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I miss baseball. Covid-19 has us missing many things. Baseball is one for me, and it is getting likely there won’t be any this year.

So I decided to read Red Sox Rule: Terry Francona and Boston’s Rise to Dominance by Michael Holley while donating plasma.

In terms of his career with the Red Sox, this book centers on the 2007 season. Similar to his books Patriot Reign and War Room, Holley was embedded in the organization for a year. He picked a good one since the Red Sox won the World Series that year.

I thought this book would cover the 2004 season as part of that rise to dominance. I was sadly disappointed. It was still interesting and enjoyable, but I wanted more about the Idiots who broke the curse. There were so many good stories about those players, and obstacles to overcome. Where was the famous Thanksgiving dinner with the Schillings to get him to buy into the trade?

He begins in a preface about Boston, aka The Hub. Holley wants to put the setting in context. Boston is kind of unique. Until about 2004, the Sox ruled the town. It had been a long time since Bird and the Celtics ruled the roost. But the Patriots’ consistent prolonged success changed all that. Well, and the fans frustration with owner John Henry. While Kraft can do no wrong (or bounces back quickly), Henry can seemingly do no right. That passion for baseball wasn’t like the similar passion in St. Louis. It could break a team, a player and a manager. After the soul-crushing loss in 1986, manager John McNamara (who made more wrong moves than leaving Buckner in) said, “Why me? Why did this have to happen to me? I go to church every day. Why me?” Failure can reveal faulty theology too.

Holley does not tell the story in linear fashion. It is more thematic. So he sets the stage with the fateful night in 2003 when Grady Little sent Pedro back out after more than 100 pitches. I remember screaming at the TV because anyone who was paying any attention knew that Pedro’s ERA after 100 pitches shot up like a rocket. The inevitable happened as the lead evaporated, Little left a spent Pedro in the game, and the Yankees tied it. Holley has Francona watching the game disinterestedly. He was on the coaching staff for the A’s and thought they were the better team. But the Sox beat them anyway to advance to the ALCS against the Yankees.

Francona felt bad for Little. He’d been housemates with Grady for a few months back in 1992 and played with his brother in the minors so many years ago. Baseball is that way sometimes- you either know each other or a guy who knows the other in the small fraternity of professional baseball. He thought it was a bit crazy that Grady would be fired. And he never thought he’d spend nearly a decade there as the manager.

Holley then talks about the search that ended with Francona taking over the manager’s office in Boston, the last thing he expected. A few days after Little was fired he was in Georgetown with his son when Mike Barnicle came up to him like an Old Testament prophet “You’re going to be the next manager of the Boston Red Sox.” Francona, not knowing he was a Boston writer, thought he was crazy.

He had some interviews to attend. His meeting with the Orioles went south quickly. He met with Ken Williams of the White Sox, but the fact they met at the airport was not encouraging. He didn’t get that job either. Terry had talked with Bud Black who was rumored to be in the Red Sox crosshairs. They were old teammates and he encouraged Bud to pursue it. But a few hours later the Sox invited him to interview. He called Bud back, and Bud withdrew his name.

I wasn’t sure about Francona, from a fan perspective. The Philly years were not inspiring. Former Red Sox Glenn Hoffman was a sentimental favorite and I hadn’t really heard about Joe Maddon. Theo Epstein had been given the reins as the game’s youngest GM. This was his first major hire. He had clear ideas about what he wanted, and how to go about getting it. Old friend Mark Shapiro warned Terry not to BS Theo because he wouldn’t fall for it, and Theo could tie him in knots.

Theo had devised a series of tests to see how Francona thought. There was a 16 question multiple choice test. While they said there were no right answers, they didn’t tell him there was no wrong way to defend your answer. They spent 2 hours talking through that test. Then they were in front of a big screen so Francona could “manage” a game. The video started in the 7th inning. They wanted to see how he applied his baseball principles and thought in the thick of it.

