Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Some recent observations by Team IJS...

My staff here at Team I'm Just Saying... is incredible. These people don't sleep, one guy hasn't eaten in a week, and one has a slight addiction to Red Bull, but they are on top of their game. They do so much research for me, you wouldn't even believe it. I mean, these blogs don't just write themselves. A lot of hard work and thought go into each and every post. Remember that day I wrote about Your Mom jokes, that was tough stuff! Anyways, in honor of all the hard work put in, I'm going to go over some recent news stories of interest they have put together. Enjoy our slant...

Ricky Martin came out of the closet. Good for you Ricky, you can finally admit what the entire world has known for years. And thank you for never letting Livin' La Vida Loca leave my head. Ugh!

Levi Johnston, the baby daddy of Sarah Palin's grandson, is making a pitch for his own reality show in Alaska. The idea is sort of Entourage meets Alaska. The only difference being Levi isn't a star. Plus, we can all watch Trailer Park Boys for the same basic plot.

Anyone pick correctly the Final Four this year? I sure as shit didn't. In fact, in the 4 different brackets I filled out, I only have 1 team on one bracket, West Virginia. That's it. 0-4 on three brackets, and 1-4 on the other. Screw you Georgetown, Kansas and Villanova. I didn't like you before, and I like you less now.

Our cat broke our toaster last night. The little bastard had climbed into the cupboard to shred through a bag of wheat pasta and fell, tearing the door off the toaster and shattering it into about a thousand tiny shards of glass. Now, let me remind you that he did this for dry pasta that was in an unopened bag in the cupboard. We seriously have to put child locks on our cupboards so that our cat Jethro (Beverly Hillbillies reference) won't eat us out of house and home. Which reminds me, cat for sale!

Do March showers bring April flowers? Also, March started with a nasty rain storm if I recall. Shouldn't it be ending with nice weather, or is that whole "in like a lion out like a lamb" line a sham? If this crap keeps up we are going to park the car and start kayaking to work. Which makes me wonder, would you need to put money into the meter for a kayak, or would you have to park it in front of Dunkin Donuts at One City Center, you know, where they have the moped parking section?! Oh, the things that keep me up at night.

Nichole just picked up a bartending shift at Buck's Naked BBQ in Freeport. I think everyone should go visit her on Saturday nights, and tip her well. I mean, unless you want to just donate money directly to the "Pay Marcole's Bills Fund", whichever is easier for ya. Seriously though, pretty cool that she was able to find a cool gig at a place with good grub and some fun bands. Now to motivate myself to run and get crap done around the house when she is working, you know, instead of watching Family Guy marathons and practicing for my future appearance on the Wheel of Fortune.

I think the real reason John Boehner is upset about the passing of the health care bill is because of the 10% increase on tanning booth visits. I don't care what side of the aisle you are on, that dude gets too much sun!

So anyways, just a few observations by the team here at IJS... Of course, there is no team here, it's just me, but I can't help but dream about one day having a crew that does all my research for me. Maybe they can feed me and hand wash my underwear too! A guy can dream, right! I'm just saying...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't let the door, wait a minute, I take that back, someone please hit him with that door!

Unless you live under a rock, you have heard that health care reform was passed on Sunday, and signed into law by the President. This was, obviously, a very big deal, with both sides very passionate about what they felt was good and bad, correct and wrong. I, for one, think health care reform is long overdue. I'm not saying that I'm in 100% agreement with everything in the bill that was passed, but something had to be done, and I feel like this is a step in the right direction.

More importantly though was the promise made by super conservative blow hard Rush Limbaugh. On March 9th, on his radio program, Rush promised America that if the health care bill passed, he would move to Costa Rica. Now, to be fair, he said he would move within five years of its passing, which is basically his way of hoping people forget and move on. Well, as of 2:19 PM on Wednesday, March 24th, there are 91,825 fans of the Help Rush Limbaugh Remember To Leave The Country fan page on Facebook, so something tells me it won't be forgotten any time soon. Please Rush, be a man of your word, for once, and head south to Costa Rica. Do us all a favor and take your cooky brethren with you. I'm all for opposing views and thoughts, but you, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are poisonous people that are bad for this fine country. All you do is spew hate and ignorance and offer nothing positive in return. I'm just saying...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I always thought B2B meant Business To Business...

