Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Speed (Part I): The Search for Five Miles per Hour

Maverick: I feel the need…

Maverick & Goose together: the need…for speed!
- from the movie, Top Gun.

Recently, I took my sons to a batting cage. (I know. I know. The season’s over, but this is still fun.) Both Andrew and Christopher enjoy this activity as they get to hit real baseballs without us having to go find them in the woods or the yard next door. (They are both good hitters.) It is particularly important to Andrew, though, as he has never played organized baseball before, but is hoping to do so next spring.

Team sports, though, have always been a problem for Andrew. With my older son’s challenges, he has difficulty adjusting to the speed of a team sport. He has played both organized basketball and organized soccer. In both sports, the kids outrun him. In soccer, this means he has difficulty with challenges from kids. Playing basketball, Andrew has trouble handling some of the quick passes on offense. On defense, he can occasionally make steals or get rebounds and then run down the court, trying for a quick lay-up on a fast break. The farthest he ever gets is the top of the key before some kid on the other team catches up with him.

In baseball, the biggest speed challenge is hitting. At the batting cage, I asked the proprietor how fast the pitches would be for Andrew’s age group (age 10). “Around 45 miles per hour,” he said. So, with Andrew up to the plate, I started slow. I took it to 35 mph and he was fine. I inched it higher and he could still get wood (okay, aluminum) on it. Then, I cranked it up to 40; it was foul balls, some fair, but a lot of good contact. He even hit a beautiful line drive. Unfortunately, for me, I had to barehand it when I realized Christopher had moved from behind the protective screen to better see his brother.

Then I cranked it above 40. He got a few foul balls, as he did his best to make contact.

At 45 mph, Andrew was unable to catch up with it.

Part of me was very happy. I was thinking only five more mph to get up to speed. However, part of me was also sad in that I know that he is past the age where every kid gets to play. He is still slow, a trait he inherited from me. Andrew may get on a team, but he will likely be sitting on the bench. Like all kids, he wants to play, but I am afraid it will discourage his interest in baseball. Also, given his speed, even if puts the ball in play, him running the basepath will mimic a lazy day at the park.

Then, though, I have to look at the positives. If he gets a hit, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off his face. Also, he seems very good at judging ball and strikes. He may actually be cognizant enough to draw walks. He won’t swing at bad balls that I pitch to him at home or bad ones in the cage. When he watches the Braves, Andrew focuses on every pitch. I have watched him strongly argue what he thinks are “incorrect” calls by the umpire. The biggest positive, though, is that he wants to play. And I want him to know the joy of playing baseball.

Therefore, I need to take him back to the batting cage to help him improve his bat speed. Additionally, we will also work at home on improving his fielding skills.

Now, if I only knew how to teach him not to argue with the umpire.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Post-Bama

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I have been visiting family. Also, I have been sick. When I told my wife on Sunday how sick I was, her only response was that I sounded pretty happy on Saturday night.

I guess all of you know the reason.

All of Auburn nation knows the reason.

The winning streak over Alabama has been stretched to six games and we all hope it will continue. The game ended the same way most of the games. Alabama scored to make it within a TD (and possibly a 2-point conversion) and then kicked an onside kick that Auburn recovered and ran out the clock on.

I have two Alabama grads in my office. One doesn’t follow football and has never uttered a nasty word about Auburn. Her, I leave alone. The other Alabama fan in my office does follow football. I thought about saying something. Then I decided to pass by her desk as if it was no big deal. I thought that was funnier.

So what’s in the future?

Tuberville is not going to Texas A&M, though rumors still abound about him taking the Arkansas position.

If you haven’t heard, Houston Nutt has resigned at Arkansas and accepted the position of HC at Ole Miss.

Will Muschamp is being mentioned for many jobs, including the newly open position at Georgia Tech. However, folks believe he will not go to Tech as the fan base could not accept a former Bulldog coaching at Tech.

Rumors still fly about OC Al Borges going elsewhere. Part of that is recognition for a job well done. Other parts of it is speculation about what appears to be a lackluster offense at times.

Congrats to Brandon Cox, the winning-est QB in the SEC. He will make a marvelous coach some day.

Also, Jordan-Hare may be re-named Jerraud Powers Stadium, depending on what course of action Powers will take after being bitten by a police dog. (Yes, I’m kidding.)

