Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hey, I Do Get Out A Little

We watched the season finale of "Lost" in a downtown movie theater. We weren't sure what to expect, but we agreed the experience was terrific.
Watching a two-hour TV show in HD on the big screen was like going to the movies, except you can talk during commercials!
Obviously, everyone in the theater was a fan of the show, so they understood the plot twists. They also had respect for the need to stay quiet and pay attention.
This was an experiment for the new film center downtown, and I would say it was a raging success. The theater was almost full and the staffers on hand were giddy.
The show itself was satisfying and plenty of key questions were answered. The overall experience was A+.

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Ridiculous Obsession

Sara Sunset
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I am submitting myself for intervention. I am spending hours on the internet fussing with my photos. This image of the Good Half of The Happy Couple gazing into the sunset is the latest attention grabber in my photostream.
What's all the fuss about? Little digital affirmations like these.
Your photo has been appraised as a Platinum Photograph
We would be honored to have your photo in our group!
Please tag your photo with platinumphoto

Your Image Truly Is: BETTER THAN GOOD!

This photo took my BREATH away


I add photos to the internet and I get little trophies! I've done something well, in the judgment of the web masses.

I find myself stopping what I'm doing...putting down a book, turning off the TV, not filling my bird feeders...just so I can log on and see what group is inviting me in now. It's a mental illess, I'll tell you.

I don't know if my wife will take away my camera, my laptop or both.

I will admit that I've taken preemtive measures. I've posted some of her photos, too...and now she's getting trophies. Here's her most popular image so far:

Yes, I intentionally chose a photo which is similar to one of my most popular images. We'll see if the little icons in the comment section under her photo hold her at bay for a while.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Origin of the Fat Cat

snoopy and me
Originally uploaded by Darrell
The Fat Cat is alive and well, but still living in the house under protest. When she was much younger, our daughter begged for a kitten and we agreed to adopt this one with certain conditions. Of course, those conditions were enforced for about six months. Then, they were gone but not forgotten.
We plucked her from a litter of kitties in Natchitoches, LA and every time she misbehaves (which is often), I threaten to take her back there. "You're going to Natchitoches," is a common phrase in our home, and it means you will be exiled for bad behavior.
The cat has had a tendency to pounce without warning and several of my daughter's friends just loathe her. She's mellowing with age, though, and seems to have affected a regal bearing.
She has also learned the fine art of demanding food, which has caused her to get a little chubby.
We don't allow her outside alone because we are convinced she will be devoured by a coyote or carried away by a hawk. She's not alert enough to defend herself.
The kids love her so we put up with her. Plus, Natchitoches is an hour's drive away and with the price of gasoline these days it's less expensive to keep her than to send her away.

So, the possibility of her sticking around long-term is looking up.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Full Jethro

Jethro* moves the love seat
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I have failed to achieve my stated goal for the Sunday of Memorial Day: Never leave the house. Don't do anything. Cirumstances forced me to move some furniture into storage. This being "lazy day," I was in no frame of mind to tie the furniture down in the bed of the truck. So, I reached deep for my redneck roots and rode on a love seat in the bed of the pickup.
The sun was shining brilliantly as I put my life and my reputation on the line by riding through a couple of the city's most affluent zip codes looking like I had just rolled in from Bugtussle*.
I have to admit it was pretty relaxing back there with the wind whipping around me. The love seat was more comfortable than any car seat I've been in.
Plus, I was riding backward, which means I didn't have to make any decisions. I was actually disappointed when we reached the storage unit. I think I had experienced a moment of Zen.

For you kids out there, "Jethro" and "Bugtussle" are references to "The Beverly Hillbillies." Feel free to look them up on Wikipedia.

