Sunday, July 31, 2011

Observations; Class Reunion

For the most part, I have purposely refrained from political commentary on this blog for the past year or so and plan to do so going forward. Although I maintain an interest in politics and a fascination with the process, I just don't get as worked up over it I used to. I see that as a good thing.

With that said, the following statements are opinions based on observations and nothing more:

1. I'll be honest. I have found myself panicking a bit over this debt ceiling business. It's kind of like the bank bailout from a couple of years ago -- conceptually I don't like it and there's a part of me that wants to say don't raise it and let's just see what happens. But most of the less political and more objective experts (and believe me, they are hard to find) seem to believe that Congress needs to reach a compromise that raises the ceiling so that financial calamity is avoided. It's Sunday afternoon as I write this and it appears a deal is close. I hope that, if and when that happens and it's signed into law, cooler heads will prevail and some real work will get done on accomplishing financial reform. We'll see.

2. Assuming this deal happens, I believe that, unless the economy totally tanks over the next year, Barack Obama will be re-elected in 2012.

3. I so want to believe that, throughout this latest crisis, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, other key players and even President Obama have thought more of our nation's welfare than what's going to happen in the next election and what it means to them politically. I want to believe that but I don't.

4. Matt Lauer on the Today Show last week, after interviewing a Congressperson about all the finger pointing by both political parties, ended with a very pointed question, something along the lines of, "With all due respect, don't the American people deserve better?"

Amen to that, Matt.


Went to my 35th high school class reunion last weekend. We had a "pre-party " before the reunion event for a small group of friends. Saw dear lifelong and blogger friend Kelly there.

The big party itself was great fun. I had to depend on name tags a bit, but many I knew immediately. This is profound, but I would say I don't look as old as some, but younger than many.

I love to go "home" every so often. But I like coming back home even better.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Goodbye Space Shuttle

I am somewhat saddened by the end of the space shuttle program.

I am old enough to remember the first manned orbit and, of course, the first moon landing. I well remember President Kennedy's challenge to put man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. He didn't live to see it, of course, but it happened.

Of course there were missteps and tragedies. There was the whole incident with Apollo 13 (which ended up being a great movie).

The day we brought Older Son home from the hospital after he was born in January 1986 was the day the Space Shuttle "Challenger" exploded and all its passengers were killed. In the videotape of us walking down the halls of the hospital, you can hear the news reports.

I always found it all very exciting and thought it would be way cool to go into space, even with my extra cautious personality. One of my favorite cartoons as a child was "The Jetsons" and I remember wondering if that's what life would be like when I grew to be an adult.

I also loved the old TV show "Lost in Space" even though I've never been much of a Sci-Fi fan. I wondered if it was conceivable that a family could travel into space together as the Robinsons did and wondered if we would ever have a robot as part of the family.

I had a short stint as a Star Trek fan, watching the reruns late at night when I was in law school, a great escape from studying. Never really got into the movies though.

So what happens now to the U.S. Space Program? In a tribute to the Space Shuttle I heard today, the speaker said no matter what happens now, "America will never stop exploring."

That's encouraging.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Favorite things

Wife and I just returned from a much needed weekend away. We really need more than a weekend, but time and the budget don't permit much more right now.

We incorporated two of our favorite things -- seeing old friends and going to a Major League Baseball game.

We left the middle of Friday afternoon and drove to St. Louis, a less-than-five-hour drive from here. We met some of our best friends from Little Rock, a couple whose two children correspond closely in age to our older two but who declined to get on the bandwagon and have a third when we had Younger Son 18-plus years ago. To make up for their omission, we named Younger Son after my friend, the husband of this couple.

Even though we have not lived in the same town for nearly 14 years, we can get with these folks and it's like continuing a conversation that was only interrupted a few minutes ago. We have been with each other through some of life's biggest events, including our own weddings, births of our children and the weddings of each of our oldest children. They will be grandparents soon and you can bet that's a big topic of conversation now.

We got there Friday night later than they did and they had already eaten (he is a bit anal retentive and won't vary much from a schedule, something I love to remind him of), but we called them and they met us and sat with us at the restaurant where we were dining outdoors. It was a very pleasant evening and we sat and talked and laughed with them for quite a while.

Had a leisurely breakfast Saturday morning where more talking, laughing and remembering ensued. We drove out to a mall east of town and walked around and had a late lunch.

Got to Busch Stadium early for batting pracitce. The Cardinals were playing the Diamondbacks. Our seats were close together but two-and-two rather than four together, so the girls graciously took two of the seats so my buddy and I could enjoy the game together, something we do all too seldom. There is no bigger Cardinals fan than he and this was his first visit to the new Busch Staditum. I indulged him about the Cards, only lamenting the fact that Lance Berkman now wears a Cardinals uniform which I find unacceptable.

We each bought a round of hot dogs and beer for each other and thoroughly enjoyed the game and fellowship. My friends, there is just nothing like being in a big league stadium, especially with people you love.