Current bowl speculation is the Peach (Chick-Fil-A) Bowl in Atlanta or the Outback Bowl in Tampa. Do we want to finish our season beating up on a Big Ten team or a ACC team?

War Eagle!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Touch of Irony: Owing Saban Thanks

Now, before you look at the headline and think I've lost my mind, please hear me out.

Saban made one of the stupidest comments, if not the stupidest comment, in the history of college football. Asinine does not even begin to describe how inappropriate his statement was.

However, when I first heard it, I did something that, as an Auburn fan, I have a difficult time doing.

I suspended my belief.

As much a I want to believe bad things about Alabama, I could not conceive that the Saban could have uttered what he did. And even after learning that he he had compared Alabama's loss to UL-M to Pearl Harbor and 9-11, I could not conceive that the people who support Alabama could condone such a statement.

So, why would Saban be owed any thanks.

Both sides know he stepped over the line. And in being stupid, he reminded both sides that the Iron Bowl (or the Aluminum Foil Bowl as a favorite columnist of mine referred to it this year) is still JUST a football game.

I despise Alabama! I still want to see Auburn destroy them! I want to start raising fingers on the other hand.

However, for a moment, maybe I despise Alabama a little bit less.

Maybe this weekend, the acrimony both sides feel will be tempered for a change...because some moron reminded us of what is important.

War Damn Eagle!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Must See You-Tube

Check out thee Iron Bowl highlights. You'll be glad you did.

Six years ago

Six years ago, an Alabama team with a new head coach (supposedly reputable) came into Auburn with a 5-6 record, reeling from several embarrassing losses. All that remained was the Iron Bowl (and the LSU game since this was 2001). Win the Iron Bowl and Auburn would finish off Alabama’s catastrophe.

Then Carnell broke his leg in the first quarter. The score was tied 7-7.

Auburn went on to lose 31-7.

As one columnist put it, Auburn had its foot on Alabama’s throat and let it up instead of crushing its windpipe.

Alabama went to a bowl game and finished with a winning season.

This weekend, Alabama comes in with a 6-5 record and a similar situation. While a 6-6 team is technically bowl eligible, this season has more bowl-eligible SEC teams than most. This season, a 6-6 team might find itself sitting at home during the college football postseason. An Auburn win would mean that Alabama’s finishes this season with four straight losses. It could hurt their recruiting if some of Saban’s vaunted incoming signing class changes it mind.

In short, Auburn has its foot on Alabama’s throat. This time, it needs to crush the windpipe.

War Damn Eagle!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It Was The Best of Times

On Saturday night, my family and journeyed over to Stone Mountain for the Stone Mountain Christmas attraction. We were hoping to have a good time.

We had a great time.

We arrived at the Stone Mountain exit around 4:00 p.m. and were immediately greeted with a brilliant display of autumn colors as we drove to the parking lot. The trip improved from there. First things first, we took in the new Polar Express attraction. My younger son, Christopher, enjoyed this one so much he begged to see it again (a wish we granted at the end of the evening).

From the Polar Express, we caught the Park’s own train, for a wonderful 20-minute ride. It was twilight. The waning sunlight had receded enough to make the Christmas-light displays interesting, while the light that remained sufficiently displayed the colors of the surrounding trees.

The parade and dinner quickly followed and both were enjoyable. The red pepper soup with smoked gouda cheese, that I enjoyed, was delicious and quite hot. Parkgoers for the remainder of the year will appreciate it more as the weather gets colder.

And of course, it’s Stone Mountain, which means there’s a Christmas laser show. Actually, there's more than showing, giving attendees several opportunities to see it.

There’s more to do than what I just described. However, a 10-year old and a 5-year old can only last so long. We left, but know we will be back next year.

The attraction lasts through December 30th. If you buy your tickets at Kroger, you can get two dollars off per ticket.

Plan to use cash to eat, unless you’re willing to wait 60-90 minutes for a sit down meal. And if you want to save more money, bring your own meal.

Still, if it’s cold out, the soup is really good and hot.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Auburn 2008 schedule

For those of you that haven’t heard, the Auburn’s 2008 schedule has been put out. Things to note are as follows:

1) We drop Florida and pick up Tennessee.

2) We have only seven games at home this year, instead of the usual eight. This year features the first game of a home-and-home series with West Virginia and we travel to Morgantown in 2008.

