Tuesday, August 31, 2004

There were several scenes like this in downtown today, including a building washed away, a 20 foot sinkhole on 31st Street, and, as you can see, cars EVERYWHERE. Posted by Hello

Richmond, Virginia's downtown, Tuesday August 31, 2004. Posted by Hello

The Day After.....

The best article I've found so far on our incredible day of Gaston was found at msnbc.com


This is what our "chance of rain" turned into in a nine-hour period today. My house: probably 10 inches. Posted by Hello

Word of Thanks and Clarification

My thanks to NBC12 here in Richmond for my "borrowing" their rainfall estimate map (there's a link to them on my long post tonight where you can read all about Gaston's wrath, and there are some incredible stories)

Also, we live in between the tip of the "1" and the "0" in the "10" on the map. We needed 10 inches of water like we needed the return of Jimmy Carter to the White House......:)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Storm Stories---Live At Home


I'm 37, and have lived in the Richmond area for about 35 1/2 of them. I remember Agnes in 1972, Fran in 1996, Floyd in '99, and certainly Isabel last year. We've had tornadoes, devastating ice storms...I even delivered newspapers in the Blizzard of '96. I THOUGHT I'd seen it all.....until today.

It was "supposed" to be a day off at home watching the kids. The morning set up that way, as I sat down with them to finally watch "Finding Nemo", which I thoroughly enjoyed. I didn't know I'd see alot more water later in the day....

We left around 12:20 for lunch at Wendy's and the clouds looked quite ominous. We knew the remnants of Gaston were riding up I-95, but we were told an inch or two of rain, heavy at times....probably like what we saw with the remnants of Charley the other week.

We ate, then headed to the office, with UVA's first football broadcast on tonight and commercials were STILL coming in to get ready.....add that to some other boiling issues, and I ended up there about 5 1/2 hours on my "day off".

Bonnie picked up the kids around 2:30 after her day at work, as we watched the 5 inch TV behind my desk unfold the tornado/rain scenario while the "center" of Gaston was just crossing the North Carolina border. That wave of bad weather calmed down and we were left with a heavy rain. I kept working. Even turned the TV off for awhile....

One co-worker left, called twice to my next cubicle-mate, who drives an hour home to Williamsburg, giving her advice on where to go and not to go to commute home. By this time, THE north-south thoroughfare of the east coast, Interstate 95, was underwater near downtown Richmond, and closed. This of course, led motorists from downtown workers to 18 wheelers to vacationers from wherever having to find an alternate route.

Unbeknownst to me, the "alternate routes" were getting dramatically less, and less, and less.....

At 630pm, I headed for home. Takes ten minutes, or about two long songs to get home from work. I had to stop at Wawa (Wawa, sounds like a baby talking about "water", how ironic!) to get gas. I got what I needed, and thought, "a mile and a half left, let's go home".

I turn right to go the usual way, and see cars turning around. I forgot...this road does go through a low-lying field and has been known to flood. It looked high, so, no reason to take a chance, we'll go home an alternate route.

I continue down Staples Mill a half mile to the Food Lion to turn right on Hungary Springs and go "around the block", so to speak, to my turn-off road. To my shock, I discover the road I wanted to turn onto completely submerged in water, with a car stuck right in the middle of it all. I'd never seen that before.

After, finally, successfully managing my way out of the turn lane and back onto Staples Mill (which by the way, is a major four-lane highway heading Northwest out of Richmond, or to the Southeast in), I proceed up to Hungary Road, figuring, get to the main road rather than take a short cut, and I'm home free. I turn, get to a light, and look ahead to realize more cars were turning around in this, too, a four-lane highway. It goes over what used to be a lake on a golf course (where condos are now)....tonight the lake went over the four-lane highway.

Okay...regroup, NOW what do I do? I get back on Staples Mill, and hit an all-new level of shock. There's been lots of new residential and commercial development on the south side of this stretch of Staples Mill Road, and I could see the massive rainwater just dragging the mud and dirt from the construction areas onto Staples Mill Road. Eastbound Staples Mill looked like it had been attacked by a mudslide, not just heavy rain; it was brown! Meanwhile, I'm plowing through standing water in the westbound lanes. Knowing more "construction" area was coming, I decide to turn into a subdivision to take, hopefully, yet another back way home.

I'm 3/4's to the main road, and hit even more standing water. I made it through, though the Cougar thought of stalling, and I made it to the Stop sign. To the right, I see cars. I know there is standing water in front of me, so I go right. I get to the end of the road to make one last turn to get to the main road, and I run into what could be best described as a "recently created pond". Turn around, again, and head back to the Stop sign. I have no choice, let's turn right.

I pray and I pray and God carries the Cougar through the water. We're at Mountain Road! YES! Now, over the tracks, right on Purcell, 1/2 mile or so, and I'm home. :)

I get over the tracks fine, go to turn right on Purcell, and stop dead in my tracks, as the creek under Purcell Road is now a fairly raging river. There's NO way through it. I turn around, back to Mountain Road....look down a side street, it's even worse. Then 1/10 of a mile further, I realize.....this road is closed, too!!! The US Mail truck in front of me is just sitting there. So, into the parking lot at the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen, and back to Mountain and Purcell, where I sit for a moment on the side of the road, and re-compose.

