Sunday, February 29, 2004

Howdy World!

This has been a very busy weekend so far for me with no end in sight. It really started Thursday night and has kept right on coming. Without boring the world with all the details, it's been fun, so far. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with my friends these past few days, many of whom I haven't been able to spend much time with lately because of my job and just the complex nature of working a regular 8-5 job life and having a lot of friends who are still students. As you can imagine, the times they are compatible are not many.

Which brings me to something from Thursday, which I am sure some folks are wondering about because it was very out of nature for me. I backed out of a commitment with some of "my boys" in order to spend time with some other friends I haven't really been able to spend time with and talk to lately. Sure the folks I did hang out with, I see them quite often, but seldom get to talk to and just hang out for a few hours with. It was a difficult decision, but the right one because I had been feeling like I had been neglecting some good friends for no reason other than our schedules not being all that great. So the opportunity presented itself to really spend time with them, I jumped at it, at the expense of another group of friends.

As I have said before, my friends are the closest to family I have near me since moving to Texas. Sure I can call family on the phone, but when you need to talk to someone face to face, or go to a ball game with, or just go and have a quiet dinner, or lunch away from the office to relax, it's my friends I lean on. Cause, let's face it, no one in my family is flying half way across country to just do lunch. Someone once told me, you know folks are you're friends when you would be willing to pay the last full measure for them. I can't think of any of my friends who I wouldn't be willing to do that for if I had to. I trust them more than they know, heck if my life depended on them...I'd trust them.

Anyway, I'm really sad to see February coming to an end. The past month has been one of the happiest of my life. It started off with a Patriots Super Bowl win, a new job, the start of Aggie baseball, Dale Jr. winning the 135 qualifier and the Daytona 500, the beginning of membership classes for Westminster, and just being able to spend times with my friends. Some of that's petty, some of that is important life "stuff", for lack of a better word, and I've truly been blessed this month with more joy and gladness than anyone person truly deserves. Sure there are peaks and valley's, but I've been riding a lot of peaks lately. Which is fortunate, but it does make one ponder what kind of valley's are down the road. It's one of those things I think about from time to time, but try not to dwell on too much.

Another good thing has happened lately in Fort Myers, Florida. Pitchers and catchers and the rest of the roster have reported to City of Palms Park as the Boston Red Sox embark on the quest for their first World Series Championship since 1918. This is the year I think they will "Reverse the Curse," which I will get into some other time.

I know, I'm bouncing all over the place...but that's been my weekend. Bouncing from one thing to another, so yes, I am tired, but I wouldn't trade any of this for anything. As my friends my know, I can sometimes wear my heart on my sleave and sometimes I am unreadable. If I've been unreadable lately, just know I may not show it but I'm smiling a big old Cheshire cat grin. And on that note, I am off to bed.

At some point tomorrow between church, lunch and baseball, I need to get laundry done. This is more a note to me...unless anyone wants to lend a hand!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Ok, as my friends know I have a slight obsession with the Buffy/Angel television shows. Tonight while watching Angel, a deep serious question was raised that I would like to share:

If cavemen fought astronauts, who would win? The astronauts don't have weapons, but the cavemen do have fire.

Consider it!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Phew, just finished up enough laundry to have clean clothes for work this week, but still have a few more loads to do. Time to settle in and get to blogginf with a Smirnoff Triple Black. Speaking of the Triple Black, congratulations to Matt Kenseth for winning the Subway 400 today at Rockingham in what may be the last Cup race ever held at that grand old lady.

Well, what have I been up to? Well the Ags were home this weekend at Olsen Field playing South Alabama. So I did what any red blooded, American male would do, I went and sat in the bleachers and ejoyed much baseball (not to mention 70 degree weather and sunshine). This former New Englander just loves this weather here in Texas.

I spent much of the weekend hanging out with what we have now dubbed the "Rogue Militant Wing" of RUF here at A&M. It's along story, but THE VASTINE came up with it with some input from the rest of us on Friday night. Last night most of us went to Mr. G's in Bryan for dinner and were supposed to go to a jazz club in Bryan, but that fell through due to chilly weather, the ladies not have jackets, and the guys not having any to give them. Lesson learned guys, always have extra sweatshirts and/or jackets/pullovers in the car. Still, fun times were had by all. Next weekend we might be doing one of a few things, but for now those must be classified for "blowing out of candles" reasons.

