Monday, February 24, 2014

The Gauntlet: 3 Days in February

     There comes a time in every man's life when he has to put up or shut up.  Stare evil in the face and spit directly in its eye.  You've got to take the gloves off and handle business.  The following story does not fall into that category, but it should.  I am quickly approaching the end of a 25 year quest.  The quest to obtain a degree.  A Bachelors of Arts in History to be specific, because everyone knows that History rocks!  Right?  As a 42 year old college senior I have come to expect the unexpected, and I know that I put the non-traditional in non-traditional student.  Once again I ran into a brick wall last week and to break through I had to get nasty and handle business.  Three days in a row.  Three continuous days of tests in both Science and Math.  Did I mention that I'm a History major?  I don't play nice with Science and Math.  In this particular case the Science was Geology and the Math was Algebra, but its all Greek to me.  That's actually an insult to Greece, because I am very fond of all things in the Mediterranean especially Greece (see Cristos the Spartan).  At this stage in my life I'm always up for a challenge, but this one just about knocked me down.  Down for the count?  Well, you'll have to keep reading to find out the answer to that one.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Rocks and Polynomials await!

     At the end of the Fall Semester I knew that all I had remaining on my "Road to Graduation" as far as classes was:  Two Math classes and a Science with a lab.  Core stuff.  You have to take Math and Science with Labs to get a degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham that's just the way it is.  I had already knocked out one Science and lab with Environmental Science, and I found it quite enjoyable while maddening all at the same time.  I had to choose one more Science to fill out my degree requirements, and I make it a point to stay away from anything "Biology" related due to the fact that UAB is a top notch medical school and they get kind of hard core in that area.  At least that's what I've been told.  I had heard about this class that people referred to as, "Rocks for Jocks."  I thought to myself, "Sounds good to me."  Earth Science 101 and 102 (lab) was the actual name, and I thought I had performed a coup for the ages and I would "Rock" this class, sorry for the pun.  I could not have been more wrong.  This class is tough.  Doable, but tough.  You have to study and be able to identify all types of rocks.  With no word bank.  Just know them from memory.  Igneous, Minerals, Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and so on and so forth.  My mind is full of rocks.  Literally.  Fast forward to Mid term Hell week Spring 2014 version.  Both the lecture and the lab had tests on back to back days.  No surprise since we have tests in this class every week.  Seriously.  It is the testingest class I have ever seen in my entire life.  Once you are finished with one set of rocks and information you have to immediately prepare for the next one, because in mere days another test will be given.  Never ending rocky process.  I've been doing well in the class, but it hasn't been a walk in the park by any means.  The class has brought out the beast in me from time to time, and I was quoted as saying, "Pretty soon I'm gonna stop identifying these rocks and start throwing them."  I can throw a rock with the best of them, but I was only joking, as far as you know.  How many rock puns can one come up with?  Quite a few.  Wednesday was Rock ID day and if you've ever tried to identify rocks it ain't as easy as one would think.  It seems like no two rocks of the same variety look the same, and you can be assured that the most random goofy looking rock will end up on the test.  Green Calcite?  I believe this is only grown in the Rock Lab at UAB.  I will abide regardless of what is thrown at me, rocks or not.  I've been through some Rocky patches in life and came out Rock solid.  I always know when it's time to Rock-n-Roll, and when it's time to stone wall.  Bottom line.  Rocks suck. However in the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, "I will Survive."  Just like a rolling stone.

     Math.  I do not believe there is a more evil entity in the universe.  However, it is purported to be the universal language so you have to sort of get it to get out of college, I suppose.  If I have to write a paper on the Spartacus War, Xerxes and his affinity for Zoroastrianism, or even good ole Louis XVI and the French Revolution I am in my element.  However, if you ask me about exponents or polynomials trouble will likely ensue.  The funny thing about this semester has been that I have actually developed a weird love/hate relationship with Quantitative Literacy.  I chalk that up to having the best teacher/tutor in the known world.  Dr. Cheryl A. Perry is a Math Deity, and she doesn't mind teaching a high strung loose cannon like myself.  Dr. Perry has patiently sat by my side week after week and explained the ins and outs of Algebra, and I am forever in her debt.  Oddly enough it all started to make sense or at least as much as it could possibly make sense to a guy who flunked Algebra in the 8th grade and has never taken anything other than basic math since.  All of a sudden thanks to the genius of the lovely Dr. Perry I can evaluate an expression with the best of 'em.  I realize that the marriage laws of the State of Alabama kind of put her in a bind, and she didn't really have much of a choice to help me overcome my Math ignorance.  Through it all she did with a smile on her face.  I have went up against tougher foes back in the day while in Law Enforcement, playing sports or dealing with my own personal demons, but this opponent kicked like a mule.  My darling wife had my back through thick and thin, and I owe her much gratitude.  Now, on to the third day of the gauntlet:  The dreaded Math mid term!

