Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The World's Most Delicious Hot Chocolate

My friends, my countrymen,

In the American season of Yule Tide, a good cup of hot chocolate plays a vital role. It matters not if you live in an area that sees feet of snow or inches of rain during the winter months, hot chocolate is a must-have. And while this has yet been proven, the quality of said hot chocolate directly affects the quality of your holiday experience.

This truth firmly implanted in my noodle, I have actively sought out the world's best hot chocolate recipe.

First, I tried the powdered varieties. Sure, the Swiss Miss packs taste chocolaty and yes, the premium and super premium powders at Kroger and Wal-Mart exceed the expectations for richness and flavor. But I always come away from this granulated beverages feeling let-down. They lack depth of flavor. Even if I substitute milk for water, it still leaves me wanting more yet getting less.

Then, I experimented with an old standby, Hershey's chocolate syrup and milk.

This combination has a more well-rounded flavor and is leaps and bounds above the powdered varieties. I am pleased when the host of the house offers me a cup of hot chocolate and it is made with milk and Hershey's syrup. It's the Honda Accord of hot chocolate; you pay a little more than the average but it's a quality ride from point A to point B. Hondas are nice but when it comes to hot chocolate I was a Rolls-Royce.

Tonight, I discovered a Rolls-Royce...fully loaded! I know! How could it possibly get any better, you ask? IT CAN'T!

  1. Start by melting some semi-sweet chocolate pieces. Fill bowl #1 with hot water, then fill bowl #2 with chocolate pieces. Gently place bowl #2 into bowl #1, thus passively and thoroughly melting the chocolate to a smooth-syrup consistency.

  2. Add the kick. Add one spoonful of peanut butter to the melted chocolate and stir until completely incorporated. Of course, if you are allergic to peanuts (or are too scared to experience hot chocolate as you've never before) leave out this step (wuss).

  3. Heat up your milk. Pour the desired amount of milk into your favorite mug and microwave for 2.5 to 3 minutes depending on your "hot" preference.

  4. Pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture into heated milk. Duh. Then stir.

  5. Add a dollop of Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream if you have it).

  6. And the Cherry on Top. Drizzle a small amount of Hershey's chocolate syrup on top.

  7. Sip slowly with eyes closed and Christmas music softly playing in the background.

I made this recipe for the first time tonight and it has lifted my holiday cheer to new heights! Speaking of holiday cheer, if you wanted to add some to your HC, I'd suggest a peppermint, almond, or caramel flavor keeping in mind that you may want to subtract the peanut butter. Try it one way and then suit to taste.

I call it Hot Reese's because simply "hot chocolate" doesn't do it justice. Give it a try and then tell me how you like it!

A New Virtual Library

For those of you who may be interested, I have been archiving some of my past writings online. These writings are old college papers, e-mail to the youth of the church where I served as youth minister, short stories, blog/forum posts, and much more.

If you'd like to visit Liberty's Library and read a spell, go to www.jecanterbury.blogspot.com

Thank you and have a great evening!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Careful...Upsets Happen!

I was looking for some raw data concerning the history of upsets in The Game that I could turn into a blog post when I found someone already had. This article is taken verbatim from the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. Complete credit goes to Doug Lesmerises.

As you read, keep in mind each team's record going into The Game this Saturday:

10 OHIO STATE: 9-2 (6-1)
M*CH*G*N: 3-8 (2-5)


Since 1951, Woody Hayes' first year at Ohio State, OSU and Michigan have played 57 times. Eight times, the teams had the same record going into their rivalry game. One of those games ended in a tie, as did one other game.

Here's the breakdown on the other 48 games, in which the team with the better record has won 63 percent of the time. But since 1980, the team with the better record has won barely half the time.


Since 1951

Team with the better record: 30-18
Michigan with the better record: 11-8
Ohio State with the better record: 19-10

Since 1980

Team with the better record: 13-12
Michigan with the better record: 7-5
Ohio State with the better record: 6-7


Since 1951

Ranked team against an unranked team: 7-6
Ranked Ohio State against unranked Michigan: 4-1
Ranked Michigan against unranked Ohio State: 3-5

Since 1980

Ranked team against an unranked team: 3-5
Ranked Ohio State against unranked Michigan: 1-1
Ranked Michigan against unranked Ohio State: 2-4


Here are the biggest upsets since 1951, when a ranked team lost to an unranked team or a team in the top two ranked to a team ranked much lower.

1952: No. 12 Michigan (5-3) vs. OSU (5-3): Ohio State wins, 27-7
**1969: No. 1 OSU (8-0) vs. No. 12 Michigan (7-2): Michigan wins, 24-12**
1981: No. 7 Michigan (8-2) vs. OSU (7-3): Ohio State wins, 14-9
1982: No. 13 Michigan (8-2) vs. OSU (7-3): Ohio State wins, 24-14
1993: No. 5 OSU (9-0-1) vs. Michigan (6-4): Michigan wins, 28-0
1995: No. 2 OSU (11-0) vs. No. 18 Michigan (8-3): Michigan wins, 31-23
1996: No. 2 OSU (10-0) vs. No. 21 Michigan (7-3): Michigan wins, 13-9
2001: No. 11 Michigan (8-2) vs. OSU (6-4): Ohio State wins, 26-20
2004: No. 7 Michigan (9-1) vs. OSU (6-4): Ohio State wins, 37-21

**James' note: Denotes the biggest upset in the history of The Game according to Ohio State football historians and Big Ten sports writers.


Monday, November 17, 2008

A Little Ohio/M*ch*g*n History

I remember when I started hating that team up north.

I was living in Illinois, as I had since I was 5, so I didn't have the benefit of living in the 'Birthplace of Aviation' to have my OSU fandom nurtured. I had just started the seventh grade and my chemical science teacher was a smug, arrogant, feminist who insisted on making maize and blue references just about every day. I couldn't stand her in the least and she let me know that the feeling was mutual. So it was only logical that I hate the team she liked. You know, it's funny that hating M*ch*g*n felt so natural, so right.

Simply hating scUM wasn't enough, however. I couldn't deny the feeling of being virtually alone. I felt like an outsider undercover within the Midwestern kingdom of the Big Ten. All around me in the small farming community of Morton, IL were either hardcore Illini fans or had jumped on board Bo's bandwagon. About three months into school was when I realized that what I was missing was my own hometown team.

Champaign nor Ann Arbor could replace the city beside the Olentangy River. I realized I was an expatriate who longed to 'go back to old Columbus Town'. I couldn't be honest with myself and yell "Go Illini" and I certainly wasn't going to cheer on that team up north. So I embraced my Buckeyes, giving them my full sport-allegiance, and haven't looked back.

If you weren't born in these parts or if you haven't spent any time as a resident in the area, you probably don't know that the Ohio State - M*ch*g*n rivalry goes back further than American college football. It goes back beyond the War Between the States. It can be traced back to 1835 when a state/territory border came under dispute.

You can read a much more lengthy explanation of the Toledo War here but here is the basic storyline:

Both the state of Ohio and the territory of M*ch*g*n claimed this narrow strip of land from the Indiana line to the western edge of Lake Erie called the Toledo Strip. Depending on who you talk to, there was (according to Ohioians) or was not (M*ch*g*nd*rs) gunfire during the war but militia from both territories were mobile and active along the disputed ground. It took acts of Congress and President Andrew Jackson to force the territory up north to give Toledo to Ohio in exchange for the remaining land of what we now call the Upper Peninsula.

This was in 1836. It is now 2008 and I want my money back.


The first battle on the gridiron took place in 1897 between the perennial powerhouse M*ch*g*n Wolverines and an infant football club from Ohio State. The outcome was 34-0 in favor of the maize and blue. It wouldn't be until 1919 when Ohio State would get their first win in the series thanks in large part to the now legendary halfback Charles "Chic" Harley, who was Tim Tebow before Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. The next two games also fell into OSU's win column again due in large part to Harley. This prompted the university to begin a campaign to build a football stadium near campus in Columbus. Ohio Stadium would be completed in 1922 and nicknamed, "The House that Chic Built".

