Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why I Like Where I Live

1) We were playing ultimate at Brevard College on Sunday. Right beside us were some students practicing music. Come on, where else are you gonna get hot frisbee combined with mellow violin? It's pretty special to run down a frisbee while being serenaded by smooth, classical sounds of a small orchestra.

2) I ran out and did a few errands during my planning period today. What should have taken 30 minutes took almost 90. In other places, delays are because there are too many people in your way. Today, delays were because there were people. And people are great.

-Went to Insurance Company to pay auto premium. Could have been in and out, but talked with the girl behind the counter for a while because she wanted to know how my classes were. We chatted like we were best friends.

- Off to the courthouse to pay car (and motorcycle) tax. Ran into a father of one the kids I wrestled with over 12 years ago. We spend 15 minutes catching each other up.

- Swing by bike shop to pick up mountain bike that was getting tuned up. Me and the mechanic talk it up. He doesn't know anyone with a Bob Trailer I can borrow. I am disappointed. But I am happy about a clean and tuned bike.

- Run by jewelry store to drop off my broken necklace. Lady remembers me from last fall and proceeds to lecture me on how I should not wear that special (it was my mother's) and expensive piece of jewelry to wrestling practice. I guess she could have encouraged me to keep doing it so I could bring the necklace in every 3 months, but she doesn't want me to break it anymore. It was funny. And sweet.

- Stop into Chik-Fil-A on the way back to the school for lunch. Randomly run into Steve McNamara, our local FCA coordinator and whom I was thinking about calling yesterday to bounce some ideas. Providential timing. Shake hands, hug and then he buys my lunch.

In other places, too many people get in your way and slow you down. Where I live, too many people get you a free lunch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A little "mystory"

In the mid to late 1970s, Cambodia was home to one of the worst genocides of the 20th Century. The Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodians) were responsible for the death of nearly 2 million innocent Cambodians who were thought to be too intellectual, educated or threatening to the regime. I was born in the middle of the period known to many as the "Killing Fields".

Here we are, three decades later, and the legacy of Pol Pot's regime still lingers. Justice has never been served in the eyes of many Cambodians. Pol Pot died in prison in 1998 before he could be brought to trial and held accountable for his atrocities. I remember my sister crying in anger at the news and the idea that he "got off easy". She, along with many of my siblings, can tell vicious stories of living during the Khmer Rouge. As if living in poverty was not bad enough, there was an entire nation living in trembling fear.

Thank you for reading some of the past that is my history. Here are a few recent articles that are evidence of the impact that the Khmer Rouge still has on the country:

Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Goes on Trial - 30 March 2009
Ex-Khmer Rouge Still Dominates Regions Cambodia - 28 March 2009
Some Visit Pol Pot's Grave Looking For Luck - 28 March 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Observations - Mar 29

- Alaska's Mt Redoubt is having a good time this week. It starting spewing ash last Sunday. It has closed flights in and out of Anchorage and has kept lots of Alaskans on the Kenai Peninsula inside. Check out all the fun stuff at the Alaska Volcano Observatory website.

And here's a photo of Mt Redoubt I took from across the Cook Inlet in Nikiski in summer 2008:
Redoubt Volcano

- Further south of Mt Redoubt is Katmai National Park. Katmai is where you go to see bears. Air taxis leave Anchorage, Kenai/Soldotna and Homer on a daily basis in the summer flying across the Cook Inlet to drop tourists off to see grizzlies.

- Katmai is where Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend were eaten by bears that he had "befriended". He was the subject of the documentary Grizzly Man. Using much of his own video, the documentary shows incredible footage of Treadwell among bears (and a fox that took a liking to him). While he had tremendous love for the bear, I am not sure that he had enough respect for the bears. Plus he had a severe, yet dellusional, messiah complex.

- What do Lindsay and James, Ruth, Brent and Jessie, Kate, Emily, Matthew, Jeff, Jacob have in common? These were all awesome people that I don't see enough of or live out of town that I got to visit with this week.

Crush of the Week:
There are 900 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Jennie Whited has hiked them all. And she's done it five times, making her the only woman to do so. Oh, and she's 65. I am impressed by her tenacity and envious of a life walking in the woods. I am left asking, "Why am I sitting here and not in the woods?"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Observations - Mar 22

- Just got back from the first ever Dude's Awesome Golf weekend at Pawleys Island. Played some good golf, ate great food and had lots of laughs. Thank you Hart, Mains, Joyce, Fresh and Auten for good times.

- One of my favorite things to experience is hitting a golf ball in the sweet spot of a long iron. Fortunately, I got to experience that a few times over the weekend.

- Dave Mains makes a mean boil. It is one of life's great pleasures.

