Monday, December 28, 2015

Sunday 7s: Dec 27

1) Last Sevens of the year. New year starts on Friday. I'm not much of  a New Year's guy. This year, we leave early on Friday morning for a tournament in Charlotte, so New Year's will be low key-- much like it is every year for me.

2) Christmas was grande around here. It involved some driving, but saw lots of the family and especially excited to see the kiddos.

  • Weird weather: I've been wearing shorts the last few days. And just a tee shirt. Highs in the 70s the last few days.
  • We've also had lots of rain. Got a break today and yesterday, but last week was basically a lot of rain.
  • Brother, Ang, made it in from Oregon on a last minute decision. We weren't expecting to have him around, so it was good for him to be able to make it home for us. I know he was happy to be around the family also.
  • We rocked Scrabble and laughs late into the night. It was fun. I lost because I had nothing but vowels. 
3) I ran in the 2nd Reindeer Run, hosted by North alum Ryan Jones to benefit the Jones Family Scholarship. Last year, it rained. This year, it rained. But it was a good time. I ran 26:28. I had three wrestlers also run, but they all beat me. Great turnout by North Henderson faculty and alumni.



4) I still have yet to figure out what exactly Boxing Day is. Happy Kwanza and Festivus to everyone else though.

5) We got a group ride in on Tuesday. Thought we were going to get rained out, but the rain held off long enough for nine of us to hit the trails. The route we rode was Spencer Gap, Fletcher Creek, back to Spencer Branch and the bottom of Fletcher Creek again. Brian fell, being his first ride clipless, and dislocated his shoulder. He had to walk out. Shawn dressed up as Santa. That's no lie; photos below to prove it.

6) I miss being around my wrestling team. I am thankful for a time of mental rest and recovery. We are back at it on Tuesday. Congratulations to Brandon Johnson for being the WNCAC Defensive Player of the Year and, announced this week: Times News Defensive Player of the Year and Citizen Times All WNC Team. Jacob Garrett made the Times News team and was honorable mention for All WNC.

7) NFL is close to ending it's regular season. 
  • Dolphins will once again be home for the playoffs and played inspired today.
  • Why would you not give the ball to Tom Brady in OT, Bill?
  • Panthers lost, which I argue is good. Too much pressure being undefeated and they are still in control of their destiny for homefield advantage.
  • I think Arizona is really, really dangerous. Don't overlook them.
  • I hope the story on Manning and PEDs is not true.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday 7s: Dec 20

1) Got sick yesterday and went to bed early. Stomach bug. So I didn't blog. This week's Sunday 7s is posted on Monday.

2) I subscribe to both Time and Sports Illustrated. I enjoy the Person of the Year and Sportsman of the Year Issues. History was made last week when, on the cover of both magazines, was a woman. Angela Merkel and Serena Williams made it a sweep for the ladies. Merkel is only 4th woman to be named Person of the Year by Time and the first woman in 29 years.

3) I love David Wilcox. It appears there is a documentary based on his music coming out. Appropriately, it's titled Eye of the Hurricane, after one of his trademark songs. Here's more information: https://goodlookingfilms.com/eye-of-the-hurricane/

4) I was never going to vote for him, but I'm a bit saddened by Lindsay Graham's departure from the presidential race. Graham is out and Rick Santorum is still in? Amazing.

5) There was a GOP debate and a Democratic debate this past week. I watched neither. I had a match on Tuesday and I was just too tired on Saturday. I'll be more interested in the debates after the primaries are over.

6) 5 days until Christmas. Everything is here, just needs to be wrapped. I am really thankful for Amazon Prime. Looking forward to seeing the family. Thankful for a break. I am pretty tired and could use some mental rest.

7) Good week for Knights Wrestling. We went 6-1 this past week and our record is now 16-4 and 2-0 in the conference. Highlights:

  • Tuesday we went to Boiling Springs. We were missing some starters due to sickness and a band and chorus concert. A little undermanned, we still beat Dutch Fork and Clover and fell to Boiling Springs. The Boilings Springs match would have been interesting if we had everyone. There was also a punch thrown, but not by my wrestler. Pretty intense.
  • Wednesday we hosted Brevard, Hendersonville and Franklin and won all three pretty easily. Brevard and Franklin were conference matches. We're in a good spot right now, being 2-0 in the conference. Our next match is a big one: Pisgah!
  • Today (Monday) we hosted my good friend Todd Odom and his Robbinsville Black Knights. We were able to take that match 48-23 behind some strong efforts by my core. It was a good win for us, I have so much respect for what they do over there in Graham county.
  • Practice tomorrow morning and then we are off until next Tuesday. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday 7s: Dec 13

1) "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation" - Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I must have not been paying good attention in high school when we read Walden. I assigned an excerpt for my American History students and got to re-read some of it. Awesome. Unbelievable that it was written in 1815. Change a few words and it could be relevant today. Technology and conveniences have not necessarily made our lives easier or better. We become trapped by them. Thoreau escaped to Walden pond. I escaped to the Great Divide. Need a break from the distractions, but it's the things that are supposed to make us better that are the distractions.

2) Our local sports writer, Dean Hensley, writes an interesting op-ed on High School sports:
http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20151212/PREPS/151219941/1151?Title=For-everyone-s-sake-changes-need-to-be-made

I was talking with one of our basketball coaches this week. We had a quad match that didn't get done until after 10:00. It was a late night for us, but not normal. A typical basketball game always gets done that late. 2 JV games and then 2 varsity games makes for a late night for the athletes and the coaches. All our coaches are teachers too, so sometimes their students suffer from a tired, overworked, underslept teacher.

Dean's proposal to play JV games in aux gyms might help in many places, but not North Henderson. The geniuses that designed our school made a second gym with no bleachers and little extra room. Playing a game with fans lining the wall would not be safe or enjoyable.

But I totally agree, basketball takes too long. We've gone an hour away, wrestled and been back before the end of boys games before. I feel for the coaches and the student-athletes.

3) Car update: new starter installed. $153 for the part. Thanks to Danny Williams for helping and to John Williams (no relation) for letting me use his truck for two weeks.

4) The US Forest Service is inventorying land in Western North Carolina for redesignation. It can range from become National Recreation Areas to Wilderness Areas. There's a lot to sort out because it is a government agency, but lots of outdoor, conservation and various interest groups are lobbying and commenting. Those groups range from conservation groups to organizations like the Sierra Club, Backcountry Horsemen of WNC and International Mountain Biking Association.

The thing that concerns some in the biking community is the potential to expand Wilderness Areas. Wilderness Areas like Shining Rock are closed to mountain bikes and are maintained differently from other areas of National Forests. The problem is that some of the best areas for riding are in the inventory, including North Mills River (Spencer Branch, Fletcher Creek, Middle Prong Trails), South Mills River, which has several great biking and camping areas (campfires prohibited in Wilderness Areas also), Laurel Mountain and Daniel Ridge. That's basically over 60% of the potential biking trails in Pisgah.

The latest proposals seem to have left the Wilderness designation off all of the above. Let's see how this all plays out. Here are some links:
Citizen-Times article
Singletracks blog
US Forest Service

5) Speaking of rides, took advantage of highs in the 60s to get out and enjoy Pisgah. Did the Cove Creek loop and added part of Daniel Ridge. Great ride, great weather and great friends. Brian Land got to ride with us. Noah took his new bike out on it's first ride. Shawn, Mr Reliable, was a part of the crew. It was a good time: 13 miles, 1,600 feet of elevation gained. Oskar Blues post-ride for Old Chub and Chub Burger.