Don “The Gerbil” Zimmer

This is when Holley shifts from the story to the mega-shift that took place in managing baseball. He uses Dick Williams who led the ’67 Impossible Dream team. He was no-nonsense. He’d even wrestled with players. He wasn’t alone in that mindset. But things began to shift. Entitlement began to settle in and change how managers approached players. Managing became more and more about relationships and managing the room, not just the game. Holley brings the Gerbil, I mean Don Zimmer, into this equation. You also had to be media savvy because guys like Glenn Ordway were on the air back in ’78 (he’s still on the radio).

In the next chapter he summarizes Francona’s childhood and career as a player. Terry came from a baseball family. His father Tito played for a number of years and teams. He was a teammate of Joe Torre in Atlanta. Terry always wanted to play baseball, and hanging out in clubhouses gave him a good head for the game. He had talent too. That talent took him to Tucson to play at the University of Arizona rather than accept the Cubs $19,000 offer. Like Tedy Bruschi years later, he’d meet his wife there. Terry still has a home in Tucson.

Francona’s story as a player only takes up one chapter. Terry was drafted 22nd in the first round by the Expos, one pick ahead of future boss Billy Beane. He’d sign for $100,000. It doesn’t end well. Knee injuries took a promising career and turned him into a struggling journeyman player.

There is a fast forward to the year of managing Michael Jordan. This was an important year for Francona. He learned about managing big personalities, powerful personalities. He learned about having a democratic spirit, and allowing the right players to manage the club house for you. There are some interesting stories about that time, including some pick up games.

“The key was to have players who could command the respect of their teammates, and to have a manager secure enough to accept input from those players.”

Holley talks about why Jordan played baseball, which is interesting in light of watching The Last Dance. Holley notes that Jordan was bored with basketball. You can see why when you see how grueling it was to win 3 championships and a gold medal in 3 years. It had become too routine, not enough of a challenge. He was tired of monotony. He was also looking for an escape from the non-stop hero worship. While he didn’t get a complete break from fame, he wasn’t in the spotlight for over a year.

Then we forward jump to 2006 and the Red Sox on-going duel with the Yankees. In the midst of the tiring battles between the teams, there was the personal relationship between the coaches that went back to Francona’s childhood. They played chess in these match ups and their strategy is revealed in some of the stories. But the main story was a sweep late in 2006, rather than a certain series in October 2004. 2006 saw the Red Sox begin well, and were on pace to win 100 games when the wheels fell off. Varitek got hurt at the trade deadline forcing them to trade of Javy Lopez, a guy who just didn’t fit. Then it was Wakefield who got hurt. Beckett seemed to struggle in even numbered seasons, and did. And then it got worse: Big Papi had palpitations, Lester was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Manny was being Manny with a bad hammy, Schilling strained a muscle and Papelbon had a shoulder subluxation. They were a mess going into the series that would shape their off season.

Theo alluded to the development of rookies that would make a big impact in 2007: Pedroia and Ellsbury. But they also needed veteran help. The “competitive obsession” that led to the big moves before 2004 led to big moves before 2007 as well. So began the Dice-K story, the signing of J.D. Drew and whether or not Papelbon would remain a closer or shift to a starter after his injury. But here is also where Holley addresses how Varitek, Cora and Ortiz ran the club house. That was often a challenge with Manny. When frustrated with the man-child, he’d send Big Papi in to talk to him. Sometimes even Papi wanted to kill him.

In 2007 Terry implemented a change so when they played the scouted team, those scouts would be there to talk it through, not just send in reports. This helped him in game prep. When that was done it was time for communication: texting his kids, walking the room or beating Pedrioa in cribbage.

“…the sign-stealing ability of Rodriguez. Sometimes catcher Jason Varitek and Schilling would change their signs three times an at bat when facing Rodriguez. They didn’t begrudge him for it; they did the same thing. “Everybody tries,” Francona explained. “We try to steal third-base coaches’ signs. They try to get ours. That’s part of the game.””

This is very different from what the Astros did (and some other teams) in using their own center field cameras and algorithms to crack the signs. But you see the same mind set: everyone was looking for an advantage. It was gamesmanship at the core. But once tech was used, like with Apple Watches by the 2017 Red Sox, the line was crossed. But all of this was part of how they turned the tide against the Yankees in 2007.

