Friday, May 28, 2010

Patriotism and School

Last night my oldest son and his classmates put on a school presentation. The presentation was about our government and its symbols. The presentation started off with the Pledge of Allegiance. I always get emotional when saying the Pledge. It means something to me to be an American.

The next part of the program talked about our National Anthem. The children did a wonderful job of presenting how Francis Scott Key was inspired to pen the words.

The children then went into the three branches of government. For the Legislative they put on the School House Rock "I'm Just a Bill". It was funny but also showed how a law starts with an idea and goes through the process of getting signed into law.

The executive branch was up next. For this one several students did brief presentations on past Presidents. My oldest did one of these presentations. His was on William McKinley. He did a tremendous job even having blood stains on his shirt to show where McKinley was shot by an assassin.

Next up was the Judicial branch. The kids did a short trial replicating the case of "B.B. Wolf vs Curly Tail Pig". It was a good performance even though I thought the jury got it wrong. Curly Tail is innocent I tell ya!

The most emotional part of the production came next. The meaning of the flag. The children explained why our colors are red, white and blue, why we have 13 stripes and why there are 50 stars. I learned why we have the colors we do.

The emotional part was having one of the teachers explain what the flag means to him. He's a member of the National Guard and is being deployed to Afghanistan in July. He was dressed in uniform and explained the flag while two of the children properly folded a flag. The flag was later presented to the teacher so that he could carry it with him during his deployment.

Finally everyone was invited to sing Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American". The chorus goes:

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
 This was the perfect time for this presentation. This is Memorial Day weekend where we should all take the time to remember those who have served our country. I'm glad the kids were able to learn about the importance of our government's structure, it's Anthem, Pledge and Flag. Hopefully they can join in the singing as I do "'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

USA World Cup Roster

I freely admit I am a soccer fanatic. Just ask my wife. I mean the reason I'm on crutches and in a knee brace right now is because I was playing the game and injured myself. So today was an exciting one for me.

The USA released the names of the 23 men who will compete in the World Cup in South Africa starting June 11th. There were a couple of surprises of who's on and who's off. The roster is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla, Mexico).

Left off the list were Chad Marshall, Heath Pearce, Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson.

The surprises for me were that Sacha Kljestan and Eddie Johnson not making the team. It just goes to show that there are options for the US in soccer now and that you have to EARN your spot on the team.

That said, I'm excited to see this team play. They have a warm-up match against Turkey in a few days. It would be good to see the starting line-up that Bob Bradley intends to send against England in this match. I would like to see how they play as a unit and how Bradley will use his substitutions. For my part I think the following will be the starting line-up against England June 12th:

Keeper: Tim Howard

Defenders: Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Spector, and Clarence Goodson

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark and Clint Dempsey. (Stuart Holden if five are played)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore and Edson Buddle (Buddle on the bench if five midfielders are played)

This is the line-up I think we will see against Turkey and in the first game against England.

In order for the US to do well in the World Cup the following players have to step up for the US to do well:

  • Oguchi Onyewu - He can anchor the defense and calm the nerves, if he doesn't the US will be sloppy and the goals will pour in
  • Jozy Altidore - He has to use his strength on the ball and either put it in the back of the net himself or lay it off effectively so Buddle or Donovan can
  • Ricardo Clark - He has to keep the defensive midfield steady and find Donovan in order for Donovan to shine
  • Clint Dempsey - We need to have the Dempsey who plays without fear and can be a force from the midfield
The match against Turkey will tell us something of how this team will play. Of course how they react on the Big Stage against a team the likes of England will be big as well. If they play timid they will get destroyed in the tournament. If they play confident then they should make the knock out stage easily.

I put their chances at 50/50 to make the quarter finals (winning their knock out game). If they win their group the chances go up to 60/40. Needless to say I'm stoked and can't wait for the games to begin.

Monday, May 24, 2010


In Luke chapter 10 a Lawyer asks Jesus what he can do to have eternal life. Jesus asks him how he interprets the law and the Lawyer says:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy aheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 
This past weekend I saw this teaching in action. The street I live on is a great example of what being loving neighbors means. We do not all share the same faith, yet we all share this teaching.

