Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno

If you are a college football fan, you know the legend of Joe Paterno, known as JoePa by faithful fans. But fan or not you have most likely heard the name Joe Paterno. Paterno, the legendary coach at Penn State University. The coach with the short stature, a light voice and thick glasses but has coached at the top level for 46 years.

Unfortunately a huge storm hit the news lately about a former coach of his, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was arrested and has been charged with 40 criminal counts, accusing him of serial sex abuse of minors.

This all snowballed to end Paterno's career this week, when he announced he would retire at the end of the season. Sandusky's crime is heinous.

There is no excusing what he did.

Whenever something bad happens to someone we like, we say it is "unfortunate" or "they did not deserve this" for them. But when something happens to someone we dislike, we say they deserved it. Well, JoePa truly did not deserve this to tarnish his long career.

JoePa will be forced out because he did what he was supposed to do and relying on them to do what they are supposed to do.

Let's back up and follow the time line of events.

1969: Sandusky starts his coaching career at Penn State as a defensive line coach.

1977: Sandusky founds a foster home dedicated to helping troubled boys, which grows into a charity to help children with absent or dysfunctional families called The Second Mile.

1983: Pen State is selected as College Football's National Champion for the 1982 season by the Associated Press.

1987: The AP voters choose Penn State as the National Champion for the 1986 season.

1994: A boy in the report (Victim 7) meets Sandusky through The Second Mile program at the age of 10.

1994-1996: Another boy meets (Victim 6) Sandusky through The Second Mile when he is around the age of 7 or 8.

1996-1997: Yet another boy (Victim 4) meets Sandusky through The Second Mile at the age of 12 or 13 in his second year of participating in the program.

1996-1998: A boy (Victim 5) is taken to the locker room and showers at Penn State by Sandusky when he is 8-10 years old.

1998: January 1, the victim from 1994-1996 (victim 4), along with Sandusky's wife, as a member of Sandusky's family party for the 1998 Outback Bowl.

1998: Victim 6 is taken into the locker room and showers when he is 11 years old. When he is dropped off at home, his hair is still wet from showering with Sandusky. His mother reports the incident to the University police who investigate.

Detective Ronald Shreffler testifies that he and State College PD Detective Ralston, with the consent of the mother, eavesdrop on two conversations with the mother and Sandusky. Sandusky then proceeds to admit he has showered with other boys and the mother tries to make Sandusky promise to never shower with a boy again, but he does not.

At the end of the second conversation, after Sandusky is told he cannot see her son again, Schreffler testifies that Sandusky says, "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."

Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, testifies that he and Schreffler interviewed Sandusky and that he admits to showering naked with the mother's son and admits to hugging him in the shower and also admits that is was wrong. The case is then closed after then County DA Ray Gricar decides there will be no criminal charge.

1999: Sandusky retires from Penn State but continues to hold emeritus status.

December 28: Victim 4 is listed, along with Sandusky's wife, as a member of Sandsusky's family for the 1999 Alamo Bowl party.

Summer 2000: A boy (victim 3) meets Sandusky through The Second Mile when he is between 7th and 8th grade.

Fall 2000: A janitor named James Calhoun observes Sandusky in the showers at the Lasch Football Building with a young boy (victim 8), pinned up against the wall (the detail will be left out). He immediately tells the janitorial staff. Fellow employee Petrosky cleans the showers at Lasch and sees Sandusky and the victim who he describes as being between 11 and 13.

Calhoun tells other employees what he saw, including his immediate supervisor Jay Witherite. Witherite tells him whom he should report the incident to but he does not make a report. Victim 8's identity is not known according to the court.

2002: March 1, A Penn State GA enters the locker room at Lasch Football Building and sees a naked boy (victim 2) who he estimates is 10 years old and Sandusky in the showers. (detail left out). The GA tells his father immediately.

March 2, That morning the GA calls Paterno and goes to his home where he reports what he has seen.

March 3, Paterno calls Tim Curley, the Penn State AD, to his home and reports the version of what the GA had said.

Later in the month, the GA is called to a meeting with Curley and Senior VP for Finance and Business Gary Shultz. The GA reports what he saw and both men say they will look into it.

Approximately March 27, the GA hears from Curley and is told that Sandusky's locker room keys have been taken away and that the incident has been reported to The Second Mile. However the GA is never questioned by the University police and no other entity conducts an investigation until the GA testifies in the Grand Jury in December 2010.

