Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas is the time of year

I grew up in a family that put a lot of importance on Christmas. We have always gotten together, shared gifts, eat, and just enjoyed time spent together. I had a
wonderful Christmas every year but one. That is a story unto itself.

When we were growing up, we did not get a toy every time we went to town like lots
of children do now. We didn't even ask because the answer was no. However, when it
came to Christmas we got a ton of toys. Even during years that were really difficult
for my mother and father, we had great Christmas'. In 1982, things were almost as bad
as they are now, but Travis and I never knew it. We had baseball gloves, bicycles, and sticks. Back then, that was all you needed to be happy. But that Christmas we got an Atari! We were the first kids to get an Atari. I also got a BB gun. During the worst financial time of my father's life, we still had a wonderful Christmas.

When I was about 12 or 13 we started decorating our home. We did a little decorating to start with. Then the next year, a little more. Then over the next 20 years, it just got ridiculous. We put up over 50,000 lights a year now. We have Santas, toy soldiers, Charlie Brown kids, Blow up things, and if you stand still in our yard long enough, we will wrap lights around your ass before you know what happened. It is a lot of work. But you know what, we don't put them up for us. Travis and I like them, but sometimes the amount of effort to put them up is overwhelming. We simply put them up for everyone else. If we did not put those lights up one year, a lot of people would be devastated. So, to keep the world a better place, we still put them up.

Our father was someone that everyone would turn to for help. He was easy to talk
to and always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. I can't remember a Christmas that he did not raise money for needy family. For about his last 10 years, every Christmas he would bag fruit and ride around our community and give it to the elderly people in our community. It was amazing how many of them came to his funeral. Its also amazing that almost all of those people are passed away themselves.

Deddy loved the lights. He loved the process and he loved taking a moment to look
at what had been accomplished once we were finished. He loved that fact that others
enjoyed coming down Boyd Brafford Dr. and looking at all the Christmas light.

He is the main reason we still put the lights up. Maybe he does not even know that
we do it. But then again, maybe he does. And if he does, I know he is proud that we
still do it. Not a day goes by that I don't think about and miss my father. And for that, I will probably put those damned lights up for as long as I am physically able. I think I will also always love Christmas as much as he did.

God bless you and your family this Christmas and I hope the New Year brings all of you much prosperity, happiness and many many blessings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Choice

Soon, we have a choice.

I grew up in a family that was completely dependent on the economic status of the housing industry. At times in my life I can remember my mother and father struggling financially. Was it because they were lazy? Was it because they did not put forth enough effort? Of course not. It was because the economy was down and fewer homes were being built.

I can remember 1982. Yes Carolina and Dean Smith won the national championship; but other than that, life was hard. My parents had an incredibly difficult period. My father was still a brick mason and as a child I wondered why in the world he left for work when it was still dark. With the market being down and us living in an area where growth was a premium anyway, he bought a convenience store. What followed was LONG hours, 7 days a week, and $1.50 gas at a time when people were used to .75 a gallon. At that time unlike the last several years, people stopped driving. The store was barely making anything. On top of that, one night we were robbed at a time when $100 was like $10,000 to us.

One evening a man came into the store and says "Bob, I'm moving to Louisiana to work on an oil rig". After some contemplation, my father decided to go with him and find out more about the opportunity. He landed in Houma, LA and decided that opportunity was better than no job at all back home. For several months, we lived without my father. My mother ran the store and again, we did the best we could. Then after it became unbearable for our family to be apart, we all moved to be with him. Those were some of the most terrible months of my life. I learned what it was like to be an outsider at school. A few ass whoopings after I got there, the other kids left me alone. We all felt like we had moved to Sudan and had no way of communicating. So, after about 5 months and the new school year fast approaching, they decided to move back home. Only I did not know that deddy was going back alone.

When he went back, his brothers and some of their friends went with him to Alabama and they watched the Talladega 500 together. After the race, they begged him to come home but he insisted it was just the best thing to do. He had not left them but a few hours and the motor blew in his truck. After his motor was rebuilt, he continued to Louisiana. He never talked much about it, but that had to be the loneliest ride in the history of the world. He arrived in Louisiana and said, "You know what, to hell with this" and he turned around and drove home.

