Monday, December 7, 2009

Uncle Boyd's Christmas Party

Every Christmas for as far back as I can remember, my father, his brothers and their friends would get together sometime before Christmas and just have a good time. They would cook, enjoy some of Santa's "magic" juice, tell stories about each other, and laugh about life in general.

Of course things would change in 2000 because my father passed away. But it changed not in a bad way, but a different way. We knew how important that party was to everybody and we knew it needed to continue. So, me and Travis insisted the party continue and we started going. As the years have passed a few other friends have earned their right of passage into "Uncle Boyd's Christmas Party".

Now let me make one thing clear. All are not welcome, I assure you. You know how the company you work for, or the school you teach at, or the club you are in is obligated to invite the one or two people nobody wants to come? We don't do that at Uncle Boyd's. You are voted in on merit and your ass can be voted out if you do ANYTHING we don't like. There are no "rights", no union, no court or judge involved. Uncle Boyd is the judge, we are the jury and the buck stops there. I like it that way. A very select group of friends who have all earned their medal.

A man's life is often judged in materialistic ways; how much money he made, how successful he built his business, how many cars he had, and how big his house was. But in reality, these things are not as important when you think about life in a big picture. Things that really are important; how did he treat his family?, how did he treat people in general?, what did he do for his community?, what kind of man was he overall? This theory makes perfect sense if you think about it. I have no idea what Henry Ford was worth when he died, but I know he started Ford Motor Company and revolutionized the auto industry. How much money was Abraham Lincoln worth when he died? Mark Twain? How much money did Mother Teresa earn in her lifetime? You see, nobody cares because it is absolutely irrelevant.

I miss my father everyday. I miss him more at Christmas. If someone could have been a real life Santa Claus, it was him. I cannot remember a Christmas he did not do something good for multiple people. That was his nature. Every year at Uncle Boyd's Christmas Party, he comes up several times. Often times we are laughing, sometimes we are serious, but the times that have always said the most about my father are the times when someone mentions something he did good in his life and everyone just keeps quiet for a few minutes.

My father certainly wasn't rich. But then again, he was. If you measured his life in how much money he made, you would say he had been reasonably successful. But nobody really even considers that. What people remember are things he did good, families he rallied to help at Christmas, second and third chances he gave people, patient advice he offered when asked. They remember his laugh and how friendly he was. They remember how dependable he was, how he treated his family, how he treated his friends. My father's life was measured not by money, but by how many people came to his funeral. The church was packed and people were standing inside and outside the church.

I don't know what people can see in Heaven, I have no idea. But I do think he would be glad we still have Uncle Boyd's Christmas Party every year. He would like it when Tony starts singing Elvis Christmas music, he would laugh about James becoming agitated when he gets confused about the card game going on, he would give Uncle Boyd some of the grief back that Uncle Boyd gives the rest of us, and he would talk to everyone and make everybody feel welcome. That was my father. This will be the 10th Christmas he has not been here and I can remember his voice in my head like we talked yesterday. I know he's happier, I know he's well, but I still miss him. For me, he was the one person I could ALWAYS go to for advice. There have been many times when I had to make a decision alone that I never would have when he was living. But that's life and it goes on no matter what. But what I really hope is that some way, he's able to see Uncle Boyd's Christmas Party and enjoy the good times that we still have.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Ten Commandments

Well, well, well. It's that time of the year again. Spring is coming, flowers are blooming, Easter is just around the corner, and "The Ten Commandments" is once again coming on television!

This of course is my favorite movie of all time. Now, I know for a lot of you that have heard me recite every line from "Silence of the Lambs", that may be somewhat of a surprise. But I think its great. You have to admit, it is one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible and the movie is certainly one of the most dramatic movies of all time.

There are a number of things about the movie that run through my mind each time I watch it. To begin with, the Pharoah and anyone that followed him must have had some sort of learning disability. Now, I can somewhat see the thought process of Pharoah; he had all the wealth, owned the entire city and ruled everyone. But it is still a little hard to believe, that in the end, someone could be that stupid.

Now I am sure Rameses, Pharoah's son, was loving life in the beginning. Here is Moses, the thorn in Rameses' side for so long. His father loved Moses more, his woman wanted Moses to ravage her, and Moses was better at building this great city they were working on. So, when they found out Moses was a slave, don't you know that Rameses was elated! Even then, everyone was ready to accept him. But Moses refused and decided to live amongst the slaves. So then Moses is called by God to be the deliverer and goes to Pharoah to tell him to let the slaves go. Of course Pharoah saw this as preposterous considering they had an army, owned and ruled the city, lived a lavish lifestyle and owned all the slaves. So from there point of view, who was this "God" that Moses worshipped.