2005-2006: A boy (victim 1) meets Sandusky through The Second Mile at age 11 or 12.

2007: During the spring track season, Sandusky begins spending time with victim 1 weekly and having him stay overnight at his residence in College Township, PA.

2008: Spring, Sandusky and victim 1 terminate contact when he is a freshman in a high school in Clinton County. After the boy's mother calls the school to report sexual assault, Sandusky is barred from the school district attended by victim 1 from that day forward and the matter is reported to the authorities as mandated by the law.

Early 2009 an investigation by the PA attorney General begins when Clinton Co. PA teen tells authorities that Sandusky had inappropriately touched him several times over a four year period.

September 2010 Sandusky retires from day-to-day involvement with The Second Mile, saying he wants to spend more time with his family and handle personal matters.

November 5, 2011: Sandusky is arrested and released on $100,000 bail after being arraigned on 40 criminal counts. Two days later on November 7, PA Attorney General Linda Kelly says Paterno is not the target of the investigation into how the school handled the accusations. But she refuses to say the same about University President Graham Spanier. Both Curley and Shultz have both stepped down from their positions and have surrendered on charges that they failed to alert police to complaints against Sandusky.

Child abuse is a very serious crime. But it is also a very serious accusation. Paterno immediately told the AD, his boss, about the information that was made known to him. He did not cover it up and he believed that his superiors would investigate and alert the authorities if it was substantiated.

(Just announced that Paterno was fired effective immediately and President of the University has also been fired.)

Sandusky was no longer part of the football program all the way back to 1999. The year before, the police eavesdropped on a call between a victim's mother and Sandusky where he admitted to wrongdoing with her child. The County DA decided there would be no criminal charge. He should have been banned from any affiliation with the school at that time.

Then in 2000, a janitor observed Sandusky with a child in the shower. He tells other employees but nothing is done. Then in 2002 the GA sees Sandusky and tells Paterno. Paterno tells the AD. The AD talks with the GA and the Senior VP as mentioned before and informed him that they were going to look into it. Paterno also heard this and continued to do his job leading a multi-million dollar football program on the reassurance that his boss, the Athletic Director, would investigate the accusation.

Coach Paterno could have done more, yes. Everyone could do more in their everyday life. Coach Paterno's fall is because it happened to be a former football coach and some incidents occurred in the football facility. It could have been stopped several years before but it wasn't.

One has to look at the situation objectively, no matter how hard it is. The Graduate Assistant went to Paterno with vague references of "touching" or "horsing around" by Sandusky and a youth. He did not know that the Graduate Assistant had witnessed a sodomy or rape. When he reported it to the AD that is what he reported.

When the AD and Senior VP talked with the Graduate Assistant, what did they get out of the conversation? Did they get that it was a rape or sodomy or the graduate assistant continue to mention the same things said to Paterno which made it sound like it was "horsing around."

Does he deserve to be fired? I do not believe so. An outstanding coach with more character than most college football coaches who reported what he knew and did what he was supposed to do but was left out to dry by his Athletic Director's failure to investigate and report findings.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

R.I.P. Steven Craig "Victor" Williamson

This is the only photo I could find on short notice.

I first met Steve 'Victor' Williamson in the fall semester of 2000 when we took Intro to Engineering together. This was beginning my second year at the University of South Alabama and I don't remember how long he had been there. I don't really remember how we met in the class or if it was when we were put together to do a project together was the first time we actually met and became friends.

We had to do some project for the class and of course we had lofty goals. We were going to use light or IR sensors to detect a break in the beam when a matchbox car going down a slope would break it. We could then calculate how long that car took to go from top to bottom. Simple really. But it never did work unfortunately. So we rigged up the matchbox car with a piece of copper wire and put wires on the top and bottom of the slope where the wires would brush each other and complete a circuit. Obviously it worked sporadically at best.

But over the course of doing this project, we became fairly good friends. At the time I was in the dorms and downloading videos and music. We scanned the network and found lots of computers sharing random stuff that we would pilfer through, grabbing copies of stuff that interested us. We figured out the 'net send' command in windows at the time and would have belly laughs thinking about people getting these network popup windows saying random stuff.

About that time I was starting to get interested in Linux and had a box, which I still have today, for Mandrake Linux 7.0. That's when the true friendship began, computer software and hardware. I got out of Electrical Engineering, my major at the time, and shifted more into computer engineering which eventually became Computer Science.