3) We pick up a tough non-conference foe in Southern Miss.

4) We have a bye week in October, which will provide a much needed break in the middle of the season. This season, we played 11 straight games without a break. Last season, we played all 12 games without a break.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have scheduled Tennessee Martin.

Oh, I almost forgot, opening day. We open the season against Lousiana-Monroe. The last time we played UL-M was opening day in 2004. At that time, I think the team went by the Indians, but now call themselves the Warhawks.

When they arrive next year, we should greet them with a hearty thanks.

After all, they just beat Alabama.

War Eagle

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giada’s Pregnant

The other day, my wife says to me, “I have bad news for you. Giada’s pregnant.”

For those of you who are not Food Channel devotees, Giada is Giada De Laurentiis. She has a show called Everyday Italian, which I watch occasionally. She has other shows as well, appears on the Today Show, and has three cookbooks, two of which I have.

She’s so popular that there is a drinking game involving her on college campuses. (No, I am not going to describe it.)

So, my wife, knowing that I am slightly smitten, told me about Giada’s pregnancy as a joke. I knew she was giving me a hard time. No big deal. My wife is smitten with Sting. Unfortunately, the pregnancy joke doesn’t work the other way.

My sister also jokes about my obsession with the Food Channel. I am also a big fan of Rachael Ray. Once, I had Rachel on when my sister dropped by with her kids. My sister looked at my wife and joked, “You’re letting him watch Rachael? Isn’t that like he’s cheating on you?”

Why am I talking about this?

Well, to be honest, I don’t won’t to talk about the AU-UGA game. The outcome was a joke.

But I guess we have to.

When Cox opened with an interception, my first impression was, “Oh, %&!$! He’s having flashbacks to 2006.”

Then Cox seemed to calm down, though we settled for a field goal on our next drive.
Then, it was quickly 17-3, and the 2006 scenario came back to me.

When Auburn made it 20-17 in the 3rd quarter, I thought we had taken control.

When UGA went up 24-20, I thought we were in for a reprise of 2005, last team with the ball wins.

Then the bottom dropped and my stomach with it. I lost count of the number of passes dropped

The final score was worse than last year, though we seemed to be in the game for a longer period of time.

So, the questions I have.

Is UGA to Cox what LSU apparently was to John Vaughn?

Did last year’s game make Cox overfocus and try to do too much, similar to what he did in the first three games of this year?

Does UGA offensive coordinator and play caller Mike Bobo know the thoughts of Will Muschamp too well? (I am not implying anything ill of Muschamp, only that Bobo knows too well how Muschamp thinks.)

Whatever happened, UGA creamed us. They are in a zone and playing extremely well. With them needing a UT loss to make the Championship Game, UGA may be in a similar position to what we were in 2005. In 2005, the general consensus was that we were the best team in conference. However, due to one heart-breaking OT loss in Baton Rouge when the best kicker in the league missed five FGs, we found ourselves on the outside looking in. If UT does lose a game and UGA gets in, then I firmly believe that UGA will beat LSU.

War Eagle Anyway!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank you, Dr. Mussell

Earlier this year, I was dealing with headache that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. The pain was localized to one side of my head, so I knew it wasn’t a typical one. I researched it on-line to see what could cause this type of pain and finally decided it was some type of migraine.

Still, I was tired of having one meal of day be ibuprofen, so I finally went to the doctor and had it checked out. In my meeting, I told the doctor all of my symptoms, as well as what I had found on-line. The doctor looked at me, blew off my self-diagnosis, and jokingly said, “Thank you, Dr. Mussell. Next time, enter the search term, ‘headache unilateral.’ “ One visit to a neurologist and a shot in the back of the head and I was my old self again.

I am not the only one in the family who’s had to visit a neurologist. My older son, Andrew, has been seeing one for a number of years. In the course of all the tests he took back when we were living in Oregon, we discovered that he was having seizures. They were petit mals, seizures we couldn’t see. “Many kids grow out of these as they get older,” the neurologist said. He prescribed Tegretol, a well-known seizure medication.

As Andrew grew, the seizures continued to show up on tests. The doctor increased the level of meds. He had a grand mal once and we took him to the hospital. My wife witnessed it and it scared her. The meds were increased again.