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There She Goes

On the Bus again
Originally uploaded by Darrell
It seems like my 16-year-old is never home. Among school, community theater, work and social obligations we hardly see her. She's also a veteran of the bus. This photo was taken a couple of years ago as she was on her way to Atlanta for a musical theater competition.
Saturday, she strapped in for a 16-hour bus ride to Colorado for a week at church camp. She is surrounded by friends but that's still a long, long way.
Her brother, a recent high school graduate is staying close to home for college. I suspect we may actually see more of him than her in the months ahead.
Two years from now, I'm guessing she'll be long gone.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Holiday Weekend Random Thoughts

Memorial Day Service
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I have a buddy who owns a business which employs a lot of people who don't have a high level of education. Some of the men asked him if they would have Memorial Day off. He said, "The first person who can tell me what Memorial Day is about will get the day off with pay." No one got it right.
Men and women have died in service to their country to protect the American right to be an idiot. We honor the sacrifices they made, because even those who don't appreciate them should live a life of freedom.
It's been a busy week. Our son graduated from high school and our daughter wrapped up her sophomore year. Things seemed especially hectic at work for both my wife and me.
Since we live in the same place and work in the same place, we have started riding to work together. This does not cut our gasoline consumption in half, but it makes a dent in it. We are running four automobiles at this house, and the expense is becoming oppressive.
More than 5000 people work where we do and a lot more of them are using public transportation lately. There's a bus stop right at the main entrance to our place and I'm seeing starched shirt-and-tie types getting off the bus in the morning and on it again in the evening.
I might consider it, but I don't live anywhere near the bus route. Someone should talk to City Hall about initiating Park and Ride in this part of town.

It's a three-day weekend for us and we're not going anywhere. Our daughter will hop on a bus for Colorado, though.

Finally, Ahab had his white whale. I had my bunny. A rabbit lives in our back yard, to the endless frustration and amusement of our dog. I haven't been able to get a decent photo of the elusive bunny. Friday night, I got it.
Of course, that tells you a little something about how exciting my Friday nights are.
As for the dog, she hasn't been able to get near the rabbit yet. I'm not sure what she would do with it if she caught it. I think she might have given up. You could say she saw the light.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hazardous Duty

Rest in the Nest is Best
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I've been diligent about keeping the bird feeders in the back yard full of seeds. This means we've had an explosion in avian population here on the cul-de-sac. This time of year, happy birds build homes for baby birds. Here are two of the yard's newest feathery citizens.
My wife can vouch for the fact that I earned this photo. I had to use a tall ladder to climb high into a tree. Then, I had to endure urgent dive bombing by the parents. Somewhere during the prcoess, I became grateful that my wife did not have a camera in her hands, because it dawned on me that she must have been witnessing an utterly preposterous scene.
I was standing on the top rung of the ladder wearing a polo shirt and boxer shorts (It was in my fenced back yard). I'm pretty sure all she could see was my legs. Actually, I kind of hope that's all she could see, the more I visualize the events.
Hey, sometimes you have to suffer for your art and sometimes you surrender your dignity. I hope the little birds make it.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Bugs and the Purple Flower

Love bugs
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Last summer, my wife gave me a new camera for my birthday and I've had a lot of fun with it. I started posting some photos to Flickr, primarily as a mechanism to share photos with friends and out-of-town family. Occasionally, I'll put some things on there just because I think the photo is nice. This one, which I took last week, has played to rave reviews. It is easily the most "rewarded" photo I've ever posted, and the one with the second-largest number of views, all-time.
I'm not sure why this one caught fire, but since it did I thought I would share it with the loyal Daddy D readership. I hope you like it.
The most viewed image in my photostream is my capture of a little miraculous moment: a hatching duckling. I'll keep clicking. Here's my little pacesetter:

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A Different Writing Style

Future food
Originally uploaded by Darrell
The crawfish boil we attended was a church function, hosted by a group which calls itself "The Lion's Pride." I was asked to write something about the event for the church bulletin. Here's how it went:

In keeping with the spirit of Trinity Weekend, the Lion’s Pride surrounded itself with 3’s at the north Caddo Parish home of Patrick and Lee Harrison. Food, fun and fellowship were in abundance as the group celebrated springtime, family and friends. It was billed as a crawfish boil, but of course there had to be two more elements. Jambalaya and hot dogs were also on the menu just in case anyone decided to steer clear of the cayenne coated crustaceans.

Boiling bugs were the attraction, but the substance of the gathering was a celebration of young families. Toddlers ruled the grounds while parents and other visitors discussed the direction of our cathedral’s ministries, with emphasis on a short-term plan to help our neighbors who have been adversely affected by the recent flash floods. Certainly the conversation often turned to the joys of the day. Children were laughing and running as the sweet scents of springtime, along with the occasional football, filled the air.
More seasoned attendees were able to focus on steaming piles of crawfish while their younger counterparts kept an eye on the kids, so there was something for everyone.

