Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Observations - 24 May

- Okay, I lied. There's just a bunch on my mind today.
Update: This post was began last night (Sunday) but there was a total blackout in my neighborhood. Don't know what caused it, but we were all dark.

- Lebron James is pretty good. If you did not see the amazing shot, it's here:

- Michael Vick was released from prison last week. What he did to the dogs was atrocious and inexcusable. Judging by posts to articles on him, lots of people believe that he should never play in the NFL again. I disagree. He was tried by the courts and did his time. He deserves a second chance. I am not a Vick fan. But I believe in the fact that men can change. He may not be much of a football player, but maybe he can prove he's a new man.

If I've learned anything from the Bible, it's that God uses messed up people all the time. People who were given a second (sometimes third) chance. Moses, David, Peter, Paul were all guilty of some pretty heinous stuff. When you are perfect, you become Messiah. When you screw up, God finds you useful to his kingdom.

- Good news- it looks like we have a new law to protect consumers from credit card lenders. Also attached to that law was a legislation that now permits loaded and concealed weapons in National Parks.

NY Times article

First, I'm not a fan. I liked that National Parks were gun free. Second, I don't resent the legislation as much as I resent the way it was ratified: attached to a consumer lending bill because there was no way that a Democratic Senate was going to approve it if it stood alone. Lastly, I also notice that people with guns too often fall into that trap that the guns solve all problems. Instead of being smarter, more prepared and cautious, many outdoorsmen with guns head into the wild with a false sense a security. I stand on my record that guns are like cars, the majority of the people who own them should not be allowed to operate them.

- Track season is over. North Henderson's highest placer was Catie Byrd, who finished 3rd in the 800m with a time of 2:26.

- Is waterboarding torture? The debate rages on about "enhanced interrogation".

Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'

When I was in high school, we played a very fun (and sometimes brutal) game called "Killball". We loved it, even when our big football players hit you so hard with the ball that it left welts. Apparently, someone complained about "Killball", so we could no longer play it. Some genius decided to start a new game called "Power Dodgeball". It had the same rules, used the same equipment, and left the same welts when Greg Dahl hit you, but we would swear under oath that we were playing a different game.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Observations - May 17

- This is the last Sunday Observations. I am afraid I am getting too routine. Also, I don't feel so creative. Future blog entries will be more random and less predictable. Keep checking back and thanks for reading.

- Most of the last week was consumed with preparing for the Regional Track Meet which we were hosting again. All week I was worried about rain. The morning was cloudy. The rest of the day was a rotating mixture of clouds, bright sun and light rain. The light rain was actually nice, it cooled things off and made for pleasant conditions. The meet was running very well.

And then 5:00 hit. We were in the middle of the boys 3200 with only the girls and boys 4x400 remaining when we were greeted by thunder and lightning from above. We had to stop the 3200 mid-race and move everyone inside our cafeteria. The rain came with the thunder and lightning and we delayed the meet until almost 7:30. At that time, we returned outside and finished what was left of the 3200 and the 4x400s.

- Ten years ago, we would have finished the 3200 even with lightning around us. Not anymore. In the interest of safety (and to avoid potential litigation), the rules are strict. No competition at the sight of lightning or the sound of thunder. You may resume after 30 minutes from the last lightning. Every time there is new lightning or thunder, the clock starts over. About twice, we were 15 minutes from starting and then new lightning. It was frustrating.

- My team finished 6th. Qualified Ty in the 100, Catie in the 800 and 1600 and the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

- Quote of the Week I:
"Coach Uy, were you born in the 40s or the 50s."
This was a serious question one of my students asked me while doing independent work. Obviously, I am not aging as well as I had previously thought.

- Quote of the Week II:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." - CS Lewis

- North Carolina this week passed a ban on smoking in most indoor public places. I abhor smoking. I hate going to places that make me smell like an ashtray when I leave. The one thing a person can do that will make them instantly unattractive to me physically is to smoke.

