Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Since the five decade mark a couple of years ago I have begun to notice changes with my body.  I guess it is a part of growing older--I like to blame it on entropy.  Entropy is the theory of moving from order to disorder--or, in simple terms: things eventually fall apart.  My body is falling apart.  It is no longer the Adonis it once was in my imagination.  Now it looks a whole lot like Earl Pickles in the comic strip Pickles.  I have found that I have become a weight magnet and have collected weight from throughout the universe and it has all headed down to the equator around my waist.  Dora, the Dachshund, has found that it makes a wonderful pillow for taking naps when I am crashing in the Lazy Boy.  Others may call it "fat", but Earl Pickles has come to the rescue as he explains to his grandson that it is not "fat" but over-accumulated wisdom!  I knew I wasn't fat--I just well-educated!

I guess that is one advantage of getting older--a person can gain weight.  I guess that is a plus if you want some extra weight, more often than not what I notice are the things I am beginning to lose.  My eye sight is one of the things that I seem to be losing.  In the past five years I have gone from a single lens eye glass prescription to the infamous and dreaded tri-focal lens prescription.  It was tough enough attempting to learn how to use my bi-focals when I got them and then the eye doctor added another one!  I just don't see as well as I used to and I notice myself drifting over to the large print and audio books more and more.  My arms just aren't log enough for reading anymore!

Hearing is another one of those things about my body that is fading fast.  The wife thinks I have "selective hearing loss", but what husband doesn't?  The truth of the matter is that I pretty much damaged my hearing during my young adult years when I worked building grain bins in Nebraska.  I was that guy in the bin with an impact wrench screwing down the bolts.  This was before OSHA had regulations dealing with protective gear including ear plugs.  Of course the loss has only grown worse over the years and I really have a difficult time hearing high frequency sounds in a crowd.  So I have learned to shake my head a lot and say, "Uh huh."  I have a co-worker, an audiologist, who keeps threatening me to test my hearing and set me up with some hearing aids.  I just look at her, shake my head, and say, "Uh huh."

The father in the comic strip Luann is my comic alter ego--he is the spitting image of what I look like.  He is well-educated, wears glasses, and has that selective hearing loss that we men embrace so well . . . plus, he has that wonderful receding hair line!  He is going bald.  Now I cannot blame getting older for my baldness as I have been going bald since I was in college.  Getting older has only made what hair I do have left grayer and more distinguished looking.  But hey!  I still have hair left, but it is getting harder and harder to fork out twenty bucks for what little hair I do have every time I need a haircut.  I feel like I am over-paying the stylist as she rarely even breaks a sweat cutting my hair.  We hardly get past the pleasantries of conversation before she is done.  It has taken me three years to learn her name--I get a little bit each time I go in.

But one of the things I have noticed about going bald--the hair that a person loses on his head usually shows up some else on the body.  Usually in places where no one wants hair.  I have discovered that the hair on my head has migrated to my ears--nose--and back!  It is hard to create a comb-over from those parts of the body!

I have also discovered other parts of the body that have gone Awol since getting older.  My thyroid has decided that it was going to retire and it shut down.  For such a tiny part of the body it is amazing how much of the body the thyroid effects--metabolism (probably why I am so well-educated now) is a big one.  To replicate the thyroid I now take a tiny pill every day and will for the rest of my life.  When the magic of better living through chemistry kicked with the thyroid medicine my body started functioning again.  This allowed to discover that I have some arthritis--mainly in my thumbs.  This is good as it has not effected my ability to use sign language while driving.  My body hurts a lot more than it did since I have gotten older . . .

