Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aedan's Birthday


Yesterday was Aedan’s first birthday. I am completely amazed of how quickly he has grown. As noted before, this is my first go around with a baby. In the past week I have spent time late into the evening putting together a toy for Christmas and his birthday. I successfully used tools and did not cuss once during the process.

I got to be part Carol’s family tradition for 1st birthdays. Her family has a lamb cake mold that has been in the family for generations. This mold is used to bake a cake for everyone’s first birthday. She has shown me the pictures of Brett and Tamara eating their cake. Actually the kids don’t really eat the cake, but more play with the frosting. Tamara took the head off of her cake.

Aedan seem quite confused by the whole affair, but followed suit of the generations in front of him and played with the frosting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas



Christmas was very busy in our little home in DWG. We were blessed to have a White Christmas in Texas. Carol’s Christmas cactus really knew what day it was and bloomed brilliantly.

My favorite moment was at Ton’s Mongolian Grill on Christmas Eve. When Carol and I started dating we made a tradition of eating Chinese food every Christmas Eve. There were lots of factors in this decision, including the fact my parent were in town that year. We have done a good job following that tradition.

This year it was Brett, Brittany, Tamara, David and of course Aedan. The storm that was bringing our White Christmas called into question whether or not we would all get there. In the end, Carol sat at Ton’s with her magnificent smile enjoying that she had her kids, their significant other and her grandson around the table. It was more than worth braving the storm to see that.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Leaves



I took a day off of work to run some Christmas errands and to bag the leaves in our little house in Dalworthington Gardens. Carol and I live on a 1/3 of an acre lot that has many trees and thus the yard gets covered with leaves.   I have been diligent this year is keeping ahead of the front yard, but have not attacked the back yard. In fact, due to reasons that involve how I prioritize my life, I really never got to the back yard last year.

I am not a big fan of raking and bagging leaves, but the back yard was getting out of control. So 6 hours and 34 bags of leaves later, the leaves are back under control. I do not think I am ever going to skip doing the back yard in the future.  I wager I will be sore tomorrow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Troop 5 Senate

Every December Little Troop 5 has a senate. It is actually the Annual Planning Conference, but Troop Senate sounds much cooler.

The purpose of the Senate is for the boys to lay out their program for the next 12 months. They plan where they are going camping, high adventure, and summer camp. It is also the Senior Patrol Leader election, for the next six month term. It is a busy day; it should take an hour, but usually takes about two.

Over my years as Scoutmaster, they have taken varies forms.
  1. Complete Anarchy- They boys just squander the opportunity, no one takes leadership, and it is like pulling teeth to get anything accomplished.
  2. Dictatorship- One boy takes the lead and plans the year and tells the Troop what it is going to do. They boys vote and approve the calendar, but there is no real discussion
  3. Actual Senate- The SPL acts as the President of the Senate uses a much modified version of Roberts Rules of Order, the Troop participates in the process, everyone’s opinion is heard and formal votes are taken.
  4. Political Elite – The older boys of the Troop take charge of the Senate, insure participation, but tend to steer the discussion to things that they are more interesting in, but in the best interest of the troop. They do understand it’s serious, because they were stuck in a meeting like number 1 or 2 above in the past.
This past Saturday Senate was more like number 4. With the large number of first year scouts participating in their first Senate, it was really not a bad way to go. I was very pleased we stayed away from number 1 or number 2. In fact the older boys did a fantastic job of counseling the first years that were not interested in the process and steering the Senate to complete Anarchy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Did I notice?

It is important to not take yourself that seriously, because it helps lighten the mood when one discovers self imposed embarrassment.

I am a "wear a suit and tie to work" kind of guy. It is really much easier than business casual in my opinion. I have about 12 suits I rotate through, with an assortment of dress shirts, suspenders and ties to make my work wardrobe quite varied. My dress shoes are not that varied, but I do have a few pairs.

Today as you can see below, I really could not make up my mind on which shoes to wear to work. I did not even notice my mistake until about 10:30 in the morning. I got a bunch of work done at my desk today.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

DWG Natural Gas Well

Progress is often confused with change.


When I walked up to the Montessori Academy on Monday night for the Scout meeting, I could see the looming natural gas well on the back side of the Gardens Park.


This well is going to bring a lot of revenue to the City of Dalworthington Gardens, the Montessori Academy and many residents of little DWG. Carol and I may or may not be in the pool for this well site, depending on how it is drilled.

I do know this, the little fire ring that Troop 5 has used for years is gone forever. The Wildscape, the nature trail, and the bat houses in the back of the park are no more. I don’t think its progress; I think it’s just change.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Snow!



We had snow this morning in little DWG. We get really wound up about it in the Metroplex. The roads get clogged and employees request to go home early. Regardless, it is pretty cool thing in Texas. I just hope it does not dampen my plans on getting the Christmas Lights up on the house tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jerry’s World




David Tull (my son in law) and I went this past Saturday to the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium to watch Texas Tech play Baylor in the last regular season football game. It was my first trip to “Jerry’s World”. I found the facility to be ultra modern and it felt like you were watching the game from your living room with the big HD video board. However, I think that is the problem with the facility. I felt it was really sterile and the last few minutes of the game really hit that home.


Tech did not play its best game of the year and Baylor was in position to win or at least tie being down by 7. It was 1st and Goal from the Tech 10, 3 minutes to play. The crowd of almost 72,000 made up of at least 60,000 Tech fans got to their feet and tried to make noise. There really was not any. It was just like yelling at the TV at home. When it got to 4th and Goal from the Tech 8, you would expect the stadium to be rocking, but it was not. Tech made its stand and won the game.

I was noting to David on the way out that I did not get the college stadium vibe for the game. He noted that it may have been because the roof and the sides were open. I am sure that played a factor, but in the end, I don’t think Jerry’s World will ever replace the Jones.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Took a Ride

Thanksgiving is about family and being reflective. I got to take an old friend out for a ride this morning so it was both.

Carol and I are in Oklahoma at her sisters house for Thanksgiving. Our whole household is here, plus all of Carol's family. There will be plenty of food and my anti-football sister-in-law set up a TV for me in the garage. (It is where the beer is).

With the anticipation of over indulgence, I decided to go for a run this morning. My in laws pointed me to a park that has a mile and a quarter running trail.

I took Ol' Blue. My shade tree mechanic brother in laws brought her back to life. Apparently she needed a new slave cylinder, master cylinder, pressure plate and clutch. A good guess of about $2,500 if you took it to a shop.

It brought tears to my eyes as I started her up. It had been a while since I had driven a standard and I stalled her once. She forgave me. They cleaned over a 100,000 miles worth of boy scout mud, food, canyd  out her interior. She was as clean as the first time Carol let me drive her. The only thing that was missing was the "Simpson's" floor mats I had put in her.

It was a good run. I did three laps and smiled every time I passed Ol' Blue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Success

The final road trip to Lubbock was quite the success. The Red Raiders played their most complete game of the year. It was a sad time to say good-bye to the season ticket family around us. They all share the same passion for the Raiders with Carol and me. There is Ryan and DeJay who sit in front of us- Two good college buddies that at times remind me of Bergwood and Hamm; Heather and Dusty, with their twin boys who sit behind us. There is the group that drives up from Houston to my left and the crew that drives up from Kerrville. They will be missed until our next visit to the Jones

Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Football Roadtrip

Today is a day of conflicts. Little Troop 5 is heading out to its first Crosstimbers Camporee and I am not going with them. Instead I am headed to Lubbock, with Carol, Brett and Brittney for the OU/Tech game.


I have not missed a camporee since 1997. However the calendar changed midyear and its forced this conundrum on me. What has made it worse is that Fox Sports is televising the game at 11:30am. I was hoping for a night game, so I could take the troop out on Friday and then the game on Sunday.

I sure hope the Red Raiders show up and play.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old man in the Peleton

One of the cool things of riding as long as I have is that I seemed to have earned elder status in the group. Cycling is definitely an Alpha male type of activity. The perception of how you rank in the local peloton is usually based solely on your cycling ability. This becomes real clear during weekday training rides as I watch the shaved leg racers drop me like a bad transmission.