So I got the email I've been waiting for last night. As I sip on my can of Rolling Rock, and just before I reach for a slice of pizza, the message comes through that Nichole and I were both selected, via a lottery, to run in the Beach to Beacon 10k in August. I knew the possibility was there, but now it was a reality. We have been recently running more and more, hoping that we would get in. It was, however, a little ironic to get the email while chowing on pizza at Howie's Pub with the gang. Now the fun begins, and where the hell do I start?!

From our driveway, we have two different routes that we have mapped out, knowing exactly where the 3.1 mile mark is to run to, then turn around and head back home. There are hills, twists and turns. To this point, we have been running, but not with any real purpose. Now I need to determine a pace, one that I can stick to and continue with the entire time. I have a time in mind that I want to be at, so now I need to get my pace figured out so that I can achieve that time.

We have recently changed our diet to a lot more fruits and veggies and a whole lot less big breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings. I'm a meat eater, plain and simple. I like me some bacon with my breakfast. I enjoy a nice steak sandwich, or a juicy burger from the grill. Well, I'm limiting the intake of all of the above, and increasing my leaner meat intake, more specifically chicken and fish. As I type this I'm snacking on some yogurt, and I have some carrot sticks and a pear for an afternoon snack. I'm really trying to get this food intake thing under control.

Motivation has never been my best friend. Well, it has to be now, since I will be running 6.2 miles on August 7th and anyone with an Internet connection will be able to see my results when I am done. I need to determine what days I am going to run, and I can't sway from that schedule. I need to build up my stamina and be able to maintain my desired pace. I have some work to do, but with a little over 4 months to prepare myself, I know I can get there. Time to kick lazy, and myself, in the ass and get out there.

Lastly, I'm really excited that Nichole and I both got in. It's something fun we can do together. We can be there to motivate each other when we aren't quite feeling up to running, to push each other a little harder than we may want to go, and to simply have that motivating factor to get ourselves in better shape. Exercise and competition are both extremely important to us, and I think this will be a great test for us. Time to make a running playlist, starting with Eye of the Tiger! I'm just saying...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some simple changes can make the world a better place...

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, some things need to be changed in our fine country. My friends on the left are going in one direction, while my buddies on the right appear to be running in the other direction. Clearly there are some differences with what direction we should go. Each side could be doing what they feel the right thing to do is, but I'm not so sure that is the case. I feel that we took a step in the right direction last night, but I'm not here to get in to that today. Today I'm going to give you some more thoughts on how I feel we could better this fine country.

1. I would expand upon the snack tax and charge a fast food tax. Fast food is unhealthy, right? I don't think you can argue that. The fact that fast food is so cheap and bad for us is a large problem in my opinion. I would see to it that no items on a fast food menu be less than $5.00, making the Dollar Menu a Five Dollar Menu. We need to encourage people to make healthy food choices, which would in turn reduce the number of trips to hospitals, therefore lowering health care costs. It would also bring in extra tax dollars for each state.

2. I would move toward a 4 day work week, as well as a four day school week for children. Workers would still work the typical 40 hours, it would just be done over the course of four ten hour days. This would give families more time to spend with each other, which would create a happier worker, therefore a more productive employee. I would also make it mandatory for companies to offer all full time employees a minimum of two weeks vacation, and that the vacation needs to be used each year. For those employees that choose not to use their vacation time, they would actually be docked pay for any days unused. I feel that there is a direct correlation between personal time and a happy, productive employee.

