Is it a coincidence that school and fool rhyme?

I just had to comment on this story out of Colorado Springs, which appears to have gained national attention. Discovery Canyon has banned the game of "tag" on its playground to avoid "conflicts". What rubbish! This is yet another instance where schools prove my theory that it is so much easier to be reactionary and have no improvement than to actually make a difference. There is no way to avoid conflict on the playground short of putting all the children in individual bubbles.
The administrator claims that there were complaints of children being "harassed or chased against their will." Again, rubbish. By definition, it is impossible to be chased against your will. If you aren't running, you're not being chased. The rational response is to keep children from harassing other children, right? If the harassed child is encouraged to deal with the issue themselves and then if necessary take it to a teacher, then the root of the problem is at least being addressed.

This is exactly what happened when I was in school. The powers-that-be perceived that North Colorado Springs had a gang problem so they took the only logical step (only logical because their brains were rotted in graduate school) and banned.... guns?.... Nope..... knives?.... Wrong.... gang signs? ....wouldn't have mattered since there were no real gangsters. They banned LONG BRAIDED BELTS, which happened to be the style at the time. It solved exactly zero because were one of the wanksters to decide he wanted to shoot someone (never happened), the status of his belt would have made no difference.

It is a mindset that leads our nations youth to show up in college and still know nothing about what it is to be an adult. Ask a college counselor who is deluged with students crying on their shoulders because they are incapable of handling an environment that makes demands on them (ie. the real world).

I must be frustrated...I've been reduced to referring to the University as the real world.


Our New City

I found some shots of the city of Kerch, Ukraine, where we will be moving in December. Admittedly, it will not look like this when we get there, but I am excited to be there. Wikipedia has an interesting entry on the city and its history.

Kerch is an ancient city that began as a Greek colony and has been populated by a variety of people for over 2500 years. The painting above is from 1839 and shows a bustling shipping town. The high ground is Mount Mithradates topped by the harbor lighthouse.

This is a view of the harbor from the top of Mithradates. The stairs run down to the center of the old town.

This is the top of the aforementioned Mount. This is one of the nicer Soviet-era monuments to the Great Patriotic War, which we Westerners call WWII. Since the Soviet Union only spanned 3/4 of a century, they have very little to celebrate other than the victory over fascism and protection of the Fatherland (Ukrainians use the paternal form instead of Motherland like Russians).

Another shot of the monument atop Mithradates. The cannons are not reproductions. 2 of the 3 have patches on the "gunner's shield" where bullets had passed through the armor during their active use.

This is the standard, grey, depressing Soviet type of monument. Between the two carved concrete slabs lies the entrance to the catacombs that run under Kerch where 15,000 Ukrainians hid and continued the resistance to the Nazis for 6 months with virtually no food or water. Little is known about life underground as there were no survivors.

This is the beach about 1/4 mile from the gates of the camp and Speedos notwithstanding, I plan to spend a good deal of time here.

Another shot from just above "our beach" looking northeast across the channel. Through the haze you can see just a slight outline of the Russian coast in the upper right-hand corner.

This is a great example of the booths at the market across the street from the camp. All are the same color and roughly the same size. Most day-to-day items can be bought here though the "normal" food selection is limited. There is also a small grocery store just behind the market itself.

To zoom in a little closer to our new home, this is a great shot straight down the center of camp. The light spot on the concrete about halfway down is the patch that replaced a massive, yet unusable fountain that was the bane of every one's existence for the first half decade of our ownership.


Aaron's Suprise Visit and the Kop Makes Floyd "Fearless"

Today is my 30th Birthday. Outside of this being an excuse for donuts to be served at work, I really didn't think it was that big of a deal. That is, until about 9:15 this morning when my longtime friend Aaron showed up unexpectedly at my office. Now that is something to celebrate. Aaron lives in College Station, TX and apparently I am the only person in the state of Colorado that didn't know he was coming into town for my birthday. On top of that, I get to see a bunch of the Shermans and my sister and brother-in-law - all very cool people.

The real point of this post is that I was finally able to re-listen to a Pink Floyd song that Aaron had been trying to get me to hear for quite some time. I've heard the song many times (I used to have in the neighborhood of 15 Floyd albums before my entire collection of music was stolen), but it had been years since I really listened to this particular track. It is called "Fearless" and it's from one of the bands earlier, more psychedelic efforts, "Meddle." Through the magic of YouTube and Wikipedia, I was able gather the materials necessary to share with all half-dozen of you readers how cool "Fearless" is.

