Monday, March 28, 2016

Aunt Helen

Helen Stuart was a remarkable human being.  Actually, that is an understatement.  I don't have adequate words to describer her, but I will give it my best shot in what follows.

She was the type of person you rarely, if ever, meet in the 21st century.  A selfless, humble, and admirable enough human being that Betty Clair and I chose to give our second child the same first name last year due to the deep respect we had for her.  However, even that act underscores the esteem we held for Aunt Helen.

She will definitely be missed.

There were many qualities about her that I pray we may be able to eventually pass on to our own three daughters.  Her selflessness was immeasurable.  In fact, the following scripture sums up much about the way she lived her life and always made me think of her.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
If you ever wanted to see someone who truly lived in such a way, she was as good of an example as you could ever find.

Every time we visited Tallassee, we would arrive to discover that she had gone through the labors of preparing the home to make our stay as comfortable as possible.  If Blair was still wearing diapers at the time of a visit, you could guarantee that Aunt Helen had thoroughly prepared a diaper changing area with plenty of diapers of the correct size and brand.  We aways arrived to clean bed sheets accompanied by fresh bath towels.  If I got a stain on a shirt, Aunt Helen would promptly offer to clean it.  I would later find the shirt cleaned, ironed, and neatly draped on a hanger in my room.

She spoiled me and I was only married into the family.  If I tried to relay stories of the treatment she gave to Betty Clair, her siblings, and her parents, then the servers for this website would probably overheat and crash.

Betty Clair told me just this past Sunday that Aunt Helen wrote her a letter every week while she was in college. Every week.  EVERY.  WEEK.  I doubt I would even do that for her.  Wait, I know I wouldn't.

Her dedication to her family was matchless.  I always thought of her more as a grandmother to Betty Clair than as her mother's aunt.  Betty Clair has often recalled to me the many ways that Aunt Helen was involved in her childhood.  From her stories, it has always been glaringly obvious that her role was much to her benefit.  I truly believe that Aunt Helen's influence on her has played a critical part in her becoming the incredible wife and mother she is today.  To Aunt Helen, I will eternally be grateful for that.

Aunt Helen may have been the most genuinely humble person I have ever known.  She did nothing for show or attention.  Not her clothes, or her speech, or even anything in her daily routines.  I believe she always followed what the Lord requires of us in Micah 6:8 and spent a lifetime "walking humbly with God."

She will be mourned and missed by a countless number of people.

She will never be replaced.  It could not be done even if one desired.

I am grateful for the years she was in my life.  I am grateful she was able to meet the daughter we named after her.  I am grateful for knowing her.

We will miss her here.  However, the joy she is experiencing in Heaven far exceeds our sorrow.

We love you, Aunt Helen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Did I Shave My Legs for This?

No, that title is not referencing the 1996 debut album of Deanna Carter featuring the hit song Strawberry Wine.

I'm referring to the daunting task of attempting and completing a half-iron distance triathlon.

For those of you that don't know (and didn't care to click the link), this event consists of 70.3 miles of continuous endurance feats completed one after another with a couple of brief breaks just to remove a swim cap or put on some running shoes.  The first 1.2 miles is an open water swim, the next 56 miles are traversed riding a bicycle, and the last 13.1 miles can be run, walked, or crawled depending on how the participant feels at this point in the day.

For some reason still quite unclear to me, I decided earlier this year that it would be a worthwhile endeavor for me to train and compete in such an event.

I had participated in a few nearby sprint triathlons the previous year and found these to be exciting, but my hobbit-sized legs didn't really allow me to be very competitive in short races against other men who are built more like gazelles.  This may be the biggest reason I chose to attempt a 70.3 race.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges posed by a race with three sports, I believed a more significant challenge personally could be found in pushing myself to go long.  Thus, the 70.3.

The race I chose was the Goosepond Island Half Distance Triathlon.  I debated between this one and Toughman Alabama which was scheduled some time in August.  I figured I needed every week I could get to prepare so Goosepond won out.