I re-cross the tracks, pull into the parking lot of Glen Allen Market, it being threatened by the aforementioned "pond", and go back, to Purcell. I pull into a driveway, and call home. It was my second call...this time, to say, I can't get home. Bonnie, thinking more level-headed than I (we're up to seeing eight flooded roads by this point), suggests go back down Mountain to Staples Mill, to 295, down Route One, to Parham, to Woodman, to Terry, to Purcell, and come in the other way on the home side of the bridge (which I figured was flooded, too.)

Okay, first question---is Mountain passable to Staples Mill. Second question--how's Staples Mill there? It was horrible 3/4 mile east of there, which was why I got off that road to begin with. We begin the new phase of the journey.

1 1/2 miles down Mountain Road through "old" Glen Allen, with only one minor flooded area to combat, and we make it to Staples Mill. I turn right, realize, with no construction in this area, the water issue was much improved, I headed for the on-ramp to I-295 (Richmond's psuedo beltway).....only to see a police car, a ton of water, and a car submerged on what was the on-ramp. Yikes. Can't get on 295 here.....I keep on down Staples Mill, seeing the off-ramp also submerged, and think, I'm almost in Hanover County now, I've gotta turn around!

I get to the next place to U-turn, do so, (while going through MORE water), and head for the on-ramp on the eastbound side. Would it be open, or submerged?? I couldn't tell, and I and the car behind me were both anxious to find out. Got to the ramp, started around, and to my relief, we discover it passable...onto 295 we go. Of course, at this time, the "heavy" rain falling turns "torrential"...AGAIN...just as we're in big traffic. I bypass my exit home, knowing that road is the first one to go underwater in flooding conditions, and go to the main artery, Route One, near our old elementary school. Standing water on Route One in the right hand lane, so I battle to get in the middle lane and proceed down 1 mile to find Parham Road.

The power's out there, so no traffic lights....so before the traffic moves on the other side....I turn right. I'm now worried about the bottom of the hill on Parham by Robbie's school. I see lots of headlights coming toward me, and come to find out it was okay. :)

I make it the 2 miles to Woodman, the "circling" of my neighborhood continuing....I turn right on Woodman, get to the light at Hungary (the other side of that lake) and go straight. It's real dark ahead....real real dark. I worry about the creek just before the road I want to turn on. I tell God, "it would be great to see a set of headlights about now coming this way...", and about 10 seconds later, here they come. :)

I turn left on Terry, feeling confident---but there's one more river to cross. About halfway down Terry, we hit another pond. My attitude now is "nothing is stopping me NOW"...so we proceed, and make it. Right turn to Purcell, right turn to Tavern Way, and home NEVER looked so good.

I took a moment in the car to repose, realized that my beloved 1988 Cougar, bought from my Mama in 1998, had been "carried" through, with Mama watching the whole time. I burst into tears. I was once again reminded why I don't want to let go of that car until it absolutely cannot run anymore.....

I've spent the rest of the evening watching the news, completely amazed at the video of downtown Richmond. Underneath the I-95 bridge in downtown is a place called "Shockoe Bottom". It's literally a valley between two large hills, one holding the financial district, and, to the east, the historic community of Church Hill, where I once worked at the legendary WRVA studio. I'd be stuck there tonight if I still worked at 22nd and Grace.

Between the two "hills", there's nowhere for the water to go. Reports from eyewitnesses trying to get in their cars and leave the area said within 20 minutes, the waters raced into the streets so quickly, it inundated their cars. Some waded back to the building, others just stood there and watched their cars be swept away. One man interviewed on TV said all he owned was in his car, which was by then probably in the James River.

We saw a lady rescued from her Porsche on I-95 downtown where the old Belvidere Toll Plaza once stood at the bottom of that hill, now home for a collected gathering of trillions of raindrops. Elsewhere on 95, what looked like a truck with a cherrypicker had become stuck, maybe trying to rescue someone, and the two people in the cherrypicker had to be rescued.

Then the topper....the Powhite Parkway is a major thoroughfare from the near west end to the southside of Richmond. Just after you cross the James River bridge on the Powhite, you come to a toll plaza, about a mile after the bridge, I guess. Halfway to the toll plaza, the road disappears in the recently created sea. Cars actually had to turn around, and GO THE WRONG WAY down the Parkway to get out of the danger zone and figure out a way to go somewhere...anywhere......

In the end, as you saw on the above map posted from our NBC affiliate, areas received anywhere from 6 to 14 inches of rain. Yes, 14 inches. Note now, in my part of town, it didn't start raining until around 1pm.
By 8pm, Hanover, to the north of us (thus the rain started there later...), had 10 inches. 4.23 inches of the rain fell in ONE HOUR, from 6 to 7pm, or, around the time, I'm driving home.....

The forecast when we started the day said maybe an inch of rain today, maybe an inch tonight....with a period of heavy rain. Nobody saw this coming. This was more rain than what we got from Floyd (1999) and Isabel (2003) COMBINED. It has been an historic day in Richmond, Virginia that literally came out of nowhere.

More coverage, go to our newspaper's web site.

