Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kiddo's Husker Experience

Saturday, my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers took on the Virginia Tech Hokies in a highly anticipated game that was supposed to be the first real test for the Huskers (and their new coaching staff) this season.

Nebraska lost, 35-30. At times, they didn't look very good at all. As a fan, it was a disappointing night.

But as a dad, it was freakin' AWESOME.

My parents had tickets to the game, and as it turned out they were going to be out of town for the weekend. Sweetie had access to a ticket with her parents, so that meant I was able to take Kiddo with me. Section 16-B1, Row 85. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay up in South Stadium.

It's amazing how being with a 4 year-old can help mellow out even the most rabid fan (me).

Our day started well before kickoff, though. We left the house about 4:15, getting to our usual parking spot by 4:30. On our way to the stadium, we stopped by the HuskerPedia tailgate. HuskerPedia is probably the best online source in existence for Husker related news and bulletin board chat. I've been posting there for a few years now--one of the perks of being a member is that you can stop by the tailgate tent before each game and enjoy some great food, great beer and great company. Saturday, the great company included the Husker Elvises (I had my picture taken with them, but haven't gotten a copy of it yet) and Joe Orduna, who played for the 1970 Husker National Championship team. Joe was kind enough to sign Kiddo's hat, and he and I spent about 5 minutes talking about family, football, and just life in general. Good guy.

After having our fill of food (and an adult beverage), we made our way to the Husker Nation Pavillion, which is located right next to the stadium and has live music, facepainting, balloons, games for kids, and televised football on a gigantic screen. Kiddo got his face duly painted, and had someone make a balloon sword for him.

After finding our seats in the stadium, Kiddo just soaked in the atmosphere. He clapped along with the band's pregame show, delighting the fans around us by singing along to There Is No Place Like Nebraska. He was enraptured by the spectacle of the Tunnel Walk, even telling me afterward, "Daddy, during the Tunnel Walk I almost had tears in my eyes because it was just SO COOL!" and by kickoff, he was yelling right along with the crowd.

Until the second play of the game. Which was when he informed me that he REALLY had to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW.

Remember, we were in row 85...AND right in the middle of our row. I apologetically excused myself past the 8 people to my left, Kiddo and I walked down 20 rows worth of stairs until we got to the exit, then down a series of LONG ramps until we finally were at street level.

I found the men's room, took Kiddo in, waited patiently while trying to discern what the crowd noise above me meant (turns out VT had scored on a safety), had Kiddo wash his hands, then got ready to head back up to our seats.

It was then that Kiddo informed me that he was REALLY hungry.

No problem. We were down by the concession stands...we'd just stop real quick and grab something....

....hmmmm....funny. Where's my money?

I slapped my forehead as I realized Sweetie had it all.

For some perspective, I was in the south endzone. Sweetie was on the west side of the field, right on the north 10 yard line.

And apparently Kiddo was about to melt into a pile of nothingness without something to eat NOW.

SO...we went down another flight of stairs to get to field level, went around the corner to get into West Stadium, walked in front of the VT visitor section, and down the entire length of the field until we got to the north 10 yard line. Then up 17 rows...until finally Kiddo saw his mommy, grandma and grandpa.

Retrieving the money, we kept going up the stairs until we were at the concourse level in West Stadium, stopped by a stand for a couple of hot dogs and a big ol' lemonade, back down to field level, back to South Stadium, up the series of ramps, out to the stands, up 20 rows of stairs, over 8 people, and back to our seats.


We watched the rest of the first half while enjoying our dogs and sharing our drink. After our first touchdown, Kiddo let go of the 3 red balloons we had been holding on to, and we marveled at the thousands of balloons that floated away (a truly COOL tradition, letting the balloons go after the first score).

At halftime, we had promised grandpa that we'd come down to visit, so we made the trek back to their West Stadium seats. by this time it was almost 9:00, and Kiddo, while enjoying the game, had started to get tired and ask when it was going to be done. In an attempt to hold him off, Sweetie suggested maybe we should get him some ice cream.

So we did...after standing in line for 20 minutes. Then came the trek back to North Stadium, Row 85. I was amazed the kid was still standing after all the walking he did.

Speaking of standing, we stood for the majority of the game, which was something I was ready for, but hadn't considered when bringing Kiddo with me. But he was a trooper, standing on the bench in front of us and watching the game through his binoculars.

