Sunday, January 31, 2016

S7s: Closing January

1) Last week was a sort of Winter Break for students of Henderson County Public Schools. They were out Monday-Wednesday. I went into work each day and was somewhat productive. Much of my time revolved around getting our wrestling match scheduled. On Thursday, we had a two hour delay. Friday was a regular schedule. It was sort of weird and difficult, since this was the first full day with my second semester students.

Speaking of which: so far, so good. Really nice group of kids. Also, smaller class numbers than last semester, which makes for slightly easier management and more opportunities to collaborate and do discussions. I am really looking forward to this group, though I'll apologize in advance for February. Hosting the Regional Wrestling and then going to the State tournament means I don't get to be in the classroom and miss out on some instruction.

2) The snow made me miss Pompey. The Mazda doesn't have the clearance of the Nissan (not that the Maxima had that much more clearance). Backed into a snow bank, which turned out to be an ice bank. Small paint scratch beneath the rear bumper. I also liked having manual transmission in the snow and ice. Really, the car handled fine in the snow.

3) 62 people are valued as much as 3.6 billion.

The wealthiest 62 people worth more than the poorest half of the world. I know the right screams of the dangers of socialism, but the widening wage gap, struggles of the middle class and the cost of health care worry me more than the dangers of socialism. I'm not advocating that the United States go welfare state in the European model, but I'll go on record that the system is broken. Costs have risen while wages have been stagnant, making the American dream difficult to achieve. Not impossible, but exceptional. And if you get to a safe place financially, you're one major injury or cancer diagnosis from having to declare bankruptcy. In the meantime, the profits and net value of the wealthiest individuals and corporations have skyrocketed comparatively. Middle class income has barely changed in the last two decades. It's a gamed system that is rigged to benefit the top of society and make it difficult for the everyone else.

4) Photo of the week, I still need to go to Iceland:

5) While I hate that someone died, I'm hoping that the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is coming to an end. I biked through Burns, Oregon when I went coast to coast in 2010. I had fond memories there. I stayed at a hotel to get out of the sun and ate at the Meat Hook. Ran into Charlie, who ended up rescuing a lost sock monkey a few days later. 

These guys who led the occupation are not patriots. They claim to love America but then disregard the laws and authority. Anyone else would be labeled threats or terrorists, but we let these guys persist because there are so many like them. Their interest is self serving and not community or national. They were never welcomed by the community they were holding siege. If change is what they wanted to invoke, what a pathetic effort they gave. In the end, nothing changed, they looked foolish and one person is unnecessarily dead.

6) Best Meme of the Week:

That said, tomorrow will be interesting and fun to watch as Iowa kicks of primary season. My prediction is that the Republican winner in Iowa, whoever it is, does not win the nomination. I think Clinton wins in Iowa with Sanders putting up a good fight.

7) So, we were not able to practice on Monday or Tuesday. That's after having to cancel practice Friday. We wrestled our last match against Tuscola on Wednesday. The match was supposed to be at Tuscola, but we moved it to Brevard. Brevard had matches against Tuscola and East Henderson left. We were able to get the win and finish and undefeated conference season. 7-0 and Conference Champions!

We carried that momentum into Saturday. We took 10 kids into the finals and had 7 champions. We also had two third place wrestlers, a fourth and a sixth. We were able to win the tournament, the first sweep of the conference and the tournament for us since 2001. We've won the tournament a few times but finished 2nd in the regular season. But I'm really proud of an great group of guys. They work hard, are good students and care for one another. 

We wrestle Tuesday in the first round of the Dual Team Playoffs. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

S7s: Blizzard of 2016

1) Big news of the week was the snowstorm that everyone was anticipating. They were calling for 8-16 inches in and around Asheville with more in higher elevations. I predicted 4 inches. From Thursday night to Saturday afternoon, we got around 12-13 inches at my house. It was 7 inches on Friday afternoon with the snow still falling. I had a lazy day and read and did some work. I did not venture out at all on Friday. On Saturday, I shoveled and walked around. Went to Sanctuary Brewing and had one of their coffee porters and saw my buddy Stewie. Today, church was cancelled and I slept in. Met Robert for a ride up to Jump Off Rock. The roads were slick, so we took mountain bikes. Very slippery coming down, but we made it safely. My toes took forever to recover from being numb.

2) Monday was Martin Luther King holiday. Tuesday was a teacher workday. Friday was a snow day. The first day of the new semester was Wednesday, so this has been a short week for teachers in Henderson County. Shorter for me because I was in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. I had to attend the Regional Wrestling Director's meeting. It was a long drive, but I got to see some of my favorite coaches like Butch Ross and David Perry. I also got to have coffee with some former North Henderson kiddos who are attending Chapel Hill. And since I wasn't going to make it back in time for practice (and then they sent the students home because of weather), I drove the extra 30 mins to Raleigh to see Suelee, David and the great nephew & niece.

