Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Observations - Nov 30

Today is the last day of November. Here are my observations this Sunday:

1) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I have a lot to be thankful for.

2) This story made me sad. What have we come to?

3) To each their own, but two things you will not find me doing: 1) Getting up at 2:00 in the morning to stand in line for sales on Black Friday and 2) Getting up at 2:00 in the morning to go into the woods and sit in a tree.

4) Georgia Tech broke their 7 year losing streak to rival Georgia yesterday. What a great victory for the White and Gold. The Triple Option is back. Georgia had two weeks to prepare and still gave up 409 yards on the ground.

5) Speaking of rivalries and since this was rivalry week in college football, here are my favorite rivalry games:
- Army-Navy: No BCS implications, but I do love the tradition and gallantry of this game. And try telling anyone from West Point or Annapolis that this game doesn't matter...
- Oklahoma-Texas: Neutral site every year (Cotton Bowl during Texas State Fair), cool name (Red River Shootout) and long tradition make this a great rivalry.
- Georgia Tech-Georgia: To Hell With Georgia!
- Michigan-Ohio State: Another great interstate rivalry. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, this one has recently been dominated by the Buckeyes.
- Harvard-Yale: Again, not a game with National Championship implications, but it's a big game for these two storied universities and, dating to 1875, the oldest rivalry in college football.

6) I slept through church today. It was the second week in a row. Wrestling season takes a physical toll on me. It's pretty exhausting. Last Saturday, I was up at 3:30, our bus left at 5:00 to be in Boone by 7:30 for weigh-ins. Tournament over about 8:30 and we were home around 11:30. Yesterday, I was up at 5:44, to the school a little before 7:00 to get ready for the North Knight Invitation that we host every year. The tournament ran smooth because there were lots of amazing people who helped, but I'm not sure I sat more than 15 minutes total the entire day. After closing up, home around 11:00.

7) Speaking of which, I would be remiss if I did not mention all the people who helped make the tournament run so well. I get lots of compliments on how well things run, but I'm not sure people notice all the great help that's around me:

John Williams threw together the JV tournament with no practice; Jason Joyce running the computer; Ivy Ducker put together the best hospitality room around (no joke, that's from other coaches and officials); David and Linda Bradley running the concession stand; former wrestlers like Mikey, Larry and Wayn-O coming back to help; former scorekeeper Stacey filling out the wall charts; current team members helping at tables running a clock or scoring; various parents asking where they can be of assistance. Once again, I am full of thanks.

Man-Crush of the Week:
Paul Johnson, Head Football Coach, Georgia Institute of Technology. He's converted me. I wasn't sure of his ability to win or be the right guy for the job, but the man can coach. And I think I am in love. He did something Chan Gailey (another coach I have tremendous respect for) never did in seven years: beat Georgia. Gailey's 0-7 record against their rival probably sealed his fate more than anything.

Tech this year looks well coached, makes good adjustments and is the youngest team in the ACC. The losses were not a product of the system or the coaching, it was GT shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers. The Triple Option has yielded success against good defenses and there is still more to be revealed. The future looks bright and Coach Johnson is leading the Jackets there.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Observations - Nov 22

1) Wrestling season kicked off for the Knights. We travelled to Boone for the Old Appalachian Invitational at Watauga High School. Knights finished 15th, but I was really proud of the effort by my young kids. We were missing a few key individuals, so when we get to full strength, I'll be really excited.

2) Did anyone see Georgia Tech annihilate Miami on Thursday night? What an amazing display of offense. Over 500 yards total offense and we only passed 7 times! Jonathan Dwyer (#21 below, on his 58 yard TD run) ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on only one half of play. 9 Jackets had carries, the top 4 were Dwyer, QB Josh Nesbitt (93 yds), RB Roddy Jones (97) and RB Lucas Cox (78). Even the backup QB had 45 yards rushing.
The only way we can get to the ACC Championship game is for Virginia to lose (thanks Clemson), North Carolina to lose (I love NC State!) and Virginia Tech to lose (come on, Duke). Needless to say, I'll be cheering for the Cavaliers against the Hokies on Saturday.

3) Today was the 2nd Annual Turkey Bowl. The frisbee crew that I play with gets together and plays flag football right before Thanksgiving. It was good times. The final score was 44-44. Really, it ended in a tie! Good times! Jennifer Pharr Davis, to go with her Person of the Year Award, was also selected Turkey Bowl MVP and gets to keep the sweet trophy until next year.

4) One of the most overlooked parts of football is the extra point/field goal. In the Turkey Bowl, we kicked PATs with no rush and made less than half the attempts. The idea of kicking the football through the uprights with the game on the line has new meaning and respect. The snap, catch, hold and kick have to be perfect... all with 11 very large and angry guys trying to block it. Next time you see that in a football game, have respect. It's hard.

