Friday, August 29, 2008

Josh's Saturdays

When there are home games Josh’s Saturdays are going to be very busy. For those members of the family from Canada will find that game day rituals are extensive for major universities. For the Canadian reader, the following gives a glimpse into an American cultural element that is not found north of the boarder and not readily understood by Canadians.

The night before game day RVers arrive and the tailgate parties get underway. Early morning other vehicles arrive and the tailgate parties intensify. While tailgate parties involve visiting, talking about the current team and year, and recalling past glories, they also involve consumption of food and beer.

At LSU, the band is a significant part of that ritual, a ritual that Josh will likely be explaining in upcoming blogs. As Saturday’s game has been moved up to 10 Central time, Josh has to report at 6 AM for rehearsal and then into the activities of the day.

This following clip is of their game day rehearsal field rather than their regular field near the music school. This is the football team’s indoor practice field which the band uses when the football team is not using it. Most schools the band would never be on this field but at LSU the band it is different since the band a significant part of the spirit life and game day program.

Below are links to video clips that give a glimpse of the band’s involvement. These are from pregame pep rallies. Tomorrow given the early start, these may not take place as they normally do on Saturdays in the Quad. The girls in front of the band are the dance team which is different than the cheerleading squad which is the girls and guys in purple outfits flanking the dance team as seen in the “Hey Baby” clip. The other girls who are behind the dance team are the Golden Girls who are the Marching Band’s Auxiliary.

This following clip is of the band marching down Victory Hill as they are about to rush into the stadium. You can get an idea as to the uniform Josh wears.

Here is an overview of the pregame show shot from above. The second is the pregame march in from field level. Josh’s position is one of the trombones in the base of the S which come into view at the end of the second video (about 2:40 mark).

During the game the band plays various items, one of which is called Neck. I cannot speak to the history, nature and function of Neck other than to say it appears to be one of the more significant game items.

The above will give you a glimpse into what many of Josh’s Saturdays will be like. Compared to Iowa, the LSU band has a much stronger participation in game day life. His away game Saturdays are light, other than the one away game that the band goes on towards the end of September.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Josh's Blog

This announces that Josh has started a blog. Here is the address. Also I have put a link on the list of blogs of the right.

Go visit and post a comment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Moving Josh into his dorm went smoother than I anticipated. The roadway by the dorm is limited access and like most of the roads at LSU, not conducive to a large vehicle like a RV. Hence we rented a car for a few days to get around campus. Getting his key went smoothly and we found a cart to help move in three trips all his items from the car to his room.

Josh is in Andrew Jackson which is one of the older dorms. The dorm is named after the 7th President of the United States and the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. As noted in LSU-1, Josh’s dorm is located a short distance from the music and theater arts buildings (11 to 12 o’clock position from his entry door). One of the dining rooms which is located just behind his complex (6 and 7 o’clock position) is a short walk from his dorm. Unfortunately it is closed for renovations so Josh has to hike across campus to one of the other dining rooms.

The dining rooms are nowhere close to what was common in past years. These dining rooms are plush by past standards and with a much greater array of food as well broader hours.

In the midst of several classroom buildings the main library is about 150-200 yards from his dorm (about the 3-4 o’clock position). The student union contain various restaurants, the book store, US Post Office, and other facilities are located about 500 to 600 yards away from his dorm (about the 2 o’clock position). In essence, though his dorm room is Spartan, it is located in about the best location for Josh’s program.

Josh’s room is small when you consider that there are three students in the room. Being the first into the room he was able to claim the bottom bunk and the locker at the foot of his bed. Air conditioning is a primary necessity and it was sufficient to cool the room. The dorm has fixed wire as well as wireless access. Apparently all buildings, dorms, classrooms, libraries and other facilities have wireless access for students.

Below, Josh is standing before Andrew Jackson, one of the four male dorms that form the Pentagon. The fifth building in the Pentagon is a building containing housing offices and a small store containing basic snacks and food. Josh's first floor room is in the hallway directly behind him.

Above is Josh's room. The storage locker/closet is on the left edge of the picture. The three small desks are along the wall to the left with the other two storage lockers running parallel to the single bed. The mattresses are rubber covered and the floor without any carpet.

Below is a picture of one of the marching band's pregame formations. The band forms the LSU formation for the east stands, plays the fight song. The band then shifts their lines to for the LSU formation for the west stands before playing the fight song again. The band then marches off to the side to form a passage through which the football team enters the field.