The race took place this past Sunday in Scottsboro, AL near the Goosepond Colony Resort grounds by Lake Guntersville.  My supportive, encouraging bride and I rode up on Friday afternoon and dropped our daughter off in Tallassee where my dear mother-in-law took care of her for us.  (Which reminds me... my mother-in-law is better than your mother-in-law.)  We got to our hotel late Friday night and hit the sack quickly because we had plans to go check out the course and do a short swim in the lake early the next morning.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the Frantic Frog Triathlon (a sprint distance race) was taking place that day and we became "those people" as we tried to drive our cars through the middle of the bike leg.  We eventually managed to maneuver our way to a parking place and spectated for a while before doing our own practice swim.  Betty Clair was a bit nervous about this but was anxious to get some open water experience before she participates in her first triathlon this coming Saturday.

After our practice swim, we left to eat lunch and quickly came back for packet pickup and registration at 1:00.  After registering, we thought it would be prudent to drive the bike and run courses to see what I would be up against the following morning.  As it had appeared in the maps online, the bike course turned out to be significantly flatter than the rides I regularly do down here on the coast.  However, the run course presented more elevation changes than my legs have been covering recently.  This factor was a bit worrying because I knew that I would still be running when the temperature at its peak.  There was no turning back now, though

The next morning came quickly and I ate my routine blueberry bagel with almond butter but didn't have the stomach calmness to follow it with the banana I had also brought.  I have learned that is apparently just part of my pre-race jitters.  Betty Clair was insistent that I eat as much as I could beforehand, but my stomach was not quite agreeable with her recommendations and I wasn't even able to finish the entire bagel.

I set up my transition area with plenty of room to spare.  Apparently, the turnout for this race was down from previous years, so the transition area was about three times the size it really needed to be. Plus, all the "serious" triathletes had their bikes and gear crowded up right next to the bike exit, so the rest of us took advantage of the free space and basically had an entire rack for each person.  This was a nice luxury that I have not had at other events.

When it came time to line up at the lake for the start, I mentally began to go through my race plan one last time, which basically was "Take it easy and finish."  I had no misconceptions about winning anything.  My goal for this triathlon was to just simply cross the finish line.

For the swim portion, I planned to hang back a bit in the beginning and swim on the outside edge of the course to avoid taking an elbow to the jaw in the melee of the mass start.  I am no Michael Phelps, so I was quite comfortable in sacrificing a few seconds to keep my goggles from being knocked off my head in the chaos after the horn blows.  Unfortunately, my swim plan was briefly put on the back burner despite following my plan as prescribed.  I gave it about 10 seconds after the horn blew to let the speedsters get a head start on me, but as I began my own swim, my nerves took a sudden jolt from the insanity of what I had just started.  For about 300 yards, all that ran through my mind was "What kind of idiot does this?" and "There is no way you can swim 1.2 miles with all these flailing arms and legs around you, just turn around now!"  Thankfully, I didn't listen to these thoughts and plowed onward with the swim.  I even cruised through the remainder of it smoother and quicker than I had anticipated.  According to my Garmin watch, I swam 1.41 miles in 51:21.  I knew I would add length to my swim by following the outside track, but this was still about 5 minutes faster than I had swam 1.2 miles in my only other open water experience of that distance.  Therefore, I was quite pleased with it.

As I exited the water and ran to my first transition (T1), I caught a glimpse of Betty Clair and saw the surprise in her face when she saw me emerge that soon.  It was kind of rewarding to see that look on her face.  T1 took about four minutes, which probably is longer than necessary, but I wanted to make sure that I had all my gear properly prepared before heading out for a 3+ hour bike ride.  I checked my water bottles, GU gels, socks, helmet, and glasses and then took off.

The bike portion was basically 28 miles out to the middle of nowhere passing corn fields and dove hunters amongst the beautiful hilly countryside of north Alabama and then following the same 28 miles back to transition.  As I mentioned earlier, the route was surprisingly flat for this part of the state, but my plan was to try and keep my average speed near where I have kept it on 56 mile rides here on the coast.  I finished the 56.92 miles in 3:23:25, which was actually a tad quicker than I usually ride (I'm not fast), but I believe I could have pushed it a little harder and shaved off a few minutes on the bike.  However, I was also largely pleased with this result and not being too aggressive ultimately helped with the run.