At this point in the movie, things start to get crazy. Pharoah dies and Rameses becomes the big chief on the throne. I always contemplate, what if I was one of the Egyptian guards? It would be like this..."Ok, check this out Rameses, you have an army and complete power and this guy has a stick. You threw snakes at him and his stick turned into a snake and ate your snakes. I haven't had a drink of water in forever because its all blood now. Frogs, gnats, and locust have eaten everything but your wife's eyebrows. We all have boils all over us and its hailing fire. And oh yeah, by the way, its been so dark for 3 days that I can't see my hand in front of my face. Seriously, I realize that your logic has been altered since you went on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and they told you that a long pony tail on one side of your head would be a strong look for you and your son. But you keep talking to that black statue with a bird's head on it. What has he done so far? Stand there and look stupid while the God that Moses worships kicks your ass? I think so. Therefore, here is my sword and my armor. I am putting on one of those potato sack robes and I am going with Moses because his God is God!" The story would be very different if I lived back them.

But as the movie moves forward from all of that, Rameses' brain gets smaller. Moses TELLS HIM, "the next plague brought onto Egypt will come from your mouth". But super, duper smart Rameses says, "Oh yeah, anymore plagues brought on to us, and I'll kill the first born of every Hebrew family". This is my part again "Hey Pharoah, are you trying to be stupid? Yeah, remember me? I was in your army last week but I wised up pretty quick. You sure you don't want to take that back?" And Rameses says "Nope, I am super smart". What happens? A mean, green fog of death floats through Egypt and kills all of the first born of Egyptian families. THEN, he lets the slaves go. "Well, way to go Pharoah! See, it didn't really take that much to convince you!?"

Next thing you know, the city is cleared out. They were all gone. What was Rameses doing? Worshipping the bird head man to bring his son back to life. At this point I'm thinking "Really?, that's your plan?". Of course his beautiful wife who loved him so comes in, mocks him, and DARES him to chase the slaves down and kill Moses. You would think at this point he would say, "Nefertari, why don't you shut that windsock that keeps flapping in the wind before I go postal." But no, he says, "Oh yeah, I'll chase Moses down and bring his blood back on my sword!" Did the burning bush cause him to reconsider? Nope. Did it cross his mind that it might not be a real good idea to send his entire army into the sea that God divided for the slaves to cross through? Nope.

So, after watching his army destroyed by the sea and the slaves shooting off fireworks on the other side, Pharoah goes home with his gimpy horse. And what does
his sweet wife ask? "Where is the blood of Moses?" Once again, if I could be in this scene, this would be my response..."Ummmm, Nefi, check this case you didn't notice, you just suffered through 10 plagues. Your little boy is deceased. All the slaves have hit the trail, and just to make you aware of what is actually going on, Rameses left here a few days ago with 10,000 soldiers. Unless I have severe cataracts, it appears that he has come home with just his horse and one of Willie Nelson's braids hanging off the side of his head. Does it appear to you that he rode back in with a posture of victory, or of a whooped dog? If he has the blood of Moses on his sword, he found one of his worn out band-aids from that long desert walk and he rubbed the blood on his sword. Moses asked God to divide the ocean, walked through, then walked up the mountain to talk to God. So, you and "silly hair" can go over there and talk to birdman."

But the stupidity does not end there of course. After being in slavery for hundreds of years, then freed, then seeing the burning bush protect them, then walking through the middle of a divided sea, and finally reaching the other side, the people were becoming restless. I have to slap myself to understand this. So Moses goes up the mountain to directly talk to God and be given the 10 Commandments. But guess what, Nathan convinces the people that they need a gold bull to worship. At this point I am saying "What in the wide world of sports is going on?" So then its an all out party. That is until Moses walks back down the mountain with the commandments. My character would now be yelling "I told ya'll he was going to be one angry Hebrew!" So, Moses throws the commandments at them and a ruckous ensues killing many of the people who had turned to sin.

But Moses finally is thinning them out by the end and they are walking like a normal group toward the promise land. But Moses doesn't make it. It is time for him to ride the golden escalator. He got the group there, and then it is up to them. This is why I love this movie.