3) Ran into this quote this week. Made me think about the world around me. I feel like that is what happens too often in our society.  Look at our politics. We are driven by fear. Man, what an amazing world we'd live in if we were motivated by love and hope and not driven by our fears. 

4) Speaking of great quotes, this is my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr one:

5) More migrants drown trying to reach Europe. 45 in once incident last week. If you follow my blog and my thoughts, you'll know that I have a heart for refugees. This is a fate that so many are willing to face. To me, it reveals the fate that they are trying to escape. 

6) Rivalry week for Knights Wrestling. We had matches against West Henderson and East Henderson. We had lots of highlights:
  • Monday was a JV tournament at Enka. Every kid we took either finished first or second. Future is bright for Knights Wrestling.
  • Tuesday, we hosted West Henderson and won in dominant fashion: 70-3.
  • Thursday, we wrestled a match that was scheduled for Friday but was moved up in anticipation of the weather. We beat East Henderson 60-18. It was Senior Night and a good way to send off our graduating class.
  • We also got a nice write up in the Citizen-Times this week, Record Season for Knights wrestlers

7) Looks like I get my wish, as Carolina is about 5 minutes from putting away the Cardinals and a 34 point lead. 
  • Does Peyton get to pull an Elway and go out a Super Bowl winner?
  • Cam is MVP, can he finally bring a title to Carolina?
  • Both defenses are legit. Denver made Brady look mortal for most of the game. Carolina seems to be rattling Carson Palmer and Arizona. 
  • I would like to see Manning go out on top. The Panthers are the team I pull for after the Dolphins. Mixed emotions. I guess I'll go with Carolina but I would not be upset if Denver won. 
  • Denver might be my 3rd favorite team. And they have Demaryius Thomas!

Monday, January 18, 2016

S7s: Jan 10

1) Exam week at North Henderson (and a lot of other schools). My kids seemed to have done well. I'm not at liberty to talk about the tests but I feel good about what we accomplished this semester and I hope that they were able to carry that over into their tests. I hope that they also know that they are not defined by the tests.

Big kudos to our testing coordinators, who organized, planned and prepared hundreds of tests, computers and separate setting placements each day. It was a pretty smooth week and that's because there was a lot of cooperation, planning and communication happening.

2) Republican debate last week, here are a few thoughts:

  • I hope they know that they are not running against Barack Obama. You would think they were.
  • Remember when Ben Carson was relevant? 
  • On that note, who's Carly Fiorina?
  • I feel as Trump has reached his high water mark.
  • Drop the matter on Cruz's eligibility, Trump. How about you run on issues?
  • Christie doesn't want you to forget that he's still there. 
  • I can't believe that the American servicemen captured and then released by Iraq was even an issue. They were legally detained and then released. The candidates sounded like we should have started a war over it.
  • Jeb Bush is the invisible candidate, but he still win the nomination.
  • I think it will be either Rubio or Cruz. 
3) I should have mentioned it in last week's Sunday 7s: Ken Griffey, Jr. Congratulations on the Hall, Kid. Such an effortless swing, the backwards hat, great athlete and fun to watch. And then there was the smile. He looked like he was having fun. If not for injuries, his numbers may be even more staggering. And, as far as we know, he is free from all the doping allegations that followed the greats of that era. Someone said the fact that Junior was hurt proved he wasn't on performance enhancing drugs since drugs help you heal faster.

4) I officially said goodbye to Pompey on Friday. Signed the title over and handed the keys to my nephew, Benny. Real sentimental moment. I was very attached to that car. I hope Benny loves it half as much I loved it. Things worked out well: I got a little money for my car (3 times what the dealer was gonna give me), helped my nephew out and even got my roof rack sold!

John Hart drove me down to deliver the vehicle. We made a stop at the Beacon for some "A-plenty":

5) I must confess: I fell asleep during the 3rd quarter of the College Football Championship Game. It was a good game though. Kudos for Alabama for playing well and being gutsy with the onsides kick. Clemson has nothing to hang their heads about: they played excellent and Watson is a legit star! They'll be in the conversation next season for number 1. 

Here are the final rankings according to me: 1) Alabama 2) Clemson 3) Ohio State 4) TCU 5) Stanford 6) Oklahoma 7) Michigan St 

6) Huge week for the wrestling team. We won on Thursday against Smoky Mountain 74-4. On Saturday, we went 5-0 to win the Ram Duals at TC Roberson. Our record is now 23-4, 4-0 in the WNCAC. 23 wins sets a new school record for wins in a season. The old record was 22, set by the 2011-2012 team. This week is rivalry week: West Henderson on Tuesday, East Henderson on Friday.

