Thursday, May 15, 2008

Picture Perfect Friday ~ SummerTime Fun! ~

Okay, I cheated a little bit (or a lot) this week, but that's only because this week's theme is too big for 1 picture. These are all from our last vacation, in 2006, and were taken with my Minolta Maxxim 7000 - cropped in some cases after scanning.

Welcome to
~ Each week a theme will be posted up on Thursday, and you are invited to put up your best picture with that theme in mind, it should be just
i.e not off the internet,

By all means mention your camera and lens used, and if the picture has been altered or enhanced in anyway! Out of the box thinking is encouraged!!

Coach Takes One For The Team

The past year has been an interesting ride for the U11 Sharks. It has been a year of controversy, hard work, disappointment, and achievement. People have walked out, walked on, not shown up, and arrived late. We've played in the smog, in the smothering heat, in the rain, in the bone-chilling cold, in the snow, of all things, and in the wind. We lost some games we should have won, and won some we should have lost. Through all of this, progress has been consistently made towards the state rankings of the Gold team; as of 08 MAY 08, this is where they stood:

National ranking #144 out of 1232 u11 teams in the Nation.

Region III ranking # 95 out of 434 u11 teams in our region.

Georgia ranking # 29 out of 194 u11 teams in the state.

Having looked at some of the scores of the past year made these standings come as a bit of a surprise, until you consider the teams we have played this year, as compared to the teams that some of our opponents have played. We have played some pretty tough teams, who have handed us some of our losses, but the fact that we played them and lost has given us the advantage over some of the other teams that played lesser teams and won. These rankings are the best evidence of that advantage. That shows just how hard everyone has worked, and also how far we have yet to go.

So, as we near the end of this season, we commit to play the President’s Cup tournament. All the best teams go to the President’s Cup. Practices leading up to the tournament are grueling, and the coach tries to take all the things they’ve seen during the spring season and work on the weak spots and finesse the strong spots – the tourney is going to be tough, we have to be ready. The schedule comes out, and we are grouped with Athens – one of those games we should have won during regular-season play; here’s our chance for some payback! And, just as an added bonus, for the first time ever, we don’t have the first game of the day – either day!! Yay for us! See, those rankings are already paying off J Just as a little added incentive, the coach tells the boys, “If you guys make it to the finals, I’ll get a mohawk!”

So we arrive for our first game, against the Snellville Stokers. I don’t want to say it was a cake walk, because it was a tough game, but let’s just say the final score of 3-0 should have been more like 6-0; we capitalized on a few things, and missed a couple of others, but in the end, all to the good. Our second game is against Athens, and it’s time to show them how a passing team plays on a field bigger than a postage stamp. This game was a bit tougher, as Athens is a very physical team, and we really aren’t, but in the end, we came out victorious, with a score of 2-1! Take that, Athens! Notice I’ve made no mention of the reffing; that’s a whole other rant for another day. Suffice it to say it was less than stellar, and in no way advantageous to us.

So, we are in the semi-final round on Sunday, and playing a team we know nothing about, the Stone Mountain YSA. There are storms overnight, tornadoes and rain and all kinds of chaos, and who knows what shape the fields will be in for our 9:30 game. The games are all moved back 1 hour, to let the weather clear and fields dry, but there is a wind advisory in the area for the entire day – great. We always do so well when the weather is weird – not. So we arrive at the fields, and really, they aren’t in bad shape; a bit soggy, of course, but not mud pits as we thought they might be. And the wind advisory doesn’t disappoint; it’s blowing pretty steadily, and as the top layers dry out, there’s a red haze for about the first 6 inches above the ground, and everyone downwind is being sandblasted.

We watch the Stone Mountain team warming up; hmmm, this one’s going to be hard to call. They have some big boys, and they look quick, but their warm-up doesn’t show us much of their skill set. The game starts, and the wind is definitely a factor; corner kicks are just a disaster, not to mention, when the ball rolls out of bounds, it just keeps on going for 200 yards before we can get to it. We’re all going to be worn out just chasing the ball down, let alone actually playing! After 50 agonizing minutes, the game is tied 1-1. Since it’s the semi-final, we go to a 5-minute double-overtime (5 minutes in each direction). The score remains tied 1-1. All of the parents on are the edge of our seats (and cleaning the dust out of our eyes and mouths every 30 seconds)! So it comes down to penalty kicks, 5 from each team, alternating one at a time. Nails are bitten down to the quick, parents have their eyes covered, boys are visibly apprehensive, and the wind is just horribly annoying. After some just crazy saves, we remain tied, 2-2 in PKs! Oh my god – how long is this going to drag on??? Now to Sudden Death PKs. Stone Mountain kicks first – and it is saved by Chris!!! Up steps Abel to take ours, and you can see how unsure he looks; his dad has his shirt pulled up over his face and is pacing a hole into the ground behind us. Abel aims, steps, and it’s in!!!! We won!!!!! The team explodes onto the field, the Stone Mountain boys and parents are standing there in utter disbelief (a couple of which were probably looking for someone to punch; classy, huh?), it’s mayhem on the field, and the wind is just blasting merrily away!!! Holy cow, they’ve done it!!!!!!! We go on to the finals!!!!!