My thanks and praise to God through Christ Jesus, who saw me through, arguably, the worst driving experience of my life. And it was supposed to be my day off........

So, the kids are staying close, and now, just after midnight, I'm typing while the kids are sacked out on the living room floor, not wanting to leave Mom and Dad, and Mom's on the couch catching zz's.

The rain has ended, the receding has begun. This day, though, will long be remembered, and the clean up begins at daybreak. Thank God I do NOT have to deliver newspapers in the morning!!!!!

AND, in some "non-liquid" news:

--LOVED Rudy Guliani's speech tonight, the parts I saw when not watching flood coverage. I thought he went a little long, but otherwise, it was great.

--There were idiots calling our ABC affiliate actually mad they took off the Tennessee/Dallas pre-season football game to show flood coverage. Let's see....meaningless exhibition game versus mandatory evacuations due to a possible dam burst in Chesterfield County....what do YOU think a TV station should do?

--I could really get into another Wendy's Double w/cheese, plain otherwise, right now...the one at lunch rocked!

Finally----I told the kids when I got home tonight, it wouldn't have surprised me if I had found Nemo trying to get home tonight. :)

Hug the ones you love; I learned again today, you never know what tomorrow may bring.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Quick Update....

My shoulder: sore tonight

Robbie: 8 spacers in mouth, 4 teeth coming out tomorrow, braces September 10th.

Rachel: Practicing riding a bike sans training wheels (both our kids were "late" doing this by worldly standards...then again, Dad didn't ride a bike until 15!)

Mom: Eating popcorn (shock!) Watching weird 80s movie "Sheena"....
Spent part of day with sisters, so all 8 kids were running 'round here.....

Dad: 'Nother long workday after going to meet Robbie's orthodontist. Sure wish I had a kid-friendly office with a nice orthodontist to go to when I was young. Mine was rather hateful.

TO DO: POF Rosters and schedule; get more sleep, finish returning emails, and bug the county to find out when Greenwood is occupied and when the school website is up and running....

I listened to Bee Gees music at work tonight...should I admit that?
Tragedy is easily their best song, and one usually forgotten...

And finally, to find out more about my favorite Olympian (with my wife's permission), click here.

Good night!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Yes, I still listen to her....

From WorldNetDaily.com:

Linda Ronstadt: I don't like singing for Christians
Singer admits having believers in audience 'can cloud my enjoyment'

Posted: July 20, 2004
5:00 p.m. Eastern

© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

Singer Linda Ronstadt appears to have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward Republicans and Christians who might be in her audiences – she'd rather not know they are there.

In a recent interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, the entertainer said:

Linda Ronstadt (photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

"This is an election year, and I think we're in desperate trouble and it's time for people to speak up and not pipe down. It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know."

Ronstadt says she routinely dedicates a song in her concerts to leftist filmmaker Michael Moore, director of the anti-Bush movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." As WorldNetDaily reported, hundreds of fans at an Aladdin Hotel Las Vegas show over the weekend stormed out after she made a tribute to Moore. The incident, in which she also made disparaging remarks about the hotel and Las Vegas, caused her to be banned from the facility.


So, if I burn her CD's and renounce her songs (lots of good ones), my behavior isn't any better than hers. I'd rather love her anyway, like Christ would do. Gee, if Jesus really did show up at a concert, wonder how much of a distraction that would be?


FOR SALE: Four arm slings...

....various sizes and for various uses. Somehow they're all the color blue. But I have NO plans for using them anymore, so I've reduced them to ridiculously LOW prices!!!! Don't wait---act today!

Sure is nice to type with two hands! We return to the doctor in three weeks after doing twice daily home exercises, and, if another series of exercises do well later on, I may not have to do P.T. That would be a blessing.

Oh, and I found out today I'm in good company. In the examining room (a different one from where I'm usually...), there's an autographed picture of none other than Nadia Comaneci!! If she trusts him, no wonder I had no reservations.....

The grass is mowed (good work Mom!) except for the one strip left to do when the mower ran out of gas....so the front yard has a temporary mohawk, who cares? At least it's dried out enough to be able to mow! By the way, anyone know what to do w/a neighbor who consistently NEVER mows their grass? The county ordinance says you can't complain until it's a foot high, and we have no covenant agreement in this subdivision. PLUS, behind her fence, between her house and the house behind her, it hasn't been cut now in years, the weeds (trees?!?!?) are higher than the fence, and God knows what's living in there, just feet from where my children play. There's got to be something that can be done......

Work is wild---with University of Virginia and University of Richmond football broadcasts coming soon, commercials are coming in by the bushel. Add that to all the other changes (Less is More), and it's an interesting time. This will be a busy next three days, followed by an enjoyable sleep-in Saturday morning! :)

We did have a classic line in a commercial script sent in by a client today. I assure you, it did NOT make the final production.

"This sale is a sale on all merchandise in stock."

Just ponder the first five words, and thank the Redundancy Department of Redundancy for their support.

MUSIC: Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits, Volume Two

SONGS: I Can't Let Go, Poor Poor Pitiful Me, and Someone To Lay Down Beside Me

TOMORROW'S HEADLINE: John Edwards says if Bush doesn't get the Swift Ads off the air, he'll point his finger and threaten him even a third time!

