Tuesday, April 01, 2008

100 and Done

It occurred to me today that I had created 99 posts for The Conch Shack. The first one was on August 31, 2006. The last on will be today. 100 is enough. There's no since in staying in it like Mike Huckabee.

When I started More of Less, the predecessor to The Conch Shack, KBF and PromKingsWife were staff writers. Now they have their own successful blogs, and several others have spawned from there. That's fun to see.

In truth, I don't have time to be a good employee, father, or husband. I know that's not the order those are supposed to be in, but on any given day, that's the order that the majority of my time is spent. I certainly don't have time to be an employee, a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a grandson, an uncle, a blogger, a runner, a golfer, a yard boy, president of the homeowners association, webmaster of some dorky insurance association, or any of the other things that I either try to be or have agreed to be that I can't even think of right now. It's time to let some of it go.

Looking back through some of the older posts...Jack's first Christmas.....the Sleep Lady Shuffle, the Ferber Method...hey, some television shows that I used to watch...Mike Shula's firing....the trip to NASA with PawPaw...it's been fun.

Thanks for sharing. Take care and good luck.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mo' Body, Less Seles

Before I start, can someone explain to me what I'm supposed to be getting from the NBC "Welcome Back" commercials? ABC is running some similar promo. Who are those commercials directed at? I'm not the one that took the fall of 2007 off. I didn't go any where, so they must not be welcoming me back. Do people in television have such a high sense of self-importance that they're welcoming themselves back? I don't really get it.

The family was upstairs playing last night, and as is customary, the TV was on. As luck fate would have it, Access Hollywood re-ran the body again body again story of Julianne in a bikini. We were still playing at 7:00 when DWTS came on, so we flipped over to the ABC station so that little Jack could see Julianne in her dancing dress. The things that we do for our kids, right? Well imagine the horror when I look up to see, not Mitt Romney's underutilized secret weapon, but tennis legend Monica Seles. Wow! I know two nice people, maybe more on the periphery - but in the core group there are only two...maybe two and a half, and one of them has already called me this morning to chastise my comments about Ms. Seles. I will not repeat what I said earlier, but suffice to say, time and UV rays have not been very kind to the former champ. I will forever more use sunscreen when outdoors. I hope it's not too late.

We watched The Hills last night. I mean really, how boring and unreal is that show? Don't get me wrong, we'll keep watching, but Whitney did not say "I know it's not your problem, it is our problem" when she was talking on the phone to the store manager. That was dubbed in later. I can't wait until Lauren returns to California and gets called in to Lisa Love's office...."And Lauren, the girl that didn't go to Paris last year but got MTV to pay for her trip this year. You got a complimentary dress from a designer and you burned it with a flat iron. Then you wore the replacement [that just happened to fit perfectly] when you went for a Vespa ride with a cigarette. Did you learn anything?"

And Heidi, I don't really know, but I don't think you are supposed to use self-tan on your lips. Spencer, when he smiles, reminds me of my college roommate. Lance had that same smile, like he should be looking in a mirror to see if he has spinach in his teeth. Creepy really. The difference is that I like Lance, although I haven't talked to him in.....oh, five years at least. He was the Chief Resident at Johns Hopkins the last time that I talked to him. I bet he didn't watch The Hills last night. Or last year. Or the year before. The photographic memory that guy has. Incredible. I don't know if it was photographic, but he could read something once, rememeber it, understand not only the concept presented but also the interrelation of that concept with other concepts AND how to apply one concept such that there were no adverse effects on other systems or properties. In short, you'd want him as your doctor. You wouldn't understand a damn thing that he said to you, but at the end of the day, you'd have the smartest doctor on the planet. Except that his specialty is now Oncology, so...

He was - and I'm sure still is - ultra-competitive. He didn't like losing, which isn't a bad quality - especially if you're his patient - but everything was a contest to him. We actually took one class together in college (there isn't much overlap in the microbiology and business management degree paths), and we both made an 'A'. I used to remind him of that when we talked. It's the only time that he didn't beat me. Of course, then he'd tell me that he graduated with a 4.0 and the only reason that I remember that 'A' was because it was the only one that I ever made. I need to call him.

