Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chasing Bear Bryant

“It’s not the will to win that matters - everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Paul Bear Bryant

Georgia Bulldog fans dressed themselves in black to psyche out Alabama’s Crimson Tide for the Saturday night game. Frat boys painted their shirtless bodies with black. Little did they expect the evening to turn out as more of a funeral. Bama, under Nick Sabin’s coaching, came to play and play they did, ending the first half with a 31 to zip lead. While Georgia managed to adjust somewhat the second half, the game ended 41-30. I’d say that’s a funeral.

The real story is that when the Tide rolls like this, fans dream that the new coach is chasing Bear Bryant’s legend.

In August, Forbes magazine featured Sabin on the cover with the headline, “Sports’ Most Powerful Coach.” The story begins with this question: “College football has long been a big business. But the money and control Alabama gave Nick Saban raised the stakes to an unprecedented level. Is he worth it?”

Football, and especially football in the South, is akin to religion, and I am very religious in autumn when the boys are on the field and the leaves have only begun to think about falling.

Make no mistake, Forbes is right. This is big business. As University of Alabama President Robert Witt says of the recent $500 million capital campaign, “We have had 100,000 donors in that campaign, and a major reason they support us is football.” Tight-fisted Alabama taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for Saban’s salary or the athletic program. A higher caliber of student is attracted to the university and fundraising is easier. And many faculty members have quieted their criticisms for these very reasons.

But Bulldogs, remember, the good guys always wear white (and red). Roll Tide!

Photo Note: Nicolas Bryant and his daddy were all decked out in Bama attire for Nic’s first game watched on ESPN.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Voter Registration Deadlines Approaching

Y’all know my love of politics. Last night’s debate between John McCain and Barack Obama was a draw in my opinion.

I’m generally not into bashing and trashing since heavens knows there is a ton of that already on TV and online. I do think, however, that Sen. Obama came out looking and sounding more presidential and was the more gracious of the two candidates. Obama faced Sen. McCain, looking directly at him when he spoke to him. My Mama taught me to look at a person when I spoke to him, didn’t yours? And Sen. Obama was confident enough to agree with Sen. McCain on several points, a clear signal that this is the man who can bring us together and not push us further apart.

Debate and economic turbulence aside, I am finally getting around to my point today. Last Thursday on the way home from my new job, I stopped off at the library and registered to vote in my new hometown. The deadline for registering to vote is fast approaching in many states, including here in Illinois, which has a deadline of 28 days before the election.

A great resource for voting information on a state-by-state basis can be found at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. In a quick perusal on my part I found that voters in Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming can register to vote on election day, and voters in North Dakota don’t even have to register at all, the only state which does not require such of her voters.

The rest of y’all unregistered voters better get yourselves over to the town or county clerk, library, or wherever they sign up folks soon. You can also register by mail in many states. And the Obama folks have a great voter information site to aid with registration too. But please vote! Too much depends on it to sit this one out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thinking Ahead to October

Thinking ahead to October, I am reminded that soon you all will be seeing a bunch of products to make us aware of breast cancer. Seriously, do we need any more reminders?

However, this is the third year that I have created a new design especially for October’s onslaught of the pink ribbon and here it is. There has been an evolution of sorts as the first year saw a design with the pink ribbon forming the “l” in “Believe.” I wanted very much to believe that things would turn out okay. Last year without a single pink ribbon, I focused on retro designs aimed at getting women in for those annual mammograms, and I have noticed several large purchases and imagine that health educators are behind them.

And now with this year’s design, I hope to offer a message that no matter where we are on our journey, we must continue to live our lives to the fullest each and every day.

Where a Fully-Read Book Might Take You

If you read yesterday’s post, you will recall that I recently completed reading a book. As a woman who has endured, survived and suffered through way too many changes of late, I see why Joan Anderson’s The Second Journey The Road Back to Yourself caught my eye.

I fully intended to sit in one of Batavia Library’s comfy chairs and read a bit of the book, which I did. However, when it was time to go, I took the slim volume along with me. You see, Joan Anderson had 10 years earlier lived out one of my fantasies when she left her everyday life and spent a year by the sea in a journey to self-discovery. I haven’t read that book, but there is a part of me that wishes I could go off to some isolated natural environment and contemplate exactly what course and direction I want to steer the rest of my life. I don’t suppose younger readers will get this. They are too busy raising families and building careers and time is way too short for this sort of self-indulgent exploration. While time is not endless for them, it is indeed not quite so pressing an issue as it is with the older among us.

