Monday, December 26, 2016

Parity cycle, I didn't think the Browns could win

So I didn't think the parity cycle would happen this year. But in a Christmas miracle, the Browns beat the Chargers. Here is your 2016 NFL parity cycle:

1) Cleveland Browns
2) San Diego Charger
3) Jacksonville Jaguars
4) Chicago Bears
5) Detroit Lions
6) Indianapolis Colts
7) Green Bay Packers
8) New York Giants
9) Dallas Cowboys
10) San Francisco 49er's
11) Los Angeles Rams
12) New York Jets
13) Buffalo Bills
14) New England Patriots
15) Houston Texans
16) Kansas City Chiefs
17) Carolina Panthers
18) Phoenix Cardinals
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20) Atlanta Falcons
21) Oakland Raiders
22) Denver Broncos
23) New Orleans Saints
24) Seatle Seahawks
25) Miami Dolphins
26) Pittsburgh Steelers
27) Washington Redskins
28) Baltimore Ravens
29) Cincinnati Bengals
30) Philadelphia Eagles
31) Minnesota Vikings
32) Tennessee Titans

Sunday, December 27, 2015

'Tis the season for NFL parity! Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la.

Well most years the parity cycle waits for the last winless team to find a W. This year it is the last undefeated team to get an L. And with the Falcons victory over division rival the Carolina Panthers.

Here is you 2015 NFL parity cycle:

1) Atlanta Falcons
2) Carolina Panthers
3) Green Bay Packers
4) Minnesota Vikings
5) Kansas City Chiefs
6) Houston Texans
7) Cincinnati Bengals
8) Cleveland Browns
9) Tennessee Titans
10) New Orleans Saints
11) Dallas Cowboys
12) Miami Dolphins
13) Philadelphia Eagles
14) New York Giants
15) San Francisco 49ers
16) Baltimore Ravens
17) San Diego Chargers
18) Detroit Lions
19) Chicago Bears
20) St Louis Rams
21) Arizona Cardinals
22) Seattle Seahawks
23) Pittsburgh Steelers
24) Oakland Raiders
25) New York Jets
26) Jacksonville Jaguars
27) Buffalo Bills
28) Indianapolis Colts
29) Denver Broncos
30)  New England Patriots
31) Washington Redskins
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 NFL Parity Cycle

Raiders beat the Chiefs, becoming the last team to put a 1 in the W column. Which means it is parity Cycle time again. Each team defeated the next team on the list, with team 32 (the Jets) defeating team 1 (the Raiders):

1) Oakland Raiders
2) Kansas City Chiefs
3) St Louis Rams
4) Seattle Seahawks
5) Denver Broncos
6) Arizona Cardinals
7) San Diego Chargers
8) Buffalo Bills
9) Chicago Bears
10) San Fransisco 49's
11) Philadelphia Eagles
12) Washington Redskins
13) Dallas Cowboys
14) New York Giants
15) Houston Texans
16) Tennessee Titans
17) Jacksonville Jaguars
18) Cleveland Browns
19) New Orleans Saints
20) Minnesota Vikings
21) Atlanta Falcons
22) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23) Pittsburgh Steelers
24) Indianapolis Colts
25) Cincinnati Bengals
26) Baltimore Ravens
27) Carolina Panthers
28) Detroit Lions
29) Green Bay Packers
30) Miami Dolphins
31) New England Patriots
32) New York Jets
 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NFL Season 2013 Parity Cycle

Since the Patriots just beat the Broncos in overtime, there is now a parity cycle for all 32 teams. Each team lost to the previous team on the list and beat the next team on the list.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars
2) Tennessee Titans
3) New York Jets
4) New Orleans Saints
5) Atlanta Falcons
6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7) Miami Dophins
8) Cleveland Browns
9) Buffalo Bills
10) Carolina Panthers
11) St Louis Rams
12) Arizona Cardinals
13) Detroit Lions
14) Chicago Bears
15) Cincinnati Bengals
16) New England Patriots
17) Denver Broncos
18) Kansas City Chiefs
19) Dallas Cowboys
20) Philadelphia Eagles
21) New York Giants
22) Minnesota Vikings
23) Pittsburgh Steelers
24) Baltimore Ravens
25) Houston Texans
26) San Diego Chargers
27) Indianapolis Colts
28) Seattle Seahawks
29) San Francisco 49ers
30) Green Bay Packers
31) Washington Redskins
32) Oakland Raiders

Monday, January 28, 2013

What were you doing 10 years ago today?



