Monday, December 31, 2007

... and for a limited time only ...



Gee, earlier this year, Andrew got an invitation in the mail to apply to MIT.
What kind of invitations is Robert getting in the mail? Hmmm.
I wonder if anyone should tell the good people at Playboy that Robert is, um, 14.
Although that's a little older than I was when I first began, er, reading the articles. Yeah. That's right.
But Robert just shrugged when I pointed out that the offer included a DVD.
And his grandmother is worried about dirty pictures on the Internet.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Snowball fight!

Don't send a lame Holiday eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!


Happy holidays from all of us!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Faster, faster, faster



I just checked the speed of our high-speed connection from Lake Isabella, and I'm pleased.
That's a lot faster than when I checked it last March, shortly after it was installed. Not bad for the boonies, not bad at all.
This is one downside of moving to town. The Internet connectivity may not be as good.
There's always Charter Cable, but after listening to a myriad of complaints about the service, I think I'd rather revive the Verizon dial-up.
Verizon doesn't offer DSL in the new neighborhood. (What is WRONG with those people?)
There are a couple of wireless providers who might be able to provide a connection. We'll have to check.
Meanwhile, I like that speed from Winn Telecom's Motorola Canopy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

There’s no forgetting Christmas


It’s a quiet Christmas morning.
We’re still in Lake Isabella, which wasn’t the way the plan was originally made.
(Make plans. Don’t plan outcomes.)
The original plan called for us to close on the townhouse last week, make a mad scramble to move in, and celebrate Christmas at the new place.
That didn’t work.
We’re not really sure what happened, but the closing got hung up in legal stuff on the end of the townhouse seller. The sign on the townhouse porch’s railing says “sold,” but that’s not quite true.
We’ve had two closing dates, and they both fell apart at the last minute. Part of me wants to use the word “nightmare,” but that’s way, way too strong.
“Nightmare” is what I saw on the way back from learning that the latest closing date had evaporated: A medical helicopter swooping down to land at Central Michigan Community Hospital, preparing to take someone to a trauma center or neurological intensive-care unit. “Nightmare” is what happened to a 17-year-old Mt. Pleasant High School student on Christmas Eve, when he rolled his 2007 Ski-Doo at high speed and suffered severe facial injuries. That also involved a helicopter ride.
“Nightmare” is what happened in Martiny Township last night – a 34-year-old woman is in jail facing felonious assault charges after deputies answered a “shots fired” complaint. (Usually that kind of stuff doesn’t happen until Christmas night, after people have spent all day getting drunk with the relatives they don’t like.)
“Nightmare” is what I saw as I drove by the cemetery across the tracks from the newspaper on Christmas Eve – a burial. There were probably 100 people gathered in the snow around a new grave, laying to rest a loved one they obviously did like.
Business has been good for my friends in the funeral business the last week or so. On Christmas Eve, six brand-new obituaries popped into my inbox.
Those kinds of traumas will echo for a very long time down through the generations of many families.
My own grandfather died 15 years before I was born. Ordinarily, that would make him a vague, shadowy figure I never knew – but he died on Christmas Day. I have to look up and make sure of the dates of my father’s death, my mother’s death, my brother’s death. But there’s no forgetting Christmas, and despite – or maybe because of -- my parents’ best efforts, that sheen of sadness and loss still permeates the holiday.
It doesn’t help that I work in two industries – the media and education – both with insanely busy times during December. The year’s profit for a publication all comes in December – and the college semester ends in December. Even without the holiday, everything’s busy, exhausting and mentally draining.
Add on the expectation of a Sparkle City Christmas, and things move close to the edge. Now toss in a mortgage and a move. Those are listed by a lot of mental health professionals as almost as stressful as the death of a loved one, physical illness or trauma, or divorce.
No, this delay isn’t really a nightmare. Maybe it’s a salvation, keeping all our heads from exploding. The closing delay is a paperwork problem, and it’s someone else’s problem besides. It will work, but it takes patience.
But tell that to Kissy Missy, who had dreamed of a perfect Christmas in the new house. Tell that to Andrew, whose last Christmas at home will be among the boxes stacked in the living room. Tell that to Katherine and Robert.
So we’re still here at Lake Is, the living room stacked with boxes, half of our stuff inaccessible, the rest unlocateable in the turmoil. The decorations remain packed – they were supposed to go up at the new place.
There are such great expectations for Christmas – a perfect family, perfect cookies, perfect decorations to complement a perfect meal in a perfect house. Well, we didn’t make it this year.
But what we have is a white Christmas, gorgeous snow in the woods and the fields. We have quiet, instead of stress. We have gifts, not lavish, but gifts nonetheless. A ham will go in the oven, potatoes on the stove, and the house will be warm.
And perhaps the biggest gift of all: A chance to rest, recuperate, be with each other without deadlines, without schedules, without trauma and tension and tardiness.
Besides, now we have 365 ½ days (2008 is a leap year) to get the next one right.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Smile for the camera, Andrew


