Monday, June 20, 2011

Grocery Wars: Which store is winning the battle in Richmond?

Well, apparently adding beer and opening seven days a week doesn't quite win over the Richmond shopper. Actually, it only made Martin's "just like everyone else".....

Food Lion took over the market share lead in Richmond from Ukrops back in 2009, mostly because they have double the amount of stores in the area. This brick and mortar advantage kept Food Lion ahead in 2010 as well.

A few thoughts....

1) This market is up for grabs. Even with the remodeling of many of their stores, Food Lion is nothing special. There's no personality, and no driving force product-wise that makes me think, "I want to go to Food Lion". I think about going to Martin's because of the salad bar, or the Ukrops fried chicken. I love Kroger's macaroni salad. Food Lion? Eh.........

2) Martin's, as I mentioned on this blog a year ago when Martin's came to town, is Giant with another name. And Giant died in Richmond once before.....they may have some "Ukrops" products, but they have the charm of.....well, Food Lion.

3) Kroger is expensive as crap.

4) Walmart has cheaper prices. But I hate Walmart. I go when I HAVE to. Keyword: HAVE.

5) It's funny watching these other guys fighting for the 3 to 6 percent market share (CVS, Walgreens, Target, etc....). For all the talk about organic foods, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's barely make up two percent of market share. Yes, I know they have hardly any locations, but the way I hear people talk, you'd think there were lines out the door of those places constantly....

6) Farm Fresh needs to pack it in.

Click on the title link, see the numbers broken down, and tell me what you think, where you shop, and has it changed in this "Post-Ukrops" Richmond....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Obama Got Elected... Interviews With Obama Voters

Here is the biggest stumbling block to making Barack Obama a one-term President.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Barney Frank knocked on his Fannie

You MUST read paragraph #2 of this article (click on the title link). Frank argues his point, and by doing so, proves the point of many of his critics, including myself. BOTH political parties see Washington through this nasty prism and it is a major reason why we are in the $14 trillion debt mess we find ourselves in.

The new "in" word in Washington needs to be "recuse".

KATV Little Rock Pre-empts Oprah Finale With Storm Coverage

Awwww.....too bad Oprah fans. Some Little Rock viewers are incensed when they can't watch the finale of their favorite TV show. Click on the title link for some of their choice comments to local station KATV.

A gentle reminder--TV and radio stations are licensed by the FCC. When those licenses are up for review and renewal, a major component is whether the owner of said station "acted in the public interest".

It is much, much more "in the public interest" to warn thousands of people of life-threatening weather than it is to run a talk show. The primary purpose of TV and radio locally is to INFORM. Secondary is entertainment.

People who whine that their show is preempted when tornadoes are all around them are, in my opinion, a bag of fries short of a Value Meal, if you know what I mean.

Somehow I don't think alot of people in Joplin, Missouri cared about whether the Oprah finale aired in their market yesterday. They were busy with this.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stifling dissent on a bumper sticker, Back to the Future of 1967, and Vince McMahon blew it big time.....

So, if you don't like political or controversial talk, you might want to skip over this entry......

1) Media Matters Goes After Fox News----Again.....

Usually the people who scream for tolerance are the most intolerant. Such is the case with Media Matters and their friends on the uberleft, who now offer the masses bumper stickers that say "Turn Off Fox: Bad News For America". I've seen two of them on the road in recent days and it reminded me of the following.....

I watch ALL cable news channels. I still believe CNN beats the tar out of Fox News when breaking international news takes place (and Fox was AWFUL last night when the Joplin tragedy came to light. CNN was all over it, while Fox dedicated its time to the Casey Anthony case). But the bottom line is, anyone who takes the actual time to watch the channels have to admit (as a new Suffolk University survey shows) that Fox is, indeed, the most trusted and fairest news organization on television.

It's simple. If I disagree with a Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or whoever on the left, I can offer my opinions and rebuttals. But one thing I've never done, and never will do, is call for their removal from the public square.

The fact that Media Matters wants people to "Turn Off Fox", all the while pressuring advertisers to leave them as well, proves that they can't handle dissent. They can't handle when people disagree with them. You see, Media Matters knows what's best for you. Don't you understand that? Just give them your life and your brain and everything will be just fine.........

Be weary of ANYONE who wants opinion stifled, and speech eliminated. There's always a reason, and it's never a good one.


2) Obama says "Welcome Back to 1967".........

I shake my head listening to all the Obama zombies in the media yelling and screaming about how "all the President did last week by invoking the 1967 borders is to publicly use a starting point for negotiations that have been in talks privately for YEARS!!"

Apparently, pointing out that a new idea is not "new" makes it right. Good. Acceptable. Great for all parties. I mean, my Lord, we are talking the Democratic Messiah, right, so he has to have the solution!

Jimmy Carter got Anwar Sadat and Menacham Begin together at Camp David in 1978 for about 12 days, and, in the end, we got the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty. The Camp David Accord. What did it produce? Sadat's assassination three years later, and 33 years of, at best, a cold peace, all the while Israel having to fend off the other Palestinian haters around them.

The same ones who want to play Pac-Man and eat up more real estate to place their mortal enemy in a position to be eliminated.....

....which is what Hamas wants anyway. Just read their charter sometime.....

Prime Minister Netanyahu schooled Barack Obama in the White House last week. I loved every minute of it. The realist, the man on the ground in the Middle East who knows the realities, knows the threats to his people, took the Harvard professor to school in Middle East Reality 101.

Just because George W. Bush privately discussed a proposal doesn't mean it's good.

President Obama squarely placed his ball in the court of the Arabs. No surprise there. Apparently over the 20 years he spent not listening at Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, an issue not brought to his attention was the history of Israel and how God will protect His people, no matter what.

And taking America away from Israel can only mean bad things for America.


Now, from a totally different universe.

