Parent of the South

As a child of the South: born in Georgia and resident of South Caorlina for the last 30+ years, and now a parent in the South, I’ve determined Five values all Southern Parents must instill into their children:

  1. Manners, Manners, Manners
    Above all else, and before all else, you must be polite and show proper respect to all people. This includes proper use (meaning everyone, young and old) of “Ma’am” and “Sir” and continual use of “May I” (even if it’s already yours) and “Thank You” even if you were wronged.

  2. Love of college football
    You must find a team and make them your own. You must love them through thick and thin and you must hate their rivals (I have some ideas of teams you can cheer for, if you need some).

    And most importantly, you must not celebrate special events on fall Saturday’s – especially weddings. No daughter of the South shall ever schedule a wedding between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

  3. Exposure to Beach Music
    You must learn to shag and to make sure your children do as well. And shagging can only be done to Beach Music. While most people are familiar with the Drifters, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, you must also be conversant with groups like Chairman of the Board, the Catalinas, the Embers, and the Tymes.

    If not, how else do you propose to have a Southern wedding?

  4. Wardrobe of seersucker and flip flops
    To not only be Southern, but to also look Southern, your children must have a collection of seersucker suits/dresses and flip flops. Both of these materials breathe the best, which is a necessity in the hot and dirty south.

    There is some leeway here for girls as a good sandal can take the place of flip flops. Should typically be white, or other light color, and be adorned with flowers or fun insects.

    However, please note there are some exceptions to this rule. For guys, no sandals. None. For girls, the following brands are off limits to be considered Southern: Tevas, Birchenstocks, and Crocs – even they make flip flops.

    This should go without saying, but socks with either seersucker or flip flops is explicitly outlawed. In general, socks in the South are optional – even for work.

  5. A few great expressions
    What makes Paula Dean so lovable, besides the butter, are the expressions, and every Southerner must have a few in their staple. They do not need to make sense, but they need to be understood – know what I’m saying? Southern expressions are generally silly, confusing, and grammatically incorrect, when read outside of a Southern conversation – kind of like athletes’ tweets outside of a sporting event. But you must have them.

    Generally, 5-10 will get you through most every situation in life – and you’ll never be at a loss for words.

As you try to raise Southern children, please note, Southern reality tv is not your barometer. You may not use any of the sayings, dress, or tricks shown on Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, Swamp Loggers, or any other “Southern” reality show to increase your Southern standing. It must be legit and from you, the parent, not some terd on tv.

So – how are you parents of the South doing in raising our next great Southern generation? Any other necessities I missed? Am I wrong on any?

Even if I were, would your Southern hospitality and manners be allowed to tell me?

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iPhone5 or a Second Marriage?

In an effort to stay on top of the mobile phone market, Apple recently released iPhone5, its newest, fastest, and slimmest model yet.  And as the techies continued to spout off feature after feature, it made me chuckle as it sounded more like trading in a spouse than it did trading in a phone.

Listen to these quotes and remarks, all taken directly from Apple’s press release, and tell me if this sounds like a speedy phone or speed dating:

  • “Most beautiful ever”
  • Thinnest
  • Lightest
  • Taller, not wider
  • Longest lasting
  • Blazing fast
  • Stunning
  • Jaw-dropping
  • Smarter
  • Enhanced
  • More natural sounding speech
  • More natural fit
  • Increased durability
  • Define the future

And last, but not least:

  • Available

Remind me what I’m purchasing again?  Oh yeah – a PHONE…

Let me know if it changes your life. If it doesn’t, don’t fret. Another model will be along soon

A Marriage of Meat

Before we even begin this discourse, let me say this:

“A wife is not a piece of meat”

Now, with that said, let me tell you how making great barbecue is eerily similar to making a great marriage.

A great marriage doesn’t just occur. And neither does mouthwatering barbecue. Most of us understand the effort required to make a marriage flourish, which includes items like planning, hard work, patience, creativity, prayer, and commitment, but you may not realize how the same components are required for mouthwatering barbecue.

Planning
Pulling off a successful cook requires advance planning. There are cook times, ingredients, prep work, equipment, meat, and the serving to consider. You take notes, read books, and ask questions, all in an effort to become a better pittmaster.

Hard Work
Pulling off a successful cook is not easy. And it doesn’t just happen. You can’t just push a button or plug something in and turn out great barbecue. It will make you sweat, wear you out, and drop to you to your knees. But the more you put into making great barbecue, the more you get out. Actually, you get much more out of it.

Patience
“If you’re looking, you ain’t cooking.” The more you look, the longer it takes. And cooking great barbecue takes FOREVER. Upwards of 16 hours, not counting the prep time, rest time, serving time, or pulling time.