The annual series, now known as The Game, hit the national spotlight in full force during a 10-year stretch of time when two men, who once had been assistant coaches for the same team, squared off in epic battles against each other to not only decide a conference championship but often a national championship. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler became the four-star generals who would lead their armies into battle every November from 1969-1978 in the 10-Year War. Bo would claim victory in the 10-year war; his record 5-4-1. 1978 would be the last year Woody would ever coach the Buckeyes. He stuck a Clemson player who had just sealed a Gator Bowl win over Ohio State with a fourth-quarter interception.


It's been 18 years since I found Ohio State and made it mine. I don't hate my seventh grade chemical science teacher (anymore) but I still loathe those winged-helmet wearing bozos from Ann Arbor!

And I love every minute of it!

The record for the previous 104 games is 57-41-6 in favor of the team up north. This Saturday will mark the 105th meeting of, what ESPN in 2000 called, the greatest rivalry in all of sports and coach Jim Tressel, who has won 6 of the last 7 years, is expected to add another notch in the win column for O-HI-O.

Here's to an Ohio State record fifth win in a row over M*ch*g*n!

Here's to another pair of gold pants for the Buckeyes!

Here's to 57-42-6!

Here's to OH-IO!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Can He Really?

On the heels of a particularly historic evening in American history, I can't help but wonder about what the little-known, inexperienced, controversial Illinois senator turned President-elect Barack Obama is going to do once in office. 62 million of my countrymen think he is ready to occupy the oval office while 56 million would rather he prove he is ready for the job first.

How will a President Obama govern when it comes to tough issues? He has no record of governance on which to look back. When called upon to take a stand, Mr. Obama displayed an uncanny habit of voting 'present' therefore his voting record in the Senate cannot be drawn from confidently.

The future President of the several states has claimed, and even promised according to some of the pundits, a desire to work with both sides of the political aisle to solve America's problems. I hope that he makes good on his words because he's been in congress since 2004 and I haven't seen any substantial moves to the center.

Barack Obama has promised to scale down our military, especially when it comes to ICBMs, at a time when just today the President of Russia announces plans to place short-range missiles at the Polish border. Is this wise? Will he listen to the generals and commanders beneath him before he, a man with no military experience whatsoever, makes strategic maneuvers with our armed forces?

Barack Obama wants to personally sit down with leaders of rogue nations and discuss relations and other diplomatic exchanges without pre-conditions (but with 'preparation'...whatever the hell that means). While I appreciate that he wants to get his hands dirty in this face-to-face approach, I'm not sure I want both an executive and negotiating novice trying to 'talk down' a delusional mad-man with his finger on a nuclear hair-trigger? I'm not sure what Obama hopes to accomplish in so doing but I hope that for your sake and mine he is successful.

He has said time and time again that it isn't fair that the wealthy get to keep their money while there are those in this country who have to live without. He wants to 'spread the wealth' which means stealing money from those who have to give it to those who have proven they can't save or budget it. This is not about the well-off not being charitable, rather this is about the government taking money from the pockets of citizens against their will. Does that sound fair? I don't remember hearing this narrative as apart of the 'American dream'?

Mr. Obama claims that he has a better tax plan for the working families of America. However, I'm not sure he is square on what that means exactly. First he said that anyone making less than $250,000 will not see their taxes go up a single dime. Then, that figure changed to $200,000. Then Vice President-elect Joe Biden said that if you make $150,000 or less you would receive a tax cut. And who can forget Barack Obama's repeated statement, "under my tax plan, 95% of working families will get a tax cut"? Well, this too is suspect because Obama plans to do away with Bush's temporary tax cuts we are all enjoying right now. This means that in 2010, every one's taxes are going up. How is that good for America's working class?

Lest we forget Barack playing to the 'victim crowd" when he spoke of his grandmother's fear at being around young black men because she was a "typical white person". The portion of the black community that constantly feels victimized will chant about 'the struggle' for any reason at any time. However, now that a man of color has achieved the highest office in the land, is 'the struggle' over? I would think that most folks would say, "somewhat" or "largely so", but the truth is that as long as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, et al. still roam the streets, Booker T. Washington's words will still ring true. Will President Barack Obama push the black community out of this mentality and toward true progress or will he coddle them for his political gain?

Yes, I could go on and on but I'm afraid my point is this:

I'm both amazed and bewildered that Barack Obama has being chosen as the 44th President of these United States. And for him and my nation I will pray.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Homecoming

It was a very warm summer morning. I didn't know it at the time but it was the dawning of a new era; a day that was filled with an unfamiliar excitement. My mom had tried to explain what "moving" was all about but my juvenile brain couldn't fully wrap around it.

Since rising earlier than usual, my brothers and sisters were frantically scurrying from room to room searching for items to secure in towering boxes that had been labeled with black marker. Every face wore the emotion of purpose. Everyone understood that there was work to be done before the movers arrived. Everyone but me. It was surreal walking around my house that morning and feeling an almost electric buzz in the air and not being sure of exactly what was going on.

Then the "Mayflower" pulled up to our front door. It was gigantic! To my bewildered eyes, the green and yellow 18-wheeler looked like a loose train car that had broken free from the track and rumbled to our house on Pepper Ct. As I stood with saucer-eyes and mouth agape, three guys dressed in blue jumpsuits hopped out of the truck and started into the kitchen. Slowly but surely, my house was emptying as the mayflower filled to the ceiling. Not long after they arrived, the moving crew had slammed the trailer door and my family piled into our two-toned brown suburban...it had been packed like we were going on a long trip. Two days later, I found all of my belongings in a new home, in a new neighborhood, in a new state.

It was 1983 when my family left Westerville, Ohio for Morton, Illinois. It wouldn't be until June of 2006 that I would return to the state of my birth. It would be two more years before I would really and truly come home to central Ohio.

Last Saturday, Amy and I successfully moved from NW Ohio to a suburb of Columbus, Ohio where family is just a few minutes away and my hometown is as close as it has been since I was 5 years old.

We are incredibly excited to move from what we've felt was a holding pattern in our life to the next step in growing as a family and as a married couple. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my ecstasy about being so close to my Ohio State Buckeyes, the only team in all of sports on whom my loyalty rests.

We look forward to what God has in store for us but we're hoping that my leaving meteorology and broadcasting after 7 years was a good decision. I've been trying to secure a new career in sales/advertising with little to no success. Please pray that my fortunes begin to align with God's plan for us!

Go Bucks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

President YOU!

President Canterbury, in his first one-hundred days, would:

*Seal the northern and southern borders. Beef up border patrol by re-assigning 50% of the national guard to said borders. If you are in the national guard, shouldn't more of you be "guarding the nation"?

*Work for the immediate drilling of any and all domestic oil resources with the least impact on the local environment. This while research is conducted on other alternative energy including natural gas, nuclear, geothermal, and hydroelectric. At the same time, offer a life-time tax holiday to the makers of the first viable and proven battery that can sufficiently store solar energy to power your home at night. Wind is not going to cut it folks! I'm just telling ya!

*Bring home 80% of our military personnel currently serving in Europe and Japan. The remaining 20% can "monitor the situation" just fine, thank you.

*Publicly call out every member of congress...this, the worst congress in American history...for not working together to get one single important piece of legislation passed. Then, work to set term limits.

*Strip down the Federal government's responsibilities to national defense, foreign policy, and homeland security (The supreme court will remain untouched). Everything else will fall under the jurisdiction of each of the several states.

*Halt any new legislation from the hopper until we have researched whether or not existing legislation would accomplish the same goal. Why enact new laws if we're not enforcing the ones we already have?

*Abolish the IRS.

*Adopt the gold standard.