However on weekend rides there is another hierarchy that can come into play. Apparently I have fallen into the elder role. I like to say it’s because I am a wise sage of the way of cycling, but it probably has to do with that I know the roads where we ride so well.

This past weekend I finally got in a long ride after getting the cast off my hand. It was the traditional Dalwothington Gardens to Venus route, with a stop at the shop to see if anyone else wanted to ride. Turns out last Saturday was the Fort Worth Bicycle Associations "Century of the Month" out of the Arlington shop. Since I am coming back from injury, I have not been paying attention to such things. Big Dave and I rolled up to the shop surprised at the at the attendance to the normal 8am ride. The FWBA ride was to start at 9am, so the normal 8am crew was not willing to wait. We announced we were headed out to Venus and a rather large group headed out. It was made up of a quite a few people that I do not normally ride with and the normal Saturday gang.

It was a fantastic paced ride. I ended up averaging 18 mph for the 66 mile ride.

Big Dave, Tom, Justin and I took turns at the front. Quite a few of the visitors were "sitting in", with a small number taking pulls. The group kept getting smaller, even as we turned back home with a tail wind. My lack of training and the distance caused me to fall off the back at about 50 miles. Big Dave and Justin realized this and eased off the back to ride with me. When Tom discovered we are all gone, he sat up and slowed the group down so we could get back on. Here is where I feel my wise advice is helpful. Justin suggested we pick up the pace to catch the group. I noted that if they are willing to sit up, we should just roll up to them instead of burning any more energy. We followed my advice.

We rejoined the group. I had abandoned any desire to pull at the front and was just going to sit in the rest of the way. When we hit a small roller, I was struggling to keep in contact. I felt a hand on my back push me back to the group. I turned to expect to see one of my cycling buddies, but found myself thanking one of the visitors. I concluded that he help me up the hill for one of two reasons, but probably a combination of both. Either a) he pushed me because it became clear the group would not drop me, because I am some kind of "elder" on the ride; or b) pushed me because he did not want to wait on me again. Regardless, the results are the same, I got to finish the ride with the lead group.

If I were a visitor, I wager I would have ridden home alone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TCU Game

My shirt situation helped the Horn Frogs, but failed the Raiders.

It was a magical night in Fort Worth last Saturday. You can see me on the second row of the upper deck on the 50. I am the one with the purple shirt and the black leather suspenders on.


Shout out to Dad for the picture!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Football Conflict

I know I am obsessive compulsive with my Red Raiders. The next few days are an interesting test to that compulsion.

Tomorrow I am going to the TCU game against Utah with Nat McQueen, a long time friend from Heidelberg American High School. Nat is a proud graduate of TCU and is flying in from Washington D.C. to go to what is possibly the biggest game in TCU history. I cannot give up the opportunity to see Nat and go watch the football game in Fort Worth.

The problem is of course, TCU kicks off at 6:30pm on Saturday and Tech kicks off at 7:00pm in Stillwater Oklahoma. Tech has a huge game against Oklahoma State on ABC. The winner of the Tech/OSU game has the inside track at the Cotton Bowl. I will have the DVR on overtime recording both games, but my blackberry will be following the Tech game at the TCU game.

I have a plan to address this conflict. I will be wearing a TCU T-shirt over my Texas Tech under armor shirt to insure that there are no karmatic issues relating to the Tech game. Also this will allow me to strip the TCU shirt off at the end of the game to finish watching the Tech/OSU game at a work buddies tailgate.

Too much thinking?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Being the son of a Colonel, with a brother soon to be Colonel in the Army, Veterans Day makes me quite contemplative. I understand we must be thankful and appreciative of the men and women in our services. My father did two tours in Vietnam. My brother has done a tour in Iraq, a tour in Korea, and was in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. I have many friends and classmates from High School that followed their father’s footsteps into the service. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice. I now send former scouts into harm’s way.

I always tell my scouts that if it was not for those in the service we would not have the freedom to camp or assemble. Scouting is the apidamy and the reflection of American Values that our current armed services protect and our veterens protected.

I remember growing up at Fort Benning and Fort Bragg hearing the sounds of practice rounds, helicopters, C-130s and jets in the background. Today when I take little Troop 5 camping, I mimic my old scoutmasters from those times at campouts when a fighter jet goes over head... "That's the sound of freedom boys!"

Lyle Lovett’s new single “Natural Forces” poses and interesting question in the middle of it that really made me stop and think.

Now as I sit here safe at home, with a cold Coors Light and the TV on. All the sacrifice and death and war, Lord I pray that I am worth fighting for... - Lyle Lovett
My new goal is not only to be appreciative of the men and women in uniform, thankful to the veterans, but make sure I continue to live my life as someone worth fighting for.

Because in the end, if we do not enjoy, appreciate, or exercise the freedom that so many fought or died to protect, they have done so in vain.

Let us all make sure that our Veterans know that we are worth fighting for.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wonderful Weekend

I had one of those weekends that really make me feel blessed. It was flat out beautiful in little DWG over the weekend.

It started out Saturday morning with Tamara dropping off Aedan for the day. I have yet to figure out the pattern on when we get to keep the Little Dude, but I enjoy every opportunity we get.

Tamara visits with us before she heads off to work. I play with Aedan for a while, then I head out for a bike ride. (Note that the “we” is really Carol who keeps Aedan) I got a nice 40 mile ride in and the rest of the day is spent playing with Aedan. We go shopping, go to lunch, got to a 5 year olds birthday party and finish the day with Aedan watching college football while he naps. After Tamara picks Aedan up, Carol and I wander down to Bobby Valentine’s for dinner. Not a bad day all.

Sunday morning is spent working in the yard with Carol. Carol really enjoys the yard looking nice; I enjoy helping her more than the work itself. After we bag a million leaves, I head out for another 40 mile bike ride, have dinner and watch the Cowboys beat the Eagles.

Not a bad weekend at all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

101 First Post

Whoo hoo...

Am I really a blogger? I got past a 100.

My Election Clerk

I want to brag on Carol yet again. For the few years, Carol has spent Election Day, both national and local, working as an Election Clerk. The neat thing about Dalworthington Gardens is that the whole town is in one precinct. Carol spends a long hard day working and greeting every voter in Dalworthington Gardens. However, by the end of the day, she is caught up all that it is important to know in our little town. I run into people at work who inform me that they saw my wife today. I always note that I am the only voter that gets to kiss that particular clerk.

This past Tuesday, in addition to Texas Constitutional amendments, a school bond election there was a local election to legalize the sale of alcoholic beverages in DWG. In short, can someone open a liquor store. Carol and her fellow poll workers had a busy day. 30.74% of the registered voters in Dalworthington Gardens voted and of those 71.61% want a liquor store in their town (I was one of those). For those who really want to do the math, there are 1,786 registered voters in DWG. Only 6.92% of voters showed up county wide.

Regardless, Carol had a long day that started at 6 in the morning and ended at 8. I am real proud that she does this civic duty.

Friday, October 30, 2009

TNP Tailgate

Today at lunch was the Teague Nall and Perkins Tailgate. Every year Carol’s work has a Tailgate party during football season. It started on the Friday before the Texas Tech/Texas A&M game. There was a time when half the engineers from her office were from each school. However, times have changed; the University of Texas at Arlington has made a fine showing, so now it is known as the College tailgate.

All I know is that she is in her element during this event. Last night we bought all the meat for the Tailgate. We loaded up two baskets at Costco and I made a run to the Neighborhood Store to finish up what we needed. She spent until midnight getting all the meat seasoned. We got the grill loaded in her truck and had the cab of the truck stuffed with the food.

Carol spends the entire morning at work grilling. TNP invites all its clients, business partners, friends and family to attend. Carol never sits down during the whole event. She is grilling; making sure the food is stocked to be eaten. All the senior partners look to her to make sure it is time to start eating

Today I sat with TNP’s Office Manager, her husband and TNP’s insurance salesmen. I noted as they watched Carol working hard that it was my job to relax for the both of us.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Woggle


Troop 5 had a wonderful open house this past Monday. We had visitors from three different packs check out all our boys, adults and equipment. I believe it was quite successful.

Since I just wrote about a Significant Object, I thought I would keep the theme going.

