag stick both times.

I had the opportunity to play in a golf tournament today. Out of 16 teams, our foursome came in 2nd at 9 under. Not too bad considering the soggy conditions. I hit the ball pretty well in spite of the heavy air. But one of my worst shots of the day almost turned into my best shot ever.

We were on the tee at number 3 of the President's Reserve at Hermitage Golf Course. The hole was playing about 170. None of our irons were traveling too well through the thick air, so we were all having to hit at least one more club than normal. I've got a 9 wood that I use every now and then so I decided to hit it on this hole. I teed the ball up a little lower than normal, trying to keep myself from popping it up. I caught it thin and started laughing immediately. It was an absolutely horrible looking shot.

The ball never got more than 8 feet of the ground. It took a hop towards the right and barely missed the bunker near the front of the green. Then it started rolling on the green. One of my partners said, "It's going in the hole!" It got closer. Then closer. I started to believe it myself. It went over the right side of the cup and rolled about 4 feet past. I did, however, make the putt for a natural birdie.

I hope to one day post a picture here of the ball I used to ace a hole. But if and when I do make a hole-in-one, regardless of how my shot looked, my story will be that its flight was majestic and breathtaking.....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

coming soon to a theater near you.....

Be afraid. Be very afraid of.....

Attack of the Killer Behind!
Rated PG-13 (Mild violence, crude humor, and just plain bad taste)

Monday, May 15, 2006

i'm sorry, i don't understand what you're saying.....

Saturday morning I went out to run a few errands. One of those errands was to pick up a gift certificate for Mother's Day from a local nail salon. I figured it would be pretty easy. Go in, tell them what I want, then leave. You'd think that would be pretty easy, right? I didn't consider the language barrier.

I walk in and every chair in the place is full, plus about 8 other women waiting. It's very nice, with LCD televisions on the walls. Looks like they're watching Big Mama's House 2. I'm the only male in the place, so I'm automatically drawing attention to myself. I hear "Can I hep yooooo?" from one of the employees and I say that I want to get a gift certificate. The manager (I'm assuming he's the manager) comes from the back and asks "Can I hep yooooo?" I tell him that I want a gift certificate. Here's where it gets dicey.

The bride, in her sly, helpful way, had laid out a sheet of coupons from a new nail salon a couple of days before Mother's Day. On Friday night, the sheet of coupons morphed into a single coupon. So I give the manager the coupon and say that I want to get a gift certificate for a spa pedicure. The next few minutes were a bit of a blur for me. I was able to pick up words like "pedicure", "coupon" and "no" a few times. At the end of each sentence I would stare at him in silence, my brain trying to process what he'd just said. I said, "I'm sorry, can you please repeat that?" He stared at me in silence for a moment, then rattled off the same sentence back to me again. This time he added a slight gesture towards the coupon and the gift certificate.

I know at this point I had the ol' "deer in the headlights" look". So naturally he repeats himself again. (I guess that's the universal response to anyone who doesn't understand your language - repeat yourself and say it louder.) This causes everyone to focus their attention even more on me. Some of the looks on the ladies faces were like I was trying to rob the place. I'm frustrated. By now I'm willing to pay double just to get out of there. So I pay for the gift certificate (full price, not discounted) and leave.

On the way home I finally understood what he was trying to tell me. Apparently you pay full price for the gift certificate, then when you go to redeem it you give them the coupon and they refund the difference. Seemed strange to me. Maybe that's the way they do it in Korea, I don't know.

I may go back there someday to purchase another gift certificate, but it'll be awhile. And I definitely won't be armed with any more coupons.....

Thursday, May 11, 2006

play the game.....

Yes, it's time to play the game that's sweeping the nation -


The rules are simple. Look at the picture of the four remaining American Idol contestants to the left. Choose the eliminated Idol based on which one looks the most shocked.

If you guess Chris Daughtry, you're correct! Oh, and the look on his face was the look on everyone's face at our house last night when Mr. Seacrest said that Chris was going home.

Yes, I'm a Taylor fan. Yes, I want him to win it all. But I really thought it would be a Taylor/Chris finale. Now I'm thinking it'll be a showdown between Taylor and Elliott.....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

long weekend wrap-up/the top 4.....

