Sunday, October 28, 2007

Marching Season Almost Over

With States rating taking place late yesterday marching band season is almost at an end. In most years the season would be over but this year the band is traveling to Cary NC next Saturday for a competition. Evie and I will be traveling as chaperones. If you want to see this year’s show, go to for the various performance videos (right side about 2/3 down). The Oakton Classic video is their best show and the first in their new uniforms. At the end note the fireworks.

Marching in the blacktop, at the States Oakton received its “Superior” rating. All bands performed on the blacktop since it had been raining almost non-stop since Tuesday. The rain ended Saturday morning at 8:30, just minutes before the first band of the day was scheduled to perform. The two pics below are from yesterday.

Though they have been rehearsing in classes since September, the focus shifts this week to concert band season. The shift means that in addition to in class rehearsals each concert band has a two hour after school every week. For Josh this means he will be staying after school every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as he is in all three concert bands. On Tuesday he has Symphonic where he plays trombone. On Wednesday he has Concert I where he plays tuba as they are short of tuba players, and on Thursday he has Concert II Euphonium. In addition to these groups Josh plays Jazz I.

The seating in the trombone section in Symphonic band initially created a surprise. The young man who was seated third last year was seated first. At his audition he played one octave in the circle of fifths where as Josh and the young lady seated second played two octaves. Josh did not have a good audition and ended up being seated third. The top three challenged each other which ended up with all three seating in the same order as last year, Josh is first chair (also first chair in Jazz I). This year with seven trombones the second chair trombone will also being playing the first part.

Somewhere in there he has college auditions to prepare and attend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hernando's Hideaway

For several years I have been somewhat bothered by SA the singing of grace at our camps. There was something that has made me feel more unsettled each time I am at camp and grace is sung. Today as I listened to XM Radio I discovered the source of that discomfort.

Since last Thursday XM Radio has been playing the major pop hits. Starting with January 1940 they are playing 24/7 the hits in chronological order of when they were released. This morning they were up to March 1954, the month Hernando’s Hideaway was released and went on to become a hit.

Today, regardless of the camp, camp grace is normally sung to Duke Street, Montreal Citadel, Hernando’s Hideaway, and three or four other melodies to which grace was song when I first went to camp in the late 60s. Hernando’s Hideaway as a hit in 1954, and we still use it. What melodies from the last decade are we using? None. From the 80s? None. The 70s? Is the fact that we continue to use Hernando’s Hideaway and other long held melodies a symptom of traditionalism and complacency, and that we are loosing/have lost connection with popular culture? I now know the source of my discomfort and I am not sure I like what it signifies.

Your thoughts are welcome. Or better still, do your own blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

College Football Rankings

The first Bowl Championship Series rankings came out at the beginning of this week. The rankings are not a surprise if one is only looking at the latest AP and USA Today polls. Yet if one looked at the preseason polls the BCS does not come close to what the “experts” were predicting at the beginning of the season. The recent losses by USC and LSU along with the surprise of Appalachian State defeating Michigan at the beginning of the season have muddied the waters.

For this blog I will use the top ten as identified by Athlon Sports and compare them with where they currently stand. Athlon’s rankings are for the most part similar to preseason AP and USA Today (give or take a spot or two here and there). It is expected that out of these top ten that three of them would be in top four BSC positions by seasons end. This year that will not happen.

1. USC – in the BCS they are now 14.
2. Texas – not in the top 15 in the BCS. In the AP they are ranked 22
3. LSU – though they lost to Kentucky they are holding at number 4
4. Wisconsin – not listed in the top twenty-five in any poll and not on the BCS list
5. West Virginia – they are currently 9 in the BCS
6. Florida – they are number fifteen in the BCS
7. Oklahoma – at 5 in the BCS
8. Michigan – not in the top 15 in BCS and is ranked 25 in the AP
9. Virginia Tech – they are number 11 in the BCS and in the same place in the other polls
10. Rutgers - unranked

In the BCS,

1. Ohio State was ranked 12 by Athlon
2. South Florida - 31
3. Boston College - 27
4. LSU - 3
5. Oklahoma - 7
6. South Carolina - 39
7. Kentucky - 43
8. Arizona State - 44
9. West Virginia – 5
10. Oregon - 40

Only three of the preseason top ten are in a position to be in the big 1 vs 2 game in January. Six of the current top ten were not ranked at the beginning of the season. In the current top ten, at least three will drop out by the time the season comes to an end five Saturdays.