What was I talking about?

What else have I seen lately? Oh, the best show on TV that you're not watching is "High School Reunion" on TV Land. That's good television. Nothing says "we buried the hatchet and left the handle sticking out" [Garth Brooks] like a 20 year high school reunion. There's a guy that was sleeping with his best friend's estranged wife...all three of whom are on the show. And there's a LEBANESE lady exploring male companionship again, or maybe for the first time, I really don't know, but it's fun to watch.

I'll concur with KBF about Dirt, that seemed like a good show the one time that I saw it. One of my favorite shows is Cold Case - not to be confused with Cold Case Files on Discovery or Court TV or whatever. Unfortunately, basketball games, football games, and golf tournaments always run late on Sundays, which means that Cold Case doesn't come on at its regularly scheduled time, which means that the Divo doesn't record it correctly, which means that I don't see it except for the three weeks a year that there isn't an NCAA basketball game, NFL game, or PGA event.

Finally, lunch time...peace out.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Too much Access

Note: A lot of the names below are not spelled correctly. It's not on purpose, I just don't have time to look them up.

Last night on Access Hollywood, Billy Bush - who I've decided has the greatest job in the entire world, what with getting to work with Nancy O'Dell and/or Maria Menunos every day - was covering a photo shoot for Julianna Hough (the girl from DWTS). She was doing a (itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie) bikini shoot for SHAPE magazine. Not that I was really studying or any thing.

SIDEBAR: Am I the only one that thinks she has some Tara Reid characteristics? I mean, before the awful plastic surgery and her drunken TV show (Taradise, or Tara-ble).

During the story, Leah said, "Wow! She's got a nice body."

This was the conversation at our house for 30 minutes after the story went off:

2-year old Jack: Body again. Body again.

Leah: You want to see the girl's body again?

Jack: Otay!

Leah: Well, the show went off.

Jack: Body again. Body again. Body again.

Leah: Well, the show went off. We can't see the body again.

Jack: Body again?

Leah: Her show comes on in a couple of weeks. We'll see it then.

Jack: Otay. Body show in weeks. Body again?

Me: Here's the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, son. I suggest Danica Patrick and Brooklyn Decker.

Jack: Otay.

That last exchange didn't really happen, but wow, what did we do? We felt like we needed to read him the Bible for Babies as his night-night book.

It occurred to me during the exchange that Julianna is closer to Jack's age than she is to my age. Ouch.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Need an S, take an S

Why do people add an 's' to the end of a some words, and why does it bother me so? They're not making the word plural, or making it possessive, they're just adding an 's'.

For example, my dad loves to go to Wal-Marts. That's not Wal-Marts plural , it's Wal-Marts singular. He doesn't enjoy going to all the Wal-Marts, he only enjoys going to the single Wal-Marts in Gardendale. Do not, under any circumstance, get in to a K-Marts vs. Wal-Marts debate with my dad. You will lose.

It's somewhat disconcerting to my mother-in-law when she has to give Jack his Zyrtecs medication. It's disconcerting to me, too, because he actually takes Zyrtec.

I'm sure that I butcher a lot of words, especially when talking to the Cajun Ellie Walker, Leah, and Brandon about medications. But those are all Latin derivatives. I go Espanol!

That is what is going through my head right now. Just thought you'd like to know.

I disappointed the table last weekend when I ordered Miller Lite. I like Miller Lite okay, it's not at all my second choice, but it's just all that came to mind when the waiter told me he didn't have Coors Light.

I'm bored. It's been a long week. Next week, I start CARPOOLING! Can't you just feel the GREEN? I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stepping Out

“If you step back this time, you’re going to land right on your butt”, Dennis Brand yelled at Andy. Some of the players laughed at hearing the word ‘butt’ while others feared that just hearing such a word would cause them to spend eternity in hell. The rest of the boys just began to worry more about taking their turn at bat.