Saturday morning those of us who would like to become members at Westminster began our membership class with Pastor Wade. Good discussions and interesting questions were posed during the class, it was very enjoyable. I don't think we can thank Wade enough for taking time out of his busy schedule early on Saturday mornings.

Right now I;m listening to the third CD from the "Cash:Unearthed" collection entitled 'Redemption Songs', the profound meaning his voice brings to the songs on this album is amazing. The voice of Johnny Cash is the doorway into the man's soul. Singer's of Mr. Cash's caliber are few and far between today when electric guitars, drum solos and computerized effects are mixed up in face of the listener. This collection simplifies it back to a man and his guitar, which I hope to take soon once I get a few paychecks under me, is pure, true music. On occasion though, Cash does get help..for example on one cut he is backed up my some small time band, that might have a future, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I think they might be pretty good one of these days. (This folks is called IRONY).

Well, I need to get some sleep. Nothing deep here tonight, but in a few days when I pick up some good reading later this week...things might get deep, so I end with a joke courtesy of my friend Juli:

What did the zero (0) say to the eight (8)?

Ans: Hey, nice belt!

Monday, February 16, 2004

Well, I am currently in the middle of doing laundry, but have a few minutes to update ye ole blog.

First off, props to Juli, Allyson and Sara who showed up at my door with a Valentines Day card last night as I watched the Daytona 500 on tape, because I could not watch it earlier in the day. Thanks ladies, love y'all!

Second, Saturday was opening day for Aggie baseball due to weather washing out the game Friday. I went, froze my rear end off and saw two things I'd never seen before in person. I saw former President George H.W. Bush throw out the first pitch and then proceeded to be wowed by the poise and gracefulness of Aggie southpaw Zach Jackson as he pitched a complete game, 7-inning, no hitter against A&M- CC in a 15-0 win by the Ags. A no hitter and a former President, pretty cool. No hitters are rare in baseball, so the chances of ever seeing run are very rare, I've been fortunate enough now to see one. A&M swept the weekend too.

Now, on to the Daytona 500. To steal a line from a friend of rocked my face off. For those of you not familar with NASCAR history, let me explain. Dale Earnhrdt Sr., the Intimidator, the Man in Black, the black #3, the Big "E", and the seven time Winston Cup Champion only won one Daytona 500 in his career. It came in his 20th Daytona 500 race in 1998. Along the way he won more races at Daytona than any other driver in track history. He had once lead the 500 by almost a full lap on the final lap only to cut a tire down and lose as he limped the wounded GM Goodwrench Chevy home. So many times he came so close, and in 1998 he finally won. Many consider this to be the most historical moment in NASCAR history. Upon winning the Daytona 500, while bringing the black #3 down pit lane, he was greated by every team member from every team in the race, that is the level of respect the sport had for that one man. The man many believe brought NASCAR into the mainstream and spurred its growth through the 1980s and 1990s. That win came on February 15, 1998.

In 2001, Dale Earnhardt Inc., cars #15 NAPA Chevy,driven my Michael Waltip, and the # 8 Budweiser Chevy, driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. were running first and second on the final lap, repectively. Behind Jr., was the black #3 driven by his father. That final lap, Dale Sr. was doing something out of the norm, he was blocking the cars behind him from passing him, not challenging for the win, so his friend and his son could battle for the lead. Entering turn 3, the #40 driven by Sterling Marlin got under the left rear of Dale Sr. and tapped him, the #3 shot down the track and as Sr. corrected and tried to save the car, the Goodwrench Chevy shot up the track and hit the wall at about 180mph. Drivers and fans had seen worst wrecks and as the #15 drove to victory, the first for Michael Waltrip in 473 Winston Cup starts and Jr, finished second, not much attention was paid to the wrecked black #3, driven by the toughest man in NASCAR. That crash took the life of Dale Sr., it didn't look like much, but in an instant the living legend of the sport was gone. The reigning king was dead and the spotlight and attention moved to the heir, Dale Jr..

When NASCAR returned to Daytona in July of 2001, the first race since Sr. death, it was like a made for television movie. Dale Jr. dominated the race, and through sheer will and drive, won the race. Not much more can be said without making it sound like a fish story, but no words can do justice to that day.