(Associated Press)

Holley then jumps us to the trade deadline that season on a ride that took Theo and Terry to a boiler room to have a private conversation with Jonathan Papelbon. This is about the ill-fated trade for Greg Gagne whose stats were nearly identical to Papelbon’s. But they wanted to shore up the bullpen, particularly since Papelbon had the injury in 2006. They were taking no chances but didn’t want to mess with his head. It ended up messing with Gagne’s though. He became very hittable, and frustrating to Sox fans around the world who feared he’d sink their chances.

So, here we are in the middle of the 2007 season and Holley returns to 1988. Why 1988 you say? He mom, Birdie, was diagnosed with cancer. Here battle would last until his first year managing in the minors, 1992. After her death, Holley recounts his moves around the league as a coach until the fall of 2002 when a series of medical problems nearly killed Terry.

Then he brings us back to the stretch run in 2007 as the lead shrank and the fans’ ire grew. Not only was Pedroia a new member of the Sox-Yanks rivalry, so was hard throwing Joba Chamberlin. And he went head hunting. But Clay Buchholz emerged with a no-hitter. Pennant race tensions also hit during a series in Baltimore when a frustrated Cabrera hit Pedrioa prompting a clearing of the benches. Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez lost his cool in the fray. Francona had a word with Oriole’s star Miguel Tejada.

“Miggy,” Francona said, calling Tejada by his nickname. “That was bullshit.”

“I know,” the shortstop said.

“Miggy, we’ve got Josh Beckett pitching on Sunday, and he throws real hard.”

“I know,” he repeated.

Old school baseball rules. On Sunday, while winning his 18th game of the season, Beckett hit Hernandez.

But at one point, the Red Sox lead was down to 1 1/2 games. Gagne had been horrible. Lugo and Drew were struggling at the plate all season. Talk radio was full of criticism for the team, the GM and Terry Francona. It seemed to take far too long but the Sox clinched a playoff spot and then the division. Now it was time to see who’d they play: Indians or Angels? They would play future Red Sox John Lackey and the Angels. They would beat them soundly, actually.

I remember spending the weekend in 2007 in Treasure Island near St. Pete. I was doing pulpit supply and they let us stay at a vacation home on the water. I spent the evenings listening to or watching the series against the Indians. Francona was betting on his team’s experience to be the deciding factor. It likely was as the Red Sox came from behind to defeat them before sweeping the previously red hot Rockies.

The afterward covers, very briefly, the 2008 season which saw Manny force his way out of town and a depleted Red Sox team barely lose a 7 game ALCS against the Rays. Oh, that hurt.

So, in some ways this is a strange book. It wasn’t what I’d hoped. I thought it would cover more of his career with the Red Sox. It jumped around with the time line like a Quinten Tarantino movie. But it was still a fun, informative read. It is worth adding to any Red Sox or baseball fan’s collection. Francona was a man who provided a transition in how the game was managed. He maintained relationships and honored the game on his way to success. I’m not sure what his pastor/piano tuner grandfather would say about his language, but he still displayed plenty of character.

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Thursday and Friday was our stated Presbytery meeting in Flagstaff, AZ. This was the 3rd “short” week in a row thanks to a holiday, my son’s surgery and now Presbytery. Usually this means compressing the sermon preparation, but this week I have a friend from out of town preaching for us on Sunday. He was coming back to Tucson, in part to attend the presbytery meeting.

So he spent two nights at our house and was going to drive up with me. This also meant that I didn’t get my usual exercise. I was planning on leaving between 6-6:30, but the night before decided that 6:30-7 might work better for us, so we could get a little extra sleep in the morning.

I tried. We left shortly after 7 and were on the road for the approximately 3 1/2 hour trip to Flagstaff. I had kidded him about loading up my iPod with Deep Purple since he thinks Smoke on the Water is the only song they are known for. We ended up not even using my iPod as we talked most of the way up. We talked about the issues to be discussed in our meeting, the shooting accident that resulted in his hearing loss, church opportunities he is pursuing, the morality of football, and the Pope’s visit. Before getting on the highway we stopped so he could get a Coke to drink with his medicine. With no parking in front I dropped him off and then, without his realizing it, drove into the connector between the lots for Circle K and Wendy’s. It was a long line, and I was waiting thinking about having to make up time. When I saw him come to the door I pulled into the lot and toward the door. He missed me, and thought I’d parked around the corner. Though he knew I wouldn’t abandon him, he was still confused. So I honked at him, he got in and off we went.

We made one stop, on the north end of Phoenix. It is a new to me car and I wasn’t sure if I could make it to Flagstaff on one tank of gas. While I pumped gas, he went in. For another Coke. When he had come out, I had moved the car to a parking space. I kind of enjoyed messing with his mind. This resulted in a story of how they used to do this to one of their friends who was always the last one out of the store.

We actually made great time, and arrived into Flagstaff on time. (One oddity of the new congressional districts in AZ is that I drove 3 1/2 hours and ended up in the same district I live in.) When we had been looking at maps online it looked like I needed to get off 17 onto 40 and get of the first exit. Since Siri does not like me (to put it mildly), I asked him to use his phone to get the directions. Siri responded quickly to him. Unfortunately we were brought through the NAU area which gets clogged due to low speeds, pedestrians and buses. So much for being on time. We then discovered that Siri brought us to the old address, from like 2 years ago. We quickly pulled up their website to get the address and now were on our way again. We finally got to the church, and arrived about 20-25 minutes late for the committee meeting. The new building was pretty much at the intersection of 17 & 40. We wasted that whole trip thru town. I don’t like Siri- it is a mutual thing.

The big news for the balance of the meeting was simply the time frame for re-starting an RUF ministry at the UofA. We, the churches in Tucson,  have until 2017 to get the initial money together and hire a campus director.

We didn’t eat here.

After the meeting, we went cruising for a restaurant without any assistance from Siri. We settled, rather quickly, on Freddy’s Steak Burgers. Ed had eaten Italian food for lunch and dinner the day before. Olive Garden was out It was the first time either of us had been to Freddy’s even though there is one near my house in Tucson. The burger was good- mine was the double with bacon and cheese. I prefer Five Guys, and I had known there was a Smash Burger not too far away I would have wanted to eat there.

We began with a time of prayer. We focused on our marriages, and the physical, emotional and spiritual health of our members. We heard a report from our RUF campus minister in Las Cruces. The part of the committee meeting I’d missed. He told three stories of people impacted by the ministry since last we met. Their large group meeting has been running at about 75 students. Things are going well there.

Much of the afternoon was spent examining a candidate for ministry. He had received a call to one of the churches in Tucson, but was coming from a non-PCA and non-Reformed context. So we wanted to be thorough. And fair. His English Bible exam was very good (though I prefer more than one reference when possible), as was his history exam (though I mentioned that he never mentioned the ARP in his history of Presbyterianism). There were some small blips in theology w/regard to the 3-fold division of the law and the 3rd use of the law but nothing that appeared significant. He would preach later during our worship service that evening.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in executive session. So I can’t tell you about it. Those sessions are often very personal and painful, or they wouldn’t be in private. They are draining periods of time. We didn’t finish that work when the time for dinner arrived. It had been a busy 5 hours.

Dinner was Italian. I thought it might be Olive Garden since it was cheese tortellini, a Caesar salad, rolls and tiramisu, but it was catered by NAU food services (good to build that connection). I spent some time talking with one of the assistant pastors from Tucson and getting to know the new director of youth and family ministry at the host church. Since the latter will eventually come before us for ordination, he had a few questions.

Theirs is a new building, two stories built into a hill. The sanctuary seats about 150, has the high ceilings (like an A-frame) with a library above the foyer overlooking the sanctuary. The furnishings often looked like they came from the Adirondack’s: knotty limbs and blocks of wood for horizontal surfaces. Downstairs was the kitchen, nursery and classroom space. This is where we ate dinner.