I don't remember the specifics, but he ended up leaving the University. Some of these jobs from this point forward become a little fuzzy. At one point he was working at Books-A-Million at Airport Blvd and McGreggor Ave. in Mobile. I would occasionally go by and see him, he would give me a free drink of some sorts. I remember I really liked some white vanilla slushy like drink. His love of computers continued unabated by his barista jobs.

At some point he began working a cargo shipping company that was based in downtown Mobile. I don't remember what he did exactly, but he was down there late at night sometimes.

He would come over from time to time and we would get his favorite kind of pizza, Godfathers. Lots of sausage. He really liked their pizza.

He was working for a Chevron gas station in Tilman's Corner at one point and living off of Rangeline Road in the apartment behind the house. It was like a loft apartment above the person's boat lift. It was funny to hear about him being woken up or using the computer when his landlord would use the lift. It would shake his entire place. I think I ventured out there to see him once or twice.

Somewhere in this time he started taking some MCSE classes through South Alabama that met at the Brookley Center. He took all of the classes after scrounging up the money and began taking the certification tests. They were fairly expensive and I don't remember how many he completed, but he never completed them all.

I believe he lost his job somehow or something and owed back rent to his landlord when he was kicked out of the place. I also think this was the time he moved to Birmingham to get a job and be near his dad who was offering to help him out some.

I don't remember much about his first jobs up there, I just remember when he got the job at Smith Software and began getting big into Linux with the Birmingham Linux Users Group. I started getting more interested and active with Linux towards my later years in undergrad and grad school. We talked about all kinds of computer related stuff and off the wall stuff. He would take trips down to see his mom and stepfather. He could come by and crash at my house some, bringing computers to hook up and leech stuff off of my hard drives. I would get him stuff like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Ms. Marple. Agatha Christie based television dramas. I was never really into it as much though.

We did share another fascination though. He was really big into the World War II stuff. So I would get WWII videos and we would talk about WWII tanks, planes, ships... you name it. It was another fun time we had.

His time at Smith Software was a rocky one. He would go out and do installs, upgrades and stuff like that as well as maintaining stuff around their office. It sounded like a place I would never want to work in the software business. I believe their software was inventory control like stuff. Looking at their web page and remembering our conversations, their big thing was it's 'Marine Management Software'. It was a bad place for him, he wasn't satisfied and the work was kind of crappy.

I think it was about this time he befriended some people in the Birmingham area that recycled computer and electronic parts. They would go through stuff and get the useful things and try to reuse them else they would send them for recycling. This was about the time I became president of the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery at South Alabama. As we didn't have a website nor a good server to host one on, he found a 1U rackmount server that he gave me for the ACM. It was only recently retired and replaced. I still have it in my closet. He even made sure to give me a custom made build of Ubuntu server with the specific driver we would need for the RAID on the motherboard.

In return I gave him an old case the ACM had that he liked. It was purple, a color he seemed to really like and the hard drive went in from the side. So you had easy access to the power and IDE (PATA at the time) ports. It was an Integraph case that a friend back in Cullman had oh so long ago. The front rose up and slid in on the top. I think he really liked it.

By this time he was getting really good with Linux, far surpassing my level which I had neglected. I still supported all of his efforts. I always hosted an FTP server and he always had access to it. It was a place where he could keep his resume and some files that he may need or want. He also always had access to my video archive. He and I were fans of Doctor Who but I we haven't talked about it in quite some time. I don't know if or when he may have lost interest in the show.

During the last year or two we didn't talk as much online as we used to. I was at work during the day and he sometimes was too. He seemed to always be going around and doing something at night. I should have contacted him more, but that is/was something I wasn't too good at.

After his job with the recycling place went sour somehow, he took over a computer repair shop in Birmingham. We chatted about it a lot, I advised him to do what he wants but it was a very risky venture with someone who didn't have much money put back and the economy going the way it was. Plus the computer market was going away from small places to Best Buy or online stores like HP or Dell. He made it work for quite a while, but he eventually had to fold it due to money and bills.

Over some of our last conversations online we told me about his new quad core machine and how it did this and that. I told him about my new computer, also a quad core and all of the hard drive space I had.