6) Wrestling team had a full week of competition this week. Our issue is that sickness has been hitting us hard. We had a few kids out on Tuesday and then a few more out yesterday. One actually left during the tournament, he felt so bad. But here's what we did:
  • Tuesday, we went 2-1. We beat Mitchell and Erwin and lost to Eastside 33-31. Tough loss to a very good team. It was brutally close match that went back and forth. Erwin, we were actually down 28-6 before getting 6 pins in a row. Final score, 42-31.
  • Yesterday was a good day that started rough. We drew Jefferson City, GA and they have won 15 state titles in a row. They beat us pretty good: 59-16. We only won 3 matches. But the group rallied and won the next four matches to take third. I was really proud of the way they overcame adversity
  • Team is 10-3 for the season, with two losses by a combined 6 points and another to a juggernaut team. This week we have a quad a Boiling Springs on Tuesday and then  host Franklin, Brevard and Hendersonville on Wednesday.



7) I'm going to have to find new topics for number 7 since college football is wrapping up. Army-Navy was the closest game in years, but the Midshipmen still have the advantage over the cadets from West Point. Congratulations to Derek Henry on winning the Heisman, though I think the Heisman is the most overrated award in athletics. And it doesn't go to the best player in the country, it goes to the best player on one of the best teams in the country. Based on what I know, I like McCaffrey. Keenan Reynolds and Trevone Boykins would have been my picks, but Reynolds plays for a service academy and TCU lost down the stretch so they would never win.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sunday 7s: 6 Dec

1) Tom Apodaca, our representative in the NC Senate, will not run for office next year. He's a powerful politician with a lot of clout, but I put many of the issues that NC has in education on him. Instead of using his position to help teachers and students, he's been part of a systematic dismantling of education in NC. I won't miss him in office. I hope we get a strong leader who cares for all people and wants to make NC better not just today but for many years to come.

2) San Bernardino. Tragic. By now we know that the suspects were Muslim. Muslim, Jewish, Christian--- it doesn't make the incident better or worse. I fear that this may become more and more common. Not Muslims shooting up places in America necessarily, but just an uptick in killing sprees. The reason is not too many guns (though I do believe that our gun laws are absolutely too lax), I believe that thanks to the internet and social media, fear and hatred are easily bred. And then people act on those festering fears and the hatred they harbor. That was true for San Bernardino and that was true for Colorado Springs.

I unfriended someone on Facebook a few days ago. His post consisted of several slurs and insults towards Muslims and the post was also vaguely threatening. The disturbing part were the people who commented in agreement or liked the post. It's this sort of attitude, this hatred, that will cause more violence in our society. It can be directed at Muslims, Planned Parenthood, various ethnic groups, different religious or political ideologies. I was dismayed at how many people supported the attacker in Colorado Springs and blamed the people working there. Our enemy is not Islam, Republicans, Democrats or the 1 percent. Our enemy is hate. And fear. And no one side is immune from hatred and fear. Each side has their extremists and their fear mongers and those guys make the most noise. Don't let the win.

3) Zack Grienke a Diamondback. I'll miss the 1-2 punch of Grienke and Kershaw.

4) Car update: Still not running. I am borrowing a truck from a friend for a few days. We pushed started it today and I drove it to the school. It would not start after I turned it off. I think it's the starter. My friend, Danny, our auto teacher, is going to take a look at it.

5) Got a ride today! Beautiful December day. We rode Maxwell Cove, Middle and Lower Black and Sycamore. I love Sycamore Cove and all it's roots and fun twists. I felt really strong and fresh, surprising since I didn't eat before. Just glad to be able to get out into the woods after a long week. 12 miles, 2,000 feet of climbing. Not bad.

6) Big week for Knights wrestling. Mark Harris, coach at Enka, calls this his favorite week of the regular season. There is our annual scheduled tri between Enka, West Lincoln and North Henderson and then the two day Falcon Frenzy tournament at West Henderson.

  • West Lincoln is the defending 2A State Dual Team champions. We wrestled them first. We beat them 44-25 and looked strong in the match. It was a great team effort. Butch Ross, the head coach at West Lincoln, is still one of my favorite people on the planet.
  • We lost to Enka 31-27. A very close and competitive match. They won 7 weights, we won 7. It was worth the price of admission. Enka is considered a contender for the state title, so we're glad to be able to compete with them. 
  • We placed 4th out of 28 teams at the Falcon Frenzy. We had four finalists and three champions. Josh Blatt beat a pretty good Charlotte Latin kid at 106. Morgan King beat a TN State Runner up at 113 in a very well wrestled match. Paul Searcy beat a kid from Pigeon Forge, TN that was 3rd in the state. The other guys wrestled really well to pick up team points. We're competing at a high level and that's exciting. 


7) College football playoffs are set. When all the games were played, seems like the best teams got in. Stanford might have an argument, but they should not have lost to Northwestern. Clemson was a no brainer. Alabama was an easy pick. Surprised that Michigan St jumped Oklahoma. I think most Spartans would rather play Clemson than Alabama. That said, here are my top 7:
1) Clemson 2) Alabama 3) Oklahoma 4) Michigan St 5) Iowa 6) Stanford 7) Notre Dame

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday 7s: Nov 29

1) North Knight Invitational in the Books! For the first time since 2000, we won our own tournament. I'm really proud of the effort of our kids. Of course, we made plenty of mistakes and can do a lot of things better, but overall it was a strong effort for the Knights. We had lots of upset wins, our young kids looked strong and we toughed through some difficult matches.

  • We had 5 champions and 1 runner up. Pretty good for a fairly young squad.
  • We had the two MOWs of the tournament: Blatt for the lower weights and Searcy for the upper weights.
  • Our JV kids had eight pool winners.
  • The volunteers were amazing. We cannot do the tournament without lots of help and the parents manned tables, sold concessions and ran a great hospitality room. Thanks to all the people involved.
  • Dan Jystad and Kristy Edwards make an awesome team running the tournament and keeping things moving. No one can peek into Jyro's brain. It's too confusing. He's a mad scientist and I love it.

2) I have been riding my motorcycle the past few days. I went to leave for practice on Friday and my car wouldn't start. I think it's the starter. But I didn't have time to mess with it. So I just got on the Ducati and rode to practice. Fortunately, it hasn't been too cold, though riding at night and to the tournament yesterday at 5:30 wasn't the most comfortable. I guess it could have been worse. The weather is supposed to be wet the next few days. My car still isn't fixed. I may have to bum rides. Too bad this happened during wrestling season and not in the fall when I have so much extra time.

On the bright side, I was in Pisgah, way up Yellow Gap Road on Friday to ride Laurel Mountain Trail. My car started up and brought me home. 40 mins later, it wouldn't start to go to practice. I'm so fortunate I was not stranded in the middle of nowhere. I would have been late for practice and that would have been disastrous. 

3) Thanksgiving was simple and pleasant. No Tangs because Suelee had her baby. We had some sick kiddos that didn't make it. So it was smaller than our gatherings usually are. But it was still a brilliant day. Glad to spend time with my Spartanburg family, the kids are growing up so fast. I'm thankful for the great family that I have and the things we do for each other. 

4) I still don't know why we worry about Syrian refugees when we have things in our country that are more deadly and threatening. The shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood should be labeled as a domestic act of terror. That's the second major tragic shooting in the Springs in the last month. The sad part of the story were the people on social media that cheered this person for his actions. 

5) It's a long read, but I really liked this story on the aftermath of the Charleston shooting in TIME magazine. How do you forgive a murderer? It's a tough question. But the article allowed us a glimpse into the lives of the people who are relatives of the victims. And instead of focusing on the shooter, it allowed us to understand the people who have to deal with the aftermath of the incident. It honors the history of Mother Emmanuel AME church and the victims. And it begins a dialogue on who and how we forgive. 

