Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Owe So Many People "Thank You's"

DISCLAIMER: If you are a Tennessee fan who is taking things in stride after this weekend, do not read any further. Also, if you are easily offended, have high blood pressure, a heart condition or are pregnant (Schwie, your tough; you'll be fine - keep reading), you should not read further. After my trip to Gainesville this weekend, I realized just how many things I have to be thankful for and how I need to say "Thank You" more often than I do. So, here is my list of "Thank You's" following our trip to Gainesville:

1) Thank You Phillip Fulmer for your $1 MM donation to my alma mater. While I am sure this money will be put to good use buying maxi-pads to wrap up Eric Ainge's injured pinky or extra cups for Coker's additional marijuana testing, you might have considered hiring a special team's coach. Spotting each team we play 7 points on punt returns is a strategy that is not paying off.

2) Thank You Mrs. Ramke, my second grade teacher, who taught me all of the math skills that are necessary to analyze Saturday's game statistics:
a) Net Rushing Yards - FLA 255 is greater than TN 37
b) Total Net Yards - FLA 554 is greater than 298
c) And most importantly, Score FLA 59 TN 20

3) Thank You Arian Foster, for giving us all a chuckle last week, when you used the word "equanimity" in the correct context when describing Eric Ainge's poise, proving that you are a student athlete. I really wish that would have geen all you "gave" last week. Instead, you "gave" Florida 6 points with your pitch to the linebacker at the least opportune moment. With your huge vocabulary, you must be a literature major, because your performance in big games never lacks the element of Shakespearean tragedy.

4) Thank You to the Florida fans, who were trying to make me feel better (they were actually heckling me) by saying "Tennessee - 2nd in the SEC". I WISH!!! We may be the 2nd best team in East Tennessee this year, as Maryville high school is looking pretty strong again. Thanks also to the Cave Man who posed for my picture... Classy.

5) Thank YouUrban Meyer. You are an arrogant prick and remind me why I hate everything "gator". I hope that the next coach at Tennessee remembers you throwing the ball in the 4th quarter to run the score up and pays you back some day. I also hope that LSU stomps your guts out this year (although Les Miles is in the same category).

6) Thank You Notre Dame for giving me something to cheer for (or I should say against) this college football season, as I would otherwise have nothing to cheer about. Although it is too late to get you on our schedule this year, reading that you were blown out... AGAIN... and that Rick Clausen was sacked 6 times almost made me feel better.

7) Thank You Kentucky for beating an over-rated Louisville team. Your victory makes me realize that we have the opportunity to accomplish what no other Tennessee team has in my life-time, finishing dead last in the SEC East. Vanderbilt may be the only team that stands between this team and immortality.

8) Thank You Laddy and Mark Clark for your eternal optimism in the face of this game. Laddy, let this stand as your first lesson in Tennessee football. Clark, you should have known better. (Laddy also wins text message of the game with his "my confidence has subsided" text during the 3rd quarter).

9) Thank You to the Florida linebacker that reminded me of the great biblical story of David and Goliath. In the 2nd quarter, outweighed by your opponent by 85 lbs, you did not cower. Instead, you ran full speed ahead, blasting our right guard to the ground and then ran 5 more yards to make the tackle. That moment provided clarity for me of where the game was headed.

10) Seriously, Thank You Sarah and Greg for being excellent hosts this weekend. It was great to see you guys. Greg, you are a true gentleman. Having only hung out with us a few times, you were gracious enough to pick us up and take us to the airport at extremely perverse hours. My apologies for the effects of my "cheap" ticket search. We really enjoyed spending time with you guys. Thanks also to Salim and Kelly Bradley for hosting us (and arranging a parking spot) at your tailgate. It was wonderful to see you guys; I wish we could have hung out longer. For those who have not heard by now, Kelly is 5 months pregnant.

This rant was quite therapeutic. I promise to drop my negativity and get back to more traditional blogging after I re-hydrate from the game. I haven't been so hot since Larry Wray lured me to Greve by telling me it would be air conditioned.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vols vs. The Hippies

Last Saturday, Rachel and I met up with some more friends in California and went to the UT vs. Cal game. In addition to Caleb and Mike Johnson, we also met up with Paul Davis, a good friend of mine from UT and the person who sheperded me through Analytical Chemistry (now a Chemistry Professor at Pacific Lutheran University) and Ken Achacoso, a comrade of mine from his Rohm and Haas days and an avid footballer, having grown up in Baton Rouge and attended the University of TX before being trapped in Pac-10 Land. Not pictured, are Jerry Becker and his friend John, and about 12,000 other UT fans that we fellowshiped with at The Bear's Lair.

