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

*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.
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

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.