In all respects, Coach Dennis Brand was hard on his players, even if they were 8 and under. In the last three years of fall ball, travel ball, and the “regular season”, Coach Brand’s teams had made it to 9 championship games and brought home 8 championship trophies. The only game his team lost followed a late night semifinal game that was called in the fifth inning according to the league’s mercy rule. The mercy rule was designed to save teams from utter humiliation by ending any game in the fifth inning in which one team was ahead by ten or more runs. Coach Brand’s team was ahead by 12 runs at the end of the fifth inning, but he felt their play was sloppy and sluggish, so after the game he made them run. And run. And run. His team was so tired at the start of the championship game the following morning that they were no match for the other team. Coach Brand’s team was declared losers by the mercy rule, less than 12 hours after imposing the rule on another team.

Though several parents disagreed with his methods, few complained of the results.

One of Coach Brand’s methods of teaching players to stand firm in the batter’s box, instead of stepping out of the batters box out of fear of being struck, was to place bats behind the batter’s feet. If the batter tried to dance out of the way, then the young man found himself trying to dance on rolling aluminum bats. Very few players had mastered this skill.

“Hold on!” Coach Brand yelled at Miles Torrance, his assistant coach and operator of the pitching machine. Coach Torrance turned off the machine for a moment.

For those few players that had perfected Coach Brand’s aluminum bat two-step, Coach Brand would place bats behind that batter and make him stand in a surplus military duffel bag that served as the team’s equipment bag. He saved this for his most extreme cases.

Today, Andy was an extreme case.

Eight-year-old Andy Watts was in his second year of little league baseball. He was an average player, a better fielder than hitter, who worked hard and never missed practice. He was the son of supportive parents who, despite their hectic schedules, rarely missed a practice and never missed a game. Andy had earned a good reputation among coaches in the league. He was not the best athlete on the field, but he worked hard and followed instructions. He was described more than once as “just solid”, though he was having trouble today. Andy’s practice performance, like that of many little league players in South Fork, Georgia, could be attributed in part to the town’s antiquated pitching machine.

While other nearby towns and schools had replaced their pitching machines with the newer two-wheel model, South Fork still used an ancient model designed to replicate the motion of a pitcher’s arm.

The machine that South Fork continued to use consisted of a generator fed motor that wound tight a large spring that was attached to a long, metal arm. The machine’s arm moved in a circle on the right side of the machine, like a harsh, ugly one-paddle windmill. Balls were fed from the holding basket to the collection area through a hole that was just larger than the baseball.

As the arm passed the collection area, it picked up the ball and carried it in its ‘hand’ until, near the top of the rotation, the spring would release causing the metal arm to hurl the ball toward home plate. The machine resembled a medieval trebuchet, only twice as noisy and far less accurate.

The batter had to shake off the surprise of the metal robot’s quick release, block out the sound of metal clashing against metal, focus on the pitch and start his swing in less than a second.

Andy was determined to stay in the batter’s box. If for no other reason than to prove to himself that he could do it. He wasn’t concerned about the bag he was standing in, the bats behind his feet, or even making contact with his swing. He just wanted to stand in the box as the ball approached the plate.

When Coach Brand was satisfied with his work on Andy, he nodded toward the pitcher’s mound. Coach Torrance turned the machine back on. The generator in the distance growled as the motor began to tighten the spring on the pitching machine.

Andy adjusted his stance as his hands lightly gripped the handle of the bat. Elbow up, he reminded himself as he watched the arm pass the collection spot and pick up the next ball. The arm seemed to move slower than normal as it approached the top. Andy’s left foot, acting almost on instinct, tried to move backward. Andy held his foot firm until…WHAM!…the spring released, the arm flew forward, the ball left the metal hand and was hurled toward home plate. Don’t move, don’t move, stay in the box Andy said to himself while the moment of surprise subsided and the noise echoed. He was able to find the ball halfway between the pitching machine and home plate. Don’t move, don’t move….

The sound of ball meeting flesh startled Lizzie Franks, a team mother who was working feverishly to fill cups with Kool-aid and arrange Oreos on the tailgate of Coach Brand’s truck.

“STOP THE MACHINE, MILES! STOP!!!” Lizzie heard Coach Brand yell. She looked up to see Dennis and Miles running toward homeplate where Andy was on the ground. She saw the blood on Andy’s face when Miles rolled the child over.

“CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT! HURRY!!!” Coach Brand screamed to someone, anyone. Lizzie glanced up at him and realized he was yelling to her. Lizzie ran to the home across the street and began knocking on the front door.


Less than one mile from where Andy Watts lay crying at homeplate, his mother Mary Ellen Watts watched as her daughter practiced tumbling at the South Fork Cheernastics Academy with a dozen other local 8-year old girls. Pass after pass, the girls crisscrossed the old foam mat that protected them from the unforgiving concrete floor of the converted five and dime.

Mary Ellen didn’t see who the other girl was, it happened too fast. All she saw was the other girl’s feet come over and hit her daughter right below her left eye. Kelly Watts instantly fell to the floor. Her cry brought to a halt all other activity in the gym.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Yea!!! The Writer's Guild of America strike against the big bad television producers is over! And they worked out the deal just in time for the summer hiatus...see you next September, I guess.

It's really just as well if they were going to keep writing crap like the Lipstick Mafia (a/k/a Lucy Liu is under contract, and We Need to Cross Promote the Sex and the City Movie as Much as Possible).

Is there an industry out there that is heavy in unions that is able to react to changes without so much pushback from the unions that it threatens the industry as a whole? I've never really understood the whole, "We'll show them! We won't work and they'll have to close this shop and we'll be out of jobs!" thought process. [Sorry Paw-Paw, a proud member of the UMWA.]

I understand the reason why unions began so many years ago, but in some respects, they've become a mockery of themselves.

Happy day after Valentine's Day! Leah, Jack and I had a romantic dinner of Toots' chicken salad and some rolls at 5:15, then we watched Cars again. Then we went upstairs and looked at Cars on the computer. Then we watched Lost. I've given up trying to figure out what's going on with the Lostaways of Craphole Island. I'm not even sure why I watch it, but it's the only show that I watch. And we DiVo it, so I don't watch the ads either. I'm a writers/producers/ABC/advertisers worst nightmare. OH, it occurs to me that I might be stealing the show...I'll ponder that over the summer hiatus.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Oh, tomorrow is SUPER Tuesday! For the first time in a long time, Alabama is relevant - or at least not irrelevant. I'm sure Presidential candidates have visited Alabama before, but I don't remember when. Visits to our State are usually done after the election, when a Republican candidate needs some cash.

As I discussed last week, I'm really having some trouble deciding on a candidate this year. The good news, I guess, is that I'm not alone. Over the last week, at least a dozen people have expressed their 'undecidedness'. What I find interesting, however, is how many times I've heard, "I know that he won't win the party nomination, but I really want to vote for _______".

I find it interesting because the people making the comment all want to vote for the same person. If everyone voted for that candidate that wanted to vote for that candidate, then that candidate would win the nomination by a landslide.

I guess history tells us that, in order to be elected President, you must have certain characteristics; you must be male, you must be white, you have to be named "George" or "William" or "John", you must be over 6 feet tall, you must have military experience (seeing action is a bonus), and you must be rich.

If your candidate of choice fits nicely in to that mold, then by all means, vote for that person. If, however, your candidate of choice is a woman, or is black, or is short, or is named Mitt or Barack - then VOTE for your candidate of choice. The primary election shouldn't be a beauty pageant where the winner is whomever looks the best in a two-piece and can most clearly explain their plan to end world hunger from her room high in the Trump Plaza.

Vote for the candidate that you like. Vote for the person that believes the things that you believe. Vote for the person with interests, desires and passions that most closely resemble your own.

Unless that person is Hillary.

I'm kidding!!! Polls open in the morning at 7AM and stay open until 7PM.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

One other thing

If you find yourself at Don Pepe's and your child spots the GIGANTIC gumball machine that screams to small children like a lighthouse to lost sailors, and your child starts screaming "BALLL, BALLLL, BAAALLLLLLL" and cries to the point that you decide to just get him a gumball so that he will stop crying so that you can have one bite of your tacos al carbon (steak), don't you dare ask the bartender to break a dollar for you because he, "no make no CORT-TAIRS".

Tu frikkin chancho.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hey, look at Mii!!!

