Saturday, April 30, 2011

Decision Points

I normally don't buy a lot of books new. Books are one of those things you can pick up at an incredible discount if you are just a bit patient. However, I really wanted to read George W Bush's book Decision Points. I respected him as President. I didn't agree with everything he did or said. I know quite a few people didn't like him. Several called him "that Cowboy President" as if that were an insult. Personally, I think a cowboy is as American as you can get, so I didn't have a problem with a Cowboy as President.

Anyway, Amazon had the book for half price when it came out, so I gave in and bought it. I read a lot of it on my ill fated flight to DC that I've already blogged about. I finally finished it last week. It's not written like your normal autobiography. Instead of being a chronological writing of his life, he breaks the books into chapters about big "Decision Points" in his life (hence the book's title). It's quite interesting. He lays out why he made the decisions he did and how hard some of them were. Like I said, I didn't always agree with what he did, but this book helps me understand why he decided what he did. He even admits mistakes he made and regrets he has.

I really liked the chapter called "Stem Cells". I remember this being a big controversy. If you read the chapter and especially the part about "Snowflakes", you can understand why he made the decision against allowing using human embryos for stem cells (which was correct in my mind). Two other things permeate the book which I think are great. One is his love for his family especially his wife Laura. Second, he started every day of his presidency with reading the Bible. If this man with all his responsibilities could make sure he did that every day, none of us have any excuse (especially me) for not spending time with God's Word every day.

It's certainly a book I'd highly recommend.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bad Knight....

Bobby Knight is woven into the fabric of UK basketball as few others are. When I think of that the big rival game was when I first started rooting for the Wildcats, it was Indiana and UK. They were always good and ran a brutal picking offense that was tough to guard. I remember the first season I really got into UK basketball in 1974-75. Kentucky won its first few games and then traveled to Bloomington to play the Hoosiers. They lost by 24 but it wasn't even that close. Indiana mopped up the floor with UK. But that isn't what UK fans remember about they game. Late in the game, Bobby Knight was screaming at the refs about a call that went against his team (probably the only one in the game). Coach Joe Hall said something like "Go get 'em Bobby". As Joe turned back to the UK bench, he felt a blow across the back of his head. Bobby Knight had come after him trying to fight him. Knight was pulled away. I am sure UK used this as encouragement (along with the help of sharpshooting guard Mike Flynn who ironically was from Indiana) to upset the undefeated Hoosiers in the finals of the NCAA Southeast region.

I remember having a level of respect for Coach Knight at one point. He was the coach of the USA team in the 1979 Pan-American games. UK's Kyle Macy was a point guard on that team. A Cuban player suckered punched Macy and broke his jaw. The player received a one game suspension. Macy couldn't play for the rest of the games (which the US won). Knight traveled to Macy's home to give him his gold medal. Of course, Bobby Knight left the games on bail after being accused of a scuffle with a policeman.

Coach Knight ended up doing various things such as throwing a chair, choking one of his own players, and launching profanity laced tirades against refs, announcers and fans. He was eventually fired from Indiana. Now he's incurred the ire of UK fans.

A few days ago, Bobby Knight stated on ESPN that "none of UK's players in the 2009-2010 season went to class". His data was immediately protested by UK AD Mitch Barnhart, as well as Patrick Patterson and Demarcus Cousins. Even fellow ESPN commentators spoke against him. He followed up with a half-hearted apology saying he shouldn't have personnally mentioned UK. He didn't apologize at all for falsely accusing the players. I can offer eye-whiteness proof for at least three players.

Josh called me very excitedly at the start of the 2010 Spring Semester to tell me that all of the UK Freshmen players were in his Geology class. He said they attended regularly. Eric Bledsoe, Demarcus Cousins and John Wall were in there. They even attended after the season ended and even while signed up for the draft. We held out hope that they would return since they were still going to class (but of course they didn't).

I hope UK keeps the heat on Knight and ESPN for an actual apology stating he put out totally erroneous and unsubstantiated information against UK.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Cousin Eddie..

I was doing my usual after work relaxation of watching Dragnet Tuesday when the phone rang. Josh generally calls at that time to talk to Donna on his way home from work. Donna came to tell me it was my sister Jody. When I got on the phone, I knew it was bad news, but I still couldn't believe it. She told me my cousin Eddie had died. I was absolutely surprised. He had some issues with his lungs and breathing but this was certainly unexpected. He was only 55.

Eddie was my cool cousin. I remember going to Reidland to see my Uncle Bill and Aunt Lee Anna when I was a kid. It seemed like a really big deal to go all the way to Reidland on a drive. They had a very nice house with a big basement. My Uncle Bill had a lot of radio equipment that looked like it belonged in the Bat Cave. They had Charles Chips which were potato chips delivered directly to their house in a large metal can that were excellent. I enjoyed playing with my little cousin Martha Sue. But I was always hoping I'd see my cousin Eddie. He was about 6 years older than me. He was a very talented musician. He was good looking young man, he was even in some clothing ads for a local clothing store. He dressed very cool and all the girls thought he was handsome. But despite all that, he wasn't aloof or stuck up at all. He always would always talk to me and ask how I was and genuinely listen and be interested in what I said. I was always in awe of him. As I got older, we would talk about music. He loved the Beatles and so did I. I saw the Rolling Stones in concert when I was at UK and he wanted to know all the details about the show since he'd seen them before.

The one thing I would say was most impressive to me about him was Eddie's singing voice. He had once of the best singing voices I've ever heard. I was not blessed with a good singing voice. When the Bible talks about "making a joyful noise", that is me. He was in several rock bands in his life. I remember my sister-in-law telling us once that someone had mentioned "Yancy,Barnhill and Dunkerson" once on the radio asking if that was me and my good friend Dr Jeff just laughed and laughed. When people met me, they'd often ask "Are you related to Eddie Yancy?"