     Preparation and hard work are the keys to success.  I kept telling myself that over and over again as I drove to the campus of UAB last Friday.  Have faith!  I said.  You got this!  I said.  Trying ever so hard to convince myself that I truly could beat the odds and pass a Math exam.  I put in the work and now it was time to shine.  That's what I tell my kids every day.  It has to work doesn't it?  I arrived at lovely Heritage Hall and immediately saw many familiar faces.  History folk mostly, but I've met some really outstanding people on this University adventure of mine.  I have to say that nicer human beings you will not find.  UAB administrators, professors, staff, and students are all extremely welcoming and helpful.  It is a great place to go to school, no doubt about it!  However, on this day I was a bit anxious, and seeing so many friendly faces put me at ease.  I recommended a couple of classes for those who needed them in the fall and summer.  I talked about the potential for graduate school with a couple of other folks.  Eventually the time came.  Time marches on.  It stops for no man.  Not even a 42 year old college senior with Math issues.  I walked up the stairs to the torture chamber, uh....testing area.  I sat outside for a minute or two for a last minute of meditation, prayer, and motivational.  I felt like I was about to step into the batters box at Yankee Stadium with 40,000 eyes on me.  Butterflies aplenty.  I've learned to channel these feelings in recent years, and I always attempt to use the emotional aspect of situations to my advantage.  It's hard to do that on a math test, though.  A few people came up and asked me if they were in the right place for the math test.  I guess I look like someone who knows things or maybe I resemble someone in the custodial services.  Regardless, I took charge and walked up in the Math Lab and talked to a guy who looked like a Spanish version of Will Ferrell.  I asked him where we were supposed to be, and he pointed to the back and literally opened the closed section of the room to allow us to enter.  I walked in with my fellow Math people, but we were told to "get out" by Math personnel.  It seems the room was not quite ready yet.  I told my teacher, "Don't get mad at Spanish Will Ferrell guy,  I kinda made him do it."  Back to the front of the room.  I sat there going over math stuff in my head, but behind me I heard Spanish Will Ferrell talking to some other students about something that could have been math, but it sounded more like Nuclear bomb codes.  I turned around and looked, Spanish Will Ferrell must be a tutor in addition to being the opener of doors.  The problem and formula that I gazed upon reminded me immediately why it is that math makes my head hurt.  I didn't realize stars could be in a math formula.  Now we've got numbers, variables, letters, exponents, undoubtedly characters of some kind, and who knows what's next??  I fully expected my head to explode at this very moment, but luckily we were allowed to enter the testing area.

     I signed in.  I picked out a computer.  I smiled at my teacher.  I was ready to rock n roll!  Wait, is this Earth Science?  Strike that, I was ready to dominate a math exam!  Say my name Math exam!  You will lose!  I sat down and got out my writing instruments.  One pen and one pencil.  The directions were given and we were given the green light to take the computer wouldn't work.  I raised my hand for what seemed like an eternity, and eventually an extremely soft spoken and very nice Tech Math Lab person came over.  She told me that I needed to reboot the computer.  I did.  It still didn't work.  Have you ever heard of Vesuvius?  How bout Mt. St. Helens?  I was about to blow!  I stood up and asked, "Is there anything ya'll can do to start my test."  I got the response, "Shhhhh!  People are trying to take a test!"  I thought, "Not me."  Finally the extremely nice techy person got my test started, and I got to rolling.  I thought, "Hey, this ain't that bad!  Cool!"  Then my computer crashed.  Turned completely off.  I thought my heart would stop.  I began to think of all the bad stuff that I have done in my life, and I knew this was some kind of crazy karma thing.  Ha Ha Karma, good one.  I literally begged the math people to make my computer work.  I said in as pitiful a voice as I could muster, "I just want to take the test....Please help me."  While they were working on my computer the guy sitting next to me asked me something, but I was so engrossed in my own thing I didn't hear it.  He then reached over and grabbed my pen.  I put my hand on his and gave him the back off look.  For a minute I thought I was going to have to "go hands" up here in the Math Lab.  Dude trying to steal my pen!  He looked at me surprised, and said "Can I please borrow your pen."  I said, "Ok, but don't go anywhere."  Before I could stress out about how much I was eventually going to need that pen, they finally got me up and running.  I took the test for about an hour, and all the while I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  A comet maybe?  Could be a new Ice Age?  I was able to finish, and you know what?  I made an A.  Not only an A, but a 97.5 that should have been 100%, because I made a stupid mental math error early on when I thought the world was going to end.  Turned out good.  I survived.  I walked out of there with my head high!  I told you not to mess with me Math.  I will survive, Math Apocalypse or not.  Oh yeah, I got my pen back. 