The Lion’s pride continues to grow under the nurture of some of the church’s dynamic young leaders. Spiritual and social growth within the group are gaining momentum as participation expands. Fittingly, it was easy to discern three generations of the St Mark’s family gathered under brilliant blue skies that afternoon. At this rate, the next gathering may require a menu of loaves and fishes.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Age Has Its Benefits

hot and spicy
Originally uploaded by Darrell
We went to a crawfish boil this evening. We were the oldest people there. This actually was good news, even though we must have seemed like somebody's aunt and uncle. Most of the couples attending this event had pre-school kids. Babies and toddlers abounded.
Our kids had to work.
None of the mothers there were able to relax and enjoy the benefits of a crawfish boil. These things are mostly about sitting outside and socializing and not so much about eating. Still, there was boiling water, open flame and things to climb. In other words, danger for little kids lurked just a few steps away at any moment. So, the young mothers in attendance stood at alert, their eyes always scanning.
Our eyes were on the prize: a plate of steaming mudbugs with all the trimmings. We may be grandparents one day and the vigil will be on again. For now, it's fun to sit back and watch.

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The World is His Paperweight

The World is my paperweight
Originally uploaded by Darrell
My mother-in-law hosted a nice dinner party for The Happy Couple last night to celebrate their imminent graduation from high school.
My son, being an unconvential kind of guy, is difficult to buy presents for. I know what the girlfriend is getting him, but to him it's still a secret. I just hope her got her something. If not, look out below!
One of his grade school teachers came over to hang around and offer congratulations. She gave him a glass paper weight representing the world that is before him. She wrote to him that he should keep it on his desk to remind him that no matter where he goes in the world, there are people who love him back at home. That's pretty nice, and pretty conventional.
He seemed to appreciate it along with some of the other gifts he got. If the truth is known, though, he liked the money best.
Happy graduation.
For those of you who stop in here periodically to look for news about my wife's mother, here's a photo for you. She had a good belly laugh last night during the party, which was good to see. She's still adjusting to life without her husband. That will take a while. They were together for a half-century and married for 48 years.
I'll tell you what she was laughing about. Between dinner and dessert, she decided she needed to let her golden retrievers out into the yard, freeing them from their dinner party prison in the back of the house. One of them came charging directly to the table and snatched a piece of bread right off the teacher's dinner plate. It was so sudden an unexpected, you couldn't help but laugh. The best part, though, was when my 81-year-old father saw the dog headed his way. There was a piece of prime steak still on his plate. He elbowed the dog right in the noggin.
The dinner plates were cleared after all the commotion, except for my dad who had to hang on to his for a while to finish what he started. You appreciate you dinner a little more when you have to fight for it.

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Toeing the Slab

First PItch
Originally uploaded by Darrell
It's a great honor to be asked to throw out the first pitch of a baseball game. My organization sponsored an event at the ballpark tonight and they were gracious enough to allow me to trot out onto the grass to hurl the initial offering.
I didn't warm up or practice. In fact, I spent most of my time on the field snapping photos. As I was introduced, I was met with a smattering of polite applause from the assembled fans.
That's all you really can hope for. Oh, and not to bounce the pitch in there.
Thankfully, I did not. The toss crossed the plate on the fly, albeit a little high. Then, I got out of there with the ball and a pleasant memory.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Sunny Side

Originally uploaded by Darrell
The deluge finally stopped and the local minor league baseball team opened its season a few days late. It was not without challenge. Even after the first pitch, folks were working diligently in the bowels of the stadium removing water. The carpet in the offices was saturated and the hard surfaces were slippery.
Flood waters and baseball don't mix. The sky was still grey when the first pitch of this double header was thrown, but by the final out of the afternoon the sun was shining brightly.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Old Testament Calling

