2009 Tour de France: Unexpected Drama

Okay, maybe I was wrong. Maybe Lance has a chance to win his 8th Tour de France after all. Forgive me for doubting. After watching him finish 10th in the individual time trial, I thought for sure he was done. I didn’t think he had the legs or the form to hang with some of the younger riders. I mean, come on. The worst finish Lance Armstrong has registered in an individual time trial in the Tour de France since he first won the thing is seventh. That was way back in 2003, the year he came closest to losing out to Jan Ullrich.

That same year, in the 12th stage, he had a miserable time trial. He was hot and dehydrated. He lost 51 seconds to Jan Ullrich. And he still finished the stage in second place. For him to finish 10th on a day in which he’s feeling relatively fit is unheard of, unthinkable.

So maybe you can forgive me for thinking that his chances of winning the Tour hover somewhere between slim and none.

What I didn’t take into account is just how wily his experience has made him. It gives him an edge that his legs may not be able to give him any more.

Just look at what happened today. With about 30 kilometers to go in a stage no one expected to change anything, the Columbia – High Road team rounded a corner, detected a cross-wind favorable to opening a gap and took off. Most of the race’s general classification contenders were caught flat-footed and were left behind. Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre…all left behind.

But not Lance. Lance was right there to take advantage of the split, putting 39 seconds into his main rivals. The first thought I had when as I watched is that Lance was tipped by Columbia rider George Hincapie. Hincapie rode with Lance for all of his Tour wins and they remain good friends. Lance denies George told him anything but it was a very fortuitous circumstance for Armstrong, certainly.

Even more fortuitous was the fact that Armstrong had two teammates along for the ride. And that fact is where it gets interesting for me. Generally, in these kinds of circumstances, members from one particular team stay with or fall back to their leader, helping to chase down any break or escape and making sure the team leader doesn’t lose any time on rivals.

What they don’t do is spend time at the front end of a break pushing the pace trying to widen any time gaps. But both Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia did just that. At one point, the gap between the first peloton containing yellow-jersey Fabian Cancellara and Lance Armstrong and the second peloton was 41 seconds. That was the point when Popovych and Zubeldia were setting the pace instead of team Columbia. You think Alberto Contador noticed? With teammates like these…

What does that all mean? Putting it all together, it means, I think, that Lance Armstrong has at least two team mates on Astana that will help him against nominal team leader and rival Alberto Contador.

The question is whether there are more. I think that there will be more if Lance can jump two more places and put on the yellow jersey. Once he’s in the yellow jersey, the whole team falls in line behind him, at least for the short term. The pressure would be on Astana to defend the yellow jersey, no matter who is wearing it. If Lance puts it on, he’ll become the defacto leader of Astana until the jersey is taken away. That is huge. Without the team support, Lance has no chance. With the team to support him, he just might have a shot.

And that goes to show just how cunning Armstrong can be. He had to know all this when Columbia made their break. He has to know that tomorrow is the team time trial and his Astana team is expected to win. The Astana team is a behemoth of talent compared to the rest of the field. Their main rivals will be Saxobank, the current defenders of the yellow jersey, and Columbia-HTC. If Astana puts 41 seconds into Saxobank and 8 seconds into Columbia, Lance wears the yellow jersey as soon as tomorrow night.

From then on, the problem of divided Astana loyalties becomes lessened, at least until the mountains or until someone else wears yellow. If Lance is still wearing the yellow jersey when the Tour enters the Pyrenees on Friday…well, I don’t know what will happen. We may see Lance attacked by his own teammate, Contador. Or Contador might bide his time, waiting for the next individual time trial and the Alps.

At any rate, an already interesting race got more interesting today, and not less. The plots and subplots run deep and this is easily the most exciting tour since Lance retired. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Which brings me to a logistical note. Versus does indeed have the live race broadcast available online for free. I thought they only did pay per view. The apparent difference between the free and pay version is the quality of the video. I can live with a grainy video as long as I get to watch and listen to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin. Those guys rock.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be providing more informal tour coverage and analysis over the next three weeks. Come back and visit and feel free to drop a comment. Hope you guys are enjoying the race as much as I am.

Go Lance!

2009 Tour de Lance: Begun and Done

The opening stage of the 2009 Tour de France is in the books and it looks like Lance Armstrong’s comeback is done as soon as it’s begun. It may sound like it’s a bit defeatist to call it done after one stage but I think it’s realistic.