     Well, that just about sums up my gauntlet.  3 days of destruction.  I came out of the fatal funnel a better person than I was before or at least better at taking a math test and identifying rocks.  I may actually pull this whole graduating thing off after all.  The sky is the limit!  I'm off to the Math Lab!  I want to find out if Spanish Will Ferrell knows anything about rocks.  That's all I got.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sugar Sparkle Cupcake and Jesse's Girl

     It has been quite a week.  More snow in the deep South has caused major issues, but the issue that has been causing the most distress for yours truly is school not being in session.  When it snows in the South schools let out, when schools let out dad gets stressed, and when dad gets stressed things get really interesting.  My children have more stuff to entertain them than I can ever remember having back in the good old days.  In my day you went outside.  You went down to a local fishing hole or played football in the street or the yard of some unsuspecting neighbor.  However, while my kids will play outside, the words, "Dad, I'm bored" seem to fall from their lips more than they should.  We've got XBoxes, Playstations, Leap-pads, iPads, iPhones, TV's all over the place, games, toys, stuffed animals, Blue Rays, etc, etc.  I should never hear those words, snow or no snow!  Regardless, being cooped up with the children for days on end can cause distress for a father.  Much distress.  I did my best to entertain my children over the Snowcation, but sometimes you can only do so much.  Two noteworthy incidents involved watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and a discussion about romance at the dinner table.  Well, at least dear old dad's romantic reputation.

     I've always been a dog person, and it has been my experience that the love that man's best friend shows to human beings is a pretty special thing.  Recently I was an ambulance driver for a dog in our family named Ginger.  Ginger belongs to my Aunt, Uncle, and Brother or probably the whole neighborhood down on the Warrior River.  Fine dog, and a big fan of hot dogs.  Only problem was the hot dog that she took a liking to was on the end of a hook.  She swallowed the whole thing.  So my brother and I became transport for Ginger in her time of need.  I channeled my inner Bobby Allison, and did it driving the same streets that he did in Hueytown, Alabama.  My brother asked me, "You think the police will give us a ticket?"  My response was, "If there ever was a good reason to speed through town I believe this is it.  The dog swallowed a hook.  I think we're good."  My animal lover daughter Maddie has similar feelings.  She loves all animals, the real and the stuffed variety.  Proof is on her bed, and sometimes it is difficult to tell where the bed starts and the stuffed animals stop.  While we were snowed in (technically the snow had not yet arrived, but the city of Birmingham shut down for two days prior) we had an occasion to watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  I always enjoy watching the dogs and the handlers run around and be judged during this event, although I believe an element of difficulty should be added.  Contact, maybe?  Make it legal to take out the legs of a handler.  It would add to the excitement of the event.  My early money was on the Bouvier des Flandres, but the Dandie Dinmont Terrier made a strong move as the competition progressed.  I am partial to the German Shepard dogs however, and Maddie said she wanted one of those little fuzzy dogs.  She had a named picked out and everything.  So soon I suppose we will have to go out and fetch "Sugar Sparkle Cupcake" for Maddie.  The name could be worse I suppose, I had a Yorkie growing up named Chris' Charlie Brown.  AKC registering thing I believe, because my next dog was named Chris' Teddy Bear.  Smokey and Abby were the names of the last canine family that we had in the Perry household, and I suppose Sugar Sparkle Cupcake will fit in just fine.