The 20-something year old guy in front of us taught Kiddo how to cross his arms to "throw the bones" for the defense, and Kiddo led our section in the "Goooooooooooo Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig Reddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd...GO BIG RED!" cheer, which the fans around us got a BIG kick out of. Kiddo almost became our section's mascot--whenever the Huskers scored, everyone around us gave him high fives--and he just ate it all up.

Finally, when the game ended, I had the opportunity to teach him a little about sportsmanship. He asked why all the players were kneeling in the middle of the field, so I explained that they were saying a prayer together, and that even though they were on opposite teams, they could still say a prayer to God together. As the players finished praying, the Virginia Tech section started chanting--when Kiddo asked why, I said that they were happy that they won, just like we'd be happy if we won, and that it was okay to be happy for them.

"In fact, you know what?" I asked him. "Something that Husker fans do that I think is REALLY cool is this--whether we win or lose, after the game we clap for the other team when they leave the field, and tell them that they did a good job." So as we made our way to the stairs, we clapped for Virginia Tech as the players ran off.

Even with all the walking, even with the standing in line, even with the Huskers losing, even with the completely pointless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Bo Pelini in the 4th quarter, I had an incredible night.

Because I was with my son.

On our way from the parking lot

Kiddo and Sweetie at the HuskerPedia tailgate

Watching the game...check out Joe Orduna's autograph on his hat!

Cheering from Row 85

In Mommy's seats at halftime

Kiddo takes in the Tunnel Walk

Gooooooooooooooooo Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig Redddddddddddddddddddd...GO BIG RED!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Coventry Health Care Doesn't Care About Babies!

Okay, that's a little strong, but I just got off the phone with their customer service folks earlier today and had promised myself that if I got the answer I thought I was going to get, that I'd be sure to let the world know.

This is a good place to start.

Here's the deal. Our health insurance is through Coventry Health Care of Nebraska. Our plan covers preventative care at 100%, up to $500 per person annually...after which there is no preventative coverage at all.

So far, not MUCH of a problem. I'd rather see it be subject to deductible and coinsurance after hitting the $500 limit, but okay. I'll deal.

Here's my problem. Unlike EVERY other health care plan I've been on, the $500 limit ALSO INCLUDES CHILDREN UNDER A YEAR OLD. When you consider that just setting foot in the doctor's office runs over $100, not to mention all the vaccinations they receive...that's a hell of a lot of uncovered care.

My kids' pediatrician sees children about a week after coming home from the hospital, then at a month, 2 months, 3 months, 6, months, 9 months, and a year. Each time we've gone in since the one month point, there's been at least one immunization, and usually more like 3 or 4. Some of these vaccines run over $100 a pop.

I don't want this to turn into a debate over immunization safety, so please don't go there. The point is that subjecting children under a year old to the same $500 limit WITH NO COVERAGE AFTERWARDS makes it real tempting for parents to not get the kind of preventative care their child ought to have. Basically, you use up your entire year's allowance by the second visit, then you're stuck paying the rest out of pocket.

Not only is it not in the best interest of the kids, I'd think from a business standpoint if you're responsible for paying claims if kids get sick, that you'd want to encourage parents to do everything they could to have their kids NOT GET SICK. And those first year checkups are vital...not just for the immunizations, but also for catching problems early that could grow into bigger ones later. Not covering those first year appointments just doesn't make sense to me either from a care standpoint OR a business standpoint.

I'm going to be writing a letter to Coventry, and this way when I tell them that I've started informing people what their stance is on early childhood health care, I'll be telling the truth.


Monday, September 22, 2008


I had the privilege of spending this past Thursday through Saturday at the Foundations youth ministry conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It was sponsored jointly by Youth Ministry Architects, an outfit headed by Mark DeVries (whose articles in Group magazine are some of the few worth reading, IMO), and the Center for Youth Ministry Training.

Unlike most youth ministry conferences, this wasn't about the latest and greatest programming. All of the workshops, speakers, and presenters revolved around the structure of ministry. It was a crash course in systems analysis...and I took more useful information away from those three days than I ever have for any professional conference. Ever.

The weekend wasn't all work, though. Here's a few non-ministry tidbits that I found interesting. You may not find them quite as interesting, but this is my blog, so read on. Or don't.