3. People that speak out against the president (ME!) or their fellow representatives would be harshly reprimanded by being stripped of their governmental position and it would then be given to an elected official of the opposite party. For example, Joe Wilson, the Senator that yelled "YOU LIE!" to President Obama would have seen his position go away and given to a Democrat from his state. Would you yell out something like that in a Board of Directors meeting at work? Would you call your boss or a co-worker a "baby killer" during a staff meeting? No, you wouldn't, and you should not be able to without some sort of punishment. Stripping you of your post and giving it to someone of the other party ought to make that sort of behavior go away quickly.

4. I would significantly lower the cost of higher education, or in some cases get rid of it completely, while keeping the same academic standards in tact. Higher education is so important in today's competitive job market, and I want to see everyone that desires to move on to college given the opportunity to follow that dream. So many students are unable to attend college due to the financial constraints, while many that do go are straddled with student loan debt that they can't support when they finish school. I would also add a mandatory class or two that deal with real life issues like personal budgeting, credit card education and job search training. These are vital issues and having a solid knowledge of how to deal with all of them will better students moving forward.

5. I would not only make casinos legal, but I would make it so each state was required to have at least two casinos within state lines. Now, these casinos would be for the benefit of the individual states, not the Donald Trumps of the world and there would be no restriction on size. They would not be run by the state specifically, they would be run by individuals that were paid by the state. This would be another way to bring revenue into each state. For those of you that will say "but gambling is bad and addicting", I would say tough crap. In 2008, $49,491,086 was transferred to the state's General Fund from the Maine State Lottery. Clearly there is already some gambling going on, so why not capitalize on it.

Again, just a few changes to the status quo, but some that I think we would all benefit from in one way or another. I'm tired of all the name calling and finger pointing. I'm looking to make things happen that will benefit you and me and if you disagree with my views, we can discuss it. If you, however, want to call me names and try to use scare tactics, you'll be out of work faster than you can say Glenn Beck! I'm just saying...

Friday, March 12, 2010

We all need, somebody, to lean on...

I've thought long and hard about who I want to align myself with when I run for president. I need to have strong, intelligent, disease free men and women by my side to help me make this country stronger. The following are just a handful of examples of who I would bring with me to Washington DC, and why...

First Lady: This one is a no brainer. I would hop into my hot tub time machine (in theaters March 26th) and go back and get Britney Spears circa 2000, back when she was hot, you know, before she went bat shit insane, shaved her head, married K-Fed and was in and out of rehab. Nah, I'm just kidding, I'm bringing Nichole, duh! This ensures the Husson vote.

Vice President: I've thought long and hard about this one. There are a lot of people I think would be a great fit for this post, but the one person I keep going back to is Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show fame). This guy is smart, he is on top of the issues, and would be able to turn every interview around and put the media in their place. Plus, if I was having a bad day, I could just have him play reruns of The Daily Show and I would instantly feel better. Oh, and the Jews would love it!

Chief of Staff: This was a tough one, as it needs to be somebody I can trust and want around me all the time. I've got a handful of really good guy friends I think I can trust my life with, but I'm not sure their wives would let them move to Washington with me. Hmmm... After much deliberation, I've decided that Nomar Garciaparra would be my man. I mean, think about it, he hates the press, so he will keep them away, and he's got a pretty good image (if you ignore that whole steroids rumor and the clubhouse cancer part), plus, he single handedly helped the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years back in 2004. When he got traded, they went on a tear and won it all, and you have to show your appreciation somehow. I think this would get me all of Red Sox Nation's vote.

Secretary of State: This position needs to be a strong, independant person. They need to have a solid background and be able to work well with leaders of other countries. This position has to go to Oprah Winfrey (I just locked up most of the female vote, chaching). She has done everything else, why not.

Speaker of the House: This person needs to be a rock star. The Speaker of the House would be second in line behind Jon Stewart if someone decided to take me out. Who would be able to run this fine country and look damn good next to me at speeches and during the State of the Union address? That's right, Chuck Norris. Chuck and I don't necessarily see eye to eye politically speaking, but as if I'm going to question him! Plus, having Chuck Norris around is like a second line of defense, just above the Secret Service. CNN was originally created as the "Chuck Norris Network" to update Americans with on-the-spot ass kicking in real-time, and we will go back to that, locking up the male 18-35 demographic.