The title is apparently football slang for "awesome" - at least during the early 70's when the album was recorded. I know that Kacie is thinking, "crap, I thought this wasn't going to be another soccer post," but please humor me...it's my birthday. Also, at the beginning and again at the end of the song, there are haunting football chants (including "You'll Never Walk Alone") that are courtesy of the Kop, Liverpool FC's most fervent supporters.

The real curiosity is how did nice, Cambridge art school boys get sucked into the dirty scouse world of Liverpool football? Such is the power of the Reds of Anfield!

YouTube was kind enough to supply audio of the original version of the song. It's a 6 minute track but if you want to hear the chants they are about 20 seconds into the song and again for the last minute and a half. To aid in your enjoyment of the latter (the accent makes comprehension tough), I will tell you that they are singing the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" followed by staccato shouts of "LIVERPOOL".


Who Gets to Harass Who?

Please picture this scenario....

A group of professionals - public employees with jobs of which they are proud - being asked to join a celebration which makes them very uncomfortable. Not just as participants, but as one of the main attractions. Oh wait, they are being not asked, but rather ORDERED by their boss to parade down the street through a gauntlet of men making lewd and obscene comments and gestures; making a mockery of the career to which they have dedicated their lives. These underpaid, overworked employees do not the option sit out this indignity as their supervisor is a major supporter of this particular event.

Who are these recipients of innuendo and crass behavior? The secretaries at City Hall? Nope. Young nurses from the municipal hospital. Way off! How about the underrepresented female police officers being paraded as pieces of meat? Closer but not quite.

These victims were, in fact, the members of the San Diego Fire Department and they were all MEN.

Last month John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Chad Allison and Alex Kane were ordered by their openly lesbian Chief Tracy Jarman to march in the cities gay pride parade as representatives of the SDFD where they were subjected to “obscene gestures, uttered inappropriate remarks and displayed lewd behavior that made them uncomfortable.”

I must emphasize that Chief Jarman was extremely receptive the men’s complaints of harassment, but this was after the “damage was done.” There is no way to be an active participant in most cities’ gay pride parades and not realize that most of the language, imagery and behavior demands at least an R, if not NC-17 rating. She may not have intended for her employees to be the subject of harassment, but she is could not be shocked by the behavior of her fellow activists. There is some question as to whether this is the first time that complaints have been filed with the SDFD for required participation in this parade.

The men are bringing a law suit against the department, but I must applaud them as the suit appears to ask for exactly $0 in punitive damages and only insists that participation in events such as this be explicitly voluntary.

I hate to always resort to the “double standard” argument, but there is no way to argue that a straight, male fire chief who required female firefighters to participate in an event with similar results would be fired if not sued or jailed.

I would like the record to show that I completed an entire post about gay pride and firemen without making a single Village People comment. You can now congratulate me in your comments.


Premiership Week 1 recap

Update: Liverpool did indeed beat Toulouse in France today. The count was 1-0 on the strength of a goal from Ukrainian new-comer Andriy Voronin. The Reds high-caliber talent was showcased as they brought out their second string strikers (Voronin, Benayoun, Crouch) who could start for most European sides.

My first opening day as a Liverpool fan was everything I could have hoped for. Despite the Reds strong off-season signings, I was only cautiously optimistic about the game. Away against a well-respected Aston Villa side and having not won a first game since 2002, the odds were not on our side.

I wasn't able to watch the game live due my lovely niece's birthday party but I decided to follow the game via my stupid Crackberry and my trusty friend Slicky (I did finally watch the game on Sunday night). I was confused by ESPN.com's live internet coverage as the game progress counted up (in the European manner starting at 0:00 and counting to 90+ minutes depending on stoppage time) while their actual game clock counted down from some ridiculous number. At the beginning of the second half, the clock began at the illogical point of 109 minutes and counted down from there.

This frustration aside, I was able to ascertain that midway through the first half, AV gave us the gift of an "own goal" when Martin Laursen accidentally sent the ball to the roof of the goal while trying to clear it. Upon watching the game on Sunday, I think this may have been one of the better strikes of the day.

The second half began with expectations of continued pressure and time-in-possession advantage. An under the surface, in-game running scuffle developed from the rough play of Liverpool's Jermaine Pennant and subsequently distracted the Reds and gave Villa more counter attack chances. Tragedy struck in the 86th minute when a weird bounce into the hand of Jamie Carragher gave Gareth Barry a penalty kick, of which he availed himself. As I was following this via single-sentence emails from Slick, I went from growing hope of an opening victory to immense frustration.

No sooner had I started calculating where a draw placed us in the table then Slick sent a follow up saying that Steven Gerrard was awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty box in the 87th minute. After having waited for what must have been the longest period holding my breath for an email, Slick gave me the satisfaction of the following messages:

Gerrard on magical free kick from 20 yards!!!!!!