It's a day Andrew has been looking forward to all his life.
The braces are off.
When Andrew's adult teeth came in, they weren't nice to him. His cuspids were way too high, and the rest of his mouth just didn't cooperate.
He was always self-conscious about the way he looked, and as soon as it became feasible, it became orthodontics time.
A big part of me, the way that I was raised, viscerally objected to the whole idea of orthodontics. That was the echo of my own parents' attitudes about it, a certain Puritanism about something with cosmetic benefits. Well, I got over it, and the results are amazing. Andrew came out of the orthodontist's office with the largest smile I've ever seen.
He's spent the rest of the day smiling, and enjoying the taste and the feel of food without metal in the way.
He's still going to wear a retainer for some time, but mostly, he's enjoying that new smile, learning how to make that smile work.
It took patience, oral surgery and several years of tweaks and adjustments. It's done.
And it's paid for.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ski season begins



Practice for the 2007-08 version of the Mt. Pleasant High School ski team began Monday, and Andrew's ready.
It's his senior year, he's got new skis, and he was running at the front of the pack Monday at the first "dry land" practice.
Malcolm Fox, whose son Ian is on the team, shot this video last February and forwarded it it us.
The first meet is set for Jan. 8.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New ACT scores: Way beyond wow!

Last April, we learned that Andrew had produced some phenomenal scores on the ACT examination. All Michigan high school students are required to take the ACT as part of a battery of tests during their junior years.
Andrew finished the ACT, but got sick during the rest of the exam and didn't take those portions.
Well, the state demanded that he take the whole thing, including re-taking the ACT. Hey, they were paying for it, and a couple of weeks ago, it was standardized test time.
Most of Andrew's ACT scores went up.
The results went from "beyond wow" to "way beyond wow."

Here are the old and new results:

Section...............Old Percentile Revised Percentile
Composite.........31......98..............32..........99
English..............29......93...............33..........98
Math..................28......92...............29..........94
Reading.............34......98...............31..........94
Science..............34......99...............36*........99
Eng/Writing.......27......85...............30.........n/a

*36 is a perfect score

"I feel so inadequate," Andrew said, with a twinkle in his eye.
"You failure!" his loving little sister chimed in. "You missed four points! You have such trouble with algebra and geometry!"
OK, so there was a member of the class of 2006 at Mt. Pleasant High who scored a perfect 36, one of only two in the state. She happens to be the daughter of one of my colleagues in the Journalism Department.
Andrew will just have to learn that good enough -- the 99th percentile -- is good enough.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Welcome to the future, Andrew

Andrew celebrated his 18th birthday on Thursday.
Wow.
The guy who would cuddle with me on the steps leading upstairs on the house on East Haley Street is an adult now. It's just amazing to me how things have changed.
He spent his 18th birthday being a whole lot more responsible than I was on mine. Back in the day, the drinking age was 18, so I spent the evening of my 18th birthday guzzling beer and puking on the dance floor at the old Alibi East. It was wonderful.
Yeah, right.
If someone, that very day, had told me I would have three sons, I would have believed them. If they would have told me what I'd be doing on my middle son's 18th birthday, I would simply have been confused.
I imagined what that conversation might be like:
VOICE OF THE FUTURE: When your middle son turns 18, you will be in Mt. Pleasant.
ME: You mean I'll never get out?
VOICE: You'll go to the Wayside. You'll have many adventures, but you'll return. And you'll be the editor of a Web site.
ME: The "editor" part I understand. What's a Web site?
VOICE: A piece of the World Wide Web, a computer network accessible from almost anywhere.
ME: Computer network ...