. . . but, hey, I'm alive!  I am working.  I still can play.  I live in beautiful Montana and I am still able to get out and hike in the mountains.  I still have a since of humor.  I still can enjoy a good micro brew.  I enjoy my family and friends.  I love God and God loves me.  I am still able to take pictures, write, and tell lousy jokes.  Life is good.  That is God's gift to me and I plan on enjoying it for as long as I can.  I exist and this blog is evidence of that existence.  As the cartoon below says:

Despite growing older, more educated, harder of hearing, balder and grayer, and basically falling apart, I am here!  I blog--therefore I am!  It doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beauty is Where You Find It

Some days I look at the yard and just have to marvel at the beauty that it displays.  It seems that every year the wife starts the growing season with a boat-load of flowers--that I consider to be a sacrifice to the flower gods because they usually die before June--with dreams of a carpet of colorful flowers taking over the yard.  And, every year they start out slow in the months of June and July before taking off and overrunning the flower beds and yard.  Of course we have to go through the two months of lamenting and worry that nothing will ever happen--but it always does.  The garden has overtaken the yard and it is a sight to behold.  Beauty everywhere!

I am not much of a horticulturalist or a gardener--a flower is a flower to me.  Instead of knowing the names of the majority of the flowers that are planted in our gardens I know them by, well, by color.  Where the wife can whip out a name for the flower I know the flower by its color.  I especially like the bright colors in the garden--the yellow, orange, and pink flowers.  The flowers above are in the front yard of the house and provide a virtual jungle habitat for all the insects in the neighborhood--in particular bees and spiders!

Note the spider on the pretty pink flower!

Besides flowers in the garden this year we have some new additions.  The wife was inspired by all the garden stakes that she saw in Amish country in Pennsylvania and began a mission to have some for our garden.  She would not rest until she had a few for the garden here in Montana--in fact, two particular ones of owls and a moose.  Despite my desire to save a buck, and my relentless moaning and groaning when she spent the BUCKS, I have to admit that the two garden stakes really did add a cool dimension to the garden.  I really like the one of the owls.

As I stated earlier, the local insects really seem to find a sort of paradise with all the plants growing amuck in the garden and the yard.  The bees really seem to get a kick out of all the flowers, while the yellow jackets have a hankering for the apples off our apple tree.  We have three trees in our yard--an aspen, apple, and crab apple tree.  I really don't care for the two fruit trees after their blossoms are gone because they attract all the stinging insects.  But I know, you've got to have the insects--stingers or not--to keep everything in balance.

I really do enjoy those evenings when I can just walk around the garden and take pictures of the wife's flowers.  It is a peaceful feeling and I always seem to get some pretty cool pictures.  Here is a little of what I see:

Also adding to the late summer fun in the backyard sanctuary has been a new flock of finches.  It seems that the finches and gold finches have been busy in the early part of the summer and the results of their hard work is a whole new flock of young finches.  Lately they have discovered the bird feeders in the yard--especially the finch sack.  They have been snarfing down one sack a day and I have been able to watch the greenbacks fly out of my wallet at the same rate!  But they are entertaining and the gold finches are especially photogenic.

I cannot complain about the beauty that surrounds me in the yard.  There is beauty all around--especially when I take the time to stop and smell the flowers.  The wife (and I) have done a wonderful job of making a delightful habitat in the yard.  The birds appreciate it--the insects appreciate it--the deer appreciate it (especially in the early growing season)--and we appreciate it.  The pictures above are only a small sampling of what we have had growing in the yard this week--the wife's flowers and my weeds . . . an unbeatable combination!  Yep, beauty is where you find it even in the yard!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ya Gotta Believe

Their story began in 1989 when two brothers designed their first tee-shirt.  They knew nothing about the clothing industry or how to go about selling their product, but they sold it on the streets of Boston and up and down the east coast for five years--basically selling from college dorm to college dorm.  They did not get rich mainly gaining some good stories and existing on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Despite it all they believed in their product and message.  They did not know what the key to success would be, but they returned to Boston to give it one more shot.  

They gave it one more shot.  They printed up 48 tee-shirts for a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they sold them all out by noon.  In their own words this is what happened next: Soon Jake was introduced to local retailers, and his simple message of optimism was embraced like nothing the brothers had ever seen. As demand for product soared, Jake's team grew, and the Little Brand That Could began to spread across America.  Today they are a big business that sells their optimism and tee shirts all over the United States--even in Montana.