In the week before the meeting I’d developed a boil on the underside of my arm in the pit. I’d soaked it the night before to try and get whatever was causing the swelling out. It was tender in the morning, and had grown increasingly uncomfortable as the day wore on. I checked on it in the men’s room after dinner and saw that my work had been successful and hoped to attend to it when I finally got to my hotel later that night.

One of things I usually like about presbytery is worshiping in other churches. You get to see how they worship. Often I am able to borrow confessions of sins, additional verses from songs etc. They had the lyrics up on a large flat screen above the pulpit area. Most of them were also in the Order of Worship, except the one we sing which had an additional verse I wanted to bring home. Sometimes a worship service will be a bit outside of your comfort zone. That’s okay, generally speaking. This was a bit outside of mine in some ways. The sermon by the candidate was generally good, but it hit me as focused a bit too much on the imperative at the expense of the indicative. As it turned out, I was not alone in that impression.

As we prepared for communion I noticed that my sleeve seemed to keep sticking to my arm. Wondering what was up, I looked and saw it was covered in blood. After partaking of the body and blood, I slipped into the men’s room to tend to my now-exploded boil. I’ll spare you more of the gory details. But it sure felt better.

After the worship service we tied up a few loose ends, including a task for me, in the executive session. Then it was time for fellowship. Of course we got turned around a few times trying to read those road signs. Finally we asked Siri for directions to the Beaver Street Brewery. She-who-hates-me was useless. Back to Google and we were soon there. Thankfully we passed my hotel, so I now knew how to get there.

We had a great turnout, and only a few other people were in the restaurant. The music was too loud, and sadly they had just run out of the steamed mussels in a thai curry sauce. But I had a glass of their stout (which was good) and what they call Bowl of Goodness, fries sprinkled with cheese and herbs with a dip. It was very good and a few guys “helped” me eat it. It is good being able to get to know guys you don’t ordinarily spend time with because they work hours away. Josh, who organizes these events and I’ve decided to call “the Party Starter” decided we should play a pool game. Everyone threw a dollar into the kitty and the one who took the fewest attempts to get all three balls in a pocket won. I managed to get one in, semi-acquitting myself, before exceeding the best thus far.

Soon 11:30 was creeping up, and I still needed to check-in to my hotel. Ed was staying with other friends, so I was on my own. I’d picked the Econo Lodge University. The price differences between hotels were fairly large. I paid only $50 since I was basically only going to sleep and shower there. The room was clean, so I was content. I was delighted to see that the shower head 1. was not for Hobbit-sized people, and 2. of the rain fall variety.

I cleaned up my armpit, again. Resisting the urge to watch TV I went to bed about 11:45. I woke up around 3:30 in the morning. I’m not sure why. But I had a hard time falling back asleep. The pillow wasn’t very comfortable being overly fat and fluffy, and there were unusual noises (the refrigerator?), and the room was a bit stuff. So eventually I turned up the fan and read. I finished 1 Chronicles, and then a chapter in a book on missions I’ve been reading. At 5 I tried to sleep again, and slept until about 7 when CavWife called.

From my trip there in 2010

I showered and dressed. The continental breakfast, and the lobby, didn’t look appealing so I went next door to Chick-Fil-A. I noticed 2 other guys from presbytery and ate with them talking about various aspects of the meeting and ministry in our respective cities. Afterwards, having finished my sweet tea, I went next door to Dunkin’ Donuts for a vanilla chai.

The air pressure warning had gone off the night before, and was still on when I started the car. I figured that if I filled up with gas, and had the air checked, I’d be ready to go once the meeting was over. I knew, due to the ideal gas law, that the pressure would drop due to those refreshing cooler temps at 7,000 feet. But I’d been having some trouble with air pressure and didn’t want a tire to go flat on the long ride home. I didn’t have my new digital gauge with me so I wasn’t sure which one was low. I spotted a Discount Tire and took advantage of their free air pressure check. Only a pound light, but I guess the sensors don’t work well at such elevations and read as if about 3 pounds light. They put a little extra in and I was good.

The rest of the meeting was mostly reports and prayer. We didn’t handle the proposed changes to the Standing Rules of Presbytery. This was good because the proposed “radical” changes had been replaced with some minimal changes. I’m not excited about the status quo which seems mostly maintenance not pressing the kingdom forward. We will talk about them at our next meeting.

