Random Facts About Me for May 2012

It’s been a while, so here are ten more random facts about me:

  1. I’m glad I went to Baylor (sic ’em!). There are many reasons I chose Baylor. One of the primary ones was its Christian atmosphere. My other top choice was Rice, a small liberal arts college with a secular and quirky culture. At the time I was deciding on schools, I debated (among other things) whether I wanted to be surrounded by Christians who I assumed would support my faith or surrounded by mostly nonChristian students and professors who would challenge my faith. It never occurred to me that Baylor would challenge my faith like it did or that Rice actually had quite a few Christians. I wonder what, if anything, would have been different if I’d spent those four years in Houston. Would my faith have emerged stronger or weaker? Would I have dated my high school girlfriend across hundreds of miles during college or broken up with her? Would I have chosen the same career path and gotten the job that I did?
  2. I love football, both college and pro, but I feel a bit guilty for supporting it due to the growing pile of evidence about football-related head injuries. As a fan, I’m part of the problem. However, with growing awareness comes growing support for changes to the game to make it safer for the players, so I have a bit of hope.
  3. Although as an Irving native, I’ve always supported the Dallas Cowboys, I will support the Redskins as long as RG3 is their quarterback. Yes, even head-to-head.
  4. I’ve tried a few burrito joints. I rank them thus: 1) Chipotle 2) Planet Burrito 3) Freebirds
  5. I still miss singing in a choir. I’m not a great soloist, but I seemed to do OK singing with lots of other people. Once the boys get older, I might look into rejoining a local community choir. Perhaps my old choir (The Irving Chorale) or my friend Randie’s choir (Schola Cantorum) might give me a break if they’re hard-up for baritone types. For singing purposes, my favorite styles are classical and gospel. Some musicals are great as well, such as Les Mis or Phantom. Just don’t make me try to dance and sing simultaneously. Something’s gotta give.
  6. At work we’ve been negotiating a new contract for about 2 1/2 years now. We seem to be nearing the end of the process, and speculation abounds that we’ll get a nice raise from the deal. If so, I won’t have to work day or afternoon shifts for overtime anymore, just midnights when I want to make some extra cash. That will make both Mrs. Box and me very happy.
  7. The contract negotiating process has given me a new appreciation for labor unions in general. There are always at least two sides to any discussion, and neither one is always right. Sometimes unions make bad choices. Sometimes management makes bad choices. Sometimes they work together and find a viable compromise.
  8. I am very proud of my wife. While she has her bachelor’s degree and could simply stay home with the kids until they are grown, she decided to go back to school to become a nurse. Just completing the nursing pre-reqs has taken a lot of work, but she’s cranking them out and maintaining a 4.0 while raising two active boys. After Monday, she’ll only have one more class to go (microbiology this fall) before she applies for nursing school for next fall.
  9. I get mad (internally, of course!) whenever I see a dog running around off-leash in my neighborhood or at a park. Two reasons: 1) I don’t know or trust the dog, and if he decides to attack me or my kids, the owner has no way to stop him. 2) Most cities around here have a leash law, and the owner is ignoring it.
  10. My all-time favorite musician is probably Sarah McLachlan. Jenny got me tickets to see her at AAC a few years back, and she put on a fantastic show. If she ever comes back to Dallas, I’ll probably go again.

All I Want for Christmas is a Heisman

Brenden doing the Heisman

My first two years at Baylor, I think we went 1-18-1. We were one of the worst football teams in all of Division I football. The term “cellar-dweller” popped up frequently in any article about us. Things just didn’t work no matter what we did or how hard we tried. To illustrate how painful it was, in one of the few games I attended as a student, we were barely ahead at the end of the game against UNLV. We had the ball on their 5-yard-line or so with a few seconds left. To win, all we had to do was take a knee. But the students, players, and coaching staff were so unbelievably excited that we were about to actually win a game that the coach chose to try for one last touchdown. You can guess what happened.



Recovery by UNLV.

The longest, most heartbreaking, most shock-inducing runback for a game-winning touchdown in the history of college football.

I stood there with my mouth hanging open, surrounded by silence, unable to move, lump in my throat, unsure whether my heart was still beating. Our hope lay on the field like a popped green balloon.

Last season things improved significantly compared to those dark days ten years ago. At the beginning of this season, Baylor University started a Heisman campaign for its quarterback, a talented dual-threat player named Robert Griffin III (RG3 for short). I was already an RG3 fan from last season and had high hopes for this one, but the campaign seemed like a longshot. Yes, he could run. And throw. And think. And lead. And make you regret taking that break to grab a drink or hit the bathroom during his latest highlight-reel play. And he just seemed like a good guy – humble, team-oriented, very loyal to Baylor, smart enough to graduate in three years and enroll in grad school to maintain his eligibility, funny, articulate.