Josh's position is along the base of the S.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Tether

Helping Josh to settle in at LSU was somewhat of difficult process for me. Over the summer I checked his emails twice, sometimes thrice, a week for information he might need to note before arriving. I was concerned about a host of details and “what if’s”. Most of the “what if’s” were not an ultimate concern but still they were still there. Evie and I packed more of his clothing than necessary into the RV. When we did last minute shopping in Baton Rouge I kept asking about this item or that item.

I wanted to make sure that everything was in place, that as much as possible all “i”s were dotted and “t”s crossed before we left. I said to Evie that if he was going to Virginia Tech or James Madison or even West Virginia I may not be as concerned. If we forgot something we could easily get it to him within a few hours drive, but LSU is another matter as it is well over 18 hours away. If he is sick, we cannot get there in a few hours. As a father I had to have the comfort in my own mind and heart that all was okay before leaving.

When we left Josh on the Saturday night, Evie and I walked hand in hand with tears welling in her eyes and me trying to keep tears from even forming. On one level we were ready for the day but on another we were not ready for our baby to be out of the nest. Each step we took to the camper, each mile we headed away from LSU was a mile that distanced Josh from us and told us that our son was on his own.

We privately reflected back upon our days and wondered what our parents went through to leave us behind at Asbury. In a fresh way I suspected that my parents experienced some of the same feelings. In a fresh way, I found myself having a greater appreciation for my parents for if they had the same heavy heart and angst they did not let their concerns overshadow my joy of venturing out from the nest.

I know that from time to time Josh reads his parents' blogs. To him I give a long distant hug and my love. I am proud of Josh. I am proud of what he has accomplished and the man into which he is grown. I am proud of his strong independence streak and his bucking heads with his father at various points. I am proud that he thinks he is fine and all will be well. Yet, I am still his father and there is still part of me what wants to have him tethered to me even if it is by a thin string for that string serves as part of my security blanket. Part of that string is the anticipation of hearing his voice two or three times a week over the cell or getting an email. As time goes on my heart will become more settled as my pride and respect for Josh as a man continues to grow.

Tomorrow post I will post LSU-2 (see LSU-1 below if you missed it). In that post will be pictures of Josh before his dorm and in his room. The room is Spartan to say the least, and small when you consider three men will occupy it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hillary Being Obama's Running Mate Was DOA

Yesterday Barak Obama announced his running mate would be Joe Biden. Since February people have talked about the dream ticket would be Hillary to be Obama’s running mate. While it makes sense on many levels, Hillary could not be a serious consideration. People forget that marital peace trumps the selection of Hillary. During the campaign process the looks upon Michelle Obama’s face and her comments, both guarded and unguarded, indicated that she has a deep dislike, even a hatred toward Hillary. The fire in Michelle’s eyes and the tone of her voice indicated that her dislike for Hillary runs very deep. Being President creates significant stresses upon any marriage. A candidate would be foolish to pick a running mate that his wife deeply dislikes, or even hates.

Also, Hillary will not be a cabinet member. It too is dead on arrival. I doubt Michelle Obama would support Hillary being considered for any position.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

LSU - 1

A week ago Josh settled in at Louisiana State University. Josh noted to us that the complete name is Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. It has the complex name as it is the merger of two universities into one.

The roots of LSU go back to the opening of the Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana in 1860 with William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent. The dominant focus of the institution at that time was the military sciences. The Louisiana State Agricultural and Mechanical College that opened in 1874 merged with LSU (Seminary of Learning’s new name in 1870) in 1877 and its name was added to the end of the larger institution’s name.

Today LSU has over 2,000 acres. The heart of the campus spreads over 650 acres on the south end of Baton Rouge. The bulk of the acreage is given to supporting the agricultural program. Total enrollment across the main campus and a handful of small secondary campuses is just over 33,000 students.

The current campus was built in the 1920s with a large number of the buildings done in the Italian Renaissance style. From one corner of the campus to another are hundreds of large oaks that spread like umbrellas over roadways and walkways providing shade from the hot sun. The oaks are so cherished that a major set of scholarships known as the Golden Oak Scholarships are used to recruit quality students (this is the scholarship Josh received). A further indications of the importance the trees are held is that people and groups are able to endow the maintenance of these grand oaks.

