Friday, September 25, 2009

The week that was September 20, 2009...'s been a long week. But, not one without many blessing.

My teenager turned 14 on Monday. I do a fair share of moaning and complaining on Tony C Today about her...but I wouldn't trade anything about her for the world. She's smart, funny and beautiful. There's nobody else like her, never has been and never will be. I thank God daily for my teenager. I thank Him for her little sister. Yes, I'm very blessed indeed.

I have an awesome family. People who give of themselves without thinking about any kind of return. That includes my in-laws, both my wife's family and my sister's husband. Great people each and every one. I'm a richer man in life because of them.

My church family is the greatest. Being with them is like...well...being at home. I receive such a blessing anytime I'm around them. This Sunday we celebrate Homecoming at my church. To me, we do that every time we gather together in His name...for worship, music practice, Bible study, youth ministries or just to fellowship. If someone in the church family hurts, we all hurt. Yes, we have our petty squabbles and any other family...but in the end, each person knows it's all about and for Him.

I don't mention the people I work with enough on Tony C Today. They too are like an extended family...literally. We work really hard together and we share a lot of laughs. I truly love and adore each of them and their families. Even when things are stressful and at the point of breaking, we look out for each other. The past few weeks have been like that due to the nature of our business. If you didn't know us and looked in on one of our monthly lunches together or the annual Christmas party, you'd think we were all actually family members. I'm very thankful for my workplace.

Then there's you. Some of you fall into one of the above mentioned groups, many of you don't. I can't begin to tell you what a blessing you are in my life. People I've never met face to face or even had a conversation with on the phone. Your timely words of encouragement and your undying commitment to speeching out your convictions should be plenty enough to ignite a cleansing fire to burn away several generations of embedded apathy. Our country desperately needs that. You challenge me to think...and inspire me to be a better person.

There's no way I could end such a post and not mention my soulmate. In honor of her, I challenge you to do something unexpected this weekend for your significant other. Anything out of the ordinary. Most important...don't do it expecting something in return. That I tell true love.'s been a long week...but it's been a good week. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My hope and prayer is God blesses you in a most special way this weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Katdish from Hey look, a chicken!

My first Guest Blogger! I'm excited to start a Wednesday Guest Blogger series and share some musings from my favorite bloggers. I couldn't think of a better way to start than with the one and only Katdish, who writes the blog Hey look, a chicken! and is a team member at Fellowship of the Travelling Smarty Pants.

Kathy is a blogging machine and a wonderfully funny Christian lady. I'm convinced she's behind many of Twitter's crashes because she's always on Twitter! I know you will enjoy her guest post and hope you will add her blog to your regular rotation.

And now ladies and gentleman...a post from Kathy Richards a.k.a. Katdish:

The Top Ten Things your Friend/Significant Other with ADD wants you to know, but keeps forgetting to tell you:

Everybody and their brother thinks that they have ADD these days. You can't swing a stick without hitting 10 people who think that they would benefit from a prescription for Adderall, or at the very least, a significant helping of Ginko Biloba. But trust me, unless you have a green, "do not duplicate under penalty of law" prescription from your doctor, drink your Red Bull cafe latte and relax -- you've probably just got too much going on.

I, on the other hand, am the Tanya Tucker of Attention Deficit Disorder: I was ADD when ADD wasn't cool. I fancy myself a bit of an expert on the subject. Or at least, how it affects my relationships with the people in my life. I don't introduce myself as, "Hi, my name is Kathy and I have ADD". But if I enter into any type of meaningful relationship with another human being, I need to put that on the table. Otherwise, they end up getting pissed off or offended, or both. Please don't think I'm trying to make excuses for bad behavior. If I realize that I have been rude (intentionally or not), I deeply regret it and am the first to offer an apology and try to make amends. The problem is "realizing it" part.

I also recognize that there are people who think that ADD and ADHD are just made up conditions to excuse people with poor impulse control, bad manners and lack of discipline. I would invite these people to spend a day inside my head and then get back to me with their in-depth analysis. Good luck with all of THAT!

For those of you who have friends, family and spouses who suffer from this condition and choose to love us anyway, first let me say thank you. It means the world to us. You are the rocks of stability that anchor our crazy, mixed up lives, and I think God has a special place in heaven set aside for heroes such as you.
Now, on to the list:

1. We don't mean to keep interrupting you. But if we don't tell you what we want to say, it's gonna fly out of our heads and be lost forever. And, by the way, it's really important!

