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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Success At Last!

Well, I was finally fortunate enough to get a deer. See for Seth's awesome account of the events on opening morning.

Now back to the woods..........

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Deer Hunting Eve

Tomorrow is opening day of gun season here in Michigan. I am disappointed that I haven't made it out this year as of yet for bow hunting (that season began October 1st), but I am excited at the prospect of gun hunting tomorrow.

After near misses and opportunities the last 4 seasons, I am hopeful this year to take a deer or two. My goal is to get one with a gun, then to get one with my bow once gun season is over. I believe that getting one with a gun would be enjoyable, but taking a deer with my bow would be much more satisfying.

I definitely have two great teachers in Cousin Don and his son Seth. Both of which have taken many deer over the years, both with gun and bow. And they have put me in positions for opportunities many times over the last 4 years. It is now up to me to close the deal at my next opportunity. I pray that opportunity comes tomorrow!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Voter Irregularities

The election of 2006 is over. I guess you could say it was full of voter irregularities because for the first time since 1992 voters gave the Democrats a majority in both the House and the Senate. First time in 14 years? Yeah, I'd say that’s irregular.

It is interesting to note a couple of things about this election. First, it was interesting to hear the pre-election run up with liberals claiming that new voting machines meant there would be widespread cheating. Also, that this election, despite the voters electing Democrats, is not a move to the left for the country.

First the claims by liberals that voting could be tampered with due to more widespread use of new voting machines. Liberals used this cry to lay down the strategy for another round of post-defeat "Republicans bad, Democrats good" screaming. They've done it since the 2000 election, why would this year be different? Unless, of course, the Democrats won, then they’d say (and have) that all of the voting was on the up-and-up.

Most interesting was the media’s reporting of the "glitches" throughout the day on November 7th. "Election workers can't use machines!" "Machines aren't working!" "Unauthorized software found on some machines!" On and on the liberal media machine began spinning this election before results even started to come in. And when the results started to roll in? All of those stories of voter irregularities went away.

Come Wednesday, when it was clear that Democrats had taken the House, and would probably take the Senate too, the stories of "widespread" voting problems had disappeared. It makes you wonder what would have happened if the Republicans had kept the House and Senate, would the media have "forgotten" the reports of irregularities? Or would that have been the sub-headline under every "Republicans Retain Power" story in the nation's papers and on the nation's news sites?

In the end it proves one thing; conservatives are more classy in losing than liberals are. Then again, conservatives have more class in every area of life than do liberals.

Now on to what this election means. If you just heard Wednesday morning (and most of you did) that Democrats gained control of the House and (probably) the Senate, you would have thought: "Wow! A victory for liberalism!" But that would be wrong.

The problems the Republicans faced were two-fold. First, they took for granted their Christian-conservative base. Second, the new Democratic candidates made a definite play to be right-of-center.

Republicans have owned the Christian-conservative vote for two decades. Moderates are where Republicans have made the strongest gains in the last 15 years. But many of those moderates also lean to the right on social issues: abortion, capital punishment, 2nd amendment rights. Republicans in the last two years have taken for granted the right-of-center voter in hopes of gaining more left-of-center voters. And that strategy backfired in a bad way for them.

No liberal is going to vote Republican. Liberals are for the destruction of the unborn, for using the destroyed unborn for scientific experimentation, for protecting criminals (anti-capital punishment) and for taking away 2nd amendment rights. Since Republicans are seen as opposite of those positions, no liberal is going to vote Republican. So trying to gain more left-wing voters just doesn't work for Republicans.

But by making a play for those voters, the Republicans agitated their conservative base, especially those that tend toward the liberal side of the fiscal house anyway. Since the Republicans weren't seen by those voters as champions for morals, they voted for their pocketbooks instead. Bad move by those voters, but it is what they did none the less.

Democrats on the other hand took advantage of this by running more socially conservative candidates. Many of the Democrats that were elected are social conservatives. Heath Shuler, the representative from North Carolina is an example of this. Pro-life and pro-gun, Shuler beat his Republican opponent because he offered socially conservative voters another choice. No longer did those voters feel obligated to vote Republican because Shuler is also pro-life. Many social conservatives cannot, in good conscience, vote for a pro-abortion candidate, this writer included.

What you ended up with was conservatives that felt abandoned by the Republicans (thanks John McCain), and Democrats offering conservatives an alternative. An alternative that hasn't been there from their side in the past. The result? A Democratic majority in the House and Senate.

