Monday, March 31, 2008


Spring. All the trees here are out here except the Pecans...they are the last to drop in the fall and last to come out in the spring. The Live Oaks are about half way through their shed and bloom. I'm probably about 2 weeks away from getting back to my normal Saturday mowing routine.

One of the first signs that winter was about over was the running of the Dayton 500 in mid February. Now the Nascar season is well under way, the cycling season has started, basketball & hockey are about to start their 3-month playoff run and baseball is here. What is the deal with baseball? I know that many of you love the game but it has never floated my boat. I tried several times as a kid to play on a team but I could never get passionate about it. Same with basketball. Since they didn't follow the faster/farther/stronger-than-the-other-guy formula I just couldn't get into them.

I have always been a fan of more physical sports like football & rugby and less main stream sports like track & field, skiing (all the Olympic sports, really), weightlifting (particularly the Strong Man competitions) and lately pro cycling. When Jerry By-God Jones bought the cowboys and fired Tom Landry back in '89 he ruined football for me so that left the lesser known. Pro cycling is very interesting. It's like auto racing, track, and regular team sport all rolled into one. There are races of one day all the way up to 3 weeks, races against other teams, other individuals and races against the clock. I like auto racing too. I usually try to catch part or all of the Nascar races. I'm a Dale Jr./Tony Stewart/Kevin Harvick fan.

But no matter how hard I try I just can't get into baseball. I've gone to Ranger games, even sat in the luxury boxes, but no-luck. I love the history and the stories & movies (the Babe Ruth Story and Major League are two of my all time favorites) but to sit down and watch a game...I'd rather have a hangnail pulled. Or go mow the grass.

The only time I really enjoyed the game was my Sophomore year in college. We formed a rag-tag intramural team (emphasis on rag). Since I didn't have much experience I was relegated to catcher. The intramural league was chock full of ex-jocks who took games more seriously than classes and playing catcher I got the chance to see that, on occasion, softball can be a contact sport. I am proud to say that during the entire season I never lost a home plate show down. We did pretty good...wound up going to the final round of the playoffs. After that spring I never had another opportunity to get into it.

Question 1: for those of you who love baseball, what is the appeal to you? what do you love about it?

Question 2: what are some less-mainstream or off beat sports that you are a fan of?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mars or Venus?

In my last post I made a broad-brush statement that boys are easier to raise than girls. In her comment Laura said she believes that boys are not easier to raise than girls. I suppose I understand that she may have had some experiences to make her feel that way. Let me try to restate my side:

I grew up with a brother and no sisters so my experience with the opposite sex early on was limited to a mother who seemed constantly exasperated with me and whom I found it nearly impossible to please.

Ex: Seems it wasn't proper to get one's jeans wet while playing outside (a problem I was plagued with throughout my career...if we weren't supposed to play in the water why was it so much fun? and why did they leave the dang water hose out? It's impossible for a boy of 4 or 5 to stay out of the water...something she could not seem to grasp) and in an effort to please her I undertook research to find a method of drying them before coming in. Through trial and error I discovered that by sitting on the ground and covering my wet jeans completely with dirt, rubbing it in good and waiting a few minutes that they were miraculously dry. Next I discovered it wasn't proper to cover ones jeans with dirt. Next I decided the best way to keep my clothes clean was to bypass them. Next I discovered it wasn't proper to go outside without clothes on...I could go on but do you see what I mean? Impossible woman to please.

In Jr. High I, like most boys that age, began to appreciate girls. Over the next few years I learned more about how to get along with women and discovered that many of the lessons I learned while dealing with mom were universally applicable to other women. When my Beautiful Wife and I were married my education took a quantum leap and I learned more about women that first year than I had the previous 20. This brings us to the formation of my hypothesis that boys are easier to raise than girls. I speak from experience of raising two of each.

In an effort to be open minded, though, rather than state blindly that boys are easier or girls are more difficult to raise or deal with I'll put it this way: it has been my experience that boys are less complicated to raise or deal with than girls.