After NC's smoking ban, bars brace for uncertain times

I do, however, believe that private businesses that do not allow children (ie bars, nightclubs), should allow smoking if they choose. They can also choose to not allow smoking. Adults should be able to decide for themselves what they want to do with their business and their health. I usually prefer not to visit Hannah Flannagan's at night because I reek when I leave. Westville Pub, a non-smoking bar, is one of my favorite places in Asheville to eat, drink and meet friends.And to the bar owner in the article linked above, Westville and Jack of the Wood are both non-smoking. Walk by there any evening and they are also both full of customers. If you have a good product, people will come. Give me a clean and fun atmosphere, good food and drink, friendly service, good music and my friends and I'll be there.

Crush of the Week:
After the retirement of Dan Marino, the face of the Miami Dolphins belonged to two individuals: Zach Thomas (54 below) and Jason Taylor (Number 99). Both players, who happen to be brother in laws, moved on to different teams last season: Thomas with the Cowboys and Taylor to the Redskins.Jason Taylor spent last season underacheiving. Some of it was due to a calf injury. Some because of a new defensive scheme that did not take advantage of the skills of the 6 time Pro Bowler and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Part of it, I like to believe, is because he missed Miami. He would fly home every week to be with his family who stayed in South Florida.

Now, JT is home! Sometimes players tell you it's not about the money and you know it's not true. Jason Taylor signed one year for 1.5 million. That's a lot for me, but a mere penance for a former Defensive Player of the Year. He could have signed a one year deal with lots of teams for more than that. He walked away from 1 year, 8.9 million dollar contract that he could have signed with Washington.
I truly think it's not about the money. I believe he wants to be close to his family and home. He wants to continue to work in the community in South Florida through the charities he supports. And he wants to retire as a Miami Dolphin. When I read the article, I was elated! Dancing, singing, whooping elated.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mood Swings

This morning, I just happened to check my checking account online and had a transaction dated 5/13 (today), that I know I could not have made. It was:

Amino Skin Care $56.38

You may not know this, but I am not much of a skin care product consumer. I buy lotion, some face cleanser and cortisone or benadryl if I get poison ivy.

Today, I stop for gas because the light on my Ducati comes on. Card denied. I have to use American Express. Dinner with wrestlers. Card denied. Pay cash.

I call my bank. my card had a restriction because of the transaction with above skin care company. Apparently, I had been compromised somewhere. I am getting an affidavit in mail to sign that I did not make the transaction, a credit to my account and a new check card. But I feel so violated that it put me in a down mood.

Then I go over to and see this article and my melancholy and feeling of betrayal turns to jubilation and instant joy:

Taylor to rejoin Dolphins for 1 year, $1.5 million

Jason Taylor, the prodigal son, is coming home. After a year with the Redskins, the Pro Bowl defensive end is coming back to the team that let him go a year ago. He was courted by the Patriots and I remember two days ago trying to decide how I was going to cope with Jason Taylor in a Patriots uniform. Now I don't have to. He took less money, less wealth, and comes back to where he wants to be and where his family (literal family as well as Bill Parcells, teammates and the city of Miami) want him to be.

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:24

Seriously, this news made my day. My spirit was lifted. I was singing and dancing. I am utterly thrilled... until I go to pay for food tomorrow and realize I have no cash and no bank card. DOH!

Monday, May 11, 2009

HB 593

HB 593

I'm a fan. Basically, it says that schools can start as soon as August 8 each year. The current law, pushed by the tourism industry and many parents, mandates a start no earlier than August 25.
Here are some reasons why I am emailing my Representative:

1) Local control. Each district should be able to choose the calendar that's best for them. NC is too diverse a state geographically and economically to box us all into the same package.

2) Snow days. The current schedule makes it difficult to make up snow days.

3) Fall sports. Our football, soccer, volleyball and cross country coaches start on August 1. That's three weeks of practice they have before the first day. That's three weeks out of their summer and out of the athletes' summers.

4) Exams. Final exams for high schools on the block schedule will be before Christmas break instead of that odd period the second or third week of January.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Observations - 10 May

- This week's proof the Murphy lives:
These are the things that broke on me in the last week:
1) Toilet broke
2) Check engine light
3) iphone froze
4) Lawnmower doesn't run
When it rains, ir pours...

- Fixed the toilet (easy), car going into my mechanic (it needs to get checked for a drive to Alaska this summer), sent phone back to Apple, gotta take mower in. sheesh.