I have always been impressed with the dreamers who can envision what they want and are able to fulfill that dream despite the great odds put against them.  Life Is Good is one of those inspirational stories that I am always amazed at.  I like their story and I like their products.  I have three of their products, but would like many more.   You can check them out at:

The truth of the matter is that I am impressed with anyone who can put themselves out there and follow their dream.  I have a friend in Nebraska who continues to plug on toward her dream of being a big time coach--I think she already is even though she isn't making the big bucks.  Having become a beer snob I am always impressed with the stories of those individuals here in Montana who have started breweries.  Each and every one of their stories is impressive as they reached for their dreams, took the risk, and saw some form of fulfillment.

Surprisingly Montana is one of the leaders in the United States when it comes to entrepreneurship--right up there in the top ten despite being one of the least populous states in the nation.  Seems everyone is in business for him or her self here in Montana.  I don't know if they are crazy or have guts of steel, but people seem to be starting businesses despite the tough economic times.  Even more amazingly is that a lot of those business seem to make it.  I admire that independent and stick to the dream spirit.  I wish I had it . . . but sadly, despite my heart's desire, my brain gets in the way.

My brain often gets in the way of my heart no matter how wonderful my dream might be.  You all probably know all the arguments--time, money, etc.  The brain trumps the heart every time.  Both the wife and I know that God called us to Montana for a purpose and a reason and we each have an inkling of what that is for each of us.  We both have wonderful dreams--our hearts are in the right place, but our minds keep getting in the way.  In fact, the brain crushes the heart constantly.  We seem to be missing something that keeps us from fulfilling those dreams . . . maybe it is guts.

Life is good . . .

Maybe we have not chosen to let go and allow God to take complete control--who knows?  All I know is that neither one of us is completely content with where we are at this point even though we have both gained a lot in our present positions and jobs.  God has revealed a lot to us, but we just haven't gotten past the brain yet.

I would be curious to hear the dreams and success stories of those of you out there who have taken the opportunity to venture forth and follow your dreams.  I would like you to share those with me as a form of encouragement.  In the meantime I will continue to bask in the glow of those who have found success in following there dreams.  I will also keep praying that God will allow my heart to trump the brain and set us free . . . because life is good and God deserves nothing but our best.  My prayer:


Thursday, August 25, 2011

To Dream . . .

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
( Harriet Tubman)

We all dream . . . we need to dream.  Lately I have been thinking about dreams for various reasons.  Watching the Little League World Series with the local team being only one game from the championship of the whole world--a game no one every dreamed that the team from Montana would make.  But those boys are living the dream and believe in it.  It might be knowing the struggles of my oldest son in realizing his dreams and the barriers he keeps running into that keep deterring those dreams--but he keeps dreaming.  Or it could be the dreams of my daughter--dreams she has had all her life--and the constant bumps in the road she keeps experiencing to delay those dreams.  Maybe it is the wife and I with the dreams of our second oldest son--his desire for his own independent life out in the "real world"--and the constant frustrations that his disability (Epilepsy) and the bureaucratic system create in realizing that dream.  Or, maybe, it is just the dreams I have had since I was a kid and realizing as a middle-aged man that I have not yet quite reached them all.  Yeah, we all need to dream . . . but sometime dreaming hurts.  But we can never quit dreaming.
Sometimes we just need to close our eyes, listen, and dream:
 River of Dreams
Billy Joel 

 Dream On
The Cranberries
The Corrs
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Green Day
Sweet Dreams
Dream Weaver
Gary Wright
Everyone has his or her dreams . . . you can never give up on the dream.  When I think about dreams and I really want to get inspired I only have to watch this last video . . .
I Dreamed a Dream
Susan Boyle
What's your favorite song that keeps you dreaming?  Keep on dreaming! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sleeping in Church

It was with a loud squeal of the pipe organ that the organist accidentally woke up the congregation from their naps.  I felt bad for the lady as she was not our usual organist--she had retired from that years ago and only substituted when we needed her--after all she was in her mid-70s!  It was a warm morning and the air was heavy as the congregation listened to me preach . . . and preach . . . and preach.  The organist sat dutifully at the organ waiting for that moment when it was her turn to play the next hymn, but she was fading fast.  Like a bobble-head doll one could see nodding until she suddenly went down--head first!  Her head landed on the keyboard with a squawk of noise--loud noise!  It woke everyone up from the sermon induced naps.