There's nothing like a 2-day work-week! Though Wednesday and Thursday may feel like I'm cramming 5 days into 2, that's alright.

We won half of our games on Saturday. The first one went the whole 7 innings, and we held them to no runs in the bottom of the 7th. The defense really came through. Then in Meg's game, they didn't have enough players so Sara played. She went from a 9-10 game to a 14 & under game, only they were playing an 18 & under team. In one inning the two sisters were playing 2nd and shortstop and made a great play together. And they didn't even fight about it in the process!

Sunday I was able to prep the driveway in the afternoon. Got it washed off and sealed the cracks. Monday morning I got it sealed. Looks 100 times better.

Yesterday the bride and I drove out the Natchez Trace Parkway and had breakfast at the world-famous Loveless Cafe. It was all good - the country ham, grits, eggs, biscuits, hash brown casserole, the steak biscuit. Mind you, I didn't eat this all by myself. Half of it was the bride's. We plan on going out there for supper sometime soon as a family.

The rest of the day was spent running errands and mowing the yard. Got new tags for my car. If anyone ever wonders why government workers are picked on so much, they need to go pick up tags in Franklin. If the workers there had CRAWLED they couldn't have been any slower. Nuff said.

As for last night's top 4 AI performances, the night belonged to Mr. Hicks and Mr. Yamin. Here's a recap:

Taylor Hicks - Taylor started off the show with "Jail House Rock". (I knew what was coming from Simon "Sunshine" Cowell, because he said late last week that he couldn't stand "Jail House Rock" and hoped that no one would sing it, but if anyone did it would be Taylor.) I loved it, as did everyone else did in the audience. He followed with "In the Ghetto", and again he did an excellent job. So good that Simon even praised him for it.

Chris Daughtry - Picked great songs for his vocal range. "Suspicious Minds" is a great song, but he made it pretty boring. In fact, until the last 10-15 seconds of "A Little Less Conversation", he managed to make it boring, also. Chris has a great career ahead of himself, but last night he didn't do anything to help himself in the competition. He's in the bottom 2 tonight.

Elliott Yamin - Possibly the best performance of the night was "Trouble". Elliott has really stepped up his game the past couple of weeks. His first song, "If I Can Dream", started off rough, but he finished strong.

Katharine McPhee - Coming in, I thought she'd have trouble with Elvis songs. I'm not sure if it's the music or her nerves that's getting the best of Katharine. "Hound Dog/All Shook Up" was OK, but she forgot some of the lyrics. "Can't Help Falling in Love" showed how Kat has a problem with the higher notes. Again, she's got a big career ahead of her, but she's in the bottom 2 tonight.

I've been thinking that it'll be an all-guy top 3. But after last night, it could be Chris going home tonight. However, it's too close to call, so I'm hedging and saying it's either Chris or Katharine. Either way, the producers will say that tonight's cast-off will be a shocker.....

Friday, May 05, 2006

walking and watching.....

I decided to walk downtown for lunch yesterday. A little humid, but it was overcast and the temperature was mild.

Downtown Nashville is being "revitalized" these days, as are alot of medium-sized cities in the country. Several buildings are being renovated and new ones are popping up out of nowhere. Most of the construction seems to be condominiums or lofts. "Loft" is another word for "700 square feet of living space for just $200k".

The existing buildings are being cleaned up, mostly by new owners. The former owners held them for years and years and can now be found giggling in a bank vault with their profits.

Not long after going outside, I heard what appeared to be someone's voice coming from a loudspeaker. My initial thought was that it had something to do with yesterday's national day of prayer; maybe it was someone in a car praying into a mic. After I had walked a about a half block further, I realized where the voice was coming from. There was a very small woman, maybe 5 feet tall, coming towards me, talking up a storm. I quickly deduced that she wasn't praying as her mouth spewed forth all sorts of obscenities. I don't know who she was mad at, but I was just glad it wasn't me and I kept on walking.

With all the new condos downtown, there are of course new residents who must deal with living downtown. As convenient as it is for them and their work, it's also a little inconvenient for other things when compared with living in a neighborhood with a yard. Like this one guy I saw down near the corner of Church and Third, near Printers Alley, who had evidently gone home to let his dog out. It was one of those miniature dachshunds (a.k.a. demon-possessed canine - right, Jenni?). The guy opened the door to his building and the dog ran out, went up the block about 20 feet, and proceeded to take a whiz in the MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK (the dog, not the guy). The whole time the guy is looking around to see if anyone is watching. I felt like doing a Gomer and yelling, "CITIZENS ARRAYUST! CITIZENS ARRAYUST!"

