Monthly Archives: October 2010

Safe for another year!

We have had a busy weekend here at Casa Poolman.

I came home from work on Friday to meet the newest member of the Poolman menagerie, Penny. She comes from the extended family. Her feline mother belongs to my son-in-law’s parents.

Penny is quite the little charmer. She is very socialized to people. She is still a little wary of the two dogs and Sid the Tailless, but her hisses are more for form than from fear.

Mrs. P’s sister and her gang (two nephews, one niece and one nephew-in-law) got here Friday night for the Florida-Georgia Game House Party. Actually our niece and husband stayed with Poolboy, who has a fully funished guestroom and bath in his condo about a mile down the road. That worked out well.

I spent the first half of Saturday cleaning the back yard, and setting up things for the viewing party. We had about 40 people of mixed loyalties. We set up TVs in the family room (serious watching), the courtyard (half watching, half partying) and the living room (overflow.)

Half time in the courtyard.

Fortunately for the Gator fans, our punter-turned-FG kicker found his range and won the game in OT. We are safe to live here for another year.

Some of our Georgia friends hit the door almost immediately after the game ended, but many others stayed much later. Many of the 20-30’s crowd was totally engaged in a game of Beer Pong. I don’t know the details of the game, but suffice it to say it involves a long flat surface, ping-pong balls, cups of beer and much consumption thereof.

In the past, we have just used a piece of plywood for the playing surface, but this year, a couple of Writer Princess’s friends created a Beer Pong masterpiece. If you are going to play Beer Pong, you might as well be classy about it.

The Gators started off the Poolman football weekend with a win. The “Stillers” take on the Saints in New Orleans tonight. Let’s see if they can make it two for two for the Poolman teams.


Friday ramblings

It’s a big weekend coming up at Casa Poolman. With both teams in the middle of disappointing seasons, the Florida-Georgia game isn’t quite the match-up it has been in the past. All the same, for those of us Gators who live with enthusiastically obnoxious Georgia fans all year, it is still a big deal. A bunch of relatives from Mrs. P’s side of the family will be coming up from Jacksonville for the weekend. We will host a fairly large viewing party Saturday afternoon. Should be fun. I’m cautiously optimistic about the game.

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Speaking of sports, this is the only time of the year I occasionally listen to sports talk radio. I flip back and forth between the Fox and ESPN local stations. My question is this; is Brett Favre the only player left in the NFL? He is all anyone wants to talk about. The Vikings are 2-4. Who cares? Meanwhile, my “Stillers” are 5-1 with a major turn-around story from last year and you hardly ever hear them mentioned.

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When I got home from work on Wednesday, Mrs. Poolman approached me and said, “I hope you aren’t going to want to kill me.”

That’s always a great way to start a conversation.

It seems that Mrs. P called our daughter’s mother-in-law to check on her treatment for an ongoing health issue. Before the conversation ended, Mrs. P had agreed to adopt one of MILs litter of kittens.

I’ve seen this coming ever since we lost Berta the Timid a couple of months ago, so this was no big surprise. The new addition is scheduled to be delivered today.

Mrs. P is concerned how the rest of our “animal kingdom” will take to their new sibling. I’m not worried. Sid the Tailless will give her a hiss and then put her on “ignore” to establish his alpha-cat status. Eventually, he will warm up.

The dogs, especially young Sammy, will think the kitten is a special gift just for them. Once the kitten gets over her initial fear and realizes that the dogs can be great buddies, everything will be fine.

We have been discussing names. I tried to get Mrs. P to go along with “Urban” (as in Urban Meyer), but she insisted that was not a great name for a girl cat. I think we are going to settle on “Penny” after one of the main characters in “The Big Bang Theory” TV show.

Such an important decision…

A big weekend ahead

This is Florida-Georgia week. This is a big deal in this part of the country. There are numerous stories of recent arrivals planning a big non-football event for the Fla-Ga Saturday, only to have no one show up at their party or event. It may be one reason Halloween parties aren’t that big around here. If you aren’t planning on having the game on, you won’t have many guests.

For the first time in many years, I am concerned. The basic background is this. For many years, prior to 1990, Georgia regularly “schooled” the Gators in the annual rivalry. However over the past 20 years, the Gators are 17-3. Even a blind hog finds an occasional acorn.

Having lived in Georgia for the past 18 years, we have enjoyed that run. Each year, Georgia fans have gotten in our faces and predicted their domination.

“This year you are going down. DOWN! DOWN! DOWN!”

And in 17 of the past 20 years, our friendly rivals have drowned their tears in large amounts of alcoholic beverages.

This year, UGA started off miserably, winning only one of their first five games, while UF won their first four. Since then, however, the “Poodles” have won three straight, and the Mighty Gators have dropped three in a row.