Napping in church is nothing new--there is even a passage in the New Testament which tells the story of the Apostle Paul preaching on and on until a young man fell asleep, fell out the window perch he was sitting in, and died.  Luckily the organist was more embarrassed than hurt and no one died, but it did wake a lot of folks up from their naps.  Napping in church is one of the oldest traditions in the church!

One of the reasons I went into the ministry was because I figured that if I was going to have to sit in a crowded room and listen to preaching I might as well listen to the drone of my own voice than someone else.  Also, by being the preacher it makes me have to stay awake during the service.  How often have you ever seen a preacher fall asleep during his or her sermon?  See, being the preacher means you cannot partake in the ritual of napping.  Because of that I try to keep my yawning to those songs in which the congregation cannot tell whether I am yawning or singing.  There is nothing worse than a preacher sleeping in church:

I have no problems with people sleeping in church--they are just doing what I wish I could do.  I do not get offended if I hear the occasional snore--they probably need the rest, and besides, I see it as a form of ministry I can provide the congregation.  What I do tell congregations is that if they do fall asleep during worship to remember to utter the word "AMEN" upon waking up.  This will make the people around them think that they were in deep prayers.  How to explain the snoring--Holy Spirit!

As I stated though, I have no problem with people sleeping through the worship service.  In fact, napping might do more for those individuals than a sermon--might be more beneficial in the long run.  At least if I am reading the literature correctly--napping is good for a person.  According to an article Inc. (http://www.inc.com/articles/201108/sleeping-on-the-job-should-your-employees-take-naps.html) napping can boost one's productivity and efficiency, make one healthier, and actually live longer--a short five to ten minute nap can do that.  It can even make one happier and more bearable to be around--that is every preacher's dream!

Having read this article I now have the evidence I need to actually encourage folks to "come to church and nap with us!"  It will be a new form of evangelism--Nap Evangelism.  Instead of giving visitors fancy coffee cups with a picture of the church on the side, we'll give out embroider pillows to assist in the napping.  We can remove the pews and put in Lazy-Boy recliners and couches--anything to draw the drowsy in.  For those traditionalists we can create a sleeping room or divide the sanctuary into "sleeping" and "non-sleeping" areas.  Whatever the case, we can be hospitable and accommodating towards our tired friends.  You see, a whole new frontier for ministry!

I imagine if I had had this ministry back when the guest organist had fallen asleep and hit her head on the keyboard of the organ she would not have been so embarrassed.  I would have done my job--I put another one to sleep for the glory of God!  Need rest?  Then come to your local church.  I invite you to take part in this exciting new ministry--whether it is at the church I serve or some other church.  I promise you I will do my part--I'll preach!  And all God's people said: Amen! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Real "World Series"

The big city near us is a "baseball town".  For over fifty years it has been the home of the Billings Mustangs--a rookie minor league team that represents the Cincinnati Reds.  It has a long, proud history with its American Legion teams with both local teams making it to the regional tournament before the Scarletts lost in the championship to Hawaii.  Now you can add the Big Sky Little League team to that picture as they are the Northwest Regional champions in the 65th Little League Baseball World Series.  The big city--as well as the whole state--has caught the baseball fever as this is the first-ever team to make it to the world series.