Now here are some more random memories I had of Victor that I don't really remember how they fit in the timeline. He had an old Pentium III computer that he use for what seemed like FOREVER. I kidded him a lot about getting a new computer and getting out of the Jurassic age. He had an old IBM hard drive that he used for a long time. It still worked but I remember it sound so bad I joked, and still tell people to this day, that it had rocks or gravel for bearings. He had a Mazda Miata at one time which he side swiped into a concrete barrier. I don't remember what he finally did to retire it though. Then his grandmother gave him a big brown boat of a car. It was either an Oldsmobile or a Buick. We joked about 'the boat' and 'the shit wagon' too. Used a lot of gas and he kept it crammed full of junk. I told him it would probably get much better mileage if it didn't have a ton of junk in it. He always got a laugh out of it.

He spent the night at places that Kacy and I shared. House 1, House 2 and even House 3 that Kacey bought. I know she didn't like him too much and I think he sensed it too but he still liked her. He would get a little angry that she didn't care for him too much and had problems with him staying at our places. I think that's why he didn't visit too much. He always mentioned how he thought Kacey and I would end up together. He didn't like Jonathan that much and he really didn't like Kenny that much either. He would always ask how she was doing, how they were doing. Each time, when I moved out of her house, when they got engaged and when they got married, he always said he thought she and I would end up together.

He came and stayed at my house in Cullman at least once. We set up computers and copied stuff. Back when he was in Mobile we would get together some and game a little. I still remember the epic eight hour game of Age of Empires between he, Kacey, Jonathan and myself. I still also tell people about that epic game too.

Like I have mentioned, Victor was into Linux and Open Source Software. Blender is an OSS project and with him having interest in modeling and stuff he took to it as well. He set up a system to grab nightly code revisions, build them and have them available to download online. I don't know if this is still going or what, but for a long time he was involved with that by giving back to the community.

Victor was a liquor guy, Jack Daniels I think. Didn't go for beer at all. He was a bit of a connoisseur of pens and pencils. Collecting certain kinds of pens and mechanical pencils. Well, more like a specific kind of mechanical pencil. I never really was into pens like him. He was the one who got me into audiobooks and podcasts actually. He was a fan of Leo Laporte on the Screen Savers on TechTV and Call For Help. He got me into those shows, then when Leo left after it was gobbled up by Comcast and G4 Victor go into the early Leo podcast 'the return of the screen savers' which eventually became TWIT (This Week in Tech). I still listen to it fairly often.

The last time I saw Victor, Vicki and I met him for lunch at Atlanta Bread Company. He always had to stop there when he was in town since they didn't have one in Birmingham. I like Panera and suggested him go there but he just didn't like it. But we met there and we talked. I introduced him to Vicki. It was good to see him, wish we could have spent more time hanging out. I wish he could have came down and seen my new place with all of the geeky stuff.

I don't know what happened over the last few days of his life but I hope he is at peace. I hate it happened the way it did. I didn't even know he was down in the area. I wish he would have contacted me. No one knows if I could have made any difference in what happened, people tell me that I couldn't have but no one really knows. I just hate that such a good friend of mine took felt so desperate or out of touch or hopeless that they felt like the best or easiest way out was to take their own life. And at such a young age too.

I still have a couple things the gave me over time. He lent me a copy of the book 'The Last Starfighter'. It's a bit of a ratty looking book, torn cover, worn but I never got around to reading it. It's now on my list to read soon. He got me a copy of Dune when he worked at Books-A-Million, I enjoyed reading it at house 1 and I still have it somewhere. I remember he always wore leather work boots. I remember his thick glasses, his deep voice, his laughter and how he would glare when I make a joke at his expense. How he would come up with a question to ask, rub his face, motion with his hand and almost always begin with “Okay, how about this...”. He had a peculiar walk and way of talking.

He was a big fan of racing. He would go to races at the race track near Birmingham. He was into the endurance type of racing. The 24 hours of Daytona, LeMon's, stuff like that. I was more of a NASCAR type of race fan back then though, before my cousin passed away. I was slightly into indycar type of racing.

He really liked spicy food, but unfortunately spicy food didn't like him so well. His acid reflux would kick in. He said he had it almost all the time. He was the one that got me started on spicy food, I got that from him. His stepfather grew Habernos at their house on Dauphin Island and would make hot sauce out of it. He once gave me a baby food jar of it and it LIT MY MOUTH ON FIRE! So I started eating more and more spicy things now I really enjoy it and can hold my own against Habaneros now.

