Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big Spring Jam Friday 9/28/07

This is the church I grew up in, The Church of the Visitation on Jefferson street in Huntsville, Alabama. We parked close to the church on our way to the Big Spring Jam.

Matt, enjoying the music at Big Spring Jam

David and Joe can't wait for Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan sings, "That's What I Like About Sunday"

We really enjoyed Sawyer Brown as well, even though Joe and Matt began dozing off before it was all over!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonight at Wally World

Tonight after leaving work late I went to Wal Mart in Decatur to find some baby shower gifts for one of my best employees who is expecting her first child on October 27. I came armed with a printout of the list of items for which she and her husband had registered. My first step was to ask someone in customer service how to find out which items remained to be purchased off the list. I entered the data on the screen and retrieved the printout. I headed to the infants section thinking this would be a piece of cake. Wrong.

I could not seem to match the cryptic abbreviations on the printout with the items on the shelf. I walked around the infant section patiently several times and could not find an employee to help. I decided to wander around to neighboring sections. I finally saw an employee who didn't seem overly busy and asked her for help. She tried, but bless her, she really wasn't much help. She mistook the abbreviation for a "tub" of baby wipes for a bathing tub. At that point I knew I was in trouble!

About that time a really nice looking, well-dressed, professional-looking, cute lady with her work badge still attached looked like she needed help. She smiled really big at me and the Wally World lady and said she needed help finding a stroller with a cover. I smiled at her and said that I had already claimed the worker from another section. She smiled back.

After minimal help from the employee I continued to walk aimlessly around the infant section. Uncharacteristically, I spoke to the lady who smiled at me and asked if she found what she was looking for. She did, but she had more than she could hold and dropped several items. I helped her pick her items up and she asked if I found what I needed. I explained my predicament and she offered to help.

She spent a good 15 minutes giving me (a single guy, years out of touch with baby stuff) some really good help and advice on items to purchase. She helped me find several items on my list and a few surprises.

Her kindness, sweet disposition, friendliness, and smile meant a lot to me. She stood close to me as we compared items to the list. At some point I thought about how nice and how cute she was. Then I looked at her finger. She had a wedding band and engagement ring on her finger.

I had almost thought that I should introduce myself and ask her for her name and number until I saw that she was married.

I will never see this "angel" again. It was a good experience for me though. I have always been very shy and insecure. I dated only about four people in my life and I have been divorced now for 6 years. I sometimes wonder if I will ever find someone who will love me and I can love for the rest of my life. This was good for my self esteem and hope.

The Lord will handle that! It may very well be that He wants me to be single the rest of my life. If so, that's great. There are moments, though, like tonight, that give me the thought that He might send someone my way in a most serendipitous fashion.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Write it down; Yesterday was a mistake

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke yesterday at Columbia University. I was flabbergasted at the coverage last night on CNN. Some idiot, whose last name is Sanchez, who was anchoring the 7CT news stated that having this guy speak at Columbia was simply an exercise in “freedom of speech”.

Excuse me? I was taught that the freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights were granted to citizens of the United States; not someone who has ties to al-Qaida, Hezbollah, and terrorists that we are currently fighting a war against in Iraq. Not to mention his vow to “wipe Israel off the map”

I was also disappointed by the President’s reaction. This is an excerpt from an answer to a question by his National security Advisor, Steve Hadley.

Q Do you have any reaction to the theme of what Ahmadinejad has been saying today; essentially that, why should we go to war, there is no war in the offing, we're not walking towards war with the United States? Are those comments in any way helpful? MR. HADLEY: Look, what would be helpful is for Iranian officials to give some direction so that they would stop the movement of equipment into Iraq, and training people in Iraq who are killing innocent Iraqis, Iraqi security forces and our kids. What would be helpful is if Iran would get out of the business of supporting terror, and agree to what's been offered to them: to suspend their enrichments capability so we can sit down and negotiate a resolution to the nuclear issue, that would give the Iranian people an opportunity for a truly peaceful civil nuclear program, and reassure the international community they're not trying to find a nuclear weapon. And it would be nice for this regime to give their people more of an opportunity to participate in government. I mean, look -- it would be nice for this regime to take some concrete steps to address the agenda, that not only the United States has, but really the whole international community has with the government of Iran. Thanks a lot.
I thought the President considered him part of the axis of evil and a sponsor of terror. I thought we were at war against terror and that we were going to hunt for and track down all terrorists and their sponsors until they were brought to justice. That’s what we were told right after 9/11. Isn’t that why the left keeps whining about our apparent inability to capture Bin Laden.