2. That comment we just made makes perfect sense. You just weren't in on the conversation we started in our heads a couple of minutes ago.

3. When we tell you that something is going to take about an hour to complete, go ahead and add on the rest of the day. We suck at time management.

4. Please don't ever send us to Wal-mart for just one thing. There's just way too many things to see before we get to the liquid detergent aisle.

5. We're really not sure how a loaf of bread, a half gallon of milk and a few other things added up to 87 dollars, but we're pretty sure we needed that stuff. Okay, we already have 6 bottles of ketchup, but you never know when you're going to need lots of ketchup.

6. We think it's really cool that you're good at complex mathematical equations, but please don't try to explain it to us. It's very overwhelming.

7. If you need us to run more than one or two errands within an allotted time period, please make a detailed, step by step list of instructions, then staple it to our foreheads. And be sure to call us and encourage us while were attempting to accomplish aforementioned errands.

8. If at all possible, do not allow us to handle the family finances. We will either drain the bank account by paying every bill as soon as it comes in, or will forget to pay any of them until we get the "red" ones.

9. We are actually very forgiving of what we consider to be your OCD tendencies, and hope that you will return the favor when dealing with our shortcomings. (We're actually pretty amazed at what you are able to accomplish without any gnashing of teeth, and more than a little jealous.)

10. We crack ourselves up. Seriously, we think we're hilarious. Please play along.

I'm sure you could add many more items to the list, but then it wouldn't be a "Top Ten". "Top 47" is not nearly as catchy! Since I like to add something about Jesus to my posts whenever I can, I'll share with you my favorite quote from Him. It plays inside my head whenever I mess up (which is pretty regularly):

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Read more from Katdish at Hey look, a chicken!'s always a great read.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

J.W. Salley is much more than a football coach...

I've been so busy this month, and I've really missed blogging and spending time with my blogosphere friends. Hopefully, things will ease up a little as we slide into the last quarter of the calendar year...

There is an issue I would like to cover though. Tonight at my former high school (now a middle school), the newly renovated football field will be dedicated to a local legend...Coach J.W. Salley. Coach Salley already has a park bearing his name in my home town, but it's only fitting that the field where he won so many football games as the head coach from the mid 1950's until 1979 while coaching the Church Hill Panthers also wears his name.

I've never met a person with a bad thing to say about Coach Salley. Although he was a hard man to please on the practice field and in a game, he had a knack for finding a way to get 'just a little bit more' out of every situation. He was hardest of all on himself...never shying away from saying he'd messed up and doubling his effort to correct a mistake. He lived and breathed football, but more importantly, he coached young people in the importance of character and honor in the game of life.

There are so many stories about Coach Salley that a blog could be dedicated to just telling them all...and never run out of material. Beloved, respected and admired. He was like another grandfather to me (and so many others). During my sophomore year, Coach Salley would get me to ride with him during a Study Hall period down to a local convenience store where he would give me money to buy his daily paper and a soda 'if I wanted it.' It was a daily ritual and an invaluable part of my education that year. During the short drive in his baby blue VW Rabbit, he would usually ask a leading question to harvest a response and take in what I had to say. I would carefully measure my words because I didn't want to sound foolish in front of him. Not that he would ever be judgemental or just wasn't his style. The following discussions were priceless tidbits and some I remember vividly to this day.

On one particular day during a Thursday football practice on the soon to be J.W. Salley field, I noticed he kept looking at me throughout the practice. Needless to say, I became very uncomfortable and started mentally indexing what he could possibly know that I had done. There was no doubt something had been done at some point, but what did HE know. Near the end of practice, he walked over to where I was playing with the second team defense, put his arm around me and simply said, 'Your dad played on the first football team I coached here and you'll play on the last. Your dad was a tough fellow...very tough.' (hard swallow) That was it. He walked away.

When Church Hill High School consolidated with Surgoinsville High School in 1980 to form a new comprehensive high school, Coach Salley left the football coaching profession and became the principal of the new Church Hill Middle School. I had a different head coach my last two years of high school. He had an unenviable task of filling the shoes of a living legend. That new high school, my alma mater, is 30 years old this year. Not once has the new school experienced the lasting success that Coach Salley had for so many years. It's been almost like a lasting curse that has hung over the program despite a number of both talented coaches and players through the years. I played on the first two teams, and I've been the radio voice for that team for 16 of the 30 years. If I had the proverbial dollar for every time I've heard, 'It just ain't like it was under Coach Salley...' this blog would be coming to you from the North Shore of Hawaii.

