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.