The problem now is this: just because Democrats ran campaigns as social conservatives doesn't mean that they'll vote that way once in office. Watchdog groups will have Heath Shuler and other Democrats that claim to be social conservatives under a microscope. Fortunately we have President Bush, with his power of veto, as the last line of defense for the next two years.

And finally, if you want to believe what the media wants you to believe about the war in Iraq being the big issue, then go ahead and let the wool be pulled over your eyes. Those on opposite sides of that issue have been on those respective sides from day one. Very little movement in either direction has occurred. If you believed it was the right thing to do in April of 2003 then you probably feel it was the right thing to do in November 2006. Bill O'Reilly aside that is.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Run Tony Run!

The Andre Agassi blog post got me to thinking about people that shaped who I am today and inspired me. So I have decided to make talking about people that influenced me a regular part of this blog. Today's subject is Tony Dorsett, the hall of fame running back for the Dallas Cowboys.

Tony is among my earliest boyhood heroes. I became an admirer of his almost from the beginning of his career with the Dallas Cowboys. I was only 8 years old when he joined the Cowboys, so some of those details are sketchy for me, but it wasn't long before I was watching the Cowboys every chance I could to cheer Tony on.

Tony was one of the most prolific running backs in the league right from the beginning of his career. I remember watching him play on Sunday, or watching the highlights during a postgame show to try to find out how Tony had done. I always wanted the Cowboys to win, but I also wanted Tony to go over 100 yards rushing in a given game.

I identified with Tony rather easily. As a very thin boy growing up size was always an issue for me. Tony was considered small for the NFL at 5'11" tall and 192 lbs. I read his biography when I was a young adult and remember that Tony intimated that he was always told, at every level of football, that he was too small for the game that he loved. And at every level of football he excelled. Being told he was too small for the game only drove him to try that much harder to succeed. And succeed he did.

His career statistics in the NFL speak for themselves. 12,739 yards rushing. Another 3,554 yards on 398 receptions. He totaled 91 TDs in his career. He was also a solid post-season performer amassing 1,383 rushing yards in 17 career playoff games. He also played in Superbowls XII and XIII, and his Cowboys won Superbowl XII.

One of the things Tony is most known for is his 99-yard touchdown run in a 1982 Monday night game against the Minnesota Vikings, a NFL record that can never be broken! The footage of that run is forever etched into my memory banks. Unfortunately I had gone to bed since the Cowboys were getting beat and I had to be up for school the next day. At the bus-stop that next morning I overheard two kids talking about Dorsett's 99-yard run and I was sick to my stomach that I had gone to bed before it happened. It doesn't surprise me that Tony was the one NFL running back in history to have accomplished that feat.

Though not the power runner that Emmitt Smith would later be, or that his contemporary Earl Campbell was, Tony broke his fair share of tackles. Tony's speed and ability to make defenders miss is what really set him apart though. He had a knack for finding holes in the defensive line, bursting through them with his great speed, then juking the linebackers and defensive backs out of their shoes. I can remember so many great runs by Tony, and I can remember watching him in many of his 173 career games.

The end of Tony's career was disappointing to me. And not just because it ended, but because of the way it ended. The Cowboys had signed Herschel Walker in the offseason and head coach Tom Landry announced that he would be instituting the dream backfield; both Walker and Dorsett starting together at halfback. I remember my excitement and anticipation before that first game. Tony was running like crazy that night, gaining yardage in huge chunks. On a sweep he turned his ankle and left the game never to return. That injury would ultimately cost him his starting spot to Walker and marked the end of his career with the Cowboys.

He finished his career in 1988 with the Denver Broncos, which has always left a bad taste in my mouth. I also lost a little respect for Tom Landry in his handling of the whole Walker vs. Dorsett fiasco.

I miss a lot things about being a kid, but watching and cheering for Tony every week during the NFL season ranks right near the top. I always loved the Cowboys, but Tony was always my favorite player and not seeing him play for the last 18 years makes me yearn for those seasons of yesteryear when Tony was a flash of silver and blue on my television screen.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Football is back!

So those that know me know that I am a huge football fan. On Saturday I can be found usually watching any number of college football games. Of course I have two favorite college football teams: the Michigan State Spartans, and whomever is playing Michigan (referred to on this blog from now on only as um). On Sundays I can be found, in between worship services, sitting in my recliner watching the NFL. In the NFL I have always been and always will be a Dallas Cowboy fan.