     While we were snowed in by the "Great Blizzard of 2014," we had quite a bit of together time.  On one particular moment we were all sitting down at the dinner table for a meal.  We try to do this as much as possible, and I believe that is a good thing.  Somehow or another we got on the subject of girls and Jesse.  Jesse has notoriously been anti-girl since Kindergarten, and has never let on that he has become fond of the fairer sex in any way, shape or form.  I have asked him many times over the years if he had any "special" girlfriends in his line of sight, but I always got the answer, "No!  Dad, leave me alone."  On this day we were talking about Valentine's Day, and I asked Jesse, "Do you have a Best Girl?"  I totally expected to get the "leave me alone Dad" response, but I received a pleasant surprise. Jesse actually said, "Yes" to this question.  This was news indeed!  The boy has only had a serious relationship with Baseball and Football in his nearly 11 years, and I for one was kind of fired up to hear about this recent development.  I figured it was a good time to share with Jesse just how to Romance a woman.  He didn't know his daddy used to be a player.  However, when I said, "Jesse, you know if you ever have any questions about how to talk to her or get her attention in a positive way, just ask me.  I used to be pretty good with the ladies."  I sat back in my chair smiling, and then the laughter started.  It came from the left where my dear wife was sitting, it came from the right from my lovely daughter, and it came from straight in front of me and my sole male heir.  What the?  Why are you guys laughing?  Now, I realize that its been a while since I've been out there, and I know the last time I went all player on someone I was buying her a Zima or was it a Matilda Bay wine cooler, can't remember.  Anyway, I had some game, make no mistake about it.  The laughter continues.  Hey man, I used to rock some Z Cavaricci's and some silk shirts, I looked good in parachute pants too!  I was a regular at Senor Frogs.  I used to do the Electric Slide with 50 year old women at Jitterbugs.  Come on man!  Oh well my crew was hating on me, as the young people say.  I brush off haters like dandruff.  Don't hate the player, hate the game!  I never did get a name for this mystery girl, but I bet my wife did.  Women.  I can tell you everything I know about women in two words.  Not.  Much.  That's all I got.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dictator For Life or Until Age 18

     The job of parenting is tough.  That is the understatement of all recorded and unrecorded history.  Ensuring that the next generation is well stocked with available humans is important I suppose, but getting the little people to the adult stage is a long haul.  They don't tell you at the "baby store" just how difficult this whole deal is, and even if they did you wouldn't listen.  The babies are so cute and cuddly, and I truly appreciate the miracles that they are, but make no mistake they want to control you.  Whether it be late night feedings, diaper changes, incessant crying, homework, misbehaving, refusal to conform to the rules, and any number of other methods that they use to gain the upper hand. Then, just when you think maturity may have blossomed on your pride and joy, you can look forward to teen angst, and having someone tell you daily how much they despise your very presence.  Well, its probably not that bad, but close.  My two children are revolutionaries, but they think they are visionaries.  They believe they have seen the future, and it involves them running things around here.  As a later-in-life college student who has a bit of "seasoning" I have come to embrace the Scientific Method.  It works for pretty much any problem, for example:  Question:  How do I suppress a child uprising?  Observations:  Children do not seem to be willing to negotiate.  Hypothesis:  To stop the revolt we must use any method, fair or unfair, and break the will of the revolutionaries.  To test the theory, I have issued the proclamation that King Christopher James I will be declared "Dictator Perpetuo" or dictator for life.  Unlike Gaius Julius Caesar or Lucius Cornelius Sulla of Roman Republic fame, I plan on keeping my title.  Or at least until the Insurgents turn 18.  This is the only way to test my theory, and I for one will do what it takes to benefit Science.  Did Thomas Dolby not teach us anything!  Science!

