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The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

Giveaway ends January 08, 2018.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Starting the New Year

I was blessed recently to be published in the January 2009 issue of Catechist, a magazine for teachers in Catholic schools. The essay dealt with suggestions for teaching religious sacraments to children with special needs. For those who would like to read the essay, please click here.

Welcome Catechist Readers

I was blessed recently to be published in the January 2009 issue of Catechist, a magazine for teachers in Catholic schools. The essay dealt with suggestions for teaching religious sacraments to children with special needs. For those who would like to read the essay, please click here.

To the readers of Catechist, thanks for dropping by. I hope you will find my blog interesting and worth your time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Other Talk I’m Not Ready For

I don’t remember how old I was when I learned the truth about Santa Claus. I do remember how it happened. It was like the song says:

She didn’t see me creep, down the stairs to have a peek.
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep.

However, instead of catching my mother kissing Santa Claus, I caught her setting out gifts. I had snuck down quietly, though, and went back upstairs to hide my deception. The next morning, when I rose at 5:00 a.m. for my annual ritual of playing card games with my older sister until it was time to go down and open presents, I wavered about informing my sister of my discovery.
“Sis, do you know there’s no Santa Claus?”
“Yes, but keep pretending to believe, at least for the parental units” she said. “You get more stuff that way.”

My kids are ages eleven and six and both still look forward to Santa Claus. However, my wife and I have a concern with our older one, Andrew. It’s not that he doesn’t believe. It’s just that he doesn’t question things like other kids do. We know that his friends are asking questions and likely many of them, like the kid in the movie The Polar Express, are at their crucial years. This may be the last time for them.

For Andrew, though, he may carry his belief for another few years…and that worries my wife and me. Andrew’s speech and social challenges already make him different and kids will make fun of him, as he gets older, particularly at middle school which he will start next fall. My wife and I work hard to help Andrew with his social skills, to minimize the chances of other kids regarding him as “different.” And it’s because of this we wonder…will we have to tell Andrew about Santa Claus.

For many of you, you may think, “Why bother?” You may regard it as lucky that we get to enjoy for a longer time what many parents wish they could have had. But it’s not an issue of what we want to enjoy at home. It’s an issue of making sure there’s one less thing at school for which kids can make fun of him.

At the moment, there is a ping-pong table in the basement. It’s Andrew’s gift from Santa. I was up until 2:30 a.m. last night assembling it. I had to do it early, as I didn’t want to chance discovering on Christmas Eve that there were parts missing. There’s nothing in the basement that Andrew would go down and see, but I have to hope that he doesn’t go down early to scope out where a table might be placed.

My wife and I will decide sometime after Christmas what we plan to do about next year. For now, we’ll let him enjoy 2008. And I would love to hear from parents about when their kids learned the truth about Santa Claus.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nancy Pelosi (aka Jay Jacobs) Must Go

A day after Chizik was announced, a poll appeared on alabamalive.com asking how you felt about it (the coaching change) now that you’d had a chance to sleep on it. Admittedly, it’s taken me longer than that.

However, with a week in the rearview mirror and a realization that it wasn’t a cruel joke perpetrated by some other world universe that we stepped into, I’d like to say the following.

I support Auburn University, my alma mater and former home of four years
I support Coach Chizik and his efforts to lead Auburn.
I support the team and their efforts at all times and regardless of the outcome.

However, this was the stupidest move the athletic department has made since making the decision to refer to Birmingham as a neutral site. I had an easier time realizing Obama was our next President.

But at least in the case of Obama, the nation made its decision and we had a vote on it. In the case of the Auburn’s head coach, the power brokers toppled Tuberville and replaced him with Chizik. (No, I do not believe the resignation story, even with the letter, given the amount of money that changed hands.) No vote. Just a coup d’etat that was portrayed as a democratic decision.

Chizik seems to be saying the right things. I do like the idea of getting assistant coaches that played at Auburn and made Auburn a winner when they were players. However, Turner Gill apparently had the same idea. Why didn’t it work for him? Why didn’t it work for a coach who took a team from worst in Division I-A to a conference championship in three years?

Jay Gogue has since come out and said that he alone decided on Chizik. If that’s true, then he is the Harry Reid of Auburn and not Bobby Lowder, but I don’t know if makes a difference. Either way, this was a bonehead decision born of arrogance and misinformation.

If Tuberville did resign, then Jacobs needs to show that he can do the same thing. He’s not doing Auburn any good. Under Jacob’s leadership, our sports programs seem to be headed in the wrong direction.

From Jacobs’ perspective, that means he thinks he deserves a pay raise.

Mr. Jacbos, do us all a favor. Follow Tuberville out the door.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Naughty and Nice

It's been rumored that my younger son, Christopher, spends the entire year on the naughty list. That may be true, as he definitely works at it. Each Christmas at our house, we place a gift from Santa next to the boys' beds. Two years ago, Christoher's gift dropped behind the pillows we set the gift on. He didn't see the present when he woke up and and came out of his room believing he'd been so bad that Santa had skipped him.

Above is a picture of Chistopher and his future wife, Lily, taken by his future mother-in-law, Susan. It was Susan who penned the title of the picture and passed it along to my wife, Mo. Click on the picture to get a better shot of Christopher's face.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Auburn's New Hire

I'm trying to wrap my mind around the decision that's been made, the idea of Gene Chizik being the new head coach at Auburn. This may take awhile. Mal Moore could have done a better job of finding a new coach for Auburn than Jay Jacobs just did. This may be the stupidest move in the history of the Athletic Department.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Christmas, I gave you my ...