In 2002, Dale Jr. crashed out of the Daytona 500 in a late race wreck. In 2003, in a rain shortened race, Junior experienced a failing battery, had to pit and was 2 laps down. He made one lap up and was running at the front of the pack just within reach of the leader and teamate Michael Waltrip, all that was needed was a caution for Junior to get back on the lead lap, instead the rains came just past the halfway point, the race was red flagged (stopped) and eventually called final.

In 2004, Junior was seen, again, as the driver to beat at Daytona. He finished 2nd in the Bud Shootout All Star Race, won his 125 qualifying race and inherited the pole when pole sitter Greg Biffle was forced to change race engines and move to the rear of the field. Again Junior had a good car, but 2002 Winston Cup Champion had a car just as good leading most of the middle portions of the race with Junior in close pursuit. It came down to Junior and Stewart and the lapped car of Kurt Busch. Busch was put laps down by Junior after their two cars rubbed early in the race damaging the #97 and forcing an unscheduled pit stop, which at Daytona is death. It was obvious that Busch would not help Junior make the pass for the lead by going with him in the draft to hang out Stewart. Yet, with 20 or so laps left, Junior went solo, under the #20 of Stewart and somehow made a pass without any help, a move which reminded many of his father. Dale Sr. was a master of the draft, many said he seemingly could see the wind, and many say his son has inherited that ability. Junior held off the late charge of charge of Stewart and won the Daytona 500, in only his sixth try. Six years to the day after his father and three years after the very race took his father's life.

Some stories are made up in Hollywood, some are to much, but every once in awhile one actually happens. One with so much emotion, so much history, and so much drama that it is difficult to understand it all, difficult to take it all in. Yet, every once in awhile one happens, one that gets into your heart, one that can even bring the toughest men to tears. With the win, the kid in the shadow took another step into his own spotlight. With the win, many a fan shed tears of joy, I know, I was one of them.

Friends ask me what it is that makes this Rhode Island native love NASCAR. Yes, it's the cars, the speed, the engineering and the strategy involved, it's also the people. The crews, the drivers and even the fans. There is something about it that is different, something still pure and not corrupted by the big egos and the prima donas of other sports. NASCAR is the only sport that starts every race with a prayer broadcast on television. It still stands for something. And evey now and again, it gives us a Hollywood script, written in real life. This Daytona 500, the sports biggest stage, it's biggest young star, the heir to the sport's biggest name, won the biggest race and showed the biggest determination, heart and guts to do it. An impossible solo pass, and a his own page in the book of Earnhrdt lore and legend.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

It's Saturday night, that's right folks Valentine's night, and here I sit home, is becoming tradition. In Aggieland, if you do it more than once, it's a tradition, or so it is said. Don't get me wrong, I'm not it more venting and thinking. So, after spending the afternoon watching the Aggie (and LHP Zach Jackson) no-hit and pound A&M-CC into a wet, cold pulp in the freezing cold (31 degree windchills) 15-0. I think I will spend Daytona 500 eve talking about my views of love and Valentines Day.

Valentine's Day, the Hallmark holiday, is the one time of year where a holiday has been created and blown out of proportion by corprate America to make money by just raising the prices of flowers and chocolate candy. Couples are expected to have romantic evening, special plans, and try to out do their freinds so they can be the story everyone talks about in the office (i.e. "Did you hear what X's sweetheart did for them on Valentine's Day?). So in all the planning, all the big ideas, and all the spending of money, do to many people lose sight of the important thing. Their feelings for that special someone and just how much they mean to them.

I understand the importance of the day, yet why should one day be made more important than any other. As a guy, I don't think I should be limited to a big night out or great plans for a lady, just because it's February 14th. Nor should it be, yet the social norms to turn this holiday into something bigger than it should be are ever constant. Valentine's Day should not be bigger or more special than any other night out. Every night, every day with that special someone should be the most special moment. Whether that is a night of fine dining and the theatre or sitting in front of the television with pizza, beer, and a good movie or two. The important thing is being together, NOT, trying to out do everyone else you know.

Ok, that being said. I'v spent a lot of time this week just thinking about, for lack of better term, love. As I mentioned, right now...I'm single and that's fine. I will admit regretting not asking a certain girl I know out to dinner tonight. We're friends, but I do happen to really like, admire, and respect her greatly. However, that's tangential to where I want to go and going down that road (depending on who reads thing) might reveal things that are not for public consumption.