Unbelievable shot! Absolute top corner of the net!!!

Wait until you see the replay of the shot....unbelievable... 89:00 on the

90:00 on clock....corner to Villa...cleared...4 min of injury time

You'll Never Walk Alone being sung loudly by the scouse supporters....Villa
throwing the kitchen sink...1 minute left in game!!!!!

Full Time whistle blows!!! 2-1

I was understandably excited and even more so once I actually got to watch Stevie G's shot myself. It was a great game and good weekend.


  • Man U gets drawn nil-nil at home against.....Reading (Rainbow)
  • Chelsea and Arsenal get scored on but survive by shelling the keepers for Birmingham City and Fulham, respectively.
  • Wigan gets off to a fantastic start in their quest for relegation by losing to (now) table leading Everton (sorry, Slick).
  • The other Manchester (City) achieve an impressive victory over Westham despite their pansy blue socks


  • Despite feverish support from Slick's basement, Tottenham limps to a 0-2 record with a loss to Everton. There is still faith that they will turn the corner against perennial suckers Derby County leading up to their date with Man U. on August 26th. COME ON YOU SPURS!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to have to sign off as the Reds are in the midst of what should be a cakewalk against French side Toulouse (which I hope they do).


Pulled World Soccer Daily Premiership picks

UPDATE: The info that follows in this post has since been pulled from the WSD website. The link no longer works, but the picks are absolutely accurate.

UPDATE #2: WSD has now reposted their predictions for the upcoming EPL season table so I no longer have the scoop. I think that Steven was angered by my "cheekiness" and decided not to post the podcast of a show I was greatly anticipating.

I must begin by promising that after this post, I will try to limit the football/soccer commentary to post-game updates or weekend reviews of the Premiership.

I realize that a blog is intended to be read (an hopefully enjoyed) by people other than the author - because if you are writing for yourself, maybe a journal is better forum. Unfortunately I am painfully selfish so I am posting these following information solely for my use. If anyone else feels edified, that's icing on the cake.

Below are the EPL table predictions from World Soccer Daily hosts Steven Cohen and Howard Rogers. Those of you who haven't already clicked away from this post may notice that their predictions are wildly divergent. Slick should be encouraged by the similarities between his and Howard's picks. It is also interesting to note that though Steven is a life-long Chelsea fan, he is decidedly more pessimistic about his boys than Howard as a Man U supporter.

Barclays Premier League Final Table
1. Liverpool.
2. Manchester United.
3. Arsenal.
4. Chelsea.
5. Blackburn
6. Tottenham
7. Portsmouth
8. Everton
9. Newcastle
10. Sunderland
11. Manchester City
12. Bolton
13. Reading
14. Aston Villa
15. West Ham
16. Middlesbrough
17. Fulham
18. Birmingham
19. Wigan
20. Derby County
Sack race: Billy Davies
Best buy: Florent Malouda
Biggest flop: Fernando Torres.
Player of the Year: Robin Van Persie
Dark horse: Blackburn Rovers.

Barclay’s Premier League
1 Manchester United 89pts
2 Chelsea 87pts
3 Arsenal 76pts
4 Liverpool 72pts
5 Spurs 67pts
6 Blackburn Rovers 66pts
7 Portsmouth 61pts
8 Everton 59pts
9 Aston Villa 57pts
10 Newcastle United 56pts
11 West Ham United 54pts
12 Reading 53pts
13 Bolton W. 52pts
14 Manchester City 44pts
15 Sunderland 40pts
16 Middlesbrough 38pts
17 Birmingham City 36pts
18 Fulham 36pts
19 Wigan Athletic 30pts
20 Derby County 20pts
Sack race – Chris Hutchings, Wigan Athletic
Best buy – Ryan Babel
Biggest flop – Fernando Torres
Player of the Year – Cristiano Ronaldo
Dark horse – Blackburn Rovers (club), Eduardo da Silva (player)


EPL kick-off...Barclays can take a walk

I wanted to blog on Saturday's start of the Premiership's regular season, but I was beaten to the punch by my esteemed colleague Slicky.

Unfortunately, I am not going to give a prediction of the full table but I do need to make some calls on the top 7. For those who are even more newbie than I am, 7 is a magic number in the EPL as the top 4 teams are eligible for the UEFA Champions League which pits the top sides from all the professional national leagues in Europe. This is an amazing competition in which my boys from LFC have done well in recent years. The next three teams are eligible (depending on other competition results) for the UEFA Cup, a similar European competition for the next level of teams.

