Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

Giveaway ends October 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Auburn - Tennessee Preview 2009

I remember last year. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Auburn beat Tennessee 14-12 in the most pathetic display of offensive ineptitude since…since…

Since the 3-2 win over Mississippi State.

And the only good thing I could think of to say was that it beat losing. And, after watching that game, it kicked in for me how long a season it was going to be. I had seen some things work for the offense, but knew I should be seeing better.

What a difference a year makes.

This year, Auburn comes in at 4-0, but looking at its first road game of the season. Tennessee is 2-2 (should be 3-1), and playing in front of 100,000 screaming fans. (I went to Knoxville twice for games when I was in school. The first time, Auburn came in ranked #1 and lost. The second time, in a game where Auburn also appeared to be the better team before kickoff, we left with a 20-20 tie.)

So, we’re left to ask what kind of game this will be?

It can be a statement game for Auburn. In 2004, a 4-0 Auburn traveled to Knoxville in what was expected to be its first serious test of the season. It played an excellent UT team (a team it would play again for the SEC Championship) and blew it off the checkerboard by a final of 34-10. Watching the game, I realized that the season had a shot to be a magical one.

However, it could also be like 1999, when a 3-1 Auburn team in Tuberville’s first year traveled to Knoxville to face a 2-1 Tennessee squad. (Yes, UT’s one loss was to Florida.) Auburn lost 24-0.

Given the low expectations for this season, we already know that this season could be a good one. However, with eight games left, what Auburn team are we seeing? Initial indications are that it could be a good one. And as much as I want to jump on the Gus Malzahn bus (and I do believe it is good long term), I don’t know if I ready to say that this will be a great year. It has, however, been a fun season so far.

Auburn owns a 4-game winning streak in the series and a 26-21-3 record overall. No doubt, Tennessee wants to break the streak and will be up to do so. They used to say that the loser of the Auburn – Tennessee game would never win the conference (at least until Auburn did it in ’89 when they finished in a three-way tie for the conference crown with Tennessee and Alabama.). I don’t expect that old adage to change this year. I do, though, expect to enjoy myself.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Joy of Batting Seventh

My 12-year son loves to bat. He loves to connect with the ball (what kid doesn’t) and, although he isn’t quick, he wears an irrepressible smile whenever he gets on base. However, there’s one thing about hitting that my 12-year son doesn’t like.

He doesn’t like batting last.

For those of you that don’t have kids in baseball, every kid gets to bat (at least they do in our league). It doesn’t mean they all play in the field at the same time. Usually, each team has ten or eleven kids. The kids can start the game, switch positions, sit out an inning, and then go back on the field. Along with this set-up, the batting line-up includes every kid on the team.

However, having started later in playing the game and having an uncoordinated father, my son has perennially been seen as a weak hitter. This means he’s often stuck at the end of a line-up. Games are limited to 90 minutes and, with kids pitching, innings can take a long time. Though the games are planned for five innings, it’s not unusual to have a game where the kids are lucky to get three innings in. It’s in games like these that the kids who bat at the bottom of a line-up only get one at-bat in a game. I’ve lost count of how many times my son was scheduled to bat in the following inning, only to have the game called.

Last Friday night was one of those situations. My 12-year old’s team nearly went through the order in the first inning. He was standing in the on-deck circle when the kid in front of him struck out. My son batted first in the second inning and struck out, but the team managed to bat around. He was scheduled to open the third inning and wanted redemption. But my son’s team was the Home team. Ninety minutes had elapsed by the end of the top half of the third inning (when the Visiting team bats). My son’s team was leading and the umps called the game. He was happy that his team won, but disappointed he only got one shot.

On Sunday, he ran up to me excitedly. “Dad, I’m batting 7th.” He knew what it meant, more opportunity. He went 0 for 1 with strike out and scored a run. I was proud of him for coaxing a walk after being down 0-2 in his second at-bat. The game got through four innings. Like many times prior, he was the next batter when the last inning was over. His team won again, but I thought he’d be disappointed being stranded once again in the on-deck circle.

He just looked at me and flashed a rueful smile. “I almost got up there a third time.”

“If you want to stay up there, you need to keep hitting,” I told him.

Hopefully, he will.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Auburn vs. Ball State Wrap-Up

When the score became 40-10, the first thing that went through my mind was a different point total.