Vince McMahon, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Please, spare us the "too little, too late" idea of posthumously inducting the late Macho Man Randy Savage in 2012. It would just be that.

What a horrible injustice, a horrible shame.

The meteroric rise of the then "WWF" was built on the shoulders of three wrestlers in the 1980s: Hulk Hogan (the hero), Andre The Giant (the villain), and Randy Savage, the one who could be counted on to pick up the big ball and run with it.

Thus was the case in 1988 when, smartly, McMahon realized Hogan couldn't be champion forever, and created circumstances whereby Wrestlemania IV was headlined by a tournament for the WWF Championship. And Savage, without having to face Hogan, got to wear the strap.

And he did it well. Then, when the inevitable turn to heel in early 1989 occurred to place him and Hogan in the main event at Wrestlemania V, Savage did a tremendous job, realistically portraying the heel character in a way today's wrestlers can only dream of.

And I haven't even discussed his Wrestlemania III match against Ricky Steamboat, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest matches, if not the greatest, technical match, in wrestling history.

McMahon diminished Savage's role in the company as the 1990s progressed to the point where he wanted out. McMahon gave it to him, and kudos to him for that. He must have thought Savage's tank was dry. He was wrong.

He gave another five years of compelling performances in WCW, and his 1997/1998 feud with Diamond Dallas Page was one of the best in the later years of that company. Remember, Page was a retread manager/midcard wrestler at best over the years, and Savage was the one whose feud with Page gave DDP "the rub", launching him into a main event status.

For whatever reason, McMahon and Savage haven't exchanged Christmas cards in recent years. I have no clue why. But before a 46 year-old Shawn Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, there should have been a Macho Induction. He should've been in the Class of 2010, or 2009, or 2008......I could go on.

Now, in light of the tragic end to his life Friday in Florida, if McMahon decides to induct him, it will be so hollow, and, as stated earlier, too little, too late.

My Dad used to praise parishoners from the pulpit when they did things never wanting to be noticed or praised, saying, "We should give bouquets to the living so they can enjoy them, rather than to the deceased."

He's so right.

I'm sorry that Savage's widow will now have to stand in for him whenever McMahon finally does the right thing. Macho deserved that last moment in the sun, the cheers from the crowd and from peers and the next generation of wrestlers, the ones who grew up watching him.

Vince McMahon's ego gets in the way of alot of good decisions. This is definitely one of them.

While I'm at it, may I go on record as saying McMahon missed a chance at genius this spring. With Wrestlemania in Atlanta, it was the perfect opportunity to induct someone extremely worthy into the WWE Hall Of Fame......

Ted Turner.

Yes. Ted Turner. The guy who tried to put Vince out of business with that "WCW rasslin'!"

Long before McMahon was top dog, Turner showcased wrestling, using it to build his cable empire, and giving the industry/sport exposure it had not enjoyed since Dumont Television in the 1950s (Gorgeous George, anyone?).

His decision to battle head-to-head with McMahon in the 1990s created the super-era of professional wrestling in the late 1990s, which set the stage for the current landscape (with its ups and downs.....). If anything, he should thank Turner for pushing him into having to "become a billionaire himself" in order to fight off the challenges of "Billionaire Ted" back in the day.....

Vince should have named him to the WWE Hall of Fame AND should have inducted him.

Big men do that sort of thing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Morning Show with Bowman and Henderson

A MUST SEE VIDEO for long-time Richmonders like me! Click on the title link to see Bill and Floyd in action. I salute WHAP in Hopewell for having the fortitude to allow two legendary personalities, long since forgotten by "corporate media" to continue to entertain and inform audiences.

Long live Bowman and Henderson! THIS is radio!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Rip Van Witham

I've been mulling over this blog post for quite some time now, and, in light of tonight being one of those nights where I find myself "tired, but not sleepy", I'll take the opportunity to opine.

I can pretty much tie anything that happens in life to an episode of my all-time favorite television show......"The Flintstones".

One of the more thoughtful episodes was at the Slate Company picnic, where Fred begins in his usual rotten mood, not wanting to partake in the annual three-legged race. He ends up getting away to himself and actually falling asleep somewhere in the park.....

....and he dreams that it's 20 years later. A gray-haired Fred, complete with LONG beard, proceeds to run back to Bedrock to discover what's happened to Wilma, Pebbles, the Rubbles, et al in the 20 years since his apparent demise. It made him realize he should enjoy every moment.

Even the three-legged race.

He wakes up, goes flying back to the picnic, and he and Barney are the hit of the day.

Carpe Diem.


After completing my fourth week at a job yesterday, this is a good time to share my "similar to Fred" story. Going back to Aunt Sharon's sudden passing in February, my life schedule started to get back to a reasonable normalcy. It certainly has since April 11th. And I've realized how much has come and gone over the past nine years.

For example:

--I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that it's 2011. It doesn't seem like it's been almost 10 years since 9/11.
--I've realized how much pop culture has come and gone, much of which I don't know, know bits and pieces, don't get me wrong, it's not that I regret it, it simply is a barometer of the volume of what's gone on while I've slept.....

....and slept.....and rested......and tossed......

Now, add to that the egregious error of allowing myself to live at my job at Clear Channel the last four years I was there, and it all adds up.

My son is now 19?
My daughter starts high school in September?
What happened to Blues Clues?
Has it honestly been seven years since we left Longdale Elementary in rezoning?

Some of what I've experienced (and missed) the past several years was truly out of my control. Concoct a potion of sleep apnea, depression, bipolar, then throw in some diabetes, and there have been many days where I may have wanted to conquer the world, but, in the end, I was lucky to get to the bathroom. I know some who read this will truly not understand. That's okay. I certainly never want you to experience it simply so that you'll "get my point".

Other things, though?