They had rented our house while we were gone to make ends meet. So, instead of forcing the renter to move, we moved in with our great grandparents, Grannie and Papa Ferrell. They had a tiny two bedroom home. Mama and deddy slept in one bedroom, they slept in another, I slept on the couch, and Travis slept on the loveseat. But you know what, we were home dammit, and that's all that mattered.

As unbelievable as all this seems, it did get worse. A couple of months after we were home, the house that we had called home that was being rented, burned to the ground. We didn't lose everything because we were not living there. But mama had stored a bunch of things in the basement closets while we were away. Not anything of real value, but memories that would have lasted a lifetime.

Now I know what you are thinking...."Damn, what's next, all their dogs died?, a meteor killed our whole family?, an angry midget jumped on Grannie Ferrell at Winn Dixie and gave her rabies?"...but that's not what happened. I recall coming home from school one day and we got in the car with mama and she said "I have a surprise for you, your deddy started digging the footing for a new house today. I think he's lost his damned mind, but nevertheless, he has started a new house". He worked on that house himself more than he ever worked on a house at anytime. He would work during the day, then he would work on the house all night. To be honest with you, it is unbelievable how he was able to do it, but he did. Mama worked on it, family and friends helped, and 6 months later, we had another house. His worked picked up, and gradually over the next 10 years, life got better all the time.

You may be wondering what this article has to do with anything? But it does. It has to do with now. My point is, our country is really in a crisis. I talk to people everyday that won't to blame somebody else. Our economy has significant problems, we have asked our military to give years of their lives to a difficult and challenging war, families are struggling like they haven't since the early 80's, it seems every other country around the world is pissed of at the US, and it seems to me that some people are more interested in disagreeing than they are in finding common ground on almost every issue.

But I still believe in America. I am grateful that I was born here. We were built on the unique character of the various individuals from all over the world. Sure we have problems, sure I disagree with some of the way things are done here, but we are still America. I can get in my car, drive to the store, and I probably will not be blown up by a car bomb or have my damned head sawed off with a dull knife. My wife does not have look like a ghost on Halloween to walk outside so that she is not lined up on a wall while people stone her to death. Everybody has a chance here. Does that chance vary from person to person? Sure it does, but that is just life. I had a teacher's aid in the third grade that taught piano lessons. I once asked her if she could give me lessons. She said no, her schedule was full. I knew even then as a child that she looked at me as poor white trash. She could deny that all she wanted, but that was the reason. Little did that bitch know that one day I could grow up, do good in school, graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and actually make a life for myself. She thought I would work in a run-down garage, have greasy ass hands, and my name tag would have the nickname she imagined for me.."Goober". She didn't think I had a chance, but I did. So, some things change. But I imagine her ass is still big, she has about 1 friend and that's a cat named "Zippy", and she's still a bitch. Some things stay the same.

We soon have a choice that will have serious ramifications for our nation. I know, I know...if you are a democrat reading this, the republicans suck. However, if you are republican reading this, the democrats suck. If you are Libertarian, you can't make a decision, so everybody sucks. But I implore you to vote. Don't just vote, but vote your conscious, and vote for candidates that you think will be the best for our nation, state, and even locally. I'm not even suggesting that you vote for any one person, I am just telling you to vote. Some of the candidates that I have voted for in the past have won and been really good, some have not been so good. Some of the candidates that I have voted for have lost, and the person that was elected did OK, and some didn't do good at all. Our right to vote in a democratic society is a privilege. There are countries all over the world that are older than the US by thousands of years that have yet to develop a relevant way to function and live as a society. To me, that is ridiculous. People hate America because our society allows for opportunity. I realize that we have problems, and we have things that could certainly be approved. But when you think about our problems, think about other countries. You think our dollar is weak?....I can buy a Coca Cola in Jamaica for a quarter, or $43,000,000 in Jamaican money. Think our government is screwed up?...Consider that Pakistan is working hard to develop nuclear weapons while at the same time, some of their citizens have polio. Zimbabwe has a leader that has become the king and attempted to kill the one guy that was going to run against him. Only Cuba has a nation built around democracy, respects the middle class, and provides a wonderful environment to live out a long fruitful life.....and I am typing this as I ride through the 5th dimension on my unicorn. You think we should drill offshore? You think we should utilize wind for energy? Want to insists that car companies make ALL cars more efficient? Want oil companies to not be able to charge us whatever they like? Want regulations in place so that people need to actually be qualified before someone loans them money? Want your taxes to be fair and reasonable? Want your small business to be given opportunity and not be hindered by stupid regulations and unfair taxes? How about schools? want people in place that are supportive of the school system? Well, its simple, get off your ass and vote.