Lance Armstrong built his Tour de France wins on the strategy of winning the time trials and then holding off his rivals in the mountain stages. Lance finished a very pedestrian 10th in the opening time trail and I’d be stunned if he were a good enough climber to gain all that back in the mountains, especially against a rider like Alberto Contador. Contador finished second in today’s time trial, twenty-two seconds ahead of Armstrong, proving his all-around strength as a rider.

Even more damning is the fact that Armstrong was beaten by two other teammates, American Levi Leipheimer and German Andreas Kloden. Armstrong is not the first, second or possibly even third best rider on his own team, never mind the rest of the field. I think that, once the tour reaches the mountains and it becomes clear that Armstrong’s chances are slim, he’ll fall in line and ride for Contador. I am not sure of this, as I think it will be difficult for him to give up his pride and a shot at the podium, but it would make sense.

As an aside, the Astana team looks incredibly strong and it will be shocking if they don’t win the team time-trail, a stage making a comeback of it’s own, having been left out of the last several tours. Putting four men into the top 10 of the opening time-trial is amazing. Leipheimer had a great ride in the Giro d’Italia and Kloden has finished on the podium in the past. It’ll be an interesting to see if Astana can hold together as a team given they have so many strong riders, several of which are capable of finishing on the podium.

I know there will be many who disagree with me and who will say it is early yet. As a huge tour geek and Lance fan, I am pulling for Lance but have to be realistic about his chances. I think he’ll pull out a stage win or two but this year’s race is designed to favor the younger, better climbers like Contador, Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre. The race ends, for all intents and purposes, on an uphill climb to the summit of Mount Ventoux. If Lance is still contending by then, I’ll be surprised.

Given all that, it is possible to pull back remarkable amounts of time in a single climb. Even the best climbers have bad days and can crack under the heat and strain. Even if Lance is a minute or two back, it will be possible for him to pull off the upset on Ventoux. He’s never won a stage on Mount Ventoux, finishing second in two tours and one Paris-Roubais.

I guess there’s a first time for everything and the last mountain stages guarantee the drama remains high until the very end. Armstrong tends to improve as a rider in the second and third weeks of the tour so anything is possible. But, after today, it looks like he’s only human after all.

Post Script: If you’re an American like me that doesn’t have cable or who wants to follow the Tour when you can’t be in front of a television, you can watch live video of the race via SBS.com out of Australia. You’ll miss Bob Roll but you get to listen to Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett call the race. And you’ll get to spoil the day’s stage for any of your friends who have to wait to go home to watch the Versus coverage.

Update (07/05/09): It looks like SBS has blocked the US from viewing their live video feed. I’m looking around another free and live video stream but haven’t had any luck. Bummer.

Baseball and Birthdays

Sorry I’ve been away so long. I have been meaning to update this blog for a week or more now and just haven’t found the proper combination of motivation and time. It always seems that I have the motivation when the time is not available and the time when the motivation has subsided. Today being a holiday from work, I have a little extra time and at least enough motivation to tap out a few words.

Which brings me to the third component of a good blog: having something to say. I was pretty sure I had something to say when I started this but, when I start typing, the words available to me aren’t always the ones I planned on. I’ll just ramble on until something worthwhile comes to me, shall I?

Let’s see. What does life hold for me right now? Well, it’s been a busy week. At least it’s been full for the last seven or eight days. Thursday last, a few buddies and I took in a Braves-Yankees game at Turner Field. As with every other game I’ve seen in Turner field, the Braves gave up double-digit runs and ended up losing badly. The average score in games to which I’ve been witness is something like 14 runs against and 2 runs for. I’m happy to accept money from any Braves fan that would like me to stay away from games in the future.

The best part of the game is how lucky it made me feel. There were 50,000 fans in the stands and I was lucky enough to sit right in front of “that guy”. You know that guy. He’s the one that is just the right combination of loud, obnoxious, ignorant and drunk.

Being surrounded by Yankees fans, he took it upon himself to support the honor of The South, making the game into a little continuation of the Civil War. He didn’t so much pull for the Braves as much as scream “Yankees Suck!” in continuous repetition for the first three innings of the game. He would pause for breath only long enough to hurl obscenities at any Yankees fan unwise enough to call him out. He let fly with such gems as “Why don’t you go back home where you belong!” and “The South will rise again!” That one was particularly cliched and cringe-worthy.

Along about the third inning, finding the Braves behind 6-1 and without much hope for the win, he switched over to screaming “Let’s Go Red Sox!” As I said, he wasn’t so much pulling for the Braves as much as he was doing his damnedest to get under everyone’s skin.