Forget the question about letting Ahmadinejad speak. Why didn’t we arrest him and try him for war crimes. Our country has forgotten the horror of 9/11 already. Even President Bush is beginning to succumb to the pressure from those who are soft on defense.

I hate to predict this but I am concerned that someday we will look back at 9/24/07 and ask ourselves, “Why didn’t we stop this madman when we had the opportunity?”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where I was on 9/11...

Photos of those who we lost on 9/11/01

I was on leave that morning. I was going in to work late so I was my home in Good Hope, Alabama. As I often did that year, I was listening to the Rick and Bubba radio show while I was getting ready for work. I heard them begin talking about something and that sounded like an accident at first. Then it gradually became apparent that we were under attack. I remember going to see my oldest soms who were in the second grade and kindergarten at the time. I remember discussing it with teachers in the lunchroom as we were all trying to mentally and emotionally grapple with what was happening. I remember hugging my boys. I remember the series of emotions we went through during that day and the days that followed. I remember the Wednesday night prayer service at Seventh Street Baptist Church in Cullman. I remember how our county united, even the worst of our politicians joined together for a photo op singing "God Bless America". I remember flags flying on cars.

I remember...
Twin Towers
red, orange, and yellow
Shanksville, PA
2999 precious lives
false news reports on CNN
first responders
War on Terror

One of the best songs

One of the best songs I have heard that came out of the 9/11 tragedy was "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" by Alan Jackson. Jackson reportedly had some strong reservations abour releasing this song because he did not want to be seen as capitalizing on a tragedy. About the song, Jackson said, "I think it was Hank Williams who said, 'God writes the songs, I just hold the pen.' That's the way I felt with this song." This is one of the few songs I have heard in my life that deeply moved me to tears.

Here are the lyrics:

"Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)"

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry

Did you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

The greatest is love
The greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day

God Bless America

Heads bow in memory of 9/11 victims
By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK - Relatives of Sept. 11 victims bowed their heads in silence Tuesday to mark the moments exactly six years earlier when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The dreary skies created a grim backdrop, and a sharp contrast to the clear blue of that morning in 2001.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I saw a no hitter!

Last Friday night was pretty special. First, it was cool to get the opportunity to spend some time with my 'old' friends Johnny and Rob. I have known Rob for 35 years. That is almost scary. I've known Johnny for 28 years. The three of us have shared all of life's ups and downs, in's and outs, philosophy, music, spirituality, music, sports, etc., etc., etc. I feel quite blessed to count them as my close friends for such a long time. Friday night we went to the Huntsville Stars' playoff game together. I have been a Stars fan since their inception in 1985. My Dad and I hoped Huntsville would get a minor league team throughout my childhood years. When it finally happened, Dad bought us season tickets the first few summers.

Future superstar
José Canseco was the MVP of the Southern League that year. Catcher Terry Steinbach won the MVP award in 1986. Other notable Stars who became major leaguers included: Greg Cadaret, Jason Giambi, Stan Javier, Mark McGuire, Terry Steinbach, Eric Chavez, Prince Fielder, Tony Gwynn, Jr., Tim Hudson, Miguel Tejada, Ben Sheets, Todd Van Poppel, Rickie Weeks, Luis Polonia, Charlie O'Brien, Tim Belcher, Darrel Akerfelds, Eric Plunk, Felix Jose, Ben Grieve, etc. There are many others.

