Monday, May 21, 2012


“Red sky at night, sailor's delight,
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

We’ve had beautiful weather around here lately… my kind of weather!

A year ago, the weather was cool and the rivers were flooding. This year, we skipped Winter and Spring and went straight to Summer. We’re experiencing hotter than normal temperatures and drought conditions. The Army Corps of Engineers is struggling to find enough water to get the lakes up to summer stage.

So what is one to believe when the TV weatherman calls for a “20% chance of rain in the TV-6 viewing area?”

I’m not much of a gambler. I put a little money on “the white horse” in the Kentucky Derby. I don’t know anything about horses; I picked that one because it was white! And with 20 horses in the race, I figured I had a one-in-twenty chance of winning. Right?

Yet another lesson about the perils of gambling.

But I digress…

The “TV-6 viewing area” pretty much covers everything from Southern Illinois down to Union City, Tennessee, and from the Bootheel of Missouri across to Nashville. So there was a 20% chance that it would rain somewhere.

I’m thinking I should have been a weatherman. I mean, how could you miss?

We’d had “20%” predictions all week and nothing much more than steam to show for it, so this weekend I wasn’t too concerned that the top was down on my Jeep.

It’s wonderful, by the way, to drive around with the top down, the wind whipping through my hair, the smells of nature… occasionally a dead skunk… and diesel exhaust…

As a safeguard, I purchased a cover (similar to the one shown below) to throw over the Jeep at night – to keep out the dew, bird poop, and the always-possible overnight squall.
Yesterday was sunny and hot, and after lunch the First Mate decided to wash her car in the driveway. I broke out the cover for my Jeep for the first time to prevent overspray from soaking the interior.

The cover is fairly simply to install: elastic loops stretch over the sideview mirrors, and straps attach to the door handles. Then there is this long strap across the back that I wasn’t really sure what to do with. But since it was just to keep the overspray out, I didn’t worry too much about it.

After the car wash, the First Mate and I decided to take her freshly-washed car out to a movie and dinner. I once again checked the weather radar – a habit now – and the area was clear: nothing significant any closer than Oklahoma City. So away we went.

Two and a half hours later, as we were leaving the theater, I saw rain in the distance. As we headed for our favorite sushi restaurant, I chuckled at a red Jeep I saw in the parking lot with its top down: “He’s going to get wet!”

We enjoyed a nice dinner as the rain came pouring from the sky. For more than two hours, the rain fell. At this point I’m thinking, “Good thing I put the cover on the Jeep!”

That thought was short-lived, because as we pulled up into our driveway, I discovered that the wind had peeled back the cover and the Jeep sat almost completely exposed to the rain!

The seats and carpeting were completely soaked, and water stood an inch deep in the cup holders! The top, which was so nicely folded at the rear, was holding a half-gallon of water within every pleat!

And as we were mopping up water late into the night, I came across the instruction sheet for installing the emergency cover.

So that’s what that strap is for!

Last night, I wasn’t so happy. I can only shake my head and laugh now. It was bound to happen eventually; I just didn’t expect it so soon.

There is no more rain in the forecast for the next week, and temperatures are moving back into the upper 90s. It should dry out pretty quickly.

But I’m already thinking about vinyl seat covers and rubber floor mats!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Time for a Change

Baseball season has only just begun, but I’m already making plans for football season. You see, with some recent developments, I’ve decided it’s time to make a change.

I’m going with a new team this year.

For several years I have been a Saints fan. It started right after I went to New Orleans for a conference, about 10 years ago. The Saints, previously referred to as the “Ain’ts” because of their perpetual losing record, had started that season 5-0. The city was charged up – you could feel the electricity in the air!

The team proceeded to lose the next game… and the next… and ended up with a losing season. But I saw something in the way the city responded and decided I wanted to be a part of that.

And it eventually paid off. In 2010, QB Drew Brees led the team to the ultimate victory, defeating Peyton Manning’s dominating Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.

I know, some of you are going to say, “So, you’re bailing out on the Saints now because of the penalties, right?”


I was embarrassed to learn that the team had instituted a “bounty” system, in which players got paid a bonus if they injured an opposing team’s player enough to put him out of the game. That should never happen – although we all know the Saints weren’t the first team to offer bounties.

When I was in Junior High School, the football coach had a similar system going. Our incentive then was simply a large pizza.

Watch any game closely – when the players get up out of a pile at the end of a play, they will almost always try to inflict a little extra damage: twist a leg, slap a helmet, punch a gut… all hidden from the referee’s sight. Again, this should never happen, but it does.

And as a result of being caught, the Saints’ head coach Sean Payton has been banished from football for an entire year. He cannot have contact with his team, cannot attend a Saints game or a game of any other team, cannot set foot on any NFL property, and should he even accidentally have contact with anyone associated with the NFL, he must report that to The Commissioner.

Other assistant coaches and players have been suspended as well, for anywhere from 6-8 games.

The punishment is designed to put an end to bounty systems everywhere.

And it will destroy the Saints this season.

Fair enough.

But that’s not why I am switching loyalties at this time.

I made my decision earlier this week when I read that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed defensive lineman Eric LeGrand to their roster.

This is not a game-winning move, because, you see, LeGrand is paralyzed from the neck down.

Eric LeGrand played football for Rutgers. In October of 2010, during a special teams tackle, he broke two vertebrae and suffered a spinal cord injury, ending his college career. Doctors initially predicted Legrand would remain on a ventilator for the rest of his life, but he proved them wrong in only a matter of weeks.

The Buc’s new head coach, Greg Shiano, was coaching Rutgers at the time. He never gave up on LeGrand, who could very well have been in last weekend’s NFL draft.

The contract with the Buccaneers is mostly symbolic – there is no pay associated with it – but it means to the world to LeGrand, who plans to show up at the Bucs’ training camp in August.

Shiano may just be the head coach that the Buccaneers need… that the NFL needs!

And that’s the kind of coach I want to cheer for!

And if that’s not enough, I have always said the Buccaneers have the best cheerleaders in the NFL!

And as you might suspect, their pirate theme also played into the decision!

I am not throwing away my Saints gear, like I did when I divorced Notre Dame for not firing Charlie Weiss back in 2009. (Read about it here.) The Saints will remain my #2 team.

And hopefully, the stiff penalties they have to live with this season will ultimately make them a better team.

Go Bucs!