I came into the last transition (T2) still feeling strong and racked my bike, changed my shoes with some fresh socks, put on my visor and took off.  I made that sound quick, but T2 also took about four minutes as I ate half a banana and swigged some more Gatorade before exiting.  I knew that fueling adequately was far more important than trying to save thirty seconds or so by getting out quicker.

The run was possibly (and surprisingly) the most enjoyable leg of the race.  I ran a negative split for the 13.28 mile run by about 8 minutes.  There were plenty of aid stations that made it much easier than running long distances at home and gave me the opportunity to run better than I expected.  The biggest factor that made the run enjoyable was the constant encouragement and communication with the other racers.  People at races are typically nicer than the general public anyway, but there seemed to be a great amount of support being shared between racers all over the run course.  It definitely helped to keep me positive while the sun was beating down on my already crispy shoulders.  My run time according to my watch for the 13.28 miles actually ran was 2:19:40.  This was yet another result I was thoroughly pleased with especially considering I had to stop twice for restroom breaks.  Was that last piece of information too much?

My official time was 6:42:18 and can be found here if you want to see my official splits along with those of all the other racers.  I had guessed that it would take me around 7 hours to finish (again, I'm NOT fast), so beating that time was satisfying to me.

Overall, the experience was fantastic.  I have spent numerous hours the past six months or so training to finish this race and I had constant support and encouragement from my darling wife.  Without her, I couldn't have even finished a 5k.  I was also grateful to have her there as my photographer.

Do I have plans to do a full Iron-distance race now?  Check back in 10 years or so.  Training takes a LOT of time and I have had to make some sacrifices that I am tired of making.  I do plan on trying to maintain the 15-pound weight loss, though.  That chunky gut that was developing isn't nearly as attractive, although losing weight did force me to have to buy new pants for work.  I guess that's a good problem to have.

I also need to give a big shout out to my sponsors.

  • Fuji Bikes - For allowing me to acquire one of their fine products via Craigslist
  • Brooks Running - For letting me buy two NEW pairs of their shoes from local retailers
  • Singing River Healthplex - For letting me be a paying member for over a year now
Wait, I don't think my sponsors are very good to me.

And getting back to the title of this blog post... Yes, I did shave my legs for this.  Thanks for the advice, William.

Monday, March 17, 2014

ESPN NCAA Basketball Tournament Challenge

It's time for fantasy sports again!

Now, we're playing the ESPN Tournament Challenge.

The link to my group is here.

If you're incapable of clicking on links, then just go to the ESPN Fantasy Games page, search for the Tournament Challenge, and then find the group named "Ross Blog."

Join now and create your entry!

The winner will be awarded a signed copy of this blog post, which also reminds me that I still haven't provided a copy to Coley Johnson for winning my last challenge.  I suppose I should get on that.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Michael Sam

Former University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam found it necessary yesterday to tell the entire country about his specific sexual preferences.  Apparently, this is something we should all be concerned with since all sports and mainstream media outlets have been discussing it incessantly since the news broke.

However, I do not believe that any person's particular sexual quirks are actually newsworthy.

In any way.

At all.

The media is droning on about this because they wish to portray Michael Sam as some sort of groundbreaking hero who is risking everything to make this announcement.

I disagree.  Michael Sam is not breaking any sort of barrier here.

In fact, I would argue that he actually has more to gain than lose in this scenario. If Kobe Bryant or Derek Jeter decided to make their sexual preferences a matter of public commentary, they would be ridiculed for discussing such personal and private matters so openly.  However, Michael Sam is encouraged to do so and has hundreds to thousands of people in the media defending his decision to make this a national topic.