Slick has the following as his top sides:

  1. Man U

  2. Chelsea

  3. Arsenal

  4. Liverpool

  5. Tottenham

  6. Aston Villa

  7. Portsmouth

My main problem comes not from his analysis but from his lack of imagination. His top 5 are exactly the same as last season! This is the first year that I will be following the EPL game-by-game and I WANT to believe that it will be unique. Thus, my imagination puts the MPG (a very prestigious sporting pundit) pre-season rankings as follows:

  1. Chelsea

  2. Man U

  3. Liverpool

  4. Tottenham

  5. Arsenal

  6. Portsmouth

  7. Everton

Please remember that this is based upon part analysis and part imagination/hopefulness. I dislike Chelsea greatly but since I have no doubt that they are a better team than my Reds, I hope they win the league so my disdain can grow. I am trying to avoid increasing my aversion to Man U since I do like to watch them play. I think between Slick and I, it should be obvious why I place LFC and Spurs directly behind the giants and in that order. For reasons I cannot quite grasp, Arsenal is falling quickly out of favor in my book and I am sure that is OK with Slick (see North London derby). Portsmouth gets in almost solely based upon my having viewed them in the Asian Trophy final against Liverpool and I have to admit that Everton's position is largely based upon their position last year (does that make me a hypocrite?).


The EPL is back...or is it BPL?

Top-flight English football - now technically called the Barclays Premier League - officially reopened for business this past weekend as Chelsea met Manchester United at the new Wembley Stadium in the Community Shield. The season kicks off with this match up of the league champions (Man U) versus the FA Cup champions (Chelsea). In a surprisingly rough game for a friendly, Man U was victorious on PKs, riding three straight saves by their scarecrow-like keeper, Edwin van der Sar.
I got to watch the game with Slicky (the only person I know with the channels necessary to watch the EPL...oops, BPL) and enjoyed it greatly. As an added bonus, Slick and Texas Aaron went in together for my birthday and bought me an official Liverpool jersey for the upcoming season. Since I have not gotten around to having my team photo taken in my new kit, I had to resort to some cyber-trickery. The photo at left is actually my head on the body of the Reds (you don't mean communists, do you?)Norwegian defender John Riise. As I look at it, either Riise has a longer neck than I do or my photoshop wizard Paul gave me a bit of the stretch.

Back to Ukraine?!?

I hope that I have had a chance to personally talk with most of you who actually read this blog, but if not, I apologize for the surprise, which is...we are moving to Ukraine!

Since many of you already know that we have been seriously considering this for the past 3 weeks, I will take this opportunity to lay out why we made this decision.

Reason #1: The Calling

Since before Sarah and I were even engaged, we have both felt a call on our lives to participate in missions. While in Michigan I was a member of several teams, was a co-leader on a few more with the youth at Woodmen Valley Chapel and have been on Global Action trips the past 2 summers. I deeply value these opportunities and the lessons I learned about travel, teamwork and interpersonal interaction during difficult situations. Though eased to the back of my mind, I never completely lost the desire for a longer term overseas situation. I always assumed that with my Spanish skills, if this were to occur, I would find myself in Latin America. My faulty assumptions aside, both Sarah and I have been receptive to this type of situation for the entire span of our marriage.

Reason #2: The Passion

I hope that none of you is offended when I say that ever since I arrived back in the States almost 3 weeks ago, I have been yearning to return to Ukraine. I love Colorado Springs and I my local friends and family even more so, but what I experienced at the Hope Center in Kerch made me realize that I was being called to more than staying where I felt loved and comfortable.

Reason #3: The Opportunity

Upon his return to the office from his most recent jaunt around the globe (3 weeks ago Thursday), Lars asked how my trip to Ukraine was.

Half joking, I said, "Amazing! When can I go back?"

To which he responded, only 1/4 joking, "We have a position over there. Do you want it?"

To which I replied (now only barely joking), "Don't joke about that, 'cause I'll take it."

To which he answered (no longer joking), "Don't YOU joke about that, 'cause I'll give it to you."

As the weeks have progressed, we have seen doors continue to open and we proceeded to walk through them. In short, we have been given a chance to do something extremely meaningful and adventurous with little or no risk/downside. That is an opportunity that very few people are given.

We will miss seeing our Colorado Springs friends on a regular basis (we'll still be able to converse with all our friends frequently), but since the camp sleeps around 200, you are all welcome to come visit.


Ukraine Experience (part 2b)

I am hoping to get another report written in the next few days, but for now I have to point you towards one of my teammates Flickr account.


Jeremy has quite a few shots that I would greatly recommend despite some ridiculous pictures of me.