*Enact the 5% income flat tax. This is plenty of money to cover all necessary programs and services taken on by the Federal government.

*Tell the UN to set up headquarters elsewhere.

*Discontinue billions and billions of foreign aid dollars that are just handed out like candy. If a country needs help so bad, they can ask for it. We reserve the right to say no.

*Cut all welfare and entitlement for those who can work but don't. You are endangering your family by your willingness to sit on your ass and shirk your responsibilities. Therefore, if you refuse to provide for them, your children will be removed from your "care" and placed in foster care.

*Work to only allow abortions for specific, medically-proven circumstances. This will be a compromise that I'd hate to make but fewer children killed is fewer children killed and that's the goal.

*Get out of the nation building business.

*Work to make the burning and general desecration of the U.S. Flag a crime punishable by fines and/or jail time. Look folks, I like free speech just as much as the next guy, but if you can yell "fire" in a movie theatre and get charged with inciting a riot, then you should be charged for destroying a national symbol that's proper care is clearly defined in the flag code.

*Remove all governmental influence from the bedrooms of consenting adults. If two guys or two girls want to get married, let the church make that call. It is not the job of the government to limit who can and can't get married.

*Allow each state the right to vote on legal drinking age. If they can decide their own speed limit, why not the drinking age?

*Find smoking bans unconstitutional that don't allow private businesses the right to serve both smoking and non-smoking clientele.

Then on day 101, I'm taking a nap!

What would you do?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

To Raise Awareness

I just cannot stand this phrase! Why? It doesn't do the cause justice.

Think about it.

You are a speaker at a Light the Night Walk, a fund raiser for leukemia & lymphoma research. You've just come down from the stage after a heart-wrenching message to families and friends of survivors about your personal experience with the bastard that is blood cancer. The audience has been touched by hearing about the people lost to this evil. They have been moved to come to this event in memory or honor of a loved one and have pledged to do and give more to fight cancer.

As you descend from the stage, a reporter approaches you with microphone in hand and asks you why this event is important. And your response is, "Oh, we just want to raise awareness about leukemia and lymphoma.

Bull Crap!

Raising awareness just means more people know about your cause. You don't just want more people to KNOW about blood cancers, you want people to get pissed off that this diabolical disease can kill loved ones. You want folks to get off the couch and donate to local, state, and federal research organizations. You want medical professionals to discover symptoms that can be detected early for disease prevention.

You don't want wives to ask husbands, "Honey, are you aware of lymphoma?". You want neighbors to band together and raise money for the Light the Night Walk and participate in this sometimes life-changing event!

Please, if asked to give a quick interview on your event, don't cheapen all of the hard work, dedication and effort you and your team put into it by copping out with, "Oh we just want to raise awareness".

Let's just be honest, you don't want to raise awareness, you want to raise money. There is nothing wrong with wanting to raise money!

Just be honest and advance your cause.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Three times Ten equals birthday!

My favorite number is three. Has been ever since I knew I had a favorite number. Beyond the dozens of times that 3 appears in my life, I've discovered I also tend to categorize my favorite things into "Top 3s" rather than top 5s or 10s like most folks. For example, my Top 3 favorite foods are Pizza, Steak, and Waffles.

Today, my lovely wife made sure that I got all of my Top 3s for my 30th birthday!

Her day started at 8 in the AM. I thought she really wanted me to sleep in but she was really hard at work whipping up homemade waffles, tropical fruit, juices, and even decorated the house with balloons and party streamers for the family party later that day! I was greeted by all of this two hours later when I finally rolled out of bed.

Waffles. Check.

My parents and other immediate family arrived at our house not long after to go to Joey Fratello's Pizzeria for lunch. Joey Fratello's is a local success story around this area. The owner brought the business into a building, which had sustained flood damage, almost immediately after the record flood waters of the Blanchard River went down last August. It was a bold move especially when you consider the number of businesses that had to close up shop due to flood damage. One year later, his carry-out and eat-in business is going so well that he doesn't advertise...he doesn't have to, his restaurant is packed nearly everyday.

Pizza. Check.

After lunch, everyone came back to our place for cake and the bestowing of gifts for my major accomplishment (since when did surviving one more trip around the sun become an accomplishment? Oh well, I got presents for it). The party soon broke up and family parted ways to reconnect another time.

When dinner came around, I was sure we would be eating leftover Joey Fratello's...but no. My lovely bride mentioned that we were 2/3 of the way to a culinary tri-fecta and we were going to finish this race. Outback, here we come!

Steak. Check.

Ah, if everyday of my thirties is half this good, I'll be doing alright!


If you would, please take 30 seconds to pray to the Lord God for a cure for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. A dear friend from my college days who is now a 28 year-old father of two very young girls was diagnosed just this week with this bastard of a disease. Please pray for him, his wife and girls, and his family and friends during this challenging time!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

He Provides...

So, I was unemployed for a grand total of 55 hours.


I knew something was brewing with a good friend of mine, Fred, who owns Gridirons Gifts and Collectibles in the Findlay Village Mall but I wasn't sure when he would be ready for me to begin taking hours.

Today was the day.

I worked 7 hours with him today and I'll be catching another 13 by closing on Friday evening. So, if you are in the area and wanna stop by, please do! Gridirons doesn't yet have a shop-able website but it's under construction and should be up and running within the next two weeks.

Once the site is up and online, all shipping and handling will be free for the first month. I'm just sayin'!

I know that this gig is temporary and doesn't pay what I was making at WTOL but I choose to look at this as God's way of rewarding those who are resolved to work their way through difficult times.

I can't do it without God and He won't do it without me!

*Picture taken at Gridirons on June 1, 2008, during Troy Smith Autograph show.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A 2008 Big Ten Preview

The teams that make up the Big Ten conference have a big job ahead of them. Theirs is the task of reshaping the national opinion of the Big Ten as a weak conference. What's the best way to gain the respect of college football nation? Win. Lots.

A few teams will improve on last year's record, some will continue to struggle, and still others will take a step back. Who will do what? How will the season take shape? What will the landscape look like as we prepare to go bowling? Here is my take heading into late December.

The Final 2008 Big Ten Standings.

8-0 12-0

Key Moments:
This team has 20 returning starters including three guaranteed first-day draft picks. OSU is loaded in most areas that matter. However, Todd Boeckman and the two receiver Brians Robiskie and Hartline are not spectacular. The Buckeyes will win what will be a great match up against USC in Los Angeles. Quarterback Mark Sanchez and a young offensive line will prove the Trojans undoing. Expect a 3 to 7 point victory for the Scarlet and Gray. Ohio State also has to travel to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison to face the only Big Ten team against whom Jim Tressel has a losing record. This will be a high energy, night game filled with back-and-forth action. The Badgers will have to survive a healthy diet of Chris "Beanie" Wells (and likely Terrelle Pryor) in order to stay within striking distance of Ohio State. This game should end with a 7 to 10 point victory for OSU. Will Jim Tressel increase his BCS Championship Game record to 2-2?

Bowl Game:
BCS National Championship Game (against Oklahoma, USC, or Georgia)

7-1 11-1

Key Moments:
To borrow a line from my favorite movie, Bret Bielema "doesn't suffer fools nor strikes a bargain with one". He knows what it takes to follow in the footsteps of Barry Alvarez; a man who took a program when it wasn't and made it into (according to SI) the Number one college football town in the country. Wisconsin is one of the few Big Ten schools to have successful records against SEC teams in the last 10 years and this focus on winning will not lax this year. Their only loss this season will come at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes in Madison. UW has incredible depth in a backfield that is led by P.J. Hill. Hill is cast in a similar mold as that of Ron Dayne; a big, bruising back who punishes those who come to tackle him. On Wisconsin.

