Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Summer of 2010 !

The summer of 2010 was pretty spectacular. We started the summer with a "100 years of living" extravaganza/party in May celebrating our respective 50th birthdays. The party was highlighted by our daughter Rachel singing a couple of songs with the band which was comprised of 2 current members of the Long Players. The bartenders were our son, Houston,  and his college age friends. It was a very memorable evening complete with great food and great people.

Shortly thereafter, we set out on a week long sailing "barefoot"  cruise in the Caribbean on a 46 foot yacht captained by our good friend Kemper Harr. Our two families met up in Atlanta and flew down to St. Thomas, then picked up our boat in Tortola. What a spectacular week--waking up on board, raising the sails, and cruising to different spots---where unusually personable restaurants and bars awaited us around the islands. The water and weather were perfect for early June.

After settling back into Nashville for a few days, we were off again to Baton Rouge to support Houston's final club soccer tournament with KFC (Knoxville Futbol Club) in the Regionals. This trip was a bookend on a fabulous club soccer career for our son. He played ten years, and was the recipient of many awards, honors, and accolades. Not many kids make it to the U-19 level, where competition is fierce. In fact, only 12 boys from the entire state of Tn made it this far. Club soccer paved the way for Houston to received a full scholarship to play soccer at the collegiate level Division One--at the University of Richmond.

So it was with some emotion that we exited this tourney after 3 games, thus ending the club soccer years. Our "Shaggin Wagon" Ford Van rolled into Nashville with over 110K miles. Rarely used for anything other than family soccer (and SGI) trips, we wonder what will become of that old van. Tons of memories.

As July 4th approached, we packed up again and made our annual pilgrimage to our cabin on Center Hill Lake for the fabled Smithville Jamboree weekend with our good friends Alice and Sammy Taylor and family. We had all of our toys, the 21 ft. Sea Ray, the Sea Doo, and all the extras for our dock just below our place. We are fortunate to have one of the few docks on the lake whereby we can assemble, and distribute according to age, interest, and what not. Plenty of activities abounded, as other friends would come and go on their boats as well. The Jamboree was highlighted by plenty of gospel singing in back of the Courthouse away from the stage.  I missed the 5k this year, but others ran it on Saturday morning. The Hurricane Marina folks put on a great fireworks show to cap off the 4th.

Not too long thereafter, our final official trip of the summer commenced towards St. George Island, where we co-own a house with our good friends, Chip and Mary Loch Smith. This was to be an Oldham/ Smith reunion, as our two families had not traveled together for at least 2 years. The trip got off to a rough start, as we had to put down our beloved dog of 10 years, Emma, the great Golden, on the morning of our departure. Things just weren't totally right for several days after that, but because of the great understanding and empathy of the Smiths', they made our trip fabulous as usual to this special area of Florida. The wildlife and nature that exists in this cozy spot off the coast of Apalachicola is simply amazing. We were visited daily by an Osprey about 5 pm looking for dinner and flying peacefully up and down the coast. Tons of dolphin each day. And plenty of freshly caught grouper and snapper. We took our bikes this year and did a 30 mile ride from one end of the island to the other. Good stuff. And we had 7 kids/ young adults on this trip, so there was always something happening around Angel Wing. We ended our trip to SGI with our annual "Beach Olympics", highlighted by beach volleyball, beach soccer, and beach football, all played back to back with frequent trips to the oil free Gulf.

Other fabulous tidbits from the summer included watching almost every World Cup game with Houston and an assortment of his friends and cheering on the USA, who ultimately folded in an incredible line up snafu against Ghana.  "Monday Funday" became a staple around our house with Houston's college age friends showing up to play beer pong on Monday nights. We had to call of this epic night of fun eventually as high school kids would wander in, eager to find a parent friendly alcohol is okay zone. Sorry guys. Rachel and her friends had many sun filled days around the pool and listening to loud music, thanks to the newly installed outdoor rock speakers around our oh so cool patio and deck. Houston is becoming quite a chef and cooked dinner frequently for us and his friends.