Congratulations Coach Salley and thank you for being so much more than just a football coach. I hope you greatly enjoy this evening as much as a lot of the people coming to watch you finally get the honor you deserve.

Oh and never forget...when you throw the football only three things can happen...and two of them are bad. Priceless stuff Coach....priceless stuff.

Side note: Tomorrow will be the first Guest Blogger Wednesday on Tony C Today. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You shouldn't have to be beat about the head and shoulders...

I'm a little bothered by the rash of rudeness we've been steeped in lately. Granted...tactlessness is a way of life for some, but it seems I can't sit down to watch SportsCenter or Fox News without being exposed to rudeness on a national level.

First, Joe Wilson heckled the President as he spoke to a joint session of Congress. Now Joe didn't say anything that most Americans wouldn't like to yell at our President or any member of Congress for that matter... but he's one of them! (gasp) The proverbial 'pot calling the kettle black' scenario...if ever there was one. It was rude, he shouldn't have done it...doesn't matter that he's right or a Republican.

Then comes Kanye West...snatching the spotlight from poor teenager Taylor Swift. What makes him think we care who he thinks should have won anyway? His rudeness cost him 3 spots on the teenager's iPod...too bad I've already paid for the stinking songs.

How about Serena Williams? While getting her rather scary...excuse me, that's rude...she's getting beat at the U.S. Open and unloads on a line judge over a toe fault call that results in a point penalty...which is match point! Bet her dad had something to say about her behavior in the national the form of a few shots at the line judge himself. No way it was Serena's fault...

In the famous words of Rodney King (LAPD beating victim in case you're still mentally blocking the early 90's from me):

'People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?...It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice....Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.'

Well said Mr. King...well said.

Now here's the kind of thing I want to see winding down with a little TV each night...

God bless her little heart...glad she wasn't at the Yankees/Blue Jays game that night (both benches cleared in a melee).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

She's got a way about her...

As many of you already know, I'm a very fortunate man. A blessed man with a beautiful family held together by the family nucleus...Mrs. Tony C. It's no secret. I don't deny it. The two girls and I are just electrons spinning wildly around that solid center. I accept and embrace her role in our...nuclear family (sorry, that was too easy).

Although we share a very strong set of core beliefs, there's just enough variations in our individual way of thinking to keep life interesting in our marriage...without causing major strife. For example, I'm an ice cream fanatic while her food fix is bread. She likes the sheets all tucked in tight before we sleep, and I find the constriction a sure recipe for insomnia. I detest reality TV, and she...okay...I'm lying. I love reality TV too...but not the Kardashians!

However, never were our differences more apparent than the day this commercial aired while we were watching the Discovery Channel:

Tony C: That was the creepiest thing I believe I've ever watched...on a number of levels.

Mrs. Tony C: Really? I liked it.

Tony C: No way! Was it a car commercial or a promotion for a socialist society that embraces synchronized child labor?

Mrs. Tony C: Don't be so sarcastic. It's a representation of humans as nature to suggest we are one with our environment.

Tony C: Okay! Here we go...the tree hugger makes an appearance! It was freaky. They're little kids...or midgets...little people...whatever...

Mrs. Tony C: It was probably done digitally.

Tony C: ... or in China. After that Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, we got good insight into how 'extra' people fit into a socialist society. Poor Chinese kids were probably beat for missing the cues.

Mrs. Tony C: The whole point of the commercial was to get you to buy an environmentally friendly car. Why is that so bad?

Tony C: I believe either your parents ran around butt-naked at Woodstock with the rest of the hippies or you have a Gore gene somewhere in the family tree.

Mrs. Tony C: Woodstock? Weren't you there?

Tony C: I was five!

Mrs. Tony C: Hey, you watched an Inconvenient Truth...

Tony C: Stop! We promised never to discuss that...ever!

Mrs. Tony C (chuckling): Yeah...we did...

Yes, my wife's a tree hugger, at least a part-time tree hugger. An environmentalist. She reads and believes National Geographic. In a way, I admire her commitment to recycling, conservation, and protecting the planet God entrusted to us. But, the conservative in me won't let it show. Her motives, on the other hand, are genuine and sincere. Just don't tell her I said so...

Tony C (having a nightmare): The kids! Midgets! Waves and waves...falling, falling! Toto! Where's my dog! My dog!

Mrs. Tony C:(awake from the commotion): Tony!