Troop 5 is a full uniform troop, with a neckerchief. I always set the example at meetings and campouts by being in full uniform. Little Troop 5 is one of the few full uniform troops in the council. In addition we wear our neckerchiefs drape around the neck without a slide or a woggle. This is done for three primary reasons. 1) It looks good 2) It looks different and 3) you don’t have eleven year old scouts losing their woggles. The bottom of the neckerchief is tied with a “friendship knot” better known as the “square knot”.

At the open house, I wandered around trying to look and act like a Scoutmaster. The troop had set up a backpacking camp site, a traditional camp site, food table, info booth and a slide show. During one of my visits, Mamoon Siddiqui presented me with a woggle that he had purchased at Baden Powell’s house in England. It is rather touching when one of your scouts gives you a scouting gift, so I slide the woggle onto my neckerchief and continued my trip around the open house

Chaos suddenly struck the boys and the adults of Troop 5. Why was I wearing a woggle? No matter where I turned people would ask. Some of the parents have not even seen me since I had the cast remove did not notice that, but the fact their scoutmaster was wearing a neckerchief slide big news. I had to explain over and over again it was a gift.

Funny how such a little thing can draw attention. Despite the distraction, the Open House carried on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Weeekend Rides

I rode with Big Dave up to the normal 8 am Saturday ride at the shop. It was good to see the cycling gang. I may spend quite a bit of time with these people, but we only see each other on the bike. Rumors of my injury did filter to the group. I had to do some clarification and explanation as we began the ride.

I had already decided that I was only going to go out for two hours. That did give me plenty of time to do my traditional jawing with Tom Fumagalli. I chose a good time limit, because at the turning point the group was about to drop me. As I faded to the back with Big Dave to start to head home, Jeff Donovan noted that I was missed and that Tom had nobody to argue with while I was gone.

It is important to note that 2 hours on the bike makes you guilt free as you spend the rest of Saturday watching football with Aedan and Carol. As a rather young football fan, Aedan seemed more interesting in playing on the floor, but that worked for me as well.

When I sat down on my bike on Sunday, I quickly learned which muscles were the most sore from my Saturday ride. But it still was good to do back to back rides.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Slate Contest

I entered the Slate Signifigant Object contest. The paramaters of the contest was to write a 50o word or less story about an object. Below is my submission about the object above. I found it fun to do and staying under 500 words a chore.

Susan had married into the Grayston family twenty-two years ago and had had escaped hosting Thanksgiving Dinner. Family matters had been out of sorts since the family matriarch, MiMi Grayston, passed away in April. The Grayston clan would meet for the holiday at an 1100 square foot house in Old Town for the perfect Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by Grandma Mimi. Karen’s family was left out.

Susan had married the Grayston’s beloved youngest grandson, Robert. That man could do no wrong in the eyes of his MiMi or his parents. Of course they were not married to him, had to do his laundry, or listen to him explain the fallacies of the prevent defense, again. Her only family standing was the fact that she bore two Graystons--seventeen year old, Emily, the current reigning clan princess and twelve year old, Robert Jr.

She was annoyed, but it came as no surprise when her husband announced at MiMi’s funeral that he would host Thanksgiving Dinner that year. Susan knew then that she would spend two weeks getting ready for the horde and it could never meet the standards of MiMi. Susan knew why she was spending time getting ready; Robert would sit in his chair, give the remote control a work out, and watch her work herself into a tizzy.

MiMi was not a bad person. In fact, she was the sweetest lady Susan ever met. She was the only Grayston to treat her as part of the family. She died with such dignity even thought cancer ravaged her body. Susan remembered her last visit MiMi; her eyes were grey and her frail frame was just a shadow of herself. That is why Susan found herself crawling in the basement looking for that little brown Bar-B-Q sauce brush pot MiMi gave her that last visit. Mimi had looked at Susan and smiled, and said in a frail voice, “You need to have this. It has brought me such joy.”

Susan had no idea why this little dust collector was so important, but she did realize that it must be on her table for Grampy Grayston to see. She set the table, placing her treasured center piece sauce pot in its place of honor in front of the patriarch’s seat.

She felt ready for the judgment of her husband’s family and hoped, maybe this once the Graystons would appreciate her effort. The multitude gathered around the table. Karen was ecstatic when critical Aunt Lilly even complimented Susan on her efforts. The illusion of civility was there when grace was said and was abandoned when devouring of the over abundance began.

Robert Jr took the little pot to brush some sauce on his turkey. Susan swelled with pride as Grampy took the little pot out of Robert, Jr’s hand. Grampy looked at it carefully and announced, “Boy, I wouldn’t use anything out of this thing. That brush tickled your MiMi in places we can’t talk about at the table.”
Susan remembered MiMi’s smile.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October Campout

Little Troop 5 had a very uneventful Campout at Worth Ranch this past weekend. Considering in August, I broke my thumb and in September I crashed the bus, it was very nice to have an uneventful camp out.

The purpose of this campout was to begin the long journey to Philmont Scout Ranch with the first year scouts. One day, they will all go to New Mexico for a 10-day 70-plus mile backpacking trip, but this weekend was about getting them up a mile and a half up Kyle Mountain.

I have noted before there was a movie, but first years look like hobbits with their backpacks on heading out with the fellowship. Regardless of the advice you give them, they always take too much and over strap their backpacks. The journey up Kyle Mountain took them the amount of time I expected, I did not factor them in getting lost, but they still made it to the top.

I did make the journey with my portable Satellite Radio so I could listen to the Red Raiders play the Kansas State Wild Cats. I was in a very happy place sitting off to the side, listening to the Red Raiders roll, watching the boys cook on or by the fire, and staring at the stars. It was a wonderful scouting evening.

In the morning, we were greeted by a misty rain. I rolled over and found the classic vinyl rock station on the Satellite Radio. I very luckily woke the troop up with the boom box cranking “Get Back” by the Beatles. What an awesome way to start a day, as one of the boys noted, to “Rock Band” music.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pain

My life with a cast was cumbersome, although I quickly became fat and happy.

I attempted to stay in some kind of shape by riding the stationary bicycle. I quickly learned by sweating, the cast just stunk. It was not very enjoyable typing on the computer and smelling the cast.

So last Tuesday, for all intents and purposes, I exercised for the first time since I broke my thumb in August. I just ran a mile and a half. I have spent the last two days with my legs feeling like they did after I ran the Austin marathon.

It is amazing how quickly I fell out of shape. Yet I ran again today, there is always hope.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Visit from the Folks

I need to figure out time to blog. I really enjoy it and feel guilty when I don’t get to it soon enough.

My folks came into town for my birthday this past weekend. It was an enjoyable visit. Besides lots of fine Mexican food, barbeque, and fried cheese, we had wonderful visits with family. We had dinner on Friday with Brett, Brittany, Tamara, David and Aedan. It was really neat to introduce my parents to Aedan. This little 9 month old bundle of joy did not disappoint. We also had dinner on Sunday night with my Uncle Bill, his new wife Bet, my cousin Mark, his wife Julie, and their two children. In between there was shopping, a tour of the Tarrant County Court house and a football game in Lubbock.

It is always fascinating when your parents grasp a part of you that they really never understood. This accrued due to an interesting encounter with another Red Raider at Academy in Arlington. My sister sent my folks on a mission to get some Texas Tech T-shirts for her boys. My Mom, Dad and I were standing around quite the array of Texas Tech memorabilia. I was noting that we owed this section to Michael Crabtree for making that catch against Texas last year, because it used to impossible to find good Tech gear in the metroplex.

As I was waiving my hands around, I almost struck a guy. I turned to apologized and he had a Texas Tech Hat on. We struck up of conversation about the Red Raiders, where we were when Crabtree caught the ball, and the current situation with the team in Lubbock. He was another metroplex resident with season tickets in Lubbock that graduated two years before I finished my undergrad. I lost track of my parents as my new friend and started discussing games from the 80’s and 90’s. The conversation ended with a dissection of the current season. My new friend and I shook hands I went in search of my parents.

My Dad noted that he never saw two people talk so passionately about their football team before. I explained that is why I had season tickets, so that I could surround myself with likeminded people. I don’t think it was until my Dad witnessed this passionate Red Raider discussion with a complete stranger did he grasp the depth of my commitment. The kids and Carol were not surprised at all when the story was retold.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Cast!

The cast came off today. The thumb is real stiff, but it is nice to take a shower without a bag over ones hand.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why I ride the bus

The Fort Worth T started a park and ride service from Park Springs and I-20 to downtown Fort Worth In October of 2008. According to the North Texas Council of Government s, I have saved over $3k by riding the bus since then. I don’t know if that is really true, but I sure change my oil a lot less than I did in the past.

However, that is not why I ride the bus. I am living proof if you make public transportation convenient and cheap, people will ride it. It has proved to be more relaxing than fighting traffic. The bus drops me closer to my office than my parking space. In addition it allows me to cycle commute. Ride the bike to the bus and then ride the bike all the way home. Again this is not really for “Green” reasons, but more so to get more time on the bike.

In short, saving the environment and reducing traffic are actually secondary benefits for my daily commute on the bus. It is just easier and I get base cycling miles.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last Week with the Cast

Texas Tech losing football games seems to take away my writing muse. This in conjunction with living with a hand in cast seems to but quite the damper on activities. I spent all day Saturday sitting in front of the television watching college football. The Red Raiders did not reward my dedication by losing in the last few minutes in a game that ended past midnight. The highlight of the weekend ended up being watching Finding Nemo with Aedan and Tamara.

I am pleased that the future is quite bright for my muse and activities. The parents are coming to town for the weekend, the cast is coming off on Friday, the parents are coming into town for the weekend, the Red Raiders will be playing in the confines of Jones Stadium and the road bike will be ridden in the near future. If the hand will allow it, I will even start cycle commuting again in the cool fall weather next week.

Life seems to move fast, but the time in the cast has been slow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trip to Austin

I had a very good trip to Austin with my buddy Sean. Sean is one of the smarter people I know, so we solved many problems and covered lots of ground in our time in the car. Our conversations made the trip to Austin.

The game was very enjoyable, although the Raiders fell short; we walked out of stadium with our heads held high. Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal did a fine job of summing up my feelings of the game
These eyes have seen Tech lose plenty of times in Austin, but this one didn’t have the same feel. Unlike in past UT laughers, Tech didn’t act psyched out, didn’t get pushed around all that much under the circumstances. the Raiders took it, but they also dished it out – Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche Journal 09/19/2009.
I have a tendency to think that I just left the Tech Campus in the past few years, but it is actually 19 This weekend was a constant reminder that I have truly become a forty-something alumni.

Sean and I visited his son Noah at the St. Edward’s. That is a neat little campus overlooking downtown Austin. It is just getting difficult to wrap my brain around the thought that I have friends with college kids. (This of course is from a guy whose grandson was crawling all over him last night) Noah dropped us off close to the stadium and we walked to find a college buddy John Esparza. Who we found was the Cubmaster of Pack 34 doing parking for the game at St. Austin’s new parking garage. We met two of three of John’s boys. John looked like all the other scouters that I have been working with since 1997. Again it became clear that we are reaching a much different stage in our life than I am letting myself believe. The weekend finished up with a visit with my cousin Mark Moran and his family at Rudy’s in Round Rock. As we discussed life, our parents, and families it was again apparent that we were full fledge adults.

These are really not life changing observations, but more facts to solidify my acceptance of where I am in life right now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Black Cast

I went with the black cast this morning. I did not check with Leach, but I figure we are going with are white jerseys with the black accents for the game in Austin.

Much to my surprise, when the doctor pulled the pin out of my hand, it did not hurt. The pin had migrated away from the bone and actually was about to create an exit wound. I choose not to watch it being pulled out of my hand.

I am stuck in a cast for at least two more weeks, but the end is near. To quote one of my old Order of the Arrow Scouts:

At least it is one-step closer to cutting your own food. - Chris Houters, FB 09/18/2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Mother's Thoughts Today

I was sitting in my office in Dalworthington Gardens 8 years ago today. I got called into dispatch to be informed of the strike on the World Trade Center. It was a sickening feeling. They day was unraveling quickly and soon time stood still as I learned the Pentagon was struck as well.
My brother was stationed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The phone lines were jammed and nobody could find out his status. My sister-in-law just went up to my to my nephew Zach’s school and gathered him up. My family was blessed to learn rather quickly he was fine when he returned home to greet his family. Not everyone was as lucky.

My mother has been through these times more often than I have. My father was in the Battle of Soui Tre in Vietnam in March of 1967, five months after I was born, but prior to me ever meeting him. She sent out a rather thoughtful, well written email this morning to her three children, that I want to share.
SUBJECT: Two dates in my life
Good morning,
I sat and watched the 9/11 ceremonies from NYC, DC and PA which brought back two memories in my life that with the same emotion. The first was in March of 1967 and 9/11/2001. Your Dad and David both knew they were ok but I didn’t. It took only hours for us to find out that David was ok but it was two weeks before I hear from your Dad. As you know I read in the newspapers about the battle and there were quotes from Dad’s bosses and men that I knew but I heard nothing from your Dad. I saw two staff cars drive into my apartment complex the day after I saw the news on tv. It was a long two weeks before I got your Dad’s letters telling me about the battle. I was alone with with two baby boys with parents that didn’t know what to say but supported me the best they knew how. I now understand how Mamie felt and am thankful that Dudley had only a short wait to find out her husband was well and on his way home. I guess you three think your mother is loosing it in her old age but I felt like sharing these poorly written thoughts with you.

I love the three of you very much.
Mom
Lots of brave men and women don’t get to come home. I was lucky my family did.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Texas Tech Red Raiders

It is football season! It is time to address another compulsive obsession I have in my life. The Texas Tech Red Raiders!

I had a wonderful trip this weekend with Adam Rogers and Bryan Stevenson back to Lubbock to see the Red Raiders play North Dakota. I could go into a detail post on the game itself this weekend, but there are plenty of websites dedicated to that. In short they won the game they should have, but have much work to do if we are going to compete in the Big 12.

It has taken me a few years to figure out why a bunch of 18-22 year olds playing football is so important to me, but I think I have figured it out.

Lubbock is the closest thing I have to a home town. Part of my journey back each fall, beyond football is to eat at my favorite restaurants and walk the campus. The day after I graduated from Heidelberg American High School in 1984 I headed to scout camp. Besides a two day visit after my freshman year at Tech, I have never been back. More importantly, I was just a visitor in Heidelberg, a military dependent, and not really a resident.

When I stepped onto the Texas Tech University campus in August of 1984 I became a part of something greater than me. I became a Red Raider. I was not a visitor, but a part of a greater community. I got to buy sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats that identified me as a member. It truly manifested itself in my new passion for football. Suddenly I had a group of young men who could carry my banner far and wide.

If you followed College Football in the 80s, you would find my passion for Red Raiders rather foolish, but it has been much better lately. (Think November 1, 2008) I have come to understand other people don’t have the same passion for football than I do, but that is ok. I have accepted who I am.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Cast




The doctor’s visit today went well. I am still in a cast but have a much better understanding of what happened in surgery.

This time it was really easy for me to read the x-ray. The pin that Dr. Whittenburg put in my thumb is designed so that he can pull it out in his office in two weeks. I did take a picture of pin on the outside of my hand, but my goal is to keep this blog PG-13, so I did not post it.

I envision some kind of claw hammer for him to pull out the pin, but I wager he has a special tool. I am betting it is going to smart when he does it.

The positive thing is that I can still put my “Guns Up” in my brand new red cast. So I am prepared for the game this weekend. Hit’m Wreck’m

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sid Ordeal

Adam Rogers willingly drove the one winged Scoutmaster out to the Sid Richardson Ordeal of the Netopalis Sipo Schipinachk lodge this past Saturday. I have briefly explained the Order of the Arrow in the past and I am sure I will go in depth sometime, but today is not that day.

Adam has been one of my scouts since he was 16, when I was his chapter advisor. Along the way he became my friend and now is 28. Patrick Lang and I had the privilege to be his vigil guide a few years back. He noted on the way out, he probably owed me a ride.