Reportedly, he was already quickly dropping down draft boards as news of his sexuality had long ago permeated the offices of NFL scouts and general managers AND based on a thorough assessment of his collegiate career and lack of size.  For example, 9 of his conference-leading 11.5 sacks came against the weakest opponents on his team's schedule.  Some projections had him going late in the draft, where many players eventually get cut and never actually land a roster spot.  Even assuming he would be selected in a later round of the draft, the money guaranteed to those players would probably be far less lucrative than the money to be made by writing a book and making television appearances discussing the scorn and judgment he has suffered.  TV appearances are also far less laborious.  I'm not entirely sure about that last point, but I think it is safe to assume there is considerably less work involved in putting on a suit and make-up than there is in the routine grind of an NFL career.

Let's look at some numbers, though.  Josh Evans was the first selection in the sixth round of the 2013 draft.  He signed a 4-year contract and made $405,000 last year.  Josh Evans also had to work for that income by showing up to meetings, practices, games, and any other obligations placed on him by the Jaguars organization.  A book deal can certainly reach higher figures than that and would simply require Michael Sam to choose an author to tell his story.  Former NBA player and recently announced homosexual Jason Collins was a speaker at a Democratic National Committee gala last year where tickets cost as much as $32,400!  I'm willing to bet he received a nice piece of that just for reading a few notecards.  Gay activist Anderson Cooper charges $40,000+ for a speaking fee.  Even if Sam is not drafted at all, he has plenty of potential for a financially rewarding career of just getting on a stage and talking about himself based on his newfound adoration from the media.

As I mentioned, most NFL executives already were aware of Sam's sexuality and had already factored it into their potential ranking of the lineman.  Granted anonymity, a few were willing to express the issues that his sexuality would bring to an NFL squad, and none of them were positive.  (Click that last link, it's a good read.)  The overwhelming, non-football-related media coverage would overshadow anything positive that was done on the field by their team and would constantly be an unwanted distraction.  Furthermore, if a team drafts Sam but then later cuts him based on his actual performance, the team would be labeled homophobic for making such a move.  Unless he is Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, that is simply not a risk worth taking.

The whole "macho NFL environment" being tough for a gay man to navigate is also an invalid argument.  He is not entitled to an NFL career.  Nobody is.  It is a privilege.  If he doesn't like the landscape there, he can always seek employment elsewhere, possibly using the knowledge he obtained with all that free tuition from the University of Missouri.

I also need to mention the bravery that has been bestowed to Sam's "coming out" announcement.  I can't help but believe this point is being drastically overplayed.  Admittedly, he had informed his entire team of his lifestyle choices last year so it wasn't ever a secret to begin with.  I haven't researched it, but do you really think that information about one of Missouri's most high-profile players being a homosexual was never leaked and not already rampantly discussed on internet message boards?  That's a hard pill to swallow.  Additionally, it is an insult to actual courageous people, like soldiers and police officers, to label Michael Sam as such since he only appeared on television to share news that anyone who was concerned with already knew.  I would be just as bold to obtain national coverage for an announcement that I like to eat pizza.

Whether you agree or disagree with Michael Sam's choices, I'm aware that there is very little anyone could say to change your view.  It is nearly futile to just say it is wrong or right and expect to change someone's mind.  What really bothers me is that our society has changed to one in which I'm considered the bigot and homophobe if I do not immediately embrace this man's actions.  If he had come out and said that cows or donkeys are what he prefers, would the media still be singing his praises?

I disagree with Sam's lifestyle and I have the right to do so.  His sexual choices should stay behind closed doors just like those of everyone else.  If he doesn't want to be judged for his personal activities, then he shouldn't bring up the topic.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Now I See

I now wear glasses.  For vision.  On my face.

I have been for about six days, and I feel like singing Aladdin's "A Whole New World."  There definitely appears to be a "dazzling place I never knew."

For example, did you know that trees actually still have leaves when you're more than ten feet away from them?  I didn't.  For years, I have been under the assumption that they mysteriously turn into a green and brown blur when humans move beyond a specified distance.  Who knew?