(As a heads up, I am a math professor, and my grammar and spelling are not always the best)
 

What were you doing 10 years ago today? It was a Tuesday. Two days earlier was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had just won the Super Bowl over the Oakland Raiders. Four days later was when the tragic day when the Space Ship Colombia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana. Those days were memorable days. But ten years ago today was just a day, like most any day. But for me it wasn’t.


That was the day I was attacked.



I turned 24 in the summer of 2002. I was fresh out of college with a teaching degree in mathematics. There is an old Billy Joel song that says “A young man is the king of every kingdom that he sees.” So I accepted a position teaching Algebra and Geometry to High School students in inner city Chicago. I was filled with enthusiasm. But most of all I felt God’s calling to teach in the inner city. What could be better for the students then learning day after day from a teacher that is praying for each of them? I wanted to make an impact, to do something important, to make a difference in the lives of young people using the thing that I know best … math.


I knew it was going to be tough. That was a given. But what I didn’t know about was the roll that first year teachers play in many inner city public schools. There I was one of 13 first year teachers at that school in the Fall of 2002. There was ONE second year teacher. That should indicate something. At the time (and I am guessing not much has changed today) over half of all new highers in the inner city schools leave to go someplace else with in the first 3 years.  During in service in that first week before classes, the older teacher do what they call “fleecing” the younger teachers. Over the lunch break they take the younger teachers out to lunch. What they don’t tell the younger teacher is that they are splitting the bill evenly. So the young teacher with all his new college debts to pay and tiny apartment to rent orders the $4 BLT. The four older teachers order the $11 steak. The check comes and dividing it evenly everyone pays $9.60. Surprise! The four older teachers get a discount on their steaks at the young teacher’s expense. Welcome to the city kid. Good luck when the students arrive tomorrow. Often the older teachers would joke about betting pools on which first year teacher would quit first and how soon.


Mentorship is a word that is used when you are hired, but it basically has little meaning.  No first year teacher was given a classroom on the first floor. That is because the main office is on the first floor. They know the chaos that is about to start. The further away you are the less likely you are to come ask for help. Additionally they deliberately cut the wires to the speaker to the main office for any first year teacher. They know the only way you can contact them is if you leave you room and walk all the way down stairs to the office to see them. The only time you would do that would be in a real emergency.


The students didn’t see me as teacher or mathematician. They simply saw me as a white man. And hear what I am saying, I loved those kids. I wanted to provide for them a quality education. But in their eyes, I was the enemy. And no, not every kid felt that way. In fact looking back I think most of the kids for the most part actually like me. But in the group setting like that you don’t want to look like the teacher suck up. On the whole I walked in to a room of angry stares. Someone the students were actually angry. Others were probably acting angry just for show.


Maybe one in five days was I actually able to teach something. It was like glorified babysitting. One day a student threatened to jump out my second story classroom window. The other students egged him on yelling, “jump, jump!” Another student frequently would flop on the floor and spin around whooping and hollering like you would see in a three stooge’s movie. One student missed the first week of class because he was in jail. A week after he made it out his mom was put in Jail. He brought it up in class saying “My mom’s in Jail. You know what that means. Party at my house this weekend you guys!” Bizarre! One girl (I can see her face so clearly when I think about her) did nothing but sleep and mumble. I was so naive. Years later it hit me so clearly, she was stoned. Every day she came in to my classroom she was completely strung out. I suppose the difference between a rhombus and a kite have very little importance when you are high on drugs.