Little Troop 5 had three boys going through the Ordeal. I need to at least show up and let them know there Scoutmaster knew it. Troop 5 Eagle Scout and ASM Zack Wisch is the Lodge Chief ; so a little show of support from his Scoutmaster might also be warranted.

I have been active in whatever the current incarnation of the Longhorn Council Lodge since 1997. My short visit not only included visiting the boys of Troop 5, but adult Arrowmen I have become friends with over the years. It is always good to see people who have the same love as scouting as you do. Let it be known that not everyone I have met in the Lodge since 1997 in enraptured by my charm, but at least we are cordial to each other, since at heart, we have the same goals.

The trip had three interesting highlights.

Randy Cox (Troop 43 Scoutmaster), Adam, and Charlie Kahlig (Troop 5 ASM) checked out the $32K Longhorn Council Viking Ship. It is a real interesting expense of Friends of Scouting funds, but I was a tad bit more impressed that I expected to be by the wooden vessel. Although my first attempt to get it for a Troop 5 weekend program failed miserably, I will make another attempt. It looks like fun.

My visit with the boys and adults of Troop 5 was enjoyable. The boys going through the Ordeal seem to be getting out of it what they wanted. I was encourage to see Phillip Pierce (Troop 5 ASM) covered in dust from folding tents all day for his Brotherhood Project. Phillip and Charlie both stepped up and served dinner to the 250 or so attended. It is always great to see Little Troop 5 have an impact. Zack did note that I had a good cover for my usual work avoidance with my cast.

The cool thing of weekend end was my visit with Kenny Crouch. Through the magic of Facebook I learned that an old scouting buddy from high school was going through his Ordeal. Kenny’s dad, Ltc. Bob Crouch is currently serving in Iraq. The Crouch Family lives in Copperas Cove, Texas. I think I met Kenny many years ago at a wedding or get together 12 years ago, but I am not sure. Zack searched the registration to get Kenny’s troop number and I began the hunt for Kenny.

I wandered around till I found a young man in Troop 253. I asked him if he knew a Kenny Crouch. I was given me a rather strange look and he said. “That’s me”. I shook his hand and told him I was a friend of his Dad from Heidelberg, in high school. It’s a crapshoot when you meet a 13 year old, they could clam up or they could chat. Kenny was excited that there someone who knew his dad was there; I did not have to carry the conversation. We discussed Scouting, his family and his Dad’s recent TV appearance. (I cannot find the link) I let him know his Dad and I were in the same lodge in High School and I expected to see both of them when his dad got back from Iraq at lodge events.

Scouting again was good to me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Perspective

It has been a tough week in my little house in Dalworthington Gardens and it has taken my blog muse. Carol lost a very dear friend from high school. This came on the heels of reconnecting with many of her friends before and during her High School reunion. Her facebook post last Wednesday says quite a bit:
I know that God has a plan and I know that I don't always understand it, but he took a very good man home today. (August 26, 2009) A very special person to me along with all his family. He was loved by everyone he knew and Ron Taylor will be very missed. Love ya Ron. – Carol Miller Shugart
Her loss has really put in perspective my sour mood about not doing the Hotter N’ Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls this weekend. This is the second time I have not done it since 1995 and it breaks a 12 year streak. As I look up and see its 77 degrees outside, it does not help. Nonetheless, my hand will heal and I will go next year. Carol will never get to see Ron again.

Life at time slaps you in the face and gives you perspective.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pain Free Weekend

Life is not nearly as interesting when you spend the weekend on pain medicines. In addition, Carol was up in Oklahoma at her high school reunion. I insisted she should go, because she was looking forward to the event. My son-in-law David told me that I could have just told Carol I did not want to go instead of breaking my thumb, but I digress.

My surgery on the thumb went well on Thursday. Tamara was a saint and took me to the hospital and waited with me. She spent a lot of time rolling her eyes as I attempted my brand of humor with the hospital staff, techs, nurses and doctors. I was successful most of the time, but Tamara has already seen my act way too much.

I had enough visitors and phone calls to address my extraverted nature in the house by myself. Most of the weekend was spent draining the DVR, reading the paper front to back, watching sports and reading. Although at times this was enjoyable, I was very pleased to have Carol home this evening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dang Namb It.


I have not gotten into the story of why I call this blog, Bent Finger Chronicles, but as many of my friends have pointed out, I need to add Broken Thumb to the title.

I finally go in to see Dr. Charles Whittenburg yesterday. I will avoid all the discussion about health insurance, but let us just say - it is not efficient.

Dr. Whittenburg is member of the Orthopedic Center of Arlington. Apparently, all his years of medical training allowed him to read an x-ray much better than I did. Since I carried my x-rays from Oklahoma with me, I looked at them on the computer at home. It seems that my 4 hours of Biology of Animals at Texas Tech did not train me to be a radiologist.

The good doctor showed me were I “messed up my thumb real good” and scheduled surgery for me this Thursday to put a pin in my thumb to it will heal correctly.

Life is an adventure

Monday, August 10, 2009

DC Visit Summary

It has been a busy few days in Northern Virginia. Visits to three different Smithsonian museums, a Nationals Baseball Game, and plenty of family time.

My retrospective tour of life included a visit on my brothers back porch with Lou Novack and Nat McQueen. I have not seen Lou in 26 years although we communicated off and on for the past 15 years or so, but our paths have never crossed. It was wonderful to catch up. It was fun sharing old stories with high school and scouting buddies. Not to short change Nat, but he went to TCU and lived in Arlington until four years ago, so we had less to catch up on. Lou did have to tolerate college football talk.

It was good to see my whole family. My nephew Zach and I had much scouting talk. I have found a true kindred spirit in my niece Ashley. Her parents would have much to fear if I lived much closer. My brother has much to fear regardless, she is going be a handful as teenager.

My sister and her family arrived in time to go to the Nationals game. Her boys Joe and Hunter are quite spunky. Hunter and I had a good walk around the ball park discussing the things that are important to soon to be seven year old. Joe was not very talkative with his uncle as he was in his last visit, but committed to doing better the next time. Life can be hard at times when you are eight.

It was clear that my mother was enjoying having all her children in one location. My brother and I did our best to reminder of why she should not enjoy as much, but she was not deterred. My sister-in-law Dudley watched, pretty much her only choice, from the sidelines.

Fun was had by all in honor of my Dad’s 70th birthday celebration weekend. Someday I will have to delve into my relationship with my father, but I am very proud to be his son. He also enjoyed having his boys and daughter around. Rumor has it the elder Shugarts had a grand time. I’m going with that.

I am heading back to Texas tomorrow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Arrived in Northen Virgina

The journey to the National capital was quite uneventful. I don’t fly that often, most of my travels are by car, so yes I looked like a vacationer trying to figure out all new digital check in procedures, but not like an idiot. Although I would like to note to the people designing maps for Washington Reagan Airport, put where the hell the Metro is on the damn map.

I was greeted at the Metro station in Franconia/Springfield by a much taller Zach Shugart. My nephew was able to spot my quickly based on my clothing choice. I broke out the collared shirt for the trip. I was still in backpacking shorts and Birkenstock sandals, but I was traveling so I had to dress up. All my collared casual shirts are from the Shirley Shugart Collection. So Zach was able to spot the taller rounder version of his father in a shirt that his grandmother would have bought for his Dad. He was instructed by his mother to help me carry my bags, but he correctly noted to her, “He’s a scoutmaster, he not going to have anything with him”.

It was a good day. Five Guys Burgers for lunch with Dudley (my sister-in-law) and my nephew. It also included a tour of the local bike shops looking for a cool Washington area cycling t-shirt. That was a failed adventure, but we did learn where Daniel Schneider, Redskins owner, bought all his bicycles for the team. A salesperson at Spokes Etc. told us that they were instructed the bikes could be any color by blue or silver.

Zach and I got caught up on scouting and I lost a game of Finger Football while waiting for his dad to come home and for his little sister’s dance recital. I have never gotten to see Ashley dance, so I was far more excited to go than Zach. I was able to spot her on stage quickly, from a distance she looks like my little sister at that age, but much more graceful. The recital included traditional, hip hop and tap. There could be a whole blog entry on the irony of watching a bunch of suburban Washington girls do hip hop, but let us move on. It was rather impressive to me to see how hard she works and the enjoyment of it she shared as she ate her Dairy Queen.