Bowl Game:
BCS Rose Bowl (against USC, Oregon, or UCLA)

5-3 8-4

Key Moments:
The Nittany Lions will show improvement over last years' conference record of 4-4. JoePa's team should bring a good air attack and a competitive rushing game. PSU's biggest emotional victory will be against a rebuilding and restructuring Michigan team while the biggest win of real consequence will come in South Bend against Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. And, yes, someone somewhere will wonder if this is JoePa's last season.

Bowl Game:
Capital One Bowl (against some SEC team that will win pretty handily)

5-3 8-4

Key Moments:
Gone is the back who allowed Ron Zook's spread offense to work so well, Rashard Mendenhall. J Lehman has exited the middle of the Illini linebacking core. Isaiah "Juice" Williams will continue to be a legit dual-threat signal caller but I see this team taking a step backwards this season due to the lacking ability to fill those voids. Illinois' biggest win will be in Happy Valley on September 27th but will suffer at the hands of Michigan, Wisconsin, and OSU. Faith in Ron Zook is well placed nonetheless because he knows how to recruit. So this down time will not last long.

Bowl Game:
The Outback Bowl (Save me a bloomin' onion)

4-3 8-4

Key Moments:
Rich Rodriguez's first year at Michigan will not be as bad as some have predicted as he'll score one more win than his counterpart in Columbus during his first campaign. Their similarities continue as RichRod must re-tune a group of instruments who are used to playing the song "three yards and a cloud of dust" into an orchestra blarring "catch me in open space if you can". This transition will take time to become fully incorporated as Michigan has few key returners. The number one pick in the 2008 NFL Draft Jake Long, Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, and Shawn Crable are all gone. Should I mention Justin Boren? Maybe not. ***Upset Alert***Look for another first game loss this year as Utah comes to the Big House and stuns the winged helmets.

Bowl Game:
The Insight Bowl (college football's answer to Hollywood's, "Dude, Where's My Car")

4-4 7-5

Key Moments:
Mark D'antonio has learned quite a bit from one year ago and Devon Ringer is still running strong. Those of you in Michigan have circled October 25th on your calendar. This is the game that I had the most difficulty calling. In a very close, likely overtime featuring game, I'm expecting the green and white to fall in the Big House in what amounts to the biggest rivalry game for State. It looks like this year will be one of those most typical for East Lansing...start 5-0 then inexplicably coming apart.

Bowl Game:
The Alamo Bowl (don't forget it)

4-4 7-5

Key Moments:
Revel in QB Curtis Painter and Head Coach Joe Tiller for one more year, boys and girls. Painter will be one of the top three Quarterbacks in terms of pass efficiency and passing yards in the Big Ten this year. It's too bad he has few targets to get the ball to. Purdue's biggest game will also take place in South Bend and it will be a close one. Actually I'm not entirely sold on Notre Dame losing this game especially if QB Jimmy Clausen is as good as he is hyped to be. Thankfully, PU doesn't play Wisconsin this year otherwise they would be registering three losses to the conferences historically top teams; Michigan, Ohio State, and the Badgers. Bang that big bass drum like there is no tomorrow for the old gold and black...that should lift your spirits.

Bowl Game:
Champs Sports Bowl (the winning team to receive a $50 gift card to Champs Sports)

2-6 6-6

Key Moments:
The Wildcats will have one of the three best backfields in the conference running free this year. However, don't look for great things out of the purple and white's defensive unit. Tyrell Sutton and QB C.J. Bacher will do what they can to bring a bowl game appearance to Evanston, IL (which will be enough to defeat Iowa in Iowa City on September 27th). If Iowa can survive Pittsburgh, NU will be staying home this December. If not, a confident Sutton will run this team to a bowl game. It's too bad football games are not won by G.P.A. These guys would be National Champions every year!

Bowl Game:
Motor City Bowl

2-6 5-7

Key Moments:
Last year, this team drew strength from each other after their head coach Terry Hoeppner died of cancer mid-season. His mantra, "play 13" became a source of motivation for the crimson and cream to reach their first bowl game since 1993 (during the Antwaan Randle El era). After a field goal in the last 30 seconds of their final game against Purdue, the dream was a reality as they won a spot in the Insight Bowl against Oklahoma State. They lost that game and it appears that the loss of momentum will carry over into this season. While the Hoosiers return RB Marcus Thigpen and QB Kellen Lewis, this team says goodbye to star receiver speedy James Hardy. This brings their three-dimensional offense down to 2-D. ***Upset Alert*** Ball State will be an interesting game in Bloomington on September 20. Good luck, IU, you'll need it.

Bowl Game:

10. IOWA
2-6 4-8*

Key Moments:
The bright spot for Kirk Ferentz's team this year is the non-conference schedule. The bad news is the rest of the entire conference schedule save for Indiana and Minnesota. Even the Cyclones of Iowa State will have the Hawkeye's number in this year's rivalry game. It's a good thing the black and yellow plays the likes of Maine, Florida International. ***Upset Alert*** Pittsburgh will likely win their match up on September 20.

Bowl Game:
Toilet Bowl brought to you by Kohler

0-8 3-9

Key Moments:
A new outdoor stadium.

Bowl Game:
Where should we go for Christmas this year, kids?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is the Environment finally winning?

Depends on who you ask.

Perhaps the better question is, "Are the Environmentalists finally winning?"

Every time you turn on the television there is another company, brand, or famous person proclaiming the benefits of "going green". While this is not a new occurrence, the shear number of said happenings is staggering these days. What is even more staggering is the reason for what you're seeing on TV. But more on that later.

When I say "winning" what do I mean? The environmentalist movement has been battling for your heart and mind since the 60s. Up until recently the battle has been, for the most part, uphill. Sure there have been some aerosol victories here and there. Yes, recycling is a big hit. Now, tuna is dolphin safe. But on the whole environmentalism has not been a major consideration in popular opinion. They have banged their drum, we have stopped to notice, and then returned to our lives unaffected.

I hearken you back to the years of "Save the Planet". A fair attempt by hippies to persuade the masses to take protective action on behalf of mother earth. This initiative fell short of a ground swell response. The main reason: too much scolding not enough sense-making. The populous was tired of being brow-beaten for all of the world's ills and was completely turned off to the message. With no one to listen to them, the beatniks beat it.

Then came the global cooling scare of the 1970s. Yep, for a few short years the natural community stepped to the plate wielding this little beauty. But this too, like so many other plights, failed to resonate with the vast majority of the American public. This time, the problem and its solution seemed too daunting for any one person to do anything about. A sentiment that is correct on so many levels. The activists got the point and shut up.

Lest we forget the hole in the o-zone layer of the late 1980s and early 90s. I swear when I was in sixth grade I was convinced that all of the girls in my youth group were guilty of my impending death thanks to the pounds of Aqua-net they put in their hair. I was sure I would be killed by skin cancer before my 12th birthday. That and Antarctica would be gone by the time I learned to drive. Of course neither happened. Few listened and the messengers got quiet.

The early 2000s brought a new message of mass hysteria. This time it was global warming. Probably the most formidable dreck of propaganda to date thanks in no small way to the ever stimulating wordsmith himself Al Gore and his wildly popular mockumentary, "An Inconvenient Truth". Top that off with the IPCC's findings that man was responsible for the degradation of the climate (imagine that) and you've got a massive campaign that could really make people freak...I mean think.

But this scheme too would fall victim to the truth. If the temperature isn't rising everywhere, then it can't be global warming. It's not so it isn't. Also, you can't swing a cat these days without hitting a scientist who has removed his/her name from the report thanks to it's wildly irresponsible accusations and highly speculative "scientific statistics and figures". As had all the others, this rallying cry too went silent.

However "global warming" morphed to "climate change " which is no better seeing as it is an oxymoron. Redundant if you will (and I will). The climate has always been in a constant state of change and it will be that way until Earth no longer exists (most scientists believe this will happen when the sun expands and swallows Mercury, Venus and Earth in several billion years).

