kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Wow. What can I say about 2012?

I've been meaning to post updates for awhile now, but whenever I sit down to write, invariably something happens that takes my attention away. But, right now, sitting at the in-laws house, seems as good a time as ever to review just what an amazing year 2012 was.

Even if nothing else of note happened in 2012, it would be a great year for no other reason than ...

1. The birth of my daughter Scarlett.


Little Scarlett, hours after her birth.

I always wondered what kind of parent I would make. I guess I'm going to find out now. In the process, we encountered frustration, joy, sadness, terror and every range of emotion you can possibly imagine.

Around July of last year, Sarah and I decided that the time was right for us to expand our family, and we started trying for a little one. Frankly, after spending nearly a year trying for a baby, I'm honestly stumped at how anyone accidentally gets pregnant. There was testing, planning, and all kinds of craziness before we finally got he word at the end of March, just two weeks after FWA, that Sarah was pregnant.

A few months later, we found out that our little mass of dividing cells was going to be a little girl. In all honesty, a part of me was hoping for a little boy, but those thoughts immediately went out the window nearly instantly. However, it took us nearly until October to actually pick a name for the little one. In the meantime, we had a scare when the doctor found some abnormalities on her ultrasound and sent us to Birmingham for a more detailed test. Something to do with brain cysts. Thankfully, that turned out to be nothing.

Over the course of the pregnancy, I realized what amazing friends we have. Sarah had no less than 3 baby showers, 2 of which were thrown by our church. We received gifts of almost everything we would need to raise a baby. I literally think we spent less than $500 on baby things.

So Sarah grew and grew with child over the course of the summer and fall (while we moved, see next point), until her due date was upon us. And as her due date passed with no movement, we made the decision to induce her. I will spare you the graphic play by play of the birth process; suffice it to say that I saw way more of it than I was expecting or really wanting to see. The highlights were: about 12 hours of labor but only about 30 minutes of "active" labor, the maximum allowed dose of pitocin (the drug they use to induce).

Finally, at 7:23pm on November 27th, Scarlett Rose entered the world measuring 19 inches and weighing 7 pounds 8 ounces. And after a few days' stay in the hospital, we returned home with our little girl. And over the course of the next month, we had a virtual revolving door in our house of guests. Grandparents, great-grandparents, family and friends all came to see Scarlett. People from church baked us meals as we learned how to live with our new little addition.

The first few weeks were really rough. At one point, one night she was in a diaper less than 5 minutes before needing to be changed again. We've also had a running battle with baby gas. And I love my daughter, but holy shit her farts can peel the paint of walls.

However, I realize now that we've been blessed to have a pretty non-fussy baby. She doesn't complain or cry a lot, doesn't mind people holding her, and sleeps pretty well, usually only waking because she needs to eat or be changed (at least, when mom and dad can keep her awake during the day!). Heck, last night she slept nearly 6 hours before finally waking. At this point, I think we have a pretty good system in place.

Just a few of the things about parenthood I've learned in the last month:
  • Something so little needs an amazing amount of stuff. Cribs, bassinets, changing tables, pack and plays, diaper bags, all manner of things. For overnight trips Sarah and I can usually get away with a small bag, but Scarlett needs an entire trunk of stuff.

  • Doing anything with a child, even something as simple as running out for 15 minutes to grab a sandwich, requires careful planning and execution. When was the last time she was changed and fed? How much time do we think we have until the next feeding or changing? We've been living the last month in 3 hour increments.

    We finally purchased a breast pump a few weeks ago. With that we were able to get a bottle of food for her and were able to leave her with a grandparent while Sarah and I went to see The Hobbit. This has given us a little bit more flexibility to break out of that 3 hour cycle.
But most importantly, I learned that, while I still can't stand other peoples' kids, I sure do love my own. The weight of having to do a good job raising her is really there. I really hope I'm up to the task.

2. Sold and bought houses and built a garage.


In front of our new house.
 

About June, we made a big decision: it was time to move.

Honestly, it was not something I was looking to do. It would have to happen eventually, but I was hoping I could punt the ball downfield a little ways and not have to worry about it for a few years. But finally, in July, when we had a living room full of baby stuff and no where to walk, we finally had to face reality that we were going to have to move.

So it was with a great deal of sadness that we put the home I bought back in 2007 on the market and started looking for a new place to live. We looked at all kinds of places in Madison (we wanted to stay in Madison City Schools), but finally settled on a house what was far bigger than what I was intending to purchase but was such a good deal that we couldn't walk away from it.