VOICE: People will read news, sports, see video images, look up information, buy, sell, even get dates, do almost anything from their personal computers.
ME: Personal ... computers?
VOICE: You, your wife, and each of your children will each have their own personal computer at home.
ME: R..i..g..h..t. Will we have room for anything else?




VOICE: A big part of your job will be to shoot television pictures with a hand-held camera and videotape machine.
ME: Hand-held. Um, that's tough to imagine.
VOICE: The camera and videotape recorder will fit into your hand.
ME: How big will my hands be by then?
VOICE: And you'll edit the footage on a personal computer, and put it on your Web site.
ME: R..i..g..h..t. What was in that beer?
VOICE: You'll be exploring ways to deliver news via text message.
ME: Text ... message.
VOICE: Information that appears on the screens of people's telephones.

ME: Telephones will have screens? Like the PicturePhone?

VOICE: Not exactly. You'll carry your phone in your pocket.
ME: Uh, huh. Those will have to be big pockets.
VOICE: And you can take pictures and videos with it.
ME: With a phone? Ummmmm ...
VOICE: And you'll write about your life on your blog.
ME: My ... blog. And I suppose it'll be OK to show my, um, blog in public.
VOICE: Of course. Your family and friends will eagerly look forward to seeing it. It will be on the World Wide Web. People will Google it.
ME: I don't even want to know ...

Welcome to the future, Andrew. Embrace it. But however it turns out, it won't be like we imagine it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ski season approaches


It's almost Christmas with Guns -- Andrew's birthday -- and that means that ski season isn't far behind.
Andrew's got a new set of skis again this winter. That wasn't part of the original plan, but his fabulous racing skis got ripped off near the end of last season.
We might have paid a $500 deductible and replaced them, but Andrew had a different idea: Shop carefully.
He ended up with a never-used, but out-of-production model, and paid stunningly little for them. The bindings that came with the skis probably would cost more than what he paid for the entire package.
When ski season begins, he'll be ready. It's his senior year, and he's got great hopes.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We want you, Andrew



The telephone call - clearly from a nice, cute-sounding student employee -- was excited and joyful. She left the message that Andrew had been accepted to Central Michigan University!
Yeah. OK. Um ...


Andrew didn't apply to CMU.
Well, yes, he did, as a dual-enrollment student, and he was accepted as one. He already is a CMU student, listed officially as a freshman, taking college-level German. He has a CMich e-mail address, a CMich global identifier, a CMich student i.d.
In order to get those, he had to submit an application last spring, so perhaps they've decided that yes, they would allow him to take more classes this fall. But he didn't ask THAT question.
Still, it's nice to have more than one option.
Fire up, Andrew! Go Chips!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Life after band


The Oiler band turned in the best score it's had in years -- 73.65 -- at the state Flight III band championships at Ford Field Saturday night.


The performance was crisp and tight. The musicianship was top-notch. The guard turned in its best performance of the year.
Everything went right. The Oilers finished eighth.

















The competition has become extremely intense in Flight III. Last year, that 73.65 would have been good enough for fourth place. This year, four bands broke 80 with beautifully choreographed, beautifully written and performed shows that were a true joy to behold.
The young Oilers had a great time.

The show was about being there, provoking crowd reaction, and the crowd in the stands loved it. The familiar strains of "Another Brick in the Wall" and "Comfortably Numb" got the crowd moving -- and the sophisticated rock'n'roll drew the people in. They bought it.
It was a great show.