Try as they might, the tree huggers are losing. That is until now.

There is one message from the environmentalist movement that is markedly different than all the others. This one refrains from placing blame on mankind. The marketing machine has not gone the way of a crying Native American standing on a roadside that is littered with garbage. No, my friends, this grass roots campaign has swept through the country and has not lost its steam. It is changing the way we live, the way we think, and the way we raise our children. What is this message?

It is two words: "Energy Efficient".

These two words are reverberating in American ears unlike any other Sierra Club attempt. Even the mildly popular "Go Green" can't top the massive response to changing the way we use, produce, and store energy. Car manufacturers are shutting down SUV and truck assembly plants and cranking out 2 and four-door sedans and smaller, more fuel efficient hybrids. Solar energy has more R&D money flowing into it than ever before.

Even oil companies such as BP and Marathon are researching new technologies for alternative energy sources as well as how to use different types of crude that we can't yet get to.

People are shutting off lights when leaving rooms and putting their work computers on standby when going to lunch. More and more folks are buying more fuel efficient cars or are plugging into mass transit systems. Motorcycle sales have skyrocketed in recent months and not since Plymouth Rock has corn played such an important role in the future of this country. Neighborhoods are featuring more and more bike riders every week.

Without "Energy Efficient" we would have never heard of E-85 or bio diesel let alone hybrid. Why even the car that runs on water is showing some promise in laboratory testing.

With this newly found sense of pride in reducing, reusing and recycling you would think that the green crowd would be thrusting their fists in the air in triumph.

While a few are, the rest know the dirty little secret to all of this success and it has nothing to do with wanting to save the polar bears or heal the earth.

What's the only reason for all of the environmental awareness?

Finally, after forty years of being told how bad we are and how costly it is going to be to fix the planet, it is actually saving you green to go green.

And that's the truth...no matter who you ask!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Super Delegates...Why?

If the Democratic party's super delegates can vote anyway they deem necessary, why let the people voice their opinion in primaries and caucuses? Doesn't it seem like a waste of time to tell people, "your vote matters", when in actuality, it doesn't?

Couldn't the same be said for the electoral college?

Do these two voting collectives need abolished?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just be a Follower

In the broadcast industry, the time in between news shows is usually slow. The studio lights are off, the cameras have been pushed to the back wall, and the buzz of the people in the newsroom has dulled to a low hum. You can still hear a phone or two ringing, but the operation speed of the newsroom has declined by a great deal.

It is during these times that I have the opportunity to read e-mail, surf the Internet for fun mini-vacation ideas, check bank account statements, watch TV, or call family and friends to catch up on life and their little corner of the world. I also like to take these few hours to think, meditate on and read God's Word (via the Internet), and pray...not nearly as much as I should, however.

Several months ago I was sitting at my desk in between the 6 and 11 o'clock shows; I believe it was a Saturday evening. I was recalling a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine on benevolence. The simple act of giving. I remember discussing how different churches use the offering and which of these practices made no sense. For example, continuing to pay a youth minister when the vast majority of the congregation wasn't happy with the quality of his work. To dish out more and more of your congregants money like this is maddening! There are much more productive ways to use weekly contributions than that!

I'm not sure why, but after recounting that conversation my mind took flight. I began a series of thoughts along the lines of "If I Could Just be a Christian". My brain raced with all sorts of ideas of how Amy and I could spend our time if all we had to be concerned with was simply being Christ's followers. Of all the possibilities, my mind and heart came together solidly on one.

If I Could Just be a Christian I would work to bring the Bible, appropriately translated, to every nation in the world. That's it! If we didn't have to worry about providing money, health, security, safety, and a future to our families this is what I would do.

It sounds daunting. It sounds insurmountable. It sounds impossible. I know.

I once heard a joke that went, "You wanna make God laugh...tell Him your plans". I must have had the Almighty Creator of the Cosmos rolling out of His desk chair and on to the golden street outside of Heaven's Gates when he heard me think like that.

But what a mission that would be! The hours spent tracking down translators of rare languages, planning and coordinating with a church body in the host country, building relationships with its people, praying over the work and letting God have full control. Knowing that all the while you toil it is only God's grace and mercy that will give the increase.

That is truly living!

Imagine accompanying each and every delivery of God's saving Word to the people of a land controlled by tyrannical governments. Seeing the faces of those who are, at that very moment, braving pain of death just to have the chance to read their own copy of the New Testament would be almost too much to witness. Knowing not a single word of their native tongue but speaking Christs' love just by holding the hands of these brothers and sisters in Christ as ear-to-ear smiles go unceasing... talk about having a purpose!

I will likely never get that chance but...

If I Could Just be a Christian, I would take a translated Bible to every nation in the world.

What would you do?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kwestions by Kenny Part II

Kenny Simpson, over at his blog, FootBaskTrack Coach has asked for opinions on whether or not the words of Rev. Wright have hurt Barack Obama's campaign. I responded on his site with only minor changes from what you'll read below. Join in on the discussion if you like.


Yes, Wright hurt him. I also think that Obama hurt himself.

While Obama did try and distance himself from Wright's comments somewhat, he did concede that "the anger is still there"...meaning the black community is still angry. In my view, this comment has done just as much damage do his campaign as the comments from Rev. Wright and I'll tell you why.

There is one key demographic that outshines all others in voter turnout and that is the white male. This article carefully and dutifully points out that this demographic is not racist but

"annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior
that typifies the worst stereotypes of their race".

Let me point out that I do not think Obama typifies the worst stereotype of a black American. However, what you will find is the "Angry White Man" will be immediately turned off when he hears a rich, educated, accomplished black man say that "the anger is still there".

The "Angry White Man" will sit steaming red-faced as these words roll off the tongue of an affluent, Chicago-area lawyer who threw his maternal Grandmother under the bus last week when he said that in essence "white women are bred to be scared of young black men". Here is the full quote:

"... .. The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any
racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, uh, if she
sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know there's a reaction that's been
been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in
the wrong way and that's just the nature of race in our society. We have to
break through it..."

- Senator Barack Obama

I wished that race would not have been an issue in this campaign season (because it's not an issue) but the Democrats have let it be such.

I openly welcome the rebuttal of anyone who disagrees with me. I hope that, by listening to each other's point of view, we as Americans will learn to respect one another... which will bring us closer to true unity.

I will leave you with one final thought.

I hope you, dear reader, will check out http://www.tucc.org/ and look at the "About Us" section. Please read their 10-point vision for the black value system, read about their unconditional commitment to a black worship service, and read the words that say "black religious experience".

Then ask yourself...

Would this website be viewed in the same light if it was for a "white" church?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kwestions by Kenny

Questions, questions, three bags full.

Kenny has posed some interesting questions on his site about which he sincerely wants to know his readers opinions.

The topics were Universal health care, the Presidential election, and the War in Iraq. These are all very important issues facing every American today and I think it shouldn't come as a big surprise that I have an abbreviated, public knowledge opinion on all three. ;)

Universal health care:

The thought is admirable. It's human kindness at its core. Every American should have some form of health care. On principle, you've got no argument from me.

Execution, however, is a different story.

I'm not going to pretend I know what is wrong with the current system nor do I know exactly what will heal its terrible ills. I will tell you that if you want to know if universal health care is a good idea, look at the countries that have it/have tried it. For the most part, they hate it. It takes too long to see a doctor for something that should be routine (I heard a lady from Canada call into a radio show and say her next Dr's appointment is in 15 months), a diagnosis takes four times as long as it should, and the taxes levied to pay for it all are outrageous!

It is no secret that, if given the choice, the population of the world would get their health care from America and it's not hard to see why. We have, likely, the best quality doctors, surgeons, equipment, and research facilities in the modern world. The cost for wellness visits is relatively low. Affordable health insurance, apart from what you hear on the network news, is more available than you might believe for anyone who is gainfully employed, disabled, retired, or has links to the military. Hell, even the poor who can't work have health care (medicaid). By and large, the only folks who don't have it are those who also don't have jobs because they don't want to work [I understand that there may be exceptions to this].