For most people, you have parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches etc. that make an
effort to guide you and give you good advice. Now I know some adults are not good role models and actually are harmful to children. However, many of us do have people around us to give good advice. Somewhere along the line, we all have at least one person that reaches out to us and attempts to help us follow the right path through life. But just like the end of the "10 Commandments", someone can lead you to the promise land and show you where its at, but the decision is up to you from that point on as to what kind of life you decide to lead.

Have a wonderful Easter and enjoy the the "10 Commandments".

Monday, April 6, 2009

I understand why some other schools hate us. We hate donkeys. Why do we hate donkeys? Because we kick ass.

When I was a kid growing up, I quickly grew to love playing ball. I loved baseball, basketball, and football. I was actually in Houma, LA the night Carolina won Dean Smith's first National Championship in the Superdome. It was crazy. I really wanted to be there but my father could not get tickets. But I watched that game with certain passion. In the end of course, a freshman named Michael Jordan won my allegiance with a last second shot. As I watched Dean Smith hugging his players, I was more glad for him than I was anyone. I just knew he had to be a really nice man. After that game, I knew UNC was where I was going. When it was time for me to start applying to colleges, I applied to one.

My time at UNC was incredible. If you enjoy sports, the time I was there was the greatest ever. We had great teams in men's and women's basketball, women's soccer, football, and multiple other sports in which we had great teams. We won the Men's national championship in basketball, the women's national championship in basketball with a last second three pointer,the woman's soccer team one 4 national championships, and the football team won several bowl games and climbed into one of the top 15 programs in America. It was great.

When you go to UNC or even if you are just a fan, there is an allegiance that exist like no other. Carolina fans worry about Carolina athletics. Most of the other ACC schools worry about there own school first, but immediately worry about Carolina. The concept of the "ABC" (Anybody but Carolina) is very real. We have always been the ONE team, that all of the other schools worry about and hate. Most of the ACC schools consider us their MAIN rival. I had a State fan to actually email after the ACC tournament to give me grief about Carolina NOT winning the ACC tournament. See my point?? State did not make into the NIT tournament, but he was more worried about what Carolina was doing. In case you're keeping score, he has had a bad day since the spring of 1983.

But it is great to be a Tarheel. We don't have the best team every year, but we almost always have at least a good chance to win. Some fans have argued with me on occasion that they would rather not get to the final four than lose. I usually congratulate them on their schools achievement of almost never putting them in that situation. I mean really, think about it...DOOK has had much success over the last 20 years, but other than that, you can add up the accomplishments of all the other ACC teams combined and you will not get the pedigree that Carolina has created.

As I watched the National Championship, I realized how historical the game was. It is not very likely that Carolina will make a run through the tournament like they did this year. We won every game by a comfortable margin. They had a well balanced game plan, every player made considerable contributions, and they probably played the best defense they had played all year. So let's sit back, relax and enjoy the fact that we have so much to be proud of. Just enjoy that the fact that it's a great day to be a Tarheel.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

K-Rob's State of the Union

Good evening Americans.

Tonight I come to you with a lot on my mind. I don't understand some of the things our country is dealing with right now. I don't understand why we let some of the things we allow to happen. I want to address some of them tonight.

To start with, our economy is certainly in a critical and fragile state. Its hard to believe that with a country that has the economic diversity that exist in the United States, we could ever get in the situation we are in. It is unbelievable that so many occupations, so many professions, and so many industries in general are tanking but I do not believe any one person or one group is to blame.

We have had incredible success as a nation. To think that 1776 is the official beginning of our nation, its astonishing to consider what we have accomplished. We are one of the youngest industrialized nations in the world and we have found vast success. However, if some things do not change, society as we know could change considerably in the years to come.

Multiple factions of our economy is in shambles. Look at the auto industry; now think about how often you hear someone say, "I'm getting me a Ford Focus or a Chevy Malibu". No, they are debating a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. So, here is the pitch from the "Big 3"....

"We have made an inferior product for the past 25 years and we knew it. Many faithful Americans have grown weary of many of the models that we produce and now buy foreign automobiles. Although, our vehicles have advanced in almost every way, we have not been able figure out a way to get considerably better gas mileage. We really feel bad about that, so could you please give us $50 billion?"