Lots of students slept. At first I was upset about it. Then a couple months in I left something at the school and I had to go back in the evening. When I opened the classroom door it looked so different to me. First thing in the morning, that room looked like a gladiator arena. Get ready, the anger and insults are coming. But that evening I opened the door and what I saw was a sanctuary. And I thought about what horrible home life many of these kids must come from. What sort of threats are they hearing on the way to school or in the lunch room? This forty-five minute Algebra class might be the safest time slot of their entire day. I never scolded a kid for sleeping in my class from that day forward.

In the six months I taught in the building, there had been one stabbing, one shooting and probably hundreds of fist fights. None of those made the local news. I’m guessing are way too many of those to even be reported on.


The year before I went to Chicago I had a college friend who spent 4 months on a mission trip in Japan; a different culture, a different language. She said she cried herself to sleep most nights. She said it was life changing for her. I remember saying to myself, “I wonder what that is like”. Within less than two weeks of teaching in Chicago I knew exactly what it was like. It was exhausting. In fact there was one night I slept 14 hours straight. I came home from school and fell asleep at 4PM just to wake up at 6AM to teach the next day.


This was not the path I had anticipated taking right out of college. Growing up I always wanted to be a husband and a daddy. I always wanted a daughter.  And today as I write this I have a gorgeous wife and two adorable daughters. But ten years ago I had no one. When I was younger I had picture in my mind what the worst possible outcome for my life would be. That was alone, in a trailer home, eating a TV dinner and watching Wheel of Fortune. Well one evening in Chicago I decided I would try cooking myself some bratwurst from the supermarket. I turned on the stove and popped the TV on in the background. Prior to that Fall I had mostly just had my Mom’s cooking and dorm food. So I cooked the sausage to the best of my ability. I sit down to eat it and spit the meat out immediately. The middle of the sausage is still cold and raw.  And just at that moment I hear on the TV “.. Pat I would like to buy an O”. Sure enough there are three O’s. Ding, ding, ding.” My tiny cockroach infested apartment, the lumpy $45 futon to sleep on from target. That moment I dreaded was more than a reality. And trailer home and the TV dinner sounded significantly much more appealing than the raw meat and roaches.


There was one friend who I leaned on during that time. I went to high school with Nate Statezni. He was going to school at the University of Chicago. I moved in to the apartment I did because it was close to where has was living. If you remember the Lord of the Rings story if I was Frodo, he would have been Sam. Every Sunday he picked me up for church. He would call me 10 minutes before picking me up. He would drive me to church and afterword’s we would usually go for lunch. I love Chicago style pizza.

Sunday nights were the darkest part of my week. The sunlight would dwindle away across the Chicago skyline. The blackness would stretch across me. The next voices I hear would be those angry voices. The next faces I would see are those angry faces. How can I face the morning? How can I even get up?


January 28, 2003 was right at the midpoint of the school year. So that was the day I gave my second term exams. One student in a fit of anger ripped up his test and stormed out of the classroom. I said off handedly, “Well you aren’t going to get a passing grade like that.” He caught word of this from one of the other students and decided he would stop by after school and rough me up. He was a defensive lineman on the football team. He was easily more than a hundred pounds heavier than me and all muscle. He never got the chance to take a swing at me. At one point he had me slammed up again a locker. I just did my best to get away from him. Before anything serious was able to happen I caught sight of a security guard. The student pleaded innocent and left.


In many ways the 29th was worse than the 28th. When I came to the building I was no longer a first year teacher, I was a first year teacher that had been attacked. The students clearly looked at me different. Every teacher had a different opinion about what I should or shouldn’t do. But the real issue was that the administration was not going to pursue any legal action. I alone would have to pursue justice, if I wanted justice. This sense came over me THAT was not what I came here to do. It was clear that this was the time to resign.