This year is a lesson that people should not to caught up in the preseason hype, that upsets are why we play the game, and college games can be so unpredictable.

On a personal note, it is great to see Kentucky doing so well this year which helps to balance off the struggling Iowa Hawkeyes (Athlon had them 33 and they have not lived up that even that this year).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is a day people have been encouraged to blog on the environment. I for one am disturbed by the attitude of the controlling elements of the Republican Party who deny that global warming is taking place or if they do admit it is happening dismiss it as much to do about nothing. What is more alarming for me is the fundamental wing of the Church and a good part of the evangelical wing also dismissing the issue.

These religious officials and Republican hacks have demonized Al Gore’s efforts to draw attention to the issue. His winning of the Nobel Peace Prize has brought forth venom that is unwarranted. For years these same officials argue that global warming is part of a historical pattern. They note that at various stages Northern Europe experienced years of warmth that allowed crops that traditionally grew in the south to be grown in northern areas. This may well be true but their response leaves three questions unanswered:

1.) Is it possible that emissions from vehicles and power plants are enhancing the climate change? Is suspect human activity is increasing the climate change beyond historical swings.

2.) What is wrong with improving the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink? What is wrong with protecting wetlands and protecting our forests? The Church should be crying out that all God’s created order should be protected. Instead those who maintain they cherish the Word of God more than other wings of the Church are the first discard concern for the created order. Instead the attitude is that it is entirely proper for humanity to pillage and rape the world God has provided as humanity goes forth to be fruitful and multiply.

3.) What are the risks if those who deny global warming are wrong as against what are the risks if they are right? It takes far longer to clean a river, lake and the air than it does to pollute them. Time and time again we have discovered that the costs of clean-up are far more costly than judicious preventative measures.

Let us open our eyes to what is happening around us. Let us work together to protect our environment. One step such as computerized lights on major commute routes that facilitate inbound traffic in the morning and outbound in the evening is one simple step to cut down on idle time, thereby decreasing vehicle emissions (instead politicians argue for spending far more money to widen roads). Other steps could include helping to facilitate the development and distribution of bio-fuels.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Follow-up on 3 October Blog

This is the follow-up to the 3 October blog concerning baseball’s statistical framework, some meaningful and others less so. I tossed out some figures/statistics associated with my life, some meaningful and others not meaningful. Kudos to Barb for attempting to figure out the statistics. Those that are in blue are items that Barb correctly identified. The answers are in red.

a) 18,899 days (this is an easy one)
- days since I was born
b) 2 (this is enough for me thank you)
– number of sons/children
c) 2:49 (this is from July of this year)
– time it took to get to and through US Immigration at Buffalo after leaving Bracebridge following Nana’s funeral
d) 12 vehicles
- number of vehicles that we have owned and company vehicles for our use
e) 7 in June and July of 2007 – number of DCI live competitions attended in stadiums
f) 4-10-9-4-2-2-2-7-5-6+ for a total of 10
– ten different places and the number of years spent living in each place by sequence
g) 91.6 (linked to “c”) – maximum speed going from Bracebridge to Buffalo
h) 16.1 miles or 41 minutes – standard daily commute to the office
i) 25,000,000 – most money I have held in my hand at one time
j) 9.7 mpg
– best mileage we have had in the camper
k) 11 Corps
– number of Corps that I have considered my Corps
l) 95.1, 93.7, 91.6 (if you get “g” you will get this one)
– known top three maximum speeds as recorded by the GPS. Yes, sometimes I have a heavy foot.
m) 1:31 (from July)
– the time that it took to get from the Bracebridge Corps to the junction of 407 and Hwy 10.
n) 52 days – the number of days from posting to Christmas
o) 247 miles
– the NCV Corps furthest from my home
p) 5, 6, 7, 20 - our four birthdates. Josh on the 5th, Jonathan on the 6th, I am on the 7th and Evie on the 20th. Evie recognized this one right off.

