Friday, November 28, 2008

Sienna Austin

A couple of weeks ago, Kelly Birdwell Austin presented at a medical convention in Philadelphia. We were lucky enough to catch up a couple of times while she was in town. She and I had dinner on Thursday evening, when she arrived. Her husband, Eric, and little girl, Sienna, arrived on Friday. Eric did his undergraduate work at Penn, so they caught up with some of his friends on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday morning, Rachel and I took them to brunch and got to see Sienna in person for the first time since last Christmas. She is about a year and a half old now, spunky and talking. She is a ball of energy (takes after both of her parents in that respect).

Friday, November 21, 2008

New York City - The Return of Schwabbie

Rachel and I visited New York City on Saturday November 1. This time, we drove to Trenton, NJ (about 35 minutes from our house) and caught the New Jersey Rail into Penn Station. This is the economical way to do NYC. Round trip tickets were $25 each.

When we arrived at Penn Station, we quickly spotted a couple of girls, in costume, who were obviously on their way home from the night before (Halloween). Mind you, we didn't arrive in NYC at 8 AM. We got there after lunch!!! These girls were ROCK STARS!!!

Thanks to Katherine Todd and her son, Ethan, for letting us stay at their apartment. KT and her boyfriend, John, are pictured with Rachel outside of the Wharf Bar in Manhattan. We watched UT get blistered by South Carolina, with Jim Schwab (pictured in the title shot), who was visiting from Switzerland. He works overseas for Honeywell.

We spent the afternoon with Katherine and John, catching up on old times. We then went out for a nice dinner in Manhattan and headed to the bar to meet Jim. It was a wonderful weekend catching up with old friends. I won't mention the UT vs. South Carolina game other than to say, "We watched it." Luckily, the comradery took my mind off of the huge loss.

Sunday, Katherine and John took us to a wonderful brunch at Bubby's. After brunch, we went for a walk near KT's and Ethan's apartment. This picture, and the one in front of the United Nations Building (below) were taken on our walk. It was a beautiful day, especially for November.

We caught a 3 PMish train back to Trenton. We were home by 5:30 PM to begin getting ready for the upcoming week of work.

REFLECTIONS - Pharewell Phil

Much has been written on this story already, so I will keep it brief.

I wish Phil Fulmer good luck and God speed. He has been extremely loyal to the University of Tennessee and has brought a lot of good memories into the lives of Tennessee Football fans. He is a class act, who never threw any of his players under the bus, even when he probably should have.

That said, it is time for a change. I defended Coach Fulmer through the early part of this season. As I watched Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, I thought, "Things could be worse." It was apparent at the South Carolina game that change is needed. Wyoming proved that "Things cannot get worse."

Some out there like to point to Penn St. as a shining example of how to treat a coach. They have allowed Joe Pa to stay around WAY past his prime. I have 2 responses to that. 1) The Law of Averages states that given enough seasons, Tennessee would have returned to glory for a year, much as Penn St. has in 2008. How many losing seasons are we willing to endure? 2) UT is in the SEC. In the Big 10, you can get by with mediocrity. That is why someone from the SEC whips the Big 10 winner by 3 touchdowns each year in the BCS Championship game. Speed kills, and it sure as heck kills a mediocre team.

For those who criticize the decision by the argument, "When did college football become about the money?" Answer: When we got million $ TV contracts, lucrative athletic sponsorships, ridiculous coaching salaries and rising ticket prices. I am more guilty in supporting this injustice than most, as I pay way too much for season football tickets, and I am glued to the TV every Saturday watching overpaid coaches of schools with big shoe deals throw the pigskin around. Unfortunately, as long as my team wins, I will continue to buy those season tickets and pay Direct TV for the College Game Day Package, so I can watch them play. Fulmer stopped putting butts in chairs, and that is why he is gone.

I conclude with this... I have heard many hurl insults and very hurtful comments at Coach Fulmer during this disappointing season. He may have not earned the contract extension that Hamilton gave him last year, but he has darn sure earned our respect for the success he has built at the University of Tennessee and for the class he has displayed throughout his tenure.