On Friday it was found that I have a Tibia Plateau Fracture. I was fitted with a brace and crutches. On returning home one of our neighbors was walking his dog and asked how I was. Without even hesitating he offered his assistance wherever he could help. Little did I know that the help would be needed so soon.

On Saturday my wife left to go to a canning workshop leaving me with the kids. No big deal, she would be gone for a couple of hours what could happen right? Well if you know my kids anything could happen and did. My oldest son was chasing my 2nd oldest daughter when she fell head first into the bench of our dining table. You guessed it, she gashed her head open. Now I'm hobbled but when the adrenaline flows you can do amazing things. I got to her fairly quickly and over to the sink in order to staunch the bleeding. I tried calling Cheryl with no success. My oldest ran outside and got one of the neighbors to come over.

There was a hole in my daughter's head. Needless to say it was freaky. 911 was called and paramedics came over to take a look. They agreed that she would just need stitches. I told them I would take her to the Urgent Care to get this done. This is where the neighbors come in.

The neighbor who came over offered to drive us to the Urgent Care. Another neighbor took the two boys over to his house so they could play. A third took my oldest daughter who has skating lessons with their daughter. The wife of the neighbor driving us took our youngest daughter with her. No complaints, no hesitation, just good people doing good things. I had no reservations about leaving my children with them. We trust each other implicitly.

We get to the Urgent Care and the neighbor who drove us stayed until Cheryl could come and take us home.

We are very grateful to have the neighbors we do and to have the good relationships with them. It's not only in an emergency that this happens on our street. Every day there are examples of being a good neighbor and living the teachings found in Luke above.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I was fortunate to see Games 5 and 7 of the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings first round series. There's nothing like the excitement of a playoff game to get your heart racing and your emotions running. However, there are a few things that I've noticed the past few years about the playoffs in all the major sports that bugs me.

1. Going from 5 game first rounds to 7. The powers will be will tell you that the better team will always win the seven game series. That's BULL! the real reason they moved to the 7 game series is money. In hockey you can see that the best team doesn't always win the best of 7 series. The top three seeds all lost their series in the Eastern conference this year. Five game series would still have put the #2 and 3 seeds out, but it would have been very different had games 4 and 5 been must wins.

2. Rule interpretations. In Basketball and Hockey the rules get interpreted more loosely in the playoffs. It's not an excuse for losing, but it is a fact that everyone knows. One instance was in game 7 between Phoenix and Detroit. There was an obvious interference call just before Detroit scored their third goal (on the power play that was a bogus call by the way). The third goal was a back breaker and even though I don't think Phoenix would have won the game, it should have been called and the goal shouldn't have been scored. Who knows what would have happened then?

3. Congratulations after the series. The only sport that gets this right is the NHL. The teams after each series line up at center ice and shake hands. Every kid growing up playing a sport does this. Line up and shake the other team's hand after a hard fought game. How different would it be if the NBA, MLB and NFL instituted such a standard. Granted in the NFL this would be difficult because of the number of players, but something could be done. It is a great showing of respect to both the winners and the losers.

4. Length of time between games and series. The number of days between games is ridiculous. It drags out the playoffs unnecessarily. Also, it gets the players out of rhythm. Players are used to playing a certain number of games in a certain number of days. Again this is done for money. It allows for more games to be on TV and try to get ratings. However, by the end of the playoffs the fans are tired of waiting for a champion and ultimately are glad that it's over.

5. Start times. The time of games get changed in the playoffs. This is especially true for teams on the West Coast. Teams are used to playing home games at a certain time and are geared for that. To play the games earlier to meet a "market need" for earlier time zones is just plain stupid. I will admit that this might have affected the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 7 of their series. Playing even an hour earlier can screw up a player's clock. I'd like to see an East Coast playoff game start at 10:00PM in order to allow for the West Coast team's fans to see the game in prime time. Do you think it would affect the East Coast team?

So there you have it, my gripes. After all of that however, I have to say there is nothing like playoff Hockey. The games are always intense. I would say Football comes second, with Baseball and Basketball in third and fourth. Of course I might be biased.

You can now return to your irregularly scheduled playoff games.