Finally, the summer of 2010 faded and as we made plans for school, we picked up and rescued two puppies to join our family and to try to replace the hole left by Emma's quick demise. So we welcome "Indie" and "Leo" in mid August. The emptiness of the house with kids back in school will hopefully be offset by these two little hell raising puppies.  What a great summer. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I could not have said it better myself--commentary by Dan Le Batard

Did you see that? Did you call your friends? Did you hug strangers? Did you share?This is why we love games. This is why we invest and care and cry and scream and get angry -- for the one breathtaking moment that Landon Donovan gave us Wednesday, when a little balding guy summoned the strength to lift our big country and give the United States a 1-0 victory against Algeria to advance in the World Cup.
There is nothing better in sports than patriotism. But hope is pretty close. And winning, too. And they all merged with that soccer ball in front of an empty net in the 91st minute over in South Africa. The feeling Donovan's foot then produced, in a blink, was so enormous that you could feel the ripples of reverberation from a world away.
Over here, bars and offices erupted with joyous noise, and grown men wept. Most of life is not lived in this arena, of course. Most of life is bills and responsibilities and bosses and oil spills, and we need vacations from all that. But games, in moments like this one, allow us to exist and emote on a different and higher plane, living vicariously through that team's bond, which can grow so large that it allows us to wrap even something as big as our entire country in something as small as a single flag.
It is why America spends so much money and invests so much more emotion on sports -- to escape, to vacation from life in this magical paradise. How often does anything outside of sports make you scream at a television or dance around your couch or jump up and down? Think about that for a second. You scream if you win the lottery or dance when your children are born. But you do it all the time in sports, from quarter to quarter, game to game, season to season, with something that isn't even really yours. Donovan won the lottery Wednesday, not us. Donovan's teammates are his joyous family, not us. But that's the beauty of sports in moments like this: It can make all things feel so much larger, turning ``us'' into ``U.S.''
It doesn't last, of course. Heck, real life flooded in, too, immediately on Wednesday, the news of Lawrence Taylor's underage-rape indictment breaking with urgency into ESPN's joy coverage before the fans had even left the stadium. Locally, the talk was the unfair firing of Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez. But chasing this kind of moment -- hoping, praying, believing it will come -- is what keeps us coming back to the arena even though there is always this kind of garbage strewn around it.
The lows, believe it or not, can be pretty good, too, and make the highs all the better. That's why Pat Riley always returns to coaching -- because Game 7, even when you lose it, makes you feel more alive than you ever can behind a desk. For 91 minutes Wednesday, you could feel the low that was coming -- jokes and mockery and anger about how dreadful soccer is for never producing a goal. This tournament was about to be a disaster for American soccer (not just this team but this movement), and its endless quest to lure the ADD sports fan who wants more florescent scoring. We were going to be eliminated from this tournament with a third consecutive tie -- and a 0-0 one at that. That's right. Playing three games without getting a single win or loss. So lame.
But then, just like that, in the one breathtaking moment we all visit this arena to chase, anger and frustration and disgust evaporated into an uncommon and sudden and shared joy. That doesn't happen very often in real life, not outside the arena, not like that. After so much boredom and 0-0, against the odds and the refs and the other countries, keeper Tim Howard threw the ball from his own box, and the panicked and desperate American team blurred down the field, and the game was broken open like a heart loving for the first time. From one second to the other, we went from being eliminated from the world's largest tournament to being one of only 16 countries promised more life just like this.
And here's the coolest thing of all:
This isn't the finish line.
It is merely the starting point.
Now is when this thing starts getting good.
Because we already have all the coolest things in sports -- patriotism and hope and winning.
And now we have the underdog, too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA Wins in Stunning Fashion in Stoppage Time!