Our new home is a nearly 3,400 square foot home in central Madison. It was the model home for the neighborhood, so it features many upgraded amenities like a jacuzzi tub, granite countertops, tankless hot water heater, music system and many others.

The downside? It didn't have a garage. In this house, the area that was a garage in the floor plan had been finished in as office space for use while the builder was constructing the neighborhood. We liked that space because it added a large amount of square footage to the house, so we decided to buy the house and have a detached garage built onto the back.

Make no mistake, this was a long process. We got just days to our first closing before the lender decided they didn't want to do what we were trying to do (essentially, buy the house because we were getting such a good deal and use the equity to build the garage). So we ended up having to get a construction loan to buy the house and build the garage.

The other major sticking point was what to do with our old house. I was adamant that I did not want two mortgage payments, but we weren't getting many bites on the old house. Then our awesome realtor was able to work a deal where the builder purchased our home for resale, freeing us to buy the new one. We had to take a small loss selling it, but not unreasonably so.

But we worked through it all and finally, on October 23rd, we were able to sign the documents and buy the new house. We started moving that day, and the movers came the following day to finish off the big things.

In the meantime, the builder was finishing off some of the things that were left from the contract - namely, carpeting and building a closet in the front room and fixing a sidewalk issue. Then, of course, building the garage. As of today, the garage is "finished" - I had them build the garage unfinished because they were wanting too much money to essentially hang drywall. Now, all that's left is to close the construction loan and we're on our way.

3. Cursillo

What can I say about the Cursillo weekend other than that it was life-changing.

I'm not going to write much about what actually happened at Cursillo. It's not out of any secrecy or shame - to the contrary, I wish I could share the joy of what I experienced with every person on Earth. But I also don't want to ruin the surprise and, no matter what, I don't think words could adequately express the joy of the experience. Regardless, my experience was different from that of my fellow pilgrims, and from past and future pilgrims. It's different and unique for everyone; we all experience it in different ways.
 
 
Coming out the other side, it feel like a new person. Cursillo was literally a life changing experience.

... and the rest!
  • This was my first year since 2003 when I didn't work FWA. I had intended it to be a permanent retirement, but the minute I set foot in the Sheraton, I knew I could never just be an attendee. So after careful consideration following the end of the con, I decided to return. My roll as of this time is uncertain, but I have a few ideas. :)
  • As far as concerts go, saw the Drive-By Truckers twice, Phish once, Matthew Ebel twice, and finally checked a "bucket list" item off when I saw Elton John. However, I missed out on Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and I'm still upset about that.
  • Put a new stereo in my truck.
  • Barack Obama was re-elected.
  • The Olympics were awesome as always. Except for NBC's coverage. That sucked ass.
Of course, 2012 wasn't perfect. There were some things that sucked.
In review

I don't think any year in my life has had as much change as 2012 has. This has been a mind-blowing year, full of firsts, new starts, changes and stress, but as I look back on it, I realize what an amazing year it's been. I feel like I'm ending this year a different person than I was when I started it. However, despite all that, I'm kinda hoping 2013 is a little bit more laid back. If every year was like this one, I would be the most interesting man in the world.

So long 2012. Thanks for being awesome!
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
As a college football fan, I would be remiss if I didn't at least have some thoughts on the biggest scandal ever to hit college sports.

I remember when this first started to surface last year. I was very cautious at the time as everyone around seemed to be out for a pound of flesh. I generally try to avoid mobs and witch hunts - what I most wanted was to let the investigations play out, and find out who knew what and when did they know it. Because only once we know the facts of a case can we truly sit in judgement.

Well, now we know the facts, and it's worse than I could have ever imagined.

Now, I haven't read the Freeh report - I really haven't had time (or desire) to digest a 227 page report detailing the actions of a child molester and the people who enabled him, even after they knew. But the report is the probably the single most damning thing ever to land on a college athletic program. It eclipses Kentucky's point-shaving in the 50s. It eclipses Louisiana-Lafayette's academic shenanigans in the 70s. And it most definitely eclipses SMU's "Pony Excess" in the 80s.

This is, without a doubt, the worst, most rotten thing I could possibly imagine. I don't think this would have even been imaginable 15 years ago. And yet, here we are. All of those cases pale in comparison to what happened at Penn State.

As the report details, the problems at Penn State were wider than just the football program. Many, many people, from the President down to janitors, knew what was going on ... but nobody said anything. A culture of silence and, more importantly, a reverence for athletics beyond all reason, pervaded everything that happened in State College. Nobody would go against, or risk threatening, the almighty sacred golden calf that was the Penn State football program. For all intents and purposes, Penn State football and Joe Paterno were sacrosanct and any attempt to confront them would elicit the highest orders of outrage.