Is it me, or is John Edwards like the one parent sitting in the stands at your son's little league that you NEVER wanted to start talking to, because, well, the conversation would still be going on three hours after the game....and you had only spoken five words, and 22 "but"'s........while he took care of the rest.

He certainly doesn't look like a threat in a game of Red Rover.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Just a Monday Blog Entry...

Sshhhhhh!!! Don't tell anyone, but I'm typing with two hands, the night before my doctor's appointment. Hey, my wife was the one to get rid of the sling, so at least I have someone to blame it on at the appointment tomorrow....:)

130pm Eastern tomorrow---been waiting 71 days for the biggest step back to normalcy. If the x-ray looks good, the sling is gone, and the celebration will begin----by returning to work and getting my job done like I do every day.....:)

Since there is no thriving "topic of the day", let me tell ya about Scruffy, since I've only promoed him in two posts.

Scruffy is one of the 344 stuffed animals owned by my daughter. Scruffy is one of the newer additions to her animal kingdom. Scruffy also has a great name for kidding around.

Dad, for some reason, knows the name of her other animals, but cannot seem to get "Scruffy" right to save his life...

Scrappy....Scrobby....Skimmy.....Skrewy.....you get the idea. Dad looks at Rachel and says, "How's (insert wrong name here) doing?"
She answers with incredulity, "SCRUFFY"! I also reply with, "Oh, yeah...Scruffy, how's he doing?"

Pickin' on a 7 year old. I oughta be ashamed. But hey, I do share my Minute Maid Juice Bars with her....:)

Three weeks from tonight: MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!! WOO HOO!!!

Music I'm listening to: Cademon's Call (self-titled CD, 1997), featuring Stupid Kid, Bus Driver and the remake of Rich Mullins' Hope To Carry On. Great stuff.

Tomorrow's Headline: Two-alarm fire in Glen Allen, Caused by Multiple Sling Burning....


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Bill Maher is a joke.....

Forgive me, Lord, I know he is one of Your creatures and You love him, but I can't excuse this:

Three YEARS after 9/11, now we hear Bill Maher criticize President Bush for staying with the schoolchildren in the Florida classroom for seven minutes that morning. Yep, libs everywhere have just recently "realized" the audacity of a man who didn't decide to run out of that classroom, arms whipping in the air, going quickly to "do" something.

Let's see....could he have used his superpowers to fly to DC and singlehandedly stop the plane headed for the Pentagon with his powerful cowboy hat??

Exactly WHAT could he have done in those seven minutes which would have prevented anything that transpired on that horrendous day? Nothing. But I guess he could've appeased Maher and his buddies by just "doing" something, because liberal mantra dictates style over substance and "doing" rather than "being".

I saw a President that morning in two ways---first as a human, horrified by what he heard, quick to react (yes, Bill, QUICK) and decisive, wanting to return to DC ASAP and addressing the nation that very night from what could have been the intended fourth target of the day. Second--I saw him as a sea of calm and reassurance in a raging nightmare (and even moreso, Mayor Guliani), showing the nation exactly how to react to show the world that our enemies will never destroy us. With all the cameras that were in that classroom that morning, imagine the Katie Courics and Bryant Gumbels of the day (Gumbel was still on the CBS Early Show at the time) react with shock as our President "panicked" in a time of crisis, all the time the cameras in that classroom racing down the hallway to capture images of a Commander-in-Chief in panic mode. Yet that mindset now rebuke him for not doing that very same thing.

Oh, and by the way, Senator Kerry sat in an office watching TV with other senators, frozen by what they saw, until they saw the Pentagon explode from their own window. I could be crass and say, "John Kerry was not DOING anything for over 30 minutes; he must not have cared about the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." I think that statement is a bunch of bogus crap, too. Everyone had a right to be stunned for a moment.....even our leader.

So the bottom line is two-fold:

1) Bill Maher critcizes President Bush for a) acting calmly, and b) like a human, for 7 minutes (like no federal, state, or local authorities could move a muscle to help until the President's body was actually in motion, pointed in the direction of DC---you know--- WAIT NYPD, GEORGE ISN'T POINTED NORTH YET!!)----but he absolutely loves a guy who gets sexual favors from an intern while on the phone with a Congressman in the Oval Office. Oh, that's because he was still "doing" something....kinda gives "action speaks louder than words a whole new, and deplorable, meaning...)

2) The "7-minute" criticism was conveniently placed on a three-year delay.....just in time for the homestretch of election season.

FAR more importantly than their reaction to any old Kerry war story controversy, THIS shows me the reality of those who want Kerry in the White House as good as anything except for that other mantra.....

"Anybody but Bush"

Hey libs, I hear Saddam Hussein is available....interested? After all, he's not Bush.....
I found this upcoming link at one of my favorite blogs.

Click here to remember why we don't "wait for an attack, and then respond".....

Click here to see a wonderful common sense blog from a lady having to deal with the Greater Philadelphia area, and still stand up for conservative values....

I know I said I wouldn't be too political on this blog, but this one couldn't be given a free pass.....


Saturday, August 21, 2004

The bigger packs are a better value, but you buy what's in stock... Posted by Hello

Rain Man was wrong....