I find that when I tell people about these events there are usually two ways in which they response. The first way is abundantly false. The second is true, but frankly it barely scratches the surface of what that six months was about.


The first response is “Dave that’s horrible. You should have never gone through something like that. Hated by you students and abandoned by you administration? That is no way to start a teaching career. It just wasn’t worth it.”

To that I respond no, no, no, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Certainly I have regrets about the day in and day out choices I made during those six months. Who wouldn’t? But if you asked me a thousand times, “Would you go through those six months all over again?” Every single time I would say yes!


Now you ask “But why?” Before I answer that let me tell you about the other response.


The second response is as follows: “Well done Dave. You were called to go and you went. You were asked to serve and you did. You don’t know all the wonderful things that will happen in those kids lives twenty years down the road because of those months you spent in South Chicago. God will work all those things for the good.”

To that statement I say, “Yes. Good. Right. That is all true. But if you asked me to go through those six months again and the ONLY HOPE that you could give me was this hypothetical abstract concept of good things happening at some time in the future I would say that I can’t go! I can’t do it! For some abstract good in the far off future? That’s not enough to relive those six months. That blackness was too black. The loneliness was too bleak. And the tears cut too deep.”

“But Dave you just said with a thousand times to do it again you said you would?” And I would say “Yep! No doubt!”


It is good and true that there is a God that makes good out of our suffering. But was it really important “Is there a God who is WITH those who are suffering.” Time after time in the New Testament it is said God’s grace and peace be WITH you. And in the Old Testament Joseph having been lied about, thrown in jail and abandoned it says “But while Joseph was there in prison the Lord was WITH him and showed him kindness.” If my two little daughters learn nothing else from me I want them to know the sweetness of Joseph’s jail cell at the end of Genesis 39!


In early November of 2002, two and a half months before the attack, the last of my enthusiasm was being squeezed out of me and in to that school. My buddy Nate brought me a CD with a bunch of sermons on it including a sermon by the title “The Radical Cost of Following Christ.”  That one sermon became bedrock for me; an anchor for me in that roach filled apartment. What I was longing for was my Mom’s cooking. I was longing for my Dad’s hugs. I was longing for my brothers’ laughter. And I longing for distance hope of a wife and kids. And that sermon said, “There is something better than all that Dave and it is RIGHT HERE!” The worst nights I had there, I would put that sermon on loop on my computer, so if I would wake in the middle of the night I would hear it.


There is a quote in that sermon from a Scottish missionary in the South Pacific. John Patton was ministering to the cannibal tribes of island chain known today as Vanuatu. His wife and child had both died from disease. A nearby cannibal tribe had decided to rise up to kill him. Some other natives had told Patton if were to hide in a tree and wait there, the hostile natives would pass and when the coast was clear he can follow a path down to where there is a boat. Then he could leave the island safely.


And imagine as I am listening to these words I am in the blackness and isolation of one of those Sunday nights. The next morning, I’ve got to teach something like the area of a parallelogram to a room full of teenagers who hate me. And every fiber of my being is screaming “You can’t do this! How can you survive the morning?”


So this is what Patton wrote:

I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me as if they were but yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there safe in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights in such a tree, to feel again my Savior’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. If thus thrown back on your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then.

So I listen to this on my lumpy $45 target futon, with the roaches in the closet and crummy food in the fridge, in MY midnight, thrown back on MY soul. And I think, “This is a vacation compare to Patton’s midnight. Yet there he found delight.”

And I am reminded lyrics from the old time hymns:

Because he lives I can face tomorrow.
Because he lives all fear is gone.
Because I know he holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because he lives.

As well as:

There’s no other we can turn to, that can help us face another day.
Gentle Shepard come and feed us. For we need you to help us find our way.

And as the moonlight flickers … snow starts to fall on the fire escape, outside, three feet from my face. Silently falling.

I am calm. I fade off to sleep.

Alone.