With boys everything is simple. You might even say binary: zero or one, on or off, black or white, left or right, up or down, in or out, right or wrong. It doesn't get any more complicated than 'If-Then' arguments like the ones used in math equations and programing formulas. "If this is done [not done] then this will not [will] happen". Boys seem to be born with this understanding. You don't have to teach them this. When 'if' happens, you enforce 'then', the boy has a revelation -- "Ahh! I see now"-- the lesson is learned and you move on down the road of life. The one exception to this seems to be the way boys relate to women (whether it be their mother or sisters or someday their wives/girlfriends). I could never get my two sons, especially the oldest, to learn that there were certain things you just don't do or say to your mother. Then one day his Jr year in high school:

At school a friend whispered a joke to him and he forget he was in class, laughed out loud and proclaimed that was 'f------ funny'. As a result he was sent home. I understand totally that he was upset over such a striking lapse in judgement. If I had been the one to pick him up he would have told me what happened and we would have decided on an appropriate consequence, like carry out the garbage for a month and he would have been instructed to keep the details between us and let me take care of it with mom-but whatever happens don't upset your mother! This, however isn't what happened. Mom picked him up. He admitted to her what happened. So far so good, then they arrived home and his brother asked what had happened. He had a second lapse in judgement and said 'F--- You!' in front of mom. When she took the strong position that you don't talk to your brother that way he had a third lapse (they seem to breed off each other) and said 'F---You too!' This put in motion a chain of events that, like a nuclear reaction, is nearly impossible to stop until it runs it's course. When I (dad) got home I was informed by a seething, fire breathing mass of anger that used to be my wife what happened. I asked what had been done and was informed she had done nothing for fear of the end result. I was then forced down a path of expected action that I had to follow and could not back down from because I had to sleep with this women that night. Over the next few minutes my son learned several things...among them: the old man could still move pretty darn fast, words DO mean things and the woman that gave him birth was not his mother but my wife. Dad learned a few things too...among them: I didn't move as fast as I used to and his head was harder than my knuckles. The main point is that after this and to this day both my sons and I have enjoyed a friendship and mutual respect that we never would have had otherwise. The youngest son, even though he was spared similar lapses in judgement, was smart enough to learn what NOT to do and the oldest finally learned the lesson and has never suffered another lapse like that one.

See? Simple, uncomplicated, black and white.

With girls everything is anything but simple. With girls everything is impossibly complicated. There is no black and white, just grey. Whenever I try to apply the simple 'if/then' logic I am met with "but dad, you just don't understand" and after 20 minutes of head-spinning argument I am left babbling and wondering why I just apologized to them for something they did. My Beautiful Wife doesn't seem to have this problem with them (something about 'can't con a con' and 'able to see through BS'). I found out the expectations of me as dad of two girls was the same as dad of two boys but for some reason I could never quite get it right:

Once when our girls were 4 and 8 I arrived home from work and noticed their absence...a deafening silence in the house. Before I could ask anything my wife handed me a belt and said "go in the bedroom and give them a spanking...if I start I'm afraid I won't stop" (my wife has always had good judgement about her limits). I don't remember what they did...not even sure she told me...but I went into the room and was greeted with 4 tear-stained puppy-dog-eyes on 2 whimpering little girls. I asked if they understood what they were in trouble for and what the punishment was to which both shook their heads in the affirmative (I was glad they did, because I sure didn't). After a long lecture about right and wrong and respecting and minding their mother I told the oldest to bend over the end of the bed and lets get on with it. Just as I reached the height of the back stroke for the first swat she twisted around and looked me square in the eye. I made the fatal error of hesitating and meeting her gaze. I could not stifle a grin at the pitiful expression on her face. When she saw the crack she moved in for the kill and started laughing. Instead of following through with what I knew I must do I started laughing. Within minutes I was a puddle of jello and all 3 of us were sitting on the floor in a heap laughing like Hyenas. My wife threw the door open, surveyed my failure and said "What kind of father are you that you can't even give your daughters a beating?" I know there were other times over the years that I successfully carried out whatever discipline was required but this taught me that I was no match for them.

Therefore my conclusion that girls are infinitely more complicated to raise/deal with/understand than boys. This doesn't even touch on the horror house that happens when the two daughters are 'of an age' and all three women's 28 day cycles sync up (our house has foundation shifting problems and people ask me what caused it...well, there you go). Once during such a cycle the oldest son, who had just gotten his license, left and didn't come home for several hours. When he finally snuck in I asked where the hell he had been. "I just had to get out for a while" to which I replied "Don't you EVER do that again...unless you take me with you!"