I am optimistic that as a nation, even though we don't agree, if we all vote, there is a greater chance that our choice will be a good one. I think that we are going to come out of this slump we are in. We did in 1982, we did during the recession in 1991, and we will this time. Believe me, nobody hopes that more than I do.

Soon, we have a number of key choices to make.....try to make a good one each time you vote for a candidate to fill a political office. I know what a lot of you are probably thinking "I really think K-Rob should run for office". However, the problem with that would be I would immediately start passing out ass whoopings and lollipops, and guess what....I'm fresh out of lollipops.

So vote for your town, county, city, state, and nation. Vote for your kids, your wife or husband, your parents, or the future of your family. Vote because you believe in democracy and you are still proud to be an American. But most of all, just vote dammit because I said so.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Two Years, Too Long in the Making" by Russell Moore

First, let me thank a long-time friend, K-Rob Brafford, for lending space on his website so that I could write my first-ever blog entry. Maybe one day I’ll even learn how to use an iPod and drive a stick-shift car (don’t hold your breath on that last one).

A few years ago, I would wake up bleary-eyed at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings to accompany the now ex-girlfriend to her triathlons. Just a faithful spectator with a camera, and something to read for those long stretches when she and other friends would disappear from the transition area to the race course. But one thing surprised me and made me laugh every time I saw it. Why were so many of these people so nervous before the event, sprinting to the bathroom so fast it looked like they were trying to qualify for the race itself? After all, these were some of the healthiest, fastest people I’ve ever seen. They were ready. Why the butterflies?

Then in 2005 I raced in my first triathlon and felt what they always felt, no doubt in large part to the three- and four-foot seas I saw in the ocean when I walked past the dunes to the starting point. I still haven’t been able to shake the butterflies, though mine aren’t nearly as bad as the ones others experience. Now I just wish I had been able to feel the butterflies more in the last two years.

To put it mildly, 2005 could have ended better, and as spring 2006 continued its endless grind and office-work piled up to overwhelming heights, I decided that training for another triathlon would be one way to distract me and pull me from the wreckage of my personal and professional life. I set my sights on the Sandestin Triathlon: a half-mile swim, 20-mile bicycle ride, and a four-mile run. Just long enough to test my physical ability and my mental resolve, both of which had waned too much by that point in time. Within two months, I was slowly improving and the goal was slowly coming into focus. When my 5K running time unexpectedly dropped more than two minutes, it changed my mindset from thoughts of You can do this to You Will Do This, and Faster Than You Thought.

Then, six weeks before the race, a fall in a creek bed during a hike in North Carolina sidelined me for three weeks. Though I was lucky I didn’t break my neck or back, I remember feeling more disappointed that Sandestin would have to wait another year. I later finished a sprint triathlon that fall, but it was no consolation for what my clumsiness had cost me. Increasing the training and weightlifting for two months, I felt better than ever – until one day I felt abdominal pain and had to stop almost all physical activity. Though my doctor disagreed with me, I knew it was a hernia. Another surgeon later told me I had torn two spots in my abdominal wall. How ironic, I thought, in getting my body in the best shape of my life, I’ve broken it.

