Tag Archives: Derek Jeter

What Was I Thinking

What was I thinking while caught up in a moment of “Billy Bad Assisum”?  What was I thinking signing up for a FULL Ironman triathlon.  I guess I really thought I knew what I was doing.  I guess I thought… “that which does not kill you makes you stronger”!  I guess if I have come so far along this path, I can go just a little further.  The problem is that a full Ironman is twice as long as I have ever swam, ran or biked before.  Can I do this?  Am I strong enough?

Yes, I believe I can finish a full Ironman, but will it be within the time limit?  Yes, I feel like I can train enough to finish a full Ironman, but what will be the cost?  Yes, I feel like I can give what is needed to do all of those things and be the Vice Principal of Space Camp, but will that even be enough?  I am not Amazon.  I am not a freak of nature, physical specimen of what God ordained as a triathlete.  Heck, Amazon was a triathlete before she could even swim!  I am seriously in over my head.

Well, the next four months will tell me if I can swim 2.4 miles in the Tennessee River, if I can bike 112 miles through Tennessee and mostly north Georgia, and finish with a marathon through the streets of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Will I do it?  Will Dixon Ticonderoga still use graphite as the pencil core?  Will Aviation Challenge still be associated with the color green?  Well, I am only sure about one thing.  I am in over my head!

As Derek Jeter is my witness, my number one goal until the morning of September 29th after 140.6 miles is Chattanooga!  I don’t know Derek Jeter personally, but he dated Mariah Carey and he is a New York Yankee!  He can be my pinstriped patron saint of athletic endeavors!  Peyton can only be my boyfriend!

Thanksgiving in Baku

I am going to try for a light hearted blog post today, because if I start listing off all the truly wonderful people and things I have in my life back home in Mississippi and Alabama I may just walk into traffic.  This is the first time I have spent a major holiday away from my family.  And if you know me, family means an awful lot to me.

Last year my Thanksgiving blog post list thirty things I was thankful for.  Similar to what everyone has been doing on Facebook day by day.  I am going to list ten things I am thankful for associated with my trip to Baku!

Sim Trainers

Not Being Detained – For those who do not know, I aways carry a knife.  Most of the time it is in a bag or tucked inside a pocket.  The Sunday morning after arriving in Baku, I discovered I’d traveled on an airplane from Huntsville, Alabama to Baku Azerbaijan with my orange handled Spyderco rescue knife.  Since September 11th knives have been banned because of security measures by the TSA and FAA for airline flights.  I went through security checkpoints with x-ray scans of my carry on luggage in the United States and in Germany.  Obviously this was an oversight on my part by packing the knife and a security oversight by them for letting me keep the darn thing.

Red Bull is an International Drink – Two years ago I never drank energy drinks.  After making a few long distance trips in the same week I started drinking Red Bull.  Darryl, the meteor guy, bought me a Red Bull at the local market.  One Red Bull after another helped to keep me going after long days with limited sleep.  Red Bull’s country of origin is Thailand and is sold by an Austrian company.  Over 5 billion cans are sold world wide each year.  With Red Bull’s stake in media advertising and sponsorships of extreme sports, auto racing and air racing, I have heard comparisons made between Red Bull’s founder Dietrich Mateschitz and the Dos Equis brand character, “Most Interesting Man in the World”. .  I am simply happy I can find Red Bull almost anywhere in Baku.  And I wouldn’t trade the long hours of work… it has been a great experience.

Space Camp Family – Trish, Ed, Mike, Roger, Carolyn, Cowan, Michael, Nathan, Daniel and even Joel have made this trip wonderful.  So often when you work doing the same thing in an organization you forget about the other people working around you in other departments.  This project has been rewarding just for that reason.  However, each day Trish does something crazy to make me giggle, laugh or just fall on the floor in hysterics!  She is a great travel buddy especially to this region of the world.  She spent time in Georgia teaching last year.