One of the coolest things about the new workplace is everybody looks at each other just before 5:30 each day and implores the others to "get up and get out". We get there at 8:30, we work throughout the day (thankfully it's close enough to home where I can come home for lunch and check on Harry!), but then, when it's time to go home, WE GO.

I'll never make that mistake again. Am I saying I'll never stay late? Of course not. But if I ever get back to working 70/80 hours a week again (and I KNOW that can't happen in my current physical condition), somebody slap me silly.

Fourteen years of mostly seven day a week newspaper delivery, having 2 or 3 jobs for 17 straight years, working 80 hours a week in the mid-2000's....they all had a hand in the permanent crater that now occupies my half of the mattress, I'm sure.


But what I'm really trying to convey is simply this.

1) Remember what's important in life, and focus the most on it. I gave Clear Channel the bulk of my energy and devotion, and it got me.....a pink slip. I married Bonnie, I'm hired to do jobs. BIG difference.

2) When the kids are young, breathe it in. ALL OF IT. Even the hard times. Rachel and I are at Roy's Big Burger in Lakeside today and in line is a dad with his son, probably three years old. Some of the boy's behavior reminded me of Rachel when she was that young. Then I smiled, looked at the practically grown Rachel in front of me....part of me kept smiling, part of me sighed with great disappointment. That Rachel, the one looking for her binky, is gone forever.

3) Enjoy the current moment. If you've experienced/are experiencing similar regrets to what I've shared here, DO NOT dwell in them. Period. You must live in the moment, enjoy what's happening NOW, otherwise "now" simply becomes an extra day in the regret column.

In the past ten years, I missed many things in life. Some I couldn't control. Others I could have. Those which I can, from here on out I will. I suggest you join me. :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden Dead---What's Next?

Some rapid-fire thoughts on the historic news breaking tonight.....

1) Congratulations to the dedicated men and women of our Armed Forces, the "boots on the ground", who never gave up in spite of waning public support at home. Special thanks to the special forces who were involved in the raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan to put an end to this scourge on humanity.

2) Congratulations to President Obama and his National Security Team for not dropping the ball, painstakingly planning from a tip on August, 2010 all the way to the execution of the raid that finally got the job done.

3) A reminder of thanks to the previous Bush Administration for their tireless work, much of it during withering criticism and pressure at every turn, to prove a surge works (Iraq), which set the stage for Obama to surge in Afghanistan, quelling any Taliban or Al-Qaeda gains, all the while looking inside Pakistan for the big catch.

4) All U.S. interests, both foreign and domestic, should be extremely vigilent in the days and weeks to come. If they can pull it off, those who side with Bin Laden will want to retaliate, quell our victorious feeling, and return us to that feeling of "this war will never end...."


Which brings me to my final point, and I believe it is the most important. In light of this development, some issues are going to rocket to the top of discussion.

A) If the reason for going to Afghanistan was to "get Bin Laden", isn't it now time to come home? If the President does not do this, he risks making the hard left in America very, very upset just as the 2012 election campaign is ramping up. Meanwhile, Bin Laden's demise takes much of the wind out of the sails of those who want to continue in Afghanistan. On the other hand, April was the deadliest month for Americans in IRAQ since 2009. And we're ramping down there. What happens when we're gone?

B) How much political hay will Obama be able to make from being the one who authorized the successful raid on Bin Laden? Much, I suspect, and deservedly so. I could care less which President got him, I just wanted him gotten. This is a time to give credit where credit is due, and foremost, it goes to Obama and his National Security Team. Conservatives should not try to politicize this. There's nothing here to politicize.

C) What about the body? Yes, remember, in Islam, burials are normally done within 24 hours, and the fact that the "infidels, the Americans" have, in their possession, the body of their martyred leader, Osama Bin Laden, is really going to stir their passions, their hatred. Let us be vigilant.

As someone posted on Facebook tonight, now we know where Jack Bauer went after the final season of "24"....... :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mortimer Witham.....

Rest in peace, Mortimer.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

We Say Goodbye To Two More, and, What I'm Thankful For...

2011 can end anytime now.

My brother's family lost their "puppy" this morning when Mortimer was killed by a vehicle. Apparently he and another of their dogs dug a tunnel underneath their fence, got out, and Mortimer headed straight for the road. It's a busy highway. Thankfully, he didn't suffer. He was barely a year old.

Last weekend when we were in Carolina we marveled at the fact that he had gotten SO BIG. Definitely had some Great Dane in him. Of course, he still thought he was a puppy, so he thought he could sit in everyone's lap, although he was HUGE. That didn't matter! LOL.....

He was so playful, so innocent. Gone way, way too soon.

Then, this evening, Rachel headed to piano practice and learns that our piano teacher's awesome dog, Ladybug, had to be put down a few days ago. Dementia. She was 16 and enjoyed a long, wonderful life, and we're grateful for that. But it won't be the same coming down the long driveway to Ms. Ann's house and not see Ladybug hanging around the house. We knew she was hard of hearing and didn't move around too well, so we were always careful coming and going......

Mortimer and Ladybug. Rest in peace, and make sure to meet up and swap Rachel stories. Just don't talk to Katie Pickles. She only has memories of a young, curly-mopped Rachel pulling her tail all the time...... :)


Only 1/3 of the year done and I've experienced all the death I care to experience for this year, next year, and many more. Add to that digging out of the huge hole of long-term unemployment, daily health battles, a sputtering economy, $4/gallon gas, overseas unrest.....

But I need to focus on that which I'm thankful.