Street flooding
Originally uploaded by Darrell
It's been raining so hard for so long that our streets have become rivers. It can be tragic if your house is flooded, which ours is not. So, we're grateful. At the moment this photo was taken, the water had receeded from our yard about 8-10 feet. It had risen to the trunk of the river birch in the middle of the frame. That will get your attention.
The geniuses at the school board let the kids go home at noon. By then, it had rained several more inches and we were already in a flash flood warning. Hey, they're educators. Why would we expect them to make a forward-thinking decision? The TV weather people were in full freakout mode this morning, one saying "I haven't seen anything like this and I've been around a long, long time." Think they might have closed school about 6:00am when the lightning was incessant and the downpour was biblical?
Our son, who has already finished school, decided to go out for lunch and had trouble getting home.
A guy at work didn't make it today because he drove into standing water and had to be rescued by firefighters. His car is totaled.
Things are challenging around here and more rain is expected tonight. Will somebody alert the school board, please?
Rising water
As it turns out, the weather man was right on target. It has been widely reported that this was the second-highest 24 hour rain total in the city's history. The only larger amount was measured in 1933, in the aftermath of a tropical storm.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Leftovers From the Road

Fly-by Mountain
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I spent the weekend in the Pacific Northwest and was caught off guard by the amount of snow I saw. I knew I would be near the mountains and thought I would even travel over them once or twice, so some snowcaps weren't a surprise. The snow on the ground was, though. I even got to see some snow falling briefly on Sunday.
Many of my traveling companions shared similar observations. Back in Louisiana, the temperature rose into the 90's on Saturday.
It was great to see my friends Jerry and Lori. They live so far away, it's a rare treat to spend time together. We ate ate the legendary Ivar's on the waterfront and the food was outstanding. I had salmon, which of course was fresh.
I did lots of tourist-type things, including watching the guys throw fish at the public market.

Jerry has an amazing hobby. He buys and restores stand-up video games and pinball machines. On the ground floor of his house, he has about forty fully functioning games, all on "free play." He has several projects ongoing. He had to have wiring to these rooms customized to handle the load of electricity. One can spend hours in his house and not want to leave. I don't know how he stumbled upon this hobby, but it's a lot of fun. I imagine it's also expensive.
Seattle may be losing its NBA team to Oklahoma City, but its NFL and MLB teams are well cared for. The stadiums are side-by side downtown, in the shadow of Mt. Rainer. There's a whole lot to like about Seattle, which is why Jerry and Lori have chosen to live there despite having deep Texas roots. Jerry is imminently quotable and hysterically funny, but he's dead serious when he says, "I never want to be hot again."

Here, I'm throwing in a photo I took at the market, because it's nice and a little "jump" is called for. After the photo, an off-color story. I apologize if it offends, but it's funny and I'll share it. You have been cautioned.

I was traveling with a group of young athletes. Naturally, some of them are large human beings. My seatmate on the first leg of the trip (on one of those preposterous regional jets) measures 6-4, 365. Get the picture? As we were landing in Houston, a baby on the plane began to wail...ear-piercing screams. Mom could not calm her down. The screaming paused just long enough for the child to take a breath and start fresh. At that moment, one of the big man's teammates called his name and said, "Hey, why don't you put one of your titties in its mouth?"
It was so cruelly funny and inappropriate that many people on the plane just could not help themslves. There was an eruption of laughter. Think what you will about what was said and the context of it all, but trust me when I say that moment is already a minor pro sports legend.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

There Was an Incident at Security

(George Bush Intercontinental Airport) - The Houston to Shreveport leg of the trip has been delayed, so here's a quick story from SeaTac:
My wife and I have a little little tradition. We get snow globes when we go somewhere. It's old fashioned, unabashedly Caucasian and dorky, but it's something we do.
I decided to surprise her with a snow globe from Seattle. We had been there together and negelcted to get one, so I took the mulligan. Go big or go home, they say, so I got a big snow globe and absent mindedly packed it into my carry-on.
I never saw it coming. The Wilfred Brimley looking TSA guy at the Seattle airport stopped the line when my bag went through the scanner. "Sir, the snow globe cannot be carried on."
"What? OH! Too much liquid?"
"Yes. You can surrender it here or go back and check your bag."
So, I was escorted by a uniformed federal agent back outside the lines, where I checked my bag. Then, I had to go back through the security process, where I sailed through on the second attempt. It took me an hour and fifteen minutes all together.
Now, I sit in Terminal B of the Houston airport, my flight delayed. I have spilled Diet Coke on my white shirt and I don't have a clean one....because I checked my only bag.
When my wife picks me up a couple of hours later than she had planned, she will see me...unshaven with a cap on and with a big brown stain on the front of my shirt.
I hope she likes the snow globe.
She did. The snowglobe now has a place alongside its new partners.

