Archive for General

Pride Burst…

I don’t normally dive too deeply into the personal experience side of this social networking thing, but yesterday was exceptional:

First, our son Atticus has been running track for the first time. His event is the 800 meter run (half mile, which is twice around the track). It’s been a cold, wet, and exceptionally blustery spring. So between running in less than ideal conditions and a couple of cancelled meets, his chance of running the 800 in under 3 minutes came down to the conference finals yesterday. He got a steady start, ran a smart first lap, lengthened his stride on the backstretch of the second lap, and kicked hard to the finish. And… he got himself a personal best 2:59 run. It was awesome.

Jane and I went from the track meet to Natalina’s soccer game. She’s playing for the Grandville JV, and their only loss this year was to Rockford on Monday. There was a rematch yesterday. Natalina plays an aggressive, physical, but clean style of soccer. On Monday, she had frustrated a Rockford player #9 by repeatedly winning the ball, so eventually #9 grabbed her by the neck and threw her down. #9 got a yellow card. At the rematch, Natalina again was winning the battles. Near the end of the first half, Natalina stole the ball from #9, knocking her down (cleanly) in the process. As #9 fell she tried to grab Natalina’s legs. Failing that, she kicked out both legs and tripped her. Again, #9 got a yellow card. (Should have been red, frankly, it was that blatantly obvious she intended to hurt.) Natalina never lost her temper, never whined, and continued to play hard. Absolute poise. It was awesome.

We left the soccer game early to get to the academic award ceremony for the Class of 2010. Elisira was participating as one of the top students in her class. That in and of itself was amazing to experience. But then it came time for the individual departments to give their awards. When Mr. Kennedy got up to present the English Department award, we had high hopes, but out of a class of 500, there’s a lot of competition — everybody takes English classes. Kennedy delivered a beautiful speech. (English teachers have excellent writing skills — go figure.) He built it up slowly and stayed gender neutral, but about halfway through it became obvious who the winner was. Jane and I were sitting behind the last row of students and we could hear them starting the share the answer: “Ellie! Ellie! Ellie!” And when Kennedy finally said her name, I just about burst. It was awesome.

I smelled so bad at the end of the evening with nervous, anxious, excited sweat I really should have been hosed off before Jane let me in the house. That was pretty disgusting. But otherwise it was a beautiful day.

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Ernie Harwell, Erik Prince, and a Quote from “Harvey”…

This post actually has to do with the cartoon that will be in tomorrow’s Grand Rapids Press, but I couldn’t hold off.

The day before my deadline I was noodling through what to say about Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial security contracting firm, Blackwater. Prince was born and raised in Holland, Michigan and was invited back to give a speech at luncheon that traditionally kicks off Holland’s Tulip Time festivities. It is not extraordinary to honor a famous and successful native son in such a way, especially when his parents were largely responsible for rebuilding downtown Holland after the mall was built in the 1990s and the big stores moved out. However, it was fairly extraordinary to invite a fellow whose company has made massive profits off our two ongoing wars while killing innocent people in the process. And to have him kickoff your town’s marquee event, which typically gets no more edgy than the possibility of one of the Oak Ridge Boys’ colostomy bags accidentally falling onto a stage. Further, up till the day of the speech, Tulip Time organizers had agreed to Prince’s request to exclude all media from the public event, eventually allowing the press but no recording devices. Yes, Prince is very clever, but not very, well, nice.

Then Tuesday night Ernie Harwell passed away and my attention shifted to him. (Buy a paper tomorrow — it’s a pretty good cartoon.)

This morning I was again thinking about Prince and Harwell, and one of my favorite movie quotes popped to mind. It’s from the Jimmy Stewart movie, “Harvey,” and it seems to sum it up well:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.


Grandville Symphony Orchestra

We hear enough bad things about failing schools and wasted public funds — how about a success story? I submit to you the orchestra program at Grandville Public Schools. Check out these YouTube links that my friend Jim Wildgen posted:

These are high school kids from a middle class school system. The three selections are from a recent concert, which was actually only a tune-up ahead of their annual competition. You don’t have to be a classical music fan to appreciate how extraordinary it is for a group this size to work together so well. It’s amazing to me. (Full disclosure: That alabaster cellist in the first chair is my daughter Elisira.)