--I'm thankful for MY NEW JOB! And the WONDERFUL co-workers I now enjoy daily. They make me smile. :)
--I'm thankful that my home is intact after watching the devastation in North Carolina two weeks ago, Alabama yesterday, and elsewhere this month.
--I'm thankful my son turns 19 tomorrow healthy, employed, and getting closer to beginning to get his chance to realize his dream.
--I'm thankful my daughter is on the Honor Roll and is doing so well with violin and piano. Her first dance is tomorrow night. Pics will be posted.
--I'm thankful my dog Harry is, well, Harry. I love him dearly. I'm beginning to better understand why my Mama used to be so attached to her dog, Teddy.
--I'm thankful that it looks like our Patrick Henry games will be heard on the FM dial this fall.
--And....I'm thankful my wife doesn't charge me more a month to live here. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Soap Operas in Critical Condition---Two More Cancelled!

In a letter to ABC-TV affiliates today, the following announcement was made:

"Brian Frons, President ABC Daytime, has announced a new daytime programming strategy, cancelling two (2) of ABC’s long-running daytime dramas and replacing them with new, innovative talk and lifestyle programming. After more than 40 years on the air, “All My Children” will end its run in late September of this year, and the premiere of a dynamic new show, “The Chew,” will immediately follow. “One Life to Live” will bring its long run to a close in January 2012, when the new lifestyle show, “The Revolution,” will premiere. Today’s announcement does not affect “General Hospital,” which is currently the number two show in daytime television, and will continue to be part of ABC’s daytime line up, along with “The View.”"

General Hospital is the last one standing on ABC.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness----Down to 32

.....and two of them are from Richmond, VA!!!!!

Saturday, The Richmond Spiders playing the biggest cinderella so far, Morehead State, around 5:15pm. They certainly have a shot to win to make it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1988, and they won't overlook Morehead. Chris Mooney would never let that happen.....

VCU, tonight, played arguably their best game ever in the NCAA's (their biggest win was the Duke victory in '07, tonight's win over GTown was more complete and dominant, therefore their "best"....) and, if they can keep the momentum going, they certainly can hang with Purdue. Richmond beat Purdue earlier this season, so it is definitely doable.

Other Tourney thoughts after one round....

---My Final Four is intact (Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut and Pitt)
---Seven of my Elite Eight are alive (Darn you, Xavier!!)
---I have VCU making the Sweet Sixteen. I hope I'm right!
---I have Richmond losing in Round 3. I hope I'm wrong!


Thank you.....from a concerned Wolfpack fan of 37 years....... :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Let The Madness Begin! ESPN Final Four Picks, too.....

Some thoughts about today's action and bracket selections as we start a new era in March Madness.

---CBS' new graphic package looks like TNT's. Why do that? At least they didn't ditch the classic theme song, but put a new variation on it (like they did in 2004).

---VCU was savaged by the ESPN crew, along with UAB. To their credit, they got VCU coach Shaka Smart on the air a few minutes ago and, as expected, Smart was extremely classy in the interview. I did not expect VCU to make it, but am glad they did.

---The BIGGER story, to me, is how weak the Selection Committee viewed the ACC this year. As soon as I saw Florida State, who finished THIRD in the conference, as a #10 seed, I knew Virginia Tech was toast, and posted as much on Facebook. This year, Tech can blame themselves for two BAD losses in the final week of the season (especially at home to Boston College), but also the whole ACC, which is as bad as I've ever seen it, and I've been watching since 1973-74....


My picks? I'll post them before Tuesday's new "First Round". That'll take some time talking about the "third round" this coming weekend.....

ESPN's PICKS? (champ in BOLD)----

JAY BILAS: Syracuse, Connecticut, Kansas, Pittsburgh

DIGGER PHELPS: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, Florida

HUBERT DAVIS: Ohio State, Texas, Kansas, Pittsburgh

DICK VITALE: Ohio State, Duke, Louisville, Pittsburgh

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Qaddafi's Concert Series!

I suspect that, somewhere, sometime, at some point, Nelly Furtado, Beyonce, Usher, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey have all, privately or publicly, whined about how much they can't stand Sarah Palin and that she's a threat to America. Yadda yadda yadda.....

But, apparently, Libyan leader Qaddafi and his wacky son are okay by all of them! Each of them has reportedly received LOTS of money (up to $1 million) to perform at private events of the Libyan dictator/murderer. Apparently, Mariah sang four songs. $250K a pop. Not a bad gig if you can get it. That is, if you don't mind accepting blood money.

Now, Nelly Furtado announces she will "donate" the $1 million she made to charity. Gee, it only took her FOUR YEARS and a possible revolution in Libya for her to have this sudden "change of heart". Beyonce is claiming she "donated" her cool million to Haiti relief last year. You know, get ahead of the damage curve, you look better that way.

An old saying tells us, "You are known by the company you keep."

This story tells me much about the mindset of today's music, movie and TV "stars", and how naive and stupid some of them really are.

The above named artists deserve every bit of criticism they receive for going to bed with a terrorist. Instead of "15 minutes of fame", call it "45 minutes of infamy".

I'm taking bets.....who's the first artist named above that will organize a concert for our troops? You know one of them will......

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Rachel's Unforgettable Birthday, aka TNA Wrestling Review, and Other Notes....

I’ve never been so happy to see a month end than I am concerning February, 2011. At the snap of a finger, February went from a normal month to a nightmare. We’re now ten days removed from Aunt Sharon’s sudden passing and, slowly, things are returning to “normal”, as it will now be defined post-2/19. Bonnie has good days and bad days, Robbie is a rock and Rachel is back at school, and, as I type, is practicing with the Richmond Symphony Youth Sinfonettia at Ginter Park United Methodist Church.

Plans continue to come together for the Celebration Of Life Service for Sharon, set for next Saturday (3/12). All details will be in Sunday’s Times-Dispatch, if I do my job correctly. 

Now, to take a few minutes and blog about a GREAT experience!!! As low in the valley as we all felt on Saturday night, 2/19, Rachel rebounded to about as high an experience as you can get just seven nights later. Some background…..