I remember going to see his band "White Horse" play with my friend Rick Alvey (This was of course before I started spending weekends with a certain beautiful brown haired, brown eyed girl). I remember after the first set, I just waved and said "Hey Eddie" (not wanting to bother him). He said "Hey" and then rushed over to where I was sitting and hugged me and said he was so glad to see me. He sat and talked to me until he had to go back on stage. He made me feel really special. After each set, he would come over and sit with Rick and me and talk. Later he sang the song "Little Pink Houses" by John Cougar. Instead of singing 'Cause they told me when I was younger Said boy, you're gonna be president', he sang 'Cause they told me when I was younger Said Stuart, you're gonna be president'. Rick looked at me and we laughed. After that set, Eddie came up to me and laughed too. He said "I remember when you were younger you told us you wanted to be president". He really DID listen to all those things we talked about. Then he leaned over and said "Stuart, you won't be like most of these people, they'll never make make anything of their lives". "You are different, you'll make something of your life, I know you'll be a successful man". That made me feel really great.

We saw each other off and on through the years at family gatherings. He was always nice and personable to me and everyone he talked to. As my brother mentioned today at Eddie's funeral, he had that great laugh that just automatically made you happy when you heard it. I remember talking with him at his brother Bruce's funeral a few years ago. He said he lived in Kevil and we needed to see more of each other since we lived that close. To my shame, we didn't. I'll miss him a lot.

Please keep my cousin Martha Sue (his sister) and my Uncle Bill and Aunt Lee Anna in your prayers. They've lost two brothers/sons as young men (in their 50's).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Houston, we have a problem.

We left Friday for our trip to Houston within minutes of Josh's arrival home from Lexington. We did not plan to go the whole distance on Friday. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Arkadelphia Arkansas.

I got an incredible deal there. I am a Hilton Honors member. The rooms were only 7500 points apiece (generally a Hampton runs 20k to 30k points). I was able to get a room for Jonathan and Josh and one for Donna and I for 15k points each. The hotel was just as nice as any other Hampton I've ever stayed in.

We left that morning. We got off I-30 after reaching Texas. It was very interesting to drive on Texas roads. Highways similar to New Highway 60 here have a speed limit of 70. You slow down to 55 to 60 upon entering towns. We stopped at a Whattaburger. I've always wanted to try one of these after seeing them on "King of the Hill". I was not disappointed, the burgers were excellent.

We made great time. We got to our hotel outside of Houston about 3:00pm. Again, I got a deal. I got two studio suites at the Towneplace Suites for 70.00 each. We rested for a bit and headed out to the game (leaving Donna there). It was about a 30 minute drive to Reliant Stadium. I had bought a parking pass already and there was plenty of parking so we had no trouble. We even had time to walk to Jack in the Box to eat. We got into the stadium in plenty of time for the Butler VCU game.

Our seats were on the 2nd level. It was a very bizarre looking setup. I'd never seen a basketball court in a football stadium. It wasn't even in the center of the stadium. We were further away on our end than people on the other end. But all in all, our seats were fine. The people in the lower arena in the end zones had it worse. The seats were not tiered so the people had to stand up the whole time.

The first game started. It was close the whole way. Butler finally pulled away at the end to win. There were quite a few VCU and Butler fans. UConn had the fewest. Of course, UK had the most. I would guess over half the stadium was UK fans. The guy next to me actually lived in Houston and was there simply to "see good basketball"

The UK UConn game finally started. It was a bad omen when UK won the tip. They had lost the tip in the other games they'd won in the tourney. They forced numerous turnovers but had trouble scoring. They had a slight lead but finally UK got down by 10 at the half. They rallied to take a lead by two on some decent three point shooting. They missed numerous opportunities to pad their lead and UConn took the lead. Even with all that, UK never wilted. They stole the ball with 16 seconds left down two. Alas, they couldn't get off a decent shot. UConn hit two foul shots and UK a three at the buzzer to lose by 1. It was very sad. They reverted to old form where the three freshman scored most of the points and the three upper classmen did little.

We had already decided to go home if UK lost. Fortunately, the guy next to me wanted to bring his fiancee to the championship game. He bought my ticket. I sent Josh and Jonathan to the car to get it. I threw in my Monday parking pass. He was a very nice guy and enjoyable to talk to. When I got to the car, Josh informed my that he had manged to sell our other two tickets! I had however made a deal with Josh that he'd get 50% of any tickets he sold, so that worked out for him at least.

Leaving the stadium was tough. The roads around it aren't built to handle the sudden out flux of 75,000 people (a new NCAA record). It took us almost 45 minutes to go 1 mile to the bypass. We got back about midnight. I cancelled our hotel reservations for the next two nights and went to bed.

We got up the next morning and I made the decision to not drive the whole way the next day. The boys weren't really thrilled at first, but finally agreed. We went to 249 church of Christ in Houston. The brethren there were very nice and hospitable. We left and ate lunch on the way. We got to Prescott Arkansas and went to church at the Prescott congregation. The people there were very hospitable as well. We had a hard time getting out of there in fact. They were mostly Arkansas fans and told us they had rooted for UK last night and were sorry to see them lose. We drove on to Arkadelphia and stayed at the Hampton again.

We got up the next morning and headed out. As we hit I-55 in West Memphis, it started to rain and rained on us the whole rest of the way home. We were fortunate as it turned out. There were tornadoes in Ballard County. Several buildings were damaged and a person hurt pretty bad. When we got home, Josh hopped in his car and headed home. We tracked him on Google Latitude to make sure he made it.

The trip didn't turn out as well as I hoped (no final for UK). We had a good time together though. I've already applied for tickets for next year...