Crush of the Week: Josh Nesbitt, QB Georgia Tech. Dwyer ran for all the yards and he's the best running back in the ACC, but Nesbitt is the catalyst that makes the triple option work. And he's a warrior. The guy always falls forward when he gets hit, plays injured and displays a tremendous amount of heart. He just guts and wills his way to yards. His legs defeated Boston College and almost beat Virginia Tech. Look up warrior in the dictionary and there's a picture of Nesbitt.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If I were president

President-elect Obama wants College Football to institute a playoff to replace the flawed BCS. I would like to see that happen. I would also pass a new law that no more teams can do white-outs/black-out/whatever-color-outs.

Georgia Tech Athletics is pushing for a white-out against Miami tonight. All fans wear white. Some are against it, even though white is one of Tech's school colors (if I had a daughter, sir, I dress her in white and gold/And put her on the campus To cheer the brave and bold).

I just think the idea is stupid. It's gotten out of hand too. Too many schools are doing it and it's not cool. Georgia got hammered by Alabama when they had their "blackout" and Florida State always plays like they are a JV team when they do a blackout (see the Boston College game last Saturday).

My legislation would say: No more color outs except:
Penn State, the originator of the white-out. Few things are more amazing than to see Beaver Stadium at capacity (107,282), all their fans in white.

Texas Tech, if they can blackout like they did against Texas, are good to go (sorry, no good pics to be found).

Texas A&M can do their red, white and blue-out.

Everthing else is off limits. No more blackouts at Doak Campbell or Stanford Stadium. No white outs at Bobby Dodd, Kenan Memorial or Bryant-Denny. No orange outs at Clemson Memorial or Neyland. I'm the president and I say so.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eye on the goal; Eyes on the prize

"Obstacles are the frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."
-Henry Ford

Everyday, I write a new quote of the day in my classroom and my students have to write it in their journals. The quote above was today's quote. It made me think of mountain biking.

One of the most common mistakes by new mountain bikers is "object fixation". This is when the rider focuses on an obstacle such as a rock or root rather than the trail ahead. The general rule is "look where you want to go." If you focus on the obstacle, you inevitably will hit that object. If you look ahead on the trail to where you want to be, your bike will go there while avoiding those dreaded roots and rocks.

When learning to ride my Ducati this summer, the books I consulted and Jim, my riding instructor, emphasized "looking through" a curve. Look where you want to be and you and your bike will lean and be there. Fixate on a pothole or a car heading towards you and you will likely lead your motorcycle straight towards that you are trying to avoid. If ever you feel like you are not going to make it through a curve, just look through and lean because your bike will lean further than you believe it can. Just trust it.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

The only thing that I did wrong
Was staying in the wilderness too long
Keep your eyes on the prize, Hold on
"Eyes on the Prize"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Observations- Nov 16

1) I went to Boone yesterday to see my alma mater, Elon, play Appalachian State in an important Southern Conference showdown. Elon was ranked 10th in the country and ASU ranked 2nd. It was a great game, even if Elon lost 24-16. I loved the game, it was cold and wet. Rain and, at times, snow were blowing into our faces. This is football. People around me were whining but I was in bliss. It made me feel like I was in Lambeau or Buffalo. I'm glad we made the trip, I haven't seen Elon play in about 5 years. Elon has come a long way since the days of playing games at Williams High School.

2) Random encounters are so neat. We walked into Mellow Mushroom in Boone and a young lady walked up to me and asked if I was Heang Uy. It was a girl I went to high school with. Then she turned to my friend Dave and asked, "were you in a band?" Dave used to play in a band called Dirt Poor Authority. You can find them on itunes. That encounter made Dave's day and made him feel like a rockstar. Dirt Poor hadn't played in over 5 years and someone from "the day" remembered him. Good times.

3) I love my iphone. I will admit that I am a bit addicted to it. That's part of being a geek. Now that it's cold, I have found one fault with it. The touch screen works on heat, not pressure, so I cannot use the phone with gloves on. Unfortunately for me, I am a glover when the weather is cold. So if you call and I don't answer, it might because I am fumbling my phone out of my pocket then taking off a glove and then unlocking the phone...

4) I would not recommend Geno's in Boone. We stopped there for dinner. The food was amazingly slow to get there and the selection bland. I'm to the point also that I don't want to eat where they allow smoking. The most amazing thing was when my friend asked for chili cheese fries and the waitress said they couldn't do it because the kitchen would be mad. She could, however, bring cheese fries and a side of chili for an extra charge. But bringing french fries, chili and cheese on one plate was not possible.