And guys, if we’re looking, we ain’t cooking, when it comes to our eyes and our marriage.

Creativity
There are only so many ways you can cook a butt. It has to take 12-16 hours to be good and needs smoke to give it great flavor and bark. So to stand out from the crowd, you need to be creative. Creative in your rubs, spices, sauces, and woods. And if you find the right balance, in conjunction with everything else, you may be the one holding the trophy and the big check at the end of the weekend.

Prayer
While prayer is an essential part to a great marriage, you may not consider it a key component to great barbecue. You’d be wrong – way wrong. So many things can go wrong while cooking for 16 hours, many of which you have no control over.

I’ve seen hot, humid weather, where you had a hard time keeping the temps down, change to a monsoon, causing fires to go out, equipment to get soaked, psyche to get crushed, and schedules to get ruined. And if you’re not praying, you have no prayer…

Commitment
The most important piece of any marriage is commitment and the same is true for barbecue. You have a tried and true plan, one you’ve seen work countless times, but even so, when things begin to go awry, the tendency is to change what you know works and try something else.

You give up your plan and toss it aside and you if you have no chance for success. You can’t change what you’re doing because someone else does it differently. You can’t take your schedule and try to cheat it. You can’t “wing it”. You need to be committed to your plan, no matter what.

Also, there is an unwritten rule in barbecue: “You eat what you cook, no matter what”. It doesn’t matter if you burn the meat or if your chances in the creativity department don’t work or if the schedule wasn’t right. You eat what you cook – no questions asked.

The same is true for marriage. When you say “I do”, you say it for better or worse, no matter what. If things get tough, you stick it out. If things don’t go as planned, you stick it out. No matter what.

So, next time you have a craving for barbecue, think of your spouse. And take the time to enjoy both.

Checking in on 40 Before 40

It’s been nearly two months since I’ve mentioned 40 Before 40 and nearly 5 months since I finished the list. And while it may appear not much is happening in the dreams department, nothing could be further from the truth.

I currently own a Ford Explorer, which is still in production, although my version is a few body styles removed from the current vehicle. Does this count? Not really what I was expecting when the dream came about, so it currently stands as no.

And with that said, I still can’t lay claim to completing any of my 40B40 list (like my shortened version?), but I can feel myself getting close. The Tiger Swag is slowly making progress. At its current level, I don’t think it counts as being published, but it may lead to other opportunities. Opportunities like going viral (Tiger Swag was called out on a Gamecock message board), being on radio or tv or podcast (I would consider that a win), or even taking a road trip (press passes, right?).

In better news, I expect to accomplish a few goals this fall. October will be our annual Clemson road trip, which will take us to Winston-Salem, home of Krispy Kreme (emails have already been exchanged). Fall break may contain a trip to DC with the fam, which will certainly include a stop by Busch Gardens. And November will be renamed “No Shave November”, which will be followed by a Floyd the Barber shave.

Other work includes multiple offers for road trips – just need to find the time (and money), minor opportunities to cater an event, negotiations of a hot air balloon ride, research into using my engineering skills to solve problems, and inquiries into hosting a concert.

But more importantly, my list must change. Since I joined Facebook in support of The Tiger Swag, I have actually forever denied myself to accomplish one of my goals. So, rather than rename the list 39 Before 40, I’ve decided to replace Facebook with a new dream.

My new dream – invent something.

I don’t need to be a Di Vinci or Edison or Franklin. I don’t even need to be an Otis (elevator), de Mestral (Velcro), or Judson (zipper). I’d be honored to be like another Powell I know.

Terry Powell – aka Dad. He took used clothes hangers from department stores, sawed off the connector pieces to create his own version of chip clips. I’ve also seen solve many a problem without using the proper tools. Just gettin’ it done any way he can.

Honestly, I’d even settle for an idea. An idea like online police scanners (been done), putting all known leaves in an app so you can recognize vegetation (been done), or packaging crayons based on schools and conferences. Would you want your kids coloring with a Crimson crayon for Harvard or Blue for Yale? I know I would. Heck! I’d have seconds and then polish it off (see the 2:15 mark)…

Unfortunately, Home Depot upped the ante by selling official paint colors of the NCAA.

So, it shall still be called 40 Before 40: 40 goals before turning 40.

And I only have 40 more to go…

The Hottest I’ve Ever Been – Part II

August 30, 2003, Clemson, South Carolina

Clemson was opening the 2003 football season by hosting Georgia for a noon game. The previous year, Clemson took UGA down to the wire in Athens, and expectations were high.

The first football game is always the most exciting. We were pumped as we headed from Waterloo to the Promised Land. Everything was going just as planned until we hit Anderson. At that point, 20,000 Clemson fans met 20,000 UGA fans.