     My first law:  Listen to what I say, and do exactly what you are told.  No questions!  No rolling of the eyes!  No unnecessary noise or unusual sounds!  If I say jump, you say "How high sir!"  If I say, "Take out the Trash" you should say, "I would be glad to sir, thank you for giving me life!  Oh father, how I love you!"  It's that simple.  My will be done.  Fathering 101.  However, it's just not that easy.  I can ask the same question a thousand times or give the same command, and it's like my two darling children have lost their hearing.  I can open up a bag of chips and they come running, but call them to pick up some clothes and....crickets.  Do they not understand that all of my vast empire will one day belong to them!  They do not see it this way however.  Jesse the Jackal and his partner in crime Maddie aka Miss Spartacus have started a resistance movement that would make the Sans Culottes of the French Revolution proud.  The Sans Culottes were working class revolutionaries during the French Revolution, and they said they would not, "wear the pants" of the more wealthy classes.  Or at least something like that.  Thus, the Sans Culottes literally means "without pants."  Jesse and Maddie have fought many a battle without pants, and one in particular comes to mind.  It was a guerilla type raid that took advantage of one of my weaknesses as a stay at home dad.  The weakness being washing dishes.  I'm good at it, but it is a painfully slow process.  I like to turn my radio on, and do a little dance, wash a dish or two, and get down tonight!!  The dynamic duo attacked when I was most vulnerable, and did it while wearing no pants.  It was summer and I have no real explanation for the lack of coverage on the lower body.  This occurred a few years ago and it will forever be known in Perry lore as, "The Dishwashing DePantsing."  One of the participants distracted yours truly while the other one did the deed.  In this case the deed was to pull down my shorts.  Don't ask me why.  I don't know.  Sometimes you can understand why those who believe they are oppressed will rise up and fight, but in this case it made no sense.  This was a pure act of terror.  The dictator does not negotiate with terrorists, whether I'm wearing pants or not.  That's just sound foreign policy.

     I'm no stranger to revolution.  If Frank Perry Sr. and his beautiful wife Patsy were still here they would tell you all about it.  I picked Green Tomatoes, stole Playboy magazines, was unruly at school, peed in a big wheel in the middle of the street on good old Bessie Ave., and strutted around like a peacock wearing parachute pants.  I was a flamboyant revolutionary (The peeing incident happened when I was very young and I really had to go, and I also wanted to know what would happen if water entered the chassis of a big wheel.  I should point out that this incident had nothing to do with flamboyance, that all came later.)  So if you again use the Scientific Method you can see why my children are the way that they are.  My wife is a Saint.  She is a Saint just to put up with all of us mad people.  You've got the dictator and the revolutionaries and all the while the Saint is acting as a intermediary trying to make peace.  Why can't we all just get along?  She will say, but these kids are like little pieces of iron and will not bend nor break.  I'm not one to quit on a fight either.  Heck, it took me about 20 years to change my choice in footwear to something modern.  Reebok ex-o-fit high tops black in color, straight outta 1988.  Yep, I'm stubborn like that.  If I'm not willing to quit on a garment that has long since gone from the in-style then I will not give in on a good fight.  This entire area of thought reminds me of a historical event, and that shouldn't be surprising.  So far in this post I've referenced the Roman Republic, The French Revolution, and cool 80s shoes.  The moment in history of which I speak happened in Ancient Greece, and involved Philip II of Macedon the father of Alexander the Great, and the Spartans.  You see Philip had led the Kingdom of Macedon to control most of Greece, and he only had to deal with one city state that was holding out and resisting the inevitable.  That one city state was, of course, Sparta.  Philip sent a message to the Spartans saying, "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army on your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people and raze your city."  Expecting the Spartans to get with the program and submit to his rule he waited patiently for their response.  The Spartans sent a one word response to the powerful Macedonian king.  The message simply read, "If."  Philip never attempted to conquer Sparta.  If that ain't hardcore awesome I don't know what is, but lest we forget I love that kind of stuff. Plus, it does fit with the Perry version of the Sans Culottes revolution, and you know what, the Spartans didn't wear pants either. Coincidence?  I think not. 

     Let it be written that I will be Dictator For Life.  That means that I will be all up in my children's business, and I will make sure they understand that I will be their biggest supporter and harshest critic.  I will attempt to provide a place of refuge when the world gets tough, and give them words of encouragement when they feel that can't go on.  I will stand between my children and any harm.  I will be brutally honest, and fiercely protective if need be.  I will let them know that they are loved, and as long as I have breath in my body that will be the case.  They will see the pride that I have in all their accomplishments, and the understanding in things that don't go that well.  I will make it my mission in life to let them know just how proud I am to be their father.  They will always have a place they can call home no matter how far they roam, and a soft place to land when that travel becomes rough.  All this is simply because there is nothing that I have done in my life that is more important than this.  This was the destiny that I was given.  I was destined to be Jesse and Maddie's dad, and that's all right with me.  I will be the one that dictates the terms and enforces the laws, you better believe it.  I am the lucky one, and a better person because of my position.  I am forever in their debt for the joy they have given me, and happiness they continue to give day in and day out.  The Dictator will abide.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2014: Snow Madness