Another observation: in the entire combined time for our boys I never once had a call from school that either had gotten in trouble for fighting and other than the time mentioned above neither of them said a bad word to either of us. I always received reports about what gentlemen they were. On the other hand the oldest daughter got in trouble several times for fighting either with other girls or boys (she was into rodeo and there were constant clashes with the other social groups and other contestants at rodeos). I went to pick the youngest up at daycare when she was 3 once and the director told me that there was a little boy who had a bad habit of slapping the other children in the face. The other children would always cry and run away. That day he made the mistake of slapping our youngest. The director said that rather than cry she gave him this "I can't believe you just did that" look and proceeded to deck him with a textbook right cross. Later she was into volleyball and quite good. More than once she would get in trouble for talking too much smack during a game or intentionally spiking the ball in an opponents face. Once, after the Jr vs. Sr Powder Puff Football Game I had to pull her and her best friend out of a fight with 4 other girls (to protect the other girls). The whole paradox still boggles my mind.

My Beautiful Wife's take on all this: "I have given birth to and raised 2 boys and 2 girls. If I had to do it all over again...give me boys every time! Anyone who doesn't believe me just remember what teenage girls are really like."

I usually sum it up like this: there's no such thing as 'little girls', they're just 'miniature women' (my wife's pat response is the antonym: no such thing as 'little boys'...). Crazy thing is after working with teenagers in youth groups for several years I'd rather work with girls.

I suspect in the end we are both correct.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Littlest Angel

Here's a picture made just before Christmas of our newest Little Angel. Doesn't seem possible that those little fingers are big enough to have me wrapped around...but there you go. It just doesn't get any more precious than this...

Note to Laura and K: in the long run boys are easier BUT there's sure something special about little girls! May your next one be a girl.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Hershey Christmas

For Christmas we decided to get out of town. Took off the whole week, left here on Friday the 21st after work and drove to Hershey PA to visit our daughter & family. Fortunately we had good weather all the way there and back, especially since we drove straight through both ways. We were about a week late and a week early to catch snow but it was still a neat visit. I told my wife on the way back that this was the first Christmas in my entire life I had not been home. She thought and said it was the same for her. We did a little shopping, toured the Hershey Christmas lights (yes, they really do have street lights that look like Hershey Kisses) but mainly just hung out and enjoyed everyone's company.

Gingerbread House Construction

My B.F.F.

When we returned home we had another Christmas over New Year's weekend with everyone here. Not sure if we will do next Thanksgiving and Christmas like this but this one was for the record books.

This year we were brave and put up a tree at home--first time in 3 years. We figured that since the cats were all more than 3 years old we wouldn't have to worry about ornaments getting batted all over....HA. We have the oldest 'kittens' ever. At least they didn't knock the tree over...only noticed a little tinsel coming out in the litter box. There is nothing funnier than watching a cat try to run away from poo that's stuck to a piece of tinsel.



Easter is almost here. Can you believe it? Seems just last week it was Thanksgiving. This year we did something different. I told my wife that it seemed she was always busting her buns for everyone else for Thanksgiving dinner and then had the mess to clean up. I told her this time that we would let everyone else do their thing and she would, for once, take the day off.

Woke up the morning of 11-22, turned on the TV and laid there & watched the entire Macy's parade from start to finish. After it was over she said "I just realized I have never watched that from start to finish in my whole life". It was a good start to the day.

The weather was cold and gray...just what Thanksgiving is supposed to be. About Noon we decided to ride our bikes to the pasture where she keeps her babies (horses) to feed them...about a 14 mile round trip. It was a special ride. Traffic was very light, some families were out playing football or just walking, the smell of hundreds of fabulous dinners hung in the air. To top it off on the way home it started sleeting then snowing lightly on us. Perfect end to a wonderful ride.

Later that evening we went with one of our sons and his wife out to dinner at Black-eyed Pea (Russ, you ever tried them?). Finished off that evening at home with a little of the best ice cream in the world (don't EVEN argue with me on this one. I've tried all the other 'best' ice creams and they can't hold a candle to Blue Bell...this is the stuff we are going to get to eat in Heaven). Finished off with a movie and an adult beverage. The rest of the weekend followed the same pattern...relax, good food, good movie, repeat.

