"Candy is Dandy, but liquor is quicker." Willy Wonka

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Fighting in Sports ...

Fighting in Sports Today

Can you believe this? I have watched the highlight a few times already and I'm appalled at the behavior of this superstar athlete. However, I am even more dumbfounded at the behavior of the fans that did their best to make him even angrier. It just shows that humans really are animals in their purest form.

The people seated around that area saw that he was upset and began throwing things and saying things that would make him lose control. Why would people do this? I believe that for one reason or another that they like to see people lose control and "fall from grace". I suppose it's thrilling for them. I mean look at all of us; we are watching it like a wreck on the side of the road; like blood and gore in a movie. We are fascinated by the unruly and I believe that when some individuals have an opportunity to incite such melee, such extraordinary events, they jump at the chance.

Human beings can almost be like sharks in a feeding frenzy when they see someone lose control like that. It's common behavior of children in elementary school through high school to try and push another child "over the edge" when they sense that the child is already mad, upset, or emotionally distraught. They feel that if they can push them to the next "level" that they will really get a show. They almost have a yearning curiosity to see how the higher authorities will react to such unruly behavior or extraordinary events.

All in all, I really don't like what this kind of behavior is doing to professional sports and I can only see things going downhill. It only takes a handful to ruin it for the rest of us.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

My Great Great Grandfather

My Great Great Grandfather

My name is Hansel and many people wonder how in the world did a guy from Dallas, Texas get a name like that. Nowadays I go by Hans, which was the result of the relentless teasing that I received in elementary school. You know ... the whole Hansel and Gretel thing. Of coarse, by the time middle school rolled around, the Hans and Franz skit on Saturday Night Live came out and my cheerleaders had a new cheer ... "I am going to pump you up!"

Now that I am older, I am glad to have the name that I was given because I know who the man is that I was named after. I was named after my mother's grandfather, Hansel Engleduff Ratliffe.

I was told that my Great Great Great Grandfather Carroll had a farm in Missouri next to a German family. The husbands name was Hansel Engleduff and it's said that Hansel did something for my ancestor so great that he named his first born child after him. That is how my Great Great Grandfather got the name Hansel Engleduff Ratliffe.

Soon after his birth they packed up their belongings in a wagon and headed off for Oklahoma to take part in the Oklahoma land rush in the 1800's. My Grandmother Ratliffe was pregnant so Hansel at a very young age had to walk most of the way from Missouri to Oklahoma. Once they were there, they faced many more problems that came with the land rush. What about the Indians? What if one of the other racers decides they want our land and tries to kill us for it? Winter is coming and we won't have time to build shelter on the new land.

That first winter on the claim was spent in a cave dug into the side of a creek. Can you imagine at such a young age spending an Oklahoma winter in a creek in the middle of no where, living off of the land? I can't.

That is where my Great Great Grandfather Ratliffe grew up and spent most of his life until World War I came along. Like many Americans, my Grandfather enlisted in the army to help his country. Many of his neighbors and other farm boys did the same. He was quickly shipped off to France to fight the Germans. He survived that test of fortitude only to come back and find that many friends and men of his community were missing because of that costly war.

Soon after this hardship he encountered more ... The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. When you would think that he might already be a broken man, he survived even these tests of time.

My Great Great Grandfather rebounded from all of this to become a respected farmer, successful businessman, and founder of Ceres Baptist Church. He was the rock upon which the family that I know today was built upon and the principles that he instilled at that time have been passed down to me. Who I am today is a result of his fortitude, determination, discipline, and strength of character.

My Grandmother Dobbs always used to tell me, "Never forget who you are." When I think of that phrase, I see not only my Great Great Grandfather Hansel Ratliffe, but many of the men in my family; and hope that I can live up to the standard by which they lived their lives. It is more than that though. When I do anything, I almost imagine all of these men standing behind me like a strong army. An army that gives me power. Not the kind of power that corrupts, but the kind that gives me the strength to persevere through the toughest of times because I know that they endured far more because they wanted more for their families.

In the end, I look back at my Grandfather Hansel and see the impact that his strength of character made on so many lives and it inspires me to develop that same kind of character so that I can help carry on his legacy.

Clinton Library Dedication

Clinton Presidential Library

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (CNN) -- President Bush joined Bill Clinton and two other former U.S. presidents Thursday to dedicate Clinton's presidential library, a ceremony that also brought together celebrities from both Washington and Hollywood.

The library and presidential center has offered Clinton an opportunity to further define his legacy as the nation's 42nd commander-in-chief.

"This library tells a story about America in the last part of the 20th century," Clinton said, describing a nation exiting the Cold War and entering a world of information technology. The nature of government had to change as a result, Clinton said. "That whole story is here."


I watched this dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library on tv today. It is amazing to see four Presidents of the United States on the same stage together. I thought to myself how they are people like everyone else and this country is just another piece of dirt on this rugged planet with unseen borders. "America" is a set of ideals that this group of people have led us under and ideals in which we believe. Ideals that thousands have died for and continue to die for.

There were many undertones to the dedication ceremony. Primarily, the tension between the two political parties of America and their foremost leaders.

That tension is why "America" is so wonderful. We fight and die so that we can have that tension. I hope it never goes away and these two parties continue to fight forever. We live and die in America so that a man or a woman can have an idea that is different from ours. At the end of the day, America chooses the best idea for that time and tips her hat to the other ideas for giving her an opportunity that many nations never get ... a choice.

Hong Kong Convention Center

Hong Kong Convention Center

Best Hostel in New York City

International Youth Center

I chose the International Student Center after spending a few hours researching hostels on hostels.com. I chose the Center largely because of the location, not knowing what the areas were like around the other establishments. I knew anything around Central Park couldn't be bad.

I went to New York City to see the Yankees home opener, but more than that, I went up there to get away from everything down here in Texas.

When I arrived at the Center, I saw what is in the picture. Pretty nice ... on the outside. On the inside is a different story altogether, but typical for a hostel and typical for $20 a night in NYC.

I was greeted by a girl that was from some other country, but I never found out where... It was apparent though that she had been in NYC for a while and it had made her tough. Nothing was going to get by her. I went through all the procedures of signing papers, paying, checking my bag in, quickly using the internet to remain "plugged in", then off to my room. Well, not exactly "my" room. I had 11 roommates from Africa, France, Argentina ... everywhere but America. This made for a fun environment.

Then there was the bathroom. Oh, the bathroom. This was a work of art, but typical for a hostel and if I might remind you, $20 a night in NYC. Words cannot describe it, but I took every precaution in order to have a healthy and warm bathing experience. Can we all say, "Cold water!"

One night, I had gotten in late from a comedy club and was really tired. I immediately went to bed in my top bunk with its plastic coated mattress and thin sheets. I became surrounded by the sounds of 11 people sleeping and learned that night that no matter where you are from, we all sound alike when we are sleeping. Except the guy from Africa. I don't know which country he was from, but this guy could snore like nobody's business. I have never heard snoring like I did that night, not even from my grandfathers. I was not the only one enjoying the medley.

I am a very laid back person and typically wait for other people with shorter fuses to deal with situations like the one before me. This particular night the short fuse belonged to the French; a.k.a. the snorer's neighbor. It began with stifled French cursing or what I guessed to be such and then a barrage of thrown boxes at the African man to get him to wake up. However, every time he went back to sleep he started snoring again. This process was repeated a few times till the French man ran out of boxes to throw and the African man finally found a way to stop snoring. I just laid there with my head in my hand watching it all like a movie with a grin on my face. Maybe that's weird, but I call it an experience.