The Underground Tunnel to Work – Since the hotel fired George, our most favorite driver, and the new driver doesn’t know how to drive, Trish and I have been walking to work.  We are staying in a hotel just across the street from the venue, however you dare not try crossing the street.  The drivers in Baku are on a mission from God to control the population in Azerbaijan.  They do not stop for anyone or anything. The traffic in general is chaotic at best!  They do not have traffic lights and you are twice as likely to being hit by a car if you cross the street in an area designated for pedestrian traffic.  This underground tunnel has saved our lives countless times!  It is somewhat out of the way, but it is tunnel or death by Mercedes-Benz.  We could take some time off our walk if we crossed the Kentucky Bluegrass which surrounds the venue, but we fear snipers would gun us down.  They are serious about turf management here!

Being a Farm Kid – There have been many things I have done while setting up the exhibit that I had limited experience doing.  But in the words of Story Musgrave, they picked me because I was a farm kid to fix it… He fixed the Hubble Space Telescope and peoples bodies.  I have fixed  electrical gear, used a table saw, constructed barriers around artifacts and undressed a Russian Cosmonaut mannequin.  Being a farm kid and seeing my mom and dad work with their hands taught me a lot. I love working with my hands.  I have loved building things and seeing this exhibit take shape.  I saw chaos turn to order in a few weeks time!

Overall, I have a lot to be thankful for! I thankful for being an American and the wonderful life I have.  I miss my family and friends, however, it is an adventure, and life is about adventures.  The thing I miss most about not being at home in Carroll County is the smell of the turkey coming out of the oven at 6am and the whole family standing around the chop block making the dressing.  I will have to wait a few weeks for that tradition!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Turkey Blog 4.0

Do you know where you were a few days before Thanksgiving four years ago? Well, my answer to that question is, right here. I was sitting on this couch with my laptop computer creating my blog, GraphiteFree.  I haven’t been the most faithful companion to my blog. Life sometimes happens and it is less than eventful when you put it into print. This post is to help mark the anniversary and the Thanksgiving season.

The latest Facebook trend this month is to put what you are thankful for each day of November.  I didn’t discover this until a few days ago. I am less than observant at times. This is my futile attempt to be as cool as everyone who started on November 1st, listing what they are thankful for and desperately hoping to keep my blog relevant.

One – God:  I am very thank for our gracious Creator. Knowing that our God and Father is watching over us and loved us enough to save us is the most precious thing in our lives. This is what I am most thankful for.

Two – Family:  I have a wonderful family. Being home in Mississippi recharges my heart and soul. I love being on the farm near my family with my mom cooking in the kitchen and daddy in his chair. On top of that, I have a wonderful extended family in Madison County Alabama.

Three – Blinkers:  I love safety. I am the Be Ready Girl! Blinkers represent planning ahead… look for the safest route to your final goal… and not running into the driver next to you. Blinkers are important.

Four – Freedom:  Until the socialist take my freedom. I will be very thankful for this. Don’t believe everything you read. Thinking for yourself is the best way to experience freedom. The ability to pick and choose what you want to do on a daily basis is a glorious thing.

Five – Great Friends:  Throughout my life I have all ways been surrounded by wonderful people. Life is not much fun unless you have great friends to enjoy life with.

Six – Sports:  I am very thankful to be a fan of sports, a lover of ESPN Sports Center and a competitor in many sporting events. I love crying at sports movies and those touching “Inside the Lines” stories on Sunday mornings.

Seven – Bunnies:  This year, I was blessed by having a litter of rabbit kits. There were seven of the little guys. It was one of the coolest things ever! I now want to start a farm.

Eight – Health:  God has truly blessed me with great health. I can do all things I need to do. I have been given great endurance and I am seldom sick.

Nine – Ragnar:  On November 9th, a team of crazy friends and I ran from Chattanooga to Nashville. I am thankful for friends and for the ability run… I am still not fast, but I can run.

