Second Chances

Jack-Squat (jak skwaht)

noun

1 the extent of what I know, and care, about college football.

also ZILCH, NADA

However, this aside, I feel since everyone else (at least, seemingly everyone in my sphere of acquaintances) has weighed in on the return of Bobby Petrino to the University of Louisville football program, I have set aside what little quiet, personal time I have to give my two cents. Beware, you may get a full nickel on this one!

To start, Charlie Strong was, and is, an outstanding football coach. The University of Texas (recent comments from ignorant boosters aside) is smart and lucky to have hired him. I have no doubt that he will shine in what he perceives to be “the grand stage” for college football. To my mind, his hiring and tenure at the University of Louisville was the creation of a grand stage for college football here in our fair city. He rescued the football program from a catastrophic downward spiral (created in part by our new acquisition Bobby Petrino, in my opinion) and set the course for the university in a sport that will always come behind basketball in this state. I believe that the way it was handled was inappropriate and mildly underhanded, but ethics don’t seem to play a part in collegiate sports, as I will get to in a moment.

When Bobby Petrino snuck out of town the last time (a mere seven years ago), I made no secret of my feelings regarding his decision and the handling thereof. Since then, he has flirted with Atlanta (less than a year) in the NFL, worked in Arkansas (and been subsequently released for some extracurricular shenanigans), and most recently has been recovering from his personal embarrassments as head coach of WKU. Not exactly what you’d call a stellar resume, but as I said, ethics don’t seem to play a part in collegiate sports.

Which all leads me to the point of this tirade. College sports is a business and coaches are in it for the money. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded and has their head deeply buried, either in the sand or other places the sun doesn’t shine. This is not news. This has been going on for decades. Why do you think bowl games are labeled with corporate emblems? Why do you think coaches “contract hop” for a better deal? Why do you think universities desire to have the biggest, brightest, most alumni-luring venues? Because of the money. And, as someone who doesn’t have a ton of what they crave, I see their point.

However, (and maybe my rose-colored socialist glasses should be repaired) I believe that a university whose primary function is the education of individuals should insist on hiring people whose ethics and integrity are at the very least on par with what they expect from their student-athletes, emphasis on the student! If we’re asking our student population to engage in an academic setting and become productive members of society, then we should employ role models who can emulate that. Bobby Petrino has not displayed, in any manner, that he is capable of anything other than winning football games, which is great if that’s all you want to teach these children (and let’s not forget that while they’re old enough to vote, they are still very much children). But, let’s suppose we want them to be outstanding individuals who can carry themselves with dignity in society and be examples to future generations of college students through their status as alumni. Shouldn’t we hire people who emulate those values?

There will be those among us who claim he deserves a second chance. And, certainly, I believe that everyone deserves second chances. However, Bobby Petrino has repeatedly given his second chances a swift kick to the posterior, to the point that even biblical scholars are saying “are we at the 70 times 7 forgiveness limit yet?” Were there simply zero other candidates available who could be valuable assets and lead the program to great heights and continue the work of coaches that got us to this point? Is the pool of football coaches so tiny that we need to recycle one that basically smiled out of one side of his face, and spit on us out of the other?

As I said at the beginning, I don’t know much about college football. And, to be honest, I probably care even less. However, I am concerned that the world has given over its integrity and ethics to the almighty dollar. I’m all for forgiveness, but at what cost?

See you in the funny papers!

Goals: An end and a beginning

I have never been what you might call a goal setter.  I distinctly remember a conversation with my parents, way back in the day when I was floundering around a collegiate career, wherein my father insisted that I needed to learn to set goals; that I must focus on something and complete it.  I’m not what you might have known as a “finisher.”  I quit playing baseball because I couldn’t hit (more than likely because I needed glasses, which we wouldn’t find out for another couple of years) and I quit taking ballet and tap lessons and I don’t really know the reason behind that particular setback.  I quit being a good student when it became more difficult and I actually had to work at it.  I quit piano lessons in the 10th grade because I felt like I wasn’t being taught what I wanted to learn and I quit taking organ lessons when the church hired a director because it didn’t feel necessary.  I quit college a couple or three times, but did finally manage to make it through.  I’m apparently very good at quitting.