- As of right now, my ESPN bracket is ranked ahead of 99.4 percent of other brackets.

- Anthony Robles, last week's crush, ended up finishing 4th at the NCAA Championships. Congratulations on All-American status.

- Nature is awesome. I I don't mean just pretty flowers and majestic mountains. We watched a hawk killing a squirrel just 15 feet away from us. It swooped down and knocked the squirrel from the side of the tree and was slowly killing the animal on the ground. It was amazing. Everytime the squirrel moved or squealed, the hawk readjusted and squeezed harder. Sure, I felt bad for the squirrel, but in nature, there is no life without death.

Man-Crush of the Week:
John Hart is the man. He secured his family's beachhouse at Pawleys Island, made all the tee times and was coordinator extraordinaire. The golf weekend does not happen without John doing a bunch of the legwork.

John Hart and I were both hired by Charles Thomas in the summer of 2000. Since then, we've made road trips, played lots of golf, some poker and had many good laughs. John is the one friend that I know that is always up for a round of golf or a trip for wings-- even after having a baby. Speaking of babies... somehow, John thought that it would be a good idea if I were Sydney's (below) godfather.
Alright Hart, I'll meet you at the Dixie Diner. Bring your clubs...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Observations - Music Edition

The theme this week is music:

- I hear this song on Wednesday as I arrived at school and I can't get it out of my mind. It's very Jack Johnsonish. Trevor Hall has a very distinguishing voice. I cannot exactly tell you what the song means. Maybe it's about finding love that lasts. Maybe it's about finding God.
And parallel to the city streets
Our broken crowns beneath our feet

But as we walk across the diamonds (diamonds)

We know that love is always shining

- I bought three albums in the last week. U2's No Line on the Horizon, Bruce Springsteen's Working on a Dream, and Silver's +/-.

U2: No Line on the Horizon - 3/5 Stars
Bloggers and internet reviewers are all over the board. Some love it, others find it ordinary. I'm not sold on it, but U2 has a tendency to grow on me. All You Can't Leave Behind slowly went from being okay to indispensable for me. Perhaps this one will do the same. Everytime I listen, I find something new that I like. "Moment of Surrender" stands out to me as a tale of realization of we are not as big as we make ourselves to be. Almost every U2 album has it's "hymn". The last two albums had "Grace" and "Yahweh". This album has "White as Snow", where we are looking for "the lamb as white as snow."

Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream - 4/5 Stars
I feel like Bruce always writes stuff that we can relate to. He is a storyteller and his songs are songs seem to be about people who struggle, sometimes suffer, work hard, make mistakes and yet still hope and love. Sounds like me. I really like the sound of this album. "The Wrestler" appeals to me on so many levels, "Queen of the Supermarket" makes me think of Garrett, "Outlaw Pete" is Bruce doing his storytelling and "Working on a Dream" is classic Bruce. I seem to like this album a lot more than other people and that's okay.

Silver: +/- -4/5 Stars
Silver is the band that my buddy Brent Francese drums for. They just released their new album (not real cover, did not have art... but it's close) about two weeks ago. Get it on itunes to support my friend (since he's umemployed) and because it really is good. The band seems really proud of this effort and rightfully so. It has a strong rock sound. You can hear their tracks on their myspace: http://www.myspace.com/silvermusiconline

By the way, I like that Silver has '+/-' and U2 has an '=' on their albums. Cool irony.

- I really hate what's happening in Northern Ireland. Things were relatively good. U2 wrote a song, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" that was a reference to the killing of Irish protesters by the British military in Northern Ireland in 1972. Though the song is set to a "war march", it really is a peace anthem. Just listen to the lyrics...
How long, how long must we sing this song?

- "Dude Looks like a Lady"... I walked into a bathroom at a local shopping establishment and immediately turned around because I saw a woman and thought I was in the ladies room. Turns out I had the right loo and was confused by a skinny guy with long hair. I hate it when that happens.

- The NCAA brackets are one gigantic cluster. Can anyone beat the Big East and their three number 1 seeds? We'll ask Pat Benetar:

Crush of the Week:
The NCAA Wrestling finals is this weekend. I am pretty excited about seeing how the best collegiate wrestlers stack up. I am actually more excited about the NCAA Wrestling than about March Madness.

On Bruce Springsteen's Working on a Dream album, there is a song about underdogs called "The Wrestler". It includes this line:
Have you ever seen a one-legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you've ever seen a one-legged man then you've seen me.