Tony C (groggy): Whoa! That was weird. Really weird. I was in that creepy Prius commercial...

Mrs. Tony C: It's okay. You can tell me about it in the morning. I love you...good night.

Tony C: Oh...okay. In the morning...(sigh)...stinking Prius. (Kicking wildly) Why... are... these... stupid sheets tucked in at the bottom so tight!

Mrs. Tony C (under her breath): ...idiot...

Tony C: What?

Mrs. Tony C: I love you.

Tony C: you too. Hold me?

Mrs. Tony C: Don't I always...

Disclaimer: I have never watched or read An Inconvenient Truth. If anyone says otherwise, you should consider the source to be a pathological liar, unless I happen to be married to that person...which would still mean she least to me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Even professional wrestlers get along backstage...

I'm slightly peeved about something happening today...

President Barrack Obama addresses the school children in our nation in a broadcast meant exclusively for them. It is unprecedented in our history. But believe it or not, that's not what has me chapped today...although I have a very strong opinions about the address which I will get to en un momento (broadening horizons, just go with it).

On the way to school this morning, the teenager reminded me about the event and explained to me that the school had sent forms home for parents to sign if they didn't want their children present for the address.

Excuse me?

She went on to state several of her friends were bragging on MySpace and Facebook about getting out of it because their parents had signed the paper.

Teenager: I know you weren't for Obama, but I really don't mind sitting and listening.

Tony C: No, I wasn't for Obama, but he is our President now and deserves the respect that goes with holding the office. That's what being in a democracy is all about. We have elections, one side wins and one side loses...but we're all still on the same team as Americans.

Teenager: Why do people hate him so much? I just don't get why it has to be so ugly. One kid still wears his McCain shirt to school at least once a week.

Tony C: And he has every right to do so. I want you to go, listen, and be respectful. See what you can learn from what he says.

Teenager: My teacher in that period is all about Obama. She should be happy about it.

Tony C: Be respectful! Like I said, there's always a winning side and a losing side.

Teenager: Are we Republicans?

Tony C: I don't know what 'we' are, you must determine for yourself what you stand for politically when the time comes for you to vote. The most important thing to remember is never vote for something or someone just because that's the way I feel. You're a smart kid, so form your own opinion on things.

Teenager: But you always say it goes God, family and country in that order of importance. Shouldn't family stick together?

Tony C (chuckling): That's a great question! Unfortunately, it's also a very complicated question. Let me say this for now. I want you to learn, grow and think for yourself. If your opinions happen not to agree with mine, I will still love matter what.

Teenager: I hate politics. It's just a bunch of arguing.

Tony C: I know. But, politics is a controlling force that determines how you live... today and in your future.

Teenager: Whatever...I just don't get it.

Our conversation was occasionally interrupted with the cry of 'juice!' coming from the two-year old car seated in the back and obviously bored, but still the teenager was attentive and engaged...and I was encouraged by her participation. She really wanted to know what the big deal was about President Obama speaking to school kids. When she got out of the car and headed into the school, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of frustration. What just happened? Why did it happen? How did we get to the point of such divisiveness in our country?

I could easily blame either or both political parties for polarizing our country to the point of discord, but personally I think the problem originates from a much craftier culprit...I believe friction between factions is whipped up by the news media. It would be impossible to effectively govern a country split down the middle politically without accepting disagreements. Agreeing to disagree. Bipartisanship is paramount if anything is to be accomplished by elected politicians. Bipartisanship doesn't, however, fuel the advertising needs of the press. Dissension and confrontation sell newspapers...not concurrence and compromise.

To me, the problem isn't the President of the United States addressing the nation's young people...I guess I can live with that. The real problem is more fundamental in my mind. Why does the federal government have any say whatsoever in our local education systems? There's absolutely no constitutional authority giving them the power to do so. How did we let that happen?

The Department of Education was formed under the Carter Administration. Ronald Reagan campaigned on the promise to abolish the department if elected, but found doing so with a Democrat-controlled Congress impossible. Still, the Republicans have had there moment in complete control, yet the department continued to grow and issue mandates to local school systems (remember No Child Left Behind).

So, I'll conclude with this thought. If you have fallen victim to the rabble-rousing fueled by our country's for-profit media sources to the point of total partisanship no matter what...blame yourself...while the media executives laugh all the way to the bank. Our young people need to be taught to respect public institutions regardless of occupant, especially the posts of President, Congress and Supreme Court Justices. What happened to the concept of civic obligation?

Just keep it constitutional please...