Yet not alone.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A little snap shot from our household

I had not posted on my blog in a long while and I thought I would share what my life this last Tuesday looked like. But this is NOT about the chaos of teaching incoming Freshman Pre-Calculus students in a semester when the math department is implementing new software; although that did take up pretty much most of that day. What I wanted to tell you about was the pocket of time during the late afternoon and early evening I spent with my wife and daughter. A little time to not think about grades or software or lesson plans. Tuesday was Rachel’s original due date. So there are very few days left that we are going to be just a family of three. After I was done teaching we decided to go to the park. Rachel had found online that there is this big park on the North East side of town. Here is a picture.

This park is themed around two of Aleah’s favorite things, butterflies and curly slides. Now she is not yet two and a half. So although there were a couple slides that she went down by herself, most of the others were too big. She went down one of those on my lap. It was really exciting for her. The funny thing is when at home she often is bouncing off the walls. But the moment we reach a big park where she can run around, she is kind of memorized. She did running around some of the time, but she mostly stood still watching the other kids.

After playing we went to Culvers for supper. There is nothing like greasy burgers and ice cream. This seemed to be the point when Aleah’s energy came back. I wonder if subconsciously Aleah is thinking, “Running at the playground isn’t fun, because I am allowed to run there. But running in a restaurant, now THAT is fun.” So she was bouncing in our booth, out of our booth, over our booth and nowhere near our booth. I was nominated to sit next to her in light of the fact that I’m not growing a human in my uterus.

Then this happened. She was bouncing around on the seat next to me. I put my arm around her to tell her to settle down a little. She bounced right on to my lap, arms wrapped tight around my neck. I really am not sure how long we sat there; I would guess maybe 3 or 4 minutes. I sat there, just holding her while Rachel ate her meal. The only real breaks were when she would sit up to smile at me, and then she would flop her head back over my shoulder. Since the school year started last week I have been around a lot less. And when I have been around I have often been distracted with grading quizzes and such. But here in Culvers she had my undivided attention.

There are times when Fatherhood can overwhelm me. It almost seems like an impossible task. Then add the fact that I grew up in a family of all boys. And I think it is well documented that females tend to be more complicated than males. The complication level is about to increase with another little girl arriving any day.

But in this moment with my little one on my lap things seemed to come in to perspective. Yes, there are complicated and confusing things on the horizon. There will be moments when I say “How can I attempt to deal with these girls?” But at the same time, there are important things that I can provide; things I can provide in abundance. There are three that come to mind. Three things that, at the drop of a hat, at a moment’s notice, I can say “Sugar I’ve got this one.”

1) Daddy will you dance with me.
2) Daddy will you hug me.
3) Daddy will you pray with me.

Are those three things enough? I have no delusions that they are. There complications that I can’t begin to fathom. But there will be moments when one or more of these three things is exactly what my daughters need. And that’s a really good place to start.

Thanks’ for reading my blog. I hope to post again soon, maybe less than 18 months.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Championship Sunday: A random assortment of thoughts

Championship Sunday: A random assortment of thoughts

Happy Championship Sunday everyone. That’s right the AFC and NFC Championship games, the Sunday where legends are made. Where the super Bowl is great, most of what it is about is hype and commercialism. This weekend is about Football!

I am celebrating the day by updating my blog and slow cooking a turkey! Actually that is not entirely true. Yes I am doing both those things, but the main reason is not because of the games. Friday Rachel were out shopping and I saw a 4lb bird in the frozen foods and said “You know that would fit in the Crock pot”. And the updating my blog is more about insomnia then anything else. But hey Championship Sunday is a good reason too.

So Since I rarely update I want to make it worth it. Three times in 13 months is not that much. And my thoughts are mostly random and not actually that much about football.

This is my (hopefully) last semester at LSU. I was just thinking about how radically different my life is now then when I started here four and a half years ago. Today I am married to a beautiful woman. We have an adorable little 8 month old girl bouncing in her jumper in the kitchen, eating pureed avocado and banana, and giggling each morning when the sun pours in her window. I can’t wait until she can talk. I am certain there are seasoned parent out there saying, “But once she starts she won’t stop.” But I look forward to talking with her, telling her was an amazing joy it has been for her to come into her mother and my life.