KMart isn't the greatest.....but I'm sorry, Wal-Mart sucks. I call it "Brawl-Mart", since you either have to bully around 1) other shoppers, or 2) large carts of to-be-shelved merchandise, only to complete your three-mile journey to just pick up a gallon of milk and a quart of oil, finding yourself in a long, long line to check-out. 32 registers....five open. The others would be there for what reason??

In the matter of fairness, the trip to Wal-Mart today was better than normal, in that we had essentially no wait in line (and I saw something most people alive have not...a Wal-Mart cashier at her post WAITING for a customer to come into her line!) Still, I consider 80 minutes in Wal-Mart to be....about 78 minutes too long.

I love you, Target.

But if you MUST go to Wal-Mart, go to the one in Ashland, Va, just off I-95. We have one closer to our house, but that one is horrible so we travel a few minutes farther to Ashland. It's the best of a bad lot....

I didn't do my live draft (was still in bed) so I need to go check out what players are on my fantasy team at Yahoo!.

In closing, a closed-circuit to-do list to myself which can double for your reading convenience as a list of things to come on this here blog....

---Obessessive-Compulsive Disorder
---Sleep Apnea
---Maybe, how it feels to walk with both arms dangling by my side...
---A tour of our new elementary school
---sex (just wanted to see if you were paying attention....)
---the all-important upcoming football season, including the NFL, POF (our fantasy league among family and friends), college, and high-school (where I begin my 3rd season as the play-by-play voice of my alma mater, Patrick Henry High School/Ashland, September 10th)
---energizing a church
---energizing a pastor (specifically me)
---feature links to other blogs I've saved under favorites...
---and a chance to win two dollars in cash and/or prizes...hee hee

WISDOM FOR TODAY: Never let the popcorn supply run out at home. After all, it's why we went to Wal-Mart in the first place....


Friday, August 20, 2004

Things you can, things you can't.....

Various thoughts on a Friday night after a long day at work while listening to the season-finale of my wife's absolute favorite show......

There are some things you can't blog about:

--Your job....that's just common sense, but after tough days one needs a place to decompress....but thanks to worldwide access, this ain't the place.....

--Your ex-girlfriends.....my wife reads, for goodness sakes!! :)

Then there are things on other blogs that are driving me nuts:

--Having to accept a software download just to view the blog. Sorry, never worth it.

--Music. Once it starts, I leave. I'm here to read, not lip-sync.

--Wild colors. That's an age-issue (don't wear my glasses and I should, especially since I live at a computer screen)...

--The F-word. All over the place, even from 14 year olds. Do y'all not know any intelligent adjectives??

Okay...there I feel better. Nothing like substitute ranting to calm a man down....:)

(MONK UPDATE: After taking his first pill, Adrian is now calling himself "The Monk" and eating other people's food.)

Gee, well, this day was spent at work....so I really can't tell ya about life here today. I have an 11am live fantasy football draft on Yahoo! in the morning, and I promised the kids some chess action tomorrow evening. Yes, even the 7-year old likes chess. Cool!!

I've watched very little of the Olympics...does that make me Un-American? One reason is NBC's presentation. Let's tape the stuff, fill 7-11pm with prelims and filler, and show the good stuff just before midnight. Baseball has this same problem; their future audience is in bed long before the final is posted (All-Star Game, World Series, etc.). Sorry, I prefer live events, which they won't show on a B-level cable channel at 8am (sorry, Bravo...), they'll wait 'til prime time. It's business, I get that. Doesn't mean I have to subscribe though.....

I like both Olympics, but, forced with a choice, I'll take the Winter Games. GO CURLING!!

Shout outs and happy birthdays to my Governor's School buddy Julie Anne (tomorrow 8/21), my long-time friend Barbara's son, John Lloyd (also tomorrow--the big 4!!), and to my sister-in-law, who reaches an age of an undetermined nature on Monday, 8/23.

Music I'm listening to: "Abacab", Genesis (still...) :)

Top song: "Like it or Not" (CD cut 8)

Oh, and to close, I really don't plan to be too political here, unless it's weighing on my mind (see blog description at top)...and tonight it is.


Bless his heart, let's not question his military service, even though people who are WERE ACTUALLY THERE WITH HIM. Then he calls on the FEC to stop 'em. Tell ya what, John, tell Moveon.org to do the same thing if you're really "above the fray".....didn't think so. We'll give the "Bush is Hitler" crowd a free pass, after all, they have their first amendment rights!

Same thing as if I said "Re-elect President Bush" from the pulpit. Barry Lynn and his cronies would scream for us to pay taxes. Yet during the primary season, a Sunday night newscast didn't go by without seeing one or more Democratic candidates in African-American church pulpits, being warmly greeted, introduced, and sometimes endorsed, by their man of the cloth.

Let's hold our breath and see how many of them get into hot water. Oh, that's right, their last name isn't Falwell.

*soap box put away*

All the best to you and yours....


PS: I've got to get to the Scruffy story sometime!

PPS: For more on the blindside of the week, click here

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Something new, something not ready....