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Another Frustrating Loss

BattleWings - Fever
Originally uploaded by Darrell
The Arena Football team which lets me tag along lost again. The final score was 48-44. Seven games into a sixteen game season they have three wins and four losses. In every loss, they have surrendered a second half lead. They've already lost as many games this year as they did all of last season.
It's easy to say this, but I believe it's true: They are one or two bounces away from being 5-1. There is no game next week. So, there's time to figure ot why they can't close the deal.
Its going to be a long, long trip home.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Washington Lights Up the Night

(Kennewick, WA) - Seattle is famous for being sleepless. The Tom Hanks movie assured it and of course inspired that hack cliche. Then, there's the caffeine. Seattle was where Starbucks started. Being a tourist, I naturally visited the original location. It's a major American city, so there's always something to do. Who needs sleep, right?
Fortunately, here in the Tri-Cities, about three hours inland, my traveling companions and I are not enduring such distractions. There's plenty of rest to be had on the banks of the mighty Columbia River. Our location on Clover Island is gently illuminated by the Tri-Cities cable bridge, which has become a landmark for the region. It's an engineering marvel and a source of political controversy not unlike Shreveport's Texas Street Bridge. Both spans are lighted at night. At their inceptions, each project delighted some and angered others. The Tri-Cities lighting effort was completed in 1998 and by 2000 the lights were turned off to conserve energy. A compromise has been reached and now the bridge stays illuminated until 2:00am. The Texas Street Bridge had neon lights installed in the early 1990's. Some people thought it was mindless folly, but the bridge is widely photographed and is a landmark in its own right. The fact that I researched the history of the Washington bridge should tell you a little something about the pace here, but that's not important. This is a business trip and business is being conducted.
Tomorrow, we travel halfway across the continent east and south. Come to think of it, that's a long way to go. Maybe I'll get a little sleep. Kennewick is a great place to do it. Will Somebody please turn off the doggone lights?

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Safe in Seattle

Darrell at Safeco Field
Originally uploaded by darebouche
I have arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I got to take in a ball game. The hapless Seattle Mariners were victimized at home by the White Sox. It didn't matter. The night was spectacular and the company was even better.
I had an opportunity to spend part of the day with my old friend Jerry, who took me to Seattle tourist spots. In the evening, his lovely wife Lori joined us at the ball game.
Unexpectedly, I flew here in first class. Somehow, I earned an upgrade. I took it after spending the Shreveport to Houston leg of the journey crammed between a massive defensive lineman and the side of one of those ridiculous regional jets.
As I type I have been awake for 21 and a half hours and I've traveled about 2500 miles. So, wit and wisdom must wait for another post.
It's cold here, which isn't all bad. I think it got above 90 degrees at home today. Hate to see you sweat.
Click on the photo, which will lead you to the photostream if you want to see more pictures.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Take No Prisoners Dynasty