Thirty-eight.

We need thirty-eight more points to eclipse the point total for last year.

I don’t feel like I am saying anything new, because announcers keep pointing it out. I believe that the point total will continue to decline as the night wears on. (Make that 31 points as Fannin just went in for another score.) However, the amount is stupefying.

Admittedly, it’s not as much as the coaching staff’s decision to fake on 4th and 11 (and get McCalebb hurt in the process) or leaving Todd in this late in the game.

Whatever, the game appears all but over and the 4th quarter hasn’t even started.

So what does one do when faced with this situation?

You think about what has happened in the rest of the SEC? Can you take anything from any of the other games?

1) South Carolina upset Ole Miss. How big of an upset is it when Ole Miss was only favored by three (even being the #4 team in the country)? Ole Miss is still a good team, but they didn’t bring their “A” game.

2) LSU needed a goal line stand to hold off Mississippi State. We needed to wake up in the 2nd quarter to hold off Mississippi State. Does this mean we’ve got a shot at LSU?

3) Alabama kicked Arkansas’s @$$. Did Alabama have a good day or did Arkansas just have a bad one (or does Arkansas just have a bad defense)?

4) Is Tim Tebow alright?

From there, it’s back to your own game with even more inane musings, such as…

5) Why, at this moment in the 4th quarter, does Ball State have a greater than 3:2 differential in time of possession and over ten more plays than Auburn does? Is it because we’re going for the home run ball and ending up with a lot of three-and-outs?

6) Is Auburn already looking toward next week at Tennessee, which is why they seem to be letting Ball State move the ball on them? (Scratch that. Caudle just scampered for 52 yards.)

7) When Auburn gets called for pass interference, why is it always on McFadden?

8) Given that I commented last week about how the SEC is acting more like the Pac-10 these days, is Ray Melick’s article today on the same topic (click here) ripping me off? (Ray, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding. Your article does a great job of outlining this point.)

And how will this team react as an easy September rolls into a harrowing October?

War Eagle!

Friday, September 25, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta

Though it's still September, my wife and I are planning our fall visit to a pumpkin farm. Our pumpkin place of choice has always been Burt's Farm in Dawsonville. However, we realize there are many choices of places to go. You may believe I'm nuts (since most people don't think about pumpkins and Halloween in September), but it is that time and it's best to go early before the good pumpkins are gone.

Click here to be taken to a list of pumpkin farms in the Atlanta area. And, for those willing to drive the distance, I understand there is a wonderful maze in the Chattanooga area (The Enchanted Maze).

Florida Undergrad/Florida State Grad Pens Psychological Special for Writers

As an undergrad at Florida, Kelly Stone was a "Gator Getter," meaning she was hostess to incoming football recruits and their parents. She would give them a tour of the campus, sit with them at games, and so forth. From there, she went to Florida State. With such dualism, a specialty in psychology was the only option. When asked about her football loyalty, Kelly commented:

...after going to UF for 4 years I went to FSU for my master's degree which I guess makes me a split personality!

On September 22nd, Kelly's third book, Thinking Write, was released. The book is a follow-up to her highly successful "Time to Write," a book this blogger absolutely loved. A blurb on Kelly's new book is below. For more information on Kelly and her books, click here.


Discover the power of your subconscious mind and learn to use it to help you maximize your creative output and attain all of your writing aspirations. Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind, demonstrates how to use the power of your subconscious for writing and creativity purposes. Comes with a CD with 4 meditations just for writers, including one on how to give the perfect pitch to an editor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Auburn vs. Ball State Preview

Certain things happen every four years.

  • We elect a president.
  • We have a leap year.
  • I eat Eggs Benedict (because it takes four years to clear all of the cholesterol out of your system).

Add to that list, Auburn plays Ball State.

We first squared off against David Letterman’s alma mater in 2001, winning 30-0. Four years later, in the 2005 season, we defeated them again 63-3. Though the 2013 schedule isn’t set yet, AD Jay Jacobs probably has Ball State penciled in for 2013.

Ball State is 0-3 so far this season, coming off a one TD loss to Army last week. The team is on a five-game losing streak, going back to last year when Ball State made a name itself by declining a bowl game.

Yes, you heard that right. They declined a bowl game.