Rachel started paying attention to wrestling around 2006. By 2007, she began to root for the Hardy Boys (Matt and Jeff), specifically Jeff. By 2008, we were in full “crush” mode. 

The closest Rachel had ever been to him was at a WWE house show at the Richmond Coliseum late in 2008, when we sat at the end of a row on a raised platform of seats above the lower level, a perfect position to reach your hand out when a wrestler came back to slap ‘em. Nicely. Thus Rachel got a “high-five” from Jeff Hardy that night.

Could it get any better?

Fast forward to this past Saturday night. Jeff has been with TNA Wrestling for over a year now, and, Rachel only watched their shows when he was on. Otherwise she couldn’t stand TNA. Too many old wrestlers, she said. I agree, but that’s another story.

TNA came to Richmond for a live show at the Landmark Theatre Saturday night. I was skeptical about the venue, but it turned out to be fantastic. I used money saved up from my football season work last fall to take Robbie and Rachel to their first TNA event.

OH! I forgot to say Saturday was Rachel’s 14th birthday. Okay, NOW the stage is set. 

I had read online earlier about TNA’s show in Norfolk on Friday and got a clue that it was possible that the Hardys would be available to pose for pictures after the show was over. I carefully reserved remaining money, just in case they followed the same pattern in RIC.

Before the show, Robbie got to meet his favorite female wrestler, Patrick Henry graduate Mickie James. I had met her at the radio station in my Clear Channel days when she was with WWE. So, part of Robbie’s birthday (April) gift came a little early, and he didn’t mind. He also got to meet Jeff Jarrett before we left and Robbie told him he wanted to work for them on day (Jarrett and his dad founded the company nine years ago). Jarrett said he “took a mental picture” of Robbie and will be looking for him. Don’t be surprised, Jeff……don’t be surprised…..

Sure enough, after the main event, it was announced you could have your picture taken in the ring onstage with the Hardy Boys. I knew we’d wait in line, even if it took all night. Hundreds of others joined us in a series of about four lines that all snaked their way through the seats of the floor section of the Landmark. I thought we’d be there 60 to 90 minutes waiting (because we had to come from upstairs in the cheap seats to get in line), but they knew what they were doing, and it took less than 40. I was very impressed.

Of course the only downside to that is you got in the ring and had about 10 seconds with Matt and Jeff, long enough to shake hands and pose for the picture. Rachel REALLY wanted them (ESPECIALLY Jeff) to wish her a happy 14th birthday.

So, it was finally Rachel’s turn. She went up, shook their hands, accidentally stepped on Matt’s foot (OOPS!) and…….

……all of a sudden, the girl taking pictures couldn’t take any.

I heard someone say, “did they pull the power cord??”. They were in the midst of tearing down their set, and, apparently, someone disconnected the power to their photo computer system. So, there was…..A DELAY.

And Rachel was there. With the Hardy Boys. Oh, darn!  

So, instead of her “10 seconds of fame”, she ended with about 2.5 minutes of fame with Matt and Jeff. Matt was the talkative one, carrying on a nice conversation with Rachel (Jeff looked tired!), and long after it was done, Rachel kicked herself for not talking to Jeff, but I told her it all worked out the way it was supposed to be. Robbie and I, standing onstage outside the ring, had time to grab our phones and take additional pics of the three of them.

The people left in line HAD to be wondering, “What’s so special about THAT GIRL?” 

Then, power was restored, the picture taken, and the moment was complete. Couldn’t ask for a better one, if you ask me. Strike one off Rachel’s bucket list! And, for those with access to her Facebook page, they saw that it was the “best BDay EVER!!!!!”. I would agree…for her. My favorite Rachel birthday was in 1997…..the day she was born. 

By the way, kudos to TNA Wrestling. They are MAJOR fan-friendly. Many other wrestlers were out signing autographs onstage after the show while the line worked its way to ringside. They are a much smaller operation than WWE, but they take advantage of having smaller crowds (I’d say somewhere between 1200 and 1500 people were there Saturday night) by being able to offer picture and autograph sessions before, during and after events. This will help them continue to build a solid fan base.

The only show complaint I had was the introductions for wrestlers were WAY too long. It shouldn’t take ten minutes to introduce six wrestlers for a nine-minute match. Well, that and the fact that my favorite wrestler (Ric Flair) and Robbie’s favorite (Sting) weren’t in attendance. So, Rachel has one up on both of us. Hee hee…..

And now we heartedly welcome March, hoping for a month without shock and tragedy, filled with all those boring things that compile every day life.

On a personal note, I have slept better the past two nights with my C-PAP machine than I have in years. Today I felt good enough to work around the house, take Harry for a walk and bring Rachel to Symphony practice, and it’s only 5:30! You have to understand, these are BIG steps for me. Anytime I am out of bed more than 12 hours in a calendar day is a great thing. And, in the past several days, it’s happened more than not.

I’m SO grateful to God for these little things that, when put together, make my life one of more functioning and less simple “existence”. We learned all too harshly in February that none of us have time to simply “exist”.

Rachel has a concert at school tomorrow night, Sharon’s Celebration of Life Service on the 12th, I believe, will be a healing experience for many people, and, lest we forget…..

It is March. It’s my favorite sports month of the year. Let the Madness begin! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Celebration Of Life......

On behalf of Bonnie and the kids, my deepest thanks for your prayers and concern for us these past several days since the sudden loss of Sharon last Saturday. We've experienced myriads of emotions, all of us have been "a little clingy" to say the least, and are slowly beginning to see some routine return to daily life. I'm happy that Bonnie got back to work today, and Rachel spent 1/2 day at school yesterday and a full day today. Robbie even got some time in at his apprenticeship and continues tomorrow. Me? Filed unemployment, sold and listed sports cards on eBay, and shortly, back over to those dreaded job web sites. Note: It was easier to find a job WITHOUT the Internet.