Victor, wherever you are, I hope you are at peace. I believe there is some sort of spiritual entity that looks over us and sometimes gives us subtle guidance through signs. I don't know if there is something like heaven or if we pass through and go on to live in another life. I just don't know how it works. If there is a heaven, I hope to see him and many others there when my time comes. If we have multiple lives, then I hope to see him and many others there as well.

His funeral service will be held in McIntosh, AL on Sunday July 24, 2010 at 1:30pm.

If I think of more memories, I will revisit this and add on to it. I will borrow this phrase from Adam Curry. To all my friends, I hope I live a hundred more years and you live a hundred years and a day so I never have to see any my friends pass away.

2010-07-24 8:00pm:

Another favorite thing of Victor's was the Colossal burger that Ruby Tuesday's had. I don't think they have it anymore though. One time he finally drug me out to get one with him, I don't remember if I met him there or if he rode with me. But we went to the one that was in the Bel Air Mall because he liked it there. Sometimes he was very peculiar about places and this was one of them. Probably primarily because the cook knew exactly how to fix his burger.

If you did not see the Colossal burger, it was two huge 1/2lb hamburger patties. It was a burger you ate with a knife and fork, not with your hands really. A google search just turned up that it clocked in at over 2,000 calories, but somehow he stayed fairly slim. Wish he would have told me that secret before he passed. But the cook wasn't there that day so he tried to explain at first, then just asked if the waitress would bring the cook out. The waitress did so and he explained how he liked it and the cook went back and fixed the burgers for us. I think he mostly finished it while I just couldn't, I only ate half of it and we talked for quite a while. That end of the mall was pretty sparse, but I did get to see some people walking through.

2010-07-25 7:29PM

One weekend during the normal Mobile summer, my mom came down to visit and we planned an outing to Dauphin Island to visit Victor and his mom Eva. So we got there and mom was introduced to Eva and we sat down and talked for while. Then we decided to go tour Fort Gaines. All four of us loaded up and drove down to the east end of the island to the fort. We all spent several hours going through fort and seeing all of the sights from the underground areas to up on the fort walls where cannons would have thundered during the civil war. I have several photos from the tour that I will have to find and post here when I find them.

Another good memory that came back to me today was when Victor came up and stayed the night in Cullman. We went over to my friend Wesley's house and Victor was in awe of his setup. He had a room dedicated to Anime and computers. He had either four or five large bookshelves pretty much full with anime, manga and the items that came with anime box sets. Plus his RAID array of space to store all of his goodies. Wes would tell him the specs or something about a computer and Victor would just glare for a second and do that head bob saying the words a little drawn out, “Damn!” and laugh. Of course we hooked up computers and copied stuff back and forth all throughout the night until I got tired and went to sleep. He would stay up a little longer and continue pilfering through stuff to see what he might want.

The next morning, a Sunday I believe, mom got up first which is usual. She wakes up anywhere between 4am and 5am. I wake up later but Victor was still asleep. After a while mom started cooking breakfast and Victor woke up shortly afterwards and we continued to copy stuff and see what was on tv. Mom then called us into the kitchen for breakfast and when my mother cooks, she cooks for an army. Biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, even country ham I think, hashbrows and eggs with two big glasses of milk. Well all got big plates of everything and slowly ate while chatting. Mom and I got a little bit more like we normally do, but Victor got an entire plate full yet again with another big glass of milk. Later mom asked me if he was starving, I told her that I didn't know. I don't know how often he got a good home cooked meal, especially breakfast. But mom being a mom, was quite proud to not only have someone over for breakfast but also have someone over for breakfast who loved it and probably could use the fellowship too.

Later that evening, he loaded up his car to head back down to his place in Birmingham. I never got around to seeing any of the places he lived in Birmingham nor did I get by his computer shop he had. That is one of my many regrets. I didn't get by to see him in the 'ham. I'm sorry man.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

A solution to marriage? Just maybe.

I was reading the other day at how so many people are divided over the concept of same sex marriage. While I'm not going to go out and get a boyfriend, I have known and have been friends with a few people over the years who were drawn to partners of the same sex.

Marriage predates reliable recorded history and has been part of the church since the beginning of recorded history. This is one of the points that some have when opposing same sex marriage. They think marriage is and should only be reserved for the union between a man and a woman. Which I am fine with but many same sex couples are opposed to being merely recognized as 'civil unions'.