Something that occurs less than once every four years is an undefeated season. Ball State went 12-0 last season and was invited to play Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl. For those of you unfamiliar with the Boise State, they’ve been one of the best teams of the last three seasons including a signature Fiesta Bowl win against Oklahoma. They’re also the team with the blue field.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Humanitarian Bowl, it’s the one played on a blue field.

Because it constituted an unfair home field advantage, Ball State declined a Humanitarian Bowl match-up with 12-0 Boise State. Ball State, called wimps nationally, then played in the MAC Championship, and lost to Buffalo. From there, they went to the GMAC Bowl and got blown out by Tulsa. In short, since turning down the big time, Ball State’s been blown out big time. To paraphrase the main character from “My Name is Earl,” Ball State is “karma’s $%&#!”

So what does that mean for this weekend?

Auburn expects to beat Ball State this weekend. Everyone expects Auburn to beat Ball State this weekend. Gus Malzahn was the OC at Tulsa last season. He could probably mail this one in (not implying that he would). Let’s face it. Successive road trips to Tennessee and Arkansas are on the horizon. There’s no doubt we’re looking ahead.

However, let’s hope they concentrate on the game at hand. Karma is a very fickle woman.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bored Games

With the recent torrential downpours, the Mill Creek Athletic Association in Gwinnett County cancelled all of the weekend baseball games by Friday as the fields were such a mess. It proved to be the right decision as rain continued through the weekend.

So, with my kids cooped up in the house, we talked about what to do. The boys wanted to go see a movie. Normally, we wouldn’t mind this, but both my sons had their hearts set on G.I. Joe. I saw no problem with taking my older son to it. However, both my wife and I were convinced that the movie was much too violent for our 7-year old. (Yes, he pouted.)

However, from there, we turned to board games. My kids have several games they like: Braves Monopoly, Tank Battle (game from my era, but a cool one), Sorry, and Battleship. However, their favorite game is Risk. For those of you unfamiliar with Risk, it’s a board game where the object is to take over the world. The board is a world map subdivided into 42 sections (Antarctica not included). The players start with an equal number of sections and attack and defend with rolls of dice.

It’s an entertaining game. My sons have favorite places on board, like Japan (because they’ve been there) and Madagascar (because of the movie). However, my 7-year old has interesting names for some of the areas on the board.

“Daddy, I’m attacking New Jersey.”

“It’s New Guinea.”

“I’m taking over Queen Bee.”

“That’s Quebec.”

“Daddy, where’s A-Gyt?”

“Egypt,” I respond. “It’s in Africa.”

My kids get excited as they take territory. However, as shown above, they have problems with some of the names. As fun as the game is, though, there is always one part that makes me stop and think.

“Daddy, where’s Af-Af-Af?”

“Af-ghan-i-stan,” I say. Slowly.

“Afghanistan,” my 7-year old repeats. “What’s that?”

And that’s when I stop. Kids know we have soldiers fighting for our country. And you can explain that Afghanistan is one of those places. But how much farther do you go after that? When is the proper time to discuss issues like these with your kids? Is a rainy Saturday afternoon the time to discuss with your kids the lives of real G.I. Joes?

Readers, what do you think?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Auburn vs. West Virginia Postgame

Before I begin, I’d like to compliment the ESPN announcers for finally devising a system where they could tell whether Todd or Burns was playing QB. It only took to near the end of the second quarter. However, they were still having trouble reading the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter.

On to the game…

I’m tired. Yes, the game started over an hour late due to weather, but the ebb and flow of this game wore me out. Granted, that may have been the beer. I was on my second one in the first quarter. I rarely drink more than one per game. (LSU is the exception.) I can’t believe a non-conference game created that much tension in me.

However, I knew this game would be a barn-burner. Sometimes, I hate being right. (My wife thinks I’m rarely right, but that’s another story.) However, when I looked at this game, the thing that kept coming back to me was WVU’s speed, their familiarity with a spread offense, and our thin defense, which I knew would get tired. I can’t remember a game where I saw Auburn miss so many tackles.

We seemed out of sorts before the game even started. When I heard we won the toss and deferred, I thought we’d made an error. Why mess with what had worked before? Did we make the wrong call.

By the second WVU drive, I hoped I was seeing a replay of last year in reverse. We were on our heels and couldn’t stop them. They ran through us like a ginsu knife through an aluminum can. When we scored a field goal, I calmed down a little though I knew we’d never get back into it if we were trading FGs for TDs.