There were lots of opportunities for congregations and individuals to be involved in missions connected with our presbytery, like:

  • Helping with church planting in Hondoras w/the Pettingills.
  • Teaching local pastors in Uganda.
  • Helping Barrio Nuevo, a mercy ministry in Phoenix
  • Helping Crossroads Ministry, a mercy ministry in Las Cruces
  • Supporting interns with the Hispanic Leadership Initiative
  • 2 Church Plants in Albuquerque.
  • Possible prison ministry in Phoenix/Tucson
  • Native American ministry east of Flagstaff
  • Ministry across the border in Juarez

The best line of the meeting was when one presbyter was disagreeing with the Parlimentarian about a particular section of the Book of Church order, to whom he replied “I wrote it” and therefore knows what it means.

After some good-byes, Ed and I were off for another largely uneventful ride home. I did spot 2 elk along the side of the highway that had been hit. They were actually quite huge so I wondered what the vehicles looked like. My ears popped repeatedly as we went from 7,000 feet to under 2,000 feet. We stopped for a late lunch in Phoenix at Pappadeaux which I’ve wanted to do for 5 years. It was excellent, though a bit more expensive than I was hoping. I was also surprised to see so many people with grey hair because it was a loud restaurant with lots of background noise that can make hearing difficult. We continued to talk family stuff, transitions in ministry and how my book is coming since he works for the publisher.

Still Deep Purple and iPod-less we arrived at my house at 4 pm. I think I will sleep well tonight.

[I meant to take some pictures of the building and sanctuary, but forgot.]

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We had a really great vacation with family over the holidays. They went up on the 17th and I followed behind on Christmas Day. There was plenty of time with family as 4 of CavWife’s 5 siblings were there for New Year’s and the annual White Elephant Gift exchange which gets more interesting as the kids get older and start participating. For the 2nd year in a row I got the Taylor ham- a NJ breakfast meat that I have grown to love.

One sibling built a pond this summer and this winter it was a skating pond. So our daughters learned how to skate. The boys were not so inclined, though the youngest enjoyed playing on the ice and with a hockey stick by the time we left. There was a guys night out as the 4 of us went out to Bar Vino for a few beers and appetizers. I like for us to get away and talk: sometimes serious and sometimes not.

There were a few snow storms, including Hercules who dumped over a foot of powder on us. As a result there was some sledding. On the downside, I didn’t have a good window of snow-less driving to visit my parents. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease this fall. Since I haven’t driven in snow much in the last 20 years I really didn’t want to get stuck in the mountains of VT in a snow storm. Another factor was the older CavGirl’s birthday and our 12th anniversary. Not really the days I want to be away from family to visit my parents.

Since we had an early flight home, my in-laws used some of their points to get us a hotel room for the night before we left. Sunday night, after one last get together and skate party the snow turned to rain as the temperatures soared. Monday was the great meltdown before the temperatures plummeted as a result of the arctic blast that crippled the country. It was slippery near the house but after we got off the hill the roads were much better. The only problem was our rear tire. While loading the Envoy I realized the tire was nearly flat. Usually my father-in-law is all over these things. This winter I was the one to catch 3 really low tires. The other 2 were on our lunch trip to Glens Falls. Up there in the mountains, there are no gas stations right around the corner. I thought I could get to Warrensburg and inflate the tire. The last 100 yards or so I could hear the thump-thump-thump because it had moved past low to officially flat. I filled it and off we were to meet our in-laws in Albany for dinner and they would drive both vehicles back to their home.

While driving we learned that our friend who was going to pick us up had his own flight home canceled and was re-booked to arrive home Wednesday. He’d be stranded in Dallas. So we left a message with another friend to see if they could pick us up.

I made a big mistake though. There was no sun on the way to Warrensburg so I kept my sun glasses in my briefcase. By the time we got to Glens Falls the sun was relentlessly beating into my right eye as we drove south to Albany. As we drew closer a migraine began to set in. I felt pretty lousy. It was also much colder in Albany as we unloaded the Envoy at the hotel.