Today will bring my folks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Upcoming Weekend

Families are an interesting dynamic, but I am blessed to have a mother and father who tolerated their middle son. My mother insists I read the birth order book in the womb to insure I fully implemented it. I would like to note at the time, I did not know I was going to be the middle child as well. This is relevant because this upcoming weekend begins a long stretch of busy weekends that will not stop for a while. I am headed up to Northern Virginia to see all my family. I will report on the way, but it has been since 2007 since I’ve seen my brother’s family or my sister’s family. I am not real sure when the last time my mother had all her children in the same room. Watching Aeden grow exponentially in the past seven months, I expect much change in my three nephews and one niece in two years. It will be a brief visit, but a much needed one.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Swishers

I am apparently going through a retrospective phase of my life. I suppose this happens when you reach your forties. I am in the process of hunting people down that I knew 25 years ago. But sometimes opportunities fall in your lap. I got to spend time with the Swishers this weekend.

Butch Swisher was one of my scouting, high school buddies and friend till this day. I have done a lousy job over the years keeping track of many people from high school, but I have for some reason have kept track of Butch. For the rest of the internet audience that may be reading this he goes by Author now, but he will always be Butch.

I have teased Butch through the years and have called him Eeyore, with his rather interesting perspective on life, but he has remained a friend and not just a friend from 25 years ago.

Somewhere out there are pictures of Butch and me in Indian regalia preparing to perform an Order of the Arrow Ceremony. We inducted his little brother Michael to the Brotherhood in 1983. We were both delegates to the Model United Nations in High School. Luck would have it he would go to Texas Christian University so he has remained in North Texas since 1985. Since then we have played bad rounds of golf, many hours of video games, gone to football games, and random other events. As the years have gone by, we don’t see each other as much as we should, but we still communicate.

Carol and I went to McKinney on Saturday afternoon and got to visit the entire Swisher family. Col. Swisher and Dr. Sallie Swisher were visiting from Florida and were at Michael’s house in McKinney. We have not seen Butch’s parents since our wedding.

The matriarch of the Swisher Family, Dr. Swisher, was my second mom when I was in High School. The Swishers lived right across from the high school and we would spend many of lunch hours eating in her kitchen or as a weigh point on the way home. I always let myself in the Swisher home, with a quick knock and announce my presence. I would wander into the kitchen and visit with Mrs. Swisher before finding Butch. In retrospect, I have come to realized that the school pscyolisits that was Butch’s mom, doubled as my therapist. She was always asking questions of “Why do you feel that way? Or how does that make me feel?” She was always easy to talk to and still is to this day.

It was a glorious afternoon of sharing old stories and catching up to where our families our now. Times like this I have come to cherish.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Random thoughts on a bike

Somebody asked me the other day what I think about when I am on the bike. I made mental notes during my Thursday night ride, because I was not really sure. Here is a brain dump of the random thoughts for a 31 miles ride that I averaged 20.1 mph.

Wow, big group tonight. Dang, lots of skinny fit dudes. “Yo Justin”. I think we have a tail wind. “Thanks for putting my bike together Jeff” I have not seen that guy before, I think I can drop him. NO I am not going to pull to the hill, need to fade to the back. “Hey Chris, long time no see.” Ok, here comes the hill. Legs feeling good.. Complicated Shadows. I’m not breathing heavy, cool.. “CAR UP”. Move up, Move up. Up the Plume.. Damn they are flying. Not going to be last. Fine Chris, I will let you pull me up the hill. Where’s Justin? Why is Duke kid pulled over.. Oh.. mechanical, Almost to the top. Wow Duke kid is wasting a lot of effort to get buy me, moneys down the road. Ooh.. got three targets in front of.. Ride smooth.. There’s Justin on my wheel. Its Darker than you Know in those Complicated Shadows. Cool there are four of us. “Chris, stay steady”. We can catch those two in front of us. My legs hurt. Why I am pulling? Well you know your time has come and you are sorry for what you’ve done. “The guy is the red is not working, we got them” Who is this dude in the black jersey, never seen him. Close the gap, dude. Fine I’ll go to the front. It'll soon be time to go but it's darker than you know in those Complicated Shadows. Shit. “PASSING PASSING PASSING” Did he have to pass that close. What the? I just finished pulling your butt for 2 miles and now you attack?. Don’t like this guy in the black jersey. Dang we are hammering. All you gangsters and rude clowns Who were shooting up the town. So you attack and then sit in.. Jerk. “We Lost one” cool dropped the guy in the red jersey we caught, black jersey hurting. But it's darker than you know in those Complicated Shadows. Gonna fly down Plume. “CAR LEFT CAR LEFT’. There goes all my dang momentum. Sometimes justice you will find Is just dumb not colour-blind. Got to take the sprint. “FALL OFF JUSTIN” Damn headwind. Lungs and legs ok. Here we go. Hurt hurt hurt. Nice lead out Justin, bye-bye black jersey. Damn Duke kid. He is blowing.. I can do it.. Alright, I got the sprint. “Good ride” But iron and steel will bend and break In those Complicated Shadows

For some reason Elvis Costello’s new song “Complicated Shadows” was stuck in my head the whole ride, his lyrics are italicized above.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Siddiquis

For those not paying attention, I was busy last weekend. On Saturday afternoon Troop 5 held an Eagle Court of Honor for Mamoon Siddiqui. I have known Mamoon since he was four years old poking his head behind his father’s legs at Sid Richardson Scout Ranch in 1997.

Mamoon and his family were visiting his older brother Moeed who was suffering in the heat as a first year scout at Summer Camp that day. I shook their fathers hand and introduced myself to him. Sid Siddiqui asked me that day, “Which one of these boys is yours?” I paused, thought about it and said, “All of them.”

If was a Friday and I had also suffered through my first summer camp since 1984 and my first as an Adult Leader. Little did I know at the time, I was on my way to becoming the Scoutmaster of little Troop 5.

I have been blessed having the Siddiqui family in my life since then. It is a sad day for me no longer have a Siddiqui as a scout in Troop. Now I just have four adult leaders: two committee members and two Assistant Scoutmasters.

Not only have I got to watch two scouts grow up to be fine young men, the Siddiquis have watched me go from a 30 year old pathetic bachelor who had vacation to burn to go to summer camp to 40 something married grandfather who still takes boys to summer camp. We have supported each other as friends during that time.

Congratulations to Mamoon for being an Eagle Scout-well deserved. Thank you to the Siddiquis for being my friends.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ol Blue

Today my brother-in-law towed away “Ol Blue” to Oklahoma. “Ol Blue” is a 1991 Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pickup truck. She has 210,000 miles on her and they were all quite hard miles. Towards the end of her operating life she burned a quart of oil in about 500 miles.

She was truly a scout truck. Her insides were always covered with mud, dirt and grime from scouts piling in and out of her. Brandon Daly noted tonight at the troop meeting that anything left in her was free game to the next scout that climb in to go camping. He bragged he still had a pair of sunglasses.

She took the troop to Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Colorado and all over Texas. Her 305 engine strained and pulled Troop 5’s trailer. Her driver ran her into poles, trees, bushes and through mud, pot holes and mesquite trees. Her pickup bed was the meeting place for PLCs and Scoutmaster Conferences. That same truck bed carried fire wood to OA Call Out and Ceremony Fires all over Worth Ranch and Sid Richardson Scout Ranch.

She had no place for the driver’s coffee. So the shortest scout in the troop became the “cup holder”. They would ride in the middle and hold the drivers coffee or diet coke. Fazan Chowan, Zack Wisch and JJ Michaels all served as “Cup Holders”. The radio was always playing loud for the scouts to play “Guess that Classic Rock Song.”

“Ol Blue” could find any Whataburger in the state on her own. As Brett cleverly noted today, more Whataburger was eating in this truck than any other vehicle in the United States.

Hopefully the shade tree mechanics in Oklahoma can bring her back to life, but she is done as a scout truck. Farewell "Ol Blue."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Goatneck

The Goatneck is my favorite bike tour of the year. It is in Cleburne, Texas about 40 minutes from beautiful Dalworthington Gardens. The ride is quite hilly, because you climb away from the Brazos River twice and climb all the way back to Cleburne.