Ultimately, I think the same pitfalls that got Social Security in the downward spiral from which there is little hope of escape will likely be the same that will crush universal health care if it is tried in America.

I'll tell you what, you figure out a way to give every American health care without my having to pay for it (directly or indirectly) AND prove that the quality of care is just as good or better than it is now, and I'll vote for it.

Good luck with that one.

War in Iraq:

My brother fought in it. I was sick for 14 months until he came home in one piece.

Simple plan - as soon as the Iraqi government can police, govern, and protect itself, 100% of American forces should immediately exit the country.

The troop surge obviously worked. Therefore, we should be moving towards a more expedient end to this conflict. God, I hope so.

Presidential Election:

If Hillary wins the candidacy she'll lose to McCain in a roast. No question.

If Obama wins the Dem's ticket, he'll be the second black president of these United States.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Level 2 Audio Launches New Website

Mark, your website never sounded so good!

My friends over at Level 2 Audio in Perrysburg, Ohio have just launched their new website! The new look is fresh, snazzy and modern while the sound is crisp, clear, and sharp. Phenomenal work L2A!

I've had the honor and privilege of working with Mark Reiter over at L2A to do voice/voiceover work for roughly a year and a half. Mark truly is a talent's director. He knows the quality of which you are capable and understands exactly how to instruct you to get the most out of your read. As one of the other voice talents has said, "Mark is bi-lingual. He speaks "talent" and "director".

Mark is also one of the kindest people in the communication business. He lives and works by a set of ethical guidelines not created by man, but given through Divine providence by the Creator. It is a joy to work with someone who shares your belief system and who isn't ashamed to do so.

So, if you'd like to check out the new site, just follow this link. And if you're curious, click "voice talent". You're sure to find a familiar voice. :)

Photo Courtesy: zzounds.com

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Employment Red Flags

"I got your back".

I'm not going to get into the grammatical complications but you get the idea.

Sounds like many of my friends are beginning the process of looking for new jobs. Let me just say before this goes any further that I wish you the best of luck in your search. A few folks are diving into their stacks of business cards to find new leads or are jumping into resources like LinkedIn.com to get that networking ball rolling. Many still have decided to try their hand at searching the job postings on sites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com.

While I don't blame many of you for wanting to get out of dodge and on to much better working conditions, I must warn you that there are some very cheap, nasty, and conniving posts you'll likely run into on these job sites. These things might not necessarily be illegal but they should definitely have you seeing red flags that this job opening might not be for you...no matter how unbelievable it sounds. I know; I've looked...and what I found online was nothing short of extraordinary!

Here are some red flags I found myself online:

  • Seeing the same company listing multiple openings on more than three job sites. This should tell you that they aren't too picky about who they hire just as long as they find someone to fill the spot. Do you want to be treated like a prized employee or the quickest patch job in the west? This should also make you wonder about the opening itself. I mean, really, if it was such a highly sought-after and important spot, would it need to be listed so much?

  • Discovering that the company president is 33 years old. Run the other way. Likely what you have run across is a recent graduate of a pyramid company who has just opened up his new digs and is looking for anyone to beat the pavement selling coupons door-to-door and calling it a "marketing opportunity".

  • The educational criteria is listed as "High School or equivalent". Now, do not misunderstand me on this one. Everyone deserves to find a good job no matter their educational level. However, all of my friends have completed four-year degrees or higher so, in this case, you know from the get go that you are over-qualified for whatever this job posting might be offering. I don't care if the listing guarantees "rapid advancement from within", you don't want what they are selling. Leave this one alone!

  • The listing reminds you that all interviews are professional dress. For those of you who are not yet laughing at the absurdity, if you have to remind the applicant that you wear nice things to an interview, the job isn't that desirable (and neither is the applicant).

As it turns out, the best way to get your foot in the door of your dream company is still the old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know". Those with the best, largest networks tend to get the interviews. So talk up your friends and business contacts and ask them to keep their ears to the ground for employment rumblings in the department of your interest. You never know who went to church with whom years ago or who was college buddies with the CEO. It pays to have friends on the inside, sometimes.

In any event, good luck with your job searching.

And, if it's any help, I have your back. ;)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wrap Your Head Around This...

"You can be morally clean without Christ but, in your self-righteousness, you
are filthy

I heard this in church this morning and its impact has yet to wear off.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day in Africa


Amidst the snow-covered tundra of Sandusky, Ohio is nestled a summer getaway unlike any we've ever known. It is a vast, family playground where you are wisked away to the mysterious lands in Africa without ever leaving the Buckeye State. Yet this is no desert. Here, the waterfalls flow regardless of the rainy season. Here, the wave pools, tube slides, and speed slides don't close down for the winter. It is the next best thing to Disney's Wilderness Lodge without actually being in Florida. It is a place beyond your expectations, beyond your imagination, and beyond seasonal limitations. It is Kalahari Water Park and Resort.

Kalahari Water Park and Resort boasts the largest indoor water park in the United States and boy, are they proud of it! Amy and I decided to go up for our first visit to this fascinating water wonderland to celebrate our first Valentine's Day together (sadly, we've been separated by distance for every Valentine's Day prior). We couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable experience!

We arrived Thursday evening just in time to catch dinner at Kahunaville Restaurant and Bar. It continues the African theme in decor but infuses Las Vegas style entertainment like live stage shows and music (all family-friendly). We were surprised to be seated in their V.I.P. hut which reminded us of a combination nomadic yet luxurious tent you'd find in the Sahara -and- a bamboo version of Swiss Family Robinson's Tree House. We were incredibly lucky to have been seated there as the hut-like tent only featured two tables. We were very hungry so we ordered quickly then took the time to survey the rest of the restaurant. As we waited, the DJ was holding a kid's limbo contest on the stage and everyone seemed to really be having a great time.

After dinner, we slipped into our swimming digs and made our way downstairs for an abbreviated jaunt in the water park. After trying out a few tube slides, the Lazy River (#1 on the park map) , and the Wave Pool (#18), the park closed to all guests except for the four folks who had paid for Flow Rider lessons. It is this monster, quarter-pipe wave machine which throws a sliver of rushing water just a half an inch deep right under your feet. Sounds kind of intimidating at first but if you wanna learn how to body board, boogy board or even surf, this is the place to try. Flow Rider lessons are an additional cost to your water park admission but if you are the adventurous type, it is well worth the $30.00/person.

I asked Amy if she would like to give it a try first and initially accepted. Sanity got the better of her, however, and she opted to wait and go after her brave yet more so ignorant husband. Each lesson is 90 minutes in length and after your first five minutes, the instructors start teaching you tricks. Amy was smart and just stuck to riding the wave, trying not to fall off. She got thrown off the first time down the wave and suffered a few bruises as a result but she was a trooper and went back for more. She found her groove that second trip down, but at the end of her ride got thrown back to the top of the pipe again and called it quits. Gotta love her, bruises and all, she kept her smile!

The Flow Rider (#14) was not kind to me either. It gave me a small (well, I wouldn't call it a gash but it's the only word I can come up with right now) gash on my foot after one ride came to a particularly violent end. At one point, the raging torrent nearly claimed my bathing suit as a war trophy. Thankfully, I was able to keep my head and my shorts about me.

I did have some Flow Rider successes though. I was able to pull off some tricks thanks to the instructors' guidance. The first trick is when laying on the board, push the board straight out in front of you and, like a yo-yo, the force of the on-coming water will rush it right back under you. You can also learn to go from laying down to pushing yourself up to your knees and riding the wave that way. Finally, the most difficult trick I was able to land was a barrel roll. I was more successful rolling to my left than to the right but in any event I barrel rolled three times. The fourth attempt did not pan out so well (that's when I almost lost my trunks).