The daughter of the republican presidential nominee from the campaign in 2008, Meghan McCain, has been very outspoken about and trying to rally support for same sex marriage within the Republican party. However, in my opinion there are many more pressing issues than that to be more concerned about. So I submit my idea to the web via my blog for the consideration of anyone who wishes to read it.

The founding fathers very clearly wanted a nation that would take in and embrace people of all religions. But they also used religious underpinnings when founding this nation that we call the United States of America. However, since that time we have had a great movement to separate Church and State. The merits and results of which can be hotly debated on both sides as to the affect it has had on this country.

Since the nation was founded, marriages have been recognized by the church and the state. When you decide to marry your loved one, you have to go to the court house and apply for a marriage certificate, yada yada yada. But since marriage is very much a religious union between two people and we want to separate Church and State, they why don't we rename the entire institution where it applies to the State as being a Civil Union.

Let this sink in. When you go to the court house, you apply for a Civil Union Certificate. Now if you want to have your 'Civil Union' recognized by the Church, you would then plan to have a Marriage ceremony, which is where the Church recognizes and blesses your 'Civil Union' in the eyes of your Church to be a Marriage.

Another pause to let this sink in as well.

This continues with the whole thing of separation of church and state as well as opening up for the potential embrace of Same-Sex Civil Unions, because everyone is joined in Civil Union according to the State and only the Church can recognize a Union as being a Marriage.

Not only does this help with the whole same-sex marriage/civil union thing but it also protects the sancity of marriage for the church. But it does more than that. The terms divorce and annulment are many times used interchangably by the different states in the union. Some recognize the dissolution of a marriage as a divorce while others recognize it as an annulment.

However, an annulment is another church term. An annulment means that a marriage is consider null and void and it works retroactively. Meaning that the marriage never existed which, in the case of Catholics for example, allows them to be remarried. Since marriage in their eyes and in the eyes of most churches is a lifelong contract between two willing parties that is ratified by Devine sanction. Which means that a valid ceremony/contract must be performed and that both parties must enter into it willingly. If any of these conditions lack, then the marriage is not contracted, Divine sanction is not obtained, and there is, in the eyes of the church, no marriage.

Thus a divorce would be what you had to do in order to dissolve your union in the eyes of the state. Then in the case of a church santioned marriage, you would need to seek to have it annulled in the eyes of the church in order for it to no longer be a valid marriage.

So in summary, Civil Union would be what the State and Federal levels of the government would recognize along with the dissolution of such being a Divorce. The church would recognize Marriages however the church sees fit (be in allowing same-sex marriages or not) as well as a Marriage being considered null and void being called an Annulment.

This will make thing easier and it will also appease both sides of the argument about same-sex marriage/civil unions.


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Musical Interests and Collective Soul

I owe my love and fascination with music to three bands, Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra and Train. But truly a concert back in the summer of 1999 was really what cemented my love of music.

If you have not heard of the band Collective Soul, where were you in the 90's? They had hits like 'Shine', 'Simple', 'The World I Know' and 'December' which surely everyone has heard once if not multiple times. All of these songs were on my "must listen to" list at the time (AKA my personal mix tape).

Fast forward to 1999 and their new album Dosage and the first single 'Heavy'. Another one of those songs that immediately went onto my 'lastest favorites' list and what had evolved to my mix CD.

In 1999 there was a radio station in Birmingham, Alabama simply known as The X. It was 107.7 WRAX or The X. A great radio station that had a history of great music. In the 90's this station and the Birmingham area introduced the masses to many bands that went big, those bands remember and thank The X and Birmingham for bringing them to the forefront of music.

A friend and I get tickets to a music 'festival' of sorts on the southern side of Birmingham at Oak Mountain Amphitheater called 'X Fest'. Many bands played there but the three that stood out the most was Marvelous 3, My Friend Steve, Train and obviously Collective Soul.

My friend and I arrive and listen to some of the bands like My Friend Steve comes on and plays the song I know most by them 'All In All' and Marvelous 3 with their hit at time 'Freak of the Week'.

Around this time Train was getting lots of airtime in Birmingham with their song 'Meet Virginia' which had been playing for months but was only just now catching on nationally. So they were the last band on before the headliner Collective Soul. They were playing all of their songs from the album and I remember being enthralled by their music and Pat Monahan's bongo solo.

They ended their set and the stage was reset for CS to come on. I don't remember the set list or order of songs, but I remember being awed so much by their performance and the finale of 'Heavy' that I decided to that, even if I never become a music star or anything like that, I still want to learn to play.