And then, little by little, we started to claw back. Down 14-3, we made it 14-10, but fell behind 21-10 by the end of the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter, we managed to eke out 10 points to make it a one-point ballgame. But, I saw something else that quarter that improved my mood.

We started to run the football. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to prove we could. And with that I knew we would start loosening things up.

When we came out in the 3rd quarter, I thought we would march down the field and take the lead. Instead, WVU made it 27-20. I was sweating more.

Finally, though we took control. WVU had more first downs more passing yards, more rushing yards, more third down conversions, more plays, one less penalty, but more yards on penalties.

And thankfully more turnovers. I’m glad our defense knows how to catch a pass. We could have used them as receivers last year.

I know we won the game, but I like we just survived. Jarrett Brown was incredible to watch. We couldn’t stop him on the ground. However, six turnovers will cause any team to beat itself.

As I call it a night, I have four questions. I hope you’ll answer them for me.

Given Auburn’s recent performance and other games in the SEC (Georgia and pick your SEC opponent, among others). Is the SEC turning into the Pac-10?

Does today’s activities mean that LSU’s win at Washington is a little more impressive, given that LSU was criticized heavily for barely beating the Huskies?

Does it scare you when Todd keeps the ball in anything other than a sneak?

Is Trooper Taylor like a sane Will Muschamp?

Next week, we have the 0-3 Ball State Cardinals.

War Eagle!

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Weekend In Atlanta

The Gwinnett County Fair begins this weekend. The festival, held at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds (where else :-) )in Lawrenceville, will run from September 17-27. It features live entertainment, games, livestock shows, and lots of carnival rides.

Prices are reasonable and kids under 6, who will definitely have a blast, are free. Don't let reports of bad weather keep you away. Click here to be taken to a website for more information.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Auburn vs. West Virginia Preview

I’ve missed the first few minutes of both games this year.

I do have a reason. My younger son was involved in a baseball game last weekend and baseball practice the weekend before. I got to the game as soon as I could. In both cases, we had already scored by the time I got home.

The same thing happened last year when we played West Virginia. It was a Thursday night game. Something with work made me late and I missed the start. (Not that I’m complaining. I definitely like having a job, especially in this economy.) As we went up 17-0 (and it should have been 21-0), I got all happy Then, they scored quickly to make a game up of it and followed it with that last second TD at the end of the half to take momentum into the locker room. And though I was still hopeful, much of the air went out of my sails, probably the same way it did for MSU last weekend.

So, it’s time for a little payback, I think.

Forget that, I KNOW. But it won’t be easy.

For starters, facing West Virginia will be like facing Georgia in that we’re facing a team with excellent athletes that just reloaded after losing some key playmakers. (Yes, Georgia is ranked. WVU is not. However, it’s still a valid analogy.) Plus, WVU’s defense has one thing up on both MSU and La. Tech. They’ve faced a spread offense, their own, and know how it works. Our defense has gotten used to a spread offense recently, but is hardly as experienced as WVU’s.

WVU comes into Auburn knowing that we’re upset about last year’s outcome. They come in 2-0 having exacted revenge on East Carolina for a loss last year. They understand repayment. However, hopefully they’re a little spent.

Hopefully, they’re a little smug and thinking it won’t happen to them.

Hopefully, they’re focused on their week off, as they have a bye before a second revenge game against a currently woeful Colorado team. (Yeah, I know it’s a stretch.)

Because I know we’re not. We won’t have any trouble focusing on West Virginia.

I originally predicted Auburn would lose the game. I’m leaning toward changing my mind, but I haven’t yet. West Virginia has played less impressive competition than Auburn in its first two match-ups, but will be impressive in their visit to the Plains. This will go down to the wire and a bloop will make it a sad day for one team’s fans. I just hope it’s the home team that comes out on top.

War Eagle.

P.S. Thank to all the WVU fans who are visiting this blog and leaving comments. You're always welcome here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cunicio ergo sum (I pitch, therefore I am)

When a local magistrate ordered William Tell to shoot an apple off his son’s head, William Tell took out two arrows. He notched the first one and split the apple.

“Was the second arrow in the event you missed high?” the magistrate asked after Tell’s successful first shot.