Back Row: Coach Will, Coach Todd

Middle Row: Simon, Josh, Kaleb, Chris, Nick, Jake, Chandler

Front Row: Connor, Cory, Abel, Michael, Will

So now we’ve got a couple of hours to kill, regroup, rehash the game. This is the point that I’ve come to realize that the game the coach sees and the game I see are usually vastly different, so if possible, I really try to just not discuss it. Perfect time for a snack and a nap. We have learned that the Stone Mountain team has not been beaten in regular season play, in fact has not been beaten since they lost the final round of last year’s President’s Cup. That’s a pretty impressive feather in the LSA cap, don’t you think? But we are meeting CSA – Columbus Soccer Assoc. – in the final, and we know they are tough; they didn’t get to the finals on good looks and charm. But then again, neither did we. So the coach has butterflies the size of pterodactyls, and the wind continues to blow. A picture is taken of the Finalist team, we are as prepared as we can be, we hope. The game starts, and it is indeed tough. A bit of controversial reffing (on par with the weekend, really), boys are getting tired, parents are down a couple of layers of skin, figuratively and physically, and 50 minutes later, after a heroic effort, the Sharks end the game down 2-0. Columbus are the U11 Champions. We go to the Awards Presentation, and the Sharks all receive silver medals, and the Columbus boys receive their gold medals, and the wind blows merrily on. As we are all wrapping up and preparing for the haul home, the promise of the Mohawk comes up; they did what the coach asked, they got to the finals, in spectacular fashion, I might add, so Mohawk it is. It just so happens that Kaleb’s mom is a licensed cosmetologist – hair-cutter, whatever – so she volunteers to do the job, at Tuesday’s practice. Yep, more practice, as we still have the canterbury Cup to prepare for.

It’s Tuesday, and all the parents are assembled; I even make it to ACSC to witness the event – I-85 was a parking lot only because I had to get up there on time. It has been arranged to have the office available, and the sweeper is ready, and Tab has her clippers and comb at the ready. Earlier in the day, I got a call from the coach; he was NOT looking forward to this at all, but that’s what he gets for opening his mouth – he’s not getting an ounce of sympathy from me (as usual). Everyone troops into the office, and the boys are all hooping and hollering, helping the coach to the chair. He gets his drape on, and the clippers are plugged in, and off it comes. Of course, Mr. Hard-Core Asst. Coach is really upset that this isn’t down to the scalp, in “true” Mohawk fashion, but hey, the coach still has to go to work on Wednesday, you know. It was pretty darn short with a #2 guard, but we all talked him into going down to #1. And no one had any gel – we forgot the gel! But, a can of hairspray did make an appearance, and Tab pulled that mess of curls up as well as she could. The boys were happy, though there was some discussion as to who was next – the parents were volunteering the kids who DID not volunteer themselves (Dylan), but in the end, only one scalping was had. Well done, everyone!!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the parents for a wonderful season, and thank you for your support of your coach and your players; we couldn’t have accomplished any of this without all of you. We hope to see everyone at tryouts, and look forward to kicking some more butt in the coming season!!!!!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Stupid Question # 132

Why do your shoes come untied when you are just sitting at your desk???? Or are there some gremlins in here that I can't see? WTF?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Just a Little Morning Chuckle

For those living in urban areas, The Onion has a wonderful article on a new government-sponsored program, here.

Language alert - definitely not kid- or virgin-ear-friendly....

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Zopf: Fear the Falcons

By Jonathan 718-3412

document.write(writeModDate("May 4, 2008 9:58 p.m."));

POSTED May 4, 2008 9:58 p.m.

There’s something going on down at Flowery Branch High School, and I’m not talking about the recent coaching changes or the public run-ins with the law.

No, what’s going on down at The Branch is a lot more positive than coaches leaving for other schools in the region or students getting caught doing illegal activities. What’s happening down at The Branch is winning, and a lot of it.

In just its fifth year of existence, the athletic program at the South Hall high school is quickly becoming one of, if not the most, successful programs in the county.