I think what I like best about this photo is not that we won the Ram Duals, but how much fun it looks like the team is having and how much they like each other. I'm really blessed with a great group of kids.

7) The NFL is popular because they give us great entertainment. Up until Alabama-Clemson, most bowl games were lame. They were lopsided. Last week's first round games in the NFL were very exciting and this week's even better. You had Carolina take a 31-0 lead and barely hold on to win. Arizona won in improbable ways, Kansas City mismanaged the clock and Peyton holds off an injury ridden Steelers team. Great stuff.

Predictions for next week:
  • Carolina is playing too well and getting great efforts by more than Newton. As good as Larry Fitzgerald was yesterday, he can't carry the Cardinals out of Charlotte with a victory. Carolina by 6
  • I am pulling for Manning. But New England has been like his Kryptonite. And, when's the last time 2 number 1 seeds played in the Super Bowl. As much as I'd like to see Carolina-Denver, I have to pick New England by 3.

Monday, January 11, 2016

S7s: Jan 10- Brotherhood

1) Friday night, January 8, we held a reunion for the 1996 West Henderson Dual Team State Championship team. 20 years ago, a young coach took a bunch of talented and committed individuals and together won a State Dual team title. We wrestled two matches that finals night because of inclement weather earlier in the week. We beat North Wilkes in the Regional Finals 28-26.

In the state finals, we beat East Davidson by the score of 28-26. There were big wins by Damon Blackley and myself over two of their better kids. There was a bite that ended up being huge points for us. Casey Manuel got a pin to put us up by 5. Troy Sapp bumped up to heavyweight and stalled his way through the match to give us the win.

As special as winning the State Title was, I think mostly back to the brotherhood. I miss wrestling but I miss more the being on the team. We struggled, worked and cried together. We laughed with one another and pushed each other. Damon and I traveled to countless off season tournaments together. Stephen and Ebert were practice partners. My brother was on the team. Michael and I were the co-captains. We had a coach that pushed us, cared for us and that we believed in. I don't remember the state title match as much as I remember the wrestling room, picking up Nick early in the morning for AM practices, trying not to get slammed into the back of the bleachers at West. That was a special team and I was honored to be part of it. We accomplished great things-- 2 undefeated seasons, 5 individual state champions and several state placers-- but it's the brotherhood we built together that made our team great and made Friday special.

2) This TED talk resonates with how I feel. I have not served and cannot put myself in the position of a soldier, but I think I understand the "brotherhood". There's a special connection when you have to sacrifice, sweat and hurt together. Brotherhood and friendship are not the same. You don't have to like someone to have a brotherhood. But the cool thing is that we our team honestly all liked each other. And we had a brotherhood.

Soldiers are willing to go back to war because of the brotherhood, not because they love war. I'd go back not as much for the wrestling, but for the brotherhood. These guys were that special.

3) One of the youngest members of Terry Lee Varnadore, who was a freshman in 1995-1996. Terry Lee died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on April 23, 2011. Our group came up with the idea of a Terry Lee Courage and Leadership award that will go to a deserving wrestler every year. The award will hang in the West Henderson commons for everyone to see and for Terry Lee to be honored. This wasn't just some award because we felt bad that a guy died in combat, but this was so that people would remember and know that Terry Lee was a man of honor and character.

It was both heartbreaking and an honor to get to hug his parents. When the award was presented to his parents, I got pretty emotional. I got to meet his two daughters, who are both precious and adorable. The older one reminded me of her dad so much. The gym was full of love and laughter, but there was still a hole in our hearts. There were several members of our team that couldn't make it on Friday to the reunion, but Terry Lee's absence hurt the most. 

4) Last week was a really good week of classes for me. My kids were at it, trying to get things done and be ready for exams this week. I have never liked the state's mandate that schools start no earlier than August 25. It means we don't finish our first semester until after Christmas holidays. We have to reteach to get ready for exams because of the break rather than just review. 

Also, the state, in their brilliance, has created tests that can take 10 days to score. So we have to give "incompletes" if they don't have test scores back. This makes no sense-- if you're a senior and are in danger of failing a core class, you need to know immediately whether you have to retake the course. Of it it is second semester, you need to know if you're eligible to graduate.

And this article resonated with me: The Real Problem with teaching in NC

5) Up and down week for the wrestling team. We broke a losing streak to Pisgah on Tuesday by a score of 42-25. Our kids wrestled tough and we got several big falls. I was really proud of our effort and toughness. The win puts us at 17-4 for the season and 3-0 in the conference.