We heard from our friend that she was willing to pick us up, but the other friend had gotten a flight from Dallas to Phoenix so he would be home in time to pick us up. He would have to go to the airport anyway since his bags were going to Tucson.

CavWife had inadvertently started the movie for the kids that we rented from iTunes. It was now going to expire the next morning before we got on the flight. So the kids started to watch Despicable Me 2 while I napped. Around 4:30 we left to meet with my in-laws for dinner at Moe’s. We didn’t want to eat too late since we didn’t want the roads to freeze on their way home. We love Moe’s and wish there was one in Tucson. CavWife got her usual John Coctostan, while I got the Home Wrecker which I re-dubbed the Hotel Wrecker. Then it was time for good byes in the cold.

The kids were going to shower before they finished the movie. Still feeling the effects of the migraine, I sat in front of the TV. That was when two things happened.

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The wrong pipe broke.  It was just one of those things you could not predict nor prevent.

The ceiling vomited on the kitchen.

Last week Tucson experienced some record-breaking cold.  I had a flashback to last winter in Winter Haven.  I was still at Ace and plumbing and irrigation parts were flying out faster than pizzas on Super Bowl day.  We had run out of heaters, and the supply in the entire SE was depleted.

So, as a result of the cold many people here had pipes freeze.  Some of those broke.  The cold also affected the natural gas supply.  So thousands in Tucson were without water, heat or both.  Here at the church we took precautions to prevent the pipes outside from freezing.  All was well when I left Thursday night (except my sermon that is).  I had Friday off.  Usually my administrative assistant is in on Fridays, but she had car trouble was planned on getting in on Saturday.

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Monday, 6:30 am:  Park my car in the satellite parking at Orlando International Airport.  My day began at 5:15 as Charlie Peacock serenaded me awake.  As I sit on the bus heading to the terminal I encounter the first of many surprises.  I usually fly Southwest (terminal A) and am the last guy on the bus.  This means It always starts on Terminal B.  Flying Delta today, which is terminal B.  The bus goes to Terminal A.  This … was a sign.

Not checking any bags so I get my e-ticket and all is well.  The line at security is short, so all looks well.  Key word: looks.  The line is short, but not moving.  Slugs have moved faster.  The problem?  Not enough security personnel. Occasionally they open the “family” and “handicapped” lanes to overflow.  They keep opening different sections, and I’m always about 2 feet way too far.  I … am … stuck (patience is a virtue which I possess in small portions- Patience Deficit Disorder or PDD for short).  I end up next to a family whose flight is earlier than mine.  “Don’t worry, they know you’re hear.”  Of course, you can’t hear an intercom here, so if they were paged they’d never know to tell the TSA guy “that’s me!”  I notice the line on the far left moves much better, and suddenly they open an overflow line there- off like a rat!  I’m now in a line that is moving  much faster.  Though I’ve got farther to go than said family, I’m through security well before them.

8 am.  “Final call for flight ### to Cincinatti.”  While talking on cell with CavWife I see the family running down the hall barely making the gate in time.  I am glad for them, not realizing this is nearly a glimpse of my future.

Atlanta, 10 am-ish.  I am reminded of my experiences at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  If I have a long layover it is the next gate.  If a short one, I have to run through the tunnels with the flashing neon lights talking back to the intercom messages about Passenger Cavman “I’m coming as fast as I can!”  I have a short layover, and anticipate running.  Oh yeah, I’m in Concourse A but need to get to B.  I notice that though I have a low # I’m near the end of the concourse.  Since I have a high number in B, I think this is a good thing.

I notice all the good restaurants here, hmmm, I may have time for dinner on my way home.  Down the escalator to the train, only to have it close mere seconds before I get there.  No time to lose (or say ‘hi’ to the Pioneer Woman who’s also supposed to be in Atlanta for a book signing) so to the moving sidewalk.  As I begin to walk down Concourse B, I notice the #s are in ascending, not descending, order.  I once again have to make my way along the length of the concourse.  Merely an annoying inconsistency, since I had enough time to sit down before they boarded my flight.

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