NOW, to the business at hand. A "Celebration of Life" service is being planned for Sharon. Here are the particulars:

---Saturday March 12th, begins at 1pm

---Held at Walkerton Tavern, 2892 Mountain Road, beside the Cultural Arts Center.

Brian and the children have done an incredible job with planning this event. There will be lots of pictures on display, the service will be focusing on the vast reach of Sharon's life, and then, as Sharon would definitely want, we'll all get together and eat afterwards. :)

Sharon requested that she be cremated, so there will be no viewing scheduled. The death notice should appear in the Times-Dispatch tomorrow, with another listing for the memorial service appearing Sunday, March 6th.

Click on the above link for information and maps for Walkerton Tavern, a home filled with history (and a curator will be on site that day). Seating will be somewhat limited for the service, so bear that in mind.

Thanks to everyone for your patience, as I know alot of you have been anxious to get details on services. Keep lifting up Brian, Sarah, and Seth. Thanks everyone!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Tremendous Loss

Our family has suffered a tremendous, devastating loss on this day. Rather than dwell on the events of today, I'd rather focus on the wonderful gifts God gave my wife for almost 45 years, and my family circle since I met her.

Sharon Hornberger was the last of Myrtle Semones' 14 children, born in January of 1966. At this time, Bonnie's mom was pregnant with Bonnie. She was born that July. Even though Sharon was, "officially", her aunt, they were more like twin sisters, except that they weren't sisters, and they weren't twins. I hope that makes sense and I don't use that description jokingly. I try to use it to help explain to you just how close Sharon and Bonnie have been their entire lives.

Bonnie grew up in a huge family and everyone was close-by. I had the opposite experience growing up, with all my extended family living in Maine or North Carolina. I saw my cousins once a year, or every few years. Bonnie saw her family constantly. Especially on Sundays. So, while I cannot relate to it personally, I have seen over the years how important that has been in my wife's development, and, I'm so glad my kids' cousins have been in close proximity to them for most of their childhoods.

In 1989, Bonnie and I moved to our second apartment. Around the same time, Sharon and her husband Brian and their then young daughter Sarah moved in as well, down the street. The day, in 1992, when Sharon called Bonnie at work and said, "Brian and I are buying a house!", Bonnie immediately called me at work and said, "If they can do it, why can't we?"

Four days later, we signed a contract with their real estate agent, and, on Halloween of that year, we all left the apartment complex and moved into our homes, on the same street. We're the second house on the right, they are the fourth on the left. And it has remained that way until the present time.

If the phone rang, it was 50/50 it was Sharon calling. Always checking on Bonnie and all of us. And, as situations came and went (my Mom's death, Robbie's health issues, my health issues, etc.), she was the constant that made sure nothing needed to be done. In many cases, she obviously sensed something because she would show up at the house with something we needed and we had never asked for it.

In late 2006, Bonnie and Sharon were among a group who got to go on a Caribbean cruise. As an aside, Bonnie was so glad Sharon would go, since she knows she'll never get me near a boat, much less out in an ocean.....

In the summer of 2007, they, along with Rachel and my sister-in-law, took a trip to Las Vegas. The guys stayed home. These are wonderful memories that now Bonnie, as well as Rachel, get to hold and cherish.

Here's how important Sharon has been to us:

1) She was the only other person besides me in the delivery room when Rachel was born in 1997.

2) The aforementioned trips together.

3) The sixth sense that constantly carried on between Sharon and Bonnie.

4) She helped spawn the second phase of Rachel's musical career, giving her a violin that she had had put away for many years. Rachel named it "Scribbles". She played it at a Richmond Symphony concert at Richmond CenterStage this very morning. Little did we know.....

Oh, I did forget to mention one important item. Since 1997, Sharon has been sick, fighting a host of medical issues, most notably, Crohn's Disease. So, all this time while she watched out for us from across the pavement and took care of her Mom, who passed 17 months ago at age 85, and helped out her 13 siblings, AND helped out strangers, and friends of friends.......she was in and out of the hospital so many times I suspect we've all lost count. She couldn't work any longer, but she could still be, even bedridden at times, an inspiration and a source of solutions for a myriad of people. Disability does not take away God's ability to use you.

Today, about three weeks after celebrating her 45th birthday, she went to take a nap, and did not wake up. The Henrico EMT's were incredible in their work to try to save her during the struggle; we thank them for that. And, over the past almost seven hours, dozens of calls have been made and family and friends have poured into the house across the street.

Tomorrow, Lord Willing, we wake up to face a new day, but all of us, most notably her husband of 25 years, and her two fantastic children, begin a new reality. Please pray for them, and for my wife as well, as she has truly lost her best friend.

We will go on and help each other. She set the example, even while facing incredible odds. It's the least we can do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dear Richmond, If You're Gonna Build A Coliseum.....

So the proverbial "next step" has at least been spoken by those who, thanks to $150K from four area companies, did a study on where to put a replacement for the Richmond Coliseum and how big it should be built.

Of the four proposed locations, they like a parcel of land next to the current Coliseum, which opened about 40 years ago. Sadly, this parcel is the smallest of the four and provides the least flexibility for parking.

(Insert pause to fume slightly here.)

Meanwhile, the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park is withholding judgement on the site, because it is currently seen by them as a bridge connecting their endeavor with VCU Medical Center.

So, according to the article in the Times-Dispatch, here are some "good points":

1) The Mayor likes the recommended site.
2) The Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Convention and Visitors Bureau likes it, as it keeps the arena next to them. The article also states how it keeps it close to entertainment venues, which I can agree with if we're talking The National and Richmond CenterStage. Shockoe Bottom? Not so much.


Now for my thoughts......

1) Why pick the smallest parcel of land available? If this parcel is adjacent to the Coliseum site, why not use a block or two of it as well? Especially in light of the two most important things, in my view.


2) This article, as many before it, use the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as a "measuring stick" or "holy grail" of sorts as to what kind of seating capacity you'll need in a new arena in order to successfully bid for events of this nature. Right now, the plans are around 14,000 with a stage, 15,000 in the round. Apparently some people connected with this study think 15,000 seats are plenty to get the Tournament back to Richmond for the first time since 1996.

I was there when the Tournament first came to Richmond in 1990. It was an incredible experience, the type Richmond rarely gets to enjoy and take advantage of. The nation's eyes watched us. In 48 hours, there was a major upset due to a 28-foot shot near the end of a game, the end of Terry Holland's career as head coach of UVA, both Jim Boeheim and Digger Phelps brought their teams to play, and future NBA stars like Derrick Coleman took the floor. CBS Sports was there, in fact, their "A" team, at the time, of Brent Musberger and Billy Packer were there. Yes, there were three other sites playing games on the same two days, but suffice to say Richmond, Virginia got its name all over CBS that wonderful March weekend. You can't buy that sort of publicity, even today.

I do NOT think 15,000 seats will be enough to make this a reality again in the RVA. Let's look at the sites being used for the 2011 Tournament, remember that there's now four "play-in" games as the field is up to 68 teams.

PLAY-IN GAMES: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH--Capacity: 13,455

(Note: Dayton has hosted the one play-in game in previous years since 2001....)

FIRST/SECOND ROUND: Verizon Center, Washington DC--Capacity: 20,173
McHale Center, Tucson, AZ--Capacity: 14,545
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO--Capacity: 19,155
St. Pete Times Forum, St. Petersburg, FL--Capacity: 20,500
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH--Capacity: 20,562
Time Warner Arena, Charlotte, NC--Capacity: 19,568
United Center, Chicago, IL--Capacity: 20,917
BOK Center, Tulsa, OK--Capacity: 17,839

We see the following trends:

1) Only two arenas seat less than 18,000. The smallest, in Tucson, is on a college campus (University of Arizona) with a long history of tourney success, though not recently.

2) Five of the eight arenas are used by NBA teams.

3) Richmond's best (and in my opinion, only) hope, by building a 15,000 seat arena, would be to steal the first games from Dayton. But, trust me, to many die-hard March Madness fans, the one game these past 10 years have been forgettable. Heck, people don't even count them in the office and online pick 'em games and pools. Now, the two-night doubleheader concept starting this year may add some luster to it, but frankly, if you want any chance of having the best teams in any given year to come to your town's arena in the first two rounds, you better have the seats available to host what I still call Rounds One and Two, but will henceforth be called "Rounds Two and Three".


Away from basketball, Richmond is constantly in competition with other metro areas for major arena "events" (concerts, wrestling, MMA, preseason NHL and NBA, etc.), and, Richmond usually loses. With the opening of the beautiful John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville a few years back, C'Ville actually jumped ahead of Richmond when it came to a great choice for concert promoters, et al. This was a collective slap in the face to Metro Richmond.

So why would Richmond now build something new that has essentially the same seating as Charlottesville? Don't we need to differentiate ourselves from JPJ?? As for concerts, the lure of JPJ being located at a place as prestigeous (and full of 20-somethings) as the University of Virginia sure looks better to me than the Richmond response of VCU, as a fair number of students there don't live on campus.


So, Richmond, if you're gonna build a Coliseum, and I know it may not be a reality for another ten years, take this time and opportunity to build in increases in seating, parking, and amentities (suites, etc.) so two things happen:

1) When it opens, Richmond FINALLY has a first-class arena worthy of a city twice our size, rather than settling for one which is equal to one in a city MUCH SMALLER than us 1.3 hours up I-64....

2) Thus, build it for the year 2040, not the year 2020. I expect 20,000 seats will be needed for events long before 2040 due to natural population growth.

CLOSING: My fear is they build a 15K seat arena that will disappoint. My hope is that they would take some space from the current Coliseum site, if they adjoin, and make it an 18-19K seat arena that will position Richmond for a number of economic opportunities in the future.

After all, did any of you think, 15 years ago, that Oklahoma City, with a population even with Richmond, would be home to a successful NBA franchise? I bet someone was forward-thinking in OKC years ago, which made this a reality.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Random Football Thoughts.......

1) Now I'm a fan of Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler for two reasons. First, he's a good punter on my favorite team. Second, he's got guts to speak his mind over the inane decision by good ol' Al Davis to let Tom Cable go as head coach. Just as it looks like the Raiders are FINALLY pointing the ship in the right direction, they let go a coach loved by the players. And the old-timers, like Lechler, have now seen six coaches come and go

2) Another bad domino falling here is the development of Jason Campbell. Yes, if Hue Jackson is promoted to head coach, the offensive scheme will stay, but what if he goes to San Francisco? How many times did Campbell have to change offensive schemes during his Washington tenure with their "coordinator coaching carousel"? Coming to Oakland was supposed to end that.

3) They (the Raiders) better keep McFadden and Bush happy. The only way our renaissance continues is with the continued improvement of our running game. Look where Kansas City is thanks in large part to Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.

4) Could someone please show Derrius Heyward-Bey the door? Our first round drafting in odd years lately has been, ah, suspect.

2009: Heyward-Bey
2007: JaMarcus Russell (oh my word....)
2005: Fabian Washington (now in Baltimore)

Thankfully, we can look back at 2003 and see success in Nnamdi Asomugha.

2001: Derrick Gibson (retired)
1999: Matt Stinchcomb (retired after leaving for Tampa Bay)

Needless to say I am not holding out much hope for the 2011 Draft, but at least we won't be picking in the Top 5, right? :) BTW, if the Raider War Room needs advice, draft DEFENSE! Only exception is to get a can't miss offensive lineman.


ITEM: Vince Young and Tennessee part ways. Excellent move by the Titans. I don't think Young's career is over, he just has to land in the right spot where there are people who can put up with him. He also needs to stay healthy! And, yes, I'm already hearing rumblings about Vince and the Raiders. Just what we need, THREE possible answers to "Who's at quarterback this week??"

I'll look back at my 2010 Preseason predictions soon. I whiffed on some (San Francisco, anyone?), nailed others (Cincinnati) and was right in saying no team coached by Wade Phillips or Norv Turner would make it to a Super Bowl.......

Unlike most TV and internet talking heads, who now "re-predict" the post-season, since my original Super Bowl picks are alive, I'm staying with them. It'll be an NFL miracle if they make it, but if they do, the Colts and Packers both will have to win three to get there, and Green Bay will have to do it ALL on the road (Indy gets the Jets at home Saturday night in their Lucas Oil finale.....)

We'll see! In the meantime, check out my new favorite weather site, where the buzz is of a possible southern snowstorm come Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Short Pump Lottery Ticket: $250,000 Ticket Sold in Short Pump, VA - wtvr

No multi-millionaire, but someone in the area is at least $250,000 richer today.

Early Wednesday Random Thoughts.....

Our first two deaths of note for 2011:

1) Gerry Rafferty--I owned several 45s of his music in the late 70s; he was easily one of the most underrated male pop vocalists of that era. One reason? Radio played "Baker Street" to death and ignored other songs that were as good or better (Home and Dry, Get It Right Next Time, Right Down The Line, The Royal Mile....). I suspect some thought all these years he was a one-hit wonder. Only 63. Sad.

2) Hanover County loses a fixture as Gospel Chickenhouse founder Ray Pollard passed away at age 89. I remember it opening in Montpelier in the 1970s and going there as a little boy and all the excitement that little idea on a farm generated then, and continues to do so. Ray may be with the angels, but the ministry, I hope, will keep on rolling (if I may use an egg analogy).


TV, RADIO, INTERNET, et al.......CUT the Christmas commercials. NOW! I'm sick of Lexus and Hyundai specifically. It's January 5th. That "December to Remember"? Only a memory now, guys. Enough is enough.


Congrats to Jason Paige for becoming the new Production Director over at Main Line Broadcasting (The Wolf, Liberty, Big Oldies). Good find. I would have loved to have been offered the position, but alas. One day my ship WILL come in.


Note to ESPN---I am available to fill Ron Franklin's position, and will refuse to call any woman there "sugarcakes" or whatever it was he was stupid enough to say. Good Lord, it's 2011, not 1911!


There MUST be more worry than being let on in public around inner NFL circles about a possible work stoppage in 2011. In any other year, with so many coaches on the grill, would we see this little activity? No. Marvin Lewis? Gone. Gary Kubiak? Probably out. Jack Del Rio? Maybe.

But instead, Minnesota keeps their interim (good move!), Dallas may end up doing the same, Carolina is looking at some OC's and DC's around the league, while Jacksonville, Houston, and, shockingly, Cincinnati are staying put. And the name Bill Cowher is not coming up much at all.

All of this non-action is telling me that things aren't as sure-fire for an eventual deal as this fan would hope.

The NFL has THE BEST thing going in sports today, bar none. No one comes close. For the love of Pete (Rozelle), how could these sides NOT go in and just hammer out an agreement to keep this money machine rolling.

Because if they DO have a work stoppage and even the pre-season is affected, it will affect the NFL. They are playing with so much dynamite it isn't funny. Please, do not add 2011 to 1982 and 1987.

Just ask the NHL what cancelling a season does........
Or baseball canning a World Series in the middle of a hot pennant race......

Enjoy the playoffs, gang. It could be all for awhile.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Years Day---New Normal

New Years Day ain't what it used to be.

Once upon a time, college football ruled the day.

I know, some of you are thinking I'm nuts, because, what, six games were played today? But only one "mattered", and even that one has no implication on a so-called 'champion'.

New Years Day used to mean the Cotton Bowl on CBS with Lindsey Nelson, the Sugar Bowl on ABC with Keith Jackson, the Rose and Orange Bowl doubleheader on NBC, and the crowning of a 'mythical' National Champion. No BCS. Heck, I remember when the Fiesta Bowl was first moved to New Years Day!

Thus, no meaningless bowl games. Even if the two teams playing in a New Years Day bowl didn't have a chance to be voted number one, you were guaranteed the absolute best teams were playing.

As opposed to today, where Connecticut falls to 8-5 and Penn State 7-6. Texas Tech beats Northwestern. Yawn.

What should have happened today:

--Oregon beats Wisconsin in the traditional Pac-10/Big Ten Rose Bowl matchup.
--Arkansas outlasts Stanford in the Cotton Bowl
--Auburn beats Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl
--TCU upends Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

The AP votes Auburn, the UPI votes Oregon #1. And we all get to talk.

Yeah, yeah, this year we get to "settle it" on the field. But, do we really? TCU is unbeaten and proved today it can hang with "the big boys". No matter who wins in Glendale on 1/10, they won't be the only undefeated team.

And thus, not really "National Champs".


In other thoughts to kick off 2011---

--Long live the NHL Winter Classic! Even with the rain, the game was awesome. Whoever came up with this idea should replace Gary Bettman as Commissioner. Immediately.

--Robbie's room is painted in one night. He, Travis, and later Rachel, get the job done. So, some of Robbie's UPS-made money goes to a room makeover. Red with some black. Carolina Hurricanes? Yu-Gi-Oh?

--New Years Day on a Saturday throws me off. Monday morning is gonna jolt alot of people, I suspect.

--Oh, and it sure didn't feel like New Years Eve/New Years Day. For the first time, last night driving home from Stafford and moving Daniel, Krista and Cora in, it didn't "feel" like NYE.

Bring on week 17 of the NFL! :)