It is not a simple process to get a team to the Little League World Series.  It begins with an all-star chosen at the end of the season to represent the league in a district tournament to see who qualifies for the state tournament.  All the district champs play one another at the state tournament to see who ends up representing the state in the regional tournament.  At the regional tournament the teams have pool play to determine which four teams (two from each pool) make it to the actual tournament of four.  Out of these four teams comes the eventual regional champ.  The regional champ is then the representative to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Big Sky Little League came out of the baseball pilgrimage to Williamsport as the Northwest Regional champs with a 17 and 1 record--they avenged their only loss in dramatic fashion against the Oregon team in the championship game, 7 to 1.

   Pat Zimmer, winning pitcher, kept the game close in the 
championship game . . .

 . . . until Cole McKenzie hit a  grand slam home run
in the fifth ending to blow the game open on the way to a
7 to 1 victory and the championship.

Having punched their ticket to the series in Williamsport the team is now on the last leg of the journey towards being world champions.  That is actual WORLD CHAMPIONS.  The Little League World Series is an actual championship tournament that involves teams from all over the planet.  There are eight teams representing the American side of the tournament, and eight teams representing the international side of the tournament.  Each side of the tournament plays until there is one team standing from each side.  Those two teams then play the championship to determine who the best in the world is for 2011.

  Big Sky Little League/Northwest Region Champs

The boys begin their adventure this afternoon with a game against the Midwest Champions--the Rapid City, South Dakota team--that will mark history for both teams.  For Big Sky it will be the first-ever appearance in the World Series, and for one of them it will mark the first-ever victory by either team in the world series.  Both these teams come from a rich baseball heritage--especially as their American Legion teams have a rivalry that is played out each summer.  Both teams are coming in with high hopes.  But as one fan from Montana put it:  "In any kind of baseball, especially Little League, anything can happen, but I like our chances."

Optimism reigns supreme at tournament time and the state of Montana is rooting for their team at the Little League World Series where anything can happen.  All around the big city and state people will be gathering together to root the team on to victory--these have become "our boys".  Whatever happens they will represent the community, state, and region with dignity and pride.  Go Big Sky . .

. . . I like our chances!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Laugh or Cry--The Weekly News

Oh, the shades of Lysistrata!  For those of you who do not know Lysistrata was a comedy written in 411 BC by the Greek playwright Aristophanes--a writer who knew his subjects well.  It is a simple premise: The women of Greece organize themselves and refuse to have sex until the men quit warring.  Now it seems that this ploy has been successfully used in Barbacoas, Colombia.  Apparently the the highway in and out of this community was in terrible condition.  It is so abysmal that it takes up to 14 hours to reach the nearest hospital, 60 miles away--far too long to save a mother and infant in a complicated childbirth.  Despite complains for a very, very long time the government did nothing to repair the road . . . so the women took matters into their own hands, or is that legs?  The women of the small community organized a "strike of crossed legs"--they decided to withhold sex from their husbands until the road was repaired.  The 300-some women were on strike for over a month before national coverage of the strike broke the story.  The government has promised to begin new paving work on the highway starting in October.  I wonder if that would work with our federal government?  You never know!

University of Texas economist Daniel Hamermesh states: "Ugly people earn less than average-looking people, and average-looking people earn less than the beautiful."  Apparently good-looking men earn an average of 17 percent more than average looking men, while good-looking women earn 12 percent more than the average-looking women--over a lifetime that could be as much as $230,000!  This is all proven through studies over the years.  Hammermesh's book, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful, doesn't attempt to analyze this, but basically says that beauty does matter.  When asked whether or not unattractive people should consider plastic surgery to improve the odds of making more, he stated that plastic surgery doesn't help that much.  In fact, according to a study done by the Korea, plastic surgery pays back less than one dollar in salary for every dollar spent on it.  His advice? "Suck it up, live with it . . ."  Hmmmm . . . this probably explains why the state of Montana hasn't given me a raise in nearly three years!  Apparently I am not as good-looking as I thought I was!  This really puts a dent in my ego, but explains a lot--I always thought Brad Pitt and I were the spitting image of one another.