I have not bought anything in Wal-Mart in five years that says "Made in America". Is that because we are not capable of producing these things? No, its because other countries pay their workers .50 an hour and we pay people $65 an hour to press a button all day. Now, with the various "free-trade" agreements, we are losing jobs everyday. You can go on EBAY right now, order a pair of shoes from China that would cost you $125 and buy them for $20. Even with shipping and handling being $25, you still get them for less than half. I bought a pair of Air Jordans several years ago and paid $15 for them. The point is, if you can pay $20 for a pair of shoes, what are they paying to make them?.....$3?

The industry I like the best is banking. Now I know a lot of bankers that are good people to do business with. But seriously, we bail out a bank and they give everyone a bonus or take them on a trip? They are getting ready to beat a 75 year old widow's ass in Saudi Arabia because she had two young men to bring her a loaf of bread. I mean really, what in wide world of sports is going on? Bernie Madoff was being punished by staying in an $7.5 penthouse while he worked out a deal to tell every damned thing he knows. You know what Bernie's new nickname is since he has been "allegedly" laundering money for organized crime, including Russian and Italian mob?? BULLSEYE You know that $62 million that his wife wants to keep because she so wisely invested her own money to build up her own investment portfolio? They need to divide that money up, along with any other money they find around the world,then based on the percent that each individual lost, and give them all some money back. Let Bernie be the damned greeter at a grocery stored for $8 an hour, instead of some poor guy he duped.

Another issue at hand is the criticism of our president. Now, I am not saying that we should agree with everything each president supports or proposes. However, I do not agree with every issue becoming politically partisan. Are you 100% against the stimulus package? Ok, but I don't think doing nothing is the right thing either. Do I believe that we should have spent $95 million going back 2 administrations for the study of what products that can be produced with trees? Not a chance. But I do believe in spending money domestically before I believe in this: The sad truth is, it has become apparent to me that no bill is passed without multiple senators getting grants or funding for pet projects in their respective states. "You want me to vote for a bill?....Ok, we need $15 million to study the exact path of several species of birds that fly through our state going south." Often times, you find out there is a REASON the senator wants that grant. You later find out it was for a contributor, or a cousin, or a buddy etc.

I am 100% in support of our troops. They should be commended for the sacrifices they have made in the last 8 years. Their families should also be commended. Many of them have also made a lot of money as a result of the war; combat pay, no taxes, re-signing bonuses etc. However, thousands of the heroes that serve our distinguished military have come home severely injured or not at all. But has any military official, soldier, brigade, or even division come close to what some of the companies in the private sector such as Halliburton have made?

I am tired of the CRAZY RIGHT and I am tired of the LIBERAL LEFT. If the majority of American citizens are somewhere in the middle, they need to continue to implement the policies for America. I know there is considerable debate concerning stem-cell research. But I can almost guarantee you this, if someone who is opposed to it develops Parkinson's disease or Multiple Sclerosis, they will gladly take any medication that is created from the use of stem-cells. That does not mean that I believe in killing children or cloning human beings. Hell, two of me would be the end of civilization as we know it.

People want to make political parties for America the issue. But, I am here today to tell you that politics is not the issue at hand. Our issue is the categories of rich and poor are spreading further apart. The middle class is working harder, making less, and shrinking every day. I disagree with any American paying 28%, 33%, or more in taxes on what they make a year. That is freaking ridiculous. It should not cost each individual in America 1/3 of what they make for this country to operate. I also think there needs to be some compromise with the health care system.
I hear people all the time say, "Well, wealthy people should not have to pay for the health care of everyone else". I agree 100%, but guess what, at most state supported hospitals, people are not turned away because they don't have any money. Therfore, we are all paying for it anyway. I have a good friend that took his mother to the hospital a while back. She met with two doctors, they took blood, and she had an MRI. They knew she was eligible for medicaid and her damned bill was $10,000! Things like that are really what is wrong with health care.

I will just be glad when we see a measurable and sustainable glimmer of hope. I look forward to looking into the faces of so many people I know and NOT seeing overwhelming anxiety. We will get through this. The world is pulling for us. Except for Iran, which is a nation possessing nuclear weapons but still have poverty, polio, and wipe their asses with their hands. Oh, and North Korea, which is led by an angry midget who has watched the children of that country decrease in size on average of 5" per child. Maybe he thinks he can eventually be the center on the Korean Olympic basketball team. Other than that, I think the rest of the literate world realizes that it is imperative for us to succeed. And we will. We are the the United States of America. We have been down before and gained recovery. We will be back again. But for now, we all just have to hang in there, hope for the best, and pray for God to indeed, bless the United States of America.