The Goatneck has been recognized by Bicycling Magazine as one of the top 100 rides in the country. It is phenomenally supported by the community and every turn is marshaled by a volunteer. The major intersections are even controlled by police officers. If you are lucky to stay in the lead group, you get escorted the whole way. I have never been so lucky.

The ride brings out all the top guns from the DFW area to do the ride in addition to bringing quite a few yahoos. This past Saturday was no exception.

My buddy Big Dave and I arrived in time to register, get a little warm up end and make it to the starting line. I had resigned on the way down that I had not been riding well, that I was not going to chase the lead group and was hoping to average 18mph for the 69 mile route. Big Dave noted I was just laying the foundation of excuses.

The start line of the tour was amazing. It had the stark contrast of a bunch of super fit shaved bike racers to a bunch of Cleburne High School kids on their junior high school bikes. I had much fear of the high schoolers, because they were wooping it up and it was clear they never had ridden in a group ride. After being blessed by a Priest, (the closest I have been to mass this year) and the singing of the national anthem, we were off. Leading the charge was a cycling buddy and his girlfriend on a tandem bike. Either one of them could drop me individually, but together they are an amazing machine.

The only complaint I have about the Goatneck is the first turn. It arrives way to early, maybe a quarter of a mile from the start line. There is a mass of humanity moving in excess of 25 miles an hour about make a crit right hand turn. I had already decided to stay to outside, because the high schoolers were blitzing on the inside line about to have to make a 90 degree turn. I was expecting a massive pile up, but by the grace of God, the shaved legged racers gave the kids the room. That was the last time I saw the high schoolers.

As I watched the tandem from hell lead the ride out of town, with Big Dave not given up the chase. I settled down in a nice group that let them go. One of the neat things of riding as long as I have, I can always find a cycling buddy in the group I’m in. One of the disadvantages of riding as long as I have, is that someone you know is always blowing past you waving. What is confusing about these rides is you end up paying $30 to ride with the people you ride with all the time from bike shop for free, but at least the roads are different.

My group was averaging over 20mph by the time we crossed the Brazos for the second time. I had done a very diligent job of never being in the front and felt much better than expected. However, once you cross this bridge, you are climbing all the way back to Cleburne. The rollers and the climbs shred my group. I will say I was not doing the shredding, but just hanging on for dear life. When it was all said and done, it was just my cycling buddies Justin, Jack and I. They are much skinnier and fitter than I am, so I just stayed on their wheels for the climbs. No, I just stayed on their wheels.

Goatneck Hill is the last long climb of the day. The Hill arrives at about mile 48 and ends at about mile 55. It came at about 10am for us and 104 degrees of heat off the road. I cursed a cycling buddy who could not do the Goatneck because of a 10am massage appointment. They were in a much better place.

The three of us survived the climb and picked up the pace towards Cleburne. At about 10 miles out, I went to the front and towed my two buddies in to the finish. After sitting in all day, I had the freshest legs for the final push.

We ended up averaging 19.3 mph for the ride finishing fifteen minutes behind Big Dave. All in all a good ride.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I don't watch TV

Yesterday I was asked twice if I watched a particular television show. I do not like my answer. There has to be a better answer than “I don’t watch TV”. That answer t is not entirely true; I watch sports. It comes off as arrogant, as if I am some NPR listening, “green” car driving, Starbucks drinking, tree hugging, New York Times reading, road cyclist better than thou kind of guy. This is also not true. I do not listen to NPR that much.

The truth is it is about time. I also do not like the answer “I don’t have time for TV”. That comes across the same way. I allocate my time to work, home, family, scouts and cycling. I am sure there are people in each of those groups who would argue about the order, but that is what I find important. Cycling is a huge time suck when you commit to riding as much as I do. If you are going to commit to balance in the other part of your life, you have to give something up. I have given up television shows.

My obsessive and compulsive personality wants to watch a show from the beginning to the end. The last show I was successful with this was Seinfeld. I have found it easier to be a sports fan. You can turn on any game at any point and in a few short minutes be caught right up to speed. It is great background noise when you are doing things at the house, such as writing in your blog.

I also do not look down on people who watch television shows. I miss out on a lot of good office conversation because I have no idea who is dancing with who, who is still on the island and where the heck the plane crashed on Lost. I have also grown to learn that people grow tired of cycling and scouting stories if they do not participate. Everyone can participate in watching TV, so that is a common bond that I do not have.

For the moment, I think I am going to say, “I’m a sports guy... sorry”, there is a bunch of television networks that are dedicated to that genera. TV watching people will understand.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Scouting History

One of my cycling friends asked me a few weeks ago why I am still involved in Scouting. I am not real sure if there is a straightforward answer to that question. I know this; there were plenty of adult leaders along my Scouting trail the made sure I could have a scouting experience. The simplest answer may be; someone did it for me. However, I think there is more to it. I want to delve into it, but first why I even stayed in scouting as a boy.

With my father being in the military, scouting provided one constant as we moved around from place to place during my childhood. The Cub Scout Pack or the Scout Troop was an instant source of friends in a new place.

I started my Boy Scout career in the “Action” Troop 237 in Fort Benning Georgia. As like all little brothers, I followed my older brother into this troop. Members of Troop 5 would find it curious that the leadership positions in this troop had different color neckerchiefs. The highlights of my scouting in Georgia were: 1) two weeks at my first scout camp at the Chattahoochee Scout Reservation. 2) A 50-mile canoe trip down the Chattahoochee River. I was a scrawny 11-year-old scout that probably paddled twice the whole trip. Reggie Hall was a more than patience older boy canoe partner that was stuck with me.

When my father was transferred to Fort Bragg, NC, my brother and I joined Troop 973. Here I camped at Camp Durant for my summer camp, got elected into the Order of the Arrow, and attended the 1981 Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. Many of our campouts were in drop zones at Fort Bragg. The roar of the jets, helicopters, C-130s, tanks etc were always greeted with one of my Scoutmasters’ saying, “That’s the sound of Freedom” This is the Troop I earned my Eagle in.

After my freshman year in High School, my father got orders for Heidelberg Germany. Here my brother and I joined Troop 1. There is much debate which American troop actually was the first Troop after World War II, but my troop had the number. I chose this troop because they had an annual ski trip to Kandersteg Switzerland at the international scout center. I remember John Wilkerson beating me on the butt with his ski as I was trying to learn to use a T-Bar. (ahh, boy leadership) We took the duty train to West Berlin during the height of the cold war. I played spades with Scott Miller as my partner the whole way, while Scott Corliss was hanging out the train taking pictures of East German guards. I was active in the Black Eagle Lodge and traveled all over Europe to do Order of the Arrow scouting. I also worked three summers at Camp Freedom, with Bill Kennedy, Bill Hurley, Sandro Mezel who I have found again. Bill Kennedy gave me the nickname of “Gonzo” that stuck the whole time I worked camp staff.

I wandered away from Scouting when I went off to College. I owe a whole bunch of adults along the way. I think I am paying them forward by getting back involved in scouting in 1997.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Norman Conquest

In 1066 was the Norman Conquest of England, but I want to discuss the bike ride in Norman Oklahoma.

Today I did the Norman Conquest . This is my third out of state tour. I have done the Enchanted Circle Century in New Mexico and the Tour De Vally in Virginia.

Carol is from Moore, OK, so we came up for the weekend, stayed at her sisters in OKC and I got up early this morning to do the ride. Carol spent quality time with her sister and high school friends.

It was the day to do 66 miles in Oklahoma. It was 66 degrees at the start. After the past few weeks of riding in 100 plus degree weather, I was ecstatic.

The route goes east out of Norman, goes across Lake Thunderbird, and it has one rolling hill after another. I know the flyer said it was going to be hilly, but I thought.”Oklahoma?” Well, the flyer was correct and continued to note to the Okie boys I was riding with. “Where is this flat Oklahoma I hear about?” This question was met with much laughter.