My wife talked with the principal of our new elementary school today. It was supposed to be "moving in" day. Now maybe it's next week. Whenever it is, it sounds like she and the kids will get plenty of time to learn the lay-out of the land.

They've volunteered to help the office (or anyone else) move in and get settled. Believe it or not, the kids are excited about it! Even Robbie, who will have no other connection to Greenwood but his sister. The principal was excited about that and the fact Bonnie wants to volunteer in the office this year. I agree with her that it's a great change of pace while still being involved at our daughter's school, without all the politics of a parent-teacher group. My jury is still out on whether I'll volunteer this year; though if needed, I won't turn away. If there are plenty of helpers (especially new blood), I will be glad to stand on the sidelines, cheer, and pitch in wherever needed.

I got the feeling over the last year at Longdale some people thought Bonnie and I were on some sort of power trip. Give me a break! If I'm gonna have a power trip over something, it better have a large financial reward attached, and, last I checked, volunteering didn't involve that!

Since Robbie entered kindergarten oh those many years ago, my desire has been to help my childrens' school, their administration and staff, and, most importantly, the kids. The only power trip I need is to see a youngster in the hallway and have them say hi to me, either as "Robbie's dad", "Rachel's dad", or just "Mr. Witham". That is so satisfying. Plus I have to spend time around the people who educate my child; I must know them at least some, since they see my child more than I do on many weekdays.

I know I'll be involved in the "PTA or PTO" decision coming the first of the year when the parent-teacher group is formed. I have very definitive feelings on the subject (pro-PTO), but I'm gonna support and volunteer no matter what the acronym.

Right now, my biggest fear is the kids having to maneuver around large men named Fred or Bubba trying to finish construction after the school year starts.

Let it be said, though, that we do, and will, miss our home of 7 years, Longdale Elementary School. Go Tigers!!

HELP NEEDED: My elementary alma-mater, Beaverdam Elementary, is raising money to purchase a "Weatherbug" weather station to help students learn about weather, plus serve as a real time weather source for area residents. I think it's a great idea! Click here for all the info.....

Rachel's Music Today: Soundtrack to The Lizzie McGuire Movie. She bought it with her yard sale proceeds. Don't tell her I wrote this, but they'll be playing that song "This Is What Dreams Are Made Of" in hell. What an awful song! (though Rachel sings it very well)

Robbie's Highlight: Wear Spiderman's Glove. Apparently it makes him cool. Fine by me...better than being forced to wear Spiderman Under-Roos, which I never owned by the way...

Oh, and less than 135 hours to go until my right arm's freedom hearing at the orthopedic surgeon's office. If freed, we're having a "sling-burning" ceremony (like a mortgage burning, 'cept it takes less than 30 years...), and you're all invited!

TOMORROW'S HEADLINE: Shocking Development: Thunder and Lightning may be in our area! Rare, rare event!

Oh, and remind me to tell you about Scruffy....

Rob :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Sure you can go home again....if only for about 45 minutes....

Now that I'm beginning to learn how to post pics on my blog (and we've finally been able to download stuff from our digital camera since our dock died), I'm playing a little "catch-up".

Looking back on 2004 thus far, I know this event is among the highlights. Going to a vacant house. Sounds nuts, eh? I know, next time I'll top it with watching grass grow.

But, it just so happens that it's not just any vacant house....

It begins one day reading the real estate section during our 74th attempt to find a bigger house, when I came across an ad describing a house that sounded alot like the old parsonage I grew up in. After some 'Net searching, I got my answer. My old house was up for grabs! Oh, if I were independently wealthy, it wouldn't have lasted five minutes on the market!!!

So, I send out an e-mail to the realtor explaining who I was and asking if there was any way I could get a "showing" for my family. I get a reply; turns out I grew up with this lady! Jill explained that there was an offer on the home and the former owner had vacated. She'd see what she could do.

After getting permission from the seller, we hit the road one Saturday morning after Jill called and said "I'll meet you there at 10." As usual, Mom was working Saturday morning, so the three of us (Dad, Robbie, and Rachel) head northwest to familiar territory.

Now I must take a moment and go even further back to set the scene. My dad pastored the church which owned the parsonage for 21 years. I was one of those weird preacher's kids who actually lived in one place my entire childhood. Due to health issues, he had to retire shortly after I moved off to college. I got the news in Massachusetts one night, flew home the following weekend to visit and meet, along with Dad, with church officials (the situation wasn't pretty by this point). So, I leave the house Sunday October 27, 1985 to get to the airport to return to school, thinking I'd be back at Thanksgiving.

Within two weeks, my folks were out of the house and out of the church. My brother and sister-in-law came up from Carolina to help in what turned out to be "speed-packing" to leave and head to an apartment in Richmond. That was where I came "home" to at Thanksgiving (talk about a shock).

Bottom line, I never had the chance to say "good-bye" to the only home I'd ever known. Being a highly nostalgic person, this mattered to me ALOT.

Many times I had thought of writing a letter to "current owner" and asking him/her if I could come see the old homestead, but I never got the gumption to do it. (The church sold the parsonage in the late 80s and built a new one beside the church)....so this was, indeed, a "God-send" opportunity, and, what's better, the kids get to see where Dad wore diapers, ate Spaghettios, played golf, and listened to loud music...