I watch on average anywhere from 6-10 football games a week. And I have done this for many years. About 6 years ago we got Direct TV so that I could get NFL Sunday Ticket in order to watch the Cowboys play each week. When we decided that my wife would quit working to stay home with our daughter in 2003, we cancelled our NFL Sunday Ticket subscription. We also gave up our Michigan State season tickets. Sacrifices needed to be made for budgetary reasons, so we made these difficult choices and went on with life.

My wife surprised me this year by resubscribing us to NFL Sunday Ticket. On top of that she also surprised me with the Superfan option. I am now addicted to the Red Zone channel. The channel shows games where one team is in the red zone, and they show highlights of other games where something significant has happened. The best way the channel can be described is that it is like a NFL game-break (that you see on the network televised games) all the time!

So now on Sunday's with multiple games being played I will normally be watching the Red Zone channel. Unless of course the Cowboys are playing, because then I am watching them beat up on that week's opponent. As an added bonus, I get to see David Kircus play for the Denver Broncos. Kircus is a family friend of Cousin Don and his family, and he was given up on by the local NFL team, the Detroit Lions. So Kircus went to Denver and made the team there. Meanwhile the Lions are 0-3 with no sign of a win anytime soon!

One of my pet-peeves watching football is the technique defensive backs use, or maybe better, the lack of technique. I can remember playing pick-up football, and organized flag football growing up. As a cornerback you were taught to run with the receiver, and watch his eyes. When the receiver looked up for the ball, you did too. It is maddening to watch defensive backs in both college and the NFL not looking back for the ball. This past weekend alone I saw countless pass interference penalties called on defensive backs because they didn't look back at the ball. The coverage they provided was excellent, except for that one flaw, and the officials will call you for pass interference every time. Now I know that playing defensive back in Division I college football and the NFL is much more difficult than the pick-up games I used to play in, but still why defensive backs refuse, or aren't taught, or whatever it is, to look back for ball is frustrating as a fan.

Too bad today is Wednesday, there are still 3 days to go before I get more football!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Art of Archery

Several years ago now, on a trip to my cousin Don's for his son's graduation party, I got bit by the archery bug. Don was giving my father and I a shooting demonstration, and listening to him discuss the "art" of archery piqued my interest in the sport.

A few words on cousin Don: that boy can shoot! Seriously, he is really, really good. Never mind the countless deer he has harvested with his trusty bow, but his ability to shoot high scores in 3D competitions is also amazing. And he knows archery too. Have a question? Ask Don and he can tell you. No one can set-up a bow better than Don. And he is a wiz when it comes to fletching arrows as well.

So listening to Don discuss the sport made me want to go out and buy a bow, which I did. My first bow was pretty basic. You don't want to spend $700 on a bow and decide the sport isn't for you, so I chose a $249 model, and Don supplied me with some equipment to get me started. I was hooked. From the first few arrows I shot I knew that I wanted to continue in the sport.

I refer to archery as an "art" because it isn't a science. Oh sure there are science and technology aspects of the sport, but the art is in the personal aspect of shooting. What is right for you may not be right for me, and vice-versa. There are infinite variables that go into the sport, for example: what kind of release to use and how to actually trigger that release. There are punch shooters, back-tension shooters, and shooters that combine both methods. And let's not even get into the millions of possible combinations of equipment. It has been over 4 years since I started shooting and I still am learning all the time.

This year I finally upgraded to a better bow. The accessories I have on it are almost as expensive as my first bow was all by itself. My original bow set-up was probably around $400, where my current set-up is closer to $1000. But such is the sport. The result? I've included a couple of pictures of groups I recently shot.

Ted Nugent refers to the "mystical flight of the arrow", conjuring up the idea of a magical aspect to archery. Some days that is how it feels, that in order to shoot well I would need magic. But as with any other activity, the more time you put in the better you become. Archery is about practice. It is about discipline. It is about honing your skills, maintaining your equipment, and having respect for the sport in general.

This year I hope to take my first deer with my bow. Obviously the deer have their own ideas regarding that idea which is what makes bow hunting so much fun. If just anybody could go into the woods and shoot a deer within ten minutes then there would be nothing special about doing that. Because it takes more time, more energy, and more effort than that, killing my first deer will be so special.

I just hope this is the year!