Secretary of Defense: Since I am already going to appoint Chuck Norris as Speaker of the House (I'm kinda making up the rules on that one, I know), I have to put someone else in this position. Someone that understands the military would be a no brainer, since they oversee the Department of Defense. Well, I'm going to look logic in the eye and then spit in it. I'm going to appoint Mike Tyson the Secretary of Defense. Each branch of the armed forces should be pretty well managed at this point, so who better to oversee the whole deal then one of the greatest enforcers of all time. Who, in their right mind, would ever mess with Mike Tyson? You saw what he did to Alan on The Hangover, right? He's still got it!

Attorney General: The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the US Government, not a job to be taken lightly. This was a toss up for me, as I had it narrowed down to two people, with Dog, the bounty hunter, coming out on top. Steven Segal was a close second, but I'm not sure his cronies would be able to keep up as well as Dog's, and we need Steven to continue to patrol the fine streets of Jefferson Parish, LA. Dog should give me the mullet vote.

White House Jester: This would be a new position, and a very important one. Everything and everyone in Washington is far too serious. I would encourage making the mood much lighter when I move down. I would start by appointing Sarah Palin as the White House Jester. After her recent stand up attempt on Jay Leno, it's clear to me that her future is not in politics, but in making people laugh. Truth be told, I would just love to throw tomatoes at her for not being funny, that would really make my day. This ought to sure up my unsure Democrat's votes.

Based on these decisions, and some quick math, I should have an approval rating in the high 90's during my entire tenure, which of course, will be 8 years. I will do what I can to get rid of term limits, because that will be the desire of the people, but let's just go one step at a time. I'm just saying...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You heard it here first folks, my future plans are as follows...

I've recently become quite interested in the political process, trying hard to get myself more informed on issues and establish my own thoughts and opinions. I spent most of my life ignoring it all, completely uninterested in all of it. As I get older, I realize how governmental decisions will affect my life, as well as my families. This recent interest in politics has got me wondering what I would do if I were president. What changes would I make, who would I surround myself with? The following is a list of 3 "issues" I would deal with during my presidency.

1. Change cable to a pay per channel system. Currently, at our house, we have damn near 300 channels. Necessary, no, we watch about 15 of them. I would advocate for a pay per channel system, where each channel would cost $5.00 per month. If you only want to have CBS and FOX, you only pay $10 per month. You only pay for what you want, not for a ton of channels you will never watch. This would guarantee viewership, presumably increasing ratings, which would be a good situation for not only the individual channels, but also for advertisers. You would know exactly how big of an audience you have at your disposal. This too will loosen the budgets of people all across this fine nation, giving everyone a little more money per month to dump back into the economy. Winners all around.

2. Working with the FDA, I would eliminate corn subsidies, and encourage more organically grown and farm raised products. Corn subsidies have lowered the cost of corn so low that companies are fiscally encouraged to use the super unhealthy high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has a direct link to our collective growing waistlines. HFCS is used in an increasing number of snack foods, as well as many other processed foods. I would like to see us, as a nation, move away from highly processed foods and move toward a more natural menu. Think about it, the less genetically altered foods and chemicals we put into our bodies, the better our overall health will be. I'll put it this way, if instead of having a candy bar we snacked on an organically grown carrot, we would be taking much better care of our bodies, and our overall health care costs would go down.

3. I would legalize marijuana. Now, before you say anything, it's not for any of the reasons you are immediately thinking. As I wrote in a previous blog, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has proposed a bill to tax and regulate legal marijuana, which he says would generate $1 billion in revenue for the state's upside down budget. Now think about that being done nationwide. Sounds to me like a pretty fast and easy way to balance some out of whack budgets, and there is no need to raise property taxes, or charge higher road tolls. I would suggest that retailers can set their own rates, as with most every product, but I would charge a 10% tax on each marijuana purchase. This would be a huge boost to state economies, getting many out of the red. And let's be honest, people are smoking marijuana whether it is legal or not, and more people die from smoking tobacco then pot, so where is the problem here?