At some point in the night, he decided he needed more beer and left for wetter pastures. From then on, we watched the game in relative peace and quiet, eventually losing 11-7. I swear, one day I will watch the Braves win a game in Turner Field. I will.

Anyway, Friday was birthday day and I had a bunch of pals take me to Pozole for dinner. Pozole is a Mexican Restaurant over in the Highlands that serves these awesome jalapeno margaritas. They are just the right combination of spice and sour. I dig ’em in the extreme and haven’t been able to drink a regular margarita since I tried them for the first time.

This birthday was my 39th and it got me thinking about my 40th. I thought about the things I wanted to do in the short year between now and then. I decided I needed to set some goals. One goal I set is to complete a half-marathon before I turn 40. I don’t know that I’ve run more than 8 miles in one go before so running 13.1 in a race seems like a lofty enough goal, especially given my current lack of conditioning. Three miles is a chore for me right now. I have to lose 10 pounds before I can add 10 more miles, I think.

I have recruited some friends to run with me and we’re set on running the Silver Comet half-marathon on Halloween day in Mableton, Georgia. The Silver Comet has two primary attractions to me. It is far enough in the future for me to make some strides in getting fit and the Silver Comet trail is notoriously flat. Not a lot of hills. Looking forward to that, especially since my training ground is hilly in the extreme. I may attempt the new 13.1 Atlanta half-marathon on October 4th but that’s up in the air at this point.

Obviously there’s more to write but I’m out of time. I have half-an-hour to get dressed and get up to my buddy’s place. We’re headed out to Lake Allatoona to do some wake-boarding. The lake seems like an appropriate way to celebrate the holiday. Maybe I can squeeze more writing in later.

Until then, happy 4th of July to everyone. Stay safe and don’t get burned!

Happy Father’s Day

I meant to write up something meaningful for Father’s Day but I don’t think I have the words or energy at present. I did want to wish my father a very happy Father’s Day, however. Currently, he is several hundred miles away and unreachable by phone. He’s been in the hospital for the better part of two weeks now with heart troubles.

Having him laid up certainly makes the occasion more special. I have been beyond blessed to have such a great father in my life. I know that not everyone is so blessed. He has shown me what it is to be a great father and husband and I can only hope that, one day, I will be able to live up to his example. He is a truly great man, one of the few truly great men that I know.

Happy Father’s Day, Pop. I miss and love you and am forever grateful for all you’ve given me.

Love, Charlie

And Sew It Goes

I decided today that I was going to buy a sewing machine and take up sewing.

I know many of you may think this unmanly and a bit extreme but hear me out. I wear a lot of t-shirts. I wear a t-shirt almost every day of the week. On week days, I wear an undershirt. On weekends, I wear casual t-shirts. Most of my t-shirts wear out fairly rapidly. They shrink or the seams come loose or they get holes or they get stained…the life of my t-shirts is a tough one.

The trouble is that new t-shirts are not all that cheap, especially the ones that I tend to like. They don’t have a lot of decoration or ornamentation but are comfy and soft. I guess they tend to be about $20 dollars each unless I can find them on sale somewhere.

I was pondering my need for new t-shirts today when it came to me. I bet I could make my own t-shirts. I’m sure that fabric can’t be too expensive. Construction is pretty basic as well. I bet I could reverse engineer a few of my t-shirts and make my own. All I need is a sewing machine.

So I think I’m going to buy a sewing machine. I have one picked out on Overstock.com that I think would serve my purposes. My only hesitation is that I know myself. It would be just like me to spend $125 bucks on a sewing machine and never use it. Or use it once and never touch it again. It would be just like that Nikon camera I bought for $900 dollars. That made a nice Christmas gift to my sister after sitting around for some while, untouched. Or the Wii I gave to my niece and nephew after three months. Or the bike that is sitting on my porch.

In my head, though, I make awesome t-shirts. They are so good, in fact, that everyone wants one. Soon, I am selling custom fitting t-shirts to all my friends and turning a profit on my new sewing machine. It’s not long before I learn to screen print designs onto my awesome t-shirts and, the next thing I know, I’m competing with threadless tees. I use my new-found wealth to start other enterprises, like making beer. It isn’t long before I am bathing in cash and making the lives of all my friends and family much more comfortable and fulfilling.

That’s what happens in my head. In reality, I am somewhat suspect of my own ability to manufacture clothing. I am absolutely useless with a pair of scissors. I neither measure nor cut with precision. I fear that, if I’m disappointed with the early results, I’ll never touch the thing again. One more dream into the rubbish bin of life.