q) 33 – number of airports flown into/out off
r) 5 games in 2 days
– number of major league games Evie, the boys and I took in over a two day period in 1993
s) 16 stadiums – different major league baseball stadiums
t) 5 out of 23
– number of business days I am in the office this month
u) 100,000.0 (hit this on Josh’s birthday)
– miles reached on my car to the exact tenth as I pulled into my parking spot at the house

Thursday, October 11, 2007


One of the US’s more vexing problems is health care. The poor and the wealthy are well looked after. Those in the middle class have a mixed bag. They find themselves with insurance coverage changing from year to year as employers seek to reduce health premiums. They find themselves in a plan that restricts which doctors and hospitals may be used.

The SCHIP program has allowed families that are not eligible for Medcare/Medicaid to receive help. The Democrats and a number of Republicans have voted to extend the program for another period of time and to increase the number of people able to be covered.

Last week the President decided to veto the legislation. The extension of the program and the increased coverage would cost less than two days in Iraq. As a response to the veto the Democrats put on national radio a twelve year old young man whose family has been helped by the program. The young man told how his family has been helped by the program. This is a hard working family who found itself in an unfortunate position yet who benefited from a federal health care support program.

In response, the Republican Party orchestrated blatant attack under the direction of Senator McConnell. Via Republican operatives and bloggers the Republican party has attacked the Frost family rather than engage in honest civil discourse. Where one person is willing to draw the line for eligibility and nature of services may differ with others.

The attacks by Republican operatives upon the Frost family are far from being civil, they are mean spirited. The attacks which include a shallow and distorted representation of the family’s history and the posting of their home address on the web indicates compassion that the Republican party proclaims is defined far differently than it is in most families. The mean spirit of the Republican leadership is unconscionable.

It is unfortunate that Congress does not live under the health care options of families like the Frost family. If they did, I suspect that they would quickly be making changes.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Warenton Murals

Below are murals on two sides of a building in Warenton VA. Warenton is about twenty-five from the Manasses I and Manasses II battlefields and about sixty miles from Washington DC. Fredericksburg is about thirty miles to the southeast. To the west of Warenton are the mountains.

During the Civil War armies of both sides Warenton passed through Warenton and camped around it. Below is the scene focused upon the Confederates. Note how the mural incorporates the window. Note on the far right the Union camp below.

Below is the scene focused upon the Union. Note in the bottom right a guard watching over Confederate prisoners. Just to the left of the center a soldier is being baptized in the river.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Baseball - Salute to Statistics?

Baseball post-season is underway. Baseball is full of statistics, some more meaningful than others such as HR ratios, strike out ratios, and batting averages. Others get down right meaningly when all is said and done, such as a players batting average against left handers with runners on second and third in a dome with the roof open and the wind blowing right to left at night with temperature below 60 F.

In honor of the sport that has more statistical frameworks than any other sport, let me toss out some figures/statisticss associated with my life. I would challenge the reader to guess what each represents. Take your guesses and in a week I will post what is what.

a) 18,899 days (this is an easy one)
b) 2 (this is enough for me thank you)
c) 2:49 (this is from July of this year)
d) 12 vehicles
e) 7 in June and July of 2007
f) 4-10-9-4-2-2-2-7-5-6+ for a total of 10
g) 91.6 (linked to “c”)
h) 16.1 miles or 41 minutes
i) 25,000,000
j) 9.7 mpg
k) 11 Corps
l) 95.1, 93.7, 91.6 (if you get “g” you will get this one)
m) 1:31 (from July)
n) 52 days
o) 247 miles

p) 5-6-7-20
q) 33
r) 5 games in 2 days
s) 16 stadiums
t) 5 out of 23
u) 100,000.0 (hit this on Josh’s birthday)