Postponing surgery seven months for an office that couldn’t function unless I gave my heart and soul to it day and night, I still held out hope that I could recover in time to compete in the 2007 Sandestin race. But recovery was slow and painful, and once again I had to cancel my best intentions. Then doubts arose in my mind. Will you ever be able to finish another triathlon? Why were you cursed with so little athleticism and durability? If you start training again, what will go wrong next time, and will you be able to handle it again?

It took several more months, with fits and starts, before I could consistently train and handle the same physical demands I exacted on myself two years ago. Slowly but surely, I began achieving what I used to do – and a little more. Over the long run, practice went according to plan – despite slowdowns for a strained back, strained shoulder, bronchitis, and two bouts of heat exhaustion that have apparently reduced my tolerance for high temperatures and humidity. Registered and ready for the 2008 Sandestin Triathlon, all I had to do was execute. My parents were ready to meet me there and watch the race, and two close friends told me later that they were going to drive all the way to Destin and surprise me. It would be a fitting milestone on the weekend before my 35th birthday. At least that’s what I thought.

I couldn’t decide what was more ridiculous: the fact that Tropical Storm Faye was over Destin the very day I was supposed to race, or that she followed the same path from Orlando to Destin that I would have taken. What odds. Now I know that Sandestin is a cursed race for me, and its cancellation put me in a foul mood, to say the least. Six months of work, and no chance to prove myself in one of Florida’s most popular USA Triathlon competitions. At that point, saying you tried is not enough, you have to actually do it and finish it.

So without hesitation, feeling stubborn as hell, I registered for an end-of-season race to try and make up for more than two years of frustrations and cancellations. One last chance for this year to finally get it right, and it happens this Sunday – God forbid the weather turns on me again. The race is longer than I originally bargained for – the swim is almost a mile long, the cycling route more than 24 miles, and the run is 6.2 miles. I’ve had to accelerate my training schedule and push my body more than I wanted just to have a chance to finish the race, but thankfully it has held up so far. Two things fuel the motivation to double the length of my longest-ever swim, run two more miles than I ever could, and cycle a course with two causeways. First, a sense of urgency will move you forward quickly when you only have six weeks to prepare. But just as important is where I will race – Melbourne – where I was born and raised. The course is two miles from the houses I grew up in. I’ll swim next to the library where my mother used to take me every week, and the civic center where my father used to take me to toy-train shows. Then cycle past the house where my grandmother lived and helped care for me, and over the causeway my father and I used to cross on our old beach cruisers. Recalling these memories, now more than twenty years old but still vivid in my mind like they happened yesterday, it’s only natural to think You’ve waited too long, and worked harder than you ever have – Don’t screw this up in your hometown.

If it ends the way I want, what is ordinary for hundreds of thousands of triathletes will be a significant accomplishment and a redemption of sorts for me, if only for one day. I wasn’t built for this kind of thing. Twenty years ago, my asthma was bad enough that my doctor excused me from running a single mile within the national standards used in my physical education class. I can still remember how hard it was to finish that one mile, which seemed to go on forever. On Sunday, I have a chance to cover 31 miles of water and land without stopping. A chance, 30 or 40 years from now, to pick up a photograph of me crossing the finish line and look back on what I accomplished. To anyone who ever doubted me – like the interviewer who offered the job to someone else, or the woman who made me feel insignificant and unworthy of her time – a chance to say F**k you. I can do this, and you can’t.

At last, when the race official blows the whistle on Sunday and releases us to dive in the water, I’ll feel the butterflies and crush them all at the same time. Just the way I want, just not the way I originally planned.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago.

In October of 1999 my father went to the doctor with a virus. I didn't even think anything of it. I mean, this was the man that I knew could chew up barbwire and spit out BB's. I knew the doctor would identify some simple virus, give him some medicine and a week later he would be mowing his grass. But it wasn't to be.