Society inundates us with all these ideas of love..or rather lust masked as love. The glorification of the one night stand, the hook-up, the pure "playa" persona and the idea that this is what love. Yet the flip side is the true love, the Romeo and Julietesque soul mate, Cinderella and the Prince, happily ever after fairy tale. I tend to view love too often in the latter grouping, being a "King of Chick Flicks". Love though when you really get down to it, yes physical attraction does play into it as does mental attraction, is the willingness and realization that you truly want to spend your life with one person through all the good times and bad times, peaks and deep and dark vallies. Not just being able to spend your lives together, but willing to share them. Building blocks of honesty, trust, commitment, closeness, compromise, and humbleness. Now you may be asking humbleness, am I off my rocker? I might be, but here's what I think. Being truly in love with someone, you are willing to humble your life for them, place their needs above your own. Where everything you do, is not for your own sake but for the sake of the one whom you love. You're willingness to sacrifice everything, even if the need should arise your very own life. You want to take away their pain when they hurt, you even wish their pain upon you, so you will suffer what is intendened for them. A wish to protect them from pain and suffering, even though you can't at times, and seeing them in such a state cause more anguish in your heart than words can mention.

I don't want to write too much this late in the night, but can you see my point? Love isn't some fluffy, bubbly feeling. It's deep rooted in the heart and linked with hope, humility, passion and just about every other emotion there is some form or another. So when we say we love someone, how truly do we understand what we mean by that word..are we meaning the deep, true sense of the meaning? Or are we just throwing out a word due to custom or habit? Love is sometimes to lightly used in the vernacular, so maybe we should be aware of how we mean it and if we mean it to it's full meaning, before we use it or think it. Of course some may wonder, how can anyone love that deeply (and I'm just quick hitting on the concept without getting to deep into it)? It's possible, there was One who did, and it's a standard we should all apsire too, though our mortal condition and natural nature make it so difficult to do so.

Well, it's time to watch some "Angel" season 3 on DVD, get the new VCR set to tape the Daytona 500 and try to shake the regret I have for not asking that great, wonderful woman to dinner tonight. Goodnight, God Bless and until next time...just remember to love each other (I know it sounds soooo Springer, but it's what I'm thinking!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

It's a terrific Tuesday. The rain continues to fall in College Station and the roads are flooding hither and thither. Yet, unlike a lot of folks, it is not getting me down. I'm enjoying my job and getting the lay of the land more each day. Aggie baseball starts Friday at 3pm, however I'll be missing that one due to work, but I should make the Saturday and Sunday contests. Sunday will be interesting because the Daytona 500 should wrap up just around the time of the game, depending on the number of cautions and/or red flags.

So my friend Allen e-mailed me today about the membership classes some of my friends and I want to attend for the church we attend, Westminster Presbyterian, in Bryan. The only problem might be my job and I might be able to join my friends because Pastor Wade is looking to hold the classes on Friday afternoons. However, the church is supposed to be offering Sunday school classes soon, so it wouldn't be like this would be the only option for doing this. I've been giving a lot of thought and prayer towards joining Westminster and now with the job security and the knowledge that I am not going anywhere, now is the right time. Since I moved to College Station, for some reason that I don't get, the Lord has been overly gracious towards me. I had been on the fence for awhile, because a part of me didn't understand the point of membership, but a over the last few months conversations with friends about what "being a member" means and even hearing Pastor Wade give a sermon which touched on the subject, really convinced me further that this is the right thing to do. Now being from a Roman Catholic background, I have to figure out how to tell my family, even though I've been hinting at it for awhile now. I think my immediate family will be fine with it, but I know I'll definitely be a scandal if and when news reaches beyond the immediate family, but since I never see those folks anyway, I really don't care what they think. I just pray my immediate family will take it well, I don't see why they won't., it's just something I worry about.

While I'm in the area of the subject, it made me ashamed of being from New England when the Massachusetts State Supreme Court issued their ruling to the legislature that civil unions would not pass state constitutional muster and the only way the issues up there can be settles is by legalizing gay marriages. Of course if this comes to pass, it becomes legal in every state due to a little area in the Constitution where the laws of one state must be recognized in another (or something like that). It means that is a gay couple is legally married in Boston and move to Orlando, Florida has to recognize the marriage. I firmly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, it has been defined as such for the recorded history of western civilization, and I don't see why the definition should change now. All because a few leftist liberal lunkheads think it is a good idea to run our society into the secular political correctness toilet.