What happened to those kids was terrible - and the justice system will see to it that those responsible are held to account for their crimes, as will the completely justified lawsuits which are sure to follow. But there are some other points surrounding this whole thing that I think are worthy of pondering here as well.

For the longest time, I held Joe Paterno and Penn State as the paragon of stability that all athletic programs should strive for. I mean, here was a guy that was head coach for 45 years. In that same time period, Auburn had six coaches and Alabama had eight. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder if that same stability allowed a culture to flourish that enabled something like this to happen. Is it good for one person to be allowed to accumulate so much power and hold it, unchecked, for so long? Would a few changes in administration have helped deter this situation?

I would like to think so and, in truth, it may. But think the problem is bigger than Penn State and cuts right to the heart of the worship of college athletics in the United States. This same "athletics can do no wrong" culture can be seen at many major Division I schools. I mean, in my heart I would love to believe that something like this could never happen at Auburn. But I also cannot discount the power that the athletic department holds. The same can be said for Alabama, LSU, Oregon (whose program I think is absolutely rotten to the core on so many levels) and so many programs. Can I honestly believe that a janitor who sees something like that janitor at Penn State saw and has to decide between his job and reporting will do the right thing? And even if they keep their job, would have to constantly be on the lookout for some crazed "fan" much like we hear every week on Finebaum to do something insane?

That's the thing about this whole sad situation that I don't think is getting enough discussion. This scandal is an indictment of the worship of athletics that pervades colleges across the US. Penn State just took that same worship that happens at every Division I program and turned the knob to 11. As a result, a culture of silence allowed a child molester to run rampant for years with the full knowledge of many people, who placed covering up for the name of the Nittany Lions above doing the right thing.

This. Has. Got. To. Stop.

The thing that is so damning about all of this is that it's not the oh so loved "lack of institutional control" that we usually hear about when it comes to sports scandals. In this case, the institution was in such complete control of every aspect of Nittany Lion culture, that no one would dare go against it. This is unique, uncharted waters for college athletics.

Now, I don't know what the NCAA will do, if anything. Frankly, my opinion of the NCAA is right down there with the UN in terms of being able to do anything useful. But if there's any justice in the world, the NCAA will drop the hammer on Penn State and end the program. At least for a couple of years. And if the NCAA doesn't do it, Penn State should, for once, do the right thing and pull the plug themselves. Shut everything down, cool everything off and, in a few years, return with a new focus on what is really important. Because even though all the people responsible are gone, the culture is still in place. You have to change the culture.

Yes, I said it. I'm talking the Death Penalty. A slap on the wrist - a few scholarships lost, a TV or bowl ban - would be insulting. To do anything less in this situation is to condone the very attitude that allowed Jerry Sandusky to molest children for years. A message needs to be sent, to universities and fans across the nation that there is a line of acceptable behavior and culture when it comes to college athletics, and that Penn State flew over that line at supersonic speeds. There must be accountability.

SMU paid some played. Kentucky shaved some points. But at Penn State, a culture of silence and reverence for athletics enabled a child molester to go unchecked, with full knowledge of the administration, for years. If that's not worthy of the ultimate penalty, the entire NCAA is s sham and should itself be disbanded.

For the average college football fan, this should be yet another sobering reminder of the dark places that operate at some of alma maters. For as much as we would like to believe in the purity of sport, this scandal - perhaps the saddest and worst ever- indicates of the depths to which evil can spread.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
... because I told you it wasn't over. :P

Texas A&M has been accepted into the SEC by a unanimous vote of the conference presidents. Pending the clearance of a couple of legal issues - Baylor is standing in the way - the Aggies will begin conference play in 2012. The will (probably) be joining the western division, which means I can look forward to seeing Texas A&M in Auburn, as well as visiting College Station, Texas on alternating years.
kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
 Damn, Auburn. Way to wait until the last possible minute to show up.

That is all.
kiranlightpaw: (auburn)
So the SEC voted not to extend an invitation to Texas A&M. That would seem to nullify what I just said in my previous post, right?

Not so fast there, my friend!

This post explains it well. It is very important to read, closely, the statement from the SEC (specifically from University of Florida president Bernie Machen):

The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.