As a huge fan of the 2010 World Cup with a particular love for the boys in the Red, White, and Blue, today's game will be forever indelibly marked in my mind as the most tense, gut wrenching, dramatic, and ultimately fabulous match I have ever watched in my life. Our guys played a great game in every phase, and had another good goal called back around the 20 minute mark. We passed well, defended well, and had great energy on the ball. We could just not find the back of the net. And so the minutes kept ticking by....One great play after another would end with a great shot, a great save, or a goal kick. We could not convert on our corners or free kicks. The frustration kept mounting. We dominated the contest. Algeria was a formidable foe though, and their hearts were in at as well to play spoiler. They really didn't play to win, as much as they played to not lose. There were several yellow cards, and the game became increasingly physical. Dempsey had to sit out for a few with a bleeding cut on his lip from an errant elbow. The 70th minute ticked by, then the 75th, already the 80th minute and our World Cup dreams were starting to dim. Because England was beating Slovenia, our hopes to go through would be dashed if our game ended in a tie. We master minded drive after drive, still no score. 85th minute, 87th minute and I could not sit down any longer. My stomach was in a knot, I paced the floor. Stoppage time. 4 extra minutes. In the 91st minute, Tim Howard stopped a nice header from Algeria and literally threw the ball across the half line to a sprinting Landon Donovan, who passed to Jose Altidore. Jose dished it back off and in comes a sprinting Donovan who nails the ball in the back of the net! GOOOOAAAALLL!  No offsides, no errant call! USA WINS. WOW

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Drilling for Oil must go on--

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been a proponent of offshore drilling for oil and natural gas for many reasons while we collectively (both private industry and government) continue to invest in  alternative sources of energy.  The main reason is that our country runs on oil. Period. No, make that an exclamation mark. We continue to fund rogue governments and to create political instability by enriching nations that do not like the USA--when buying their oil. Anything we can do to stop or reduce our dependence on imported oil should be a high priority of this administration, future administrations, and every state where there are proven oil reserves.

Environmentally speaking, this stance is very unpopular right now given the absolute unfolding disaster on the Gulf Coast, which is near and dear to all of our hearts here in the SouthEastern USA. How incredible that the Horizon well blew out on April 20th, 2010, Earth Day. How amazing that that just 3 weeks previous to the Horizon disaster, President Obama actually increased permissable oil drilling off our shores. Is that not just absolutely incredible ? Does the USA just not have any luck when it comes to becoming energy independent? How long will the Gulf Coast disaster impede drilling? Will the oil slick ruin tourism, the seafood industry, and destroy estuaries? All of us sincerely hope not for many reasons on many different levels.

I call to your attention an article written and posted by the Governor of Alaska, home of the 1989 Valdez accident. His state wants to do more drilling and to do more for our energy independence. This article is very important in that it shows how resilient we are in this country and how this too shall pass in the Gulf. Not to take away from the fact that this is a major environmental disaster in the making and I am very disturbed for the people on the Gulf Coast, and for me, a homeowner on the Gulf Coast.  But we knew the risks. We knew there could be a disaster. Now we have to deal with it. But drilling for oil must continue. Please read this article posted in the Wall Street Journal:

The Gulf Spill and Alaska

We see signs that the Obama administration wants to use the disaster to shut down oil production even in the safest areas.

Juneau, Alaska
In Alaska we empathize with residents of the Gulf states who are watching with trepidation as the potentially catastrophic oil spill continues unchecked. This tragedy reminds us of the fallout, both financial and environmental, that we still feel here from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. State and federal studies still find lingering subsurface oil, for example, and the herring fishery has yet to fully rebound. But just as Alaskans did not abandon our belief in responsible petroleum exploration and development after that disaster, Americans cannot afford to take their eyes off the ball now.

As I noted in these pages last year, responsible offshore oil and gas production, particularly off Alaska's coast, has to be a critical component of our long-term energy security strategy—and so too does responsible onshore domestic production. Yet there are troubling signs that the Obama administration is attempting to stifle—particularly in my state—the critical onshore component of America's ability to produce its own energy.
The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) holds up to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. While this area was set aside by Congress in 1980 for later consideration of whether to permit oil and gas production there, a federal agency is now undertaking a "review" of the management plan of the refuge—a review that seems aimed at laying the groundwork for a wilderness designation that would bar production.
But it is not only ANWR that the Obama administration seems intent on locking up. Federal agencies are also now blocking oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska.