When we moved to Georgia, we had to find a new pediatric neurologist. We got a recommendation from his PCP. The new one ran the same tests as the previous one had. A few months ago, the school called. Andrew had another grand mal during his CRCT. Tests were run. The meds were increased again.

Displeasure with Andrew’s current neurologist led us to look for a new one. The doctor was blowing off concerns my wife and I had about Andrew. (He was also taking calls about his real estate investments during the appointment.) Instead, our PCP sent us to a seizure specialist.

At my son’s first visit, the doctor made a surprising recommendation: take Andrew off the meds. According to the doctor, one in 10 kids has seizure activity. Most of them grow out of it. However, their body has to learn to grow out of it. With Andrew on medication, his body wasn’t learning…and it needed to start doing so. For this doctor, kids shouldn’t be on seizure medication unless they are regularly having them. And while he was convinced that Andrew’s first grand mal was a seizure. The description of the second one that we got from Andrew’s school didn’t meet the definition.

So, we are now happily taking Andrew off medication. It will take about four months, as it can’t be done cold turkey. And the doctor admits that we may have to put him back on the meds in the future. For now, though, he’s going off…and we call it good news.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ebony and Ivory

The talk this week has been different. Most of the time, when there’s a game between Auburn and Georgia, the talk centers around football.

This week…it’s about the clothes.

Georgia is having a blackout this weekend. All the fans, particularly the students, are supposed to come to the game wearing black. In addition, the players will supposedly be wearing black jerseys, instead of their traditional home red. It’s supposed to get the players and fans pumped up the game, in much the same way that the infamous celebration penalty did in the Georgia-Florida game.

There was even a poll this week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution asking about the jersey. Respondents voted 70% to 30% in favor of the black jerseys.

However, amidst all the talk of the black jerseys, people seem to be forgetting about one thing…the white jerseys.

Yes, as it’s a road game, Auburn will be wearing the standard road white.

Auburn is considered a road warrior. For many of the fans, part of the road mystique centers on the white jersey. In the last four seasons, the team has lost only two games on the road. Both were to LSU. LSU wears white at home, forcing Auburn to wear their home blue in Baton Rouge.

In fact, the last time Auburn lost on the road to a team other than LSU was in the 2003 season to Georgia.

So, on the TV broadcast, it’s a lock that everyone will be discussing the home team in black.

Fear the road team in white.

War Damn Eagle!

Time For A BBQ

I have always bee of the opinion that the AU-UGA rivalry is like no other. Most rivals, we can't stand.

On the other hand, Georgia is like family.

Two Auburn coaches, High Nall and Will Muschamp, played at UGA.

Two Georgia coaches, Stacey Searels and Rodney Garner, played at Auburn.

I hate Alabama. I can't stand LSU.

Georgia, on the other hand, is like the cousin who attends a crosstown school. You want to beat them, but you still see them twice a year: Thanksgiving and the summer BBQ.

Philip Marshall of the Huntsville Times has some wonderful articles about the game. My favorite is called Intensity Without Hostility. Click on the article title to be taken to it. Click here to be taken to Marshall's blog.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It was a Good Halloween

“Bring me Andrew’s candy bag.”

My wife uttered these words last Thursday night. We were watching Grey’s Anatomy. The kids were asleep. It was time to do what all parents do…raid their children’s candy.

Admittedly, we didn’t do this with abandon. There are limits when raiding the candy. My older son, Andrew, rarely eats chocolate. My younger son, Christopher, is allergic to peanuts. Therefore, we knew what to pick and choose without upsetting the boys.

So, as we sat there, chowing down, I thought about how the Halloween had gone. Some of the things to note are:

=> The boys had a blast.
=> The weather was great.
=> Christopher got tired 2/3 of the way around the neighborhood and called it a night. Andrew and I made it through the rest.
=> I am proud that my boys, for at least half the night, used driveways and sidewalks to get to people’s doors. I chided them later when they did walk on someone’s lawn. Overhearing, my neighbor replied, “Don’t’ worry about it. With the drought, the grass is dead anyway.”
=> Only three people recognized that I was dressed as Sandman. That’s three more than my wife expected.
=> I did see one other father that had also getten into the spirit of the evening. He was dressed as a mustard bottle. If that was me, my wife would have disowned me.

All in all, it was a wonderful night. A picture is below.