Here are the final standings in the Michigan Competing Bands Association 2007 Flight III competition:
1. Ferndale.............................86.85
2. Stevensville Lakeshore.......85.55
3. Grand Rapids Northview.....83.8
4. Farmington Hills Harrison...81.7
5. Marysville ...........................78.4
6. Allegan................................75.7
7. Byron Center ......................75.4
8. Mount Pleasant .............73.65
9. Redford Thurston...............72.75
10.Fruitport.............................72.3

Saturday, November 3, 2007

One show to go






























The band invited the community to come to Community Memorial Stadium for a performance of "Socially Numb," and the performance was amazing.
"Well, it could have been better," Robert said. That's always his attitude.
About 150 people were in the stands for what might have been the rightest, tightest, most dynamic performance yet. Kissy Missy, Andrew and I watched from the press box, and the sound was just amazing.
They've added a few new wrinkles, and the show reached the point where it should be -- it brought tears to my eyes.
Band Director Matt Taton says he's approaching this as just another chance to perform, a bonus, and extra show.
Even if it's in front of a few thousand people at Ford Field.
More later from Dee-troit.

It's finals day



The band is psyched.
After what might have been one of the best practices of the year, the Oiler band is ready for one more road trip -- to the state band championships at Ford Field.

First up today is a community performance. That's at 10 a.m. at Community Memorial Stadium. Then it's on to downtown Dee-troit. The Oilers' performance is set for 5:20 p.m. Awards are at 8.

Kissy Missy and I will make the trip to Detroit. Andrew's staying here. He's the technical director for the school play, "The Foreigner," which debuted last night.

In all cases, the show must go on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Creatures at the Office



It's now official -- I have been named the Online Editor of TheMorningSun.com. I asked if there were a job description.
"No, just make it up as you go along."
I big part of the task of doing videos, either to go with stories or as a stand alone feature. This story -- people who dress up for Halloween at the office -- seemed tailor-made for video.
Clearly, I had fun with this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On to Ford Field!


The Oiler Marching Band is headed to the state finals at Ford Field for the second year in a row.
Mt. Pleasant's "Socially Numb" show landed in seventh place -- the top 10 bands head for the finals.
Saturday’s Flight III competition begins at 4:35 p.m. The tentative performance time for Mt. Pleasant will be 5:20.
Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens, cash only. FordField.com lists presale prices of $14 and $10; call Call 313-262-2000 for more information.
Parking is $6 at Ford Field parking facilities

Here are the Michigan Competing Band Association Flight III Standings. Top 10 schools move to the state finals at Ford Field.

School--------------------------------Score-----Above/below bubble
1 Ferndale......................................80.075......12.952
2 Stevensville Lakeshore...............78.025.......10.900
3 Grand Rapids Northview.............76.100…....8.975
4 Farmington Harrison..................75.550........8.425
5 Marysville....................................74.350.......7.225
6 Byron Center...............................73.000.......5.875
7 Mt. Pleasant............................69.575.....2.75
8 Allegan.......................................69.550........2.425
9 Fruitport......................................69.175.......2.050
10 Redford Thurston......................67.125..........0

11 DeWitt.......................................67.075.....-0.050
12 Gibraltar Carlson.......................66.675......-0.450
13 Dearborn Hts Crestwood...........65.800.....-1.325
14 Linden........................................65.250......-1.875
15 Trenton......................................65.075.....-2.05
16 Hazel Park..................................63.600.....-3.525
17 St Clair Shores Lake Shore........59.250.....-7.875
18 St Clair Shores South Lake........57.875......-9.250
19 St Clair Shores Lakeview...........51.375.....-15.750

The field is full of veteran bands.

