Oct 242014
 

ihatetennesseeActually I think the state itself is pretty great. But I hate the Tennessee Volunteers.

I haven’t always. In fact, they used to be my second-favorite team. I was 11 years old in the fall of 1982. It was the first football season that my parents were divorced, and we were spending a fair bit of time at my dad’s friend Reani’s house. Reani had a big UT print on the wall of his basement, next to the pool table. He was from Cleveland, Tennessee and a Vol fan of moderate intensity.

That year Tennessee sputtered out of the gate. They started 1-2 and were 3-3-1 headed into November. I started pulling for them to make a bowl game, and they did (though they lost it). I adopted them to some degree that fall, and kept them for a long time.

I can remember seeing some pre-game footage of the team taking the field at Neyland Stadium to warm up. They ran out, and Johnny Majors followed, walking, all by himself, as cool as a bottle of Absolut that’s been in the freezer all week. I want to say he had a hand in a pocket of his slacks, though my memory may have added that detail. The place just roared.

Of course I never pulled for Tennessee over Alabama, and some kid named Peyton Manning reliably made the Third Saturday in October hard to deal with for a few years. Seems he also sang “We Own Alabama” to the tune of “Sweet Home Alabama” with the student section after the final time he beat us.

Yeah, I didn’t much care for that.

And I really didn’t care for the fact that after that game, it would be another five years before we won the Tennessee game. When this guy I worked with started leaving me an orange on my keyboard the Monday after Tennessee beat Alabama, and enjoyed so much that he was able to do it year after year, I jettisoned any residual affection I had for the Volunteers.

Today, as I type, at Alabama Coach Saban is 7-0 vs. Tennessee, by an average score of Alabama 36, Tennessee 11. I fully expect him to make it 8-0 tomorrow. I’d like him to run it to 15-0 or 16-0 by the time we lose him to Lake Burton.

That will be long enough for a Tennessee freshman to have no memory at all of ever defeating Alabama.

 Posted by at 11:29 am
Oct 212014
 

Raising children is a lot of work. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)

You ever think about the nature of the work, though? Up until they’re about three, it’s mostly physical. You’re going pretty hard, but a lot of it is mindless, or nearly so. Keep ‘em out of stuff, keep their tummies full, keep ‘em bathed. Repeat.

Then, it gets a little squirrelier. There is still stuff you need to keep them away from, but they’ve also developed this tendency to do things on their own–and maybe when you’re not watching. So “no no” becomes “don’t drink bleach” or “don’t play in traffic.” Still pretty straightforward, but a bit more complex.

And then comes adolescence.

One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced so far as a father is trying to help Nathan with a vague but complex problem, using terms he’ll understand, so that he’ll be better equipped to handle future similar occurrences. He’s dealing with one right now.

I’m not going to get into the particulars because they’re not important and I don’t want to foster any misunderstanding. It’s just one of those life situations in which there are multiple principals, less-than-ideal channels of communication, and a little too much assumption.

All of which has resulted in an undesirable situation for Nathan, yet one in which we can’t clearly point to any single step in the progression and say “right there you zagged and you should have zigged.”

His mistake was one of systemic nonchalance; of assuming things were fine because he had not heard differently. The corrective action is nebulous, but critical: always remember that given situation X, nobody cares more than you do how you do.

It’s hard for a kid to understand that things can get screwed up for him even when no one, including himself, is acting with malice or even particular incompetence.

He certainly needs to get it, though. Shepherding one’s interests effectively is a necessary skill forever.

 Posted by at 10:30 am
Oct 182014
 

When the weather turns cooler, one of our favorite go-tos for dinner is Lea’s mom’s chili soup. You need: 1 lb. (or thereabouts) ground beef 1.5 quarts (or thereabouts) tomato juice 1 white onion 1 14-17-oz. can kidney beans 1 tablespoon chili powder Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup elbow macaroni Brown and drain [...]

 Posted by at 7:47 pm

BoWilliams.com is using WP-Gravatar