Anthony Robles, a redshirt sophomore at Arizone State University is that wrestler. Born with only one leg, Robles was almost an All-American last year and last week was the PAC-10 Champion at 125lbs. The kid is tough. And he never makes excuses. When he got to ASU, the wrestlers ran a time trial in the mile. Robles ran it in 10 minutes... ON CRUTCHES. The next time, he ran it in less than eight. Good luck to you, Robles. I have no dog in the fight, so I am pulling for Robles at 125 and Mikal McKee, an AC Reynolds graduate and Southern Conference Champion at 174 for UNCG.

Here is Springsteen's "The Wrestler":

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You can't make this up

Driving home from an away wrestling match.

Sign on Interstate 240: "Weather Info Tune 530AM"
TW: 530AM, why would anyone want to wake up at that time for weather?


One of my track girls is failing Spanish.

Me: "Hey, what's up? Wanna tell me about Spanish?"
K: "What do you mean?"
Me: "I hear you aren't doing so well."
K: "Coach, you don't understand. It's hard... it's like learning a foreign language."

Yep, these are my kids...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Observations - Mar 8

- Daylight savings... I love it. We played frisbee until 6:30 and there was still an hour of sunlight left! I know, it messes up the cows. But I like having extra light to bike, run and play.

- Last summer, I had a connection in Phoenix on my way back from the West Coast. All the clocks in the airport were wrong. They were an hour behind my clock and what I thought Mountain Time should be. Finally, I realized that Arizona (along with Hawaii, Guam, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) does not observe Daily Savings and exists only to annoy me.

- Ever wonder how time zones came about? It was because of the railroads. Prior to time zones, every city had it's own local time. Conceivably, Charlotte could be 12:22 and Asheville 12:11. To make things simpler, they came up with standard time zones.

Russia, the world's largest country, has 11 time zones (compared to 6 in US). Incredibly, China only has one time zone. It is the same time everywhere in China.
- Here are photos from snow on Hillpark Drive earlier in the week. High by Friday was 74. Crazy.

- The Archer Farm chips at Target are great. Try the Cheddar Jalapeno. Also, I like their tortilla chips better than Tostitos and they are much cheaper.

- Sushi makes me happy. I had it twice this week.

- It's here! New Belgium is distributing in North Caroliina. I happened to walk into World Market after church today and ran into the display for Fat Tire! It was a like a shrine. It even has a fancy little bit on the label commemorating Fat Tire's arrival in NC:
- What did I do on my snow days? I watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (the extended cuts) and enjoyed every minute. I had actually never seen Return of the King. I had bought the Trilogy two years ago on ebay and promised that one day when I was snowed in I would watch them all. Unfortunately, all our snow sucked. Until this week.

Crush of the Week:
I have never been skiing. It's too bad, I think I would like it and might even be decent. Just never felt like I could afford it. But I love watching winter sports. Whether it's hockey, skiing, bobsleigh/luge or curling, sports on snow and ice are fun to watch.
Lindsey Vonn is the number one female skier in the world. Despite injuring her hand celebrating a previous victory, the Park City, Utah resident placed 12th in the downhill in Bulgaria last week and basically secured herself a World Cup title. In looking at some of her results, I noticed she won in Lake Louise in December. Everyone brags on the town Banff in the Canadian Rockies, but give me Lake Louise over Banff any day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday Observations - Mar 1

- Technically, it's Monday morning. No worries, there's about 5 inches of snow outside and school has already been called for tomorrow.

- Track season has begun. It was wet on Monday. 60s Wednesday and Thursday. Rain Friday. Snow tonight means no practice tomorrow. And we run our first meet this coming Thursday. Good news is that there are almost 30 girls out for track this year after barely having 10 last year.

- Random Historical Trivia: We are studying the Romans in my classes. So you know, Caesar's Salad is not Italian and not named after Julius or any of the Caesars of Rome. It's actually Mexican, invented at a whim by some guy named Cesar who thought it would be a good idea to throw romaine, fish and raw eggs together into a salad. When it caught on and moved north, Cesar's Salad became Caesar's Salad.

- This weekend, I went with the Grace High Schoolers to Camp Willow Run for the second winter retreat with Atlee and Hope churches from Virginia. The title of the retreat was Unleash[ed]. It was pretty dang stinking awesome.

- God is bigger than me. God is big enough. Why can't I understand that?

Crush of the Week:
I have only known Pete Bowell (below left, acting a skit) for only one year. I've only met him twice and both times were at Willow Run Winter Retreat. But I appreciate him a so much because he is honest and he is real. He is the Youth Minister at Hope Church in Richmond, VA. Pete shares from experience and shares from his heart. And he loves students. He has spent an entire career ministering to students.
He and Brian Land and Mike Abbamonte team up to make this winter retreat happen. Brian loves Pete too. I love Brian. Thus I must love Pete.