Ferndale didn’t quite match its phenomenal 80.65 performance at West Bloomfield, turning in a 79.5 to win at Huron Valley. Ferndale is defending champion, winning last year’s event with an 81.80.
Stevensville Lakeshore slid a bit, too. Lakeshore’s score slid from a 78.35 at Jenison to a 77.70 to win the Reeths-Puffer festival.
Lakeshore came into last year’s event with a top ranking, but was surprised by Ferndale. Lakeshore finished second last year with an 80.8.
Grand Rapids Northview continued to improve. It scored a 75.9 at Jenison and a 76.3 at Huron Valley. Northview is an experienced band, finishing fifth in Flight II last year.
Farmington Harrison’s got momentum. It scored a 73.85 at Clarkston, then rolled to a 77.25 at Huron Valley.
Harrison finished third last year at Ford Field.
Marysville is nothing if not consistent. The baseball show scored a 74.35 at West Bloomfield and precisely the same score to win at Durand.
Marysville came in ninth last year.
Byron Center’s best score was a week ago at Jenison; it lost a point at Reeths Puffer. This will be the Byron Center band’s first appearance at Ford Field.
Mt. Pleasant gained nearly three points during the last week of competition. Can the young Oilers keep that momentum?
Allegan’s coming on strong, adding 5.5 points over the last week. Allegan finished fifth last year.
Fruitport couldn’t quite break 70 at Reeth Puffer, scoring a 69.5 after scoring a 68.85 at Jenison. Fruitport finished 10th in 2006.
Redford Thurston squeaked into the top 10 with a 68.15 finish at Huron Valley to go with a 66.1 at West Bloomfield. That gave Thurston just enough – five one-hundredths of a point – to knock DeWitt out of the top 10.
The Thurston band came on strong last year and finished fourth at Ford Field.
Dewitt competed in only two events this year – it didn’t compete at all last year – and scored a 64.6 at Clarkston, followed by a 69.55 at Durand. So, so close, but they’ll get the refund, instead of the bus ride.
Two bands that competed in the Flight III finals last year won’t be there – Comstock Park and Trenton. Comstock Park made the finals in Flight IV this year, but Trenton missed the cut, finishing 15th in Flight III.

Breaking 70

It won't be official until the Michigan Competing Band Association posts the scores, which could be as late as Monday, but it looks as if the Oiler Marching Band is headed back to the state championships at Ford Field.
Mt. Pleasant scored a 71.05 at Durand Saturday. That probably is enough to keep the Oilers in the Top 10 in Flight III.
None of the bands I saw Saturday that were chasing the Oilers -- Trenton, Gibraltar, Dearborn Crestwood, Redford Thurston -- appeared to turn in a strong enough score to propel them past Mt. Pleasant.
I'll post the scores when I get them.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It ain't no dirt road no more

The project has been promised for a very long time, and now, it's reality.
The gravel road in front of our house at Lake Isabella now has been paved. It's just getting much too civilized, I guess.
Next thing you know, we'll be moving to town and moving into some fancy condominium townhouse.
Wait a minute ...

The Siamese Siamese

Minden and Munchen, spotted one recent morning curled up in a chair. Yes, they're tomcats. Yes, they're cuddling each other. Watch for teeth.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Following the band?

Here are the directions from Mount Pleasant to the Oiler band competitions Saturday:

To Huron Valley from Mount Pleasant:


View Larger Map

Click on "View Larger Map" for detailed, turn-by-turn directions and an interactive Google map.

Mount Pleasant performs at 1; the awards ceremony is at 3:30.

Then it's on the road to Durand:

From Huron Valley to Durand:


View Larger Map

The Oilers perform at 5:45.

Back to Mt. Pleasant for the Gaylord/Mt. Pleasant football game:


View Larger Map

Game time is at 7; the band performs at halftime.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Entering the final week

Oh, man, it's tight. The score at West Bloomfield was good, but not good enough to prevent Mt. Pleasant from sliding a couple of spots into seventh place, entering the final week of competition.
Mt. Pleasant is only 2.05 points above elimination, and it's a given that schools beneath them will see improved scores. There's no coasting heading into the critical Lakeland and Durand festivals.
The sense at practices is focused. These guys know what they need to do.

Here are the Michigan Competing Band Association Flight III Standings. Top 10 schools move to the state finals at Ford Field.


School-----------------------------Score-----Above/below bubble
1 Ferndale......................................75.6.........11.775
2 Stevensville Lakeshore...............73.4...........9.575
3 Farmington Harrison..................72.025.......8.2
4 Grand Rapids Northview.............71.125......7.3
5 Marysville....................................68.35........4.525
6 Byron Center...............................67.475......3.65
7 Mt. Pleasant............................65.875.....2.05
8 DeWitt.........................................64.6.........0.775
8 Fruitport......................................64.6.........0.775
10 Allegan.......................................63.825..........0

11 Dearborn Hts Crestwood...........62.275.....-1.55
12 Gibraltar Carlson.......................62.05.......-1.775
13 Trenton......................................62.025.....-1.8
14 Redford Thurston........................62..........-1.825
15 Linden.........................................61.25.......-2.575
16 Hazel Park..................................60.45.......-3.375
17 St Clair Shores Lake Shore........58.25.......-5.575
18 St Clair Shores South Lake........54.725......-9.1
19 St Clair Shores Lakeview...........48.2........-15.625

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Great scores at Clarkston, West Bloomfield

(updated 11:32 p.m.)

