Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Dynasty Continues

 

phil-robertson-p11I didn’t exactly stay glued to my computer or TV to keep track of the minute-to-minute developments over Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, but it has been an amusing holiday diversion. Some thoughts…

I’m not sure why anyone was so shocked. His comments on gay sex and gay marriage are certainly out of vogue with popular culture these days. However, they do reflect a stance that was considered conventional wisdom until just the very recent past. Let us remember, the idea of gay marriage was a fringe concept until just the last few years.

Some complained about the loss of “freedom of speech” and cited the First Amendment without having a clue what the concept entails. As it relates to a case like this, the Freedom of Speech clause in the First Amendment protects a person’s right to state his opinion. It offers no protection against the reaction to those comments. I can call those people morons all I want, but I should be prepared for a negative response.

If your fame and fortune rests on your intangible image in popular culture, then you really should be very careful about protecting that image. The same thing happened with our neighbor Paula Deen.

When you develop a vaccine to prevent breast cancer, you can rest on your accomplishment and say anything you want. Your spot in history is still reserved by your accomplishments. However, when you have no tangible foundation, your public image is like a filled balloon. Everything is fine until someone comes along with a pin. I think this applies only partially to Phil, because I’m not sure he really cares one way or the other. Remember, this is a guy who gave up on a potential NFL career because the season interfered with hunting season. If Duck Dynasty were to go away, he still has the duck call business that got the whole thing started.

It is no surprise that A&E kissed and made up. Let’s face it, DD is the only thing that makes A&E stand out in a field of second-tier cable networks. Think about it. Without DD, what is A&E?

It’s that network that runs “Law and Order” marathons. No, that’s TNT.

How about the network that runs old movies. No, that’s AMC.

Wait! It’s the network that runs those syrupy melodramas for women. No, that’s Lifetime.

I know. It’s the network that shows people how to fix up and sell their home. No, that HGTV. (Mrs. Poolman’s favorite channel, by the way.)

Get the picture? A&E sure did.

A quiet, but enjoyable Christmas

Happy Boxing Day, as they might say in the UK!

We had a simple and quiet Christmas here at Casa Poolman. I am about half way through a week-and-a-half long holiday break. Within the University System, we bunch several holidays in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and close down the institute for a week. I added a couple of  vacation days to that run, so I will have off from the Saturday before Christmas through New Year’s Day. I love it.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Poolman is not so lucky. This was the year she was scheduled to work 12-hour shifts both Christmas Eve and Christmas. It stinks, but what can you do?

I spent the first half of Tuesday putzin’ around and taking care of last-minute Christmas preps. My CCD class provided the readers for a short Christmas Pageant during the 4 o’clock Mass. Everyone we were expecting showed up, and more-or-less on time. Yea! Last year, we had one child who missed all but one practice, but we agreed to let him participate after his mother called up and practically begged us to do so. Then “mom” failed to deliver him on time. We rearranged the readers to cover his slot, but he came running up just as we were walking into church for the start of Mass. I don’t blame the child, but the mom taught us a lesson we won’t forget.

No such drama this year. Our students all did great. After constant encouragement, they all read loud enough that the congregation could actually here them. Yea again!

Our reader team.

Our reader team.

Mrs. P got home around 8 o’clock and we split a pizza for dinner. Very fancy.

On Christmas morning, I got up and drove about 45 minutes out in the country to my daughter’s in-laws. Brad and Annie are great. It was very nice of them to invite me out for Christmas brunch. Writer Princess is very lucky (and so are we) that she has such a great set of in-laws. They a house on several acres out in the boonies. Annie has taken to raising livestock. She has turkeys, chickens, “runner ducks,” guinea fowl and goats. The highlight of yesterday’s visit were two week-old baby goats.  Very cute!

"Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!

“Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!”

Inquisitive goat.

“So what did you get for me?”

Back home in the early afternoon and started preps for dinner. I planned on a boneless rib-eye roast, twice-baked potatoes, green bean bundles and creamed pearl onions (Mrs. P’s creation ahead of time.) Everything went well, even the green-bean bundles, which were a little more effort than I originally planned.

Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm and I handed her a vodka and tonic. The rest of our dinner guests included son, girlfriend, daughter, son-in-law, and son-in-law’s brother. I planned to take a picture of the meal, but, frankly, I was so wrapped up in getting it all together when it was time to serve, I just forgot.

Some friends/neighbors walked down as we were finishing dinner. We all gathered in the family room to open presents and visit.

Gathered around

Gathered around

...visiting.

…visiting.

I wish Mrs. P had been around for more of the activities, but given the circumstances, it was a pretty nice holiday.