I have been swamped of late and am working on a story for posting, but it's just not ready yet. With that in mind, I thought I would re-post a Christmas story from last year. The story got some laughs and I hope newreaders will enjoy it. Given that it's the Christmas season, my wife is regaling friends and relatives with this tale, embellishing the story to make it funnier. When Christopher gets married some day, I hope he won't choose a date close to Christmas as this story would likely make the rehearsal dinner.

The Littlest Actor

Every Christmas Eve, my wife and I take our sons to the children’s service at our church. The service includes a kids’ pageant and our boys seem to pay closer attention than they do during the typical church service. Also, we feel that attending Mass on Christmas Eve provides a wonderful way to begin the holiday. After the service is over, we go out to dinner to the one place open on Christmas Eve, a Chinese restaurant.

While my wife and I believe every family Christmas is special, we cannot conceive that any will be more memorable than our last one. It was to be a big night as our older son, Andrew, was finally old enough to participate in the Christmas pageant. He enjoyed two rehearsals and getting into costume, admirably playing the role of a shepherd. Because church seating at Christmas is limited and we wanted to take pictures, we arrived almost an hour early to get a seat up front. We knew it would be difficult to keep our pre-school age son, Christopher, seated for the long service and the time before it. Therefore, my wife saved our seats while I played with Christopher and kept him entertained. When it was close to time, I corralled him and took him to our seats; he sat on my wife’s lap and anxiously looked for his older brother and the start of the show.

Just before the beginning of the pageant, the stuffy air in the crowded church became a little more unbearable than usual. As there were several babies in the immediate vicinity, my wife and I both thought one of them must have needed changing. Catching the odor, Christopher said aloud, “What’s that smell?” He turned around, looked at his Mom, and said, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” We did our best to quiet him down, while the people around us were suppressing their laughter. He continued on, repeating the words, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” Eventually, Christopher quieted down and the pageant began.

After Mass ended, we walked to the car, buckled the kids in, and drove away. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, my wife and I discussed the incident. She realized that the words Christopher used in church were the same ones she had used with him during his potty training. Also, we were convinced one of the babies close to us during the service must have had a poopy diaper or probably just passed gas. We chuckled about it. However, our little guy provided the last laugh. Overhearing the discussion, Christopher, with the smile that only a young child can produce, piped up with one more comment, “Oh, in church? That was me.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tommy Tuberville meets Barack Obama

For those of you visiting here because Googled the name of the President-elect Obama, welcome. In the event that you don’t know who Tommy Tuberville is, either because you
1) live in a bubble, or
2) don’t live in a bubble, but don’t care about college football,
Tuberville is the former coach of the Auburn Tigers football team.

For those of you that do love college football, welcome as well, whether you love the SEC or think it’s full of itself, welcome as well.

I’ll start with the Presidential race. Some of us may not remember back in September. After the Republican convention, McCain led in all the polls and looked to be on course to becoming the 44th President of the United States.

Then the stock market tanked and the economic news changed. Some would say that the signs were already there and that the rest of the America finally woke up in September. Some would say McCain just ran a poor campaign (agreed). Whatever the reason, Barack Obama took the lead over McCain and never looked back.

And so it was this September for Auburn’s football season. Auburn finished September with a 4-1 record and should have won the one game they lost. However, it was still apparent that Auburn was getting by on a defense considered fundamentally sound while the cracks in the offensive armor that was anything but Teflon showed that Auburn, like the economy, was just getting by.

And so it was that Auburn went into October and totally tanked. The checks the offense asked the defense to cash in September came back as NSF in October, when the defense had nothing left in the reserve account to cover the overdrafts of the offense. A promising season spiraled and the power brokers in the Auburn’s version of the House, Senate, and its lobbyists demanded change.

And so it was that Tuberville “resigned.” Let’s face it. Who among us buys that statement? Is resignation the word used because it’s one of those internal family embarrassments that family members never mention in the hopes that it will go away?

Tuberville was forced out, else they wouldn’t be paying him $5.1 million dollars. The man with one of the five best records in college football over the last ten years, coaching in the toughest conference in the nation, left...forced out by people with more money than brains. The forces within Auburn demanded change, and like the Presidential election, threw lots of money at it.

And both Auburn and the country face the same issue, no one involved has a clue what they just bought.

As an American, I wish the President-elect well and hope that he and his advisors will implement policies that improve this Country. Obama wasn’t my choice on Election Day, but on January 20, 2009, he will be my President.

As an Auburn graduate, I hope that the next coach will be a success and will usher in more championships for Auburn. Firing Coach Tuberville wasn’t my choice and I disagree with it vehemently. In my opinion, it was a choice made by AD Jay Jacobs and alumnus Bobby Lowder, Auburn’s version of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

So, now that the change has been made for the sake of change and not reason, I ask that we, to paraphrase the President-elect, try to change the trajectory of what has been de rigueur at Auburn. Bring in someone that can bring fundamental change.

I vote Charlie Strong. Auburn is not a place for a first-time coach, but the man knows the SEC. He does not have a reputation for good recruiting skills, but he supposedly gets the best out of his players and he very deserving. Whomever is chosen, though, he will be my team’s coach.

War Eagle!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's true!

Yes, Tuberville's gone. Links below offer a voluminous amount of stories.

http://www.al.com/auburnfootball/

Kevin Scarbinsky's column is also good.

http://www.al.com/sports/birminghamnews/kscarbinsky.ssf?/base/sports/122838214621690.xml&coll=2

My thoughts later this week, when my schedule settles down.