I’ll probably talk myself out of the purchase. I can’t really see myself with time to make my own clothes and I certainly don’t think it’s a talent of mine. But, if I do get it, I suspect I know what my sister will be getting for Christmas this year.

That’s right. A new car. Courtesy of my new t-shirt empire.

Lines Composed At Gate B34

I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight home to RDU. The flight is delayed, of course. I thought that, while I had the time and since I don’t have a book with me, I’d get some blogging done.

I don’t have internet access and I’m too cheap to purchase access. It’s highway robbery what they charge you to access the hot spots at most airports. $7.99 for a 24-hour pass? I think not. Even T-Mobile, my cellular provider, wants to charge me $4.99 for a four hour block. Uh, no. I would purchase an internet access plan from them if the data transfer limits weren’t so paltry and the access packages so unreasonably expensive. $39.00 to $59.00 dollars per month with download limits? I don’t think so. Not when I pay $39.00 dollars for unlimited bandwidth at home.

Anyway, I’m heading home to be with my family. My father has been in the hospital all week and he’s having triple bypass surgery in the morning. I am blessed enough to have a good friend who works for Delta. She was able to get me a buddy pass I could use to fly home at the last minute without paying an arm and a leg. I can also fly home when I want, rather than scheduling a flight back to home to Atlanta ahead of time. The drawback is that I have to fly standby and I’m dead last in priority. The good news is that there are myriad delays at the airport today and the desk attendant feels certain there will be handfuls of people that do not make their connecting flights. I feel sure that I’ll either make this flight or the flight that leaves later this evening. Keep your fingers crossed.

Once again, I find myself chasing gates. When I checked in at the front desk, my seat request form listed gate B05 as the departure gate. Continuing my string of good luck with departure gates, the gate was at the far end of the terminal, requiring me to walk as far as possible. Delta, not feeling that was a sufficient walk for me, switched departure gates on me as I was making my way through security. The new departure gate was B33. As you may have guessed, B33 is located as far as possible from B05 without actually switching terminals. I had to walk so far, in fact, that Delta was able to switch the departure gate on me once more while I was in transit. Thankfully, B34 happened to be the new gate. All I had to do was cross the aisle.

In addition to blogging, I’m whiling away the hours by listening to an elderly Vietnamese woman literally scream into her phone. The good news is that I have company in listening to this woman. She has the most piercing voice you have ever heard and literally everyone at this end of the terminal is listening to her. I’m pretty sure I just saw blood streaming from the ear of the man sitting next to her. You could chop down trees with this woman’s voice.

My departure time continues to be pushed back. Not good news, especially since my whole plan involves other people being delayed whilst I leave on time. The further back my departure time is moved, the more likely that those late arrivals will make it after all. I hate to wish ill on other travelers, especially given how much I hate air travel, but I’m hoping to get out of here tonight. If I don’t, I will have to come back early tomorrow and repeat the process of walking the length of the terminal searching for my flight, all without a guaranteed seat. I probably should’ve purchased a full-price ticket.

Hell, if my plane gets delayed another hour, I probably should’ve just driven. What with the traffic to the airport, the 5k walk from the parking lot, the prison-rape that is airport security and the inevitable delays, the six-and-a-half-drive probably saves me my dignity, a few hundred bucks and a half-an-hour. Is it wrong of me to hope our miserable economy claims a few airlines as victims? Maybe our government will step in and restructure the industry so that flying isn’t the broken down, spirit-crushing experience it happens to be. I mean, look how they’ve fixed banking?

Okay. Nevermind. But I am waiting on a revitalized passenger rail service. It can’t possibly be a more predictable failure than the airline industry. Right?

Gone Fishing

Greetings from Durham, North Carolina. Sorry if I sound distracted but I’m doing something I rarely do these days. I’m watching television. It’s been so long that even the commercials are new and intriguing. I am having difficulty concentrating on the task at hand, which is…um…hold on a second….writing this blog.

Have you ever seen this show “Rotten Tomatoes“? It’s a movie review show that, apparently, tells the truth about the movies. It’s the kind of movie review show I would do. It’s sarcastic, caustic and likes less than half the movies they review. Not that the review show itself is any good but it moves quickly. It’s like the television equivalent of ..oh! shiny!

Anyway, what I was going to say was that I’m sitting here watching television with my brother waiting to go fishing. We’ve watched “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield, several Tivo’d “Family Guys” episodes and are now watching the aforementioned movie review show. It’s enough to make you believe that the end of the world is near. Of course, I said the same thing after watching “The South Park Movie”.