We Americans are a nation of "fast food junkies"!  A recent study by the Scripps Research Institute found that gorging on fast food actually changes the brain's chemical makeup, making it more difficult to trigger the release of dopamine (aka "the pleasure chemical").  That means that to find the pleasure of eating fast food one needs to eat more and more to achieve the original high.  I guess we now know why Kentucky Fried Chicken is so finger-licking good--its the Colonel's secret recipe!  Suddenly I'm craving a Big Mac!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics state and local governments have shed 611,000 jobs since August 2008, including 340,000 in the past twelve months.  They are also predicting that that tens of thousands of layoff are likely in the next year with states and cities now slashing their budgets.  Make you wonder if they were all unattractive?

Well, we all know who is going to get the blame--at least according to the New York Times/CBS News Poll--the Tea Party.  According to their recent poll negative views about the Tea Party are rising.  Forty percent of Americans now view the Tea Party unfavorably, up from 29 percent in April.  Only 20 percent view the movement favorably, down from 26 percent.  It sounds as if the pendulum is swinging to the left--watch out!  The Coffee Party might be next!

No looks, no jobs, a fast food addiction . . . well, at least we can all look towards retirement!  Right!  Maybe not . . . according to a poll conducted by Reader's Digest not too many Americans see themselves retiring and enjoying the "golden years" before the age 65.  According to the poll 46 percent of Americans think they will not be able to retire until age 65 or older.  Only 30 percent still think they will retire before 65.  The most optimistic countries in the world about retiring before age 65 were Malaysia (67 percent), Canada (56 percent), and China (46 percent).  Four nations were more pessimistic about retiring by 65--South Africa, Spain, Brazil, and the Netherlands.  Mexico, India, and the Philippines ranged from 42 to 49 percent believing they will never be able to retire.  It almost makes you want to cry . . .

A good cry always makes one feel better, right?  Wrong!  A study conducted by University of South Florida researcher Jonathan Rottenberg concludes that "crying is not nearly as beneficial as people think it is."  Rottenberg states that 61 percent of those who were studied did not improve their moods with crying, and nine percent believed that their moods were even worse because of the crying.  Only 30 percent felt better after crying.  It seems that the type of crying that produced the best results for feeling better were the more vigorous bawling complete with "screaming and body movements"--good old fashion lamenting of the biblical kind.  Researchers then theorized that the biological purpose of crying isn't to release sorrow, but to elicit "social support" from others.  It's the sympathy, not the release of tears, that can make people feel better.

Well, that is the news for this week.  I think I am going to take my unattractive, low-earning self down to the closest McDonalds for a Big Mac fix and have myself a good old fashion lament.  You decide--laugh or cry? It is always our choice!

A Witness

There is a joke about a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary . . . While cutting the cake, the wife was moved after seeing her husband’s eyes fill with tears. The wife took his arm, and looked at him affectionately.  “I never knew you were so sentimental.” she whispered.

“No . . . No . . .” he said, choking back his tears, “That’s not it at all. Remember when your father found us in the barn and told me to either marry you or spend the next 30 years in jail?”

“Yes,” the wife replied. “I remember it like yesterday.”

“Well,” said the husband, “Today I would have be a free man.”

I thought I would remind the wife of this . . . Today is the 30th anniversary of our marriage to one another--the wife and I.  It was thirty years ago on a hot sweltering afternoon in Lexington, Kentucky that the wife and I tied the knot.  Ever since then it has been one wonderful--though at times stressful--adventure with one another in which we have stuck together through thick and thin, richer or poorer, sickness and health, and competing sports teams . . . plus four children!  On our wedding day I doubt if either one of us ever imagined where marriage would take us thirty years down the road--we were just glad to be there with one another.  The fact of the matter is, we still are.

The wife provides color to my world.  Years ago when I got my first cell phone that actually allowed me to make my own ringtones I picked this song to identify the wife when she called:

Every time I hear the opening melody of the Rolling Stones' She's the Color of a Rainbow I am reminded of the wife.  The wife tolerates my love of the Rolling Stones and that is one of the nice things about her--she not only tolerates my love of diverse music, but she tolerates me.  That is a big undertaking and thus far she has survived it all.  As you know, we who are introverts can be tough people to be around as we protect our little kingdoms from the outside world.  The wife has done well to broaden and expand that little kingdom while adding lots of colors to it.  I never realized that there were so many colors!  I guess it is good that I married an art major!