LSU takes its football very seriously. Their stadium has a capacity of 91,600. Game tickets are hard to secure without having to go through ebay and paying a high price. The stadium is well known for its acoustics holding and magnifying the intensity of the crowd noise. It is not uncommon during a game for the noise from the crowd to go over 100 db. The noise has been recorded at 122 db. The crowd noise was so intense during a 1988 dying second comeback win that the roar, stomping and jumping of the crowd vibrated the ground causing a local seismograph to register it as a small earthquake.

In the next post I will share thoughts about the move-in process.

Below are pictures of the Memorial Tower which stands at the heart of the campus. The picture also shows the oaks.

The above picture shows how the oaks stread out over the sidewalks and the roads.

Above is the football stadium. In the top of the picture is LSU's Assembly Hall which houses basketball, wrestling and other indoor events. At the top left is their track stadium, a stadium that is much larger than Iowa's.

Above is the theatre and musical arts building which is currently under renovations. Renovations should be completed by the end of the current academic year. The music program is also housed in a second building which is to the right side of the picture. Josh will have several classes in this building and the Music building (picture in an upcoming post). Off to the left of the picture is an outdoor Greek Theatre that is nestled in a grove of oaks. On the other side of the Greek Theatre is Josh's residence (picture in an upcoming post).
Below is one of the classroom buildings done in the Italian Renaissance style.

Friday, August 22, 2008

United Way

One of the mainstays of the American fundraising landscape is the United Way. The initial purpose of the United Way was to have a combined volunteer based fundraising in the workplace and community for all member agencies. Member agencies provided a range of services from aid to the elderly, to health education, to youth and seniors recreation to fighting poverty to helping to sustain those caught in the grips of poverty. Regardless of one’s two or three philanthropic issues, there were several organizations, both small and large, that were addressing those issues.

Combining resources allowed smaller organizations to be supported and have their organization become known in the community via the combined effort. The United Way allowed small and medium organizations to have a reach into the community, marketing as well as financial, that was beyond their capacity and capabilities. The United Way workplace giving program allowed all employees to be solicited once a year in the work place by their peers. Individuals could give a one time gift or they could arrange for an amount to be deducted from each paycheck.

Though individuals could designate their gifts to a handful of groups if they so wished, most gave to the United Way in general as through it they could help support a range of their philanthropic and community interests. Employees liked the breadth of organizations and causes. They also loved the idea of giving $10 or $20, or $50 a pay that they would never miss and have it add up over the year to something much more significant than if they had to cut a single check. Employers liked having only one annual campaign. Small and moderate sized organizations liked the process as it extended their reach into the community and helped raise more funds than they could competing against hundreds or thousands of other organizations.

Undesignated funds were allocated in grants to a host of its member organizations. The amount granted was based upon balancing the amount raised against the budget of the organization, nature of the programs offered by the organization and the scope of the services provided. Volunteers from the community sat on panels, reviewed requests, listen to presentations and then decided what to award. Though the process involved tough decisions, and though rarely did a member receive its full funding request, most member agencies felt it was on a whole a balanced and fair system. As agencies and volunteers had confidence in the fairness of the system, the United Way was held in high regard which made for a relatively easy solicitation process.

For the last ten years the beloved system has been changing into a system that moves directly away from its roots. The United Way is moving to become a super-foundation with a narrow focus. It’s goal is to fund only programs that provide meaningful results in three areas, a) improving health, b) lowering school drop-out rates, and c) fighting poverty among low-wage workers.

The United Way started to make these changes because income has decreased and people are expecting a greater level of accountability. Donors are looking at making a difference and the United Way believes it is better to make a difference in a narrow scope of issues rather than provide meaningful assistance across a broad array of issues.

Some organizations while providing the same services are rewriting their service descriptions and counting their statistics differently in order to retain funding. Other organizations are receiving a significant increase in funding since they are focused in that area. Other organizations such as those who provide shelter and food, or who provide clothing to the poor, or who help shelter fire victims or provide latch key programs to keep children safe and out of trouble will no longer receive support. A latch key program in an impoverished area with high drop-out rates may well receive funding if it has a strong tutorial program and mentoring program that are designed to help keep teens from dropping out of school.

The three priorities will eventually change. Lowering school drop-out rates is a hot issue today but in seven or ten years, if it is not a hot issue it will no longer be a funding priority. It does not mean that the fighting drop-out rates will be no less important to the social fabric of the community, it just means that it is no longer a hot issue that can be used to secure donations. In other words, the United Way funding priorities are chasing the easy money.