6) I like to blog about the rides I do and I did get two great ones in this past week. But I want to talk about some friends. Derek Stipe and Travis Johnson rode from Pisgah Forest, NC to the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Pisgah Inn. And back. That's over 34 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing. They were celebrating Travis being cancer free. I wish I could have joined them, but we had the North Knight yesterday. Travis is a great dude-- he's a doctor in town and former missionary to Uganda. He's been battling cancer for a few years now and has made it longer than he supposed to. We're thankful for his service and friendship. Hope I get to do that ride or another one with him soon. Also, Derek is a good dude too. He's just racist. (hehe... inside joke)

7) College Football playoff picture becoming more and more clear. Some thoughts:
  • Glad this miserable season of football is over for Georgia Tech.
  • Richt gone from Georgia? Wow.
  • I'm pulling for Alabama because if they lose this week, Ohio State gets back in and I'm done with that team.
  • Notre Dame is out. Two losses by a combined 4 pts. Gotta win the big games.
  • Anyone playing better than Oklahoma? Maybe Iowa.
  • Top Seven: 1) Clemson 2) Alabama 3) Oklahoma 4) Michigan St 5) Iowa 6) Stanford 7) Notre Dame


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday 7s: Nov 22

1) The big topic of the week is that in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Americans have entered a debate on whether to continue to allow Syrian refugees into the country. I support allowing refugees into the country and here's why:
  • My family and I came to this country as refugees. Mercy loosely translated means pity. We deserved nothing and could offer nothing. But we were still given an opportunity because we were desperate people from a broken land and someone had mercy on us.
  • There's this image. Leaving your country is a last resort. It's not like packing your kids up and going to Disney. The risks are great. But staying behind has greater risks. I'm not a parent but I don't imagine that I would take my children on such a dangerous endeavor unless I had no other options. The family of this boy lost everything when he died. At home, they risked losing even more.
  • The security fears are overstated. Refugees will be better vetted than someone entering the country on a tourism visa. It's a two year process and not everyone who applies for refugee status gets accepted. Plus, you do not necessarily get to choose your country as a refugee. The country selects you. The fact is that in the United States you are more likely to be the victim of a terrorist attack by someone visiting on a tourist visa or homegrown terrorist than by refugees. You're also more likely to be the victim of a domestic attacker in a mass shooting than a terrorist attack committed by foreign radicals. 
  • None of this is to say that we should not be concerned about terrorism. It just seems that refugees are one of our least likely sources of attacks. Despite earlier fears, it seems that all the attackers in the Paris attack were residents of the European Union and not migrants or refugees. I would be more worried about someone on a temporary or tourist visa or an American extremist/nutjob than a refugee.
  • I do understand the fear, though I believe that a lot of the fear is irrational and a lot more fear is rooted in xenophobia and hatred. As a friend wrote on my Facebook wall, he just wants to protect his family, which I respect. But we fear the potential. What we fear might happen is exactly what the people who are leaving are fleeing. Except it is happening. Daily, on a scale we probably cannot imagine. We want to protect ourselves and our love ones from a perceived threat, but if you were in their shoes and the treat was imminent and constant, would you do anything differently than them?
  • My faith tells me we should let in refugees. There are two metaphors that are often used in the church that have long resonated with me. One is that Christ is the bridegroom and the church is his bride. Our faith is like a marriage. The other is that of an orphan. Ephesians 1:5 says that we were "predestined for adoption". Several passages refer to us a children of God-- we have an inheritance. He adopted because we were lost, powerless and pitiful. And he takes us in, clothes us and offers us the keys to his kingdom (Matthew 16:19). I believe that God rescued me as a sinner, let lifted out of the miry pit. He did not put conditions on my salvation. He didn't wait for me to change or get better. Had he, then I'd still be left behind because I could never meet the perfection that he demands. That's Grace-- getting what I don't deserve. Grace is what the refugees deserve.
  • There's an illustration that several people have used about M&M's or peanuts that I don't like. Basically, it goes that if someone gives me 20 M&M's and I knew 2 were poisoned, would I still take them? You know what I would do? Throw them away. Because they're M&M's. You know what I don't throw away? People. Basically, I interpret that illustration to say that it is okay for many people to die because 1 or 2 are bad. If 5 in 10,000 fetuses were to grow up and kill someone or become a drug addict there is no way you would abort all of them because there is potential for some to be bad.
  • Many people have argued that we need to take care of our own poor, homeless and wretched before we take care of others. I love it. I believe we should. I just want to know where all these people have been for years? For a long time all I've heard are that the poor are victims of entitlement and the homeless are lazy bums. We had a chance to expand Medicaid in NC and chose not to and now we all of a sudden care about the poor. Efforts to help the poor and homeless are sometimes decried as socialist. Schools and education are a means to fight poverty but just do an internet search on what NC and many states have done to education funding. I think we should and can help both the needy in our country and those needing refuge from abroad.
  • The Future. Blocking refugees today might make us feel safe, though as stated above, the threats are likely from other places. But those refugees without homes and hope can become future radicals. ISIS wants us to deny refugees because that helps their recruitment. The children who grow up in fear and lost may be tomorrow's extremists. Or they could come here, be educated, assimilate into our society and become tomorrow's doctors, teachers, diplomats, engineers. 
  • The Future II: I fear that history will not judge us well. Will our treatment of migrants and refugees be akin to the 1920s of the Red Scare, Sacco and Vanzetti and the Emergency Quota Act. Perhaps we'll be compared to the America that interned thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II. I fear that in the near future, we'll look back at this moment and not see enough moments of courage and clarity but a society that was overcome by and acted on its fears.
2) Many people have stated that they wanted us to help homeless vets before we help foreign refugees. Asheville is criticized by many (and adored by many more) as being a bastion of liberalism (though surrounding areas are pretty conservative). I love the diversity and culture of Asheville. And the beer. And then I ran across this article in the Citizen-Times and made me love Asheville even more. It's not perfect, but people are working in the right direction. Our veterans deserve it. 
And if you want to help the people who are helping our homeless veterans, then here is the link to the ABCCM.

3) Paris was home of Victor Hugo. I love the story of Les Miserables, There are so many themes and lessons from the story. Admittedly, I've never read the book. But I've seen the musical several times and I'll show the 1998 version of the movie in class sometimes. This is my favorite scene in the movie, maybe in any movie. It's grace, forgiveness, mercy and hope all rolled into one. Hopeless, Valjean continues lost and desperate. Given a chance, he is a redeemed man.

4) The world lost a bright soul last week. I found out that one of my former students, Brittany Ramsey died. This is the third former student of mine in the past 6 months. Brittany was one who always made you smile. She truly cared for others-- I would see her befriend and say hi to the students that most people walked by. I was helping a little with golf at the time and always had a blast at practice or driving them to a golf match. In all the mess that we create in the world, people need to know that there are others that care for them and have their backs. Thanks for making us laugh and smile, Brittany. Love and peace.

5) The world also gained a new star. My great-niece was born last week. Welcome to the world Eva Waller. You're loved immensely and you always will be.

6) Wrestling opened up on Wednesday with two matches. We beat Mt Heritage and AC Reynolds fairly easily. Good start for my team, we got some good experience for our young guys.

7) Ohio State has fallen both on the scoreboard and as a team. Comments by their stars seemingly show cracks in their unity. I try to teach my wrestlers that how you handle greatness is not as important as how you handle adversity.