Back at the start of the year, I blogged about a number of things, one of which was my goal to run my first marathon this year.  Then came SNOWMAGEDDON, the return of the SNOWPOCALYPSE.  It seemed as if every day that I was scheduled for a run, there was snow in the forecast, or it had just snowed, or snow was actually falling.  In addition to this climatological deterrence, the treadmill that I counted on for getting me through the cold and snowy days developed a couple of holes, a crease, and a small tear in the belt causing it to slip while I ran.  Having been on the crappy end of a couple of broken ankles, I thought it best to put it out to pasture.  And, as if all that were not enough, I seemed to maintain a constant sinus disturbance from mid-November straight on through ’til about 3 weeks ago.  All of these things led me to the exceedingly frustrating decision not to run on April 24 in the Nashville Country Music Marathon.   And, it hurt.  It really hurt to make that decision because I wanted it to work.  I wanted to cross that finish line and get my medal and say that I put in the time and effort necessary to run a marathon.  I wanted people to see me as someone who could finish; someone who could be counted on.  But, as has been the case many, many times before, I’ve settled for something less than I could accomplish with what seem like flimsy excuses.  It also did not help that the financial burden of attending this marathon was not something I expected either.  It was not a king’s ransom, but I could not have scraped the entry fee and hotel room out of the couch cushions.  Plus, what seems the worst part of this is that after having made the decision, my body just decided that it would take advantage.  I’ve run maybe 2 or 3 times since making the decision.  I eat constantly, and not things that are good for my body.  I had even given up soda during marathon training and now I drink them faster than I ever did before.  It’s as if my body knows I gave up and is determined to take full advantage making it that much harder for me.

Now, with all the free time that I have now that I’m not training for a marathon, I’ve decided to go back to school.  This shocks me just as much as it does you.  With the countless words that I’ve written about how agonizing it was to finish my bachelor’s degree in the first place, the thought of graduate school should make me faint dead away.  However, I find myself craving a new educational opportunity.  Maybe it’s the new job, or maybe it’s just a replacement goal, but I’m at the very least committing myself to finding out more.  Fortunately, with this goal, there is very little downside.  I’m in a position where I’m able to attend school for the price of textbooks.  It’s a master’s degree in a field that I’m very interested and excited about.  So, short of the “entry fee” (the GRE exam cost, which is half the price the marathon event would’ve cost), I can only go up from here.  Maybe, just maybe my father was on to something with this whole goal-setting notion.  We shall see.

See you in the funny papers!

Remembrances

Year 2004, October: Boston defeated the Yankees by overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS and won their first World Series in 86 years over the St. Louis Cardinals.  I was more excited about Boston beating the Yankees, I think.  But, to see the joy of generations celebrating a Boston championship was absolutely stunning.

Year 1999, December: It was the last day of the millennium and people everywhere were alternately excited and frightened at the prospect of four new digits on the calendar and the impending disaster of the Y2K bug which turned out to be a complete flop.  Also, I think that most people had forgotten about Prince’s song “1999” that we all played to death back in the 80s when 1999 was so far away.  I don’t remember how I spent my evening, but I’m pretty sure I was with friends and we were drinking.

Year 1994, June: I had just completed my worst semester of college ever.  Probably the worst semester of college ANYONE has ever had.  My transcript also shows that I did not go to school in the fall of that year, so it’s safe to assume that in my astounding knowledgeable grasp of the universe, I had decided that a college degree was unnecessary.  And, even though this memory is odd, I also know it was the last time I’d had my mother’s hamburger stroganoff which I miss terribly.  Unfortunately, the day and the meal bring up bad memories.  I hope that one day I can eat it again.

Year 1989, September: My first day of high school, a little fish in a big pond.  I was fortunate enough to have friends in higher grades who I could count on to assist me if necessary.  I also stepped up my lustful longings to include the head cheerleader whose locker was right outside the freshman biology lab.  Thankfully, that didn’t work out!

Year 1984, February: My grandfather, Henry, died today.  I remember, distinctly, every moment of that morning as my mother screamed panic through the phone at my grandmother who had called her and not 911.  I remember her racing past me in the car as I stood in the cold at the bus stop.  I remember asking my teacher permission to go to the office to call home to see if my fear could be confirmed.  And I remember the walk back up the stairs thinking that my sister would certainly be inconsolable, which now that I think about it was fairly grown-up thinking for someone of my age.