Berkeley was a slightly "different" footballing experience. First, the stadium may have held 72,000 fans, but it was not set up logistically to deal with that many, as the concourses were a constant miserable traffic jam. "Tightwad Hill", pictured here, was a neat little concept (although I understand the TV announcer made some week accusations).

Perhaps the strangest spectacle of the trip, other than the 20+ missed tackles by the defense, was the Hippies in the Trees, who were protesting the proposed stadium expansion. We had many a laugh, as we explained to the Cal fans several scenarios that might transpire if anyone attempted to halt a stadium expansion at an SEC school.

This time, I want to throw a shout-out to Erin Langston's blog on Southlake Carroll football (they play this weekend on TV at a highschool in Miami). Not that I don't enjoy the pregnancy blogs, but this one was spectacular.

Monday, September 3, 2007

San Fransisco

On Friday morning, I picked up Caleb and Mike Johnson at the Oakland Airport. We picked up Rach at the hotel and headed to San Fransisco for the afternoon. San Fransisco is a great city to visit. Like Chicago, it is very clean.

We began by driving Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world. As shown in the photo, it is very steep and very curvy. We saw Eric and Nan Beaty and one of Rachel's residents while driving around. We then headed out to the wharf for some dinner. We met up with Brian Bean, one of my roommates from college, and Shane Pledge and Derek(?), some more of our college buddies. It was great to catch up with them for a while. They then headed off to the Oakland A's game, and we continued to walk around Fisherman's Wharf for a while.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Napa Valey

I finished my last set of finals for Graduate School on Wednesday night, and Rachel and I caught a 6:30 AM flight from Chicago to Oakland, CA on Thursday morning. We were greeted at the airport by Warren (aka Maurice), who drove us around wine country all day. We visited 4 wineries - 1) Andretti, 50% owned by Mario Andretti, 2) Sequoyah, named after the large trees in the vineyard, 3) Darioush, the swankiest of the joints that we visited, and 4) Del Dotto, which is one of the more famous Napa Valley vineyards due to the caves dug by the Chinese in the 1800's.

The vineyards were very pretty. Rachel and I are far from wine connoisseurs, so it was a bit like "the Bevery Hillbillies go wine tasting". It was also amazing in that it was 75 F on the coast and 105 F inland. We learned alot about wine making and tasting through the process.

At the end of the last tasting, we were dropped at our hotel, where we ate dinner and prepared for our adventures the next day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rachel's "Little Sis" Beth Visits Chicago

Beth, Rachel's little sister from Delta Zeta, came to visit us in Chicago during the last weekend in August. She lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband, JR and their 6-pound fighting dog, Bruiser. I had not seen Beth since our wedding almost 4 years ago, and it had been about 2 years since Rachel had seen her.

Beth and I fought traffic, after I picked her up from O'Hare on Friday afternoon and met Rachel downtown. They went to the Art Institute of Chicago, while I studied for finals, and then we met for dinner at The Grand Lux Cafe (any of our blog-readers who have visited us in Chicago will be well-familiar with this restaurant; I should hit them up for a blog sponsorship).

Saturday, we took the train to the city and had the customary Chicago-style pizza lunch at Giordano's (another potential sponsor target) and hit Michigan Avenue for 5 hours of shopping...

Rather than describing shopping on Michigan Avenue, I have decided to take you off the beaten path a bit (following the lead of my blogging idol Reed Stephenson) and reveal to you my guy's list of favorite places to visit while shopping on Michigan Avenue. #5 - Cleanest bathrooms - 3rd floor of the Nordstrom Mall on Michigan Avenue. They have family style restrooms, such as the one pictured, where the little buck-a-roo can stand alongside his old man and whizz away. #4 - Niketown - 3 floors of sports apparel. It is spectacular. #3 - The Apple Store - Laddy will kill me for not putting this as #1, and I must agree with him, that it is the best store on Michigan Avenue. Two floors of IPods, Mac's, AppleTV and every other gadget you can think of. The employees are brain-washed hippies who truly love what they are doing and would probably do it for free. #2 - LegoLand - it may sound childish, but there is nothing cooler than a 7-foot tall Lego Darth Vader, even to a 30-year old. #1 - Timothy O'Tooles - relax, catch a tasty beverage and watch sports on one of their MANY televisions, while the girls shop away (located at the corner of Fairbanks and Ontario). Bring your Kellogg student ID and get a 10% discount.

After all of that shopping, we grilled out at home.

Sunday, I dropped Rachel and Beth off at Lincoln Park Zoo. It was so crowded that I could not find parking, so I went back to park at the Northwestern Garage near Navy Pier. After touring the zoo, Rachel and Beth hiked from Lincoln Park Zoo to Navy Pier (for those who have visited Chicago, I estimate that is about 4 miles). We ended the evening with an architectural boat tour of the Chicago River. If you ever visit Chicago, this is a "Can't Miss".