Ten – Soda Box Cookies:  These cookies are not made from some super secret recipe. These cookies however are the best ever conceived and my grandmother taught me how to make them. I miss my grandparents and are truly thankful to have some of the greatest to ever live.

Eleven – Electricity:  I could be one of those people who lives in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. However, electricity and technology has given us so much extra enjoyment in life. Without refrigeration our modern day Thanksgiving would not be possible.  It is great to type a blog and not use graphite to record all my ramblings.

Twelve – Cowbells:  No, Mississippi State is not known for its multiple national titles, but it is know for its cowbells. Mississippi State is a wonderful place with many happy memories attached to it. Hearing a cowbell ring gives me great joy! I am thankful for the Bulldogs and I hope they beat the University of Mississippi on Saturday.

Thirteen – Thanksgiving:  Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever conceived.  There is not a push to over commercialize it. People don’t get lost in shopping to help fuel our economy.  It is a day where we all pause and thank God for those things that are truly important in our lives.

Fourteen – Pencils:  The Dixon Ticonderoga is the quintessential American pencil.  It has been in my backpack, on my desk and behind my ear for many years. I love the pencil, because it does not expect me to be perfect like the pen does. The pencil is a non-judgmental companion that I am very thankful for.

Fifteen – Peanut Butter:  I was a picky eater growing up.  Some say I am still a picky eater.  However, if it wasn’t for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I might not have lived to see the age fifteen. Heck, I didn’t like pizza for a while. I feel sorry for all the poor souls who are allergic to peanut butter.

Sixteen – Golf:  Is there anything better than taking a club and beating the crap out of a small round object. To focus your energy on one single point in space and driving the ball beyond your own expectations is one of the best ways to release stress!

Seventeen – Math:  Seventeen is a prime number.  So is 37, which will be my age this time next year. No matter the number or age, I love math. I loved teaching math and doing math. I even like the new exhibit at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Math Alive.

Eighteen – Peyton Manning:  True, Peyton is not with the Colts anymore, but he is still my most favorite boy friend. But I am still very lucky to see my favorite Manning playing football this season! Thank you for Peyton’s health! Also, I am very happy Peyton attended Rocky Top and not Ole Piss.

Nineteen – Okra:  Delta State is a wonderful university found in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Knowing how quirky I am, you should know that I would go to school where they have a mascot like the Fighting Okra. I am an okra girl. The Statesmen is a dumb mascot!

Twenty – Salt:  What would we do without salt? It a multifunctional tool which I can not imagine a day without. It makes stuff taste better. It is used for many great Biblical analogies. And it is useful in making ice cream.

Twenty One – Antiperspirant:  Let me be honest with you all, I sweat more than most human beings do. If it were not for Degree antiperspirant I wouldn’t have friends and my Ragnar team mates would have kicked me out of the van after my first run. I am very thankful for the help I receive in the use of antiperspirant.

Twenty Two – Cotton:  I love being a farm kid. I love all the amazing memories I have either in the cotton field or the cotton gin. I loved having acres and acres to roam when growing up. I am very thankful for my farming family.

Twenty Three – Proof Readers:  I can’t spell or write very well without an army of people to help me. I need to have proof readers to make this blog thing a reality. It is fun connecting with people though my blog. I couldn’t do that without people to help me.

Twenty Four – Weddings:  This is going to seem like a crazy thing to be thankful for, but I am thankful for Anderson’s wedding last year. After the wedding my mom saw pictures of me on Facebook. She thought I was fat and told me I was fat. Later that fall she told me again after another wedding. I am thankful for this, because it was the kick in the pants I needed to get in shape!

Twenty Five – Running: I am thankful to be able to run, because it makes me not so fat. However, I wish I could be thankful for good genetics which makes me a good runner. But that is not the case, I am slow and thankful for the abilities I do have.

Twenty Six – Recruiting Staff:  Yes, I am very thankful for the efforts made to recruit new staff for Space Camp. But one of the most coolest things about staff recruitment, is staff training is not far behind. Did I mention, I have the coolest job in the world.