So you can really say that concert by Collective Soul back in 1999 was what set me on my path to learn and play music. To this day, Collective Soul and Better Than Ezra continue to inspire my interest in music.

Here are some links that might interest you:

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dusting off the ole blog

Sorry its been a while since my last post but things happen and things get neglected. Matt and myself launched at fan site/blog for USA sports based around the new Jaguar logo. So if you haven't heard or seen it, visit ThunderJags and give us some feedback. Oh and click an ad or two if you like it.

I'm still slowly organizing and putting stuff away in the new place. I've been working around the latest roommate, who still has a huge amount of crap in the game(?) room. I mean really, how many guys has THAT many clothes and shoes?!? He would seriously rival many women I know in both of those departments. In addition to that he has started smoking, at least its outside.

I am considering joining the Jaguar Football Support Club, if anyone is interested in going in with me for now. We can get good priority seating, but I want to know who wants to go in and/or possibly going to games so I can see how many tickets are needed. So send me an email and let me know if you're interested in season tickets or just going to take in a game.

Hopefully I won't take so long between posts next time since I have some things floating around in my mind to blog about.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rally for the Republic Speeches

Week 1 College Football Results 2008

Last weekend marked the beginning of the College Football season. Alabama worked out a high profile game to begin the season. The match-up was to be at a neutral site between two teams in two conferences that do not meet on a regular basis. Thus a game was scheduled at the Georgia Dome between Alabama and Clemson.

Recently the season was expanded from 11 games to 12. However, SEC teams have to play 8 conference games. The conference has 12 teams broken down into 2 divisions, Eastern and Western. Each division has 6 teams. So, each team much play the 5 teams from their division. In Alabama's case it is Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn. Which leaves 3 more SEC games to be filled. One is reserved for a teams 'rival' in the other division, for Alabama this game is Tennessee. The two other games are rotated through the remainder of the Eastern division teams, where they are on the schedule for two seasons where each team will have an away game and a home game against that opponent. This season Alabama plays at Georgia and hosts Kentucky.

So that is the 8 game SEC schedule for Alabama. Now that leaves 4 non-conference games that have to be scheduled. Most teams pick 'cream puffs' as they are called. These are teams that are willing to play a big school at that big school because they stand to get a sizable chunk of change. Each team has them. Alabama plays two Sun Belt Conference teams in Western Kentucky (South Alabama's rival basketball school) and Arkansas State. Tulane was picked up as a third, which is not surprising because Alabama has played them several times in the recent past. Some teams have even played teams from a lower division. Last season Michigan was upset by Appalachian State in Michigan. Appalachian State is from the next lower division, what used to be called Division II ( I think they are now called 'Football Bowl Subdivision' while the old Division I is now known as 'Bowl Championship Series').

Now we come back to the final, or in all actuality the first, non-conference spot. Occasionally you get teams schedule a strong non-conference team to help give them a better strength of schedule ranking. In Alabama's case, or more like in Saban's case, it also serves in another capacity. A key recruiting tool.

While the signing season just ended what seemed like a couple months ago, recruiting is a year-round thing. Coaches want to get the best players for their system at positions that need filling. Thus this game served to showcase Alabama's talent, hard work and their overall program on the national stage. What a huge recruiting tool.

There were a fair share of 'cream puff' games going on this past weekend. Its not unheard of for one of those 'cream puffs' to come back and bit you in the rear. Just ask Michigan last year, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and somewhat Tennessee this week. Sometimes the case may be that you just don't look too good against these 'cream puffs'. Take Georgia for instance. They were ranked #1 coming into the season and have one of the best teams in the nation. However, their performance against Georgia Southern was lack luster thus they fell to #2.

Analysis of the game had Clemson being the top team in the ACC this season coming in to play the 5th or 6th best team in the SEC. Clemson has alot of speed on its side and what are considered the best running back tandem in the NCAA.

I think this quote summed up the game pretty well: "Alabama came ready for a fist fight, Clemson came ready for the High School dance." Which was true. Alabama did a great job containing the Clemson speed except for one play (opening kickoff after halftime ran back for a touchdown). The running back tandem of 'Thunder and Lightning' were held to 0 (zero, nada, nothing) yards rushing.