Blair is also even cuter than I had realized.  My original claim was that she is the prettiest child in the state, but I am now willing to extend that to a national title based on my newly acquired perception.  Those wonderful Hatcher genes are even better than I thought.

For the past several days, I have spent a considerable amount of time sliding my glasses up and down my nose in order to contrast the things I've been missing and the things I can now see.  It is simply amazing!  I can notice the individual grains in a piece of wood.  I can read road signs that I was previously unaware even contained words.

My new accessories also provide another benefit.  People I meet now think I am at least 20 years old as opposed to the previous misconception that I was a freshman in high school.  This may prove to particularly useful when people approach me at work and do not immediately believe that Winn Dixie allows teenagers to run their pharmacy department.

Plus, I just look plain smart!

I also highly recommend Dr. Tiffany West who works at the LensCrafters location on Airport Boulevard in Mobile.  She is professional, polite, intelligent, and even laughed at my corny jokes.  I suppose that last trait falls under the label of courteous.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Symmetry is beautiful.  At least that's what they say.  I don't know who they are, but they say it.  Therefore, it must be true.

And apparently Blair agrees.

While shopping at a children's clothing store in Gulfport last week, Blair stopped running around the store momentarily to play with the Lego area they had set up.  This alone is enough to melt her dear father's heart. 

She needed some assistance gathering the stray Lego blocks, a task to which I gladly obliged.  Then I sat back and watched.  She began to assemble the blocks on the table in a intriguing fashion that grabbed my attention right from the start.  I made sure not to interfere because my curiosity was desperate to see her finished product would be.  When she was done, this is what I saw.

If you can't tell, the arrangement of the block is perfectly symmetrical!  And, no, it's not a fluke.  Betty Clair has just been so blessed in life that she will be afforded the honor of spending years and years with two obsessive-compulsive minds in her home.  Life is sweet!

Monday, January 13, 2014

College Football Review and Preview

With considerably less free time for watching television due to a wacky work schedule and family obligations, college football has become the only sport I actually have any time to follow.  And of the college games I see, 97.3%* of those involve my alma mater, Auburn University.  Thus, I consider myself at least as qualified to publicly share my views as the legendary Lou Holtz (and he gets paid to do whatever it is he does).

The 2013-2014 college football season came to a dramatic end last week culminating with the Florida State University Seminoles being crowned the final champions of the Bowl Championship Series.  My inspiring Auburn Tigers came up just a bit short and finished the season at no. 2 in the final rankings.

Congratulations, Florida State.

None of the experts ever came close to predicting this matchup for the championship game, yet Auburn was able to prove they were the best team in the Southeastern Conference and earn a spot in Pasadena.  Florida State proved to be a dominant force as the only football team in a basketball conference that I believe is geographically somewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  (Maybe I'm still getting over the loss.)

The Auburn Tigers definitely did surprise a lot of people who follow the sport and this was in large part due to having the two best skill position players in the state of Alabama in their backfield with Tre Mason and Nick Marshall.

Did your head just explode?

Of course Tre is a given, but 83% of you reading this probably don't like my assessment that Nick Marshall is a better quarterback than the Chest Tat King who holds court over in west Alabama.  If so, just ask ESPN.  They have numbers to prove it and numbers don't lie.  My belief is that Nick Saban will not have any trouble at all replacing his 3-year starter because any young man on the depth chart will be more than capable of throwing screen passes to future NFL running backs and letting them run for 20+ yards.

And with that, I just lost nearly 83% of my readers.

For the 17% of you still here, the season as a whole was pretty exciting and produced some intriguing bowl games to end the year.  Central Florida was able to do a great impression of Boise State's 2007 Fiesta Bowl performance and knock off a Baylor team that supposedly should have had no trouble with a team from the American Athletic Conference. And, yes, I had to google UCF's conference affiliation; don't act like you knew it.  In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we got one last glimpse of Johnny Manziel and the amazing things he can do on a football field as his Aggies pulled out a close call over the Duke Blue Devils led by J.J. Reddick**.