I called it quits shortly after that because I was getting a headache from being thrown around and slammed by the rapids. Overall, it was a great experience and I'm glad Amy and I got to share it.

The next day was filled with water slides, both family and doubles style, wave pools, lazy rivers, speed slides, and (because Amy would like to know if she would recommend Kalahari to her students and their families) a quick stroll through the kiddie portion of the park called Lepard's Lair (#9). It's a very elaborate little complex that reminds me of the playground equipment I used to play on at recess but it incorporates two water slides and a host of ways you can get other park goers soaked. Surprisingly, the parents had just as much fun as the youngsters because they get to experience the Lair WITH their children. Nice idea!

One of the coolest rides at the park is the Zip Coaster (#8) . It is not a completely aqua-powered log coaster (read = like Disney's Crushin' Gusher) but is almost just as fun. It is fast, completely enclosed at times, and gives you the sensation of being on a real, wooden roller coaster from Cedar Point. The line moved pretty quickly and the ride is worth the wait. The only draw back is that it seems to break down periodically.

The other very neat experience that stands out is one of the family-style flume rides called the Swahili Swirl (#19). It seats 2 or 4 people and starts you off in the darkness of the tube. Then, it drops off without warning to gain speed. Finally, it shoots you out into this expansive, 60 foot diameter bowl that swirls you round and round, then funnels you through the tube in the middle of the bowl that empties into the tide pool at the end. The extra thril of the ride is seeing how many times you can swirl around the bowl before being dumped through the center. It is a fantastic ride that had both Amy and me laughing from the get go and didn't stop until they made us get out of the raft.

Kalahari is more than a water park as it offers convention and meeting space as well as other options for land-based fun. If Amy and I have our way, we'll definately be back!

Thank you, Kalahari, for the most fun we've had on Valentine's Day!

It was Beyond our Expectation!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baseball's Finest Hour

This is likely the only post you'll ever see me write concerning major league baseball. Today, Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Each tried to explain his role, or lack there of, in baseball's rampant steroid problem. It was a long time coming for many baseball fans or for anyone who has followed the sports news these past two months.

I'd just like to say this - what has this become? If Roger Clemens is being tried for something, charge him, cuff him, and bring him before a judge and a jury of his peers. A house committee hearing is not the place to publically convict any citizen of these United States for anything! Regardless of Clemens' guilt or innocence, don't create a media/congressional circus from which there is no escape.

Further more, Roger...don't take the bait! I'm sure you were advised by your council as to what you'd be stepping in front of. You had to know you were going into a situation that, whatever the outcome, your name would never come out as clean as it may have gone in. If you still insist on proving your innocence, do so in a court of law where you can confront your accusers and where the examination of evidence can take place under due process.

My opinion of Clemens' guilt/innocence doesn't matter to my point here. You may have already made up your mind about McNamee, Clemens, Pettitte, et al and that is your right to do so. But suspend your opinions for just a moment.

Would you, had you been in either man's place, have done what they did or would you have pled the fifth and gotten out of dodge?

Photo courtesy: The Associated Press

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Unsinkable Survey

I apologise for the survey but I was tagged because I lurked!

1. Do you wear a name tag at work? Nope, but my name pops up at the bottom of the screen when I'm on.

2. What kind of car do you drive? a 2000 Ford Explorer Sport

3. What do you order when you go to Taco Bell? Usually the meal that has three tacos and a drink. I now it sounds boring but when I add my cheesy fiesta potatoes and nachoes it becomes the cheapest way for Taco Bell food to fill me up.

4. Have you ever had a garage sale? Yep, growing up we had a few at home. I have held two at church to benefit the teens. I'll never do it again!

5. What color is your iPod? I'm a 29 year-old who doesn't feel the need to carry his music around with him wherever he goes.

6. What kind of dog do you have? That's kind of presumptious ain't it?

7. What's for dinner tonight? Margarettia Grill. It's a quick mexican joint for which we often get GREAT coupons!

8. What is the last alcoholic beverage you had? This Mountaineer Brewing Co. beer called Nut Brown Ale. FANTASTIC! Could be my new favorite beer of all time! Sorry Shiner.

9. Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone? Took pictures of me burning my expired contract with my first TV station. I was paid $15,000 a year. It was stupid because I made myself work for that little.

10. Last time you were sick? About two months ago. Ailing throats and me don't get along very well. At the first twinge or difficult swallow I'm at the doctor. I just can't afford to call in sick thanks to my job. Stupid live television.

11. How long is your hair? About as long as my consultant/talent coach will let me have it.

12. Are you happy right now? About what?

13. What did you say last? "And go to sleep you will". Amy is currently asleep on the couch behind me.

14. Who came over last? Thad. He came to patch up some dry wall in our guest room.

16. Have your brothers or sisters ever told you that you were adopted? Yep. But in my family that can be pretty believable since no one really looks like anyone else. That is, until my little brother came along. He and I are the only ones who look even remotely related.

17. What is your favorite key chain on your keys? The one that says "Canterbury". My sister-in-law got one for each of us when she went to Canterbury, England.

18. What was the last movie you watched at home? The Princess Bride. I especially like the bonus featurettes on Andre the Giant. I almost cry everytime he is asked if he liked working on the movie and he answers without hesitation, "Yes, because here no one stares at me".

19. What is in your pocket? Nothing. My pajama pockets don't get much action.

20. Who introduced you to your crush? My sister. She asked me if I was going to be attending my little brother's football game that night to which I replied in the affirmative. She responded, "Good. Because I'm introducing you to your wife tonight". She was right.

21. Where do you hurt? My tongue. No lie. I get these crazy aggressive canker soars on all tissues in my mouth. Right now I have some weird one on the left side of my tongue and it scrapes along my teeth when I talk.

22. Has someone ever made you a Build-A-Bear? Nope.

23. What DVD is in your DVD player? A Disney vacation planning DVD, Disc 2 of season 7 of M*A*S*H, The Princess Bride, and the bonus disc to POTC:The Curse of the Black Pearl.

24. What's something fun you did today? I blogged about our trip to the Cast Iron Cook-off. See below.

25. Who was the principal of your high school? I don't remember. Orr I think.

26. Has your house ever been TPd? Yep.

27. What do you think of when you hear the word 'meow'? Probably that stupid cat food commercial where the cats sing.

28. What are you listening to right now? The humming of the furnace and the laptop. Amy isn't snoring yet.

29. Drinkin? Nothing at the moment. Hot Apple Cider when I get finished here.

30. What is your favorite aisle at Wal-Mart? Like most men...it is the one I'm searching for at the moment. The sooner I find it, the sooner I can get the heck out of here.

31. When is your birthday? You're asking because you forgot it last year. August 23rd.

32. What's the area code for your cell phone? They didn't give me one.

33. Where did you buy the shirt you're wearing now? It was given to me while I was working a Celebrity Wait at the Texas Roadhouse to benefit CASA.

34. Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror? Yep. My college tassel and a necklace given to me by one of my former teens that she got in Hawaii.

35. How many states in the US have you been to? Not as many as I'd like.

37. What are you going to do after this? Apple Cider, duh! Boy you have a short memory.

38. Who was the last person you went shopping with? Amy. She is the world's best shopper because she will buy nothing at full price. NOTHING! Everything MUST be on sale. I love her!

40. What about your favorite dessert? What about it? You wanna make something of it?

41. What is something you need to go shopping for? My next Ohio State DVD.

42. Do you have the same name as one of your relatives? Yes. I was named after both of my grandfathers. My first name is my Dad's dad's name and my middle name is my Mom's dad's name.

43. What kind of car do your siblings drive? Good gravy, I don't know. I have five siblings, three of whom are married, and a few have college-aged offspring (...come out and play...) of their own. Do you KNOW how many cars that is?