Top Seven: 1) Clemson 2) Iowa 3) Alabama 4) Michigan State 5) Oklahoma 6) Notre Dame 7) Baylor


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday 7s: Nov 15

1) Paris. The City of Lights. The city of Voltaire, Rousseau and Hugo. A city I have never been to. I tried to go to France when I was living in London, but the line at the French Embassy for a visa was longer than I wanted to wait. Which is real unfortunate, because I love French culture and food and I did take two years of French with Madame Klein way back in high school.

What happened this weekend of course is unspeakable. I don't know the answers. I hurt because of the human tragedy and because that could have been any of us going out to eat, attending a concert or cheering at a sporting event. Here's what I do know:

  • The threat from radical Islam is real. These people are serious.
  • If we live in and by fear, the terrorists win.
  • I feel bad for my Muslim friends, some of which are truly among the best people I've met.. In many ways, they have it difficult already in this nation and other western countries. This doesn't make it easier. 
  • We need to answer what draws people to radical Islam. It's not just ideology. There is an entire group of people who feel alienated for one reason or another and seems to have found refuge in religion.
  • As I type, France has begun airstrikes on ISIS targets. I wish them the best. I want to take down the bad guys. I worry about collateral damage. Do we perpetuate and raise more terrorism by simply raining bombs on helpless people? Today's children are tomorrow's ______________ [fill in the blank].
  • I think we help determine what goes in that blank.
  • Call me naive or dumb, but I do not believe ISIS can sustain itself. It's message and branding I believe will get tiresome to the masses. I just believe good will overcome. Humanity will win out. There will be a backlash and it will come internally. I just hope it comes sooner than later.
  • I will go to Paris. Soon, I hope. I need to eat outside in a cafe, walk along the Seine, be humbled at Notre Dame, soak in the view from the Eiffel Tower and be introspective at the Louvre. Then there is Normandy, the Riviera, Corsica, and the Alps. And, I still need to see the Tour de France live. Yes, France, I'm coming for you.
2) I did not forget Beirut and Kenya. My heart hurts there too. I don't think there's a media conspiracy to ignore it as some people have alluded. I believe, as one of my friends shared, that we can relate with Paris. There's empathy there. We know Les Miserables, the French Revolution and Dijon Mustard. There's less of a connection with the Lebanon (though it is part of the biblical land of Canaan). Most Americans couldn't tell you Nairobi is a city in, much less the capital, of Kenya. Many more could tell you Paris is in France. For the great majority of Americans, Paris hurts because it feels like a small part of us hurts. The human tragedy of Lebanon and Kenya hurt us, but there's less of an emotional connection.

3) I spent the weekend at Pioneer Plunge on the Grace Watershed High School Man's Retreat. It's a weekend of bonding and spending time connecting with and depending on each other. There's no running water, electricity or heat. We slept in uninsulated cabins. I slept in a hammock. Temperatures got into the 20s. 
  • Pioneer Plunge is on the property of Windy Gap, a ministry of Young Life. All the land was sold years ago to Young Life for $1 to use as a ministry to high school and college youth.
  • The main cabin at Plunge burned down last year. Groups like ours are helping rebuild it. We learned to lay block, filled a retaining wall, hewed logs and chopped wood. It was great stuff.
  • The theme was Brotherhood. What does a Christian brotherhood look like? We used the story of the friendship of David and Jonathan as an example. 
  • I'm really thankful for the adult leaders that came and poured their hearts, talents and love into these young men. They set great examples for the boys and inspire me.
  • Since we had no cellular service, I did not get any updates on the tragedies. What a shock to turn on my phone and try to decipher all the information.




 
 
 
 
 

4) I did get a ride in. Buck Tanner asked me today if I wanted to ride up Thrift Cove and down Black Mountain with him and his son. Tired from the retreat, I went to get away from the news. I love this route. Thrift was a long climb, but easy since we got to go at Rowan's pace. Black was dry for once and fun to hop down. They called it a day and I went on and finished with Sycamore Cove, a rooty and fun trail that has several small creek crossings towards the end. I'm glad I got a ride in. I needed it.

5) How cool is this: a wrestling match in a football stadium. Over 42,000 people in attendance.

6) Speaking of wrestling, Knights Wrestling had two big events last week:
  • Wednesday was our Boot Camp. We took the kids out to John Rock in Pisgah and ran them up to the top, did some team building and drills and came down for lunch. Good time was had by all and no one fell. Some of my students have never been to Pisgah, so it was great to get to share that with them.
  • Thursday was our intersquad scrimmage. Our Purple-Gold Scrimmage has become a fun tradition. I divide them into teams and they compete in a regular dual. It's the first real experience for some of our kids. We had a close, hard fought scrimmage. Purple won 31-21.



7) I watched zero football yesterday since I was at Pioneer Plunge. Based on that:
  • Georgia Tech's 18 year Bowl Streak (3rd longest in the nation), will come to an end. So many mistakes on Thursday night.
  • Top 7: 1) Clemson 2) Alabama 3) Oklahoma St 4) Ohio St 5) Notre Dame 6) Oklahoma 7) Iowa




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday 7s: Nov 8

1) One week into wrestling season. We have a great core of kids who really want to be out there and work hard. Practice is fun. These kids work hard. They know what's expected. They care for one another. We're still waiting on our football players, but I expect lots of great things from this squad.

2) More North athletic news: Football team secured their first winning season in 15 years. They are 7-5 with a playoff match at King's Mountain on Friday. That's pretty awesome.

Soccer finished their season with a first round playoff loss at Asheville. A few wrestlers and I made the trip up there to cheer on the squad. Asheville had lots more opportunities to score and seemed to control the ball more than we did. But we played valiant and I'm proud of Wayne Nock and his boys (many of which wrestle).

3) I got to do the talk on the High School side at Grace this morning. I John 5:1-5. It's good stuff. We are born of God. Obedience does not mean love, but our love drives us to obedience. When we are obedient in love, the our burdens of righteousness are removed. God's love overcomes the world.

4) I really like this article by Kareem Abdul Jabbar. It's called Ignorance over Reason and talks about the attacks on education and reason in the contemporary world. We'd rather be wrong than possibly seek truth that contradicts our beliefs. We don't push, nor allow, our kids to reason and come to their own conclusion on important matters. Problem solving is a lost art. A few years ago, I remember reading a story about how researchers found that people don't use the internet to find out truth and answers, especially among political matters. People use the web to find things that affirm what they already believe. It's frustrating and maddening as a teacher to ask why a student believes something and they cannot tell you. Or they tell you false statements. I assign projects where students can choose a world religion and create a presentation. It is shocking how often students who would proclaim to be Christians create projects about Christianity that have historical and other factual errors.

5) Speaking of factual errors, does Ben Carson really believe that the pyramids were Joseph's storehouses? That's crazy. He may be a great neurosurgeon, but he's a terrible student of history. And science for that matter, since archaeology clearly tells us they were tombs.

I do think Politico exaggerated their claims that Carson lied about his West Point offer.

6) Ride Report: Now that it is dark at 5:30 and I'm in season, my rides will be mostly relegated to the trainer. The weather has been non-cooperative all week with lots of rain. Dan, Derek and I did get out to Dupont today. It was a lot wetter than I was anticipating. But we had a blast. We rode Burnt Mountain backwards. That trail is great both ways and it was nice to get to appreciate the steps from the other angle. Climbed Cedar Rock from the powerlines and had a great descent down Big Rock. Invited some out of towners to ride Micajah and Wilkie with use. It was cool and wet, but we had a blast all day. I was just glad to get out.