Twenty Seven – Baseball:  Since I was 20 months old I have been fascinated with the game of baseball. I have been to many professional, college and high school games. It doesn’t matter if it is a World Series or a little league game, I love the game of baseball. Get well soon Derek Jeter.

Twenty Eight – Gadgets:  I love knives, first aid supplies, tools and electronics. I like being ready for most anything that life could through at me. I am thankful that Lysol can kill 99.9% of germs. I am thankful for those who invented these things and the spirit of innovation.

Twenty Nine – Space Camp:  I am truly thankful for being able to work at a camp that operates year around.  Space Camp has wonderful staff. Everyday is a different day! I am thankful to work at the coolest place for space!

Thirty – Turkey:  I am a turkey for some of the things I have listed. But all in all, I have enjoyed this exercise. I will enjoy my time with my family around the Thanksgiving table. Thank you so much Mr. Butterball!


This weekend Chris and I visited the farm in Mississippi! We arrived just before a thunderstorm hit. And I am not talking about my nephews, but that too. Chris and I have grown accustom to peace and quiet so when we visit the farm we must be ready to rumble. The boys want to play, the boys want to wrestle, and the little girl wants to sing and dance. What more could dinks ask for?

Please don’t get me wrong. My nephews, Rhett and Reese, are made from the same stock as me! I am loud! I am stubborn! And most of all I am a giant goof ball! On Friday the boys and I were watching baseball. They Yankees were trailing to the Twins. We shared stories on why we loved Derek Jeter and why A-Rod was over paid. The boys really like A-Rod! When Alex Rodriquez hit a two run homer in the ninth inning to tie the game Rhett and I went nuts! Unfortunately my dog, Boo, doesn’t like loud noise. Boo barked and howled at the two of us. This all happened in between efforts to pull out one of Reese’s teeth. Loud doesn’t really describe the noise level. To sum up the night, the tooth wasn’t pulled, Mark Teixeira won the game with a walk off hit, and Boo barked.

Boo doesn’t like commotion! On Saturday we visited our church up the road. We all piled into my dad’s truck. The seating arrangements were Rhett, Reese, Chris, Boo and me on the backseat and mom, dad and Lucy on the front. Yes, we didn’t have enough seat belts. But, it was a dirt road or something like that. We hopped out and left Boo in the truck with the boys and Lucy. If you want to know what terror looks like, trap Boo into a truck cab with my niece and nephews. His ears were cocked backwards and his eyes were as large as golf balls. If he could talk, he would be pleading for deliverance back home!

Lucy's FingersHe survived as did I. But I am not so sure about Lucy. Saturday we cooked steaks out on the grill. Hot grill plus little girl equals burnt finger. Poor little Lucy cried and cried! At first, I thought she had cut her finger on something. No blood, so it wasn’t a big deal. She continued to cry. I can’t speak crying kid so I didn’t understand what was going on. I tried to help with my expert Be Ready Camp skills, but setting up a triage tent was an over kill. When I saw the little blisters on her fingers I almost started to cry. We bandaged her fingers up by using ace bandages as substitute for gauze, but we didn’t use duct tape.

We changed gears from baseball to football on Saturday just as we were changing gears from treating a second degree burn to pulling a tooth. As a child, I felt that parents had a twisted desire to pull their children’s teeth. This was proven when my mother was so determined to pull Reese’s tooth that she bribed him. That didn’t work. She tried inspiration speeches… “Yes, We Can!” That didn’t work. I tried comparing it to an eight second bull ride. Reese loves cowboy movies, but that didn’t work. But my mom did wait, and wait until Reese fell asleep. She tried stirring him to get up and then yanked the tooth with floss looped in his month. As cruel as I thought it was, Reese jumped up, whimpered, and rejoiced! “Cool, my tooth is gone”, he proclaimed as I was having flash backs of my childhood!