Runaway baby Jesus

My 5th grade CCD class has been busy since the Thanksgiving break preparing for our Christmas pageant. My class provides the readers for a fairly simple production. They read the Christmas story, while the third grade class acts out the drama, dressed as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and so on. We have had three practices, and so far, while it won’t be a Broadway production, it won’t be a fiasco either. But it did come close.

Initially, one of the co-teachers volunteered her one-year old son to play the role of the baby Jesus. This was not a great idea. Young Brady was entirely too much into crawling and pulling himself up on anything that was handy. One of the third-graders (who is playing Mary) is disabled and has a motorized wheelchair. Brady pulled himself up onto the front of the chair and grabbed onto the control knobs. The chair took off with Brady hanging on for dear life.

It was very exciting.

For about five feet.

Until they ran into a pew.

Fortunately Brady was not hurt, which is what made the incident hilarious. In any case, the child has been cut from the pageant team in favor of a younger, more docile child. I think Brady was disappointed. If he could talk, I think he wanted to say, “That was fun!  Let’s do it again.”

The fifth grade reader team.

The fifth grade reader team.

The big show will be at 4 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. Looking forward to it.

While we are on a Christmas theme, our friends Sam and Beth stopped by the other day with our “adopted grandchildren” Helen and Brittany. Mrs. Poolman and I got them each an animal-theme throw-blanket. One was a frog and the other a monkey. Too cute!

The monkey and frog.

The monkey and frog.

In a deep and dark December

Mrs. Poolman and I are staying home this Christmas season. Both our children live here in town, so the most important family is right here.

This is Mrs. P’s year to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It takes a lot of the merriment out of her holiday. Unfortunately, they can’t just send those preemies and other sick babies home with their parents and tell them to bring them back on the 26th.  I’ll take care of Christmas dinner and hand her a vodka & tonic when she walks through the door around 7:30 pm Christmas evening. It won’t make up for having to work the holidays, but it will ease the unhappiness slightly.

We did make a trek north to visit some of my family in Pittsburgh earlier in the month. My father lives there, along with my youngest sister. We picked up another sister, Maggie, along the way and my brother, Dave, and his wife drove over from Mechanicsburg for the weekend. So Dad had four of his five children there for the weekend. The missing sister had visited just the week before.

We arrived in Pittsburgh just as the day-long rain was turning to sleet and ice.

This is the front of my Dad's townhouse. Brrrr!

This is the front of my Dad’s townhouse. Brrrr!

My car is not used to snow.

My car is not used to snow.

By Pennsylvania standards, this was not even a minor inconvenience, but Mrs. P and I were reminded of how happy we are to live in coastal Georgia. I am really glad that many of the people who live in the northern states enjoy it there. Otherwise, things would sure get crowded down here.

Love those sappy Christmas commercials!

I am a total sucker for those sappy TV commercials that come on this time of year. Hallmark has always produced some classics. No slap-job :30 second spots for them. Running up to two minutes or more, these are little micro-dramas are fully intended to produce a little warm spot in the coldest of hearts. The Publix grocery store chain has produced some very nice ones lately, mostly with small children. And this year, Apple has joined the crowd with a really excellent effort. Here are a couple of good ones from this year, and one oldie-but-goldie Hallmark spot from years past.

Set my turtle free!

I had the chance to go on a pretty neat science cruise the week after Thanksgiving.

It all started a couple of weeks earlier when I received a call from the director of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. It seemed they had a loggerhead sea turtle that had outgrown her tank. Because of the cool beach water temperature, they wanted to release her into the Gulf Stream and asked if we could help. I explained that we were not in a position to donate a free sea day on our research vessel. The going rate on the R/V Savannah is around $10k/day. However, in the past, we have helped other groups with similar issues when we had room on board an already-scheduled cruise going to the same area.

As luck would have it, we did have a cruise to the Gulf Stream scheduled, and the scientist who “owned” the cruise graciously allowed the Tybee turtle and her entourage to “piggy back” along. As long as we were going, we also invited the team of four interns from the UGA Aquarium here on our campus, just to give them the experience of an overnight science cruise. I got to go along to shoot video, photos and to generally coordinate with the turtle team and the aquarium interns.

We left our dock at a little after 9 am Monday morning and cruised all day, doing some real science along the way, to our launch point, 82 miles off shore, arriving around 7:30 pm. The loggerhead was lowered over the side in a shrimp basket and, once in the water, she took off without as much as a wave good-bye.

Most of us went to bed fairly early while the crew turned the boat around and headed home. The ten-hour trip got us back to our dock around 6 am.

Here is a YouTube video of the release.