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Night With Dr. Laura

So last night my lovely wife and I went to the Detroit Opera House to see Dr. Laura Schlessinger's one woman show: "In My Never To Be Humble Opinion". I have always been a fan of Dr. Laura's radio show. Though I might not agree with everything she says, and though at times her language can be a little crude, I jumped at the opportunity to see her in person, and to hear what she had to say.

As I mentioned, I haven't always agreed with everything Dr. Laura says. For instance, she is Jewish and as such doesn't believe in the inspiration of the New Testament, or that Jesus Christ was the messiah. She also is into embracing people of all faiths, which has become common in our times, believing that all good people will go to heaven. However, her stance on premarital cohabitation, what she'd call "shacking up", and abortion, and homosexuality (among other topics) is spot on. She also has great opinions about raising kids, and the importance of mothers choosing their children over money and career. And I have always admired her straight-forward approach to telling people when they are being immoral, selfish, or a myriad of other things that people tend to be today.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the live show. Would she have the audience present dilemmas to her and then give her opinion on what should be done? Would she lecture to the audience about current societal ills? What would the show be about?

Well the show comes in two halves. In the first half Dr. Laura lectures about HER life. Her beginnings, experiences, and how she matured into the right-thinking, moral defender that she is today. She also took us into a typical day in the life of Dr. Laura, including awakening every morning at 5am to work-out before "taking on the day", to borrow one of her own lines. She then lets the audience see Dr. Laura at work, how she would look starting her daily radio program.

The set for the first half is set-up similar to her house complete with a couch, bookcases, and other furniture, as well as Dr. Laura's home broadcasting studio/office. The set also includes a wide-screen video screen so that she can share pictures with the audience. The first half of the show takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. From laughing, getting angry, and, eventually, crying. The latter coming during a very emotional reading of a news story about a mother that left her one year-old son in her car while she went to work, followed by a listener's email about the thoughts that may have gone through the child's mind during his last day of life. Did I mention this was very emotional? I had tears streaming down my face and heard sniffling throughout the opera house.

For the second half of the show Dr. Laura returns to the stage minus the previous set. She then reads and answers questions that the audience has written on cards. The answers are given in the typical fashion that only Dr. Laura can provide, straight-forward, honest, and leaving no doubts about Dr. Laura's feelings on the matter. She concludes the show by providing the audience with some inspirational words related to her favorite hobby, sailboat racing, and then she tells the audience, as she does the end of every one of her radio broadcasts, "now go take on the day".

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Sitting next to my favorite woman in the whole world (my wife) and listening to Dr. Laura share her wonderful view of the world. You may not like Dr. Laura for some reason, but you have to admit that she is trying to do her part in instilling morals into a society that has cast them aside. And no one could ever successfully argue that she doesn't have the well-being of children at the forefront of her mind as she does that. If you get a chance to catch Dr. Laura's show I would greatly encourage you to do so.

Now go do the right thing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thank you Andre!

It has been over a week now since Andre Agassi was eliminated from his last tournament, the 2006 U.S. Open. A week ago Sunday was a very sad day for me as for the last 20 years I have watched Andre play and followed his illustrious career, and taken inspiration from a guy that got judged for how he looked, but in the end proved the substance of his character.

It was 20 years ago that a skinny, long-haired kid watched another skinny, long-haired kid play tennis for the first time. From that instant I was hooked on Andre. He had flair, he had style, but when he spoke he also was humble and nice. Sure many people looked at him and immediately wrote him off because of his look. That is painful because I experienced the same thing.

I remember in 1988 going to the fireworks in Wyandotte, MI with some friends. We went to the Wyandotte 7-11 to get some pop and food, but they were only letting a few people in at a time in order to keep shoplifting down. The manager was at the door letting people in as people left. I was next in line and joked with him about needing to hire more employees. I had long-hair, I was wearing my slashed up blue-jeans, I had a painters hat on backwards and was wearing a concert t-shirt. The manager looked me up and down and said: "I'd never hire you with the way you look." Never mind that I had a job that I worked very hard at, and no I didn't dress like that for work. But this guy wrote me off simply because of how I look.

Andre eventually cut his hair, as did I. Life also made him, as it has a way of doing, grow-up and mature. And what a player and man he grew and matured into. Winning several grand-slams, countless single's titles on tour, and the hearts of tennis fans around the globe. More than that, Andre started his own foundation for at-risk youths, and continues to be one of the most generous athletes of our time.