First, I flew down to Nashville by way of Memphis, which is about an hour's drive from where I was born in Blytheville, Arkansas. When I was a little kid, we used to meet my grandparents at the Memphis airport when they'd come to was also where we'd fly out of when we'd visit extended family. So, in a strange little way, my hour-long Memphis layover was kind of a homecoming for me. I hadn't been there in about 30 years, after all. Pretty cool.

Second, while I was in Memphis waiting for my plane, a familiar bald head walked past me. For those who don't know (or remember), one of my dirty little secrets is that I'm an American Idol junkie. I quickly ruffled through my mental roladex, and realized that Phil Stacey, one of the American Idol finalists from a couple of years ago, was sitting about 20 feet away. Phil used to be in the Navy, and came off as a really decent human being on the show. Good guy, totally in love with his wife and kids, and committed to his faith. I wanted to respect his privacy, so I left him alone until about 5 minutes before our plane was ready to board, then I walked over to wish him well and ask for a picture. Turns out he was heading back to Nashville (on my flight) after doing some shows in various casinos and clubs across the midwest. We talked about life and family for a few minutes, and he did end up posing for a picture with me:

Third, my conference was held at Brentwood United Methodist Church in suburban Brentwood. There's a Christian musician named Mark Schultz who most folks don't realize got his start as a youth minister at Mark DeVries' church a few blocks away. At Mark's invitation, he came back to do a mini-concert in the BUMC youth area for the 80 or so of us in attendance. One of the songs he sang is called Walking Her Home, which follows a couple from their first date through their last night together in a nursing home. I had heard the song one other time before the concert, and like that first time, I was left a sniffling mess afterwards. Here's a video of that performance:

There's a couple more things I'd like to write about, but it's bedtime. Those will wait for another time.



Monday, September 15, 2008

ESPN Hates You

I saw this elsewhere...good stuff. And it's so true, too...although ESPN really DOES hate the Huskers. And I bet it loves anchovies on its pizza. Because I hate 'em. =)

ESPN hates you.

And more importantly, ESPN hates your team.

ESPN will go to any length to diss your team. Any length. You know that LSU coozie you used to have but can’t seem to find? ESPN took it. Because ESPN hates LSU. That is, if LSU is your team.

It has nothing to do with you being too passionately involved in both liking your team and hating other teams. ESPN just likes to mess with your head. That's why when Mark May says something like 'LSU has question marks at quarterback. Watch out for Florida in this one' you get mad. Sure, you just read the same thing in the Times Picayune. But the Times Picayune isn't ESPN - who clearly is having a love affair with Urban Meyer and the Gators while simultaneously throwing the LSU Bengal Tigers under the bus every chance they get.

Unless you're a Florida fan. In which case the time that Chris Fowler made that dig about Urban Meyer's 28-point loss to Alabama is clear evidence of an ESPN-wide plan to, in fact, shut the UF football program down.

Remember that time ESPN ran a story about your favorite player getting arrested? Nevermind that he actually did get arrested. That's bull. ESPN is bull. And it is obvious that, by running timely stories about factual events, ESPN is biased against your team.

It doesn't matter who you pull for.

Whoever your favorite team is, ESPN hates it. ESPN hates anything you love, and loves anything you hate.

ESPN hates your dad. Unless you hate your dad. In which case ESPN loves your dad.

If you love bread, ESPN is 'anti-sandwich.' If you hate end-pieces, ESPN will run a special about end pieces. Mark May will hold up two hard, crusty end pieces and hype the hell out of them all year long. Bob Ley will run a special called ‘Outside The Loaf.’ Ivan Maisel will write a column with a pun-filled headline like 'The piece to the end puzzle' and mind-force you to read it and then email him in anger about it.

If you were for the Union, ESPN was for the Confederacy.

If you had a Sega Genesis, ESPN had a Super Nintendo. If you had a Super Nintendo, ESPN had Sega Genesis.

If you liked like Tombstone, ESPN liked Wyatt Earp.

If you preferred Use Your Illusion I, ESPN preferred Use Your Illusion II.

If you pulled for Dan, ESPN pulled for Dave.

If you think OJ is guilty, ESPN is black.

ESPN hates everything you stand for. Unless you stand for something else. Then ESPN hates that too.

LH (who ESPN hates)