     We don't do snow really well down here in the South.  That is a fact.  We're not prepared for it, and we just don't like it.  This is exactly why everything, and I mean everything, shuts down when there is a threat of snow.  That is the best thing to do when a foreign entity hell bent on destruction arrives in our normally temperate climate.  We do not have the knowledge, equipment, man-power, materials, and whatever else is needed to deal with the white devil.  However, when the weather guys miss the forecast and it soon becomes obvious that this is not going to be "just a dusting," stuff gets real quick.  Then you throw in "Ice" on the roadways, and it's everybody for themselves.  People panic, and that leads to disaster.  In this case you had nearly apocalyptic results from the White Death, and there was a picture circulating around on social media that summed it up really well.  One side of the photo had a scene from the Walking Dead television show, and the other had a well travelled highway here in Birmingham, Alabama.....they looked exactly the same.  I decided to give my experience, and account of the events that unfolded on this unfortunate day.  A day that shut down parts of the South.  Birmingham and Atlanta were closed for business.  All of what follows is true.
     The day started off really well, and we had no idea the horrors that awaited us.  Terror from the sky would soon arrive.  The terror would be in the shape of cold, white, icy fingers of destruction.  Dateline Tuesday January 28, 2014.  I took both kids to school with no problem.  One is just right down the road, but the other is in Downtown Birmingham.  We had heard about the threat of snow, but only for South Alabama.  The weather guys on TV seemed extremely confident that we would have no issues related to the white stuff, so we all went about our business.  I came home from delivering the kids to their destinations, and sat down in my chair for a moment of quiet.  I began to study about Minerals and their formulas for a lab quiz that I had on Wednesday.  I was completely oblivious to what was happening.  After about an hour I set my study materials down, and walked to the kitchen for another cup of coffee and I saw doom.  Snowflakes by the millions were falling, and falling fast.  I looked outside, and I noticed that the snow was sticking to the roads- really well.  I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, that could pose some issues, because it is not supposed to rise above freezing for a couple of days."  I reassured myself by saying, "Probably not a big deal, the weather guys said it was going to be cool."  I turned on the television, and I noticed that Jefferson County Schools were closing in 30 minutes.  That's Jesse's school.  Normally we receive calls on events like these, but on this day the call didn't come.  Luckily, I happened to see it on TV.  I called my wife, and told her what was happening and left to get Jesse.  The roads were already icy by this point, and combine that with people who don't really understand how to drive on snow and people end up in ditches.  Or hitting trees, or other people, whichever comes first.  I was able to get Jesse rather quickly, and with no problem.  I then went home, but my wife called me and said, "Maddie's school is closing can you get her?"  I knew this could be one of those decisions that could change the entire outcome of my very existence, because I've been down this road before when it comes to winter weather in Alabama.  It seems that everything turns into Bizarro World, and at the drop of a hat your destiny can change.  Of course, I knew that I couldn't leave my lovely Miss Madison at the mercy of Snowmageddon, and we began a harrowing adventure that took us directly into the belly of the beast.  Downtown Birmingham awaited us, and what laid in store was destruction.  Be afraid, be very afraid.
     The drive was an adventure to be sure.  I've been in the middle of a blizzard in 1993, I've worked Ice Storms and snow events as a police officer, and my wife hails from the Great State of Wisconsin- where 3 feet of snow is a mere inconvenience, so I've got a leg up on this snow stuff.  However, the biggest killer when it comes to driving in these kinds of conditions is overconfidence.  This word sums up my very existence.  I'm the guy who wants the ball in crunch time, although there's no ball to have anymore cause I'm too damn old.  I'm the guy who will get right in the middle of whatever trouble comes around, and would be the first to cross the proverbial "line in the sand."  That's just how I roll.  I'm a confident person.  Some may say cocky, and that's fine, but one thing is for sure- I'm not afraid to roll the dice, play the cards I'm dealt, and then see where they lay.  However, when driving on snow and ice you have to throw all that out the window and do the exact opposite of what instinct tells you to do.  Like I said, Snow is Bizarro world, at least in Alabama.  