Tell shook his head. “It was for you in case I missed low.”

So what does William Tell have to do with parenting and baseball?

My 7-year old dreams of being a pitcher. He practices at home and I play catcher for as long as my knees will allow. His favorite Braves player is still Brian McCann, but after that it’s Kenshin Kawakami. (My kids are half Japanese, so they went nuts when the Braves got a player from Japan.) My younger son wanted to pitch on his previous teams, but didn’t get the opportunity. However, this fall, that finally changed. He finally started working in the pitcher’s role (playing third base when he’s not on the mound). When the little guy took his warm-up tosses with the coach. He did so well that the coach picked him as the first pitcher in the opening game.

However, the coach had to get him over one problem…facing live batters. With no one in the batter’s box, my son has no problem finding the strike zone. However, put a batter there and he gets wild. Apparently, this is a problem with young kids in their first time as pitcher. They’re afraid of hitting the other kids. It’s a mental block. You tell them to forget the player and concentrate on the mitt. A difficult thing to do. My older son volunteered to serve as the batter (a target my younger occasionally wants to hit anyway), but the coaches preferred to take the lumps themselves.

So, when last Saturday night arrived, my little guy took the mound. (My wife and I were nervous, as any parent would be.) He walked the first two batters, got the third one out on a fielder’s choice, and then struck out the final two to end the inning. We were psyched. Unfortunately, the next inning didn’t go as well. The first batter reached on an error and my son walked the second one. The third one hit a two-strike grounder that got by the third baseman and plated both men on base. My son was pulled (for pitch count reasons, as he was closing in on 50 pitches).

My younger son made up for it in the next inning, scorching a single to right that brought two men on base home. However, he was still dejected about his pitching performance (that and his team losing). I was a proud Dad, though, and I let him know it after the game. “Kawakami couldn’t have done any better,” I said. That cheered him up. For his performance, the coach named him the captain of the next game.

Now, he looks forward to his next game and he wants to get back on the mound. I know he’ll get better and I can’t wait. Maybe he’s still scared of hitting the other kids, but he doesn’t show it. However, there is one worry. The other team’s pitcher hit four kids on my son’s team.

Thank goodness for batting helmets!

Readers, have you faced situations like this?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Auburn vs. Mississipi State Wrap-Up 2009

Admit it. Watching this game was fun.

Actually, I should technically say “is.” It’s the 4th quarter as I start to write this. However, with us up four scores, I feel I can relax just a little. When we were up only three scores, I had in my mind the second quarter where MSU scored 17 points in rapid succession. As long as that possibility remained, I couldn’t relax.

The announcers mentioned that Trott is out and his knee is hurt. Hopefully, it’s not bad. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, in a comment he made about Grant after (I think it was) Chancellorsville, we can’t spare this man. He hits.

For the second week in a row, Ben Tate and Ontario McCalebb (now going under the name of O-Mac), both gained over 100 yards. Last week, O-Mac became the first freshman since Bo Jackson to rush for more than 100 yards in his first game. I don’t remember if Bo rushed for 100+ in his second game, but I’m sure I’ll hear about it (or read about it) on Sunday. The announcers have stated that this is the first time that two backs have had back-to-back 100-yard games.

I’ve seen a lot of things to like tonight.

1) Auburn is running the football, despite having shifted to the Wildcat spread offense.
2) Auburn got punched in the mouth in the 2nd quarter, falling behind 17-14 after going up 14-0. Auburn got back up and scored immediately to retake the lead.
3) Again, with the chance to run out the clock in the first half, Auburn marched down the field and scored to make it 28-17.
4) When faced with 3rd and long and trying to run clock in the 4th quarter, Auburn chose to pass to keep the drive going. (Previously, Auburn would have run, hoped, and punted.)
5) Auburn has put Caudle in the game in order to get him some much needed game experience.
6) Auburn has people who can catch the ball.
7) Auburn’s cheerleaders (‘nuff said).
8) Kodi Burns (in all things)

Things not to like
1) Auburn’s defense allowed 24 points. This will never do. Our defense is thin in back-ups. We will see better offenses that will leave our defense winded.
2) Dan Mullen will have MSU playing at a higher level.

Auburn entertains West Virginia next week. WVU is 2-0 and a contender for the Big East crown, but unranked. An Auburn win would continue to support that things have changed on the Plains.