I was working in Raleigh selling real estate. Things were going great. I was finishing up the day, changed into my gym clothes and left my office. I was on the 440 beltline in Raleigh and I called home just to see what the doctor said. My mother told me two things that day that I can remember in my mind like it was 5 minutes ago. She said my father had cancer. Then she said that it was in his liver and if it was the particular strand they thought it was, he would not suffer. That's because he would not live long.

My father was further diagnosed and he went into UNC-Chapel Hill for a surgery with the optimism they could remove the cancer. But no, the cancer was embedded in the middle of his liver and was inoperable. They told us that if they had tried to remove it, he would have bled to death. My family was devastated. Hell, I fainted.....I have never fainted before or since. My mother was in shambles. But the doctor told us that he had been heavily sedated, so we could gather our thoughts for the next morning. He was awake in an hour. Nobody was in an emotional state to go in and talk to him. So, I did. He didn't say hardly anything. He had complications, felt terrible, and several aggravating things happened the next several days. Nine days later, we brought him home.

Deddy told me that for the first 3 days out of surgery, he really felt as if Satan himself was trying to distort his mind. But he made his mind up that he was going to accept his fate, fight all he could, and live the best life he could with the time he had left. And that's exactly what he did.

We went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and he was accepted into an experimental program with a medicine that was only a number to us. It didn't save his life, but I truly believe it probably quadrupled the time he had left. The doctors and staff were wonderful and I will forever be grateful to them.

We could see his gradual decline even though he did great, given the circumstances. He actually worked until May of 2000, driving himself around. After that, one of us always drove him. Even though the situation was difficult, we still had some great quality times with deddy. The medicines he took the last several months were really strong. Morphine was one of the main medicines he took. On a few occasions, it would affect his mind just a little. For instance, he asked me questions several different times in which I simply answered him, but he thought I was being a smart ass. He would quickly reply, "Don't you answer me like that, I might be sick, but I can still kick your ass!". I quickly assured him that I knew he could, but I was really only answering his question and was not being a smart-ass. He would be content with that explanation and just reply "alright then".

My best friend, Jason McPherson, had planned a trip with his father and his brother. They had planned that trip for some time and were going to travel across the country. The last time we went to Johns Hopkins, they gave us some very grim news. Without a divine intervention, he would not be here much longer. My father was not in the room with us when they told us that and I was glad. He already knew, he didn't have to hear it. I was torn as to whether or not I should tell Jason this news. I didn't want to ruin his trip, but I didn't want him to not be here when my father died and be upset with me for not telling him. So, I decided I had to tell him and encourage him to not change his plans. So, one afternoon I rode over to his house and let him know just how grim the situation was. I remember sitting on his front porch and both of us crying like we were kids. He said there was no way he could go on the trip, and they didn't.

That same buddy got married last Saturday. I am one of the significant reasons they got together. Friday night, we went out and had a few drinks and just sat around and talked. When nobody was really paying attention, he handed me a dollar. He told me that he would tell me about the dollar the next day. Sure enough, the next day as I was getting ready, he came into the room. He said that he had gotten that dollar with the "Where's George" stamp on it a short time before they were to take their trip, eight years ago. You can track the dollar online to see where it goes all over the world. He had planned on spending the dollar when he went with his father and brother on their trip. However, he said after the afternoon that I told him deddy's circumstances were grim, he could not bring himself to spend it. He kept that dollar in his wallet and I know every time he opened it, he thought about my father. He actually told me that in some strange way, he thought it brought him luck. He said several times in his life since then, when certain things went his way, he would look in his wallet and that dollar would be staring at him and he thought of my father.

My brother Travis and I did the same thing on Father's Day we have done since our father died. We go play golf together that morning. I thought about that dollar about as much as I thought about my father. In a world where everyone wants as many dollars as they can accumulate, I have one that means more than all of the others. I have one that is lucky for some reason. I have one that Jason McPherson gave me as a token of his friendship and as an honor to my father. I'm not writing this story to make you feel sympathy or sorrow, nor do I want the story to be about me. I'm writing this story for people to know what a great guy Jason is. That's why I want you to send it to as many people as you can and ask them to do the same. For some reason he folded that dollar up and put it in a safe place within his wallet until he gave it to me. A dollar that I will keep and guard with my life.