Alabama won the game 34-10 on the shoulders of some veterans and freshmen alike. Jim McElwain has done a great job simplifying the offense and using the run to open up the passing game. He found a game plan that chewed up time off of the clock and gave everyone lots of confidence. Clemson only held the ball for a little over 18 minutes of the game. Its hard to keep up or come back from a big deficit if you cannot hold onto the ball.

It must be stressed: This is just one game. There are 11 more games to come in the season and each game must be taken serious. One game is not an indication of how good the team is or how good they will be down the stretch. Tough games are yet to come at Georgia, at Tennessee, at LSU and at home against Auburn. But what you can take away from this game is that the team as a whole has improved, have worked hard and want to win. With this young talent, Alabama could be quite formidable in the next couple seasons.

After the win, Alabama moved up in the AP Poll. Previously 24th they are now 13 while Clemson fell from 9th to just outside of the top 25. In the coaches poll Alabama moved up to 17 while Clemson fell to 22.

NCAA Polls

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Jerry Reed (AKA The Snowman) dies at 71

Jerry Reed, a very gifted actor and musician, passed away yesterday from complications from emphysema. Jerry had several hits which included "Amos Moses", "When you're hot, you're hot", "East bound and down", "The Bird", and "She got the goldmine (I got the shaft)" in the 70s and early 80s.

Probably most notably he was in a few movies in the mid-70s with Burt Reynolds. You may remember him as 'The Snowman' driving the tractor trailer in the timeless movie "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Smokey and the Bandit 2". He played the Bandit in the little known sequel "Smokey and the Bandit 3". Instead of playing a 'good ole boy' he played a ornery heavy in "Gator" which was directed by Burt. Later in 1998 he played a hateful opposing coach in "The Waterboy" with Adam Sandler.

It was Reed and Kris Kristofferson who lead the way for Nashville musicians to make their way into films. With people like Dolly Pardon, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers following their lead.

His interest in music began at 8 in Atlanta when his mother got him a $2 guitar and taught him how to play a G chord. He later dropped out of school to tour. Then at 17 he signed his first recording contract. At first he established himself as a songwriter for artists like Elvis Presley ("U.S. Male", "Guitar Man"), Johnny Cash ("A Thing Called Love"), Brenda Lee, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Reed and Chet Atkins won a grammy for a collaboration "Me and Jerry" in 1970, then in 1971 Jerry won a grammy for "When you're hot, you're hot", and in 1992 Atkins and Reed won another grammy for "Sneakin' Around".

Reed performed on the road into the late 90s doing about 80 shows a year. "When people ask me what my motivation is, I have a simple answer: Money."

In June of 1999 Reed had a quadruple bypass.

I enjoyed some of his music and especially his work in the first two "Smokey and the Bandit" movies (never saw the third one).

Here are two of my favorite songs by him, the first is probably the best know by anyone who has gone through a divorce. The second is a favorite from the "Smokey and the Bandit" soundtrack.

Video 1 Youtube link here.

Video 2 Youtube link here.


Hurricane Gustav blows on through

Gustav reared its head yesterday here on the gulf coast. Louisiana took the full force of its landing but Alabama was on the far eastern edges. While we didn't get the sustained winds of 100+ MPH, we did get some tropical storm force winds and higher gusts, plenty of rain, and our share of tornado warnings.

At my previous place of residence, whenever it came a normal Mobile rain, it would form a rather large puddle of water in the back yard that I affectionately dubbed "Lake Ponchakacey". So I was eager to see how my new place would fare with a tropical system. My new definition of flooding was a puddle near the back patio that might, just might get both of your shoes wet at the same time. It will not completely cover your shoes but would be enough to seep in and get them nice and wet.

Now I have a few limbs down in the yard, like most everyone else in the area, that I must clean up.

New Orleans fared pretty well this time around. The new levees held strong even though they did have plenty of over-topping at the Industrial Canal as shown on several news reports. But they did not fail and New Orleans has been spared again. But it was clearly shown that the residents of New Orleans took this storm serious and evacuated and that New Orleans is truly screwed if a strong hurricane hits them just right.

Louisiana is starting to access damage and cleaning up. But eyes are again on the tropics with Hanna threatening Florida and the rest of the east coast. Ike is heading towards a date with Cuba and possibly the Gulf of Mexico. Ike really scares me, because kicked helped to kick the nazi's rear end, so I'm sure he's probably pissed at the course America has taken in the last few years. Then behind Ike there is another tropical depression which would be named Josephine if it were to develop further.

Its like a transatlantic storm super highway out there.

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