The Oiler Marching band turned in its best performance of the year by far at West Bloomfield tonight.

Mt. Pleasant scored a 68.1, good enough for third place behind always-potent Ferndale and surprising Marysville. The Oilers finished second last year at West Bloomfield


The Oilers "Socially Numb" show finished ahead of traditional powerhouses Redford Thurston, Allegan, and newcomer to Flight III, Dearborn Crestwood.

Earlier in the day, at windy Clarkston, Mt. Pleasant's score was a 64.8, which was, for about eight hours, the best performance of the season up to that point.

Next weekend, it's Huron Valley at 1 p.m., with Ferndale and always-contending Farmington Harrison on the same bill, followed by Durand. That show is set for 5:45 p.m. Marysville and West Michigan power Stevensville Lakeshore precede the Oilers, who, as defending champs, play last.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A spring storm - in October




The lightning was intense. The wind howled. It hailed. It rained buckets at Lake Isabella and across the state.
It was one of the most awesome storms I have seen in a long time. It hit right after my Thursday night class. Andrew and Robert were with me, just having completed a Scout leadership meeting. Kissy Missy and Katherine had gone home.
When the storm hit Lake Isabella, Kissy Missy said she and Katherine huddled in an interior bathroom; M√ľnchen just cuddled up and wanted to be held, while Minden simply freaked and "couldn't be caught."
I shot some video for the Sun - it's above.
Andrew's take on the whole thing: "This is the kind of storm I was waiting for last spring - and it never came."
Until October.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tech says, 'Come On Up!'



It was the "large envelope."

Dear Andrew,
Congratulations on your acceptance to Michigan Technological University. Based on your academic achievement and your potential for success at Michigan Tech, you have been admitted into the College of Engineering to major in Mechanical Engineering for the fall 2008 semester.

The acceptance letter was dated Oct. 10. The first marking period of his senior year has just ended.
This doesn't mean that Andrew will be attending Michigan Tech. It's certainly a possibility - it's nice to have one in the bag. But there are other applications out there, and NYU continues to send an impressive amount of information.
Michigan Tech is ranked among the top 50 public universities in the country. Its mechanical engineering program is ranked No. 22 of more than 180 by the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
For this guy to be grabbed up this quickly ... Wow.
And he likes snow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The new Senior Patrol Leader



Now, he's the boss.
Robert tonight was elected senior patrol leader of Troop 604. A Scout troop's SPL is essentially the head Boy Scout in a troop.
Robert has had other leadership experience in Troop 604 -- he's been the assistant senior patrol leader in the past, and has held other leadership posts.
He says he has a plan, and he's fully prepared to put his plan and vision for the troop into place. He's got about 20 guys with a wide age range -- some are as young as 10, others are as old as 17. He knows their strengths, and knows how to use his resources.
Robert's SPL election means all three of the boys now will have been senior patrol leaders. Matthew led several troops -- the one I am most proud of was when he rescued the Harbor Beach troop from near-oblivion, and practically single-handedly recruited an entire troop.
Andrew has led Troop 604 a couple of times, and has always been ready to supply leadership on short notice.
Bert doesn't put up with failure -- he does what's necessary to succeed. It will be interesting to see what happens.
As they say in the Scouts, "Be Prepared."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A third straight first-place finish

The Oiler marching band marched to the Lamphere Invitational in Madison Heights Saturday, and brought home yet another first-place trophy.
Mount Pleasant scored a 63.65 in the tiny, well-worn field a couple of blocks off I-75 in the inner Oakland County suburbs.
But the band members weren't happy with it. They called it an "off week," and some of the self-critiques were downright brutal.
This band knows what it wants. Its members know the sound and the show they can produce, and they're aiming to get it. They've got a great show. A critical mass of band members has been to the finals at Ford Field.
They want to go back.