But the bottom line is quite simple . . . after thirty years of marriage we are still together.  We have come to understand the delicate balance of our relationship that allows us the freedom to be who God has created us to be and who God wants us to be as a couple.  We encourage and support one another in the paths that God has set before us--we are there to laugh together and to wipe the tears of sadness away.  In the silence and the noise we are together.  We are companions along the way and it has been a adventure of a lifetime . . . and there is still far to go . . . and we do it together.

In the movie, Shall We Dance, the character played by Susan Sarandon is trying to explain the deeper importance of marriage to another character who is putting down the idea of marriage.  In that particular scene she quietly says: "We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

No truer words have ever been spoken! 

Thirty years . . . the wife has been my witness, shared in the journey, and added color to my world.  For that reason I have known love.  I thank the wife for thirty years of witness and for another thirty to come.  All I can say to the wife is . . . I love you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Red Fever

At some point I must have crossed the line . . . I am not really sure what tipped me over and created the fever, but I feel my temperature rising.  It might have been yesterday on my daughter's blog, The Luckiest, when she joined other bloggers to link onto another blog to share stories about their "favorite football team."  That was a challenge that my daughter could not pass up as she already has the fever--the Big Red Fever.  My daughter never misses an opportunity to toot the horn of her favorite collegiate football team--the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.  You can read her blog at http://misscandacepk.blogspot.com/2011/08/show-us-your-team-go-big-red.html.  Or it might have been when a native Nebraska friend living in Kansas City said he nearly peed his pants while watching a "teaser" video narrated by the Cornhusker's head coach--Bo Pellini:

It got my juices flowing but not enough to pee my pants.  I suggest that my friend in Kansas City get some Depends because there are better Husker videos out there . . . but, I get the point.  The temperature is rising and the fever is beginning to set in.  ONLY 24 more days until kick-off against the University of Chattanooga Mocs!

I admit that I am a die-hard University of Nebraska Cornhusker fan when it come to football.  I bleed red.  I know the words to the fight song.  I know that Memorial Stadium becomes the third most populous location in Nebraska (behind Omaha and Lincoln) whenever there is a home game.  I have made the pilgrimage to the Big Red Mecca and counted myself among the faithful.  I have hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other accessories covered with the Husker logo.  Even my truck's license plate is a tribute to Big Red:

I am one of the faithful of Husker Nation--we are legion throughout the world.  There are season ticket holders from every state in the United States that attend the games along with countless others from around the world.  We are a family no matter where we move to and we remain faithful to the Crimson and Cream.  We are Husker Nation!

The University of Nebraska has a long and proud history of playing football.  The University played and won its first game on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1890 over the Omaha YMCA (yeah, say what you will, but those Christian boys weren't pushovers as Nebraska won 10 to 0) to start the ball rolling.  Since that first kick-off the mighty University of Nebraska gridders have played 1,222 games--they have won 837 of those games, lost 345, and had 40 ties in a 121 seasons on the grid iron.  That is a lifetime winning percentage of .701 which ranks fourth in victories in NCAA Division I.  This is a proud tradition that likes winning, especially at home in Memorial Stadium.  Though their overall winning percentage is impressive, they are even better on their home turf.  Since playing the first game at Memorial Stadium in 1923 (and, of which all the games since have been played) the Huskers are 379-115-13 at home--that is a 75 percent winning rate.  But since 1986 they have been nearly unbeatable at home with a record of 148-15 for a 91 percent winning record.  Less than nine wins a season is considered a losing season among the faithful of Husker Nation.