Year 1979, August: I started kindergarten today.  I loved my teacher, Mrs. Wilson, who would sing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to us as we took naps on the floor.  I was the only person in kindergarten to have perfect attendance that year.  I still have the trophy which I cherish greatly.  It was probably the last time I really overachieved in school.

Year 1974, December: Okay, so I don’t really remember this, but I was born.  Hank Aaron hit number 715 in April of this year and tornadoes tore through Kentucky and Ohio destroying lots of things…so my appearance in the world was probably not so monumental a thing, but no less important!

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo 1

And so it begins, again!  Yes, I have decided to attempt the NaBloPoMo challenge for the second year in a row.  Last year I made it 23 posts in a row and while I was disappointed in not being able to complete the entire month, it was exciting and interesting to try and maintain that level of writing for a full 30 days.  So, this year, I thought I’d give it a whirl again.

For those of you who are not familiar with the idea…NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month and is a takeoff on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and requires a blog post every day for 30 days.  Hence the image to the left.

So, what’s so interesting today?!  Mattresses!  Yep, today we went mattress shopping and it was an ordeal.  At least, partially.  We went to five mattress stores looking for information, a good deal, and, most importantly, a comfortable mattress.  There are a lot of folks out there who are willing to sell you a mattress, but if you really want someone who knows what they’re doing and is going to give you a fair shake, let me tell you about Duane.  Duane works at Mattress & More on Outer Loop near the Jefferson Mall.  He’s extremely knowledgeable about his mattresses and he’s very easy to deal with.  No high pressure sales, no slick talk…just info about mattresses.  If you need a mattress, or even if you don’t, go talk to Duane.

In other news, I’m watching the UofL/Georgetown College basketball game right now Aside: Isn’t it too early for basketball?  The World Series just ended. and let me just say that Louisville is not looking AT ALL like the number 3 team in the nation.  It’s a little scary.  And Rick Pitino looking like he’s aged about 10 years during the offseason.  So, let’s hope that it gets a little better for the Cardinals.

See you in the funny papers!

Well, there’s always the band…

Yeah, the beloved hometown Louisville Cardinals stunk up the city this afternoon with their terrible impersonation of a football team.  They did happen to score two points and avoid a shutout for the first time in eight years.  However, those two points came at the expense of a poor decision by an inexperienced quarterback making his first college start.  Basically, it was an accident.

UofL Marching Band
UofL Marching Band
  • Did I watch this inept episode of collegiate action? Yes.
  • Did I turn it off when it was still 13-2? Yes.
  • Am I still angry that traffic after this ridiculous debacle made me a virtual prisoner in my own neighborhood? Yes.
  • Do I think the university bears some of the responsibility for that, in addition to the city? Yes.

Four yesses!  That’s a very positive outcome for such an insane situation.

But…how about the band?

See you in the funny papers!

Graduation Day

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise;

Regardless of others, ever regardful of others.

Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,

Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff’d with

the stuff that is fine.

From A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Today is graduation day.  I’ve found that I’m anxious, but not excited.  Thrilled and relieved, butCollege Graduate underwhelmed by the need to be happy.  It’s not that I don’t want to be a graduate, I just don’t want to have to be joyful about it.  It’s simply something whose time has come and now, soon, it will be over.  I will, of course, be smiling and probably tearful because emotions don’t always do what we want them to do; or even what we’re prepared for them to do.  Yet, today I will be a college graduate and nothing can take that away from me.

I want to thank my family for believing in me, for pushing me when I needed to be pushed and chiding me when it was necessary.  Their ever constant pride and hope in me was always there to lift me up.  Their continued support and love has made this day possible.  I want to thank my wife for her love, her unwavering faith in my ability, even in the face of my stubbornness, and her constant support…she is the heartbeat of my existence and I think the sun rises and sets with her very smile.  I want to thank my friends for putting up with my nearly unending quest for this day.  Their patience and understanding during times when I needed to put them off is unparalleled and I thank them for their continued support and friendship.  And thanks, to all to those who in some unseen way made things possible for me.  I may not have known or acknowledged your leadership or inspiration, but obviously, it has shown through.