Now, obviously, these aren't issues of the same magnitude as health care reform, but I feel like they are all items that can help the American public. Lowering monthly bills, more affordable organic foods and avoiding raising taxes, I think these are something we can all agree on. I'm just saying...

Monday, March 8, 2010

There ain't no party like a "Happy 40th" party, except that party actually got stopped...

Date: Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Location: Rivalries, 10 Cotton St, Portland, ME 04101

Nichole and I got invited to "The Farmer's" 40th birthday party, where she had put together a nice gathering of people, some good food, and some entertaining getting to know each other games, topped off with some Chubby Bunny (stuff as many marshmallows into your mouth while saying "chubby bunny" until you can no longer say the words). We brought our friend Emmi with us for the night out on the town. Let the games begin!

We walked into the party just as the ice breaker game was starting up. The birthday gal had put together a grid that contained different details about the guests lives that others might not know. The point of the game was for us to go around introducing ourselves to each other and asking specific questions to find out who fit into each box. The first person to completely fill all the boxes was supposed to be the winner. Most of the questions were simple ones like "Did you graduate from Portland or Deering High School?" or "Have you ever been to a Jimmy Buffett concert?". There was one question that everyone was a little nervous to ask, which was "Are you a cougar?". How do you approach that? Could you get slapped? Turns out that our new cougar friend was totally cool with it and actually introduced herself that way.

About 30 minutes into the party, one of the guys saunters over to ask us some questions, see if we can sign his sheet. He introduces himself as Trent, from New Jersey. He is slugging on his double Jack and Coke, and it is clearly not his first, or even his second. He goes on to ask how my wife Emmi was doing, much to the chagrin of Nichole, who quickly put him in his place. Now that he knows Emmi is not there with a guy, it is game on for Big T. He spent some time rubbing her back, telling her some crazy story about this guy from her hometown that he knew that broke his penis while sleeping with his bosses wife (I don't know, don't ask) and continued to work his large frame (275 lbs to be exact, he reminded us about 8 times) as hard as possible to get her attention. At this point, it's pretty clear she is more than uninterested, so I'm hanging out in between them playing a little defense. We see an out, and head for the door before he has a chance to pursue any further. Crisis averted, phew!

Turns out, after we left, the party got kicked up a few notches. Shortly after our departure, the crew we left behind got shut off at Rivalries, or perhaps sent packing after marshmallows made their way downstairs and hitting other patrons. Then they decided to head on down to other watering holes to keep the drinking going. RiRa apparently took one look at Big T and sent him in the other direction, apparently he should have gone with singles, not doubles. They hit up Gritty's, but one member of the wolf pack ended up passing out, in the seated position, on the sidewalk out front. Whoops! I'm happy to report mom that we weren't there for any of the madness, though, my birthday is just two short months away. I'm just saying...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is taking your child to work a bad idea?

Last month, an air traffic controller reportedly brought his son into work, and allowed him to make transmissions to planes that were navigating around the runway. Did an air traffic controller go too far when he let his son speak to a pilot from the control tower of a New York airport? The incident is being investigated by government safety experts, who say the child talked with at least five pilots preparing for departure. Here's one exchange:

Child (in control tower): JetBlue171 contact departure.

JetBlue pilot: Over to departure JetBlue 171, awesome job.

Adult voice (from tower): That's what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.

The exchange happened during a week-long break from school and caused no injuries or obvious danger. It's not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work occasionally, but some say that should never have happened in a job where the air traffic controller is responsible for the safety of everyone on a plane. Now I ask you this, is this a major issue, or is the media turning nothing into something?

I, for one, have absolutely no problem with what took place. The young boy, and in another instance, his sister, were simply repeating what their father told them to say. The pilots seemed to enjoy the exchange with the children, and I have not heard or read a single instance where a pilot or former/current air traffic controller sees anything wrong either. Having never been in a control tower, I'm not exactly sure what the setup is or what the rules are like, but if people that are either currently in the position, or have worked in the tower before think it's being blown out of proportion, then I'm going to take their word for it.