Although familiar with ANWR, most Americans are less likely to know about NPR-A and how vital it is to our energy security. Given recent developments, it's time to elevate the position this area holds in our national discourse.
NPR-A, a 23 million acre stretch of Alaska's North Slope, was set aside by President Warren Harding in 1923 for the specific purpose of supplying our country and military with oil and gas. Since 1976 it has been administered by the Department of the Interior, and since 1980 it has been theoretically open for development. The most recent estimates indicate that it holds 12 billion barrels of oil and 73 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In addition to containing enormous hydrocarbons, NPR-A is very close to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which means that there would be relatively little additional infrastructure needed to bring this new oil to our domestic market.
But even here, progress has been stalled.
For more than five years, the state of Alaska has worked closely with major energy companies, local communities and Alaska Native corporations and tribes on a balanced development plan. To back this project, these entities have formed a rare coalition and made significant compromises, often at the behest of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to clear regulatory hurdles for development on a site in NPR-A known as CD-5.
But this February the Corps reversed course and denied the issuance of a critical permit for CD-5. Specifically, the Corps denied ConocoPhillips's request to build a bridge over a river to accommodate a pipeline and vehicles that can access the company's existing production facilities at the nearby Alpine field. The Corps decreed that the bridge shouldn't be built and that the pipeline should proceed under water, a course of action that would significantly undermine the economics of the project while posing a greater risk to the environment.

Alaska stands ready to help move the nation closer to energy independence, and it's a shame that the federal government is standing in the way. The Corps's own regulations emphasize that state and local governments have primary responsibility for land-use decisions and that their views should be given due consideration. But not only has the Corps rejected a critical permit, it did so without consideration of our concerns—on the overly technical grounds that the state's comments were not made under my signature and that my oral comments to Corps officials were not in writing.

After years of cooperatively trying to move this critical NPR-A project forward, such a backhanded dismissal of a state's position is troubling enough. But what we really fear is that this is part of a much broader agenda at play (directed by the antidevelopment Environmental Protection Agency) to shut down increased domestic oil and gas production even in places like the NPR-A. As Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski stated in a recent address to our legislature, "For heaven's sakes, if we can't drill in the National Petroleum Reserve—an area specifically designated by Congress for oil and gas production—where can we drill?"

The state of Alaska is seeking to join an administrative appeal of this misguided federal decision. If we are not satisfied with the outcome of this proceeding, we will pursue other means, including suing the federal government to ensure that it abides by its own regulations and does not make arbitrary and capricious decisions at the expense of state sovereignty and wise energy policy.
America, particularly in Alaska, has vast reserves of onshore and offshore oil and gas. The crisis in the Gulf should not be used to implement a misguided strategy that shuts down the opportunities to develop these resources and that further endangers our nation's long-term energy security.
Mr. Parnell, a Republican, is governor of Alaska.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

For Flood Relief, Help a friend or friend of a friend

For those of us who live in southwest Nashville, close to the Harpeth River, it shouldn't be difficult to find a friend or a friend of a friend in need of help or assistance. We have many friends who suffered water damage particularly in Bellevue, but also up and down Hillsboro Rd towards Franklin. Even our church, Harpeth Presbyterian, suffered water damage through out the building and into the sanctuary. I've heard about the telethons, the radio-thons, and the foundations being started for flood relief, and I support those who wish to give to those organizations. But for me, this natural disaster hit very close to home and so finding someone who needs financial help or a helping hand has not been difficult. However, at the same time, I wonder where and how the telethon funds are distributed. From ground zero, people need new walls, flooring, carpet, and furniture. There is no flood insurance for many victims of this disaster.

A friend of mine in the insurance business said that in 2009 there were $250,000 total claims for flooding in the greater Nashville area. Early estimates by Mayor Dean predict at least $1.5 billion in damages from the Great Flood of 2010.  My friend's company is very prominent locally, and admittedly, he and his staff are having a hard time getting up to speed on processing claims, and the nuances of what is covered and what is not covered. Most policies cover the dwelling but not the contents. So structural repairs are covered, but nothing else like appliances, furniture, and anything else considered "content". One of the telethons is benefitting the Salvation Army.  A fine organization, but how can they help homeowners in Franklin or Bellevue? And as a Board member of Second Harvest Food Bank, I love SHFB! But the problem is not food oriented here in these areas, it's home oriented.  Personally, I donate generously to Second Harvest year in and year out, but as for these telethons, I believe that giving of your time, and your resources to help a friend recover or to help a homeowner in need of buying new items for his or her home after flooding is the best way to help.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How Bad is the Gulf Oil Spill? This may surprise you