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The Breakfast Club…

Mark your calendars: Next week Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (February 4, 5, and 6), Grandville High School will be putting on the play, “The Breakfast Club.” It is a stage production of the 1985 John Hughes film. Ellie will be on stage as Alison (the Ally Sheedy part); Natalina is working backstage. Call or email me or Jane for details!


Merry Christmas!…

Hmmm… reviewing my past few posts it’s clear I’m filled with that annoying indignation that fills so many blogs (and radio waves and comment boards and…). So before I have to be visited by Christmas ghosts, let me reset and sincerely wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!


Flint Connections…

Hey, for all you folks with a Flint connection, this may be of interest to you. My sister’s Flint Powers classmate, Gordon Young, has an article in Slate magazine. Gordon is creator of the an addictive blog called Flint Expatriates.


Good News — It’s Been FIXED!!!

Big thanks to Andrew and Ben at 2G Techworks for solving my blog software issue. I tried the “Oscar Rogers” approach with Yahoo Small Business. (See above.) Didn’t work so well. Andrew and Ben apparently went another route ’cause it’s been FIXED!


Old (and Hilarious) Magazine Ads…

It’s problematic to say the least that there exists a world of very interesting things on the other side of my work computer. Curse you high-speed Internet connection! Why must you be so wonderful?! Actually, I think I handle it pretty well. Other than an ongoing addiction to Wikipedia, I manage to steer clear of that which does not translate to billable hours. Mostly. But last week I was tempted away by a link I found in a Graphic Designer newsletter. (So in a very rationalized way, it was in fact work.)

Some evil person has spent a considerable amount of time scanning ads from old magazines and indexing them very nicely. Old magazines (Life, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and the like) are a terrible weakness of mine. They are filled with historical articles, classic comics, beautiful photography, and campy ads. So I stole time in between chores to read some from the 1930s and early 1940s, and email favorites to my wife and equally Wikipedia-addicted daughter. Check ‘em out. Once you’re there, you can click the “View Larger Image” link to see details:
“So help me, I’ll beat the crap out of little Timmy …literally!”
Ah, yes! Remember when “willfully stupid” was an endearing trait in a women (excuse me, girl)?
Whoever thought any product called “Crab Orchard” was a good idea?! And is it just me, or is this the gayest ad ever?
Let’s see: empty sugar, corrosive acid, addictive stimulants … oh, wait! They serve it in hospitals? Never mind, everything is a-okay here!
Our house was built in 1941 with these shingles (and still has them). And that’s pretty much what our living room looked like when we moved in.
Lead! Lead! We make paint out of LEAD!
Apparently, “copywriters” back in the “1940s” got “paid” not by the “quality” of their “writing,” but by “the” number of “quotation marks” they “used.”
Good news! Candy is food for work!
Aren’t men difficult? And by “difficult,” I mean, “jerks.”
Inspiration for the classic SNL bit, “It’s a floor cleaner; no, it’s a dessert topping!”?

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I’m Now 3 for 7. What Are You?…

So the Obama win ends a long dry spell for this kid — I hadn’t voted for the winning presidential candidate since 1988, and it puts me at three wins in seven tries. In baseball, I’d be batting 429, which is awesome. In basketball, I’d be shooting 42.9%, which is not all that good. If I were a field goal kicker in football, I’d be getting cut.

But what about presidential elections? What’s your record? Post and let me know!

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Five Years into the Iraq War…

If you have some extra time today, you should definitely read this article in Salon. It’s a transcript of a couple of speeches given five years ago by Senators Byrd and McCain on the Senate floor hours before the initial attack. It’s fascinating to read — not a hindsight interpretation, but actual thoughts and feelings on the day. Turns out all history lessons don’t have to be ancient history lessons….

Slight Disclaimer: Salon is selling this somewhat as “Byrd was right; McCain was wrong.” Yeah, it’s leading the witness. (That sells web hits.) But the real point of interest, I think, is how eloquently both men plead their concerns for their country, yet have very different views of what should be done. Draw your own conclusions on right and wrong.


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