Friday, November 30, 2007

In Honor of 100 Years of Hating Pitt - a sweet Mountaineer tale...

T'was the night before Pittsburgh, when all through my mind,
Were visions of couch burnings, both yours and mine.
Firemen were resting and acting quite lazy,
But they knew that things were about to get crazy.

The players were nestled, Markell did his dreds,
While visions of Bourbon Street danced in their heads.
There were Quinton's gold teeth, Larry's son in his lap,
While the quarterback made noises to sound like a cat.

When down in the end zone there arose such a noise,
They sprang from their homes and called all their boys.
To the field they flew, fast as Devine,
Making sure to pick up the offensive line.

The invaders had arrived at the stadium early,
These Panthers were looking noticeably surly.
There was a point to this late-night trip through the hills,
They were out on the field doing defensive drills.

With a dapper old coach who combed his mustache,
You knew in a moment it must be Wannstedt.
He'd made his name as a defensive master,
And he whistled and shouted for them to run faster!

"Watch Slaton! Watch Schmitt! Watch Reynaud and White!
Watch option! Watch bubble! Could be a rough night!
Let's stand at the goal line and build a big wall,
And keep them from their shot to play for it all!"

As they began to believe his bold rally cry,
There was a flash and a pop up high in the sky.
They reacted the same, with a quick double take,
What they saw made them stop in their cleats and quake.

On the top of the stadium a man made his stand,
As he calmly adjusted his Nike wristbands.
He said "My name's Rich, as you surely know,"
Then ran down the bleachers with Mountaineers in tow.

They were dressed all in gold, from their heads to their feet,
And they looked like they'd win a 12-team track meet.
A bundle of plays he had in his book,
And there was no mistaking that confident look.

Pitt's eyes, how they widened!
Their hearts, how they pounded!
All for the biggest game since this brawl was founded.
One side had momentum, the other desperation,
This battle wouldn't wait for the eyes of the nation!

Caridi was roused from a much-needed sleep,
So were Hickman and Hertzel, the last with a bleep.
They brought their pens, paper and elaborate prose,
To witness this battle of bitter old foes.

It was dark and cold, your breath you could see,
But that didn't stop the kickoff of Pat McAfee.
The tackle, of course, came from an old Hawk named Emery,
And so started this game that would soon be a memory.

They spoke so few words as they went to work,
But score after score drove the visitors berserk.
The Mountaineers rolled, as was expected,
While the Panthers backed off, clearly dejected.

There was a Gatorade shower that gave poor Rich shivers,
While no one seemed happier than one Vaughn Rivers.
They exclaimed after singing about Almost Heaven,
"Well see you in New Orleans on January 7."

Oh please, oh please, oh please let that last line ring true!
Let's Gooooooo Mountaineers!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Extreme Home Makeover in our neck of the woods

That's right, cutie Ty Pennington is in West (by God) Virginia...and oh so close to me in Fairmont. You can check out the local website regarding the construction of an Extreme Home Makeovers home in Fairmont here:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wild Turkey

With the shopping season among us, it is about time I got around to posting about Thanksgiving! We had a great, albeit too brief, visit with my family in Webster Springs. Caylin's birthday (6th) was the day before Thanksgiving and Aunt Cathy's (had you sweatting bullets on that one CaCa!) on Thanksgiving Day...too much good food, and plenty of cake icing - yum!

Caylin is sooooo good to share with Elizabeth - we had much reason for concern with this prior to E's arrival as Caylin didn't want a baby cousin. She gave Elizabeth a pair of light-up Cinderella shoes (aka "hooker shoes" - since there is not only bling, but feathers and a heel!) that she has outgrown and drove E on goodness only knows how many trips around Cathy's house.

Anne & I had the brilliant idea of getting Elizabeth & Alex all dressed up in their Christmas outfits to get some pictures for our Christmas cards. It's truly amazing how uncooperative a 22-month old and 6-month old (just about) can be when their anal-retentive mothers hatch a plan. At least we had a good laugh about it.

Reid, Elizabeth, and I surprised the Amoses arriving a little earlier than what I think they were expecting us to on Friday evening. Rikki was already working on the tree, and Elizabeth really enjoyed looking at all of the ornaments - plenty of breakables on Nana & Papa's tree! As always, we enjoyed getting to see Rikki & Doug...

(Pictures of Elizabeth "I jumping. I jumping.", giving Alex a hug, and then having him in a headlock - Sweet!)