It had been 10 years since Anderson wrote her first book, the bestseller A Year by the Sea, and she was again ready to explore how her life was evolving. Anderson writes,

Now, as part of my ten-year inventory, I reflect on what is outlived in my life today. I’ve known for some time that holding on to anything ruins it, as does clinging to old ways, outdated ideals, worn-out relationships, and lifestyles that have run their course. As a culture, we seem to prize permanency. Certainly the familiar is comforting. But the way we were is not the way we are, and why would I want to still have those parts of my life that have lost their zest? Perhaps one of the reasons I felt so compelled to come out here today was actually to witness massive change. None of us can control the way life passes: we can only adapt.

Before writing the second book, Anderson again found herself at what I call loose ends. The first book propelled her into a notoriety of book signings and retreats and a newly found status as a guide or mentor of women seeking self-discovery. By all accounts, she was successful. Yet, her busy life was not all that she desired, and thus, the author set out on the second journey, a journey that this time included a visit to the mystical and remote Scottish Isle of Iona.

Maybe when I write and publish my book, I will be able to jet to my island of self-discovery. She writes:
The call to a second journey usually commences when unexpected change is thrust upon you, causing a crisis of feelings so great that you are stopped in your tracks. Personal events such as a betrayal, a diagnosis of serious illness, the death of a loved one, loss of self-esteem, a fall from power are only a few of the catalysts. A woman caught thusly has no choice but to pause, isolate, even relocate until she can reevaluate the direction in which she should head. Should she stay the course or choose another path?

But alas, many of us inhibit our capacity for growth because the culture encourages us to live lives of uniformity. We stall, deny, ignore the ensuing crisis because of confusion, malaise, and yes, even propriety. Yet more and more, I come in contact with women, particularly in midlife—that uneasy and ill-defined period—who do not want merely to be stagnant but rather desire to be generative. Today’s woman has the urge to go against the prevailing currents, step out of line, and break with a polite society that has her following the unwritten rules of relationship, accepting the abuses of power in the workplace, and blithely living with myriad shoulds when she has her own burgeoning desires.

Anderson’s book got me to thinking anyway. And I actually finished a book. Not too bad for a woman who has endured, survived and suffered through way too many changes of late.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guilt and the Half-Read Book (Part 1)

A week or so ago I noticed a link to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “The Pleasure of Half Read Books” caught my attention. I thought to myself, well, at least I have company.

Blaming everything from mega-bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble with their coffee shops and comfy chairs to the Internet and Books on Tape (CDs), the author of the article writes,
But if you were to force me to accept responsibility for having given up on reading books to the end, I would trace my habit back to finishing my doctorate in contemporary literature years ago. I realized then that except for books that I might teach or write about, I never had to finish another book unless I wanted to. I wasn’t going to be tested on any book for the rest of my life.

That is as good an explanation as any I know. I have started more books lately than I have finished, but tomorrow I will tell you about one that I did finish. Meanwhile, take William McMillen’s advice,
So don’t despair if you have a half-read book taking up space on your desk. Don't feel guilty about not finishing it just because you are a professor. No one cares, and you shouldn't, either. Just move it over to the bottom shelf of your bookcase and find something new. You’ll feel liberated, trust me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whoopi-Do We Are Still Here

The world's biggest physics experiment has succeeded in its first major test as a beam of protons was successfully fired all the way around a 17-mile tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border. From the AP

You might have caught a bit about the event on the evening news when there was talk that it could possibly cause our planet to implode into a black hole. Something like that—I am not a physics person. Well, it obviously didn’t, and the “end of the worlders” can go back to worrying.

Here in my new hometown of Batavia, we know a thing or two about energy. Batavia was once home to windmill manufacturers and we have windmills all over the place. But the biggest and finest claim for the City of Energy is Fermilab, named for Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi, one of the most highly regarded physicists of the atomic age.

I reckon they’re smashing atoms and accelerating and colliding them as well, and so far everything here in Batavia seems to be just fine, and I am sure they will be fine in Geneva (Switzerland, not Illinois' Geneva which is just up the road from Batavia) too. Ahhh! We have escaped another “Chicken Little” scare.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Tale of Two Nic's

Mom reports on baby Nic’s CarePages Web site:
“Nic got a special delivery today from Nick Swisher of the White Sox. He signed his name and “D30” on the sentimental blanket we dropped off at the White Sox office and mailed it back to us with a nice note from Swisher, via the community relations dept. We weren’t sure that would happen, but it’s a great keepsake to have from his first baseball season. Not only does Nic share Swisher’s first name, they also have the same fighting spirit. Let’s hope the White Sox carry the season into October for Nic!”

In Chicagoland, you are either a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan. Well, that’s my opinion. It’s kind of like Auburn and Alabama. You can’t really be for both. No way.

When the family attended the recent White Sox game, they took the White Sox blanket that accompanied Nic through heart surgery and asked if Nick Swisher could sign it for Nicolas. Happily, the great White Sox player obliged, and now the littlest White Sox fan has a nice memento.

Go White Sox!