At first, this would appear to say no to Texas A&M. But what it really says, if you read it closely, is that no decision was made today regarding any requests for membership, because no requests for membership have been made. Essentially, there was nothing for them to vote on at all other than extending an offer. Which they weren't about to do for 2 reasons:
  1. SEC prez Mike Silve has repeatedly stated that he doesn't want to be the one to kick off another round of realignment and the eventual birth of 16-team super-conferences (which is going to happen anyways, but that's another story entirely).
  2. They wanted to keep out of the inevitable lawsuits that would emerge from them actively poaching Texas A&M from the Big 12.
This is the SEC staying out of the nasty divorce between Texas A&M and the Big 12. Like any spurned lover, the Big 12 will react badly. The SEC is essentially telling Texas A&M to get divorced first before we start dating. To be sure that all of the loose ends are tied off and to be the one to actively apply for membership. They're telling A&M not to use the SEC as a bargaining chip against Texas. Finally, they're telling A&M to follow the procedure (which, in fairness, they probably intended to do, and this meeting was just the result of public pressure on the conference).

Now, were Texas A&M to apply for membership in the SEC - say, at a Board of Regents meeting tomorrow - the SEC would be willing to seriously look at it and make a decision at that time.

This is a process, and it's far from over sports fans!

kiranlightpaw: (auburn)
So it appears that last years conference expansion-fest-o-rama was not entirely over.

What started as some light chatter on the Internet mid-week has by now exploded into almost certainty: Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC. And as a hardcore SEC football fan, I'm super excited by this idea. Texas A&M would be a great addition to the conference, and I look forward to regular Auburn-Texas A&M matchups.

But they also need to temper themselves for a reality: it will take them awhile to get competitive. Let's face it: the Big 12 is weak as water. There are only two teams that could make the jump from the Big 12 to the SEC and be immediately competitive for the conference championship, and those teams are Texas and Oklahoma.

Texas A&M joining the SEC will be somewhat analogous to South Carolina joining the SEC in 1992. It took them 20 years to become competitive in the conference. Now, to be sure, A&M is nowhere near as mediocre as South Carolina was, and they have much better access to local recruits that South Carolina did, but I still feel they're looking at at least a decade of being on the receiving end of beatdowns from the conference power schools (Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, and maybe Tennessee and Georgia depending on the year) before they have the opportunity contend for the crown. Sure, they'll win some games. There will be some upsets. They'll go 7-5 or 8-4 sometimes. But building up to power school status in this conference takes time, good coaching and solid recruiting. Just ask Arkansas and South Carolina.

So welcome home Texas A&M. Congratulations on doing what you should have done last year and getting out from under Texas's shadow.

But, this leaves the SEC at an unbalanced 13 teams. I don't see this as being a good arrangement. So the SEC will expand further. Lots of potential teams have been discussed:
  • Florida State. This is the big one that's being discussed. I personally don't think it's likely. First, other than being geographically convenient, it doesn't really add anything to the conference as far as TV markets. Florida will also veto this because they don't want to compete against them in recruiting in the same conference. This same reasoning goes for Clemson and Georgia Tech as well. 
  • Virginia Tech. This would give access to the Virginia TV markets. VT is a pretty competitive team and could step into the East and be a reasonably-competitive mid-tier team immediately, taking only a few years to come up to top-flight status. But they don't seem to be interested, and in fact may be hoping that one of the other ACC power teams gets poached so that they can dominate the ACC.
  • Missouri. Another Big 12 team that may want to get out of the Texas black hole. They would give access to the St. Louis and Kansas City TV markets, which would be a plus. But on the downside would be horribly inconvenient geographically.
  • West Virginia. Has been competitive and could be a mid-tier team easily. Would be a good geographic and cultural fit, but doesn't really add anything as far as TV markets go.
  • Louisville. No chance. Not competitive at all, and would be in the same teir as Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Adds no major TV markets.
  • NC State or UNC. Neither has a history of being very competitive, and UNC is in trouble with the NCAA right now. On the plus side, either would add the TV markets in Charlotte.
Now, having said that, my ideal additions would be Texas A&M in the West, and Georgia Tech in the east. It won't happen - Georgia Tech likely has no interest in the conference they left in the 70s and Georgia would veto it anyways, not to mention it really doesn't add the Atlanta TV market since Georgia does that already, but it would be fun nonetheless.
kiranlightpaw: (auburn)
AUBURN 22, OREGON 19!!!!
NATIONAL CHAMPION AUBURN TIGERS!!!!
kiranlightpaw: (auburn)


War Eagle.

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kiranlightpaw: kiran_likeshine (Default)
Kiran Lightpaw

December 2013

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