I haven't forgotten about The Other Side. I've actually written the second chapter, which may end up being the first chapter if I take Karly's advice. She's read the second chapter, but she doesn't think that it has any thing to do with Kelly. Boy, is she in for a surprise.

But in other news.....

I went over to Brandon's house last Saturday night and got to play the Wii...play on the Wii...play Wii...whatever. Hours and hours of fun that resulted in days and days of pain in my shoulder. It was just muscle pain - it's been a while since I swung a tennis racquet, and even longer since I simulated swinging a tennis racquet. The pain finally subsided some time yesterday.

In Wii, you can "create" yourself, kind of like on "The Office" when Dwight created a cyber version of himself, and then created a secret inner circle of the internet game he was playing so that he could be even further removed from reality. Any way "Mii" on Wii is actually better at tennis than the real me. But he's much too pale and he can't sing! (I don't know what that means.)

I hit a milestone at or about 5:40 this morning. I ran my 100th mile in the month of January! 100 miles. That's from here to Tuscaloosa and back, almost. Oh fun times. My goal is to run 1,200 miles in 2008. I should end up January with 105 miles, which will help since February is a short month.

Oh, and JRod and NatLee are engaged. Not sure if that's still a secret...it hasn't really been a secret for a while, but I think that most of you already know and the betrothal.

I'm having some trouble deciding who should get my vote next week. I seriously wish that I could just not vote this year and cast 2 votes in 2012. I did the little 'candidate match' exercise on myfoxal.com. McCain was the closest match, but we only agreed on 43% of the questions. That's not very strong. Is it too much to ask for someone to believe in national defense AND education? Are those mutually exclusive items? And everybody wants to FIX Social Security. There is no fixing it! We might can stretch it out a little further, but that would mean cuts in benefits. I would much rather them just be honest with THEMSELVES and say, "You know, we've got enough in the system to get us through the Baby Boomers, but if you were born after 1960, there's not going to be any thing in this for you." It's not really news. My first memory of Social Security was in the late 70s. My mom said, "It's going to be there when you retire." They should build off of her wisdom and adjust capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes accordingly to help us prepare.

Next was Mike Huckabee (he's a RUNNER!) with 35% and then Duncan Hunter (he's...he's....uhhh?) with 30%. Hunter actually dropped out of the race last 2006. Then, surprisingly, Barack Obama, followed by Rudy Giuliani. Me and Cynthia McKinney, yeah, I don't think that we'd get along. People love Obama, and I understand why. He's energetic, he's a dynamic and motivating speaker, and he makes me believe that HE BELIEVES what he's saying. Of course, he won't salute the flag....at least according to what I heard on Rick & Bubba this morning.

(That last sentence may come as a surprise to some of you, but I just can't listen to Jay and Al on JOX any more.)

What are your thoughts?

Last season's finale of "Lost" comes on tonight, and tomorrow night is the season premier! Oh, it's going to be good. I'd like to see more Claire. And some guest spots with Maria Menounos.

There was something else....something else....OH...the boss ladies want us - employees in the department - to write a 'handbook' about what we do every day and how we do it. Would writing blogs fall under Miscellaneous Other, or Communication - Written?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Other Side

Kelly paused at the double doors, either unwilling or unable to find what awaited her on the other side. As a 12 year-old girl, she held the hand of her great-grandmother as death overtook her. Through medical school at Baylor, an internship at Duke, and a fellowship at Knightsbridge Hospital in London, she had come to realize that regardless of how much medicine, research, care and money is thrown at preserving life, eventually every one reaches the same inevitable, and sometimes painful, fate.

Through experience and involvement, Kelly grew to understand death and, in the worst cases, to appreciate it. Though the academics of the process came easily to Kelly, death never numbed her. She was still moved by the loss of a sister, a mother, a father, a wife, and worst of all, a child. She would always try to balance strength and compassion in the presence of a patient's grieving family, only to be overtaken by emotion once in the privacy of the doctors' lounge, or an on-call sleep room, or an unlocked broom closet.

The other side of the door certainly presented an end. Kelly took a deep breath, rehearsed the moment to come once more, and pushed one door open.