(On a side note I also look forward to telling her about the legends of Championship Sunday. How Peyton Manning finally took down his playoff nemesis Tom Brady in the final minute of the AFC Championship. I have it on tape. Someday, my daughter and I … will watch)

My life could not have been any more different four and a half years ago. I arrived in Baton Rouge in early August of 2006. All my earthly possessions were crammed into my little Blue car with a clamshell strapped to the roof. And I start working as a Graduate Assistant in the LSU math department.

That was also the August that Steve Colton died. Mr Colton was the band director at my old high school. He was a member of my Dad’s church, a pillar in the community, a mentor, a role model and friend to hundreds of people. It was a profound loss for every live he touched. This amplified my homesickness tenfold. All I wanted to do was to go home. I wanted to go to the funeral. I wanted to walk the halls of my highschool and talk with my former teachers and classmates. I wanted to see Mr Colton’s three kids and hug them and talk with them about hold Mr Colton had impacted my life. But I couldn’t. I had just arrive. Classes were starting. I had a job to do.

It became abundantly clear there was no one with in an eight-hour driving radius who had known me for more then two weeks. That is a lonely feeling. And the only one that I could turn to was God. Pastor Scott is Senior Pastor at the church I attend here in Baton Rouge. He had just started a sermon series on the Gospel of John. At the tail end of chapter 1 he drew an interesting parallel between Jesus calling Phillip and the story of Jacob fleeing from his brother. In both cases they are leaving home. The image of Jacob sleeping in the desert alone was very vivid for me at that point. I also might add since then God has brought “Rachel” into my life and I didn’t have to wait 14 years.

This morning I went out to pick up the ingredients for the crock-pot turkey. As I was driving home I was listening to the Christian radio station and they were talking about how the Christian life is about relationship with God. Now I would like to say that word relationship is often over used in today’s Christian culture, while in contrast the word reverence is underused. Not all the time, but some times. God is holy and relationship with out reverence does not acknowledge who he is. But he is a loving Father. He does want relationship with his children.

Listening to this on the radio I was struck with how different life was in August of 2006. My relationship with God was all I had. It was a feeling of desperation. He was the only one I could turn to. Today I have a wife and baby I can turn to, for better or for worse.

Now I really want to acknowledge that being single is really tough. It is a hard path to walk and I walked it until I was 30. I love my wife and daughter and would not trade them for the world. And for those who have walked that path longer then I have, you have paid your dues. But Paul is right when he talks about the divided loyalty of a married man. When I was single relationship with God was more at the forefront of my thinking. It should be just as vivid for my now, because of my wife and kid. But marriage is community. Marriage is relationship. I need to fight to remember that HE is the reason I have this relationship.

I had another thought about Mr Colton. He was very talented at what he did and very successful as well. He had top rankings at most of his band competitions, many All State musicians came from his tutelage and he was revered statewide. But I think those who knew him would agree with me that he was a pretty humble guy. It wasn’t about him; it was about the music. And I want to be like him in that.

Rachel and I were talking recently about coming to the end of graduate school. And she said to me, “You like the thought of being Dr Dave, don’t you?” Ouch! That’s tough. It is difficult not to place your worth in you accomplishments. But whether I feel it or not I and just as needy as the lonely kid from Iowa newly arrived in Louisiana. And even now I am waiting to hear from people for job interviews. That’s a rather desperate feeling. But hopefully the job offer will come. And when it is his provision. My hope is in him, not the job. May I never boast except in Jesus Christ and him crucified. That’s the way Mr Colton lived his life. I hope to live mine that way too.

Well enjoy the games. I think it is going to be Green Bay and Pittsburgh. And maybe I will update again before the next Championship Sunday.