I can’t wait.

War Eagle!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yellow Daisy Festival

Sometimes, I find things my own. Sometimes, my wife tells me what's going on.

This is definitely one of the latter

This weekend is the 41st Annual Yellow Daisy Festival. The Festival, held at Stone Mountain, is a congregation of 500 arts and crafters from all over the U.S. According to my wife, it's a place of shopping madness for women with lots of activities for kids.

Apparently, there is also a large section of chairs for husbands to sit, relax, and read. Granted, she may have just told me that to assure me I would have something to do. She didn't mention anything about radios (to listen to football games on Saturday), but I can adapt.

The Festival lasts until Sunday and it should be good weather (and not so hot). Click here to be taken to a website for more information.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Auburn vs Mississippi State: Preview

Week 2: Auburn vs. Mississippi State

Because of this year’s season, it will almost be a year ago to the day (one day off).

A year ago to the day that Auburn was involved in one of the oddest finishes I can remember. A 3-2 victory over Mississippi State. It was a defensive struggle of epic proportions.

Actually, it was an offensive struggle. Both team’s offenses really stunk up Starkville.

If last weekend is any indication, that won’t be the case this year. Auburn put up 37 points on a team with an outside shot at the WAC crown. Miss. St. played Jax. St. (one of those FCS teams that sort of irritates the Pro St.) and won that one handily 45-7. It was more points scored by an MSU team than had ever been scored under Sylvester’s Croom’s tenure. It could have been worse, but MSU’s top RB sat out a one-game suspension.

So what does it all mean for this week.

Honestly, nobody knows.

According to preseason prognostications, Auburn and MSU were going to fight for the bottom of the SEC West. Most of the preseason pollsters had us at 5th and MSU at 6th, with the exception of SI who had the teams reversed. (One magazine did have Auburn as high as 4th, but I can’t remember the name of that one.) We can assume that in a match-up of opponents that La. Tech would beat Jax. State. However, if La. Tech is not as good as people think, then this week could be the first serious competition that either team has faced.

If so, then the entire weekend could be a shock for both teams. Both teams will learn a little but about themselves. And both teams will learn about the chances they have for a successful season.

The series record currently stands in Auburn’s favor at 54-25-3. Auburn will make it 55 wins.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A 12-Year Old Goes Shopping

My 12-year old went shopping this past weekend. He had unused gift cards from Target and some cash saved up. After a long wait, he finally decided it was time to go.

So what does a 12-year old boy want when he had money?

Mine wanted an alarm clock.

We first bought a cheap one. Andrew wanted something a little nicer, but I talked him into the most inexpensive one there as I thought he should spend his money on something else, something more fun. I didn’t want him to waste his money on something so…practical.

Well, we took it home and my son was excited. We set it up. Everything look good.

A few minutes later, my younger son cried, “Dad, something’s wrong. Come up here.”

I hurried to the room and saw the clock. The minutes were changing every five seconds. We’d bought too cheap a clock. My older son was disappointed. He’d looked forward to his new acquisition. He’s have to wait until we went back.

We went a second time to Target. He looked at couple of clocks about double the price of the first one. They were nice, but he couldn’t decide. He also liked other alarm clocks, ones that were much nicer. I couldn’t believe he was considering them. However, this time he wasn’t ready to purchase. We left with no clock. He wanted to sleep on it.

On Saturday, we returned to Target. He finally selected a clock, one worth three times what the cheapo version was. We set it up. He knows how to set the alarm. He also likes radio (so he can listen to Braves games).

Had to ask him though. Why a clock radio?

Apparently, he wanted to get up on his own. He wanted some control over his mornings.

He wanted to take some responsibility for his life.

I was impressed with my soon-to-be teenager. However, the practicality of the gift was hard to fathom. (He did pick up a couple of DVDs he wanted, so he would at least enjoy those.) I mentioned it to my wife.

“He’s only twelve. He shouldn’t be so obsessed with time,” my wife responded.

“I was,” I said.

“Then why were you so surprised about his choice? It means he’s just like you.”

And that may be the best thing of all.

Readers, are you ever surprised by the things your kids want to buy themselves?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Book Release

And because it's the weekend of the Decatur Book Festival, I'd like to drop a line about the new release of my friend, Kit Wilkinson. Her first book, Protector's Honor, will be availabe in stores on September 8th. The back cover blurb is below. If you like it, click here to order.