Just outside the Gwinnett County border, and although they have yet to bring home a state title to Flowery Branch, the Falcons are experiencing a rate of success comparable to such elite Gwinnett programs as Parkview and Brookwood.

Combined with the boys track team’s dominating performance at the Region 7-AAA meet in West Forsyth last Tuesday and the baseball team’s dramatic 4-3 win on Friday night against Lumpkin County, the Falcons have won a total of five region titles this year.

The boys cross country, basketball and soccer teams all were region champions this year.
But even when its teams aren’t winning region titles, Flowery Branch is still finding a way to represent Class AAA in the state playoffs. Since school began in August, the football, cross country (boys and girls), volleyball, basketball (boys), soccer (boys and girls), track (boys) and baseball teams all qualified for the state playoffs.

Even in individual sports the Falcons shined. Tom Pennington (wrestling), Danny Bell (wrestling), Ashley Hillie (track) and Sam Salyers (track) also sported the Falcon red and black during state competitions this year.

To say that Flowery Branch has had a successful year in athletics would not be giving the school justice.

And the Falcons still have a chance to improve on their historic year.

The third-ranked boys soccer team has reached the semifinals of the state tournament, and with a win against No. 2-ranked Westminster on Tuesday night at The Branch, the Falcons will be one game away from the school’s first state championship in any sport.

If the Falcons don’t bring back a title on the pitch, the pitching and hitting of the top-ranked baseball team in the state could very well bring a state championship back to The Branch.
Flowery Branch’s baseball team opens the state tournament on Friday against Riverwood, and if they beat Region 5-AAA’s No. 4 seed twice in a three-game series, the Falcons could very well to be on their way to a state title.

Recently I asked Flowery Branch’s athletic director Shannon Benton about some of the goings on at the high school, specifically the training methods of the athletes. Benton said that the athletes at the school get there at 6:30 a.m. to train and lift weights, and after the training is complete they are awarded with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I’m not sure what kind of peanut butter the school is using, but whatever kind it is, they better not switch brands any time soon.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Late push lifts Flowery Branch soccer team

For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/03/08

LaGrange stayed with host Flowery Branch for nearly 78 minutes, but it wasn't quite enough Friday night.

Kyle Ellis broke the scoreless deadlock with 2:05 left in the contest when he took a crossing pass from Alex Jovel in front of the goal, juked right and slid a shot in past Grangers goalkeeper Donnie Palmer from 10 yards out for a 1-0 win and a berth in the AAA soccer semifinals.

Jovel's pass came in from the left side to Ellis, who was positioned in front of the goal about 15 yards out. Ellis took the pass, drew Palmer out, then moved left and took the winning shot in the center of the net.

Flowery Branch coach Jeremy Purdy's halftime words to his players turned out to be prophetic.

"This is going to be a fight to the end," he told his team at halftime with the Falcons locked in a 0-0 tie with LaGrange (15-5-2). "We've got to push it in."

Flowery Branch (18-1-1) attacked the goal all night, but the Grangers proved that they were up to the task, turning the Falcons back time after time. Palmer made several diving saves and came out of the goal time and time again to thwart the Falcons.

But it was his aggressiveness that opened the door for Ellis and Flowery Branch.

"We knew from our scouting that he likes to come out of the goal," Purdy said, "and we went over a couple of things that we could to do to tweak our attack so we could get around the goalkeeper, play it softly and take it in."

LaGrange had its opportunities, getting several shots on goal, but the Grangers were unable to convert.

Flowery Branch was able to kill the clock after Ellis' goal, sealing the win and a berth in the final four.

"The forwards made it happen," Ellis said.

"We had been working the throughball all night, and Alex just made a great pass. I made a move to the side and was able to push it in."

From the Saturday, 5/3, edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The photo is mine.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A List of Books I Have Read

After the comments on Mel's post about that list of 100 Books, I decided to try to come up with my own list of books I have read. This list is in no way all-inclusive, but it does cover the majority of my reading over the last 25 years or so - the major series and my favorite authors included. Of course, I can't remember that many library books that I've borrowed. I am trying to work in more of the "classics", but as my favorite books are 1000 pages, I don't go through books in a week, and definitely not when I'm really stitching.