A sports dynasty has been built in southeast Shreveport. Think Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49’ers, Chicago Bulls, or New York Yankees and you get an idea of the dominance enjoyed by the bean bag baseball team from Live Oak Retirement Community. Live Oak rules the bags and team members have the hardware to prove it. Since bean bag baseball was introduced to the Northwest Louisiana Senior Olympics in 2005, no other squad has brought home the gold.
Live Oak’s emotional leader is 99-year-old W.J. Cooksey, who will proudly display his four gold medals any time he’s asked. His wife, 94-year old Louise, has three golds of her own. Sadly, she missed the 2008 competition because she was on injured reserve following some minor surgery. She was in the crowd at the finals, though, cheering on her husband and her fellow residents. By the way, the Cookseys have been married for ten years, which tells you a little bit about loving life and going for the gold in more ways than one.
It’s no fluke that Live Oak is the only facility to have its name engraved on the plaque honoring all-time bean bag baseball champions. Taskmaster Henry Ward, the president of the residents’ association, puts his squad through weekly paces, practicing the art of the bean bag toss in hallways, the chapel, the community center or wherever he can set up a field of play. Coach Ward has his team out there once a week, encouraging, cajoling and recruiting new players.
During the preliminaries in April, things got a little intense. Live Oak was facing a serious challenge from a competing facility’s team. A first-year player was taking his turn and some of his teammates got a little loud on him, calling his name and shouting “Take your time! Focus! Let’s go!” It was all great fun, mostly because they won. After all, it’s what’s expected.
In this sport, the bases are chairs. There’s a board with holes cut into it, placed on the floor and propped up at about a 35 degree angle. The center hole is labeled “Home run.” There are holes for single, double, triple, foul and out. Each “batter” gets to toss bean bags toward the board. If the bag doesn’t go through one of the “hit holes,” that’s a strike, and so on. Three strikes and you’re out. Three outs ends your half of the inning. There’s a maximum of six runs per team per inning. The good news is, if you make it on base you get to sit down. It’s a chair, after all. Each game is played for seven innings.
True to baseball tradition, many of the players have been given nicknames. “Home Run Harbin” earned his with an uncanny ability to toss the bag right to the middle of the board. His timely “hitting” sparked a remarkable two-out, six-run fourth inning rally in this year’s gold medal game. Talk about loud, when Harbin’s bean bag struck the board slightly above the homer hole and slid softly downward and through, the Live Oak bench erupted. Their worthy opponents were clearly crestfallen, knowing that their fates had taken a turn toward the silver medal.
The team is already planning the defense of it unbroken string of titles. Looking ahead to 2009, there’s a personnel concern. Mr. Cooksey noticed it right away. The entry form has boxes to check to indicate a participant’s age range, and it only goes to 99. Maybe bureaucracy is the only way to slow down the Live Oak juggernaut.

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Transition Time

Behind every man......
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Today is the last day of high school for these young people. For me, this means tomorrow we begin the presumption of adulthood. Surely, the hairy person pictured here and for whom we are responsible will be allowed some down time. The stress of being a college freshman and living away from the house for the first time is to be respected. That's what this summer's for, to rest and steel himself for the academic and social rigors ahead.
They have a big trip planned together next month and we encourage them to go and have a blast. Presumption of adulthood notwithstanding, they are 18 and they should be allowed to act 18.
That's kind of scary, isn't it? I guess it all depends on the 18-year-old.
What do you say on the day your first-born finishes high school? What are you supposed to feel? In our house, we put a premium on self awareness. Somehow, today I'm indulgently ignorant of my own feelings.
There's a graduation ceremony ahead. Maybe then, it will start to seem real.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

The End of Sports News As We Know It

This is not a sports blog, although obviously there are sports elements to it. I was a full-time sports media person for almost a quarter century and still dabble a little.
Sports bloggers are changing the landscape of media in a profound way. Balladier Ryan Parker has summed it up nicely in song in the wake of a profane shouting match between an old school newspaper man (Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights) and the founder of Deadspin, Will Leitch, on Old School Bob Costas' talk show.
I am asked several times a week why I left sports media. Well, I decided I was never going to make the big-time and here in the small-time there's almost no room for advancement. I have great affection for many of my old buddies in the local sports media and I will do whatever I can to support them. That includes subscribing to the newspaper seven days a week. I also was a beta tester for the paper's new website.
But I fear for them. I fear the internet and SportsCenter. I fear the bloggers. I fear them because I see myself turning to the net as my primary source of sports information. Click on the links above and watch the little video and the on-camera argument that inspired it.

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Giving with Gab

Golf Emcee
Originally uploaded by Darrell
The Best Friend maintained for a long time that it's only fitting that I made a living by running my mouth. I got in SO MUCH TROUBLE as a kid because I couldn't shut up. Some things never change, I guess.
Recently, I've had the opportunity to donate my services as a host for a variety of events. I'm ambivalent about this because I know people who make money as emcees-for-hire and I fear I'm taking money out of their pockets. Of course, if these event organizers were willing to pay for a host they probably would have hired someone better than me from the start, so I guess it's all moot.
Most recently, I handed out door prizes at a golf tournment benefitting the Alma Mater. It made me happy to contribute my meager talents to the school and they seemed grateful. Plus, I got two steak dinners and a golf umbrella in exchange for my half-hour of service. I think I came out ahead on that deal.

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