Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shooting Hoops for a Good Cause!

Monday February 27, 2012- AP Report

The Harlem Ambassadors took there show on the road to a small South Georgia town with historic roots on Monday night.  The Ambassadors are a traveling show basketball team made up of college graduates who share a love for basketball and children.  Their opponent on this evening was none other than our very own Fitzgerald Pioneers All Stars.  The Pioneer team was made up of fearless community leaders, businessmen, educators and even Fitzgerald's own Mayor, who have graciously given of their time and money for a chance to be on the court with basketball royalty.  The game was played in the Fitzgerald High School gymnasium and was for the benefit of the Fitzgerald/Ben Hill County Boys and Girls Club.

The game began with a fast paced first quarter that quickly erased any hopes of the home team having a chance to pull off an upset victory.  The Ambassadors took to the skies as they threw down dunks from high in the rafters and displayed bulls eye like accuracy from the three point line.  The Pioneers did however manage to score a few points and played the role of good sports as the Ambassadors used the Pioneers as props to bring delight to the children that were present among the large crowd.

The second quarter was a little slower paced and defense went out the window.  The Pioneers took the opportunity to showcase some fine basketball skills with Fitzgerald's Mayor leading the scoring and the pace.  Half time came at the right time as our local heroes were in bad need of a rest.

The third quarter started with yet another onslaught of air walking dunking displays by the Ambassadors, and although the Pioneers had been given 30 points to start the quarter, it really didn't matter!  The route was on.

The game enjoyed a slower pace in the 4th as the game turned into a show for the kids and the crowd.  The Ambassadors were complete professionals and the Pioneers proved to be very willing to help with the show.  All in all it was a very good game and the hometown boys did the best they could.  The real winners of this game were the young men and women of the Boys and Girls Club.  Thank you Ambassadors for helping us with this great cause!- AP

The Pioneers used this point guard tandem to begin the 2nd half.  It was thought that the lights from the gym might reflect off of their domes and blind their opponent.  It didn't work! (Pioneer Players Trey "Bounce Pass" Luckie and Hal "Swish" Wiley)
I was really glad to help with this cause.  We had a great time and the Ambassadors are a class act!  The sore knee that I am dealing with this morning is very worth it!  I am looking for the person that took the picture of me being dunked on for my poster!  Copies will be for sale on this site! :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 Pinewood Derby Race- Oh What A Night!

The "Under Armour" Car
The anticipation has been building for weeks.  The young men that make up the First Baptist Church Royal Ambassadors (RA's) group have been looking forward to this night ever since the last race was run in 2011.  The annual RA Racer Pinewood Derby is a big event for our kids and their families.  It is our goal that every kid will enjoy this racing experience and show good sportsmanship.  It is also a special time for son and father to work together preparing the cars by shaping, sanding and painting these little works of art.

We have a large group of boys this year and more that a few of them have VERY competitive fathers.  Race shops have been opened all across Ben Hill County this year with the hopes of knocking off last years champ.  "The Beast" car was last year's Car of the Year and hails from the Cook Racing Team.  The Cook team proudly boast two Car of the Year trophies and the bulls eye has been placed squarely on their back.  Plots were laid thick and the Internet pinewood derby sites have received a record number of hits over the past month with the FBC crew looking for ways to make their car lightning quick.

Reid and I were entering our second year of competition.  Some of you may remember that our car was built for looks last year.  We went with a Georgia Southern Eagle design that proved to be nice looking and won two design trophies, but we were terrible on the tract.  Last years overall record....1 and 8.  I was determined to try and improve on that record.  Reid and I discussed several different design ideas and we actually built three different cars. (I like to spend time in the shop keeping busy and it's kind of fun making these things)  He decided on the car that you see at the top of this post.  He named it the "Under Armour Car".  It is a low profile design that I copied off of one of the many pinewood web sites.  The weight for the car is loaded into the rear with cylinder weights.  The paint job is a black with gold and red over spray to give it a metallic look under the lights.  It was a fun car to build and Reid was really a very good helper every step of the way including sanding, painting and keeping me company while I ran the power tools.  I felt good about our design and all of the things we had done to the car.  It was time to race!
The Lads- Grades 1-3

The Crusaders- Grades 4-6
After the official weigh in, the cars were judged for artwork and also for best aerodynamic design.