It has been our tradition at Casa Poolman to host a fairly large viewing party for the game. Being very ecumenical, we have a good crowd of the red-and-black crowd, as well as true Gator fans.

One thing about this year that is different. Fans of neither team are doing any trash talking. Neither team’s fans feel they have any real cause to stick their chin out.

I just hope we aren’t embarrassed on Saturday. I really don’t want to have to move out of the state.

Tickled pink — not

I have to take my hat off to the folks at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. I know of celebrities who have suffered from over exposure, but I never thought it would happen to a disease. Everywhere I turn, I see pink. It’s past the point of awareness; it’s getting nauseating. I’m totally “pinked out.”

Please understand, I have nothing against breast cancer victims or the people who are raising money, creating awareness, and conducting research to combat the disease. It is a good and noble cause. But I have to ask; “Are there any other good causes out there?”

Personally, I have two friends suffering from ALS. Five of my friends or acquaintances have died of brain tumors over the past several years. In the past, I have been associated with the American Red Cross. All are good causes, but they don’t hold a candle to the cause du jour – breast cancer.

The local newspaper has adopted the cause. I addition to running stories on a daily basis, a couple of weeks ago they pulled out all the stops and printed the Sunday edition on pink paper. Ugh!

I walked into my bank last week and everyone was dressed in pink, right down to the women’s mascara. Even the only guy in the office was wearing pink and had a pink streak I his hair. Disturbing.

This afternoon, I’m sitting here watching the Patriots-Chargers game. I notice that many of the players are wearing pink shoes and gloves. Not too long ago, that would have been a Saturday Night Lived skit.

The list goes on.

So a big congratulations to the Susan Komen people. You have oversaturated popular culture with your cause. It’s a dream for any non-profit, and you have achieved it.

I’m just more than ready for the next color to come along.

A busy month behind me

My month of fairly intensive activity is over and life looks to be getting more-or-less back to normal.

Over the past month, Mrs. Poolman and I had two weekend trips and I had an overnight work related trip. Except for when I was out of town for our Pennsylvania trip, I have been tied up with our evening lecture series two nights per week. Plus, I was also out Wednesday evenings with my CCD class. We finished up on Saturday with our campus-wide annual open house event.The open house was a pretty big deal. We had roughly 1,900 visitors on an incredibly beautiful Saturday afternoon. (Clear skies, mid-70s with a light breeze.) They enjoyed the aquarium, science displays, programs, tours of our research vessels and more.Organizing this event is my responsibility. It has become increasingly difficult and stressful in recent years. More and more “volunteers” have opted out of the project, thus increasing the burden on those of us who are left. I frankly admitted that I did not perform as well in marketing the event as I might have because I was distracted by other issues that someone else had handled in previous years. We definitely need to make some structural changes before next year’s event.

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The Gators dropped their third in a row Saturday night. It will be interesting to see just how good our coaching staff can do their job. With an off week this weekend, they have two weeks to regroup the team and get them on the right path. Do they continue in a death spiral, or can they pull them out and salvage the season? The second half of the season will be interesting.

Adventures in car rentals

I had an over-night trip to Atlanta earlier this week. All of our institution cars were tied up, so I rented a car. It’s cheaper and better for all concerned than driving my own car and getting paid mileage.

Renting a car can be an adventure. The instrumentation and other gadgets on most cars work pretty much the same way, but there are exceptions.

The first time I got into a rental with a key-less ignition, I had no idea what to do. I had to get the rental attendant to show me how to start the darn thing.

Sometimes figuring out how the CD player works can be a challenge.

Hybrids can be different if you are not familiar with them.

This time, I ended up with a Chevrolet HHR. When I stopped to get gas on the way out of town, I encountered a familiar problem.

“How do I get to the gas cap?”

I looked at the gas cap cover and saw no “finger flap” to open it, so I started searching around the driver’s seat for a release switch. No such luck. It was still very pre-dawn, so I had trouble seeing anything in the dark. After popping the hood and the tailgate in my effort to find a switch, I was starting to get frustrated.

How about the owner’s manual?

No such luck. The rental companies remove them.

Just before pulling out my cell phone and calling the 24-hour emergency number, I took a chance and just pressed on the gas cap cover. Viola! It popped open.

I felt kind-of stupid for not thinking of that first. However, this is the first car I have driven that didn’t either have the little finger flap or a release switch.

Don’t you think it would be a good idea for the rental company to leave the owner’s manual in the car? Who would want to steal an owner’s manual for a car they don’t own?

Stupid question – I’m sure someone would.

Looking at a busy week

I’m sitting here by the pool, getting mentally ready for the coming week. It’s going to be a busy one. I’ll have two late nights with our lecture series, my CCD class on Wednesday and an out-of-town trip thrown into the mix. The week ends with our annual big-deal open house, which is my responsibility. By this time next Saturday, I’ll be a zombie.