It’s instinct. When NCIS agent Rory Farrell hears a woman scream, he reacts. But even after he saves her from abduction, Rory can’t get the beautiful and fragile Tabitha Beaumont out of his mind. Especially when he finds a connection between Tabitha and his latest murder investigation. She needs protection—Rory’s protection—while Rory needs answers Tabitha doesn’t even realize she holds. Yet how can he find the truth without betraying Tabitha’s trust? Soon, Rory must decide what matters most—keeping his objective distance, or keeping Tabitha, in his arms and under his protection, forever.

Auburn vs. Louisiana Tech: Postgame

Before I forget, a big thanks to my brother-in-law, Barry, for lending me his XM radio so I could listen to the game.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories. However, when the Auburn broadcast team mentioned that Back Judge Mike Washington had called pass interference on Auburn on an uncatchable pass and then just watched as an Auburn receiver had his clock cleaned by a La. Tech defender (and then no flag), I thought to myself, “I’ve heard that name before.”

Then it hit me. Alabama had a defensive end in the 70s named Mike Washington. It’s not like I know Alabama players from that long ago normally. However, like all Auburn fans my age, I’ve listened to the recording of the 4th quarter broadcast of the Punt Bama Punt game so many times I know all the words. Could it be the same person? Hopefully it wouldn’t matter, as the game was tight and Auburn seemed to be shooting itself in the foot with penalties. When La. Tech tied it at 10 late in the second quarter, I inhaled softly and felt thankful we weren’t finishing the first half behind.

Then the team put together a two-play drive with a 54-yard field goal. Just like that we were ahead. I realized things had changed. Auburn was trying to win.

A couple of years ago when we were playing South Florida. Auburn had a minute to go in the game with a tie score and chose to go to overtime. Auburn lost that game and with it, I thought, a team.

With this decision, Auburn went to the locker room with momentum and came out with the same. It drove the team to victory.

Granted, a few actions at the end of a half do not a change instill. Penalties and turnovers made this game close. I did not breathe easy until we were up three scores in the 4th quarter. And part of me held some fear in reserve.

However, Auburn faced a team that could challenge for the WAC crown, a team that will produce a winning record before the season is over, a team that returned its entire offensive line from the previous year and an experienced QB.

And Auburn won.

Next week, we have Mississippi State.

War Eagle!

Readers, let me know your thoughts on the game.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tennessee Grad Proves She Can Write (Very Well)

To celebrate the opening weekend of the college football season, I'd like to announce the new book release of my friend, Kit Wilkinson. Kit, with an undergrad from Virginia and a grad degree from Tennessee, is a fellow college football fanatic with two conferences to follow.

When asked about the opening weekend of the season, Kit commented...

(My husband) and I are just mad that the big Sat game is Alabama vs Va Tech--I couldn't hate two teams any more than those. I hope no one wins! Not sure if they need refs or law enforcement...

Kit's book, Protector's Honor, will be available in stores on September 8th. The back cover blurb is below. If you like it, click here to order.


It’s instinct. When NCIS agent Rory Farrell hears a woman scream, he reacts. But even after he saves her from abduction, Rory can’t get the beautiful and fragile Tabitha Beaumont out of his mind. Especially when he finds a connection between Tabitha and his latest murder investigation. She needs protection—Rory’s protection—while Rory needs answers Tabitha doesn’t even realize she holds. Yet how can he find the truth without betraying Tabitha’s trust? Soon, Rory must decide what matters most—keeping his objective distance, or keeping Tabitha, in his arms and under his protection, forever.

Friday, September 4, 2009

2009 Decatur Book Festival

Today begins the fourth annual Decatur Book Festival. This free book festival, which will last until Sunday, is held at various locations around the downtown square in Decatur and gathers over 250 fiction and nonfiction authors to the Decatur area. Last year, over 75,000 people attended the three-day event. I’m looking forward to making this event as I’ve wanted to go for the last two years, but was out of town.

There are many children’s activities, including a parade Saturday morning and a mariachi brunch. There are also events for teens, so families of all ages should have a good time. Click here to be taken to a website for more information.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Auburn vs. Louisiana Tech

Let’s face it. Admit it to yourself as confession is supposedly good for the soul.