On the way to Maddie's school we began to see cars in ditches, already!  The radio was talking about the mess that was the highways, because it seemed everyone in the Metro Birmingham area was on the roads trying to escape at the same time.  Visibility was low, and the road was slick.  Jesse was hiding in the back seat....but we continued on.  Like a dog in search of a bone, a squatcher in search of bigfoot, a philosopher in search of the meaning of life, well you get the point.  There was a mission, and I was up to the task.  Once we actually entered the Death Star that was Downtown Birmingham it became apparent to me that to survive we would have to be resourceful.  I was ducking and weaving like the great Muhammad Ali.  I almost got KO'ed by a Caprice Classic with bald tires by Boutwell Auditorium, but we escaped unscathed.  Upon arrival at Maddie's school we were aware that time was of the essence, and I grabbed her up and we were gone.  To be honest, all I wanted at this moment was to escape the Snowpocalypse that I knew was coming.  On the way home we had an incident on an entrance ramp that almost ended our journey, but again resourceful driving saved the day!  Just remember, steer into the skid.  If you go the other way it ain't gonna end good.  Like I said, Bizarro world.  The radio kept saying that people were abandoning their cars.  Leaving them on the side of the road.  The governor had declared a state of emergency, and I just knew that the next thing I would hear was that the Zombie virus was overtaking the city.  I immediately thought of Han Solo cutting open a Tauntaun so Luke Skywalker could stay warm, but we don't have any Tauntaun's in Alabama unfortunately.  At this point I began to get texts from my Wife.  I can't text and drive on a good day, not that you ever should do that.  I just don't have the phone skills for all that.  I threw my phone to Jesse, and said communicate with your mother.  Jesse is no stranger to the text message, but he only does brief messages.  Sometimes one word.  Maybe this is texting etiquette, but when the question is, "Please tell me you are safe and at home."  The simple answer, "No" does not give enough information, even if it is technically accurate.  I tried to relay to Jesse what to say to his mother, but he goes his own way.  Wonder who he gets that from.  She was clearly concerned for our safety, and she got responses of, "Could be, Maybe, and I don't know" from my sole male heir.  I told him to text exactly what I said, and he qualified the text by saying, "Dad said," as if to imply that one could believe this statement or not and he was exempt from any blame that could arise.  We had made it painfully close to home, and were stuck again in Post-apocalyptic traffic when I realized this journey had taken about three hours to this point.  I began to sing, "Three hour tour."  Then I realized those lyrics were from the Gilligan's Island theme song, and things didn't turn out very well for the SS Minnow.  However, Ginger and Mary Ann would be there so it could be worse.  Eventually we did conquer the snow madness!  We made it home unscathed, unhurt, and with all our mental faculties...well mostly.  Thankful could not begin to describe how happy I was at this time.  Cheryl texted us again and asked, "Should I come home?"  I gave Jesse, who still had my phone, a long description of my thinking to type, but it was sent, "No, Maybe, cars wrecked, Dad said......"  That boy is a mess.
    Cheryl ended up being stuck at work overnight, but she was safe and warm.  She was able to come home the following day, but many people were stranded.  It was quite a disastrous event.  We've been cooped up in the house for a couple of days all together watching the news coverage of the event.  Sometimes you can have too much "family" time so patience is wearing thin.  We've watched movies, played XboxOne, Mario Kart, and other games.  We were stocked well when it came to the notorious bread and milk that is all the rage in the snow.  Nothing goes better with Snow and Ice than Milk Sandwiches!  The great thing about where I'm from is when things like this happen it brings out the best in folks.  We had people getting out and about just to help others.  They got in their 4 wheel drives and assisted people in need, just because it was the right the thing to do.  There really are some good people in the world, and that is inspiring to say the least.  Those of us with adverse reactions to snow and ice need to stick together, and it looks like we've done that pretty well.  I know there have been some people out there who have made fun of my beloved home in the South, but I for one have never been more proud of the people in this State.  Even the weather guys.  I ain't mad at ya.  That's all I got from the epicenter of Snowpocalypse 2014.  All I need now is a good pair of Sun Britches and a nice warm beach to ease all the pain and suffering.  Yep, that'll do.