I am completely aware of how important a position an air traffic controller is. They have the lives of everyone on a plane in their hands, to a certain extent. This is a high stress job and a person needs to be focused on the task at hand. However, moments like this, where the father was in complete control, are perfectly fine and do not concern me as a traveler whatsoever. For those of you that want to compare it to mom the brain surgeon bringing little Susie in with her to do some surgery is completely ridiculous. Mimicking a few words is much different than making incisions. There are lots of things in the news we can talk about, I don't think this should be one of them. I'm just saying...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more springlike weather

Walking out the front door of our house yesterday we were excited to have the sun shining down on us and to have the sound of birds singing in the trees around us. It was awesome. Add to that the fact that we have no snow and the days are about to get a little longer with the whole "spring forward" concept soon to kick in, and I have a major case of Spring Fever! It brings back memories of college when my roommate Matt and I would spend hours playing basketball at the outdoor courts in Presque Isle, or Nichole and I dusting off the old baseball gloves and playing catch in Deering Oaks Park.

It's also time for spring cleaning. That fun time of year when you discover random crap you left out on the lawn last fall and then forgot about as soon as it snowed. We did a really good job last year getting everything put away, and we have no remnants of projects left unfinished from October I'm happy to report. Other fun things we need to start thinking about is getting things ready for this year and working on ways to make next winter and spring a little less messy. For example, we have crushed rocks leading up to our stairs going in to the house. Well, they end up all over the freaking place due to shoveling and the use of the snow blower. They are a giant pain in the ass and they have to go as soon as the ground is dry. Another example would be that our backyard typically has standing water in it after any kind of rain or snow melt. One of my first jobs to do this spring is to divert the water to the stream next to our house by digging a ditch across our backyard. Both minor projects, but we should see some major differences in messes this time next year.

One last fun project will be cleaning up all the dog bombs off the back lawn from a winter of poop trips by Yawkey. This is never a fun task, but I typically take my poop rake and just fling them into the woods, so it could certainly be worse! What will be fun about turd cleanup will be removing the giant piles of what appears to be moose crap that appeared overnight last night. Now, it might not be a moose, I'm only guessing, but here is why. There have been several moose sightings in town, and we do live in the middle of the country, so it's entirely possible. Other potential poop droppers include cows (not likely but maybe I guess) or elephants (doubtful, but lets be honest, how cool would that be). I'm hoping I can convince Nichole or Kerrigan to jump on this task, but it's pretty freaking doubtful I can pull it off. I'm just saying...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taxationland - Ah, the way life should be...

The beautiful state of Maine. It has so much to offer us, miles of jagged coastline, a variety of winter activities and the best seafood and potatoes in the world. You quickly think of lobster and moose, Sugarloaf and Sunday River and the Portland Sea Dogs and Maine Red Claws. There is so much that is good about this fine state. And then you do your taxes...

Tax time is never a fun time for me. For years I have had friends that have bragged repeatedly about how much money they are getting back on their return. One friend is going on vacation with their return, while another is using their return as a down payment on a new car. Me, I'm lucky to get a Little Debbie snack with my return, and I don't mean the Double Oatmeal Creme Pie, the small one. More likely I will send some money up to Augusta. It doesn't seem to matter how many (or few) exemptions I have listed. It doesn't seem to matter how much (or how little) money I make in a given year. It never seems to matter if I am claiming Miss Kerrigan or if I'm claiming interest on the house. I get screwed every year by the state of Maine, and I really don't like it.

This year, I didn't work for nearly half of the year, collecting Unemployment compensation for a portion of that time. Now, I didn't have that money taxed up front, so I knew that would come back to bite me, and it did. Another little tidbit for you is that the Federal Government ignores the first $2400 in unemployment compensation (a little tax break courtesy of the Democrats and the Recovery Act), so you don't get taxed on that portion. Maine doesn't do that. The Obama administration also kicked in the Making Work Pay credit in 2009, so each working individual gets a $400 credit on their federal return. Maine, not so much. In terms of overall tax burden, Maine is the 14th highest in the country. It's no wonder I never get a tax return from the state of Maine.