This is the scariest game of the season.

We, the Auburn faithful, have endured a lot in the last few months. We’ve endured the ridicule of losing five of our last six games last season. We’ve endured the end of the streak over Alabama in what definitely went down in an ignominious fashion. We’ve endured the scorn of hiring a coach that went 5-19 over the last two seasons.

But now the wait is over. We get to talk where we always should…on the field.

But with the installation of new offensive and defensive schemes and given college football’s requirement to always test under battlefield conditions, we have no idea what will happen. And it scares us.

When Tuberville started with Auburn, Auburn dropped an opening match-up with FSU in favor of a tune—up game with Appalachian State. And though the Tuberville years led to great years, it showed how far we had fallen from being SEC runner up in game we had no business losing to two years later cheering madly as we beat App State 15-14 on a late 4th quarter drive. And now we start a new era following our once per decade house cleansing.

Auburn opens the season against The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Against La. Tech, Auburn has a 10-0-1 record, dating back to 1941. The lone tie a 13-13 contest in 1948. Auburn play La. Tech four times in the 40’s, but the didn’t see then again until 1989. The most exciting contest was likely in 2001, a 48-41 shootout that did see a pick six by Louisiana Tech called back. (I remember listening to that game on the Net. I’m still amazed we won it.) Our last contest was a 52-7 shellacking in 2004.

So what does La Tech have.
1) They were 8-5 last year.
2) 16 returning starters
3) a proven coach
4) a chance at the WAC crown (and before you say that particular conference is WAC-ky, remember that WAC does have good teams.)

In other words, they have a chance.

La. Tech will gel this year and definitely do some damage to teams. However, Auburn’s saving grace may be that they get them first. La. Tech’s other SEC foe, LSU, probably won’t be as lucky.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Working for the Weekend

With apologies to the 80's rock band Loverboy

“Dad, I’m mad at you,” my younger son said.

It wasn’t the words I was expecting. We’d spent the afternoon watching the Gwinnett Braves, complete with hot dogs, fries, and those kid games out on the berm. It was Tim Hudson’s first Triple-A rehab start and he’d done ok. The G-Braves won the game 10-5. We ran the bases after it was over and then Christopher threw up in the stands as we were leaving. (The stadium staff proved very kind and helpful.) However, even with the less than perfect ending, it had been a good day and I was stunned by what he’d said.

“What’s wrong?” I queried. “Didn’t you have fun today?”

“Yeah, but tomorrow, you have to go back to work. I won’t get to see you for a whole week.”

“What do you mean? I see you every night. We eat dinner together. I take you to practice and stay until you’re done.”

“Yeah, but there’s no time to play.”

That statement was hard to understand. I do work hard during the week. In addition to being home in time for dinner, I work from home twice a week. I play catch with him when I can. But for my little guy, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough that I watched all his practices and games. It wasn’t enough that he always saw me at dinner.

He wanted one-on-one Dad time.

Unfortunately, that I can’t always give him.

Now that school has started, my schedule has tightened. When I get home, I help my older son with his studies. (My wife helps our younger son.) Invariably, the little guy gets done first, while my older son is sometimes up studying until 9:30 or 10:00.

“Dad, can we play a game?” my younger son asks.

“Not right now. I need to help your brother. Maybe later.”

The little guy sulks away and then throws a fit about how I never have time for him. I know. He’s seven and he’s acting like it. Still, it hurts.

“Do I spend enough time with the boys?” I asked my wife.

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, I’m just wondering if I can do more. I can’t coach baseball, because of my commute. However, the church needs Sunday school teachers. Maybe I can volunteer there.”

“With our schedule, it would be difficult,” she said. “Why is this bothering you?”

I told her about what our younger son had said at the game and coupled that with his recent meltdown. It got to me. As parents, we have such little time to enjoy our children when they are children. I don’t want to waste a second.”

“You spend a lot of time with the boys,” she said, “probably as much as any attentive Dad, maybe more.”

I hoped she was right, but I still think about it. The moments we have with our kids are precious. They are to be enjoyed. They are to be savored. They are to be lived, while you have the opportunity to live.

Because they’ll soon be gone.

Readers, how about you? Do you have times where you wonder if you’re spending enough time with your kids? I’d love to hear about it.