Let me get off the soapbox, or I'll spend all day there.
Shout out to Ted M. for the thank-you card. See, I hosted the "other" RUF Super Bowl party at my place. It was awesome for one; secondly I had to host one because my team was in the game and won!! So thanks man, that was classy, you didn't have to do it, but you did. It was my pleasure to have everyone over to watch the game, have a few cold ones and just have a grand old time!

Well, that's all I got. But before I go, I just listened to the new Norah Jones album, entitled "Feels Like Home"...her voice is just so pretty and her music just so wonderful to listen's relaxing for sure! Plus, the more I'm settling into my job and life outside of A&M the more I realize...where I am feels like home!

Thanks and God Bless!

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Well, it's Sunday evening here in good old College Station. That means the weekend is drawing to a close and I still get half the things done I wanted to before starting the work week tomorrow. Oh, well.

My first week of my new job last week went very well. It was busy and I still have a lot to learn, but it's fun and exciting, not to mention right here in good old College Station. It's a good fit for me right now and a welcome change from the funk and rain cloud that I've had around my head since December when I finished the work on my Master's degree at A&M. Being unemployed and searching for a job, the not knowing, the uncertainty of it all, well it was really difficult. My faith in God and the support of my friends really got me through it. I don't think my friends ever really knew just how hard the last few months really were on me. It was definitely one of those periods of trial that the Lord puts us through. Fortunately I was given a job that is right here in town, where I wanted to stay, though I would have been happy anywhere in Texas. I can happily say that, unless the right situation comes up, I'm not moving again anytime soon. Did I mention how much I love my friends?? Sometimes things go unspoken between friends, just how much they mean to you, just by their mere being a part of your life. I've seen too much of life to know that they can't be taken for granted. To any of them who might be reading this, I know sometimes I wear my emotions on my sleave, sometimes I just get a tad bit quiet, but y'all are great and I'm so blessed to have all of you in my life and I love y'all, I might not say it much, but it's always there on my mind. (Ok, my family too, but I see my friends a lot more, and they're my family here in Texas).

It's been one week since the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII over the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. Good ole Adam came through with the game winning field goal for the second time in three years. Both teams played great and showed that team work, knowing your assignments, and execution of the game plan are still more important than superstar talent when it comes to winning championships. Of course, that fact was overlooked by the media, who instead hyped up the Janet Jackson incident. It's a shame how sensationalistic news has become, instead of reporting what is important and really a good lesson, they over cover the uncoverage that Justin and Janet provided.

It's great to see NASCAR getting underway after 62 days of off season that sees a new sponsor for the series in Nextel, a new point system (which I don't like, but am willing to give it a chance), and Speedweeks underway. The new Yates-Rousch engine program will give the Fords a lot more horse power, but I don't see them matching DEI on the plate tracks yet.

Baseball season is coming up around the corner and this past week the Boston Red Sox signed outfielder/DH Ellis Burks. Now, Ellis is at the end of a good career that started with Boston way back in 1987 and I for one am happy to see him come back full circle. Ellis, holds a special place in my memories. My Pa (my mother's dad) took me to my first major league game at Fenway Park on May 10, 1987. Bruce Hurst pitched for Boston and Hall of Famer Don Suttion pitched for California. Ellis Burks was a rookie CF for Boston just called up a few weeks before from Pawtucket. May 10 he stole his first base and hit his first major league homerun. I had a few hot dogs, some soda, peanuts, ice cream and a great time. I've been to Fenway many times since, but that first game, I'll never forget it. I still remember walking out from the old, dirty bowels of the old stadium up the ramp into the seating area and just being overwhelmed by the sunlight reflecting off of all the green, the grass and walls, it was the closest thing to heaven my 8 year old (almost 9 year old) eyes had ever seen. Of course, I've gotten older and moved to Texas, so things may change, but I remember that one day like it was yesterday.

That's really all I have time for now, but stay tuned, there's always more to come. Take care, say "Howdy", give hugs, and God Bless!

Well, welcome to my blog. I've been thinking this over and decided to hop into this aspect of using the internet. It might be fun, it will defineitely be interesting. So hang to your hats, hold on tight, and don't swallow your chew! Grab a cold one and relax, cause the party is about to start! Just give me some time to get her up and going!