5) Discipline was the topic of the week at our youth leaders meeting and at church this morning. Read Proverbs 3. The Lord disciplines the ones he loves. When you are as egotistical as I am, discipline can be a very disconcerting thing. Who am I that I need to be disciplined? God's word humbles me.

Man-Crush of the Week: Jeremy Gillespie. Why? 1) He wanted to be it. 2) He let me bring my wrestling team to Camp Arrowhead for North Henderson Wrestling's boot camp. 3) He was pretty rocking when leading worship at Grace this morning. 4) His other identity (don't tell anyone, shhh) is Superman.

Pandora Radio and Coldplay

I have recently discovered Pandora. I listen to music through Pandora on my computer at home and on my iphone at school during my planning period. If you don’t know how Pandora works, you choose “channels”, which are basically artists or bands you like. The program then seeks and finds music that you might like according to the channels you choose.

Almost everytime I listen to Pandora for any significant amount of time, I hear Coldplay’s Yellow. I’ve heard the radio version, the live version and Yellow acoustic. For some odd reason, the song never gets old. I read an interview a few years ago and the musician being interviewed (I can’t remember who it was) was asked what song he wished that he had written. He named like 3 songs, one of them being Yellow.

For your viewing and listening pleasure: Yellow

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boot Camp 2008

Wrestling season has begun.

The North Henderson Knights come into the season as a young group with high expectations. Yesterday was our 2nd Annual North Henderson Wrestling Boot Camp at Camp Arrowhead in Tuxedo. Thank you, Jeremy, Matt and Jeff for having us out there and allowing us to us you facilities. Here are some photos from yesterday's team building activity.

More photos at: flickr

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Observations

This blog continues to evolve. Instead of a weekly post devoted to my crush for the week, I am replacing that post with "Sunday Observations". Sunday Observations are just my short, random musings of the previous week (if I can get to it). The "Crush" is not going away, there are too many people I like-- it will just be grouped into the "Sunday Observations". Without further adeiu, this today's observations:

1. Through Facebook status updates, Internet forums and comments left by readers to online articles, there are a lot of people who think we need to pray for our country since Obama was elected President. My question, if McCain was elected President, would we not need to pray for our country?

2. Texas Tech is really fun to watch on offense.

3. Georgia should have lost, unbelievable ending. They stopped Kentucky on 4th down, but were called for a facemask. Kentucky's next play was an interception by a defensive lineman who was being blocked. See the clip below.

Alabama should have lost. What was Jarrett Lee thinking on that pass? Your defense blocks a game winning field goal to force overtime and then you throw an interception to give yourself no chance to win the game. Rediculous!

4. Thank goodness I am not a Tennessee fan. Homecoming loss to Wyoming?

5. I was measured for a tux today for my college roommate Jeff's wedding in December. I am a 31 sleeve, 31 waist and 48 overarm. I won't tell you the rest because I don't want you to make life size voodoos of me. You'll have to guess the neck, underarm and all the other random measurements.

Proof that God Exists:
Last season, Bobby Petrino, in the midst of a terrible first season in Atlanta, abandoned his contract, commitment and team and took the head job at the University of Arkansas. He didn't even meet with his team. He left them a letter. Packed his office and left them letters in their lockers. It was gutless.

This year, Arkansas is 4-6 and 1-5 in the SEC (last in their division), including beating might football powers Western Illinois and Louisiana Monroe by a combined 5 points. The Falcons, one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, is 6-3 and second in their division behind rookie Matt Ryan's marvelous play. Justice is served.

Crush of the Week:
Jennifer Pharr Davis. Check this post. How can you not like Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine's Person of the Year?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why I'm stupider: Will Ferrell

So I watched Semi-pro last week. It came in from Netflix. I wasted about two hours of my life. All the humor was already used and not funny. Combine that with me sitting through the even less funny and less original Step Brothers this summer and I am now a dumber person.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Person of the Year

Jennifer Pharr Davis is Blue Ridge Outdoor magazine's Person of the Year for her record breaking through hike of the Appalachian Trail this summer. Congratulations to Jennifer. Here's the linky:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night Blogging- Pt 2 [Faith and Politics]

The election is nearly over. As a social studies teacher and a citizen of the United States, I love the democratic process. As a objective observer, I am frustrated by the partisanship and negativity of the campaigns.

Call me an optimist, but I believe we will be fine. Despite the economy, the war on terrorism, environmental and energy issues and the election of a new president, I don't believe the things that make us great will change. We might struggle-- gut check, as we call it in my wrestling room. But we will survive.

I hear all these doomsday scenarios where if we elect "so and so" or "this candidate" that the United States will be over or we'll be screwed. Or that our religion is at risk if we elect a certain candidate or if we don't elect a certain candidate. If that's true, then we deserve to come unraveled. If the Constitution that is the foundation of our democracy is so unsteady or our faith so small that the simple election of a man in 2008 is enough to ruin it all, then it deserves to end.