The boys waiting on the Races to begin!
Reid and his best friend Taylor
We set up the brackets for the two races.  The Lads race in one heat, while the Crusaders race in another.  We determine a winner in both classes by having a double elimination style tournament.  We crown a first and second place winner in each heat.  We then bring all the cars together to race in one big event.  The winner of this double elimination event gets the opportunity to race against last year's Car of the Year.  If victory is obtained, then the new Car of the Year is displayed in a glass case in the RA room until next years race.  All the boys want their car in that box!

Reid drew a bye in the first round and had to watch several cars run before he got his first opportunity.  He beat what I considered to be a fast car, so I knew we had a chance to be pretty good.  You can see his first race here.  The Under Armour car is in lane #2, which is the lane closest to the camera.  We win this race with a late push on the straight away.

This race will give you a little better idea of just how fast Reid's car really was.  The car he defeats in this race won several races.  He wins this race by almost a full car length.  We are again in lane #2.

So we made it to the finals in the Lads division.  We were undefeated and going up against a car that we placed into the losers bracket just a few races earlier.  The other car would have to beat us twice to claim the prize.  This happens more than you think because some cars get faster the more that they race.  But today was Reid's day.  He blistered down the tract to claim victory and the Lad title was his!  A perfect 4 for 4.

Now the big race was up next.  We won our first two races with ease but drew a battle that Reid was not looking forward to in our third race.  We were going up against a legend.  A two time Car of the Year winner from Cook Racing was our next opponent and my little man was a bit nervous.  He didn't say much to me as I placed his car on the track.  He walked to the other end of the track with a look of dread on his face.  The look was quickly replaced with one of relief as The Under Armour continued its winning ways.  We went on the the final round.  Again, we would have to be defeated twice.  It didn't happen as we won the race going away.  Reid earned the right to race "The Beast" and a chance to become the next Car of the Year!

I think he was sweating he was so nervous.  I have to admit that I had some butterflies as well, but I knew that history was on our side.  There has never been a repeat Car of the Year winner.  This is probably due to the fact that the car hasn't been run in a year and that the other cars going against it are running at full warmed up speed.  The boys are hushed as "The Beast" is pulled from its perch in the glass box.  The legend is placed on the track in the lane next to the new comer.  It's "The Beast" versus "The Under Armour" for all the marbles!

We smoked 'em!  The Under Armour PROTECTED THIS HOUSE!  Reid finished a perfect 9 for 9 in the 2012 FBC RA derby race!  I was one proud Daddy and words cannot express how I felt when I put my son to bed last night and he hugged me and said "Thanks for building my car Daddy, you're the best!"

That was the only trophy I needed!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Please do not take my "Man Card"!

I know that I am putting myself out there by admitting this, and that my "Man" card could be in jeopardy, but I confess that I look forward to watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every year.  Now, do I think all of this parading around with with overly groomed snooty dogs on short leashes by plus sized handlers is a manly thing?  Hell no!  I think it is down right stupid, but I am a dog lover and I enjoy seeing a beautiful bird dog on the TV screen flowing across the carpet of Madison Square Garden.  I also enjoy seeing just how many different breeds of dogs there are out there and learning exactly what they were bred to do.  Granted most of them are living a pampered life and not doing those things, but its knowledge that I enjoy learning.  So take my card if you must, but just hear me out on what I think the Westminster folks should do to give us a really well deserved "Best in Show"!

The judging in all of these dogs shows is based upon the breeds standards.  Take the Beagle for example.  The Beagle is supposed to be between 13" and 15" high, with a squared off head and the proper muscle tone with a good stance and proud gate (cough, BS, cough).  Some judge can determine if this Beagle is better put together than this Beagle by using these standards.  They pick the best Beagle out of them all and then put him up against the best Hounds that have also won their breed.  Then another judge tells you the best hound out of them all by placing their hands on them for about 30 seconds and watching them run around the ring.  This goes on for all seven classes of dogs including Sporting, Herding, Terrier, Toy, Hound, Non-working or Non-Sporting, and Working.  Then the best from each group go up against each other and yet another judge tells you which one of those dogs is the "Best in Show"!  What a load of crap!  You can't tell me that this thing does not get political. 

So how would I fix it?  Easy.  Let's start with the Toy Group.  They're out!  Gone!  See ya!  By!  It's just a bunch of lap dogs that really serve no purpose but to be there for their owner to carry in their pocket book.

The Non- Working (or what I think they now call the Non-Sporting for political purposes) group can hang around I guess.  Only because the Bulldog and the Dalmatian are in this group, although I believe the Dalmatian is wrongly classed.  Guarding Budweiser on the back of a horse drawn carriage seems like work to me.