Off to get ready, today is your day.  Your mountain is waiting.  So off on your way!

~Theodore Seuss Geisel

See you in the funny papers!

At Last!

Two days ago I turned in my final draft for my senior thesis. It felt really good to hand that off and I look forward to graduation on May 10. This will certainly open up a whole new chapter in my life and Stickley rockerI can now say, with some measure of certainty and relief, that I embrace this new chapter whole heartedly. I can also look forward to a relaxing summer in the comfort of my new rocking chair, a graduation gift from my parents.  It’s a gorgeous Stickley rocker, by the way, and the picture to the right is a good representation.

I think I’m finally starting to let it sink in as well.  I’m beginning to feel lighter as the graduation day approaches.  I’m trying my best not to sound like the “first person ever to have graduated from college”, but this has been such a monumental obstacle in my life.  It is a bit tantamount to my first half-marathon where I really didn’t think I would finish and many times I thought about just stopping, but I rounded the corner to the finish line and all those people were there cheering me on, even though they had no idea who I was and I sprinted (like I’d never run before) to the finish, nearly in tears.  And it was the absolute best feeling in the world.  Just now, I’m starting to feel that way about graduation.

Dare I even consider graduate school?  It’s a possibility, but not at the moment.  Let’s let this sink in and then we’ll talk.

See you in the funny papers!

Fear

Today begins what amounts to a final chapter in my life experience. Today I start my final semester of college for an undergraduate degree. Just typing those words makes me lightheaded. The thought of not having that over my head is at once both awesome and frightening. As many of you know, I started college in 1992 and over the course of the last 16 years, I have started and stopped, changed majors more times than I care to count, and now I’ve finally reached the pinnacle of this journey and I’m scared. I have serious concerns about both my ability to finish this degree as well as my ability to “make it in the real world” once I’m finished. I’m sure that these are mostly unfounded, but that does not mean that they’re not there. So, those of you who are so inclined, I could use your prayers. Those of you who are less inclined, I appreciate positive thoughts during this final 4 months.

In other news, I finally went back to the gym last night and began my trek to Pittsburg, KS. I’ve started a Flickr Photo Set to keep track of my progress, but here’s the first leg that I ran last night. Naturally, I’ll be keeping stats and everything, so I’ll bore you with that later, but for now…here’s the beginning:

Beginning
That should just about cover it.  See you in the funny papers!

A New Year, A New Me?

So, here we are…a brand new year, at least based on an arbitrary Gregorian classification, but hey, that was before my time. Therefore, we’ll go with the flow and bow to conformity for the purposes of this post.  And, as with all new beginnings, we come to the resolutions.  Those nitpicky little items that are supposed to focus our resolve and create a better person.  Without further ado, I give you the following:

  • I know that the death knell of all resolutions is the dreaded weight-loss resolution.  However, since I’m currently tipping the scales a Clydesdale-like 215, I’m aiming to lose 25 pounds this year.  This is a completely achievable goal and I think worthwhile as well.  In the process of achieving this goal, I’m hoping to eat many more vegetables than I’m used to eating.  
  • In addition to the well-known and loathed weight-loss resolution is the money-saving resolution.  Yet, I think an excellent goal for me would be to save $100 a month for home projects.  That would be a great total amount for the year to make significant improvements and would do wonders for the equity of the house.
  • Provided there are funds available, I want to run the Philadelphia Distance Run Half Marathon this September.  I still plan on running the Louisville Triple Crown and the Derby Festival mini-Marathon, but to run a different half-marathon in another city has been a wish of mine for the last year or so.  So this is sort of an iffy resolution, but it’s totally doable.
  • Finally, I resolve to finish my college degree this year.  This has been a resolution for a while now, but this year it is near fruition.  I have one semester left and I merely need to research and write my senior thesis.  It’s a tall order, but honestly, on this list, it’s the most realistic.  

That should begin the new year in a great new way.  Now, I just need to get started…tomorrow. *laughing*  Check out updates to the movies page and I’ll…See you in the funny papers!