Tomorrow, June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
I realize for many people not living near the coast this fact does not hold much water. But, for those people near the shore tomorrow marks the start of a six-month period of keeping their eyes on the skies and hoping for another year free from the devastation that a direct hit by a hurricane can cause.
When I lived in Florida I rode out many hurricanes from about 30 miles inland. That central location meant that by the time the storm reached me it was normally just a wind and rain maker.
The highlight of those storms being a water spout that picked up a school of catfish and deposited them in my parents’ yard.
Today is Memorial Day which is a United States Federal Holiday that occurs every year on the final Monday of May.
It is a day of remembrance and a time to honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the United States Civil War to honor soldiers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line who lost their lives in battle.
Memorial Day was expanded in the last century to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
While dating back to the war between the states, in recent years Memorial Day has also marked the start of the summer vacation season with Labor Day acting as the second bookend in September to signal the end of the summer season.
Over the course of the past weekend families traveled all over to enjoy time in the sun and surf as they officially left winter behind and embraced the feeling of summer.
As part of the holiday weekend, numerous television networks used the time to air marathons of their most popular shows to capture the attention of those viewers who were not out in the sun catching waves or barbecuing as their way of celebrating the weekend.
Tis the season when new graduates of all shapes and sizes will enter the world. Some will enter the workforce and start the task of paying off student loans that are in some cases way more than what their incomes of their chosen fields will cover. Others will continue adding to those student loans by going to graduate school or culinary school or any other thing with school in the title to delay the clock on paying off those student loans.
For others this is the time to graduate from high school and start the journey to college and the accumulation of those aforementioned student loans.
Although it is season for commencement addresses for some reason no one asked me to give a a speech to any graduating classes this year.
Of course truth be told that has been the case for many years but that is certainly not for lack of trying on my part.
Ever since my high school graduation I have thought that it would be nice to help send a graduating class off into uncharted waters armed with my words of wisdom and encouragement.
Commencement speakers hold a special place in the memories of graduates and I have wanted to add my name to that fraternity of memorable speakers.
Why I remember my commencement speaker in college just like it was yesterday. I mean, I remember what he looked like, and some of what he said. I am sure if I dug up my commencement program I could find his name.
So I wanted to be that person that students look back on with fond memories of inspirational words.
During my career working at a college I attended many graduations. I served as the official photographer for several of them. I even attended graduations inside a state prison which I must say is a rather interesting occurrence as one might expect. Still despite my waiting in the bullpen to step up if the speaker had to cancel for illness or inability to fit into their gown my number was never called.
In the event that my number was called I envision a typical conversation of people reflecting on those inspirational words going something like this.
Chad: Boy, that was such a good speech that old what’s his name gave at our graduation.
Tad: We had a speaker at our graduation?
Okay, so the commencement speaker is not remembered by everyone. I think part of that has to do with graduation caps cutting off blood flow to the brain. I have no proof of this, but it is a pretty logical explanation if you ask me.
Still, despite the short term memories of graduates, I thought for sure that this would be the year that I would get the call to share my insights with graduating seniors. Speaking at my alma mater’s graduation was ruled out this year when President Bill Clinton accepted the gig but surely there were other colleges that needed a speaker who would work for an honorary degree and sugar cookies.
Alas the phone did not ring and I was left with a speech and no audience to hear it.
No worries though I will just share a version of my remarks dedicated for pomp and circumstance here. Of course, this is the abridged non sugar cookie and honorary degree version. I need to leave something out just in case I get called to the big time.
So without further adieu here goes.
Students you are to be commended for your efforts in reaching this momentous occasion of (high school, college, preschool) graduation.
Looking out at all of your caps and gowns I am reminded how silly people look in caps and gowns. I mean seriously who came up with the idea of dressing up like Supreme Court justices as a way to commemorate graduation?
This day marks the end of one chapter of your life and the beginning of another chapter.
Hopefully the next chapter will not be like the last chapter of a John Grisham book though. I mean is it just me or does he totally lose steam in the closing chapters of all of his books and sort of just phones in the ending?
Enough about John Grisham and his limp final chapters. You have the whole world at your fingertips and it is finger lickin’ good.
Now is the time of your lives where you can have experiences that will last a lifetime.
Don’t be afraid to step out on limbs occasionally and try new things. While the limbs will sometimes break, they will usually just bend.
Never say, “I’ll never go to Graduate School so it doesn’t matter what my GPA is.” Graduate School shows up when you least expect it and yes they do care about grade point average.