Despite what would have been my preferred outcome, the BCS Championship game turned out to possibly be the most exciting finale to a season since the system's inception in 1998.  Through all its flaws and warts (e.g. Auburn 2004), the BCS was actually pretty good at placing the two best teams in its final game, and that was what it was designed to do.  Remember USC-Texas in 2006?  That was high quality sports viewing.

The new playoff system will have some chinks, though, and some of these are already being discussed.

For example, I as a fan will not have the vacation time nor the financial backing to travel across the country and watch my team play in TWO postseason games.  Who really does?  Therefore, I would be stuck trying to decide if I want to stay home for the semifinal game and risk my team losing and not advancing to the championship, thus seeing no live postseason play, OR attending the first game and witnessing my team in victory,  but then having no money left to go see them play in the championship.  I know these are just horrible, awful, despicable first-world problems, but I do think it has the potential to turn the championship game into a Super Bowl-ish*** atmosphere in that most people in attendance will not actually be fans of either team.

I do, in fact, like the aspect that the playoff participants will be chosen by a committee.  It is my hope that a committee, as opposed to computers, will reward conference champions for accomplishing such a feat.  I'm not in any way into the SEC pride thing like many fans, and I believe if you're not the best in your league then you don't deserve a shot in the finals.  I suppose I'm also progressive enough that I don't have any qualms with the recent appointment of Condoleezza Rice to this group.  Who do you think is a more qualified decision maker, an Ivy League educated former United States Republican National Security Advisor or an aging Pat Dye?  Sorry, Pat, but I think you are more useful shooting dove in Notasulga than expressing opinions on this topic.

Time will tell, but I think the best option would be to institute a 16-team playoff and allowing the higher ranked teams to play at home until the championship.  But you know what they say about bowl prestige, bowl revenue, blah, blah, blah...  I guess that's why I am just a lowly pharmacist and not the NCAA president.

To conclude my 2014 season preview, here is my (somewhat biased and hastily prepared) too-early top 10:

  1. Florida State
  2. Stanford
  3. Auburn
  4. Oregon
  5. Michigan State
  6. South Carolina
  7. Alabama
  8. Oklahoma
  9. LSU
  10. Baylor

War Eagle!

*This is a made up statistic.
**This may or may not be their star player's name, although I think his eligibility should have run out by now.
***Am I allowed to use that term?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Random Acts of Blair

Blair and I were discussing my blog content the other day, and she told me about this new idea she had.

See, that's her having an idea.  Although she doesn't look too thrilled about it, I can assure you that she was at the time.  (By the way, I hope you stocked up on these kinds of "ideas" since they're no longer legal.  I have!)

Anyway, her idea is for me to get on here and post a single picture of something she has done that I was quick enough to capture before it ended, or as usually happens, got destroyed.

So, without further ado, here is a picture of how I found my gym shoes the other day.

I'm not entirely sure that Blair is to blame for this "random act," but I have some pretty strong suspicions.  Betty Clair is generally pretty good about leaving the clothes on her Barbie dolls during playtime because she is mature enough to know that Barbie shouldn't be running around the house that way.  Blair, however, is still a bit naive about normal societal parameters as they pertain to public nudity.  She will learn in time.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thoughts of a Toddler

There are many times during the day when Blair makes a facial expression that leaves me desperate to know just what thoughts are running through her curious, mischievous young mind.  Smiles, frowns, and everything in between seem to indicate many different emotions, and I would give anything to be able to understand what is happening underneath those blonde curls (no matter how fleeting each idea may be).  Therefore, I would like to ask for some assistance.  I am posting pictures below that show different looks and I will briefly describe what I assume my daughter is thinking.  Let me know if you think it's accurate.

"I am only ONE month old.  How many photographs is this crazy woman going to take of me?"

"This satsuma is a little larger than the rest.  It reminds me of my bald head." 
"I see a better one up there, but my dad is too short to get it."

"Could you please wipe the snot off my face before awkwardly lifting me up to take this photo?"

"I love my Gus Gus so much."
Gus the cat:  "She looked so sweet and innocent when they brought me home.  I suppose it's still a better option than euthanasia."