Yesterday was a day of growth for us. At the Fandetti Brawl, we got beat up some. We battled and fought, but lost lots of tough matches. The competition was stellar and while we are a good group, it showed that we still have work to do. We had 5 placers, but our highest kid was 3rd. We were humbled in some places and in other places we showed that we were fighters. Our potential is there, we still have high ceilings individually.

6) NFL Playoffs have been pretty fun. All the road teams won. Green Bay ended up running away from Washington. Chiefs in a blow out. But some notes:
  • Bengals-Steelers: dirty and ugly play by Burfict. I hope Antonio Brown is okay. Bengals lost their cool at the end. Fumble. Personal Foul. Personal Foul. That set up the game winning field goal.
  • I feel so bad for Vikings kicker Blair Walsh. He'll never live that down. I guess you'll see more coaches going for game winning field goals on 3rd down to get the second shot in case of a miss. 
  • I think that the Panthers wanted to play Green Bay or Minnesota rather than Seattle.
  • Predictions: Chiefs over Patriots, Broncos over Steelers (especially if Ben is banged up), Carolina over Seattle, Arizona over Green Bay.
7) College Championship Prediction: Clemson 33, Alabama 27

Monday, January 4, 2016

S7s: Dec 3- Ode to Pompey

1) Happy New Year! 2015 was indeed a great year for me. Lots of highlights and some trying times. Blessed with a great career, friends, church and community. I got to share in some really cool moments. Had a neat moments of reflection. I worked too hard sometimes and not hard enough during others. I'll post my photo review later, but in the meantime I am stoked at what 2016 has to offer this soul of mine.

2) I bit the bullet and did something that will surprise and shock a lot of people: I bought a new car. My old car, affectionately named Pompey, has been a rock for 15 years and over 230,000 miles. She still runs strong, but has some issues that older cars get. I was looking for a replacement and found a good deal on a 2012 Mazda 3. It leather heated seats, moonroof and gets 40 MPG on the highway. I will miss the stick shift (still on original clutch) and all the great adventures Pomp and I had. She drove to Alaska! She's been to Colorado twice, RAGBRAI and Nova Scotia. There have been countless trips to Atlanta and we've hauled bikes to almost all those places. 15 years is a long time together and I bought her new, so there is a lot of sentimental value. I'm hoping this new car is half the car that Pompey was.


Pompey Loaded

3) There are "militia" members who took over a National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. I biked through Harney County in 2015 and spent a night in Burns. A few gripes:
  • The same people who call these guys heroes and militia would also call similar people standing up to "oppression" thugs, terrorists or traitors. Double standard 1.
  • The same people who claim patriotism are the first to cry foul, tyranny and offense when they don't get there way. The ones say they stand behind the Constitution don't bother to follow the methods set by the Constitution to change laws, amend policy and effect change.
  • These people are like Westboro Baptist: attention hungry, disillusioned and narrow minded. They don't want to understand or try to be part of a nation that is diverse and made of many people, needs, interests and beliefs. 
  • Double standard 2: if others are offended or feel put off, they are told to suck it up and not be so damn easily offended. If they are offended or feel put off, it is acceptable to throw a tantrum and issue threats with lots of firearms.
  • I do feel, in my limited knowledge, that maybe the jail time for the Hammonds might be excessive, we do have a legal process for appeals. You know, the Constitution. No where in the law of the land does it advocate taking matters into your own hands.
4) Instagram Top Nine: babies, bikes, outside! 
Here ya go! 2015 was a good year. I'm continuously blessed.

5) Quote of the Week: "Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart."

6) Wrestling competed in the Holy Angels Tournament on Friday and Saturday. The tournament featured 66 teams and North finished 11th. We only entered 7 wrestlers. Josh Blatt beat the #1 4A wrestler in the state in overtime in the finals. Paul Searcy had three tough matches in a row to win at 145 lbs. We had three other placers in the tournament and three place in the JV Tournament. It was a great weekend, this team showed lots of heart.

7) The college bowl games have been lame. Too many blow outs. Clemson played well and Alabama looked angry. Could be a great National Title game. Hope it's not a blow out.

In the NFL lots of action this week:
  • Chip Kelly out in Philly. Sort of a surprise. Thought he'd get one more year.
  • Welcome back Peyton Manning.
  • I hope the Dolphins find the right coach.
  • Tom Coughlin: classy guy. I hope he enjoys retirement and doesn't return to coaching. 
  • Is there a bigger mess than Cleveland? What a train wreck-- from personnel to coaching. But it all starts at the front office.
  • Congratulations to Carolina. They looked great. 
  • I want a Panthers-Broncos Superbowl.