And we're now off to the races with the Christmas shopping! I have wrapped a few packages (I off - my tree isn't up yet!) and we'll see how well Elizabeth can behave around these temptations. She can tell you what Santa says, "Ho Ho!" Now we'll have to see if I can get her on Santa's lap for a photo again this year (not holding my breath!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New Book to Read - WV Author!!!

Yesterday's Charleston Daily Mail had a nice feature about a couple & their hurdle into marriage - which has been captured in a new book, Life with "Father" One man's journey into light...and love, written by Jacquie Switzer. You can get your very own copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.

Here's the feature story from the Daily Mail if you aren't able to access it for yourself (I'll spare my friend & Student Council buddy, Richard, from posting the pictures that ran with the story, you'll have to go to the article to see those for yourself):

What do you want me to say — ‘I love you, Father?’
by Brad McElhinny
Daily Mail staff

Spectacular news brought a tangle of complications.

Roger Switzer pulled aside a young woman, Jacquie Terhaar, and said, "I think I'm in love with you."

At first, she was speechless.

Roger Switzer was a Catholic priest.

Finally, Jacquie spoke.

"What do you want me to say -- ‘I love you, Father?' "

He said, "Well, do you?"

"Yes," she replied.

Their exchange in the conference room of a summer camp for the Catholic Youth Organization of Rochester, N.Y., kicked off a year of internal, professional and religious struggle -- and then 24 years of marriage.

Every love story has complications. Because Roger's professional and spiritual calling ruled out marriage, theirs had more than most.

Father Switzer had to ask himself a lot of questions: What is right with the church? What is right with my relationship with this woman? How do you reconcile your love of a woman with your love of God?

Jacquie Switzer, now an assistant principal at Hayes Middle School in St. Albans, has written about the difficult choices in a new, self-published book "Life With ‘Father:' One Man's Journey Into Light . . . And Love." The 132-page memoir is available through outlets such as and Borders. Switzer published the book with the help of a company called AuthorHouse.

Back in 1965, the couple dared not breathe a word to anyone -- much less publish a book.
At that moment in the conference room, they shared a hug.

"Then we went into kind of a robotic state," Jacquie said. "We had to carry on the business of the camp."

Their love had built quietly.

Roger, 32, had been ordained as a Catholic priest in 1959, had worked as an assistant pastor at St. Mary's Parish in Horseheads, N.Y., and then was transferred in 1964 to become director for the Catholic Youth Organization. All signs pointed to a life in the priesthood.

Jacquie, 24, was a Latin teacher at Our Lady of Mercy High School, her own alma mater in Rochester. She accepted a summer job as director of nearby Camp Stella Morris, which was run by the Catholic Youth Organization.

And that was how she first got to know Roger -- from across a desk.

"You felt like you knew him so long, having just met. He was down to earth. He had a great sense of humor, a genuine love of people. It all came out in a very simple way. He would look nice but was never overly concerned with worldly things. You immediately felt like he liked you."

Initially, it was all business. Jacquie took the camp job in the fall, received a business letter from Roger in March, visited briefly in April to discuss progress in preparing for the summer and then showed up for her job as the summer began.

At the camp, she and Roger would have informal managerial meetings. They would share a coffee and talk casually.

"That essentially was our dating time or getting to know one another time," she said. "It was just this relating."

Once, when a chaplain -- who was a mutual friend -- came to visit the camp, he commented, "You have to be careful. Jacquie is the kind of person that you could fall in love with."
Roger thought: "Too late; already have."

The first people Jacquie and Roger told were her mother and father. They met at her parents' cottage not far from the camp. The couple explained that they were in love, that they planned to get married -- and that there was just one hangup.

Her father commented, "Yep, you do have a problem."

And then, as the summer camp came to a close, Roger returned to his organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C., while Jacquie returned to her teaching job at Our Lady of Mercy.

Their courting continued through the U.S. mail. In a series of letters to Jacquie, Roger described his conflict over how to move forward, his initial hope that the Catholic Church might change its policy on the celibacy of priests and his revelations, first to close friends and then to church hierarchy, about his dilemma.

Excerpts from the letters form the heart of Jacquie's book. She was inspired to write the book a couple of years ago after digging out the letters and reading them a day at a time, in the order that they had originally arrived.

"I saw this stream of a struggle, an anguish over this decision," said Jacquie, who is now 65. "I thought this would be a great story."

Roger spent about a year trying to untangle the situation. He still hoped to somehow stay in the priesthood while also marrying.

"There is no doubt in my mind my love for you," he told Jacquie. "Now the question is what do I need to do."