Sorry about my recent slant towards re-printing or rather, re-posting of articles without blogging much about them. Sort of defeats the purpose of blogging, no? If someone has the resources to investigate and to write an article that is this comprehensive, however, I applaud them and really can't add much to the conversation I'm having with myself (and you). So anyway, credit this article to the New York Times and Leslie Kaufman in New Orleans.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad — no one would dispute it. But just how bad?
Some experts have been quick to predict apocalypse, painting grim pictures of 1,000 miles of irreplaceable wetlands and beaches at risk, fisheries damaged for seasons, fragile species wiped out and a region and an industry economically crippled for years.
President Obama has called the spill “a potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.” And some scientists have suggested that the oil might hitch a ride on the loop current in the gulf, bringing havoc to the Atlantic Coast.
Yet the Deepwater Horizon blowout is not unprecedented, nor is it yet among the worst oil accidents in history. And its ultimate impact will depend on a long list of interlinked variables, including the weather, ocean currents, the properties of the oil involved and the success or failure of the frantic efforts to stanch the flow and remediate its effects.
As one expert put it, this is the first inning of a nine-inning game. No one knows the final score.
The ruptured well, currently pouring an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the gulf, could flow for years and still not begin to approach the 36 billion gallons of oil spilled by retreating Iraqi forces when they left Kuwait in 1991. It is not yet close to the magnitude of the Ixtoc I blowout in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico in 1979, which spilled an estimated 140 million gallons of crude before the gusher could be stopped.
And it will have to get much worse before it approaches the impact of the Exxon Valdez accident of 1989, which contaminated 1,300 miles of largely untouched shoreline and killed tens of thousands of seabirds, otters and seals along with 250 eagles and 22 killer whales.
No one, not even the oil industry’s most fervent apologists, is making light of this accident. The contaminated area of the gulf continues to spread, and oil has been found in some of the fragile marshes at the tip of Louisiana. The beaches and coral reefs of the Florida Keys could be hit if the slick is captured by the gulf’s clockwise loop current.
But on Monday, the wind was pushing the slick in the opposite direction, away from the current. The worst effects of the spill have yet to be felt. And if efforts to contain the oil are even partly successful and the weather cooperates, the worst could be avoided.
“Right now what people are fearing has not materialized,” said Edward B. Overton, professor emeritus of environmental science at Louisiana State University and an expert on oil spills. “People have the idea of an Exxon Valdez, with a gunky, smelly black tide looming over the horizon waiting to wash ashore. I do not anticipate this will happen down here unless things get a lot worse.”
Dr. Overton said he was hopeful that efforts by BP to place containment structures over the leaking parts of the well will succeed, although he said it was a difficult task that could actually make things worse by damaging undersea pipes.
Other experts said that while the potential for catastrophe remained, there were reasons to remain guardedly optimistic.
“The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.”
Engineers said the type of oil pouring out is lighter than the heavy crude spilled by the Exxon Valdez, evaporates more quickly and is easier to burn. It also appears to respond to the use of dispersants, which break up globs of oil and help them sink. The oil is still capable of significant damage, particularly when it is churned up with water and forms a sort of mousse that floats and can travel long distances.
Jacqueline Savitz, a senior scientist at Oceana, a nonprofit environmental group, said that much of the damage was already taking place far offshore and out of sight of surveillance aircraft and research vessels.
“Some people are saying, It hasn’t gotten to shore yet so it’s all good,” she said. “But a lot of animals live in the ocean, and a spill like this becomes bad for marine life as soon as it hits the water. You have endangered sea turtles, the larvae of bluefin tuna, shrimp and crabs and oysters, grouper. A lot of these are already being affected and have been for 10 days. We’re waiting to see how bad it is at the shore, but we may never fully understand the full impacts on ocean life.”
The economic impact is as uncertain as the environmental damage. With several million gallons of medium crude in the water already, some experts are predicting wide economic harm. Experts at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Corpus Christi, for example, estimated that as much as $1.6 billion of annual economic activity and services — including effects on tourism, fishing and even less tangible services like the storm protection provided by wetlands — could be at risk.
“And that’s really only the tip of the iceberg,” said David Yoskowitz, who holds the endowed chair for socioeconomics at the institute. “It’s still early in the game, and there’s a lot of potential downstream impacts, a lot of multiplier impacts.”
But much of this damage could be avoided if the various tactics employed by BP and government technicians pay off in the coming days. The winds are dying down and the seas are calming, allowing for renewed skimming operations and possible new controlled burns of oil on the surface. BP technicians are trying to inject dispersants deep below the surface, which could reduce the impact on aquatic life. Winds and currents could move the globs of emulsified oil away from coastal shellfish breeding grounds.
The gulf is not a pristine environment and has survived both chronic and acute pollution problems before. Thousands of gallons of oil flow into the gulf from natural undersea well seeps every day, engineers say, and the scores of refineries and chemical plants that line the shore from Mexico to Mississippi pour untold volumes of pollutants into the water.
After the Ixtoc spill 31 years ago, the second-largest oil release in history, the gulf rebounded. Within three years, there was little visible trace of the spill off the Mexican coast, which was compounded by a tanker accident in the gulf a few months later that released 2.6 million additional gallons, experts said.
“The gulf is tremendously resilient,” said Dr. Dokken, the marine biologist. “But we’ve always got to ask ourselves how long can we keep heaping these insults on the gulf and having it bounce back. As a scientist, I have to say I just don’t know.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill

For those few of you who read this blog, just recently I posted about how oil exploration should be expanded and enlarged through out the Gulf Coast region. The premise was that our way of life is in jeopardy as the world's supply of oil recedes and is in decline. We need to continue to explore just to maintain our way of life in our 21st century culture. At the same time, I advocate for alternative energy research and development, while decrying activists who demonstrate on beaches, while forming "hands across the sand" in opposition to off shore oil exploration.

Score one for the activists. The Transocean (RIG) contracted by BP that caught fire and is leaking 5000 barrels of oil into the Gulf is a natural disaster of immense proportions.  The State of Louisiana just declared a "disaster zone" on the coast line. The slick is expected to hit land tomorrow or Saturday and to impact beaches, seafood breeding grounds, and the coastline in general.

What awful timing just as President Obama announced 3 weeks ago his plans to expand offshore drilling for oil. However, I still strongly advocate offshore drilling---these are the last known reserves of oil out there, and we need to find oil in this hemisphere---and stop relying on the Middle East and other politically unstable areas of the world.

While I am sensitive to wildlife and the ocean ecosystem, it will take a lot more than this to dissuade me from advocating offshore oil drilling. Granted, we took a chink in the armor this last week, and I am watching the updates and reports carefully. All week, the news of the oil spill was not top of the list in any on line or printed pub. Look for that to change over the next few days.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reprint of Article by Rich Karlgaard from Forbes Magazine

This is a great overview of  the US economic situation, and I have read articles from each one of the people he mentions below. It's a great way to classify the various theories that are out there, and attribute them to their respective authors.

