Sunday, March 27, 2011

Final Four!

Whoo-hoo!!! After 13 years, the University of Kentucky is back in the Final Four. When I first saw the seed Kentucky got (they should have been a 3 at least) and saw they'd most likely have to beat Ohio State and North Carolina, I thought they'd never do it. I'm glad I was wrong.

We stayed up late Friday night to watch them play the number one team - Ohio State. They played lock-down defense and won on a shot by Brandon Knight with 5 seconds to go. I didn't know if they could recover emotionally from that to play well today. They did! They beat North Carolina by 7. The game was tied was just a few minutes left, but UK rode a couple of clutch threes by Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins to win by 7.

We left the car with the score 70-69 and went into church. People crowded around me as I kept up with the score on my Blackberry. We saw that Liggins hit a three with 35 seconds left just before we started services. Then, I saw the final where they'd won!

But that isn't the best thing of all. For years, I've put in an application to try and get tickets to the Final Four. I first tried in 1984 when the Final Four was in Rupp Arena - the year Villinova upset Georgetown. I've never gotten the tickets. In August of this year, I got this email..

Dear Stuart Yancy
Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that a random computerized program selected your application for tickets to the 2011 NCAA Men's Final Four, to be held April 2 and 4 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas

I honestly thought it was Spam. I did some research and even examined the email headers (being an email admin has it's benefits) and finally realized it was legitimate. I still didn't entirely believe it until I got an application to request a parking pass. The tickets actually showed up February! I figured I would end up selling them especially when the NCAA made it's bizarre ruling not allowing Enes Kanter to play. Again, I was wrong.

So, we'll be heading for Houston on Friday...

Monday, March 7, 2011

United Airlines...

Recently, our local airport (Barkley Regional) changed carriers. We used to fly Northwest to Memphis. Now, it's United to O'Hare. I've heard good and bad about the new service, but never tried it myself. I had to make a trip to our company headquarters a few weeks ago, so I would find out myself.

I was in Lexington visiting Josh, so I ended up flying out of Bluegrass Airport. They run a similar service to O'Hare as Barkley except they run four flights a day. I knew I was in trouble after Donna dropped me off and I went to the kiosk to check in. I heard the agent tell the guy in front of me "Well, we'll need to adjust everyone's itinerary". Turns out there was bad winter weather in Chicago and all flights were backed up. I ended up with a backup flight to Dulles (instead of Reagan) for my trip. I sat at the gate and they kept bouncing the times of departure around. My original time was 10:40, but they moved that to 12:30 then 1 then 1:30. I had checked the FAA web site and they said flights were delayed 2.5 to 3 hours.

Our pilot ended up loading us on the plane about 12:30 just in case a slot opened up before 1:30. Well, it didn't. So, we just sat there for an hour before we left. We got there just in time for me to miss my flight to Reagan. Turns out the gates for the smaller United flights (from Paducah and Lexington for example) come into a totally different terminal than the main United flights. It's easily a 15 to 20 minute walk. I got an alert saying I had already been moved to my backup flight to Dulles. I went to the gate and the agent assigned my seat. I showed her my baggage claim and asked about my luggage. She assured me that my luggage would be routed automatically to Dulles on my new flight.

I got on my laptop to change my rental car arrangements from Reagan to Dulles. I also saw there was a Winter Storm Warning for Bethesda. So, I changed my hotel to the closest one to HQ. I also set up up my final night at at Hampton Inn close to Dulles so I wouldn't have a tough drive that morning.

The flight to Dulles went fine. I waited for my luggage and it never came out. I went to a kiosk and was told "It was en-route". I waited some more and finally found a United baggage person. They checked and said "Oh, your luggage is at Reagan". I was incredulous and started to make my point about how I was told "it would be rerouted to Dulles automatically". I was then told that "Well, you'll just have to go to Reagan and get it".

Well, this is not as easy as it sounds. Reagan is a good 30 mile - 45 min drive. It had started to freezing rain. Plus, I had no idea how to get there and my cell phone (with GPS) was on its last legs. It finally died on me as I got close. After several wrong turns, I finally got there. My luggage was sitting in the baggage claim office. I grabbed it and managed the stumble my way (after a few more wrong turns) back to my hotel.

The rest of the trip went fine. I went to a fine Wednesday night Bible study at Clarkeville church of Christ. The preach there was from Fulton KY. I had little trouble getting to Dulles the next day and the trip home was fine. It was sure nice to see Donna waiting for me when I got off the plane and into Barkley.

I learned some lessons. One, I have a phone charger that I could use in a car still in shrink wrap! I unwrapped that and put it in my laptop case for future use. Two, I need to be more certain of my luggage re-route next time. Three, I should have checked the conditions at O'Hare before I ever went to the airport. I could have stayed in my hotel room for a few more hours and relaxed.

There isn't much I can do about O'Hare and weather. In the winter, it's going to have a lot more issues than Memphis did. I'll have to allow for that. What disappointed me was nobody at United ever said "I'm sorry about your luggage" Their attitude was almost as if "Oh well, that's just the way it goes".

I may give them one more shot. I will give the Nashville to Baltimore route on Southwest another serious look next time though. The main disadvantage to that is at least when I do get to Paducah, I am 15 minutes from home. At Nashville, I still have a 2.5 hour drive in front of me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

25 years!

Yesterday, Donna and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I remember thinking all those years ago that "I'll be almost 50 when we've been married 25 years". Well, that day has come.

It's been a wonderful 25 years. We sat down today and just reflected on our past 25 years. We couldn't honestly come up with any really bad things that have happened. We have of course had disagreements and arguments, but we've always managed to work things out. We've lived in three different places (an apartment in Lone Oak, a rental home on the Ballard/McCracken County line and our current home). We've raised two fine young Christian men who have bright futures in front of them.

I was blessed by God to have Donna in my life. I dated a few girls before her, but I'd never met anyone like her. She's the perfect woman. She's beautiful and smart and can be the most gracious lady and also roll up her sleeves and do hard work when the need arises. She's amazing with words and letters (I won't play her in Scrabble, she always destroys me). She's embraced being in a home with three men who love sports. She's supported all of us through all of our sporting endeavors. She's even embraced following Baseball, the NFL and College Basketball simply because I enjoy all of these so much. She's pretty athletic herself. She made the decision right after we got married to take on the job of stay at home mom because she felt it was best for our family.

She teaches me lessons all the time on how to be kind and loving towards others. She also doesn't believe there isn't anything she cannot do. Never tell her "You can't do that"; most likely she'll prove you wrong. She's my biggest fan in everything I do. She still thinks I am the most wonderful guy in the world. She's my encourager when I'm feeling down but knows when I need a "pull up your bootstraps" talk too. She's helped me be a much more faithful Christian.

I could talk for hours about her but I'll let the above suffice for now. I can't wait to see what the next 25 have in store for us..