I liked the old United Way. I could give to my environmental and poverty causes through the United Way. I enjoyed learning about small organizations that were making a difference, like the one in DC that trains cooks for local restaurants. I could support that organization. I could have a nice amount deducted from my pay that would help a host of organizations. I liked being able to support a group that had a five year goal to clean up a local creek and develop a walking trail along a three mile stretch. Becoming aware of such organizations, let alone giving to them via the United Way is no longer possible.

The United Way has changed. Its funding priorities do not match my philanthropic interests. As such, I will not be giving to the United Way this year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bothered By A Commercial

Last night I watched a commercial for a legal firm. The commercial showed a teenager riding a bike being knocked over by another young man playing football as he was catching the ball. The bike rider gets up with a bloody nose that is dripping onto his shirt. The footballer apologizes and goes to leave until another young man runs up screaming, “You say you sorry! Look at what you did to his nose and shirt! Give him your shirt!” The footballer hands over his shirt. Then the teen demands that the footballer hand over his shoes and some money.

The commercial ends with the biker walking away with a shirt and shoes over his shoulder while telling the lawyeresque teen thank you for being a friend and there for him. The commercial ends with another voice inviting the audience to call their personal injury firm when they have been hurt in an accident. They promise to get all that they can for their clients.

The commercial bothered me. The story was not about justice. It goes beyond revenge to using an accident as a legal means to get rich quick scheme. I saw this attitude at play just a few days before leaving for vacation. A teen stepped off a curb as a BMW slowly started to pass. The BMW may well have clipped the teen (about 15 to 17) the driver had not swerved right. I overheard the teen telling his friend that he had hoped the driver would have touched him because it looked like the driver had money. Commercials like the one mentioned here only reinforce the thinking of the teen as well giving them thoughts of how they could set up non-deadly and non-serious injury situations to get some quick money.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Eventful Trip to Baton Rouge

The DCI championship was a wonderful experience. The ultimate winner moved up from third on Thursday to finish first on Saturday by 0.025 pts. Even though their marching was dirty is spots (marching technique was not clean) Phantom Regiment had wonderful visual show and a strong bold sound. I thought the Caveliers should have been first (they finished third) but Phantom's was stronger than the Blue Devils (finished second and last year's champions).

Sunday morning around 9:30 we picked-up Josh from the Crossmen’s housing site in Trafalgar IN. Around 8 we pulled into a campground just five minutes north of West Memphis. From there we were in striking distance of Baton Rouge, and we made it even with two mishaps.

The first mishap took place as we were just leaving Jackson MS at 12:45. Moving along at about 65 to 70 mph the RV started to shake. Less than a minute later, the inside rear tire on passenger’s side blew its tread. Fortunately, we were in a place to pull over. Though it was flatter as it was then carrying the full load, the outside tire was still in good shape. Just off an exit two miles away was a Pilot truck stop. They did not have the correct tire size but were able to call Goodyear truck tire dealer who had the tires. With instructions in hand we made the four file trip to the Goodyear dealer.

As it is best to replace both tires, that was the initial plan until they quoted me the price of each tire. The tires were just 30% higher than what I paid for my car tires so I had all four back tires replaced (the RV dealer near us charges almost 50% more). By 3:50 we were on the road again.

We are fortunate that the tire blew today rather than late Tuesday night in the middle of the night or Sunday when many shops are closed. We are also fortunate that we were just a few miles from several repair options.

The second mishap took place when we stopped at the first Louisiana rest stop. When Evie closed the passenger door, the mirror fell onto the pavement. The metal post broke due to metal fatigue. As these are highly specialized parts the part is not readily available. Fortunately we have several days to get it fixed. Even though it will mean drilling holes into the doors, installing semi-truck type mirrors is an option.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Josh's White Stache

Below is a picture of Josh's white stache taken last Saturday. He shaved off his mustache that morning (click on the picture to enlarge). The picture was taken between the afternoon and evening show while he was on the way to get his instrument from the row in the following picture. The Crossmen wear a special shirt the is designed to absorb sweat and to keep the torso from getting chilled during the body's post show cool down.

In the prior blog I also noted some of the features of the club level. Below is a picture of one of the lounge areas. Notice the number of plasma televisions.