For those keeping score, that's reason number 4,374,892 NOT to own a dog.....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

hope there's no legal action.....

I guess there really is nothing new under the sun.

I came up with the title of this blog on a whim one day. I'm not really sure how I dubbed myself as an old fart in training. OK, maybe I am. But I really thought that the term OFIT was unique. Apparently it's not.

I learned yesterday that OFIT is actually an acronym for the Oregon Forest Institute for Teachers. They few forests as a window to learning. Good for them.

I'm grateful for teachers like this. I really am, I'm not making fun in any way. Because teachers like this do the things in life that would bore me to tears.....

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

top 5 recap.....

The bride and I were talking the other day about the fact that any of the 5 remaining contestants could possibly win Idol this year. Sure, some are stronger than others, but they've all got the potential to win. Here's my take on last night.....

Elliott - He did a good job with the first song, but the second song was way too mellow. I really like this guy's voice, but he could be in the bottom 2 or 3 tonight.

Paris - This kid has an incredible voice. I went around singing "Kiss" off and on the rest of the night, even though it was just, as Randy says, "a'ight". The second song was pretty good. Don't know if either was good enough to keep her on the show.

Chris - I thought the band sounded really good on the first song. The second song showed a chink in the ol' armor - Chris has a hard time with his voice when he screams non-stop.

Katharine - The first song was awful. The second song, one of my favorites by Ms. Tunstall, was OK. They had to change the key for Katharine and it never sounded quite right to me.

Taylor - It's about time they saved the best for last! (Partial? Me?) I knew what Simon's comments would be. (Just how many weddings does Simon go to in a given year?) Even the bride, who's not that big of a Taylor fan, said after Simon's comments, "Did he just hear the audience? They're going nuts!" "Something" was one of my favorites for the year. He brought out a little "Ray" during the second line of the song.

I can't remember if they do a bottom 2 or 3 tonight. My prediction? Last night was the end for Paris.....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

just some random stuff.....

  • While watching Meg's softball game this weekend, one of her teammates came to bat with her helmet on backwards. At first we thought she did it because it didn't fit snugly enough the regular way. Her mother was sitting beside us and couldn't quit laughing. When she got to first base someone mentioned that her helmet was on backwards. Turns out she had just put it on wrong by mistake. Since there are no mirrors in the dugout, she didn't know how it looked. She was pretty embarrassed. Luckily, when she came in to catch the next inning, she had her catcher's mask on correctly.
  • The Titans picked up Vince Young in Saturday's draft. (I would have rather had Leinart or Cutler. Running QB's don't win the Super Bowl. But that's just my opinion, what do I know.) They're calling him the next Steve McNair. Now it looks like they'll be releasing McNair within the next 48 hours. Anyone else find that the least bit ironic?
  • The top 5 perform on American Idol tonight. The song spoilers are swirling. Rumor has it that Mr. Hicks will be doing either Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" or "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry as his 1976 song, then Bon Jovi's "(Who Says) You Can't Go Home" for his current Billboard song. Assuming he gets to keep his song choices, he should do very well tonight. Other possible song spoilers: Katharine McPhee - KT Tunstall's "Black Horse in a Cherry Tree" (hot song right now) and Phil Collin's "Against All Odds"; Paris - Prince's "Kiss" and "SOS" by Rhianna; Chris - Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" and something from the group Staind; and Elliott - George Benson's "On Broadway" and a Michael Buble song.

Still trying to recover from this weekend. Feeling really old now.....

Monday, May 01, 2006

a season for every activity.....

King Solomon first wrote about it thousands of years ago. Pete Seeger used Solomon's words in The Byrds' 1965 single, Turn, Turn, Turn. Life has seasons, a particular time in life in which to do certain things. I learned Saturday night and Sunday morning that the season had long passed for me to voluntarily stay up all night long with teenagers.

First let me say that if I ever did have to stay up all night long with teenagers again, it would definitely be with this group. Great behavior, no problems whatsoever. OK, that's out of the way.