Friends in the church intervened on his behalf, asking the hierarchy what could be done. Roger met with a Cardinal in Baltimore to discuss the matter, but it was discouraging. He read books like, "Priestly Celibacy and Maturity."

For Jacquie, the situation was simpler. While Roger struggled over his decision, she just had to wait for him to make it.

She told him, "I don't want you to come back and say 10 years from now, ‘You made me leave the priesthood.' "

As the months passed, there was little progress to allow Roger to have life both ways. Finally, word came from the church: We have done everything we can. If you have made your decision, you have done everything you can. You need to leave.

"Roger was essentially fired," Jacquie said.

He still boldly predicted that within 10 years, the church would reverse its policy on priestly celibacy.

The couple married Sept. 3, 1966, in a private ceremony at her parents' house. Twelve people attended.

A friend from graduate school helped Roger find a new job in West Virginia. The Switzers moved to Charleston, where he became the director for Family Service of West Virginia. In later years, he worked as executive director of the Community Council of the Kanawha Valley and then was the director of the Charleston Housing Authority for 19 years.

The couple had six children -- Andrew, Michael, Anne Marie, David, John and Richard. The boys were all named for priests who had helped them through their ordeal.

Roger and Jacquie never regretted the difficult decision they had made.

"To me, it's awesome you can participate in the creation of a human being, and the commitment of yourself body and soul to another human being is awesome," Jacquie said.

"It's a gift from God -- the participation of human beings in the creation of individuals."

The family remained Catholic. They attended St. Agnes in Kanawha City, Sacred Heart in Charleston and Blessed Sacrament in South Charleston, largely depending on where in the Kanawha Valley they happened to live at the time. Roger didn't tell his fellow parishioners about his time as a priest unless they happened to ask.

Even as he moved on with his life, Roger had remaining issues with the church. He never received a response from his petition for a dispensation from his vow of celibacy. He also wanted his marriage to be regularized. He hoped to be assured of a Christian burial, and felt there was no guarantee given the strife the family had been through.

He did not receive a written response, but he did get an answer.

In 1990, Roger was diagnosed with colon cancer. Treatment provided no cure. He resigned from his job at the housing authority in September and died in late November. He was 57.

His worries about how he and his family would be buried were put to rest. He had a Catholic service at St. Patrick's Cemetery. The eulogy was given by a friend who had been with the couple when they first decided to wed. He, too, had left the priesthood to marry.

To Jacquie, the funeral was a sign of how far people had come. Although the church still had not changed its policies, people had become far more accepting. It was a stark contrast from the secret they had to keep when they first confessed their love for each other.

In the limousine on the way to the service for the former priest Jacquie commented to her six children, "Here we are headed to St. Patrick's Cemetery, and nobody really cares."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nuts & Bolts...WVU gets...

I couldn't have said this better (nor am I actually I do not have the time or the resources...or the sports writing skill set.)

An excellent read from Dave Hickman appeared in today's Charleston Gazette newspaper:

Breaking down the BCS mess
By Dave HickmanStaff writer

MORGANTOWN — We pause from our regularly scheduled West Virginia-Louisville coverage to take yet another shot at the Bowl Championship Series, which is admittedly the best thing that has ever happened to the process of crowning a national champion. But that’s kind of like saying that a chocolate covering is the best thing that ever happened to raisins.

Not to anger the raisin lobby or anything, but isn’t that just making something that tastes bland a little bit better?

The point to be made today about the BCS is this: West Virginia has realistically — but not completely — lost its chance to play for the national championship for a variety of reasons we will now enumerate.

If you agree that any, except the first, should have even an iota of bearing upon who eventually does wind up in the title game, you are either a college president (the ones who steadfastly resist a playoff structure) or a sports columnist or talk show host (the ones who thrive by talking about the lunacy of the system).

At any rate, the reasons:

  • West Virginia lost to South Florida. This is the one that supersedes all others as far as logic is concerned and is the reason that, no matter what else happens, any complaints on behalf of the Mountaineers will be greeted as sour grapes. It’s simple, folks. Win. Win them all. That might not guarantee Hawaii or Kansas a spot in the title game, but if West Virginia had won them all, the Mountaineers would be No. 1 right now. Period. They didn’t and they aren’t. Deal with it.
  • Kansas hung 76 points Saturday on a Nebraska team that might give up 76 to Temple. Keep that in mind, because it’s merely the latest in a recurring trend. As is this: Last week, Kansas was ranked behind West Virginia. The Mountaineers didn’t play. Kansas scored a billion points. Now Kansas is ranked ahead of West Virginia.
  • Oklahoma pounded a bad Miami team 51-13 on Sept. 8, a week after putting 79 on North Texas and right before scoring 54 against Utah State and 62 against Tulsa. The Sooners were ranked five spots behind WVU in the preseason Associated Press poll, two spots back after North Texas and one spot ahead after Miami. By the way, North Texas is 1-7 now, Miami is 5-4, Utah State is 0-9 and Tulsa is 6-3.
  • Florida jumped over West Virginia when it scored 59 against Tennessee on Sept. 15. WVU beat Maryland easily that week, on Thursday, but it had been all but forgotten by the time the polls came out. Two weeks later, the Gators began a string of three losses in four games.
  • West Virginia dropped from No. 5 to No. 13 after the loss on the road at South Florida, a team that two weeks later would be ranked No. 2. Boston College, by contrast, dropped from second to eighth, six spots, after losing at home to unranked Florida State on Saturday night.
  • Oregon, which a week earlier lost at home to California, put 53 on the board against Washington State on Oct. 20 and went from one spot behind West Virginia to two spots ahead in the AP poll. It was the same week the Mountaineers led Mississippi State 31-0 one play into the second quarter, but scored only one more touchdown and coasted 38-13. Washington State, by the way, is now 3-6.
  • Arizona State began the weekend of Oct. 27 one spot behind WVU in the AP poll and beat sliding Cal 31-20, the same day West Virginia beat Rutgers 31-3. The next day, Arizona State was ranked ahead of the Mountaineers.

OK, so what does it all mean? Well, you might be wondering why we’re talking about positions in the AP poll when that doesn’t even factor into the BCS ratings. But public opinion does factor into the BCS rankings in a huge way. Two of the three factors in the BCS formula are the Harris and coaches’ polls (the third is the composite of the six computer ratings) and the AP poll is usually a virtual mirror of those two. The same sort of juggling happened in those two polls.

The point is that a great deal of the BCS ratings is public opinion and that, unfortunately, has been swayed tremendously this season by teams posting big numbers in meaningless games. The computers supposedly take that out of the equation, but given the relatively small part (one-third) the computers play in the BCS standings, it just hasn’t happened. When voters see Oklahoma or Kansas or Oregon or anyone else put up big numbers they take notice.

It’s not just the scores that sway public opinion, either. The talking heads on ESPN these days — and there are about a thousand of them, it seems — love to jump on those same bandwagons. I heard a group of them agree just on Sunday that Ohio State “is clearly the No. 1 team in the country.’’ Oh yeah? Like the Buckeyes were clearly the No. 1 team in the country last year? Are they the same people who demanded that poor Michigan last season deserved a rematch with Ohio State for the national title because the Wolverines lost a shootout to that “clear No. 1 team?’’ That would be the clear No. 1 that was trounced by Florida in the title game.

(By the way, to understand just the mentality — not to mention the biases — at play here among those talkers, I swear Lou Holtz on Saturday defended Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, saying it wasn’t his fault and that he just needed to find 11 guys who wanted to play. Really, he did.)

Again, this would all be moot from West Virginia’s standpoint if the Mountaineers had beaten South Florida, so it’s hard to put up much of a fight. West Virginia still might get a shot at the title, but for the record three of the following four things have to happen in order for it even to become a possibility: Ohio State loses to Michigan, LSU loses in the SEC title game, Oregon is upset by UCLA or Oregon State, and Oklahoma is upset by Oklahoma State or Texas Tech and then beats the Kansas-Missouri winner in the conference title game.

But is this the way we really want to choose a national champion, by having teams — WVU included — jockey for position all season long by running up scores and hoping people sitting on their couches at home take notice? All so that when the first week of December rolls around, they still have a chance to impress those same people?

Wasn’t this exactly what the BCS was supposed to help eliminate?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Halloween Pics

Anne, Sean, & Alex came in to West (by God) Virginia for Halloween weekend! My how he has grown! Ali is 5 months old and weighs 20 lbs. (He'll be giving Coach Rod his verbal commitment any day now.) On the same hand, Elizabeth is 21 months old and weighs 25 lbs. Good grief!

The Star Wars theme was too cute (but with such cute subjects, that wasn't a surprise!) Here are a few pictures of Yoda & Princess Leia from the street fair in Sutton. (Pic at the right is with Uncle Sean.)

Nana & Papa have been sick this past week. Elizabeth insisted on going over there on Halloween after we handed out a little bit of candy to the trick-or-treaters we had here at our home first. We hope that Nana & Papa are feeling better soon!