Traffic stopped. Temperatures were high. Tempers were higher.

We finally made our parking space 15 minutes before kickoff. We literally ran from the car to the stadium. We were then stuck in the concourse waiting to get to our seat. It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s smelly.

We finally make our seats just as the Tigers are coming down the hill. They were pumped. We were pumped. The crowd was pumped.

All 80,000+ fans were jumping up and down. It was downright sweltering in there.

But we didn’t care. Football was back and we were playing the silver britches.

Then the second most beautiful play-action pass I’ve ever seen occurred (see Chris Weinke vs Clemson). David Green faked, Justin Miller bit, Fred Gibson scored.

UGA 7 – Clemson 0

Unfortunately, the temperatures continued to climb. So did Georgia’s side of the scoreboard.

The afternoon sun never relented. Neither did Georgia’s defense.

Final score: UGA 30 – Clemson 0

At the end of the day, we were sweat soaked and sun burnt. And humiliated.

That day will not set any temperature records as there were many days as hot or even hotter, but to me, that was the most miserable football game I’ve ever been to. Add in the traffic before the game, the shut out, and the fact that’s it at home to your rival, and it all points to the hottest I’ve ever been.

My Mom is a Cubs Fan & So is Yours

My mom is a Cubs fan. And so is yours.

And they have no idea.

My mom’s never been to Wrigley Field. Never heard of the Curse of the Billy Goat or Tinkers to Evans to Chance or Bartman.

I’m not even sure if she’s ever been to Chicago, let alone the North Side.

And other than a 6th grade report on Ernie Banks, and the subsequent Starting Lineup action figure she bought, I can’t think of any correlation she has to the Cubs.

But she’s a Cubs fan. Through and through.

Or at least acts like one.

The Cubs, affectionately known as the Lovable Losers, have the greatest and most supportive fans in baseball.

You could argue St. Louis has the best fans, for it is the premiere baseball town. But they have a reason for their support – success

You could argue the Yankees or Red Sox have the best fans, but they’ll turn on you in a heartbeat. Just ask A-Rod or Buckner.

See, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1903 and haven’t played in one since 1945 (before she was born).

No one alive has been able to celebrate a World Series win and only those on Social Security have even seen the Cubs participate in one.

And yet, Wrigley Field remains full. The fans continue to show up in support of their team. Whether it be a cool, spring night or hot, summer afternoon, the fans are there.

And they aren’t always concerned with the results. They just love watching their team play ball.

And that’s my mom. With it being me, and only me, she doesn’t get a ton to cheer about. Very few, if any mountain top moments.

But she’s always there. Always supportive. Rain or shine. Hot or cold.

Great days and bad. For runs of good luck – and for rough patches.

When everything is on the line. And when nothing.

She’s not concerned about the result, but about the player.

And I bet her favorite Cub is Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. Because to her, it’s always a great day for a ballgame. And she’s always ready to play two.

A Thankful Clemson Man

As a Clemson man, I have plenty to be proud of and thankful for. Probably more than most. And I say that in great humility, as I’m constantly reminded of how special this place is.

I could speak of Clemson’s humble beginnings as a land grant institute, being the first public school in South Carolina to admit black students, and its technological advances to the fields of agriculture and science.

I could speak of its athletic history, how it owns South Carolina, has a National Championship in football, and another conference title under its belt.

I could speak of its beauty, nestled in the foothills and surrounded by Lake Hartwell.

I could speak of its academic reputation and the power of a Clemson degree.

All of those make me so proud, and thankful, to be a Clemson Tiger.

But none of them are THE reason I am thankful to be a Clemson man. No, there is one thing that makes it even more special, and makes me even prouder: Our military history.

When the first students entered the Clemson campus in 1893, they were more than just students, they were military. And since that day, over 10,000 Clemson alumni have served their county, from the Spanish-American War to today.

And of those 10,000 alumni, 470 gave their life to this country.

Countless others, like my father, a Vietnam Veteran, came to Clemson after their service. And I wonder how many more future Clemson alumni never got the chance my father did. I wonder how many future Clemson alumni never came home.

I used to call my dad every Memorial Day to thank him for his service. And every year he would explain to me how this day was not about him, but those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. I would agree, but thank him again anyway.

See, I had the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of attending Clemson. Or wearing the orange and purple with pride. Of singing the alma mater. Of wearing the ring.

But I can’t help but wonder how many of those same dreams were never fulfilled. I wonder how many dreams are buried in France or Vietnam or the South Pacific.

This place we call Clemson is amazing. And a lot of it is due to our military history, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been if every young man who gave their life for this county would have attended.

To read more about Clemson’s military history, its honoring of its veteran alumni, and ways you can support, watch the video below and check out the following links: