Thursday, January 27, 2011

In Honor of the Fallen...

On January 28, 1986, I awoke to a severe bout with a bug. A 24-hour bug had been going around the school, and apparently it was my turn to suffer the consequences. Normally, I would have been more than happy to miss school, but this day we were going to have a special treat. Back then there weren't many opportunities to watch television at school. We didn't have a whole lot of them, this was back when teachers were still making us watch those film strips with the narrator, who put you to sleep five minutes after the lights went out.

This day the whole school was going to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger launch. As a kid, the shuttle launches had always fascinated me. I never wanted to be an astronaut mind you, but I lived in the country where you could see every star in the sky, and space was just so fascinating to me. My grandmother gave me a book on constellations, and I would spend hours on the front steps trying to find Orion's belt, the Leo Constellation (I'm a Leo), and the Pleiades which was my favorite.

The Challenger launch was also special, because Dr. Ronald McNair was going up and so was Christa McAuliffe, a teacher. Ronald McNair was only the second African-American to orbit the earth. (Guion Bluford was the first). I thought it was amazing that someone my mom's age was doing such amazing things. Plus, he was a black man (from the south no less) which made me so proud.
I've always wanted to be a teacher, so I thought Christa McAuliffe was the coolest training for the spot to be the first civilian in space. It was going to be so cool to watch the launch with my friends. We had been talking about seeing Mrs. McAuliffe's lessons from space and how neat the lessons were going to be. Alas, I was stuck at home watching by myself.

I remember every detail. My grandmother had pull out sofa in the living room which she had made up for me, so I could watch tv. I watched the coverage as they showed Mrs. McAuliffe's school anxiously awaiting the launch. I watched as they panned the crowd and showed her parents and their excitement. I watched as the countdown began. I watched the liftoff holding my breath...

73 seconds was over. Most of us didn't quite know what was going on. I remember vaguely thinking, "Is that suppose to happen? That can't be right?" I remember the silence in those auditoriums, and Mrs. McAuliffe's parents' stunned looks. Then, it hit you like a ton of bricks. They were gone. All of them. 73 seconds...

Dan Rather shook most of us from that stunned silence. I remember the tears falling, even as I quite couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that this had happened...I don't think I had ever let myself believe that anything bad could happen. I was born 7 years after Apollo 1. I had only ever seen successful launches. I was devastated. The nation was devastated. President Reagan was going to deliver his State of the Union Address that night, but found himself instead having to comfort a grieving nation.

That day seems just like yesterday to me, but it happened 25 years ago tomorrow. Twenty-five years have just flown by...

I would like to take a moment to those who gave their lives for the pursuit of space...the quest for knowledge, and made the ultimate sacrifice...

  • Commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee
  • Pilot Michael J. Smith
  • Mission specialists Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka and Judith A. Resnik
  • Payload specialists Gregory B. Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe, who was to have been the first teacher in space

President Reagan eulogized them by so eloquently stating

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

Thank you.

Thank you and may God Bless you. You were true heroes...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The AFC-NFC Championships Games Are Here...But, There is a Tear in My Beer*

Happy Championship weekend, everybody! The final four teams will be taking the field shortly to decide who will travel to Dallas for the chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy as the winners of Super Bowl XLV...yet...I can't help but be a little sad...

The AFC-NFC Championship games signal an ending to the season. After today, there will only be two more NFL games until next season. *Technically, no one counts the Pro Bowl, but it's still football.* After the Super Bowl, we have to wait until August to see our favorite teams take the field again...I watch the Combine, the Draft, but really, it doesn't take the place of the action on the field. Watching quarterbacks flee from Ray Lewis, watching Tony Gonzalez stretch his arms for a pass, watching my Chiefs win the AFC West...I love this game! So, could I'm wishing, hoping, praying, crossing my fingers, singing Rose Royce, that the owners and players reach out to each other and agree on a new CBA.

By the way, I am glad that Tony Gonzalez will be returning for a 15th season, even though I missed the announcement on Jim Rome is Burning. *note to self, join the 21st century and invest in a DVR.* Now, to get Shawne Merriman up and running...

Any who, here are my picks:

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears. Readers, you know that I have no love for Jay Cutler, but here he is. I don't trust him because some times his play looks as if he has been attending the Brett Favre School for Quarterbacks under the tutelage of Prof. Jake Delhomme. I picked the Packers at the beginning of the season to go to the Super Bowl, even though I picked against them last week. (For the record: it wasn't so much that I didn't think they could beat the Falcons, as much as, I wanted Tony Gonzalez to finally win a playoff game.) I'm a cheesehead today. I'm picking the Packers.

New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, the Steelers ruined my Super Bowl picks by beating the Ravens. So here we are Jets and Steelers. Like Cutler, I don't like Ben Roethlisberger. *cough* Jerk. Yeah, he has two rings...blah, blah, blah. He doesn't get the credit like Peyton and other elite quarterbacks...yada, yada, yada. I don't care. I like the Steelers, but he's their quarterback, soooo...They won't lose because of Ben, although I wish they would. These are two great defenses. I'm just hoping somebody survives to see the Super Bowl. I'm picking the Jets.

That's it, y'all. Until next week, "Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors."~Frank Gifford

*Rootbeer, Y'all know I don't drink. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrating 25 Years of Dr. King's Holiday

Twenty-five years ago today, we celebrated the first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. I was 11 years old and about to put a ribbon on my 6th grade year. I vaguely knew who Dr. King was, but I didn't know much about him, because like most kids we tend to read what our teacher requires us to read. I read other things, but mostly smuggled copies of Stephen King. It wasn't until my tenth grade year that I became interested in the things for which Dr. King fought. I know, I was a little late, but you have to understand, I spent from kindergarten until ninth grade in predominately white schools. I had only had 6 black teachers during that time period. I live in Mississippi, guess what wasn't really discussed.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.

During my 10th grade year, my whole world changed. My school district had ruled to be practicing segregation. The year was 1989. My high school went from 70% white, 30% black to 20% white, 80% black overnight. That year, I also had a unique individual as a history teacher. Ironically, he was a white man, but he opened my eyes to so many history events that I never even thought about including the Civil Rights movement. I started reading about Dr. King, Malcolm X, Anne Moody, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Medgar Evers, Margaret Walker Alexander, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Alex Haley.

When I began working at my current school, I was the only black teacher in the jr/sr high school. Nine years later, I still am. I was given the task to presenting the annual Black History Month program. No, I do not teach history. I assume that they only trusted me to do it right. Every year, it amazes me how many of our African American children can name every member of Lil Wayne's entourage, but don't know who Medgar Evers is. There is a clinic named after him in Fayette, Mississippi. I have students who pass it every day and didn't know who he was. They can tell you everything about Biggie and Tupac, but who asked my co-worker if Ghosts of Mississippi was a true story.

I'm saying we have a long way to go as a people. We concern ourselves with too many of the wrong things. I look at some of the "role models" our children have, and I have to shake my head. We have a finally have a black president Barack Obama, but it seems that any child who adopt his route is a "sell-out" or an assimilationist. Why? Children, who try to better themselves with an education, are mocked in our society. Why? Our children are encouraged to be entertainers or athletes instead of doctors or lawyers. Why? We need to take a hard look at ourselves, as a people.

Dr. King and many others died to make it possible for us to do many of the great things we are accomplishing as a people. Have we accomplished his dream? How would he see us "his children" today? Would he be proud? I think yes and no.

Today, we celebrate his birthday and the changes he helped to bring about in this country. There is a climate of hatred that is again working its way across our country. We all have to work to make this our country better. We need to do more service. We all need to better educate ourselves. We all need to vote. We need to make our voices heard. We need to unite as a people...not as just black people or white people, but as Americans.

Happy Birthday, Brother Martin. My sincere wish is that we all continue to make strides to continue to make this world a better place.

"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Paging the Geico Pothole...

Welcome back, everybody... Well, the NFL Playoffs are in full effect, and like every season since 1994, the Chiefs will not be advancing past the first round of the playoffs. I must say overall I was proud of my Chiefs. Jamaal Charles is becoming a legitimate threat. Dwayne Bowe was awesome when they remembered that he was on the team. Dexter McCluster will get better as he gets more time. Matt Cassel scares the hell out of me for all the wrong reasons. Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, and Javier Arenas will only get better. I have a lot of hope for my Chiefs next year.

That game, however, was hard for me to watch. At first it was great, like when you get a new set of tire on your car. Everything is running smoothly, and you are enjoying the ride. Second quarter, you think there is a leak in one of the tires, but you don't worry. You put a little air in it, check the pressure, and continue on your way. Third quarter, you know there is a problem. You get the tire patched, but it's still leaking. Fourth quarter, the tire pops, your car spins out of control, and you hit a wall. That's what it was like watching the Ravens dismantle my Chiefs last week. They are a young team. They survived the playoff crash with very few injuries, now off to the repair shop to fix all of the problems and have a successful 2011 season.

Watching the Saints/Seahawks game was equally disturbing. I kept wanting Drew Brees and the boys to come back, but alas it was for naught and the Seahawks became the first team in NFL History with a losing record to win a playoff game. (This only futher drives home the fact that the Chiefs have not won a playoff game since January 16, 1994.)

Peyton Manning's playoff woes continues as Nick Folk and the Jets kicked their way into the second round. Finally, Aaron Rodgers and his skully swepted into Philly to knock the Eagles out of the playoffs.

So, here are my picks for this week:

The Baltimore Ravens vs. The Pittsburgh SteelersEarlier this year I picked the Ravens to go to the Super Bowl; therefore, I will, against my better judgement, pick the Baltimore Ravens. Yesterday, I heard this great stat about the Ravens and the Steelers on Mike and Mike in the Morning. (Yeah, I don't know why I still listen to them). In their last four games with each other, each team is 2-2. Each team has scored 67 points in those match ups. They had the same record 12-4 going into the playoffs. Talk about evenly matched, and they just flat out hate each other. I'm going with the Ravens.

The Green Bay Packers
vs. The Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have only lost 2 home games since Matt Ryan arrived in Atlanta. That said they are taking on the Green Bay Packers who earlier this year I picked to go to the Super Bowl. If you've even half read this blog, you know that Tony Gonzalez is one of my all time favorite players. I would love to see TG get a playoff victory. I know a lot of Chiefs fans are still bitter that TG is a Falcon. I'm not one of these. So, good luck, Tony!!! I'm picking the Falcons.

The Seattle Seahawks vs. The Chicago Bears
I don't know how the math worked out that Chicago ended up with the Seahawks, but whatever. This is one of those games that I couldn't care less about. I've hated Jay Cutler since he has his crybaby attitude first suited up as a Bronco. Seattle? I'm still rolling my eyes at the fact they are even here. (What happened Saints?) I'm picking the Bears.

The New York Jets
vs. The New England Patriots
The Jets use to be one of those innocuous teams that I really never paid much attention to. Since Brett Favre and Rex Ryan hit New York, it has been all Jets, all the time. Brett is back in Mississippi contemplating how badly his life has gone and possibly bailing his sister out of jail, but Rex and the boys have picked up where Favre lefted off leaving sound bites and controversy in their wake. Quite frankly they have become rather annoying. On the other side of this rivalry, you have Bill "Mumbles" Belichick and Tom "Bieber" Brady. They don't say much in public, yet somehow they are equally annonying. I expect a tough game from both sides, and I don't expect the Jets defense to just let Brady walk into the Championships. Even so, I'm picking the Patriots.

Those are the picks, boys and girls. Until next week, "The upcoming playoffs are filled with intrigue. Who will be left standing when it's all said and done? Who will proclaim, 'We did it, we won!'?"~Bob Frantz. Good luck to all the teams!!! Lets go, Tony G!!!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Birds are Falling, and I'm Eating a Little Crow

Welcome to the first Round of the NFL Playoffs, ladies and gents! I always find myself a little sad during the first week of the playoffs, because that means that in a mere four weeks, the NFL season will end with Super Bowl XLV. An added dilemma this year is the possible lockout if the NFL does not hammer out their CBA. There is enough crazy dramas in the world. Could we resolve this gentleman? The 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh as their new coach, and most of us collectively yawned. Miami retained Tony Sparano after they couldn't get Harbaugh. The Bengals and Marvin Lewis hemmed and hawed before deciding to finally stay married instead of playing the field. The Titans decided to stick with Jeff Fisher for the 17th season.

Earlier this year I made my predictions for the NFL Season...Looking back, I didn't fare too badly.
AFC East Champions-New England Patriots. My Pick-New York Jets
AFC North Champions-Pittsburgh Steelers. My Pick-Baltimore Ravens
AFC South Champions-Indianapolis Colts. My Pick-Indianapolis Colts
AFC West Champions-Kansas City Chiefs. My Pick-San Diego Chargers

AFC Wildcards-Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets. My Picks-New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans

Seriously, I picked the Titans? What was I thinking? Clearly I wasn't. I definitely didn't see my Chiefs jumping the Raiders, much less the Chargers.

NFC East Champions-Philadelphia Eagles My Pick-Dallas Cowboys
NFC North Champions-Chicago Bears My Pick-Green Bay Packers
NFC South Champions-Atlanta Falcons My Pick-Atlanta Falcons
NFC West Champions-Seattle Seahawks My Pick-San Francisco 49ers

NFC Wildcards-New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers. My Picks-New Orleans Saints, New York Giants

I completely read the NFC, because I thought that Dallas and New York were going to take the top spot. New York missed it by thismuch. I drank the 49ers Kool Aid, and it left a horrible taste in my mouth. The Seahawks...smh...there are no words for the NFC West division. None at all.

Last week, I posted a 10-6 record which brought my season total to 92-66. Not bad...So here are my picks for the Wildcard Round...

Saturday, January 8
New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks-New Orleans Saints
New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts-New York Jets

Sunday, January 9
Baltimore Ravens v. Kansas City Chiefs-I have to pick my Chiefs...I know, I had Baltimore going to the Super Bowl, but I have to go with my heart and not my brain.
Green Bay Packers v. Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay. I picked them earlier. I'm gonna stick with the Pack.

Byes-New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Chicago

Good luck, guys. Those are my wayward picks...check back to mock my failure next week...
Until next week, “It was all self-inflicted. We were in the driver’s seat. And then we were in the passenger seat. And now we’re in the back seat.”-Keith Bullock. Go Chiefs!!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Is This The End?"-Picks from a Maniac Maenad Week 17-The Ralph Tresvant Edition

Happy New Year, everybody! I'm so glad to be back! Between moving, semester exams, mangled internet service, I just glad that Diana Dishes is back in service! Out with the old and in with the new, we know there may be more pink slips given out on Monday. I'm curious to see who will join Wade Phillips, Mike Singletary, Brad Childress, Josh McDaniels, and John Fox at the print shop copying resumes. FYI: Please stop the rumors about Josh "Lil' Hoodie" McDaniels coming to Kansas City.

Let's see...Brett Farve didn't pass his concussion test, was fined $50,000 for the Jenn Sterger incident, and ended the week by breaking out 90s dances to "Ice, Ice Baby" for his teammates. Yeah, I still don't like Lo. Charlie Weis is going to bail on the Chiefs after one year to take the OC job at the University of Florida. Just when I started likeing Charlie...oh, well...that's off the table. Antonio Gates ended up on IR. The Chiefs won the AFC West title and placed 3 players in the Pro Bowl. The Patriots and Falcons have the most players sending 6 and 7 respectively. Tony Gonzalez is on his way to #11.

Shawne Merriman signed a 2 year deal with the Buffalo Bills. He will take a physical later this week. I really, REALLY hope this works out for Shawne. I really, REALLY want to see him on the field. Not because he's cute (that's only part), but I really love the intensity that he brought to the field. I hope he can regain some of the manic play of his first 3 years. Good luck, Shawne. Oh, btw...leave the dance in San Diego...

I'm really shaking my head that it is possible for a 7-9 team will win a division-Seattle/St. Louis. What is really sad is the fact that this is the nationally televised game for Sunday Night Football who is advertising it like it's the Super Bowl. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the only people watching this game are Seattle/St. Louis fans. I love football, but I just can't stomach that. I might flip to see the score, but watch? I don't think so. There has got to be a re-run somewhere that's more entertaining.

For the Chiefs today, it's all about Pride!!! As they induct Marty Schottenheimer into the Chiefs Hall of Fame, the Chiefs are going for 8-0 at home this year against their dreaded rivals The Oakland Raiders. They lost to the Raiders earlier this year. I'm going to need the boys to rectify this, and I need Jamaal Charles to take the rushing title. Make it happen Chiefs, make it happen.

As for fantasy football, I was thisclose to playing for the Championship in one of my leagues, until Adrian Peterson's knee knocked me back to 4th. Injuries, inconsistency, injuries, bad luck, and injuries doomed my teams this year. So, here is the final carnage...
  • The Kansas City Chiefs finished with a 6-7 record and 14th out of 20 teams. Team MVP was Drew Brees with 325.36 fantasy points.
  • The Cromartie Eight finished with a 7-6 record and 7th out of 12 teams. Team MVP was Philip Rivers with 260 fantasy points.
  • Hecate's HellHounds finished with a 10-4 record and 4th out of 12 teams. Team MVP was Philip Rivers with 270.98 fantasy points.
  • The Runtelldat Homeboys finished with a 3-10 record and 10th out of 12 teams. Team MVP was Joe Flacco with 218 fantasy points.
  • Matching Mugshots finished with a 3-10 record and 8th out of 10 teams. Team MVP was Philip Rivers with 327 fantasy points.
Good news...None of my teams finished last!!! Bad news...three had losing records. Memo to more than 3 teams next year.

Time for the picks:

Dolphins vs. Patriots-Patriots

Buccaneers vs. Saints-Saints

Bills vs. Jets-Jets

Bengals vs. Ravens-Ravens

Panthers vs. Falcons-Falcons

Steelers vs. Browns-Steelers

Vikings vs. Lions-Vikings

Raiders vs. Chiefs-Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs!!!

Cowboys vs. Eagles-Eagles

Cardinals vs. 49ers-Cardinals

Giants vs. Redskins-Giants

Jaguars vs. Texans-Texans

Chargers vs. Broncos-Chargers

Bears vs. Packers-Packers

Titans vs. Colts-Colts

Rams vs. Seahawks-Who Cares...okay...Rams

Okay, guys that's it...Until next week, "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm."-Vince Lombardi