The University of Nebraska has not always been known as the Cornhuskers or Huskers.  In the beginning they were called a variety of names: Tree Planters ( for those of you who don't understand this reference look up Arbor Day), Nebraskans, the Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes (which late became the mascot for my alma mater, Kearney State College now know as the University of Nebraska at Kearney), Old Gold Knights, and the Bugeaters.  For about a decade the Bugeaters became  the unofficial name for the football team until the year 1900.  That year sports writer Charles "Cy" Sherman wrote a story in the Nebraska State Journal proclaiming them the "Cornhuskers" after a close victory over the University of Iowa.  The name stuck and eventually became the official name for the University's athletic teams--ever since they have been known as the Cornhuskers or Huskers.  By the way--a bugeater is a bird.

Though the team has had periods of lack-luster performances on the field over the years, they have been pretty much winning from the beginning.  The team has been blessed with an abundance of athletes--in the beginning primarily from the state and later from all over the United States--that made them competitive with all the big boys across the country.  This athleticism has led to five national championships (1970-1971-1994-1995-1997), 43 conference titles (in three different conferences over the years--now four with the Big Ten), and 47 bowl appearances (which ranks fifth in the NCAA Division I--all-time).  Not bad for a bunch of farm boys!

That athletic ability has translated into a lot of awards for the team.  Since 1914 there have been 109 first team All American Team players and countless second and third team players from the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football team.  There have been three Heisman Trophy winners: Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers in 1972, Mike Rozier in 1983, and Eric Crouch in 2001.  There are 20 players in the College Hall of Fame.  Over 300 players have gone on to be drafted into the National Football League.  The year 2010 represented the 41st consecutive year that the Cornhuskers had at least three players chosen in the draft.  There are three players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  And, they are holders of 14 NCAA Team Records, but the record that the University and the Husker Nation is proudest of is its consecutive home sell-out streak.  At the start of the 2011 football season their record stands at 311 consecutive sell-outs that started with the 1962 season.  It is tougher getting a season ticket at Nebraska than winning the state lottery!

Despite the athleticism of the Husker football team one needs to understand that these are NOT dumb farm boys playing a game.  Another point of pride is the academic success the team has had over the years--more so than any other team in the country.  There have been 65 first team and 34 second and third team CoSIDA Academic All Americans from the Cornhuskers over the years.  The Huskers also lead the nation in all-time NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners with 33.  When we proudly proclaim that the "N" on the side of the helmet stands for "'nowledge" we know what we are talking about.

It is not difficult to get excited about a football tradition like the University of Nebraska--there is a lot to stand in awe about from the field to the classroom.  In 24 days a new era of Husker football begins . . . the Huskers are now a part of the infamous Big Ten.  Some folks are lamenting the switch from the Big Twelve and see this as stepping from the frying pan into the fire, but the excitement builds.  It builds because the Huskers have been picked as one of the favorites to win the Big Ten in their first year.  It builds because the team is bringing back one of the best defenses in the nation--the Blackshirts:

The faithful of Husker Nation see the Blackshirts as the foundation and the power of their team.  It also helps that many of the players on the offense are back for another year with a more mature and veteran quarterback.  But it is the defense that is the trademark of recent Husker teams and the Blackshirts represent that:

The temperature is rising and I can feel it.  It is only 24 days away from the first kick-off against the Mocs of Chattanooga and then a week later the Huskers kick off their Big Ten season against one of the most recent powers of the Big Ten--the Wisconsin Badgers.  The Huskers have a killer schedule with all the Big Ten heavy weights their first year, but they are up to the task--if not this year, next year.  I'm excited!  Husker Nation is excited--even here in the remote outreaches of Montana--the Husker faithful are excited.

Big Red Fever--ya gotta love it!  It won't break until the first ball is kicked off in 24 days!  In the meantime if you catch me humming, listen closely . . . it's the Nebraska fight song:

There is no place like Nebraska,
Dear old Nebraska U.
Where the girls are the fairest,
The boys are the squarest,
Of any old school that I knew.
There is no place like Nebraska,
Where they're all true blue.
We'll all stick together,
In all kinds of weather,
For dear old Nebraska U.