The Gators dropped their second in a row last night, this one to Les Miles and LSU. The key play was a fake LSU field goal that got them a first down on their game winning drive. It was the same play they used to beat us in 2007. You’d think we would learn. Oh well. Maybe Urban will send those orange jerseys back to storage where they belong.

This is the first weekend we have been home in so long, I don’t remember. I slept late on Saturday, but then spent the rest of the day doing much-needed yard work. Mow, edge, poop patrol, clean pool, etc. I started at 1130 am and ran out of steam around 430 pm.  Sunday was church, lunch with Mrs. P, four loads of laundry, check book, bills, and so on.

Not  a real exciting weekend, but a good kind of quiet that we really needed.

I think my  last load of laundry is ready to be switched over. On to Monday!

One small victory

There is light on the horizon. There may be some hope for my CCD class after all.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that this has been a difficult class to get under control. They have been extremely antsy, unfocused and talkative.

I had joked that it was like they were all on ritalin that wore off at 4 pm, and they spent the rest of the afternoon sipping espresso.

Last week, I was out of town and they had a substitute who is one of the parish’s music leaders. I suggested that rather than trying to teach a regular lesson, that she take them over to the church on a “field trip” and introduce them to some music. I figured that would be enough to keep them interested and at least tolerably well behaved. Wrong! Apparently, they were so bad that they left the substitute in tears, and even one of my class mothers came in and yelled at the class.

This week, I had my work cut out for me. I had a plan. I knew I had to start off in control and not let up. I had a helper who roamed the class, putting out any little brush fires that spring up. Freed of having to stop the flow to quiet students having their own side conversations, I I could keep my momentum. It worked.

After an opening prayer, I started the class with a discussion of proper behavior with an emphasis on the third of our three class rules, “Don’t be a jerk.” (The other two are “Show up” and “Participate.”) One of the students actually volunteered that “talking while someone else is talking” constitutes being a jerk. Once we got things rolling, we kept it moving and really didn’t give the kids any opportunity to wander off track. I was able to teach the class and lead some interesting discussions without constantly having to compete for the class’s attention.

My helper was the bomb!

We did have one real eye-opening exchange.

We were discussing the various ways we show reverence and respect in church — actions like genuflecting, blessing ourselves with Holy Water, and so on.

One student told me:

“I’m not sure what to do. My family doesn’t go to church very often, so I really don’t know what kinds of things you are supposed to do there.”


Weekly Mass attendance is the goal in the Catholic Church. Actually, it’s the law. But not taking your ten-year-old to Mass enough that he or she knows the common customs is pretty lame. The sad thing is that it’s not the child’s fault.

On the road again…

I’ve been out of the loop for the past couple of weeks. Sorry ‘bout that. Here are some thoughts that have been bouncing around my head.

Mrs. Poolman and I joined two other couples, including my sister and BIL, from Greenville, SC, on a long road-trip to visit my brother and family, and to visit the Gettysburg battlefield. The idea behind this trip started more than two years ago, when I got into a conversation with my sister’s neighbor, Mac. We discovered we are both history nerds with a focus on the Civil War and World War II. Since my brother lives in Mechanicsburg, about 45 minutes from Gettysburg, the idea of a road trip emerged. It just took us two years to get it all together.

The Gettysburg experience was fantastic. Both Mac and I agreed that while we spent the better part of two days at the battlefield, we definitely left plenty of material for future visits.

The relatively new visitor’s center in the park is fantastic. My brother was a little concerned it might not be worth the $10 admission fee. It was worth that and more. You start off with a movie about the battle. Then you follow it up with the “Cyclorama” which is much cooler than it sounds. You finish up in the museum, which is worth the price of admission all on its own.

The battlefield is very cool. On the second day, we joined a Ranger for one of their walking programs. He was great – informative, funny, entertaining.

On Sunday, brother and SIL treated us to Sunday brunch at the Hershey Hotel. Wow! I’ve been to my share of Sunday brunch buffets before, but this one knocked our socks off. It was so varied and so good, it makes you feel a little guilty for indulging. It was the only meal any of us ate that day. On a scale of one to ten, this was a 20.

The only downside of the trip was the long drive. Mrs. P and I drove to Greenville on Wednesday afternoon and then we all piled into my sister’s Expedition for the nine and a half hour trip to Mechanicsburg. It is interesting how different people experience trips like this. If you put me in a semi-comfortable seat for a long drive, I’m happy as a clam. When I’m not driving, I read; I nap; I look at the scenery. Mrs. P, on the other hand, wants to claw her eyes out. To her credit, she was very good on this trip, even though we took the ride back all in one day. (We left Mechanisburg at 6:30 am and arrived home at Casa Poolman at 8:30 pm.) However, she is not looking forward to getting back into the car for another road trip.