44. Do you like pickles? Yep. Just point me to the pickle tray and I'll be a happy camper.

45. What about olives? Olive oil = yes. Olives = no.

47. What is your favorite kind of juice? 100% Cranberry. Either that or grape.

48. Do you have any tan lines? That assumes I have any color at all. Hello?! It is winter.....in OHIO...

49. What hospital were you born in? Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

50. Do you remember the name of your kindergarten teacher? Mrs. Formals. She rocked!

Wine, Knives, and the Whole Hog

We are truly blessed!

Amy and I had a grand time at the 2008 Cast Iron Cook-Off and we have the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia to thank for it!

The Welcome Reception on Friday evening was the perfect lead-in to the weekend's events. Everyone gathered in the rustic lobby of the Stonewall Resort Lodge with glass in hand to toast the reunion of old friends and celebrate the meeting of new ones. We walked into the mass of humanity centered near the over sized fireplace and almost immediately connected with Dr. Allen Arnold, the director of the 21C. He could not contain his joy that the event had finally come nor his excitement for the grandiose pork-processional which we were about to witness. After glad-handing a few more dear friends including Executive Chef Dale Hawkins, Nancy Bulla, my co-emcee for the weekend, and Dr. Elaine Bowen, the brass and strings proclaimed the arrival of a whole hog, cooked and ready to be carved.

No head nor apple but he was carried by four chefs from the kitchen through the lodge foyer and into the ballroom. Everybody cheered and raised their glasses! It was a sight that's equal I've yet to encounter. We were instructed to follow the hog where we were greeted by candle lit tables and an Appalachian buffet with a hint of down home hospitality. Everyone loved it!

Following dinner, Nancy and I grabbed our microphones and jumped into our jobs with both feet. We introduced the judges for the weekend and the teams and chef who would compete the next day. As each head chef was announced, each team member was introduced then given a chef's coat to wear during the cook-off. I have to admit I always get a little jealous when it's coat time.

To my surprise, Nancy and I were both given snazzy Cast Iron chefs jackets as well! Truth be told, it was not total surprise because I had remarked just days before that it would be nice to have the Emcees wear some official looking 21C clothing. It would allow us to stand out as 21C representatives. It was agreed that it would make a great addition to our station and I thought we might get chefs coats but didn't think it possible so close to the event.

Thankfully, I was wrong. ;)

The Cook-off started promptly at 10:00 the next morning after Amy and I had a quick breakfast of pastries, muffins, and juices. Off she went to her massage treatment and some luxurious pool time while I entered West Virginia's version of Kitchen Stadium. Staggered throughout the morning/midday, 14 teams of Gastro-gladiators walked, scurried, or danced their way into the hour long battle. The prize: dethroning the two-time Grand Champions, Team Provence Market (headed by Chef Anne Hart) and becoming Grand Champion.

With every whisk, chop, puree, and glaze Nancy and I were there calling the action and chatting up some "did-you-knows" about cast iron, our judges, or anything else we thought interesting to keep the nearly 6-hour competition running at high energy. With every fry, saute, steep, and sear the competitors shared smiles, laughs, and songs as they worked to create a New Appalachian menu with time-honored tools and methods. If they felt the pressure of winning they didn't show it. There was so much hootin' and hollerin' that one would have thought he/she had entered a mountain family reunion by mistake.

Meanwhile, Amy would check in a time or two to see how everything was going. After a quick jaunt around the working stations, she'd be off to take advantage of Stonewall's little known secret; the Library. A cozy place complete with fireplace, extra comfy furniture, soft lighting, and walls of books, the library is quaint. We both enjoy it's quiet reprieve from the frantic pace of the cook-off. It's a wonderful place to take off your shoes, wrap your feet under your "seat" and curl up with someone you love beside the fire and read...or sleep...or just zone out.

After the cook-off, we made way to T.J. Muskies for lunch. This is Stonewall's rendition of a rustic, fireside bar, grill, and billiards hall all rolled into one. The mood is relaxed and the food is familiar. We snagged a table for two by the screened-in fire pit and devoured an overdue midday meal. We each had our Stonewall favorites: Amy loves to order the Appalachian Egg Rolls as an appetizer and I had the Fried Green Tomato B.L.T. This was the first creations of Dale's that after having done a segment about it on TV, I went home and tried immediately. As I recall, I made it for Amy when she came in for a visit while we were still dating.

At the end of the day, all of the teams, chefs, judges, and friends returned to the ballroom for a 5 course wine pairing dinner prepared by Chef Dale and his staff. Every plate was teaming with fresh produce, locally raised proteins, and Appalachian love. I'd have to say that is what makes Dale's recipes stand out: his love of food and his friends.

You can probably deduce that after 5 different glasses of wine to be had, some didn't treat the proceeding awards ceremony with exactly the same level of composure as they did the meal. Appropriate or not, it wasn't hard to tell that everyone was having a good time! Especially the newly crowned Grand Champions! Congratulations to Chef Hans Friedman and the rest of Team Lightburn's for their well-earned victory!

Something tells me that they'll be back next year to defend the title. And, as long as the welcome mat is out, the Canterburys will be back at the Cook-off with bells on!

Photos Courtesy: The Media Center

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fire Up Those Grills!

Cast iron chefs do battle this weekend!

No, this is not Food Network's wildly popular version of Japan's Iron Chef TV show. I'm talking about the 3rd Annual Cast Iron Cook-Off taking place at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, WV on Saturday. Amy and I will be there and we can't wait!

This event is the brain-child of a dear friend along side whom I had the pleasure of working during my WDTV days, the Executive Chef of Stonewall Resort, Dale Hawkins. As the man in charge of all of the food enjoyed by resort guests, Dale has a passion for the locally grown produce and farm raised protein used in his restaurants. So zealous is his passion that he, along with several other like-minded folks in the hospitality and agriculture industries, introduced the world to the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia - a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and providing programs that connect local farmers and growers to chefs and consumers while invoking the storied utensils, recipes, and ingredients of their mountain heritage.

21C's largest (fun)draising event is the Cast Iron Cook-Off - an Iron Chef style cooking competition featuring multiple teams consisting of one head chefs and amateur cooks hwo must prepare 5 gourmet dishes featuring locally grown/raised products while implementing the use of cast iron. Each team has one hour to prepare their menu from start to finish then present each course to the judges. Their dishes will be judged on originality, taste, presentation, cast-iron uses, team work, and amount of local ingredients used.

Last year, I was invited to enjoy the great honor of being the Emcee for the 4-hour competition with my co-emcee Nancy Bulla. We had such a wonderful time running all over the conference hall to talk to the chefs and other cooks, then racing to the judging table for their reactions and comments to what was going on and the plates of food coming off these teams' tables! By the end of the competition, I was just about spent...but I loved every minute of it! I never knew playing Alton Brown could be this much fun!

Following the cook off Dr. Allen D. Arnold, 21C's founding director, asked me to join the Collaborative as the Co-Director of Marketing. I have served for a year now and it has been a pure joy! We have come up with some fresh ideas for the future and continue to receive grants to allow us to bring these plans into fruition. I'm really excited about our new promotional DVD that we'll be sending to the Food Network and other corporations in the hospitality and agriculture industry. With any luck, we'll have the folks from Chelsea Market, NY coming to the mountains for a taste of Appalachian goodness!

Well, I've been invited back to the Cook-off this year and Amy and I will be going down this Friday to the Stonewall Resort for all of the festivities. This go 'round, Nancy and I will be Emcee-ing the whole event from the Welcome Banquet and Team Introductions on Friday night, through the competition on Saturday that now features 18 teams, to the 5 course wine-paring/awards ceremonial dinner on Saturday night. In addition to taking care of our room and food needs while we are there (like they did last year), 21C has allowed me to treat Amy to pampering spa treatments and relaxing massages while I'm in the throws of competition. Their hospitality is boundless!

Here's to you having as much fun this weekend as we will!

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