I survived in the rolling hills with the lead group for 10.6 miles. I was going to get dropped, but I got hung up in the wrong gear on a turn up a steep climb that sealed the deal. I very nice chase packed formed and I rode with them until mile 40. Unfortunately, a 20 something zero body fat kid with an Oklahoma State Champion jersey rolled into our group. Why the hell did a bunch of 40 something recreational riders think they could chase and stay with this guy is beyond me, but we did and I was spit out the back. I was a tad disheartened until my course merged with the 46 mile course. I had already done that amount and the people I was passing were really suffering. I fine example of schadenfreude on my part. I filled my bottles at the 54 mile rest stop and jumped onto a group as I left. I ending up averaging 18mph for the ride and the temperature was 86 degrees at the finish.

A good day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cruel Ride

Often times I am asked why I ride the bike. I need to delve into that sometime, but today I am sure I could not tell you why I ride. Tonight’s ride was cruel. It is freaking hot in Texas and my cycle computer thermometer read 108 as I was getting ready. It should be duly noted that Carol questioned whether I should be riding tonight because of the heat. I told her I was just going to take it easy.

I lied and karma kicked my butt.

The normal rider participation was down due to the heat. After we came together on Lake Ridge, the pace quickened as we rode into a head wind. My legs were already starting to bother me, I was gasping for air, and my heart rate was headed towards max. I kept thinking, “I told Carol I would go easy” as I looked down at a speed of 25mph. We reach the base of the first climb and I almost get shelled, but I pull back into the group. I am in pain, my head is swimming and it’s freaking hot. I stay with the group until the base of the big climb, Texas Plume. I give every bit of effort I can to stay with them, but they ride away. I can feel my lunch wanting to come up and see what is going on. By the time I reach the top, I notice that I am not sweating and my skin is nothing but goose bumps. Being the wise cyclist that I am, I proceed to chase the group. Luckily for me, there is a tri-athlete that could not climb worth a lick with me. We trade pulls, but to no avail, the group is gone. By this time it is becoming clear that I have no business being on the bike as I quell the gag reflex of my investigative lunch. I abandoned the ride and found the quickest way back to the car. However, I took it easy, not because I was honoring my word with Carol, but because it was all I could do.

Although I probably cut 5 miles off of the ride, I barely beat the lead riders back to the cars.

If asked, I ride because I enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tim Curry

I had the privilege to have worked for Tim Curry from February 25, 2002 until he passed away April 24, 2009. Mr. Curry was sworn into office as the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney on November 27, 1972.

In the latest issue of Texas District and County Attorney Newsletter has a wonderful In Memoriam section dedicated to my former boss, if you want to read it you will get but a glimpse of this true statesmen.

This is what I said.

J. Greg Shugart
Business Manager, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office
I have been the business administrator for the DA’s office for over seven years. I tell the staff here that I’m the person who keeps their copiers working and their legal pads and paper clips supplied so that they can do their work. But I also worked daily with Tim Curry to keep our $33-million-budget office ticking efficiently. I saw firsthand how Mr. Curry diligently sought to save jobs in our narcotics and check departments as grant funds and check fees dwindled. Many of my administrative tasks required sophisticated negotiations with the Commissioners’ Court and County Administration. Although I often felt clumsy when accomplishing his goals, Mr. Curry always backed me up, just as he supported any of his staff following his directives.

Mr. Curry’s strong work ethic and humble style repeatedly reminded me of Plato’s Greek classic, The Republic. His style emulated the guardians of civic justice that Plato described. Mr. Curry stayed in-formed; he always focused on what was right and just; his loyalty was legendary. And Mr. Curry never sought praise for any of the myriad deeds he accomplished. Those of us who worked for him will strive to follow his example

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Carol

Today is Carol’s Birthday. Carol has been my lovely wife since May 29, 1999. I am not sure if I have been her “outstanding” husband since then, but it is not for the lack of trying. Carol made the mistake of becoming my friend in 1993 when I was the City Administrator of Dalworthington Gardens. Our first date was going to an Arlington High Football game to watch the game and Tamara be a “shadow” for the Marching Band in 1997. While we were dating she learned that I was not remotely handy with tools as she replaced the alternator on her truck as I watched.

One of my favorite stories about her when we were dating was when she went to my Fraternity’s anniversary party. She more than tolerated my indulgence of my journey to my college days with my college buddies. As we were walking out, with the keys in Carol’s hand, the off duty officer working security ask for Carol’s autograph. I was a tad confused, but when we got in the car, she told me they thought she was Dyan Cannon. I remember thinking, “They think my date is Dyan Cannon... Who is Dyan Cannon?” I have since learned.

She married me nonetheless and we moved into my 1930’s house and she made it a home for Tamara, Brett and I. During these years her grasp of common sense is off the scale, which has been very helpful through our many adventures and trials. She is more than supportive of my scouting and cycling. The Scouts in the troop refer to her as “Ms. Carol”; she has sewn many a uniform. And most of the time does not lose patience with me as we continue to improve out little house. I have actually grown to enjoy working in the yard with her.

More importantly, Carol shares my passion for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. She understands the importance of seeing the scarlet and black clad team in the frenzied confines of “The Jones” Our season ticket holder family around us always upset with me if she does not make the journey.

When Carol is not ensuring the health and welfare of Brett, Brittany, Tamara, David, me and of course Aedan, she is working at Teague Nall and Perkins civil Engineering firm as a Senior Designer. She will be celebrating 20 years of service this year.

My own observation of successful relationships is when the man is aware that he has done better than he deserves. I am such a man.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday Night Cluster

As I delve into my examination of Road Cycling Culture, Thursday Nights Ride at Joe Pool Lake was an excellent case study of cyclists just following the wheel in front of them.

When the daylight allows it, a group of bike racers and strong recreational riders assemble in the parking lot of the Oasis at Joe Pool Lake. We venture into a hammer fest up Lake Ridge Road, climb Texas Plum, do a long loop south of Highway 67, and return to the Oasis. On a good night, I average over 20 miles per hour on the 31-mile course. I am not that strong in this group and usually finish in the chase group; I am far from an alpha cyclist on this ride, but this group views me as an “elder statesman.”

Last night we had a problem because Texas Plum was under construction and the route has to change. Since this is a leaderless ride, the group had to come up with a different route. There was much discussion and I suggested Route A. There was some consensus and then someone suggested Route B. Everybody seemed to agree on Route B and they turned to be as one of the “elder statesman” and said your call. I decreed, “Let’s do Route B” and off we went.

We got on Lake Ridge and headed south. We were fighting a tough head wind and it was hot. I felt I was riding into a blast furnace and my thermometer read 108 degrees off the road. We climbed Lake Ridge at a heck of a pace. We were surging up Lake Ridge and I was spat out of the back on the last pitch to the top. Three of us regrouped and began the chase. We could see others had fallen off and we were going to end up in the chase pack again.

We started to gain on the groups in front of us when the turn appeared that made Route A and Route B different. Somebody attacked the lead group, made the turn to do Route A instead of Route B. I saw some hand waving from the back, but the whole lead group just responded to the attack and changed the route. All the people that were chasing did the same thing.

Not that any of this is bad, but it just shows that the in a group ride, everyone is just going to follow the wheel in front of them. Democracy gives way to the alpha cyclist. I was quite amused at the end of the ride when we all reassembled at the cars for the “after action” reports, a few of my buddies came up to me to apologize for doing the wrong route. I noted I was not in position to give directions when the turn came.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Brett

Brett’s birthday is June 2 and it would seem unfair to him to wait until next year to introduce him when he will be turning 24. I am sure he is very concerned.

Brett came into my life when in 1997 when he was 10. It was a scary time for me, I had just started dating his mother and he crossed over into my Scout Troop the following spring. As most of you know, it worked out and he became my stepson in 1999. We have had our challenges but I know I am better for it, hopefully he is as well.

We had the classic Scoutmaster/Son relationship. You have patience for every boy in your troop but one. “You expect me to be better than everyone else!” he once yelled at a campout. I responded, “You figured it out!” Brett is one of my Eagle Scouts and well deserved

Brett is currently working for father at Underwood Drafting &Surveying. He is plugging along on his undergraduate degree with a much better GPA than I had. He recently bought a house in Denison that he shares with his girlfriend Brittney, who is a sweetheart.