We arrive at the house at precisely 10:01am. Jill is there and is more than gracious, letting us in and telling us to take our time and enjoy. We took her up on it. For the next 45 minutes I took my kids on a "living history" tour of sorts....

What was most striking was the seller of the home had practically done nothing to the property. The bad news with that is (and Jill warned me about this in advance) the home was not in good condition and was in need of several HGTV crews. The good news, though, was the house looked almost EXACTLY like it did from 1967 to 1985.

So, I show the kids the living and dining rooms, the fireplace in the living room, the picture window where I used to watch snow fall and pray to hear Hanover County Schools were closed on WRVA radio. The same hanging fixture light was in the dining room. I couldn't believe it.

Kitchen? Same. We laid a "new" linoleum floor around 1977, and it was still there, along with the wooden cabinets and the back door.

Down the hall to, first, my old room. Once shared with my brother, this space WAS home. It's where I slept, watched TV, listened to countless hours of music (with headphones), played Nerf basketball, and more. It sure looks smaller when you see it nearly 20 years after childhood ended!! :)

We visit my parents' room, then the back bedroom (once my sister's, later an office), and then I explain to the kids how we all shared ONE bathroom. I don't think they comprehended it very well....
Heck, the same mirrors we hung in there still were, well, hanging around...

Then, down the hall to the basement door. The most poignant moment came when I opened the door. The kids started down the steps and I froze for a moment. The basement "smell" was exactly the same as it was 20 plus years ago (and it wasn't a bad smell, just a familiar one, reminding you that you're home...). Then I joined them downstairs, showed the kids where I used to play putt-putt indoors, where Uncle Frank and I would play indoor hockey with a tennis ball and real golf clubs (and destroy each other's shins in the process...) and where Dad's "stuff" used to be, including the legendary pool table (they want one really bad!)

The door leading out of the basement to the back yard was broken, but usable, and we next stepped outdoors to Dad's baseball field/football field/golf course. We walked around, checked out Nana's old clothesline, and took more pictures.

Back in for a few more moments, then I knew it was time to go. Jill had an appointment soon and she had been SO kind to allow us to do this.

Robbie gets some photos of me and Rachel and finally, one of just me, on my old front porch. Then, after some conversation with Jill, including reassurance that the new owners would be great caretakers, we headed off. But, of course, not before I looked at the house, said thank you to God for this incredible opportunity, and then, 18 1/2 years later, I said good-bye....

We passed it the other week while riding around during vacation. There's a new front door, and a new shed in the back yard. So far, so good!

TODAY'S NEWS: Rachel took pictures!! We got the x-rays done. Even better news....no cavities for both Rachel and Robbie!! I'm a proud papa.....Robbie's adventures with braces is pending. I'm so sorry he was "blessed" with my family's teeth (me, and his Papa especially...)

Well, much other stuff to do, mail to open, a fantasy football league blog to begin, and more, but alas, sleep is next on the docket. Tomorrow is going to be a long day at the station....

Thanks for letting me drag you down memory lane....the pics below are from the trip.

Good day!


The kids where Dad used to be a kid...in Daddy's old bedroom (look! The closet is actually clean!) Posted by Hello

Robbie and Rachel in front of the fireplace in Dad's old house, February 7, 2004 (That's where Dad's stocking used to hang at Christmas!) Posted by Hello

Monday, August 16, 2004

75 percent of Withams found Virginia Beach quite inviting in June. Posted by Hello

The Olympics woke me up this morning...

...and I wouldn't give them a medal either. My phone rings at 609am. It's the traffic reporter at the radio station, and she's missing the new Olympic-themed commercial copy for a local supermarket. It was only sent to seven different email addresses, and no one at work had it. But I KNOW I'd seen it w/my own eyes!

Turns out I did get the copy on my home email....had I used my brain, I'd printed it out and taken it w/me. NOT a good way to start a Monday...:(

Today got progressively better at work, though I must have yawned 59 times (is that like crying 96 Tears?). The kids were WILD this evening (they really need to be back in school) and they're now in beddy-bye. They've got a date w/the dentist tomorrow. I'm praying Rachel will finally overcome her fear of taking an x-ray.

For my wife, the question is a broken record.....When are you going to get a chest x-ray??? The cough continues, and it ain't lettin' go.

Oh, and welcome to day 64 of the shoulder sling. I can't wait for next Tuesday's x-ray. Hopefully the sling will be past-tense, though the worst (therapy) is yet to come....ugh.

So, it's the 3rd consecutive summer I've been "sick/crazy/nuts/injured". No wonder I love winter so much!! 2002: The Flu; 2003: Depression/Can't leave home syndrome"; 2004: busted shoulder, end of athletic career. I'm hoping 2005 isn't the year of Ricketts or Scurvy or somethin'.....

Watched some Packers/Seahawks football (GREAT to hear Pat Summerall back on the air) and now it's wrestling. They gave Orton the world title too quickly, but, they didn't ask my opinion now did they??

I've browsed dozens of "blogs" this past week and am rather jealous. I don't know how to post links or put on pictures (I am computer savvy enough to do my job at work and some stuff here and that's it) but as time goes on, I'm gonna learn I've already found several interesting blogs I want to provide links to as well.