Our church participated in and was the local sponsor/organizer for Global Night Commute. Global Night Commute was done to create awareness for the children of Uganda. Each night thousands of Ugandan children walk an average of 10-15 miles to escape being "recruited" by the Lord's Resistance Army. (For more information, click on the link above. They do a much better job of explaining the plight of these children than I ever could.) Almost 59,000 signed up for the event across the country, and Franklin had around 2,900 of them. Only San Diego had more at almost 3,400. Following the walk, those who wanted to could spend the night on the church lawn, much like the Ugandan children do after their long walk every night when they sleep in an abandoned warehouse.

Our family had signed up to do the walk a couple of weeks ago. Just 3 miles, we figured no problem. The bride and I had an opportunity for a dinner date Friday night, so we headed out to a new Mexican restaurant, Panchos. On the way out of Pancho's, the bride mentioned that Jeremy, our youth pastor, asked Meg if we would be spending the night as chaperones after the walk. I had actually thought about volunteering, but had quickly dismissed the notion. But I told myself I'd stay overnight if asked. When the bride told me about Jeremy's request, I couldn't say no. So I called and told him I'd be there but the bride wouldn't be because she's a wimp.

The walk wasn't tiring at all. The temperature was around 62 and we had some light rain. My guess is that around 2,500 actually showed up to walk. The Target parking lot was jammed full of young people and their parents dropping them off. We started around 8:00 and made it to the church campus about 10:00. We had a police escort on the walk. They stopped traffic and made sure that things were clear for us the whole way, so our hats are off to the Franklin Police Department. Traffic was backed up quite a bit on the route but most people were cool with it, especially when they found out what we were doing.

When we got back to church, I took the bride and Sara back to Target to retrieve the van, went into Kroger's for a few snacks, then headed back to campus for the night. I was able to bypass the police searching our sleeping bags and other bags. This was a HUGE time-saver, because it took them almost 2 hours to search everyone coming in. The sleeping area (and I use the term "sleeping" lightly because not everyone slept) was about the size of two football fields. Each chaperone had an area about 50 feet by 50 feet. Our job was to take care of our area and make sure no one made out, got too friendly with the opposite sex, or escaped. My guess is that around 1,500 stayed overnight. I brought a chair from the car and set up camp.

As for attempted escapes, I was alerted early on by someone on the youth staff about a group about 10 yards from me. Apparently she had heard that their intentions were to sneak out in the middle of the night. I paid particular attention to them and got up from my chair any time they got close to the boundary. The most embarrassing part of my night's duties came at around 2:30 when I noticed about six young men walking outside the boundary. I couldn't tell if they were teenagers or college students, but I had a job to do. I said, in a very friendly and trying-to-be-cool tone, "Hey, where are you guys heading?" A look of disdain shot across their faces. As they kept walking one of them spoke up and said, "Uh, we're with the production crew." I gave them a lame, "Oh, OK, thanks, guys." Apparently they were some of the guys who produced the film "Invisible Children." I felt like an 84-year-old man who had just yelled at the neighborhood kids for setting foot in his yard.

The first 3 1/2 hours went by pretty fast. Then as more and more people settled down for the night time seemed to drag on. I got a little boost of energy at about 1:30 when one of the volunteers brought by fresh Krispy Kremes and "forced" me to take two.

Although I was dressed warm enough for the walk, I hadn't really anticipated the winds during the night. The temperature only got down to the low 50's, but with winds gusting at up to 35 miles per hour, it felt more like the upper 30's. At about 2:00 I got my sleeping bag out and wrapped up in it. By about 3:30 I gave in and climbed into the sleeping bag and sat down in my chair. Ah, much warmer. My head bobbed several times from 3:00 until 6:00, but I was somehow able to stay awake throughout the night.

They didn't have to tell me to vacate the campus twice. I gathered up our stuff and piled it into the car by 6:00. Once we got home I took out my contacts and went to bed. I slept until about 12:30.

Most of the night, all I could think about was being warm. I kept telling myself that the first thing I'd do when I got home was get a hot shower and just stand under the water. Maybe being cold helped us all to think about how good we've got it here in America. We all chose to be out there, no one forced us to stay outside all night. Not everyone in the world has a choice.....