Trust me guys, have faith.

Have faith in the Constitution. If the American people elect Barack Obama (as currently it looks at 9:57pm), increases the Democratic majority in the House and secures a filibuster-proof 60 seats for the Democrats in the Senate, it is because the Constitution and the democratic process works. The people of the United States are exercising their option for change. If the Democratic party does not take the nation in the direction that is best for America, then the American people will again exercise their option for change-- just as they did in this election.
Have faith in faith. Living where I live, the common belief is that Democrats are godless and a liberal government will compromise our ability to practice our religion. If that happens, again, it's well deserved. I am reminded of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us". I happen to believe that God is bigger than the President of the United States, even if the President is Barack Obama, the sarcastically christened Messiah.

Just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego believed their god was bigger than Nebuchnezzar, I believe that the God I believe in and worship is bigger than me and you. God was bigger than Ferdinand and Isabella during the Spanish Inquisition, Hilter in Nazi Germany, Stalin in the Soviet Union and modern China's communist regime. Is our faith that small; is our god that inadequate? The God that made the universe can take care of himself. Stop trying to save and rescue God, when you are already saved and rescued by God.

Election Night Blogging- Pt 1 [a more perfect union]

...a more perfect union...

I walked into the National Archives last weekend when I was in Washington, DC and looked up and saw this inscription from the United States Constitution. I was humbled. It made me think about our election, our economy, our nation and our future. It gave me hope. In the midst of a terribly negative campaign season, I found a glimmer of hope in 4 words written over 200 years ago.

I have read the Preamble of the Constitution hundreds of times as a student, scholar and teacher. Not until last week, however, did these words impact me so much:

A - an article used to distinguish something-- in this case, our fledging nation

More - means greater or additional. Not to be confused with most, which means greatest. The purpose was not to be the greatest, but to be better and strive to improve. When you are the most, you have reached the pinnacle. When you are simply more, you've attained something but have not accomplished everything.

Perfect - without fault; flawless. To pretend that we are flawless is a flaw in itself. But to strive for perfection is human nature. Perfect is not what we are, more perfect is what we seek to be.

Union - something that is made one. A union is differing opinions and ideas of different people that are bound together. That's America. We may not always look the same, dress the same or think the same but we are bound together by a union, or confederation, of this common goal to be more perfect.

We the people of the United States
In order to form a more perfect Union
Establish Justice
Insure Domestice Tranquilty
Provide for the Common Defence
Promote the General Welfare
and Secure the Blessings of Libery
for ourselves and our prosterity
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Georgia Tech-FSU Highlights

Georgia Tech versu Florida State on November 1 was exciting to the finish. Tech had lost the previous 12 games against the Seminoles and when the Noles converted 4th and 6, down by 3 points, I thought we were going to lose another one. When FSU marched to the redzone, I was sure that the game was over. When Marcus Sims took the handoff on 2nd and Goal from the 3 yard line, I wanted to close my eyes. Instead of a defensive stop or a touchdown, I saw the ball come flying into the air-- it was a FUMBLE! You gotta hear Wes Durham call it and see it replayed if you missed it the first time (watch it just to see the stunned reactions of the FSU fans).

Never too young to tailgate: the Forstner twins

Too much garnet in the North Endzone

Go Jackets!

Rushing the field: Tech's first defeat of FSU since 1975.

Atlanta Skyline from East Stands

Celebrating on the field and "Budweiser Song"

Final Score!

Man-Crush of the Week: Mains

When I looked over the Georgia Tech football schedule this summer, I was not really impressed with our home slate. But I did see Florida State and thought that would be a great game, especially if one of my favorite persons would make the drive to Atlanta with me. Dave was raised a Seminole in Tallahassee and even tried out for the football team at FSU. His wife, Candi, is awesome and his son, Walker, is one of my buddies, so I am a fan of the Mains household.

We had a great time. Tailgate was fun, Dave even bought a Tech shirt because he was paranoid about being "that guy". No decent person wants to be a guest and be a jerk at the same time. It was a close and exciting game that was not decided until Seminole fullback Marcus Sim's fumble on the Tech goal line with 45 seconds left was recovered by the Jackets to preserve a 3 point victory.

Dave's this week's crush. One of the most dependable and nicest guys you'll ever meet. Great football coach and wrestling coach (though retired from wrestling) and a superb math teacher (Apple Valley teacher of the year a few years ago). Two words for Mains: "Go Jackets!"

The bad: When I committed to this weekend, I didn't check my calendar. I double booked on top of the wedding of my dear friends Jeff and Anna Plack and also missed the State Cross Country meet for the first time in 6 years. The Lady Knights finished 4th in the state despite not having their best day of racing.