- The iphone was the worst. I am back to using a monochrome phone with no camera, wireless, or games. It's quite humbling. I tell people I feel like Clark Kent in Superman II when he gives up his powers to become human. That's me. I am no longer Superman.

- Why Manny, why? Baseball is the new cycling. You wonder if there is anyone that is clean. The only difference is that baseball's testing system is a joke.

- Welcome back thunderstorms. I love them. Except that it postpones important track meets.

Crush of the Week:
Dot Case adopted me when I started as a teacher at North Henderson. She's always fought for me, supported me and fed me(she brought me brownies and banana pudding last week). She's taught hundreds of students over the last 39 years of education. This year, she's North Henderson's Teacher of the Year. In addition, she was also selected this week as Henderson County's Teacher of the Year.
Mrs. Case is truly one of the most inspiring and amazing people I know. I wish Brett Farve would either retire or commit to play. I understand his plight. He doesn't know what to do if he's not Brett Frave, pro football player. Ms. Case could have retired a decade ago. She loves the kids. She wouldn't know what to do if she wasn't Dot Case, educator extraordinaire.

Times News Article
Dot Case Interview in my Blog

There are 22 schools in Henderson County. Each year, every school chooses it's Teacher of the Year, from which the County Teacher of the Year is selected. With Mary Lou West, Rachel Durant and now Ms Case, North Henderson has had 3 of the last 4 Henderson County Teachers of the Year. Yes, more evidence that I work in the best school ever.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Observations - May 3

- Psychologist Rollo May was quoted, "It's an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they've lost their way." There's something about us that makes us feel better when we panic. 1 confirmed American death due to swine flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 36,000 Americans die from flu each year.

- May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in North Carolina. When you're out driving, look for those guys with two wheels. I know some of them are stupid, but please be careful for the sake of the ones who aren't trying to be dumb. Be especially careful around a wobbly guy on a sweet Italian sportbike. He's scared of you and your big cars.

- May is also National Bicycle Month. You should make it a goal to ride your bike to work or the store sometime. And if you are in your car, please also be one the lookout for people who might be commuting on their bikes. And be patient... I don't mean to be slow. I assure you, I would go faster if I could. And I wouldn't be in the road if NC did a better job of providing bicycle lanes.

Go here for Bicycling Commuting Tips.

- Speaking of bikes, I helped my friend Ruth pick a bike yesterday. We visited almost all the shops in Asheville and Ruth settled on a Fuji from Probikes in West Asheville. It was fun and a good purchase!

- Hearn's Bikes, one of Asheville's oldest shops, moved from Merrimon Ave to Asheland and they no longer carry new bikes. Go in there and it's like a museum of used bikes. It really is neat. There were folding bikes, standing bikes, tandems, lots of old Schwinns, a neat selection of single speeds and just some really cool old frames.

- My assistant wrestling coach and his wife just had their first baby on Friday afternoon at 3:19. They were both at work (they both teach with me) when Wendy started having contractions during first period. Please welcome to the world: Sophia Athena Williams.
122/365 - 2 May [John and Baby]Newest Wrestler

Crush of the Week:
I read a cool article in Sports Illustrated on the return of Ken Griffey, Jr. to Seattle. A quick recap of the article:
1- Seattle is as infatuated now with Griffey as they were when he was a rookie in 1989.
2- The Mariners are winning, just like the early 90s before A-Rod, Griff and Randy Johnson jumped ship.
3- His swing is still so, so natural and sweet and his smile is still infectious.
4- Griffey is referred to by one beat writer as, in hindsight, the greatest player of the last 20 years.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and so many others have had rumors , accusations and scandals follow them. Not Griffey. He did what players are supposed to do when they get older: be leaders, raise a family, get slower and get injured. It's common knowledge in cycling and body building that athletes dope to recover from fatigue and injury faster. Griffey's numbers are not as staggering because he spent so much time injured. Some of it was bad luck, some was him getting older.

I don't follow baseball as closely as I used to. But I will still pull for the Dodgers (10-0 at home so far) and, at least for this year, I'll root for the Seattle Mariners in the American League.