First up, posting a picture of the cutest three of our family on their Virginia Beach getaway with family in June (Dad had to stay home and bring home the bacon). I'd like to show them off, and at the same time, conceal my identity (hee hee...). Actually, I've never seen a pic of me on the 'Net; found my name in several places though (surely you've Googled your own name, haven't you??)

Today's final notes:

Music: Abacab by Genesis and Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits Volume Two(even though she doesn't like to know if my type is in her audience...)

Mood: Tired, but better than at 609am today!

Tomorrow's headline: Rachel Takes First Dental X-Ray; Gold Discovered.....

Good day!

Friday, August 13, 2004

I Should Have Known.....

My first friend died a year ago today. I distinctly remember how I got the news, how I immediately fell into "console" mode when my Sunday School teacher told (ironically at the gravesite of another funeral), and how, while walking away with the kids down the long path to Dad's old church, it began to sink in.

First thing I did upon getting home was get online to confirm the news, and there it was. Suicide, we were told. I couldn't get to the funeral the next day in NC, I had service at church to handle.

So I was so honored to be asked to speak at a memorial service for Mike the following weekend back home in Beaverdam. God was gracious and got me through it, and I got to see alot of wonderful people. My heart broke for his parents, who were basically my 2nd parents growing up, and his sister, but especially for his children, who were left with many questions.

I also got to see other friends from days gone by. Paula (she, Mike and I were the three amigos at church growing up) and I are in touch again (she moved recently back home to Beaverdam---lucky!), I saw several people from AC Church days, and I had a long talk with Leah, who agreed w/me that it just didn't seem possible he would take his own life.....

....the weeks go by and more questions arise....and now, a year later, there's a PI on the case and the possibility of some cover-up. One day the truth will be told, here or Home in Heaven, and I can't wait for the day when it is revealed and justice is served.

Until such time, Mike, see ya soon, for exciting paper football action that'll never end!

Michael Edwin Crisp (1967-2003)

--Didn't really watch much Olympic opening stuff tonight; I spent more time with biographies of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan and the 100 Greatest Songs in Film History. Bonnie was out w/Stephanie doin' the girl thing....Rachel and I played chess (chess at age 7, pretty good!) and we watched the Charley news.

After going through Isabel last year my heart and prayers go out to the Floridians going through this mess tonight....

G'night....time for Saturday sleep in!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

One down, zillions to go...

Well, finally updated the web site for the church tonight.

Quick plug: http://www.bcc4christ.org

There....that's one of many things that need to be done. You know, those things that we'll "get around" to doing...heh heh....

Let's see, there's still the new sound system to find, purchase, and install at church, expanding our contemporary praise and worship song category, beginning to study to preach Revelation once we're done with "The Purpose Driven Life"....that's just church.

At home, I can't do much with one hand (day 59 of shoulder sling) so I work mostly at this desk. I've got emails to return, some from old friends I haven't seen in years, others from present-day presences. I need to transform my other blog into a "POF" blog. Oh, quick lesson---"POF" stands for Professional Offensive Football, the fantasy football game started by my brother and I in 1983. We played two years, then resurrected it in 1997. This season, it's the drive to Paper Bowl VIII!! We have a championship plaque and everything! This way, all team owners can catch up on the latest roster moves, stats, etc, just by stopping by the blog.

Then there's school! The kids have new backpacks, they're already filled with supplies, and they're ready to start back tomorrow! Rachel goes to 2nd grade at our brand new elementary school, where, in September, parents/staff will meet to decide whether to form our parent teacher group as a PTA or as a PTO. What's the difference, you ask? Sorry, that's a whole 'nother post for another time....

Well, off to check out the blog world, then I must get some rest! Getting one thing done on your to-do list is exhausting!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Things To Be Known...

Time for some Witham facts to help you understand who we (mostly I, since my wife and kids don't blog) are, and you'll hopefully stop by here from time to time.

1) We love God, and His Son Jesus!
2) We absolutely love Mountain Dew (both diet and regular)
3) There are too many TV's in our house,
4) Our house is too small, but the mortgage payment's just right.
5) We drive 45 miles one way to church (it's because it's where I pastor)
6) My 7-year old daughter helps me lead praise songs.
7) Football season is taken very seriously...
8) Fantasy Football season is taken even more seriously...
9) We have a huge HGTV fan here....and it's not me.
10) I prefer Steve on Blue's Clues, my girl prefers both him and Joe.
11) My son awaits May 25, 2005 when the final Star Wars movie arrives.
12) Until such time he plays Rachet and Clank and Yu-Gi-Oh.
13) His parents are sick of Yu-Gi-Oh.
14) Gino's Restaurant in Glen Allen next to Target is da bomb!
15) My wife is a compulsive cleaner.
16) My kids and I make sure she finds plenty to fulfill that desire...
17) Yes, we're Christians, but we didn't buy our kids at Wal-Mart, if ya know what I mean....
18) I like Genesis....the group and the book in the Bible!
19) We've never met a french fry we didn't like.
20) We can never have enough friends.

We'll (oops, I'll...) be talking about just about everything here; just depends on what life sends our way. Hope to see you on the road!