Tomorrow, we go fishing. We have three days on a house boat out of Atlantic, NC. The plan is to stick six of us on a boat, motor us out into the Ophelia Inlet, anchor the boat and leave us to stew for three days. Weather.com calls for rain all three days, with scattered thunderstorms. In some lands, they call this “vacation”.

For the record, I hate fishing. Don’t get me wrong. I like catching fish. But catching fish is not the same thing as fishing. “Catching fish” is thirty seconds of thrills and excitement that happens up to once every fishing trip. “Fishing” is the art of sitting around for up to fourteen hours wondering whether you still have bait on your hook or not.  And believe you me, you do not. You do not have bait on your hook. Ever.

I suppose I should be happy to be out of work. Technically, I’ll be “at the beach” and on a boat. In most books, that’s not a bad way to spend the day. Did I mention there will be five fishy-smelling drunks on board trying to squeeze in as much “guy time” as possible into a 72 hour period? I myself will be encouraged to drink too much and we’ll tell the same stories we’ve told each other for nine years worth of fishing trips now. And Icehole wonders why I don’t want to come on the annual fishing trip any more.

The good news is that I have come up with a plan to amuse myself while we’re aboard. Since we have six guys and one small bathroom facility, I plan to consume nothing but canned asparagus for the next three days. If all goes according to plan, the whole boat should smell like a truckload of burning pencil erasers. I won’t have internet as of tomorrow but I’ll update you all as soon as I get back Sunday evening.

We’re leaving pretty early in the morning so I guess I should wrap this up and get to bed. Wish me luck. Maybe this trip I’ll actually be blessed with catching a fish.

Seeing as how I refuse to check my bait more than once every 45 minutes, I’m guessing not.

Beer of the Night: Pauwel Kwak at The Porter

Just got in from The Porter where I had dinner with my buddies Jimmy and Elric.  This was my second trip to The Porter. I am beginning to really like the place and, if I ever open my own beer joint, it’s a place that will certainly serve as an inspiration, as will  Brick Store Pub. Both have great beer lists but The Porter, I think, has a slightly better atmosphere and is in a better location, at least if you live in Atlanta proper. If you’re just considering the beer list, Brick Store is probably the place to be.

The Pauwel Kawk pint glass, free with purchase
The Pauwel Kawk pint glass, free with purchase

Tonight was Pint Night and the pint in question was Bosteels’ Pauwel Kwak or, simply, Kwak. Kwak is a Belgian ale that comes with it’s own special glass. Part of the attraction of Pint Night at The Porter is that, while supplies last, the beer comes with a glass that you can take home with you. That was enough of a reason for Jimmy, Elric and me to visit The Porter on a Tuesday night.

The company, as always, was excellent. As brothers in Christ, we talked beer, Bible study and zombie movies, not necessarily in that order. We tend to cover a lot of ground when we get together, beer notwithstanding. It’s always a good time.

The beer was, to me, somewhat indifferent. The glass is unique and was a lot of fun but the beer itself was nothing to write home about. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t memorably good either. I remember it as fairly spicy but without distinguishing marks. I would drink it again but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it again either. I followed it with a He’ brew Rejewvenator that was just as forgetable. Maybe I just wasn’t in the beer tasting mood.

Whatever the mood, I definitely enjoyed the Apple Bacon Hushpuppies and the Kraut and Brats.  As everyone knows, bacon makes everything better and you just can’t go wrong with ‘kraut and brats. Them’s good eatin’.

If you’re ever in Atlanta and you’re a big fan of beer, seek out The Porter. It’s newer and maybe not as well known as Taco Mac or Brick Store Pub but it’s got a great atmosphere, a good menu and an eclectic selection of beers from which to choose.

Of the three establishments, I think it may rapidly become my favorite. It doesn’t have the rare beers you’ll find at Brick Store but it’s not as crowded either. And Little Five Points is at least as hip as Decatur.  Maybe more so. The Porter might not have breadth of selection you’ll find at Taco Mac but, then again, you won’t find the beer list padded with crap either.

Anyway, it was a good evening. I enjoyed a few beers and some good company. And I got a free glass. Life, for a while at least, is good. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Anniversary Gifts

Somewhere along the line, I picked up a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”. I don’t know exactly where I got it but it has occupied a space on my bookshelf for several years now. I suspect I pulled it out of a box of books someone was throwing away at my previous residence. However it came into my possession, I have yet to read it and most of the time I don’t even remember that it sits there unread.