Here are the Flight III results from Lamphere:

1. Mount Pleasant 63.65; caption awards for music and marching
2. Trenton 60.4; caption award for best general effect
3. St. Clair Shores Lake Shore: 57.75
4. St. Clair Shore Lake View: 49.65

Pending the outcome of the other invitational Saturday, the win gives Mount Pleasant a competition score of 63 -- good enough for fourth place in the state.

'Socially Numb' gets tighter, more exciting



The Oiler Marching Band's 2007 show, "Socially Numb," so far has won two competitions, and the band is ranked fifth in the state in Flight III. You'll see why in this video I recorded at the Mt. Pleasant-Dow High game.

And the opening act wasn't bad, either. The Oilers shut out the Chargers 28-0 and clinched a share of the Saginaw Valley League football title.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Another first for the band

The stands were jammed at Linden High School stadium Saturday night for the Linden Invitational -- and the Mt. Pleasant Oilers came home with the first-place trophy.
It was tight -- Mt. Pleasant and Marysville tied for first on regulation scores, but the Oilers won the tie-breaker -- music.
Amazing what Pink Floyd can do for you. Actually, there are three scores involved -- musical ensemble, individual music and two musical effect scores. The
Oilers came out on top by less than two points, but a win is a win.
Mt. Pleasant's scoring better than it did a year ago -- a year that
ended up with a trip to Ford Field and a sixth-place finish. That's
truly remarkable, considering the number of first-year students
who are part of the 2007 Oiler band.

Brazilian exchange student Felipe
jams on "Another Brick in the Wall"










Katherine pauses as the show is about
to begin at Linden.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Townhouse



This townhouse is very likely to be our new home before Christmas.
We've had the place in Lake Isabella for sale for the last two years. The real estate market in Michigan cooled dramatically about the time we put the house on the market. January of this year was the worst month ever for the local Realtors association, and sales this year are 9 percent below last year -- which were about 20 percent below the year before.
But we've struck a deal with the builder of this new townhouse in town. It's fairly complex, but it pretty much guarantees we'll get the money out of the house in Lake Is and get into this brand-new place.
The kids like it. It overlooks a large park, they each get rooms about the size of our current kitchen, and it's nice enough to do some good entertaining.
If all goes right, we'll be telling stories about moving before too long.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Homecoming 2007











Chris and Katherine, all dressed up for homecoming










Andrew and Kitty, ready for the big dance


Homecoming at Mount Pleasant High School is a big, big deal.
The Lumberjacks of Saginaw Arthur Hill surprised the Oilers with a 39-29 win at Community Memorial Stadium in the football game -- the Oilers' first loss of the season. (I guess I can accept an AHHS win; that's where I graduated.)
But the big deal is the homecoming dance. It's formal, it's fancy and it's crowded. Out of a school of about 1,200 students, the student council sells nearly a thousand tickets.
That's one heck of a budget, and a heck of a good time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Down the Chippewa


Sometimes, I absolutely love my job.
The assignment: Do a feature story about fall and changing leaves. How to tell the story was up to me.
Sun photographer Lisa Yanick and I decided the best way to tell the story was to come up with a better kind of fall color tour: In a canoe.
Check out the video Lisa put together:



And the colors will just get more intense as the fall wears on.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Applefest crew


Kissy Missy is past president of the Mt. Pleasant Zonta Club, an organization of professional women. Each year, the big fundraiser for the club is Applefest, which takes place at the McIntosh Orchard west of town.
Well, Kissy Missy must have learned to "use her resources" somewhere, because she's pulled all of us into this thing. I designed the poster -- which looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. The apple art's original with me, as well as the design.
The kids have been involved as volunteers for several years, and this year, much of the Zonta contingent in the Mardi Gras parade looked suspiciously like, well, us.






Is this the new look of a Zonta lady?



















Robert and Andrew march down Main Street handing out Applefest fliers.













Kissy Missy sells, sells, sells the event to the crowd at Mardi Gras.













Zontian Monica Fox and Katherine cruise past the Broadway on Broadway.


Yes, I know the question -- Mardi Gras? In September? It's a downtown promotion, and a big one. No one seems to care that it's in the fall -- and that it's on Friday.