So hats off to the graduating class of (insert year and school name).
In conclusion remember that life is a highway and you want to ride it all night long. No wait, those are the lyrics to a really bad song.
Let me try again. Life is like a box of chocolates…no that isn’t quite right either.
Anyway, in conclusion, I guess it is good that no one asked me to give a commencement address this year.
I will be ready next year though so be sure to book my services early.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a speech to write and sugar cookies to eat.
In one of the worst kept secrets since the invention of the secret, the Houston Astros are set to officially announce today that they have hired Reid Ryan, son of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, to be their next team president/CEO following the sudden resignation of the last team president earlier this week.
Nolan, the Ryan most fans would have loved to welcome back to the Astros fold, currently serves as president of the Texas Rangers and owner of the two Minor League teams that son Reid oversees.
So, the Astros will hope that Reid can weave some of the same success that he has had with the Triple A Round Rock Express (Rangers affiliate) and the Double A team Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros affiliate) with his call up to the Majors.
I have attended games in both Round Rock and Corpus Christi and did enjoy the overall experience. How much of that was related to the influence of the father and how much of it was based on the son is up for debate but few can argue the quality of product being put on the field. And with years of running a pair of successful franchises behind him it seems some of that knowledge will translate to running a dysfunctional franchise like the Astros that seems to take more steps backward than forward.
Of course, in all honesty I much prefer the Ballpark experience that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the Frisco Roughriders provide over my experience at Reid Ryan
The other day there was an announcement on a tarmac in Pensacola, FL that got my attention.
Sadly, it was not the announcement that the Blue Angels would once again resume their schedule of air show performances that had been cancelled for the remainder of the year. This tarmac announcement was east of where the Blue Angels fly but it did involve blue planes albeit ones that are a bit larger.
The announcement in question was that starting in November Southwest Airlines would offer nonstop service from Houston to Pensacola.
Now I realize that this announcement of better flight options will probably only interest a select few Triple B readers. Primarily the interested parties will be those located in Houston with a desire to fly to Pensacola.
Previously if I wanted to fly to Pensacola from the closet airport to my house it would involve flying over my destination, switching planes in Atlanta and then back tracking until I landed where I was wanting to go.
Depending on the layover between flights in Atlanta this option could actually end up taking as long as it would take to just drive there.
As mentioned before, Pensacola is one of my favorite go to spots when I need a quick fix of Florida sun and sand.
By car it is around nine hours from my doorstep to the sugar sanded shores of Pensacola Beach.
It has been said that when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade.
Of course, there are many kinds of lemonade. There is yellow lemonade, pink lemonade and my personal favorite the Arnold Palmer kind which combines lemonade with one of my drinks of choice iced tea.
As refreshing as an ice cold Arnold Palmer would be right now, this is not a column on summer beverage choices. Instead, this is a column on Space Center Houston getting some gently used aerospace related items that it hopes will prove popular with the locals and tourists alike.
But before we get into the new items coming to town, we need to look at some history that got them in this position.
Once upon a time there was a Space Shuttle that flew missions to low Earth orbit for 30 years.
After flying 135 missions from 1981 to 2011 the Space Shuttle Program ended when “wheels stop” was called in the early morning hours of July 21, 2011.
Upon retirement of the Space Shuttle Program, the surviving orbiters were sent to various museums across the country to inspire future generations on the joys of space travel, etc.
As someone whose own sense of inspiration regarding space travel was emboldened by seeing artifacts of the Apollo Program at the Air and Space Museum and other locations, I am a firm believer in the role that museums play in sparking imagination.
Early on in the process, certain front runners emerged for the final resting places for the vehicles. In the game of shuttle musical chairs there were way more suitors than available Shuttles to go around.
Although five Space Shuttles in total were built, at the time of the Program’s end, only Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour remained since Challenger and Columbia were lost along with their seven member crews in 1986 and 2003, respectively.
The other night Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ endured one of the most viscous hits I have ever witnessed a player take.
No, the hit was not from a batter charging the mound. This hit to the left ear came from a baseball hit with enough force as to still travel nearly the length of the field after impacting Happ’s skull. The impact of ball on skull was also so violent that the sound could be heard all the way up into the press box at Tropicana Field.
Granted one could argue that sound travels further in a dome but still picture the type of force required for the sound to be heard that far away.
During my years covering high school and college football I witnessed many violent hits. On a few occasions I even heard bones break and tendons snap so I know the sound of agony when a player goes down.
Observations from the cheap seats, the beach seats and everywhere in between