Yesterday, scrounging around for a book to occupy a few quiet moments, I came across it again and decided to give it a read.  I got through a few pages and then dropped it on the floor for later consumption.

I came back to it today and decided to do away with the burdensome dust cover.  As I opened it to continue reading, I was struck by a dedication that had been hidden by the dust jacket.

May 31, 1977

Bill —

With all my

Love Always-

Ann–

Obviously, the first thing that struck me was the date. Today being May 31st, the inscription was written on this day 32 years ago. Given that this book has been on my shelf for a number of years, I find it an added coincidence to pick it up at just this time. I always remove dust jackets when I read a book too so it’s interesting that I left it on for the first days reading.

This all set me to wondering what occasion might’ve been celebrated 32 years ago.  I guess it must’ve been some kind of anniversary or birthday gift.  Which makes the cosmic coincidence all the more interesting. Had I not gotten divorced, today would have been my 12th anniversary.

As it stands, today marks the 10th anniversary of what was essentially my last day as a married man. My divorce was not official until 2000 but, ten years ago today, my then-wife and I celebrated our second anniversary together. We had a nice dinner and exchanged gifts and she left for an internship in Atlanta the very next day.  I didn’t know it then but it was the last day we’d have together as a married couple. One year later, nine years ago tomorrow, our separation became a divorce.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking of all the things that this day has meant to me over the years.

Five years ago, in 2004, Tiger was getting married. We had a tortured relationship from 2000 to 2002 but had managed to become friends by the time she tied the knot. All things considered, that one definitely turned out for the best. (You know I love you, T. Happy Anniversary weekend.)

Four years ago, C spent this day moving to Atlanta. I spent the time hiking around the Yucatan Peninsula trying not to think about it. I’m sure I was unsuccessful.

Three years ago, I watched my good friend Cathy marry. I read 1st Corinthians 13 at her wedding.  I am sure someone read the same passage at my wedding. A few months later, I would find myself following C’s footsteps to Atlanta, having learned the truth of the passage. “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Two years ago, I was in Hilton Head celebrating Memorial Day. That was the weekend C and I rekindled our relationship for the umpteenth time. This day kicked off a great Summer, one of my favorites so far.

One year ago, I was in Destin, Florida, celebrating Memorial Day again, pondering the end of my relationship with C and the sparks that might’ve marked the beginning of another.

Today, I spent the better part of my day looking back at the last ten years with a mixture of sadness and regret. I have come a long way in ten years and I’m so much more happy and content with who I am now than who I was then. It took divorce to make me examine who I really was and what was really important to me. It took divorce to make me realize how selfish and uncommunicative I really was. Without divorce as a catalyst, I would not have been forced to address my own shortcomings, something which I hope I have done and something which I still strive to do.

But it’s been hard. Life hasn’t exactly worked out the way I wanted.  I never thought I’d still be single. I always planned on marrying again and still hold out hope for it some day. Though I’m a better person, relationships have not proven to be any simpler since my divorce.

I also assumed I’ve have kids by now.  I have a lot of great nieces and nephews though. I love those guys. They let me get my kid fix when I need it. They also serve to help me realize that maybe I don’t want kids just yet. They can be a handful, that’s for sure.

The bottom line is that,  life may not be what I planned or hoped for over the last ten years but I am a better person that I ever imagined myself to be. I’m stronger by far.  I’m more confident and sure of myself and I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been. Life isn’t without it’s abundant recompense.

My mind returns to a passage of scripture that has served as an inspiration to me many times over the last six years. Following the string of coincidences, it happens to be the passage of the day in one of my iGoogle widgets. The passage is Romans 5: 1-5 and it’s been a gift to me. It’s also the gift with which I’ll leave you. Goodnight, all, and happy anniversary.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Mardy Bum

I’m going to have to find a better source of videos for The Song In My Head series than YouTube. It seems all you can find on YouTube these days are poor quality clips of  a live performance somewhere.

The only other thing you find is somebody’s home made video. That seems to be the case today. I woke up with the insanely catchy “Mardy Bum” from the Artic Monkeys in my noggin. I pushed through the live clips on YouTube until I found this media studies class project.  It’s well done for a bunch of students.

Warning: the song is, as I said, insanely catchy. You will likely find it rooted in your head if you give it a listen. I think you’ll like it, however. Artic Monkeys are one of my favorite finds on Pandora.  Enjoy.