The Stars have quite a great history, all of which is documented on the excellent "Baseball Cube" website. Anything you want to know about the Stars' history can be found there.

There is no telling how many Stars games and other games I have seen in person in my life, but this was my first time to watch a no hitter.

News reports:

Smokies succumb to Stars' no-hitter, 5-0

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Tennessee Smokies fell victim to a no-hit pitching performance by the Huntsville Stars pitching staff Friday night, succumbing 5-0 to the home team at Joe Davis Stadium. Stars' hurlers Corey Thurman, Dave Johnson and Luis Pena combined on the historic feat, and evened the Southern League Divisional Series at 1-1.

Thurman was able to shake off two first-inning walks Friday night to retire 16 Smokies in a row. He used a commanding fastball to keep the Smokies off-guard, striking out seven over six innings.

The Stars' bullpen would not let Thurman's performance go to waste. Johnson followed with three strikeouts in two innings, including a third-strike wild pitch to the Smokies' Nate Spears in the eighth. The road team could do nothing against Pena either, with three ninth-inning groundouts to secure the no-hit bid.

With Stars pitching stifling the Smokies offense, the Stars' five-run sixth inning was more than enough to win. Hernan Iribarren and Adam Heether kicked off the Stars' attack with back-to-back singles. After Lou Palmisano reached on an error by Smokies infielder Kyle Reynolds, Michael Brantley delivered a two-run single to give the Stars a 2-0 lead. The bases would load up again for the home team, where pinch-hitter Mike Goetz's single brought in two more. A sacrifice groundout by the Stars' Steven Sollmann concluded the scoring for the home team.

The best-of-five series is now tied at 1-1 and will shift to Smokies Park on Saturday. Tennessee will start Jeff Samardzija (3-3, 3.41), while the Stars are sending Derek Miller (6-2, 3.18) to the mound. Tickets are available by calling the Smokies ticket office at (865) 286-2300 or by ordering online at

Stars Toss No-Hitter in Win Over Smokies!
Corey Thurman, David Johnson and Luis Pena combined on the first home no-hitter in franchise history in Huntsville’s 5-0 win over Tennessee Friday night at Joe Davis Stadium in the second game of the North Division Playoff series. The Stars evened up the best-of-five series at a game apiece after exploding for all five runs in the sixth inning against Smokies’ starter Justin Berg.

Thurman issued two walks in the first inning before getting Issmael Salas to fly out for the final out of the frame. From there, the right-hander retired the side in order in each of the next five innings, recording six of his seven strikeouts in the game. Berg had blanked the Stars on three singles through five frames before the Stars broke through in the sixth.

Hernan Iribarren and Adam Heether opened the inning with singles before Lou Palmisano dropped down a sacrifice bunt attempt that third baseman Kyle Reynolds fielded but his throw to first base pulled second baseman Nate Spears off the bag, allowing Palmisano to reach to load the bases. Michael Brantley then grounded the next pitch into right field to chase home the first two runs of the night. Steve Moss singled with one out to reload the bases and force manager Don Money to make a decision whether or not to leave Thurman in the game. The skipper opted to send up pinch-hitter Mike Goetz, who made the move pay off by chopping a single over a leaping shortstop Robinson Chirinos for a two-run single to push the lead to 4-0. Steve Sollmann’s fielder’s choice grounder plated Moss with the final run of the night.

Johnson took over for Thurman and walked Tyler Colvin with one out in the seventh before getting Salas to ground into a broken bat, inning-ending double play. He then struck out the side in the eighth before turning the game over to Pena, who saved 12 games during the regular season. The hard-throwing right-hander retired Eric Patterson on a grounder to second, Jorge Cortes on a comebacker and got Casey McGehee to ground out to second base on an 0-1 offering to finish off the third no-hitter in Stars’ history. Dana Allison tossed a no-hitter at Birmingham on August 3, 1992 and Tanyon Sturtze kept Chattanooga hitless on June 13, 1993 at Engel Stadium.