However, Heisman Trophy winners play for teams in BCS bowl games like Alabama and Texas. They don’t play for little old Baylor, the team that was thrilled last season to be bowl-eligible for the first time in the Big 12. But I Liked the Facebook page for his Heisman campaign anyway and followed the season. Jenny and I got to attend two games, the TCU game in Waco and the Texas Tech game in Arlington. Except for two blowout losses and a one-point loss in October, we won every game we played, a total of nine. We beat Texas for the second year in a row. We beat Tech for the first time. We beat mighty Oklahoma for the first time. And along the way, RG3 put up Heisman-quality numbers that finally got people to pay attention to little old Baylor, which had finally grown into a dangerous – and fun to watch – football team. We have a date with the Alamo Bowl as the favorite against Washington. Last Saturday night, RG3 won Baylor’s first Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding college football player in the country.


Commemorative Heisman Bear Shirt

Baylor Nation has been going crazy all season, especially this week in the wake of RG3’s achievement. The administration is working on plans for a much-needed, on-campus football stadium at the northeast corner of I-35 and the Brazos River. In addition to our football success, our women’s basketball team is #1 in the country, and the men are top 10 as well. I know athletics is a collection of games, not the true point of college, blah blah blah. I know our society makes a bigger deal of sports and athletes than they deserve. I know all that.

But man, it feels good to win.

Things I Don’t Get

A few things to ponder this beautiful Saturday morning…

  • Why do normally modest women, women who wouldn’t dream of hitting the beach in a bikini, buy formal dresses that flaunt their boobs? (not a complaint, just a question) And why is significant cleavage considered appropriate in a formal setting but potentially questionable or even slutty in other settings, such as work or school?
  • Why do we still observe daylight savings time in most parts of the country? Do you know anyone who thinks it’s a good idea? And for that matter, why are we still the Neanderthals who use the English measurement system instead of metric?
  • Why are donut shops around here run almost exclusively by Asians? (again, not a complaint, just a question)
  • Why am I willing to contribute to Baylor’s new on-campus stadium campaign but not to its scholarship fund? If I remember correctly, I went to maybe three football games as a student, but Baylor convinced me to enroll with a generous scholarship package. Seems like I got a bit more benefit from the latter.
  • Why is obesity skyrocketing in our country? And why do so few people seem to care? We’re gradually ostracizing and limiting the smokers enough to force people to quit, which is awesome, but as a society we’re taking the opposite approach with obesity.
  • Why does $25 buy a cheap sit-down dinner for two in America but nearly a month of food for a child in Africa?
  • Why do baseball players, fans, and managers continue to tolerate the wildly inconsistent strike zone used by the various umpires throughout the league? The Hawk-Eye technology used in tennis could solve that problem right now, but it seems that everyone prefers not knowing where the strike zone actually is on a given night.
  • Why is it legal for men to run around without a shirt but not for women (except in New York City and some other places)? Many men have bigger boobs than many women. They’re called moobs. They’re not cool, but they happen. Without the hairy chests, you might not be able to tell the difference.
  • Why does the US government still mint pennies? I’d rather have everything rounded to the nearest nickel. Pennies get on my nerves.
  • Why do so many people, especially in Texas, hate Obama so much? I can understand disagreeing with some of his views. So do I. But it’s amazing to me how quickly people label him a foreigner, even though he’s published his Hawaiian birth certificate, and a socialist, even though many of them don’t even know what that term really means, and a Muslim, even though he’s been a documented member of a Christian church for decades, and even the Anti-Christ, even though that term (as they understand it, in the Left Behind sense) is an product of the American evangelical church rather than the Bible itself. I guess people just believe what they want to believe.
  • Why roaches? (I’m looking at You, God.)
  • Why do so many people use Christianity as an excuse to hate and look down upon people who disagree with them?
  • Why do labor contract negotiations in the airline industry generally take 2-5 years?
  • Why don’t we have the ability to vote online? (this article tries to answer the question, but I still think the explanation is flimsy)

What about you? What exactly don’t you get?

Haiku Tuesday – Baseball

In honor of the two-time American League Champion Texas Rangers (sounds good, eh?), I’m declaring today a special Haiku Tuesday. Write your best Rangers haiku and post it here. If you’re Cardinals fan, you’ll have to post your haiku somewhere else, perhaps on a piece of toilet paper.

Four games from the end
Last year’s run will tilt the scale
Ginger ale for all!

Can our city stand
World titles from the Mavs and
Rangers in one year?

Series-bound again
We all can’t wait to see the
Rangers win it all

Want to see the game
But four hundred bucks per seat?
Watch at home for free

Your turn.