7) Slowly the college football field is getting more clear. Don't worry if you're Michigan State, you can still play your way into the playoff if you win out (and some teams lose). TCU may be done, We'll see. I've been picking Clemson #1 for a few weeks now and this week the AP voters agree with me. Here's my 7: 1- Clemson 2- Alabama 3- Oklahoma St 4- Ohio State 5- Notre Dame 6- Baylor 7- Stanford

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday 7s: Nov 1

1) I hate the move to standard time. In 2015, we'd be better off just not switching clocks twice a year. Either leave it year round standard or year round daylight savings. Of course, I prefer daylight savings because I like to do things outside in the afternoon.

2) Knights Wrestling starts tomorrow. We graduated probably the best wrestler in school history in Mitchel Langford. I think we could be a better team though. Lots of talented young kids. Good depth. John Williams is starting to send us some tough kids from the Middle School. There are high expectations for this year's squad.

3)  Yesterday, Shawn Evans and I took advantage of a perfect fall day to hits some great trails in Pisgah. I may be scarce on the bike, so I wanted to make a huge day of it. In all, it was about 30 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing. Some highlights:

  • Spencer Gap: They fixed one part that only a few people could clean on the climb. Now the entire trail is ride able for me. Still one of my favorite climbs.
  • Spencer Branch: The old trail  is closed. The new trail leaves some to be desired. It has some nice rock armor, but I miss the Pisgah roots--- too smooth. The bottom is too tight, can't really get a rhythm. Maybe it will grow on me. 
  • Fletcher Creek is always great. Fast and fun and cold when you cross the creeks.
  • Shawn took me up Yellow Gap Trail, new to me. A few wet crossings and a steep push and then a nice, serene climb on singletrack to the intersection of double track. Then fast downhill. Nice to find that trail. 
  • Climbed Yellow Gap Rd to intersection of Laurel Mt.
  • I love Laurel Mt Trail. It's long and challenging without being too hard. There are some parts where you have to dismount. But most of it is rideable. And the woods were so gorgeous, peaceful and alive. It gave me energy. Pisgah is such a special place. 
  • We did not make it to the intersection with Pilot. It started getting cloudy and dark and the temps dropped. I didn't want to get rained on, so I proposed we turn around and ride down Laurel to save some time and to not get wet. Laurel was pretty fun to come down. The leaves made some parts tricky and still had to dismount for some sections, but it was a blast. 
  • Hopefully, I'll get some winter rides in. I love wrestling, but I miss my time on the bike and in the woods.
4) Did not watch the Republican debate last week, so I can't really comment much on moderators or candidates. Might we see a Rubio or Cruz surge? I still think Kasich makes the most sense of the Republican nominees. I feel bad for Bush, he's the kid that no one wants to play with with and pick on their team.

5) Take some time and be mesmerized.

6) Good eats: Local Joint, Fairview. Met Dot Case and Bill Rice there before our playoff volleyball match with AC Reynolds (which unfortunately, we lost). I first stopped here on the way to bike up to Mt Mitchell. The breakfast is excellent; if it were closer, I'd eat there all the time for breakfast. Dinner was great too. The corn chowder Ms Case described as the best she ever had. I had Taco Tuesday and that was excellent. Go eat here.

7) College Football: I can't tell which is worse--- being a Georgia Tech, Georgia or Virginia Tech fan? Lots of mediocrity to be found. The two Techs run the risk of losing two of the longest bowl streaks in the nation. Georgia thought they'd be National Champion contenders. 
  • Like him or love him, Frank Beamer is a legend and he made Virginia Tech relevant. 
  • That's another good opening along with USC, the other USC, Miami.
  • Heang's Top 7: 1- Clemson 2- Ohio State 3- TCU 4- Baylor 5- LSU 6- Michigan St 7- Notre Dame

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday 7s: Oct 25

1) One nine weeks down. Proud of a lot of things that are happening. Need to do some things better. Teach smarter, not harder. Blessed to be part of a great school. Here's our social studies department showing our support for cancer awareness. Haake didn't get the memo :)


2) I wonder if in a decade whether we'll look at the Bengazi hearings the way we view the McCarthy hearings of the 1941? Will Trey Gowdy be the modern McCarthy? If the goal is find Hillary of criminal charges, it seems that they are far from it. If their goal is to hurt her presidential campaign and smear her, they've seemingly failed there too.

3) World Series Prediction- Royals in 6. I've been way off on all my baseball stuff, so don't quote me on that.

4) a) Congratulations to my friends Emily and Aaron of Alaska and the birth of their new baby boy.

    b) Godspeed to my brother who left on Tuesday for a six month deployment to the Middle East.

5) Friday was a teacher workday for us. I went in at 5:30 and worked so I could leave early and take advantage of a beautiful fall afternoon and hit some trails before wrestling started. Hit some great Pisgah singletrack: Cove Creek, Daniel Ridge, Butter Gap. They had done some work at the top of Cove Creek and it's a great little change. Now you can ride a lot of it instead of dismounting for the creek crossings. Butter was so fun and we had a blast on Cat Gap trail. But my favorite part was stopping for a break and watching the leaves fall around us. It was tranquil and magical. Pisgah is a special place.

6) I've long said that Georgia Tech-Clemson in 2004 was the most improbable win I've ever witnessed live. Teams scored 5 touchdowns in the last 8 minutes. GT had 3 in the last four and half minutes. But all Clemson had to do, up by 3 points, was get a punt off with 23 seconds left and Tech having no time outs. But they didn't and the legend of Calvin Johnson was born:

   

Saturday was one of the most surreal sports moments of my fandom and may have topped 2004. Georgia Tech beat FSU on a miracle play. This GT team has gotten no breaks or balls bounce their way this season. But it finally happened last night. The place went crazy. When FSU lined up to kick, I figured we would lose then or lose in overtime. But crazy things happen in sports and this was one of the best. They're calling it the "Miracle on Techwood Drive":



It reminded me of the last time Georgia Tech hosted Florida State in 2008, a game I was also at. Down by 3, the Noles had the ball on the Tech 3 and looked sure to score. But Cooper Taylor was having none of it, stuck a helmet on the ball and caused a fumble. I remember screaming at the defense to fall on the ball because it looked like they were trying to pick it up. Thus the "Miracle on North Ave" was born:


And just because it's Florida State week and it's a great play from one of my all time favorite players, here's Josh Nesbitt fumbling the ball and stealing it back from the defense.

And since yesterday was a top 10 team coming to the Flats and a night game, it was a fantastic day of tailgating, including some friendly FSU fans joining us. I even got a nap in.






7) Apparently, there were other games played yesterday besides the GT one:
  • Polls are starting to shape out better now that we've seen a body of work from teams, so I won't post an under rated or overrated opinion this week. I will say I feel vindicated. I've long said FSU is not a top ten team. Even if they won yesterday, I would have stood by that statement. 
  • Top Seven: 1) Clemson 2) Ohio State 3) Baylor 4) TCU 5) LSU 6) Michigan State 7) Notre Dame




Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday 7s: Oct 18

1) Just left a congregational meeting at the church. Our pastor is resigning. Everyone is heartbroken. Some are angry. Dave Desforge has taught me so much about the Gospel. He's one of the reasons I love Grace and keep coming back. It will be strange not have him giving the sermon, but I am reminded that Jesus is bigger than one man. Or one church.

2) Jesus + nothing.

3) This experience has made me contemplative. I understand the inability to manage people and the constant risk of burnout. I wonder if or how long my heart can continue to pursue this passion (teaching) with the energy, commitment and love that I need to for my students and co-workers. It's tough to admit that you might be in over your head. I often feel that way.