The D-backs led most of the game but the recently returned Albert Pujols figured greatly in a Cardinals rally that tied the game at 6 in the 8th inning. The Cards pulled out the win in the bottom of the 9th. Great game.

Great weekend.

Just what I needed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Slowing down a bit

2011 is half over. How in the world could that have happened?

How could we have a spring break trip, graduations, a family reunion and a wedding behind us? I was there, and I remember them all, but oh my -- how, how, how did it all go so fast? !


We have slowed down a bit and that is a good thing. We still grin when we think back on the wonderful wedding celebration. When people ask me about it, there are three words that seem to be used repeatedly: Joyous. Glorious. Blessed.


Daughter has some college friends coming for the July 4 weekend. She and Wife have been busy cooking today. Other than having a lot of food on hand, Wife and I plan to keep a low profile. We have another wedding tomorrow night, a "down" day planned for Sunday (hope to maybe see a movie), then we're meeting Older Son and DIL at the Y early Monday morning for the annual July 4 Firecracker 5K. We plan to meet up with friends late in the afternoon and will go watch fireworks at the local park.

Older Son came by this afternoon and it was the first time I had seen him since the wedding. I am just about finished with the table I am refinishing for them and he took a look at it and pronounced it "awesome." It's far from perfect, as I stated in a previous post, but it will serve them well.

He said he and DIL would like to take Wife and me to lunch on Monday if we're available, to thank us for everything we did for the wedding. I told him I thought we could make ourselves available for that.


I mentioned a family reunion. When my dad died in 2006, he was the last of five siblings to pass away. A couple of months after he died I took it upon myself to contact all my cousins from his side (ten in all) and give them a little family history. The result was a family reunion we ended up having in Memphis (nine of the ten cousins, plus some spouses and sons/daughters) in June 2007. During part of the weekend we went over to East Arkansas where our parents had mostly grown up, visited a family cemetery and met up with some other more distant cousins.

It was a great time. Sadly, some of us had never even met. My dad's family, like all families, had its quirks which I won't go into, but getting together with my dad's siblings and their families was never much of a priority as I was growing up.

Anyway, we had a great time in 2007 and it served as a sort of catalyst for these cousins connecting with each other.

Late last summer, one of the cousins who lives in Savannah, GA decided it would be good to get us together again and invited us all to come there. He did an informal poll and arrived at the weekend of June 11, 2011. Now at the time I strongly suspected Older Son would be getting married this summer but he was not talking.

Long story short, not longer after my agreeing to the June 11 family reunion, Older Son announced his engagement and chose June 18, exactly one week later.

Wife quickly announced that she would not be attending the reunion with me. I vascillated back and forth and thought of backing out, but finally decided that I should be supportive of my cousin. Besides, there was really nothing going on that weekend that I would miss.

I flew to Savannah on Friday the 10th, and was back home at 10:30 Sunday morning. Only six of the cousins made it this time but we had a great time and my cousin in Savannah was extremely hospitable. He and his wife hosted an incredible dinner at their home Friday night (fresh shrimp and crab just out of the ocean). Saturday afternoon he took us out on his boat on the Intercoastal Waterway all the way to where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. It was another great time to be with my extended family. I told Wife when I got home that she and I definitely needed to return as Savannah is an extremely interesting city and I got just a glimpse.


OK I know this is getting long but I have some other news to share.

In addition to writing this blog, I am now a columnist!

A very nice lady here got let go from her job at the big city newspaper about three years ago. In one of those "necessity is the mother of invention" type of things, she and a partner started an online newspaper, exclusively for the suburb where we live. The lady I mentioned is the editor and her partner handles marketing.

It took off like crazy and they now have a strong readership and a growing base of advertisers. They will soon celebrate two years in business. They are competing well with her former employer's suburban presence here and are slowly expanding. It's a great little "paper" and I think she's really hit on something.

Anyway, I have written a few guest pieces and a few months ago she contacted me and asked if I would like to write a weekly column. It took us a while to get together and decide what this would look like, but on the first Monday in June, "What I Know" made its debut in the Brentwood Home Page ( The name comes from a college professor who looked at me one time, put his fist on his heart and said, "Write from here! Write what you know!"

You can click on the above link and look to the left and you'll see my piece on Mondays and it usually stays on the "front" page three or four days. You can also click on a toolbar that runs across the page and my name, and see my previous columns.

I have a new column each Monday and the theme is much like this blog, kind of family-ish, touchy-feely, with an occasional opinion. I am having a ball and consider it a gift from God. A very long time ago I realized how much I love to write and how I love the written word. I am just wired that way. I majored in journalism in college and was an editor on my college newspaper. I chose another career path but have never lost the passion. To get to do this at this point in my life is, as I said, nothing short of a gift.

I realize I am joining my good blogger friend Debby who also writes a column. I'm in great company.


A happy holiday weekend to all. I hope you get some rest if you need it and/or get to spend some time with family if you would like to do that.