A dollar that Jason put in his wallet.....eight years ago.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Primary 2008

Seriously, it is May 1 and I am sick of the election process. Should we just elect a King?

Here is what I want. Let's pick out the 10 most important things we care about. Taxes, the war, the economy, health care, etc. Then we will have the candidates fill out a form to see where they stand. Ok, ok, I know, if I go to their websites, I can find this information. However, the calamity of trying to run each other in the ground often becomes more important than what the candidate stands for.

How many of you are tired of watching TV and EVERY damned commercial is a political ad. I want the candidates commercials to say "this is why I am great". I don't really give a damn about what they think of each other. Seriously, do any of us give a damn if George Bush likes Al Gore? How about Hillary and Obama? Is it going to help me sleep better at night if they become friends. I don't care if they tie themselves together and fight to the death with plastic picnic knives.

The one thing that I do love about the elections is how many experts it creates. I mean, Rush is one smart, oxycontin taking son-of-a-bitch. I get so tired of the extremist on both sides I could throw up. "We have enough oil in Montana to power America for 100 years, but the liberalist will not let us drill there?" What in the hell are you talking about? If we have a supply like that, I say we drill our asses off! Then, let's make a new goal....over the next 100 years, let's see if we can TRY to come up with some great idea for energy besides oil.

I tell you what discourages me. A common man or woman will never be President of the United States. To be honest, I doubt you could even get to be a senator. How much money would the candidates that have ran this year be worth if they pooled their money? How about a tetra-metra-gazillion. That is how much.

What if we could have the best minds, the most reasonably thinking citizens to run for president that would represent the best interest of the United States? Its a great thought, but it will never happen.

But you know what? I turned 35 last year. So look over your shoulder America, K-Rob is peaking around the corner. Do you know what that means? That means I could be president. Do you know what that means? That means a lot of things. Crime would be at an all time low with a slogan of "The Bullshit is Over". You commit a crime, your ass is grass and I'm a damned John Deere lawn mower with racing fuel. You commit a horrendous crime, guess what, the trial last about 10 minutes and then you get the chair. The days of feeling sorry for the criminal just ended. Taxes would be fair, reasonable, and used appropriately. We would make every effort not to have every country besides Canada hating us. "Oil is how much a barrel?, Oh, ok then I guess you want us to shut down our military base and come the hell home?, ok, Hey by the way, good luck with your new best friends Iran and Syria" What in the hell is an earmark? A what? You get 600 million dollars for stuff in your state because you are old? Don't think so.

So I guess we'll just hang in there and mull through the political commercials. It's kind of like a hemorrhoid, its a pain in the ass, but we just have to put up with it. Hopefully, we as a nation will make the right decision for all of us.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Well, here we go. I need a topic to consider. Karl wants me to save the economy, Russell wants me to never speak to him again, Woody can't hear enough, V-Rob is dying to a review of "Silence of the Lambs" through my brain, and Belinda just thinks I'm drunk.

So, where are we? Why do midgets hate me? Global Warming? Was Bugs Bunny gay? The next president? I need to know what you need from me.

So...again, let's hear it. I, in turn, will respond.

Your Pal,


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Well, here we go. I'm not sure where this will carry us but I am sure it will be a strange but interesting journey.

Let me go ahead and apologize to everyone I am going to offend in some way.

I guess I will just talk about whatever comes to my mind. Woody once told me that he wished he could just get in my head one day and ride around and listen to my thoughts. So, here is your chance to listen.

Sports, politics, business, idiots, midgets, racists, and any other many topics could be our subject. I may even put some of your articles on here if they are worthy of 0ur mission. And when I know what that mission is, I'll let you know.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. If you have a subject that we need to address, please let me know. Like, did Buffalo Bill really think he looked good with lipstick, a shear nighty, and pressing his manhood between his legs out of sight. I personally think he did not. But that would be an interesting topic.

I look forward to conferring with you and I hope this grows out of control!