The night settled down, Boo cuddled up, and eventually I fell asleep. I love visiting my childhood home. I would say that it brings me peace and refreshes me but that wouldn’t be completely true. I love my family. I love all the little kid hugs and cheers. I love my mom’s cooking. I love showing Chris around my family’s farm. I love it all! It may be noisy and rough at times. But the ruckus is what makes Rhett and Reese special! Lucy on the other hand is just sweeter than a rice-crispy treat! And being on the farm is simply magnificent!

the cathedral

Yankee Stadium (Sept 2009)From great college games to family vacations to big league parks, I have had some seen great moments in baseball. I have listened intently to ballgames on the radio, watched records be broken from my college dorm room, and visited historic ball parks. Without a doubt I love baseball. I know most all the lines to all of Kevin Costner’s baseball movies and cry when watching the Pride of the Yankees.

Baseball is just in my blood. It has been since my parents took me to see Pete Rose return to Cincinnati to face Johnny Bench and the Reds. I was four and counted every pitch and watched every play. Since then, I have visited Wrigley Field, saw Noland Ryan pitch, and went to a playoff game in Atlanta. I was lucky to have parents that enjoyed the finer things in life such as cold beer and a hot dog at a ball game. We visited many stadiums growing up, but there was one I didn’t visit as a kid.

Since I was old enough to know who Babe Ruth was I wanted to go to New York to visit his house. Last year during the second to last weekend of the regular season Chris and I made our trip to Yankee Stadium. It was a quick trip between the second and the third week of Be Ready Camp to see the Yanks play the Rays. The Rays were the hottest team in baseball and headed to the playoffs while, the Yankees were headed into the off-season.

Chris and I drove straight from Be Ready Camp graduation to the Courtyard in midtown Manhattan. The next morning we took the 4-train to Yankee Stadium. We visited shops and toured around the area. The gates opened and we scurried through the tight maze to see the field. There are only a few things in life more exhilarating than the moment you reach the top of a stadium ramp to the opening of the bleachers where you can see the turf! The bright blue sky and the green plush grass are a bone tingling sight! Only thing that compares visually would be a grandiose view from one of our majestic National Parks (or perhaps one of the Be Ready firefighters).

We watched batting practice in the warm sun and hung out with grumpy New Yorkers, sadly some stereotypes are proven by the worst of every group; however, everyone we met was friendly and kind! There was one lady that cheered War Eagle our way when she saw Chris’ Alabama ball cap [Editor’s note: Roll Tide]. After finding our seats we made friends with everyone around us. We were those fans, the ones that sat in other people’s seats until the shade covered our seats. I am a redhead. I didn’t want to burn. We went inside for Yuengling and dogs. We didn’t want to drink the light beer that was being peddled in the stands.

Derek Jeter The game itself was awesome. I had dreamed of going to a Yankees game for years. I think Derek Jeter knew this fact and went 3 for 4 with a home run. He also tied Lou Gehrig’s Yankee all time hits record. ARod also gave us a little show. In the first inning he hit a grand slam which put everyone on their feet. The crowd was electric. And just because I was in town, they put Mariano Rivera in for one out! It was the perfect day. [Box Score]

This fall as the anniversary of our trip neared I wanted to go back. But sadly I think the new stadium is not as enchanting. There was something magical knowing that I was sitting in the same ball park Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and a host of other greats played. Not only did Yankee Stadium play host to baseball and football teams, but it was the site of concerts and Pope visits. If the bricks and mortar of that great stadium could talk they would tell an epic tale of America’s pastime.

New Yankee StadiumThis year the Yankees are headed to the playoffs. There will be no farewell speeches at the last game. The new park has lots of glitz and glamour. I will cheer for them just as I always have, but I am sure the new park will not have the same magic. I only visited one day last year. But I feel like I had a little bit of the Yankee magic rub off on me. Now I carry that with me where ever I go.