Anyway, here are the highlights, followed by what's left in my To Be Read basket (the new library can't open soon enough!) - not in any particular order (the order I remembered them, actually :) ):
  1. The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, Bernard Cornwell
  2. The 6 Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir
  3. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  4. The Princes of Ireland, Edward Rutherfurd
  5. The Last Templar, Raymond Khoury
  6. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  7. 1776, David McCullough
  8. About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, Col. David Hackworth
  9. Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose
  10. The Winter King, Bernard Cornwell
  11. The Archer’s Tale, Bernard Cornwell
  12. The Enemy of God, Bernard Cornwell
  13. Stonehenge, 2000 B.C.: A Novel, Bernard Cornwell
  14. Pompeii, Robert Harris
  15. All 7 Harry Potter novels, J.K. Rowling
  16. The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory
  17. The Virgin’s Lover, Philippa Gregory
  18. Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Robin Maxwell
  19. The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I & the Pirate O’Malley, Robin Maxwell
  20. The Queen’s Bastard, Robin Maxwell
  21. The Tidal Poole, The Thorne Maze, The Queen’s Cure, The Twylight Tower, The Poyson Garden, Karen Harper
  22. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  23. The Camulod Chronicles (7 books), Jack Whyte
  24. London, Edward Rutherfurd
  25. Sarum, Edward Rutherfurd
  26. The 6 original books in the Dune series, Frank Herbert
  27. House Atreides, Harkonnen, & Corrino, Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
  28. The Guenevere Cycle (3 books), Rosalind Miles
  29. The 7 Books of the Dark Tower Series, Stephen King
  30. Every book Stephen King wrote from Carrie and before Storm of the Century, except The Green Mile.
  31. Every book by Anne Rice in the Vampire Chronicles except the last, Blood Canticle, and the Mayfair Witches; Cry to Heaven; Exit to Eden; Belinda; and one of my favorites, The Mummy: or Ramses the Damned
  32. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein
  33. The Outlander series (6 to date), Diana Gabaldon
  34. Lord John and the Private Matter, Diana Gabaldon
  35. Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
  36. The first 4 books of the Earth’s Children series, Jean M. Auel
  37. The Ender series, Ender’s Game through Shadow of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card
  38. The Alvin Maker series (6 books), Orson Scott Card
  39. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, Orson Scott Card
  40. The Homecoming Saga (5 books), Orson Scott Card
  41. A group of the Xanth books, Piers Anthony
  42. The Belgariad series (I think I read 7 of 8), David (and Leigh) Eddings
  43. The Malloreon series (5 books), David Eddings
  44. The Elenium series (3 books), David Eddings
  45. The Tamuli series (3 books), David Eddings
  46. Animal Farm, George Orwell (quite possibly the book I hated the most, ever)
  47. A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  48. The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown
  49. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
  50. Several Patricia Corwell books – Postmortem through The Body Farm
  51. Several Clive Cussler books in the Dirk Pitt group – Sahara, Shock Wave, Inca Gold
  52. The Odyssey, Homer (3 times – once was enough)
  53. Beowulf, unknown
  54. Memoirs of Cleopatra, Margaret George
  55. The Autobiography of Henry VIII, Margaret George
  56. Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, Margaret George
  57. Night, Eli Wiesel
  58. Shield of Three Lions, Pamela Kaufman
  59. Maia, Richard Adams
  60. Aztec & Aztec Autumn, Gary Jennings
  61. The Journeyer, Gary Jennings
  62. Raptor, Gary Jennings
  63. The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
  64. Mexico and Hawaii, James Michener
  65. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  66. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle – one of my all-time favorites!
  67. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis. I read to the boys most of the one that precedes this one, too, though they lost interest, so I quit.
  68. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  69. The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and That Was Then, This is Now, S.E. Hinton
  70. Several of those Flowers in Attic books by V.C. Andrews
  71. Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, and Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
  72. From Shakespeare, I have read these completely: Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Hamlet, and I think one other. I have also read excerpts from many others, and/or seen them performed.
  73. Birds of Prey, River God, and Blue Horizon, Wilbur Smith
  74. Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (I hate Dickens)
  75. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough
  76. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCort (this was a HUGE piece of self-indulgent crap)
  77. I, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Jenkins
  78. A Love Never Forgotten, Samir Garib (the kid from Bosnia that works with my DH)
  79. The Life of Elizabeth I, Alison Weir
  80. A LOT of the Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys mysteries, when they were re-released in the late 70’s, early 80’s in the hardback w/yellow spines – my sister bought the complete sets of both, and lost them when her ex caught the garage on fire, where they were stored.
  81. All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
  82. The entire Necroscope series (13 books), Brain Lumley

In The To Be Read Basket:

  1. The Queen’s Fool, Philippa Gregory
  2. The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory
  3. The Rebels of Ireland, Edward Rutherfurd
  4. The Forest, Edward Rutherfurd
  5. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  6. I, Elizabeth, Rosalind Miles
  7. The Children of Henry VIII, Alison Weir
  8. Innocent Traitor, Alison Weir
  9. Codex, Lev Grossman
  10. Lords of the North, Bernard Cornwell