We decided that this was probably the most intimate Thanksgiving we had ever spent. The only down side: no leftovers. No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Well, nothing's perfect.


From The "What-we've-got-here-is-failure-to-communicate" Department

It takes little boys time to understand how to deal with women...

A 6 year-old and 4 year-old are upstairs in their bedroom.

"You know what?" says the 6 year-old. "I think it's about time we started cussing."

The 4 year-old nods his head in approval.

The 6 year-old continues, "When we go downstairs for breakfast, I'm gonna say something with 'hell' and you say something with ‘ass’."

The 4 year-old agrees with enthusiasm. When their mother walks into the kitchen she asks the 6 year-old what he wants for breakfast.

He replies, "Aw hell Mom, I guess I'll have some Cheerios."

Whack! He flies out of his chair, tumbles across the kitchen floor, jumps up, runs upstairs crying his eyes out with his mother in hot pursuit, slapping his rear with every step.

She locks him in his room and shouts, "You can stay in there until I let you out."

She then comes back downstairs, looks at the 4 year-old and asks with a stern voice, "And what do YOU want for breakfast, young man?

"I don't know," he blubbers, "but you can bet your ass it won't be Cheerios!"
(Sent to me by my Beautiful Wife)

LAURA: See what you have to look forward to?


Monday, March 10, 2008

Riddle Of Steel: The Healing.

Been a while. The post on 11-8 kind of left things hanging. My Beautiful Wife slapped my wrist the other day and told me that I really should finish reporting on what I started that day.

On 11-7-08 I received a good report from the doctor. In 6 months my weight was down by 35 pounds, cholesterol down from (ahem) 310 to 120, all blood test results were back to normal and resting heart rate down from 85 to 56. The next day, my birthday, my goal was to set a couple of milestones. That morning I went to the gym and accomplished part 1 by exceeding my target on bench press and setting a lifetime personal best. That afternoon I biked a 50 mile loop around town (stopped in the middle to post that brief update). It felt real good considering that 6 months earlier I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing.

Work out wise since then I've been a bit relaxed on my cycling over the winter months, although when I read Jill's, Brother Yam's, or LFoaB's cold weather riding stories compared to the wimpy winter we have here in the Lone Star State I'm positively ashamed. You guys are bricks! The steel is still there, though. I have continued to push (and pull and drag) my way to levels I never dreamed I'd be able to do. Once in a while I will look at the progress since last March I am truly humbled. While medicine and nutrition have their place I am convinced that the most important thing is our mental and spiritual state. Seems I can think myself through most things and reach a goal but for me it takes something a little deeper to carry me from mountain top to mountain top. If I let myself get too wrapped up in the world I either get sucked down when things and people around me are down or I soar too high and flame out when things are good. Gotta 'maintain and even strain'.

Lots of other things have happened since November...I'll post later on that. Gotta' run to the gym now, it's upper body day...thanks, everyone, for being there.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

172 years ago today: the end of 13 days of glory

The following composed by a friend, Carol Baker. Thanks, Carol!

“Here, on this new Thermopylae, our monument
shall tower on high, and ‘Alamo!’ hereafter be on
bloodier fields the battle-cry!”

Thus Travis from the rampart cried.
And when his warriors saw the foe
Like whelming billows move below,
At once each dauntless heart replied:
“Welcome, the Spartan’s death —
Tis no despairing strife;
We fall–we die–but our expiring breath
Is Freedom’s breath of Life!”

excerpt from Hymn of the Alamo by R.M. Potter, written before 1879

March 6, 1836: The approximately 186 defenders of the old mission San Antonio de Valero in San Antonio, known as the “Alamo” were killed to the last man after a siege of 13 days. When they refused to surrender to an opposing force of some 5,000 troops under General Santa Anna, he ordered the bugler to play DeGuelo signaling the battle would be to the death. Their hold out at the Alamo forced Santa Anna to keep troops there, and allowed enough time for the fledgling Republic of Texas to gather its forces for the decisive battle on April 21, 1836 further south, at a place called San Jacinto.

There used to be a plaque on the capitol grounds from the country of Greece placed in honor of the defenders that said [to the best of my recollection]:

"Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat; the Alamo had none."