The Terrier group would be led to a large pile of dirt in the middle of the show room.  Some type of small rodent would be deposited into one of the many tunnels made into the large pile of dirt.  The first Terrier to come out of that pile with the rodent wins.  As long as his hair isn't a mess and his teeth have remained clean.

The Herding Group would be introduced to a variety of livestock and be asked to live up to its name.  If the Sheep dog goes after a goat, then he is out.  Same for other breeds that do not herd the right animal.  The dog with the most critters in the correct pen wins!

The Working group will have to demonstrate a desire to work for little pay and long hours.  They will be required to give half of their earnings to help support the Non-Working group.  The first dog that stands up and says that he will not sacrifice his earning for the sake of others wins!

The Hounds will be a little more fun!  They will be lined up on both sides of the ring.  One raccoon, one rabbit, one fox and one wolf will be let out of a cage in the middle of all of the hounds.  First they must chase the proper prey.  No wolf hounds chasing rabbits!  No coon dogs chasing foxes and so on.  Hopefully all of the Grey Hounds and what not will just run on out of the building chasing a lone rabbit named "Lucky" (betting is permitted) allowing the Beagles to do their job chasing the real rabbits.  The fox hounds may not know how to act without a man on a horse in a funny looking outfit, so they will probably be done before they even start.  The coon dog with the prettiest howl will be determined the winner, as long as he treed his coon in the building rafters.  Who doesn't just love a pretty little Blue Tick?

Last but not least will be the Sporting group.  Once again all Sportsmen will be lined on both sides of the ring.  The Cockers have already peed on the floor and have been asked to please go and join the Toy group.  A single tennis ball will be rolled across the green carpet.  Any dog breaking to retrieve said tennis ball without proper permission from its Orvis endorsed handler will automatically be disqualified.  The Sportsman will be placed through a number of live bird retrieving, flushing, and pointing trials.  He with the most birds wins!

All of the winners will then be brought together for final judging.  These great champions are all winners in my book, but only one of these fine companions can be crowned "Best in Show".  That honor will always go to....

 The Boykin Spaniel!

Why is that?  Because Josey says so!!

Now that would be a dog show!!  Can I keep my "Man" card now?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Bad Case of the Wants!

My very first vehicle was a 1972 Ford Bronco!  It was a half cab model that my Dad paid $2,000 for in 1987.  I have since owed and restored two more Broncos, which I posted about in an earlier blog post that you can review here.  I won't rehash all of the details, but at the present time I do not have a Bronco under my garage.  They are awfully fun vehicles to work on and play with, but they can also be very expensive.  Here are some pictures of the Bronco's that I have owned.

1972 1/2 cab.  Total project cost- $4,500 (est)

1976 Sport-  Total project cost- $8,500 (est)

1976 Ranger-  Total project cost- $15,500

As you can see, the project cost increased with each Bronco that I restored.  The first one was restored in 1987, while the last one was restored in 2002.  Today's prices are even higher.  Good luck in finding a Bronco that doesn't need a lot of work, and if you do you can expect to pay a pretty penny to bring her home.  Being a family man with a wife and two children, does not make it very practical to own such an expensive hobby right now!

I'm writing all of this to tell you that the Ford Bronco has a special place in my heart and will always be my dream vehicle.  I have often joked that if I won the lottery or came into a bunch of money by some other means, that I would buy another Bronco and spare no expense making it exactly what I wanted it to be.  Well, the other day I stumbled upon exactly what I would consider to be the perfect Bronco and the one Bronco that I would purchase if I had unlimited funds.  Let me introduce you to the ICON Bronco!

Icon 4x4 is a company based out of California that specializes in the re-construction of classic 4x4 vehicles.  They have made Jeeps, FJ's and are now trying their hand at the "iconic" Ford Bronco.  What makes this thing so special?  They have taken the body and styling of the classic Ford Bronco and put it on steroids!  Everything has been redesigned and built to be way better than the original.  It has a whole new suspension package and the hood is stuffed with Ford's 5.0 liter Mustang motor.

Even the interior got a face lift with modern A/C and features!

This is a vehicle that can be driven as a daily driver, but can also perform in any off-road condition.  I can see myself in one of these!

So what does one of these little beauties cost?  Depends on the color that you want and which features that you choose to include in the base package.  They pre-sold the first 10 models in order to have money for research and development, so there is about a two year waiting list before you can actually sign the title.  If you can stand the wait, then you can own this Bronco of your dreams for only....


Who says you can't put a price on your dreams!!