The series continues Saturday afternoon with southpaw Derek Miller taking the hill for Huntsville against Smokies’ right-hander Jeff Samardzija. Coverage of the game begins at 3:50 pm central time and can be heard locally on SportsRadio 730 WUMP and through the internet at

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Paybacks are tough, they say.

On June 21, Huntsville pitcher Corey Thurman yielded a home run to Tennessee pitcher Mark Holliman, who went on to pitch a no-hitter against the Stars.

On Friday night, Thurman was one of three Huntsville pitchers to turn the tables on Tennessee, combining for a no-hitter in a 5-0 Stars' victory.

Thurman, a 28-year-old former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher who as recently as 2005 was pitching in independent ball, struck out six in six innings, walking only two, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. Dave Johnson followed with two innings of hitless relief, followed by Stars' closer Luis Pena, who hit 100-plus mph on four of his ninth-inning deliveries.

With the series evened at 1-1, the playoffs move to Smokies Park in Sevierville at 5:05 p.m. today, with Huntsville sending Derek Miller (6-2) against Tennessee's Jeff Samardzija (3-3).

Game four will be in Huntsville Sunday at 7:05 EDT; game five, if needed would be at Joe Davis Stadium Monday at 8:05.

It was the first no-hitter by a Huntsville pitcher in a home game in franchise history and only the third in club history.

The last no-hitter in a Southern League playoff game came in 2005 when Jacksonville's Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton combined to stop Birmingham in the series opener.

"I've seen some no-hitters but I've never been a part of one," Thurman said. "After Holliman got his against us, I was thinking tonight I'd much rather do it this time of the year."

Thurman, who began the season slowly and painfully, battling food poisoning, saved his best for the postseason. He was almost doing a tightrope walk early, walking a pair of batters in the first and throwing two dozen pitches in the inning. But after putting Tyler Colvin on with a walk, he retired the last 16 men he faced, five by strikeout.

The Stars broke open the shutout with a rat-tat-tat sixth inning against Smokies' starter Justin Berg (7-7), who is 0-2 in two previous starts against Huntsville.

After a pair of hits and a Kyle Reynolds error on a bunt loaded the bases for Huntsville, Michael Brantley swatted a single through the right side to score a pair of runs.

Mike Goetz, pinch-hitting for Thurman later in the inning in only his sixth Huntsville at-bat since a promotion from rookie ball, added two more runs with a chopper over short. Steve Sollmann's infield hit plated the fifth run.

© 2007, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

This weekend with Mom and Dad

My parents (who are 77 and 74) were diagnosed with colon cancer nine and ten years ago, respectively. They have been cancer free and have experienced the happiest years of their lives and marriage since then. My Mom retired from being a nurse and decided to keep busy by working at JCPenny's in Huntsville 12 years ago. She is still their most reliable employee 12 years later, even at age 74. Part of me wants her to stop, but I know that she enjoys working with people and this is her outlet. It is probably good for her. She really doesn't need the money. She is so dedicated and faithful to my Dad, me, my sister, my children, and her job. People in my generation (I'm 42) and younger that have that type of dedication are so much harder to find. My Mom and Dad seem to live for being a blessing to others.

Since I am divorced, this was the weekend I didn't have my boys. I am very much single and haven't really dated in the last couple of years. I had several things I could have done this weekend. I always have to decide what to do with my time when I cannot be with my boys. I had an opportunity to go to the Bama game Saturday in Nashville. I decided to visit with my parents instead. I am so glad that I did!

Every time that I do something with them, I always think that it may be my last opportunity. My Dad took me to my first Bama game in Birmingham in 1975 when I was 10. As I was driving towards Huntsville on I-565, I couldn't help but think, "This may be the last time I watch a Bama game with my dad." That may sound maudlin, but it's my way of trying to appreciate the opportunity that I still have.

This may sound almost silly, but I wished that I had taped my conversation with my dad during the game.

My parents, and thousands like them, are truly part of the "Greatest Generation" that Tom Brokaw wrote about in his book by that name.