Add to this the fact that Nichole and I have a few quirks on this years return with her selling Mary Kay and me doing some bookkeeping from the home office. These new twists made us question our math when we went over our taxes a couple weeks back. We decided to take everything in to H&R Block and have a tax professional give us a once over. We spent a little over two hours at their office on Sunday, only to realize we were further in the hole to the State of Maine than we originally thought, and our federal return was about at $0. Well, I guess we should have done it from home in the first place. Oh, wait, I almost forgot to tell you what H&R Block's fee was for helping us out. Guess... $75? Higher... $125? Higher... $200? Higher... Oh, I'll just tell you, $529!!! That's right, $529, can you f'ing believe that?! They charge you for every form they have to fill out, no matter if it takes them an hour to fill it out or 10 seconds. Since we had the home office listed, there were a handful of forms involved and the charges kept climbing. Needless to say, we took our paperwork and walked out the front door, thank god we had that option! If they can charge that much to do a return, they must get paid pretty good. Maybe I can work there on the weekends just to afford living in this fine state. I'm just saying...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Flavor Flav has gold teeth, but does he have a gold ball?

I distinctly remember being 9 years old and looking up to the Fort Fairfield High School boys basketball team back in 1988 as they won the Eastern Maine Class C championship, before losing in the state championship game in Augusta. I'll never forget getting an autographed picture of the entire team from coach Larry Gardner, longtime family friend, and current coach of the girls team. I still have that picture tucked away in a box of my own press clippings and pictures from my high school basketball days. For me, basketball was the greatest thing in the world. I dreamed of one day playing for my beloved Celtics, helping them raise banners to the rafters like my favorites Bird, McHale and Parrish did in the 1980's. I played all the time, nights, weekends, even at lunch time when I could sneak off to the nearest hoop. I looked forward to being in high school and helping take the Tigers to the Bangor Auditorium to play in front of all those people with the ultimate goal of bringing home the first gold ball to town.

Well, my dreams of gold or playing for the green never came to fruition, but my old high school had a chance this past weekend to win its first ever championship in basketball, as the Lady Tigers went up against the Greenville Lakers for the right to call themselves the Class D State Champion. Now, for those of you who don't know, I come from a very small town, around 3,000 people, up in Aroostook County. Basketball in The County is kind of like football in Texas. By this I mean when it is game night, everyone goes. The bleachers are full of people. Doesn't matter what the weather is like, people are there cheering the teams on. It's what you do in the winter months on school nights, you support the local high school boys and girls. You travel with them to see them play. You wear the school colors proudly. You know all the kids names, whether you actually know them personally or not.

Back to this past weekend. With the Lady Tigers playing for the gold ball in Augusta, you bet we went. The game went back and forth for the better part of three quarters, before the Lady Tigers kicked it into high gear and pulled out the victory! It was incredible to watch your home town team cut down the nets and hold the gold ball high above their heads with pride! It's funny actually, it was a dream I always had as a kid, and I think it felt just as good to see it happen from the stands by 12 girls I didn't know at all. I am pretty sure my sister and I each shed a tear or two in joy to be honest. Something like that means so much to a small town, and it was so good to be there to witness it. I'm most happy for coach Larry Gardner. He has been a top notch coach, having patrolled the sidelines for both the boys and girls teams since the 1980's. He puts in countless hours with the kids, starting them at a very young age with Tiger Cubs and Tiger Basketball Camp in the summertime. He is a great teacher of the game, working with every player on the team, from the best player all the way to 12th person on the bench. Congratulations to you Coach Gardner, you and the girls earned it!

I hear that there was a throng of people (if I can use that term) waiting for the team when they arrived back in town yesterday afternoon. That's the beauty of high school basketball in a small Aroostook County town. The entire town comes out to cheer them on, making signs, honking horns and clapping loud and proud. It almost makes me miss home, almost. I'm just saying...