4) Today's sermon was by my good friend Brian Land. He spoke on Hebrews 12:1-3, which is one of my favorite passages.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
  • Jesus runs with us. It's an endurance race and we're not alone.
  • I love that not only does he "author" our faith, he also is the "perfecter:
  • I made it into the sermon today. Me, Reese Witherspoon, Liam Neeson & Robert De Niro, King Leonidas and Neo (the Matrix) all make their way into the sermon. Obviously, I was the star...
  • Brian used my bike journeys to illustrate the endurance aspect of the race that must be endured. Also, he said that if he were to ride the Great Divide, he has a reference that he can trust-- a wealth of knowledge. Jesus provides that for all our races.
  • Talked to two friends who recently moved. They both commented on how much stuff they have and they are trying to lighten the load. Ironically, that's one of the messages in the sermon: we carry heavy burdens that make our race harder. Reese Witherspoon in "Wild" had too much stuff and she couldn't hike the Pacific Coast Trail. Robert De Niro's character in "The Mission"-- he literally carried his burdens and was trapped by them until they were cast into the river. Both my friends are at a point where they are realizing that the stuff the accumulate to make their lives more comfortable only burden them and weigh them down. But getting rid of stuff and lightening the load is difficult. In one friend's words, "It takes radical heart change."
5) Went to Columbia yesterday. We had a party for my older brother, Chhay, who is being deployed to the Middle East for 6 months with the Air National Guard. His brother in law, La, who is the only person I know with a hibachi grill on his porch, cooked up dinner. We played with the kids, ate and celebrated a great brother, dad and husband who will be missed while deployed. 



6) Rode Spencer Branch Trail today. It was the last run down Spencer as we know it. Tomorrow, they are closing it and the new re-route will be the only way down from Spencer Gap. The old trail was technical, with lots of roots, rocks and decent drops off water bars. I'm not a great technical rider, but I love to ride this trail and have no shame in walking when necessary. It will be greatly missed. I hope the new one is as fun and challenging.

7) Another crazy week in College Football. Michigan-Michigan St was nuts! Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech look bad. Ole Miss lost to Memphis. 
  • Overrated in this week's Poll: Florida St (9), Houston (21)-- I know they are undefeated, but I still haven't seen a Top 10 performance from the Noles. Houston is beneficiaries of a soft schedule (though they did beat Louisville).
  • Under rated: Oklahoma (17)-- they are better than Iowa and Florida in my opinion and that throttling of K-State was impressive. The Texas lost, while not pretty, might be an anomaly. North Carolina (NR)-- shows the lack of respect the ACC gets. And the ACC deserves no respect, even though Clemson is really good and UNC isn't bad.
  • Top 7: 1) Utah 2) Baylor 3) Ohio St 4) LSU 5) TCU 6) Clemson 7) Michigan St.




Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday 7s- Oct 11

1) "The ground of Liberty is to be gained by inches". Thomas Jefferson
Good reminder that change doesn't happen overnight. It's more trees growing than it is weeds sprouting.

2) Went and saw "I Once Was a Beehive". One of our former students, Kaley McCormack, has a role in it as one of the campers. It's a feel good story, with some intense parts and several messages of faith and family. Overall, it's just a cute picture. I was extra excited to see Kaley on the way out of the showing and get to give her a hug and congratulate her.

3) My brother came up this weekend. We got some good family time and I got to hang out with the niece and nephew. That's always worth it. They're pretty cute.

4) Stephen Willis came up this weekend also and brought some friends. We rode in Pisgah. Weather had been great all week until Saturday. All day rain. We rode anyway. About 21 total miles. Lots of fun and good people. Some trail notes:

  • Daniel Ridge is so fun. The hike a bike going clockwise is tedious at times, but I always forget how fun the downhill is: lots of twists and turns, nothing too technical, some creek crossings and then you finish at a cool waterfall.
  • Looked for Cove Creek Connector. Went up one trail and it was all wrong. Found it on the second attempt. I had heard of this trail but never seen it before.
  • Butter Gap was a river at the top. But that's such a great descent. You definitely appreciate full suspension. I was really surprised at how well the trails handled the rain. There's a terrific waterfall on Butter about 2/3 of the way down. 
  • Longside is a tough little trail climbing away from the intersection with Butter Gap. But we cleaned most of it. Rode down a forest road back to the main road. 
  • Davidson River Trail will always be one of my favorites. You can go fast, it doesn't have many obstacles and it's where I put in a lot of miles when I first learned to mountain bike. I also have a scar from a crash on that trail.
5) May not seem like a big deal, but North Henderson was one of 139 schools in North Carolina to go ejection free for the school year 2014-2015. 
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/sports/high-school/hshuddle/2015/10/09/wnc-schools-go-ejection-free/73655266/

6) Hero of the Week: Doug Draper. Draper is heading to Australia tomorrow to compete in the world Duathlon Championships. We wish him the best as he represents all of us. And Doug is a serviceman, friend, teacher, riding buddy. Great guy to have around.

7) Did anyone think that Florida would be undefeated, Michigan looking like the real deal, Auburn and Georgia unranked and Oregon with two losses at this point in the season?
  • Tennessee fans deserved and needed that win. Congrats.
  • Is there a more disappointing division than the ACC Coastal? No offense to Duke or UNC, but Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami all look miserable and that makes the division miserable.
  • Overrated this week: TCU (3). I have been on the Horned Frogs bandwagon all season, but their defense seems suspect and there have been too many close calls. They are top 7 for sure, but right now I'd have them out of the playoffs. 
  • Underrated: Temple (NR). I just like the Owls and their 5-0 record. 
  • Top 7: 1) Utah 2) Baylor 3) Ohio St 4) Clemson 5) TCU 6) Michigan St 7) LSU

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sunday 7s- Oct 4

1) Hurricane Joaquin did not make landfall but push a lot of rain into the Carolinas. Western North Caroling was spared the most devastating rain, but we still got enough to cause localized flooding. South Carolina, however, was not spared. The footage from Columbia, Charleston and other coastal communities are mind boggling. Streets and buildings underwater and roads, bridges and other buildings washed away. It's going to be a mess down there for a while.

2) Went to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech-North Carolina football game. I've experienced over 10 days of almost constant rain. Got one small dry window on Wednesday and I snuck a quick ride to Jump Off Rock. It was raining in the valley below when I got to the top. Hustled back to my house just in time to beat the rain.

Our grounds are pretty saturated. Rain put a damper in the plans of our golf weekend last week and, while it didn't pour on us in Atlanta, we did get constant rain during the tailgate and the game. And the Jackets laid an egg after getting ahead 21-0. But that was nothing compared to the rain that was happening during Clemson-Notre Dame in Death Valley. Ryan flew in from Colorado to cheer for the Tigers with his buddy Nick (a ND fan). They hung out with us in Duluth on Friday before heading to Clemson on Saturday. That game looked both miserable and fantastic-ly fun to be at. Brought back memories of the monsoon game that was Georgia Tech-Clemson in 2002. That might of been the wettest I've ever been.

3) North Henderson's home football game on Friday, September 25 was postponed because of the field conditions. It was played on Monday, Sept 28, unfortuately, in the rain (which we lost in a defensive struggle). Last week was our homecoming week. We postponed homecoming festivities for Friday's game until later in October, but the game against East Henderson that was scheduled to be played on Friday is being played tomorrow.

May seem like no big deal to reschedule but a lot of people do not realize that football pays the bills. I often have to correct my students who sometimes say that we should spend less money on athletics and more on arts or other programs. While I don't necessarily disagree, in Henderson County, athletics gets no money from the county outside of activity bus, some facilities maintenance and coaching supplements. Each high school supports it's athletic programs through gate revenues and fundraising. Basically, football and basketball keep many of the other programs afloat. Those reschedules will cut into the the gate and concession revenue that we would have made on a good Friday night.