After years of thrilling us on the court, making incredible shot after incredible shot, and using the greatest return-of-serve the game has ever seen, it is his off-court endeavors that really define this man. As he moves away from the game to take those endeavors on full-time, we as Andre fans will never forget what he did for the sport, and the inspiration he has given to so many to be the very best that you can be.

Thank you Andre! And good luck in all that life has in store for you.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Have you forgotten?

5 years. Half a decade. Hard to believe. I was 32 on that day. I am 37 today. Several friends and family members that have passed on since were still with us on that day. So much can change in 5 years. I have seen a multitude of marriages, a few divorces, several births (including that of my own daughter), and, as mentioned, several deaths since that fateful day 5 years ago. Yet I have never forgotten.
It is one of those events that you remember vividly. Where you were. What you were doing. The mood of those around you. Who told you about this detail, or where you learned that detail. That evening watching Fox News. The next morning and the discussions during a meeting in the office. Every minute detail is etched forever on my brain. Through it all I can remember thinking: "someone must pay".

We retaliated by invading Afghanistan. I can still remember that even though only a little time had passed there were already people on the left saying we shouldn't go into Afghanistan. One woman at work, a devout liberal, claimed that fighting violence with violence only bred more violence. I always wondered what she'd do if someone physically attacked her. What would she do? Buy them a dozen roses?

Another woman posted a link to a petition to not use military force in Afghanistan on our electronic classifieds at work. It seems she was more content with sharply condemning the Taliban. Maybe impose U.N. sanctions against them, since that seemed to work so well with Saddam Hussein. (Please note the dripping sarcasm.) I emailed Human Resources along with several of my colleagues and her short-sighted posting was summarily removed from the classifieds. I wonder if HR would remove it today.

See the problem is that people forget what it felt like on that day. Oh they can tell you where they were, what they were doing, things like that. But so many have forgotten the sadness, and frustration, and the sense of helplessness that embodied Americans on that day.

Some of them used it as yet another opportunity to bash President Bush. All I can say is thanks be to God that Bush won Florida by the narrowest of margins in 2000. Can you imagine President Gore handling the aftermath? Oh brother. He'd tell everyone that to retaliate we should all plant a tree. He'd stop short of suggesting we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya, unless of course the words "my Lord" were removed from the song first. He’d probably suggest congress pass a bill changing them to “my Kommandant”.

5 years later and a lot has changed. Liberals now claim that the attacks were a government conspiracy to justify the invasion of Iraq. Liberals now claim that President Bush, praised in the weeks following the attacks, actually reacted in a "stupid" manner. You'd think after nearly 6 years they could come up with a more creative insult of President Bush, but they always fall back on the "stupid" one. I guess they'd know though, now wouldn't they?

5 years. For this writer the pain is still intense. The pain is still there. The pain hasn't subsided at all. The question is: have you forgotten? Or will September 11, 2001 forever be remembered not just as a day of terror, but as a day when your American pride and resolve was emboldened? I choose the latter. Of course if you are liberal you could always just go plant a tree.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Getting my feet wet

Okay so this blogging thing is big. And you all know I am into the latest thing. Right. But I started thinking about those thoughts I have as I am driving down the road. You know because you have your own. The thoughts about sports. Politics. Religion. Society. That guy in front of me with the "BADONE" vanity plate swerving in and out of traffic at light speed. Whatever the thoughts are about everyone needs an outlet. Well this is my outlet. Blogging.

So I am diving in head first. Every few days I'll pop out here and discuss things on my mind.

One thing I won't be discussing is work. In fact that is today's Steven's World topic: People that identify themselves by what they do for a living. You know people like this, the ones that within 5 seconds of greeting you have asked you what you do for a living, and then launch into a diatribe about what they do for a living. They have nothing else interesting to say because all they have in their life that they are proud of is their job. That is sad.

For me a career is a means to an end. I have to work to eat, pay the bills, take care of my family, etc. But I am not my job. My job does not define who I am as a person. The fact that I make more money than the next guy doesn't make me better than him. Nor does the fact that the next guy makes more money than I do mean that he is any more important or any better of a human-being than I am. For me a job is like underwear, when the current one isn’t doing the "job" anymore, you change it.

So remember, the person that you are isn't defined by your job title. Whether you are a street-sweeper, a roofer, a doctor, a factory-worker, a desk jockey, a used-car salesman, whatever, what really defines you is how you treat others. What really defines you is where you place God in your life. What really defines you is whether or not you put your family ahead of career pursuits. Have a job, don't be a job.

Thanks for listening.