I honestly have no idea what she was thinking here.  She ran around Bellingrath Gardens making this expression for a while, but I have no knowledge of its origin.  Is she casting spells, breathing fire like a dragon, or just being odd like her mother?

"I'm so bored here that I would be more entertained watching my hair grow."

"It's funny that my dad is wasting time taking pictures before he goes to work because I'm fixing to dirty my diaper and make him late."

"My parents are terribly irresponsible for leaving me on this fence while they take a nap.  I don't even have on sunscreen!"

"OMG, my BFF is totes cray cray for that last Snapchat."

"I smile when I remember who my dad is."


"Wow, Evie, that really is a fascinating story about heroes!  Your life is so full of adventure!"

"Yo, Mom, why you holdin' that other baby?"

"All these other kids must have visually impaired parents if they chose these outfits.  As for me, I look good!"


"Of course I eat them, Donavan.  Cold hot dog slices are a delicacy down here in south Alabama."

"Poppa is laughing right now, but he doesn't know I'm about to whack him in the back of the head with this shovel."

"It's Selfie Sunday!"


"This long haired redneck better not touch my cheese sticks."

"Thanks, Dad, for letting me help wash your truck.  Mom will be glad that you made me change clothes before playing with the water hose this time."

"I'm getting really close to walking and this place will never be the same once that starts!  Insert evil laugh."
"I have gas."

"I hope he doesn't take me to the top of a skyscraper."

"I see my dad over there. He is super duper awesome.  I'm so blessed to have inherited his good looks."

"So, THIS is how I'm going to spend the evening?  With my weird shirtless cousin drinking Kool-Aid in an ice chest?  That's the third time this week!  Sigh..."

"They see me rollin', they hatin'."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Here are my resolutions for the year 2014.  It may be presumptuous to think you actually care, but you did actually come here to read the stuff I write.  Publishing them for the rest of the world (since my stats are showing I have readers in nine other countries) should also make it more difficult to abandon them over the next 365 days.
  1. Significantly reduce my social networking.
    • Since it is a HUGE waste of time, I am going to aim for only logging in to Facebook or Twitter once a week (or less).  However, I may have to figure out some way to set up alerts to let all four of my readers know when their favorite blogger has a new post since most of the page views here originate from a link on the aforementioned productivity killers.
  2. Run 3 miles in less than 21 minutes.
    • As some of you are aware, I developed a healthy interest in triathlon this Summer.  This required me to purchase a road bike, some swim goggles, and several articles of clothing made out of lycra.  I was able to drop about 15 pounds and have kept it off recently despite the colder weather limiting my willingness to engage in outside activities.  Although I was quite pleased with my accomplishments as a newbie triathlete, I have some new goals for the coming year.  I need to get faster!  Additional racing goals include cycling 20+ miles at 20+ mph and swimming at least 1500 meters without stopping.  (Don't I look awesome?)
  3. Read every word in my Bible.
    • I've made this one several years in a row, but I always come up with some lame excuses to back out of it.  In fact, the little ribbon is still stuck somewhere in Deuteronomy marking my premature discontinuation last year.  I was already pretty far behind schedule, anyway.  If you have completed this one in the past, leave a comment below and let me know if you had a specific plan you followed and how you liked it.  There are definitely plenty of them to choose from.
  4. Give.
    • Other than what I drop in the offering plate at church, I need to find more ways to do this.  This can include my time, money, or anything else I may have of value to share with others.  I need to set an example that my daughter can actually witness and use those opportunities to explain the importance of this act while she is still somewhat impressionable.  She is a bit young, but I don't think it can ever start too early.
  5. _______________________________
    • This space was intentionally left blank.  I am leaving it that way until my wife fills it in.  Hopefully she doesn't suggest something like "Rub my feet every night."  That being said, this may be one of the most foolish resolution ideas I've ever had.  On the other hand, I may just be the most awesome husband ever.  Let's assume the latter.  Wish me luck on this one!
Happy New Year!