So, that being said, you can help us by supporting our Drawdown. For $100 you get two steak dinners catered by Outback and a 1/300 chance to win $5000. Best of all, almost all the money goes back to our athletes. There's no middle man or anything like that such as when you sell other items. We also need donations for door prizes and auction items. If you can help or want a ticket, see me.

4) Another week, another mass shooting. Common routine in that we mourn the victims, we blame the shooter and the various sides present their beliefs and arguments on guns. Same thing happens every time.

  • I've refrained from commenting or liking pictures, links and memes that pertain to the shooting or the issues of guns on social media. I've also avoiding posting my any of my own. At this point, many people are entrenched in their beliefs and I'm probably not going to change their mind. In truth, I probably just need to take a social media fast from everything. I did enjoy being disconnected while I was one the Great Divide.
  • I don't have answers. I wish I did. Gun advocates make some valid points but where I get lost is the instant, knee jerk reaction that any effort to have a conversation about guns means an effort to take guns away. It kills dialogue, which is what we really need. 
  • Personal accountability is a part of the equation. I'm sure there are mental health issues (though when you say that you stigmatize all people who have mental health issues who might not be dangerous but are definitely hurting in ways we cannot understand or we don't care to empathize with). Poverty is an issue, as is bullying. Let's enforce gun laws and increase the penalties for using a gun in crimes. We can even bring up violence in video games and movies. I think we should talk about all those things. But to talk about any of these issues and totally ignore guns is putting our head in the sand.
  • I posted last week that I am not against guns, I'm against our obsession with guns. We glamorize them. We have more places to purchase firearms than we have public schools in America. Only 1/3 of Americans legally own guns, but that 1/3 owns enough to give the United States the highest per capita ownership in the world (88.8 guns per 100 people).
  • Americans should be allowed to own guns. That's fundamental. We lead the industrialized world in firearm homicides, 30 people will die in the USA today from gun homicide and nearly 60 more will because of firearm suicide. That's factual. I don't know what what to do, but I do know that a Newtown, Umpqua, Aurora will happen again in the near future and we'll feel sad and angry and then nothing will change.
5) Baseball season ended today. I hate how long the season. Cut 20-25 games and get the World Series done by mid October. 
  • Dodgers will host Mets. I don't think they can win because they don't like to get hits to support two of the best pitchers in baseball. 
  • I pull for the Dodgers but I would have no problem if Jake Arrieta won the Cy Young over Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw.
  • Incredible stat I read: last 15 years, 585 pitchers have thrown over 200 innings. Lowest on base percentage in that time: 1) Zack Greinke, 2015 2) Clayton Kershaw, 2015 3) Jake Arrieta, 2015
  • World Series prediction from a non-baseball watcher: Blue Jays over Pirates in 6.
Amanda just finished the Great Divide. She was a Blackburn Ranger, sponsored by Blackburn through an application process. You have to use their stuff and they give you a Niner bike. I meant to apply but never got my ducks in a row. Don't think I would have beat her though, she has her act together more than I ever did. Good reads (from what I've read) and nice to relive the journey.

Speaking of which, I spent some time today since it was raining reassembling Hulkbike. She basically has sat in the basement since I've been back. Cleaned her a little and looking forward to taking her out soon.

7) College Football is a mess and it is so much fun. Who's number one? There's no clear answer, every team can be picked apart and some of the favorites have struggled mightily in wins.

  • Overrated in this week's AP Poll: Florida (11). Great win over Ole Miss, but too big a jump. Maybe mid teens. Ole Miss got too much credit for that win at Alabama. Were they really that good or did everything just bounce their way?
  • Underrated: Boise St (25)- I like the Broncos. That loss to BYU was a tough one, but they're better than some of the teams ahead of them. BYU (NR)- sure, they have two losses, but both to ranked teams. UCLA is still a top 20 teams and it's looking like Michigan is getting better every week.
  • Top 7: 1) Baylor 2) Utah 3) Michigan St 4) TCU 5) Ohio St 6) Clemson 7) Oklahoma

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday 7s: 9/27

1) I've been teaching for 15 years. Thursday was the first real lockdown that we've had. There was a gun on the middle school campus (in the parking lot) and since the middle and high school are connected, both schools went into a lockdown. It was a tense moment when we all realized it wasn't a drill, but very proud of our students and staff. Most importantly, no one was hurt. Teachers did a great job of following procedure. Students were cooperative and resilient. Law enforcement did what they were supposed to do. Our administration displayed great leadership.

We learned a lot from the experience and some things that we can do better. Hopefully, we'll never be in a similar situation again. But if we are, I know North Henderson will be prepared.

2) I don't own guns but I'm not anti-gun. They are useful for defense and sport. They are a ton of fun to shoot! What I am against is our country's obsession with them. There is this idea that everything is better as long as there are guns and any effort to talk about gun issues results in a knee jerk reaction that somehow all the guns will get confiscated. I'm always disappointed that we can't have more civil dialogue and discourse about guns and gun issues.

3) Pope Francis in America. If my schedule were better or he was closer to me, I definitely would go battle the crowds to see him. I found it ironic that there were some on the right that criticized the pope for bringing his religion into our politics when that's what the right is kind of known for. There's a humanity and humbleness to Francis that I admire.

4) Richmond, VA hosted the World Cycling Championships this past week. Another event I wish I had the time to make as a spectator. It's a pretty big deal for the UCI to have chosen the United States for the host and it seems as Richmond played the part very well. Congratulations to two of my favorite riders for their success in Richmond:
  • Taylor Phinney, who in the US Championships last year broke his leg in a crash, showed his return to form by leading his BMC Racing team to 1st place in the Team Time Trials and was the top American (12th place) in the individual time trial.
  • Peter Sagan, one of the most colorful characters in pro cycling, won the World Championships in the Road Race. This is Sagan, riding a wheelie, uphill on Alpe d'Huez, during the Tour de France a few years ago:

5) I don't have many Jewish friends, but Happy Yom Kippur last week. And peace, comfort and safe travels to all Muslims who traveled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.

6) Jordan Spieth. Only 22 years old and having one of the greatest individual years of a pro golfer in since a certain Tiger was in his prime. And no one played better the last month and a half than Jason Day. If Rory McIlroy can get his game back to where it was two years ago, golf will be very exciting. Now if we can get ESPN, Golf Channel and other outlets to talk about these great players and not about golfers that don't make the cut of finished near the bottom, we'd be better off. The PGA Tour will be pretty exciting next year.

7) Georgia Tech has proven to be a fraud so far. They are missing the two receivers that went in the NFL Draft and their backfield more than we could imagine. But, I guess as bad as I feel as a Tech fan, I could be an Auburn or Oregon fan right now. Or a Tennessee fan. What a heartbreaker that game was in Gainesville.

  • Underrated in this week's AP Poll: 
    • Michigan (22)- the loss to Utah doesn't look so bad now. I think they should be in the top 20. 
    • Texas Tech (NR)- played TCU close. Should be in top 25.
  • Over rated: 
    • Ohio St (1)- They still may win the national championship and they're still a top 3-4 team, but they don't look like the best team in their own conference. I've never been on the "until they lose, they're still number 1" philosophy. 
    • Florida (25)- narrow wins over Kentucky and Tennessee are still wins, but I'm not buying Florida yet. 
  • My Top Seven: 1) Michigan State 2) Ole Miss 3) Ohio St 4) LSU 5) TCU 6) UCLA 7) Notre Dame

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday 7s: 9/20

1) Congratulations to my dear friend, colleague and former assistant track coach Audra King for being named Henderson County Public School's Exceptional Children's Educator of Excellence. It is a well deserved honor for someone who is humble, kind hearted and gracious at all times.