Highlights from My Week Off

The Baylor Line rushes the field after the clock runs out. Had the goalposts not been surrounded by security guards, the freshmen would have torn one down and hauled it back to campus. This was a HUGE win for us.

It’s been a very full and fun week, as expected. Here is what you need to know:

Most Thrilling – My Baylor Bears shocked TCU on Friday night 50-48 in one of the wildest games I’ve ever seen, in person or on TV. Honestly, I went to the game hoping not to lose as badly as we did at last year’s 45-10 schooling by TCU. Instead, I got to share in one of the biggest wins in our football program’s history. Sic ’em, Bears!

Jenny and me at the game

Jenny, Jon, and Amber. Yeah, the Seastrunks were pulling for the Frogs, but nobody’s perfect.

Best Upgrade – Our friends Jon and Amber convinced us to upgrade to a Waco bed & breakfast instead of a moderately priced hotel. The Cotton Palace is an excellent b&b in a converted Waco mansion on Austin Avenue, maybe a mile or two northeast of the stadium. Our beautiful room (Emily’s Room) featured a king-sized bed, jacuzzi tub, homemade cookies, and free wifi. I was sorry we couldn’t spend more time there. The innkeepers are Waco locals and very friendly and accommodating. Becky’s delicious breakfast (sausage and cheese quiche with fresh fruit, bacon, and a biscuit) filled me up without making me explode, and Dutch kept us all entertained while we ate.

Lowlight – After driving to Richardson Bike Mart to get my bike, after confirming via their website and a phone call that the bike was in-stock, I was told that the bike had been recalled due to a fork problem. Instead, I ordered my bike from Bicycles, Inc. in Keller. It should arrive sometime this week.

Best Surprise – My knees haven’t bothered me during my runs this week. Perhaps my decision to get a bike has scared them into compliance.

Jenny at Rangers Ballpark just prior to the Texas-Tampa Bay game

Most Important – As planned, I got lots of good family time this week, including fun with the boys, dates with Jenny, and a birthday party.

Weirdest – Tie: Either seeing my kids dressed up as pirates while wearing Mardi Gras beads (?)…

and pushing a doll in a stroller (?)…

or 2) Being back on campus 10 years after graduation, thinking about how young everyone looks, and feeling more like a parent at the game than a student. When the freshman rushed the field after the game, I decided to stay put and let them have their moment, as if I didn’t belong down there anymore. I’m not complaining at all – I just found it interesting.

Most Unexpected – Our kitchen faucet’s water flow had dropped significantly. I assumed that something was clogging the line, so Wednesday around lunchtime I investigated. Unfortunately, I found no problems in the lines and pointed the finger of doom at our two-year-old kitchen faucet itself. Since I could replace it myself for roughly the cost of a visit from the plumber, I bought and installed a new kitchen faucet. I actually like this one better than the old one because the spout pulls down, which feels quite Southlake to me.

A Week Off = Awesome

As of this morning, I’m off for seven days and plan not to dispatch a single aircraft until next Sunday night. (Or maybe Saturday night if they offer overtime) This should be a great week because…

  • I plan to go get my new bike on Monday or Wednesday. I’ve decided on the Specialized Sirrus Elite hybrid and just need to figure out which size frame would fit me best. Richardson Bike Mart has both the large and extra-large frame in stock, so I hope to try both and bring home the winner.
  • Tuesday is Daddy Day, which means I watch the boys all day while Jenny gets some time off. We might play in the park in the morning before it gets too hot. Then our home group meets that night. We’re currently halfway through Donald Miller’s Searching for God Knows What, which has prompted several interesting discussions.
  • On Thursday Jenny and I will cheer on the Rangers thanks to a BOGO coupon that Carter Bloodcare gave me. This will be our first and probably only baseball game of the season. Earlier that day, we’ll have lunch with my family.
  • On Friday we’ll drop the boys off with Jenny’s mom and drive down to Waco for the Baylor-TCU football game. Our friends the Seastrunks are going with us. Mr. Seastrunk went to TCU for grad school. Last year we all attended the Baylor-TCU game in Fort Worth, sitting in in a sea of purple. (We don’t need to discuss the outcome of that game) This year we’re making them sit in the Baylor section. We booked a cool B&B called The Cotton Palace for that night. We might visit the Baylor Bookstore or run the Bear Trail while we’re there. Sic ‘Em, Bears!!!
  • On Saturday we’ll enjoy a quick breakfast at the inn, rush to the Mid-lo to pick up the boys and put on their pirate costumes, and continue to Grand Prairie for my niece Reagan’s third birthday party. She has decreed that her party shall be a princess party, but apparently pirate costumes are acceptable substitutes for the boys on the guest list.

At some point during all this fun, there will also be at least one or two naps.