Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It was a very good year...

The consensus from reading other people's Facebook comments, blogs, etc is most people are hoping 2009 is much better than 2008. I personally feel kinda guilty because I thought 2008 was pretty good.

Sports - Jonathan's Giants beat the supposedly unbeatable Patriots to win the Super Bowl. My Arizona Cardinals won their first division championship in 33 years. UK made it to its third bowl game in a row.

Family - My nephew James Brody Strong made his debut into the world on January 23rd. My mom, brother, and father-in-law all had major surgery but all are doing well and had major issues taken care of that will help them in the future.

Jonathan - Jonathan qualified for state in 4x800 and his Ballard Bombers won the Region 1a track championship and finished 2nd in the state. He ran his first 10k and marathon. He was valedictorian of his class and won enough scholarships to cover his entire college education.

Josh - Josh's tennis team had its best season ever and he worked his way to up the 3rd seed on the team. He was part of that region champ track team too. He was selected to the prestigious Governor's Scholar Program for the summer. He also was selected to be part of the media team to cover the October Endeavor Space Shuttle launch. He was MVP of the cross country team.

Donna and I -We celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. Donna accepted the position of co-secretary at Central church of Christ. I ran my first 5k and ran a couple more to boot. We both read the Bible all the way through.

There were some sad things. My cousins Bruce and Larry passed away. The presidential election didn't turn out the way I hoped.

Of course, my investments lost a bundle. But, I am still blessed with a good job, a great wife and sons, a loving family and wonderful Christian brethren. All the money in the world can't buy that kind of happiness..

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Bob Noble Park is known for several things today. Wacinton (the big Chickasaw Statue), the home of the St. Mary Cross Country Invitational, and the annual Christmas light display. If you ask anybody over 30 or so though, they'll probably mention "Funland".

Why am I waxing nostalgic? I was on Facebook and saw a group called "I rode amusement rides at Bob Noble Park in Paducah.". Reading the comments brought a flood of memories back about the old amusement park there.

Riding hand cranked cars around a track. They had a height limit and it was a sad day when I was too tall.

The haunted house where you walked around in the dark most of the time. It was eventually replaced by one you rode in cars to get through.

The helicopter ride where you could move a lever back and forth and make them go up and down.

The lion water fountain where you had to stick your head into the mouth of the lion and speak to get a drink.

The Merry Mixer and the Tilt-A-Whirl. The Paratrooper and the Spider.

My first try at bumper cars. I couldn't even get the car backed out of its spot. I was traumatically affected and never rode bumper cars for years afterwards until I had sons of my own.

My first ride on the Wild Mouse roller coaster (when I got tall enough and old enough). I remember thinking the car was going to fly off into the duck pond. My mom said I looked "pale as a ghost" when I got off.

Riding the Ferris Wheel and always wondering about what it'd be like to kiss a girl when we were at the very top. I finally did even though my girlfriend was petrified of heights. Donna is still scared of heights to this day...

Becoming a Skee-ball master and trying to impress my date by winning a bunch of stuffed animals. We still have some of those at home.

Riding the circular swings and my Cardinal cap coming off and my mom telling how the ride operator caught it to give back to me when we were done.

And our tradition of riding the train around the park as the last thing we did before we left. I imagine I sneaked in a kiss from that same girl when we went through the tunnel...

I saw a video where it had been 20 years since they closed the park and auctioned everything off. I'd loved to have bought that lion water fountain or one of those Skee-ball games... :-)

Friday, December 12, 2008

NFC West champions!

I just have to express my extreme happiness in saying "Arizona Cardinals, 2008 NFC West champions!!!!"

The last time they won a division championship was in 1975 when they were in the NFC East. The last time they hosted a playoff game was 1947! I think long-suffering would apply here.

Jonathan said somebody at church accused me of being a front-runner when they found out I was a Cardinals fan. If they only knew... I still have a St Louis Cardinals sweatshirt I wore when I was in middle school stashed safely away in my memories box.

My commemorative t-shirt is already on order from

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Marathon Man

Jonathan finished a very successful running career at Ballard Memorial this past spring. He went to state in both cross country and track and was part of the best Ballard Memorial track team ever (they won the Class A First Region and finished second in the state in Class A).

I presume he was looking for a new challenge when he announced this end of the summer that he wanted to run a marathon. The obvious choice was the St. Judes marathon in Memphis in December. He began training and working up to the distance. It turns out that most traning programs don't ever have you run a full 26 miles. The most you run is 20 miles. He worked very hard.

He ran in the Pumpkin Run 10k (6.2 miles) and he finished well (9th overall and 1st in his age range). Of course, this would be nothing compared to the marathon.

We left Friday for Memphis and stopped at the convention center to pick up his packet with his bib, shirt and timing chip. We checked into our hotel downtown and then went to see my brother. He was doing better and able to go home. He still has to have a nurse visit regularly to dress his wound and he has a long road to recovery still ahead of him. We went to dinner with my sister Melissa, my brother-in-law Richard and my almsot one year nephew Brody. We got back to the hotel and rested and went to bed.

We got up and got ready. Jonathan grabbed some food for the race and we walked to the start line. It was cold. The temperature was 31 with a breeze and overcast. We walked around for a while and then Jonathan lined up in his "corral". The runners line up in corrals based on their expected time per minute. They release the elite runners (i.e "really fast") first and then wait two minutes to release the next corral until everybody is off. There are 11,000 runners waiting to run in the half and full marathons so they have to do it like this.

I ran back to the hotel and to the 3 mile marker and waited but I must have missed him. I went back and ate breakfast and went to meet him at the 13.1 mile marker (half way). He gave me the thumbs up and he looked OK. I ran back to our hotel and packed our luggage. Richard tried to come by and get me so we could see Jonathan at 19 miles (by their house). He couldn't get through all the runners in time so I didn't get to see him there.

The race ends in Auto Zone park (home of the Memphis Redbirds the Cardinals AAA club). I went there after loading the car up with our luggage and checking out of the hotel. I waited and finally saw him coming in! He made in 4:01 which wasn't quite his goal of 4 hours but close enough. As expected, he was really tired and hurting a bit. He got himself some food and went out front for me to pick him up. I picked up him up and we headed for home. As you would expect, he slept most of the way home.

He was sore this morning, but happy. I am very impressed at how he set a goal and worked hard to reach it. He's already talking about going back next year and he tells me I need to run the half. I guess I better start working on it soon...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Space Shuttle launch...

Finally, here is footage from the Space Shuttle launch narrated by my favorite news anchor.