2) I did not see the Republican debate on CNN last Wednesday, but I read enough on it to know that I didn't learn a whole lot more about the front runners. They spent a lot of time criticizing the present administration, each other and repeating talking points. Nobody said anything that really made them stand out or I found informative. I have yet to hear, nor have they been pushed to present, their positions on education or foreign policy (building a wall is not foreign policy).

3) I saw something earlier this week on whether robots, as we improve artificial intelligence, deserve to be protected certain rights as all individuals. I still worry about a Terminator scenario where robots take over, but beyond that I worry for humanity. Technology has already detached us from each other in so many ways. We're on our screens more than we are having real interactions. Will people of the future choose robots for friends over having human friends?

4) Japan moving to remilitarization. It was kind of lost in the shuffle of events of the past week. It's not a done deal yet and passions are high on both sides, but this is kind of a big deal. This is the country that truly made World War II a global war, the world's third largest economy (prior to 2009, it was the world's second) and for over 70 years has taken a pacifist stance in a part of the world that includes Russia, North Korea and China. We'll see how this one plays out.

5) I had gate duty at the North Henderson Soccer game on Wednesday. It's a fierce rivalry and there's no love lost between the two schools in soccer.
  • The good: Both teams played hard. It was a fundraiser night for FBLA and they were selling homemade tamales and horchata. Fantastic idea!
  • The bad: We lost in overtime. We had to call the cops. The East fans got a unruly. Both sides were passionate and emotions high. Both schools had large students sections that went back and forth. The students were spirited and respectful on both sides. The coaches were classy. The parents, however, put a damper on the night. Be a fan, don't be obnoxious and disrespectful. 


6) Ride of the week: Dan Ruiz and I rode from Corn Mill Shoals parking lot, down US 276 past Ceasar's Head to HWY 11 and back. A total of 27 miles with about 3200 ft of total climbing. The descent from Ceasar's Head is one of my favorites. Almost 7 miles, nice sweepers with a few sharp switchbacks. The climb is long but never gets too steep or grueling. As a matter of fact, there is a part that "levels" out and lets you recover about halfway up. Surely, one of my favorite rides. I chose to ride back to my house from the car, adding another 33 miles to my day. Long day, good for my soul. We took a break at Bald Rock, where I got to take this picture of me messing around.

7) College Football thoughts:
  • Notre Dame outclassed my Jackets in every way yesterday. It was an ugly showing for Tech fans. Notre Dame gets credit for being resilient, well coached and more emotional. That was a good football team who lost their original starters at QB and RB in the first two games of the season.
  • Bad week to be Heang Uy: GT lost by 8, Elon lost 7-14 and the Dolphins lost by a field goal. At least the Panthers won. North Henderson had a bye week. The previous week, everyone of these teams won.
  • When's the last time an Alabama team had 5 turnovers? Credit to Ole Miss, but even Alabama can't win by coughing up the ball that often. And the gods were on the Rebel's side. This play shows that:

  • Overrated in this week's AP Poll: 
    • FSU, 10- You can't tell me you watched FSU-BC on Friday or FSU the week before and thought you were watching the number 10 team in the country
    • Missouri, 25- Sure they didn't lose, but narrowly beating Arkansas State and UConn doesn't cut it for me.
  • Underrated:
    • Alabama, 12- They did lose at home. But Ole Miss may be really, really good. They should stay in the top 10 and be ahead of both Florida State and Clemson
    • BYU, 22- They lost by one point, on the road against a top 10 UCLA team and they drop three places. That makes no sense to me. 
  • I have long said that preseason polls are stupid. I mean, Auburn was #6 preseason and those same polls are the only reason FSU and Mizzou are ranked where they are. Three weeks is about right to start having polls. That said, and based on what I've seen so far, here's how I'd rank the top 7: 1) Michigan State 2) Ole Miss 3) TCU 4) Ohio St 5) LSU 6) Notre Dame 7) Baylor 


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Sevens

I'm going to try to to blog more so I'm starting what I'll call "Sunday Sevens". I used to do Sunday Observations, so this is not something totally new to the blog. Having something regular will help me get to the computer more. I'll miss weeks, but my goal is to blog at least weekly. It will be somewhat random, where I write some thoughts on what's going on in my life and the world around me that week. There are really no rules or format, I'll highlight some thoughts on work, church, play, sports, politics and the interesting things I read and see throughout the week.

So, here's the first ever "Sunday Sevens":

1) School year is off to a fantastic start. We had a great pep rally on Friday. There's a lot of spirit and great things happening at North Henderson. Even the freshmen got involved. Here they are, facing off with our seniors for the "Spirit Stick". The freshman are always so lame at pep rallies and this year's group is different. I love it.

2) Tuesday, I'll go to the funeral of a former student and athlete. Earlier this summer, I attended one for another student. People need to know they are loved.

3) September 11 is not in my curriculum, but we spent a class talking about it on Friday. It's amazing, because the kids I'm teaching don't really recall the day as they were 1-2 years old when it happened. Beginning next year, I'll be teaching students that were born after the event.

4) It's football season, and I went down to watch GT-Tulane yesterday. This Tech team is exciting. In the past, we'd play down to our opponents. So far, we've outscored inferior opponents 134-17 and had a chance to play lots of back ups. Lots of football to be played, but the Tech fans are hopeful. Here's the obligatory me sleeping at tailgate pics. There's literally a decade worth of these somewhere.


5) Speaking of football, here are this week's thoughts on today's AP rankings. It's too early for me to rank teams, but I can tell you who I think is overranked and underranked:
  • Overranked: Georgia (7) and FSU (10)- these teams have done nothing to show me that they belong in the top ten. FSU's offense is a mess outside of Cook. UGa's QB looked shaky yesterday. They may end up fine, but based on two weeks I think they are more mid teens than top ten.
  • Underranked: Northwestern (23) and Duke (NR). Shout out to the nerds. Northwestern only blanked Eastern Illinois yesterday 41-0 to follow their upset of Stanford. I'd have Northwestern just inside the top 20. I get that Duke has played patsies, but they've handled them well, Cutcliffe can coach and they have some players. I don't see how they've only got one vote. That's the disrespect these schools get since they are not traditional powers or in the SEC.
6) Two close brushes that fortunately turned out okay for me:
  • Friday, I was riding down Laurel Park Highway from Jump Off Rock on my bike. Was looking at something left and next thing I know, I'm off the road into the grass. All that mountain biking I've done helped, even though I was on my road bike. I balanced the bike with my body while I slowed the bike, kept everything upright and hopped back onto the pavement. I was shaken up because I knew, at the speeds I was at, that had there been a mailbox or fence there, it could have really ruined my weekend.
  • Today, coming back from Atlanta, I was passing a tractor trailer. Next thing I know, it's coming left, into my lane. I can't believe it. I steer left and honk, but it doesn't hear me. It comes all the way into my lane. I was pushed off the road, since the left side didn't have a very wide shoulder. I slowed down, but was still driving in the grass at 50-60 MPH. Again, fortunately, there not a barrier or fence there. I'm glad I didn't panic and swerve hard or brake hard, I think that would have had worse results. I got off at the next exit and checked out my tires and suspension. All seems well, but could have been worse. Thank the Lord I wasn't on the motorcycle.
7) When I arrived at Paul's house in Atlanta on Friday, he turned on the old Nintendo and we played some Super Mario 3. We died pretty quickly in Giant Land. Forgot how hard some levels were on that game. Then I read that today is the 30th birthday of Super Mario Bros. Between this and the fact that my students don't remember 9/11, I'm feeling old.