Most of what is said about the U.S. economy these days could be true or false, depending on your angle. That's because America is too big and too diverse to be described usefully by blanket statements. Inside a landmass that is 3.7 million square miles and has 50 state jurisdictions and thousands of cities are 307 million people, who produce $14 trillion in annual GDP and privately hold $54 trillion in net assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.).
Let's begin with a question that ought to be simple but is not: Is the U.S. economy in recovery? The facts say yes, but there are a lot of angry doubters out there.
You can't argue the facts: By traditional yardsticks the American economy began its recovery in the spring/summer of 2009. The third quarter of 2009 was up 2.2%, and the fourth quarter boomed at 6%. This pattern is likely to repeat. The first quarter of 2010 will clock 3.5%, and the second quarter, clear of winter weather, could bounce up nearly 6%.
Still, many doubt the numbers, and not all are angry posters. John Tamny, the editor of, a columnist and a monetarist in the fashion of Milton Friedman, thinks GDP is a flawed number. It's expressed in an unreliable measure--the U.S. dollar. Expressed in gold, GDP has been contracting for eight years. Richard Koo, chief economist for Nomura Research Institute, says the U.S. is in a balance sheet recession, marked by deflation and deleveraging that will crimp investing and spending for a decade or more. Look at Japan to see what could await the U.S., says Koo. Longtime Forbes columnist A. Gary Shilling holds a similar view, as does Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University.
These are coolheaded analysts, not angry blog critics.
But wait, it gets worse. Harvard financial historian and author Niall Ferguson says debt-laden America is past its glory but will try to mask its decline by inflating away its debt problems. Marc Faber, a former Forbes columnist and international money manager, who, like Ferguson, studies the decline and fall of civilizations, agrees. Paul Farrell, the gloom-and-doomster at, is the biggest bear of them all. He says the U.S., as we know it, will "collapse." Chaos will reign, perhaps followed by civil war. Farrell openly calls for a Second American Revolution against the redcoats who rule Wall Street.
The other day I tried an exercise in which I defined a seven-band spectrum of bears to bulls. The categories are:
--Apocalyptically bearish. Believes in the crash-chaos-anarchy scenario described by Paul Farrell. Book author Harry Dent and bloggers too numerous to mention fit here.
--Strongly bearish. Believes that a long, Japan-like stagnation is inevitable for the U.S. This category includes Shilling, Roubini, Ferguson and Koo, as well as Charles Munger, famous investing partner of Warren Buffett.

--Moderately bearish. Believes that the bull rally since March 2009 is on thin ice but that the U.S., despite its problems, still has a good future. Here you might place Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo's Jeremy Grantham, Fusion IQ's Barry Ritholtz, Seabreeze Partners' Douglas Kass and Millennium Wave Advisors' John Mauldin.
--Neutral. Thinks the market is fairly valued and awaits further data. Two well-known market timers, InvesTech's James Stack and Hulbert Financial Digest's Mark Hulbert, would fit here.
--Moderately bullish. Believes the market is fairly valued and will rise another 10% to 20% on momentum before it gets stuck in a several-year trading range, barring pro-growth changes in taxes and regulation. I would put myself here.
--Strongly bullish. Believes the November elections will create enough balance--or gridlock--to get America's narrative away from Washington politicos and back to entrepreneurs and investors, where it belongs. This is where you'll find Fisher Investments' Ken Fisher, First Trust Advisors' Brian Wesbury and CNBC's Larry Kudlow.
--Extremely bullish. Believes that we have only begun to touch the technological miracles that will enrich our minds, bodies and pocketbooks. Nobody I know fits this category.
Two things jumped out as I did this exercise.
First, in the late 1990s several pundits and forecasters would have fit into the last category--extremely bullish. At the same time hardly any forecasters were apocalyptically bearish. But in 2010 the opposite is true--far more gloom-and-doomsters than optimists. It's a sign of the times, certainly. However, maybe what this is telling us is that the biggest economic and market surprises of this decade could be on the upside. I saw a black swan in Australia last month, and it looked confident.
Second, beware of any blanket forecast about the U.S. economy and markets. It's bound to be right and wrong--and, therefore, useless. The $14 trillion American economy is, in fact, a galaxy of smaller economies. Michigan has nearly twice the unemployment of Texas, which has almost twice the unemployment of Nebraska. California has strength in Silicon Valley and Hollywood and weakness most everywhere else. Now is a great time to invest in the American economy. Just be sure you pick the right American economy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bill Haslam for Governor

Bill Haslam is a self made man. He has successfully represented the people of Knoxville as their mayor. People up there love him. He knows the difference between needed government and too much government.

He is a part of one of the most successful families in Tennessee. As a part of the Pilot Oil executive staff, Bill has contributed on a daily basis towards the success of the company before entering politics. He has earned the right to use his legally earned resources towards his political ambitions.

The fact that his father has cemented strong relationships across the state in advance of his son's political career is an asset worth leveraging. It makes no difference that the tried and true conservative and even moderately conservative wing of the party has more ties to Bill's father than to the candidate himself.

Bill Haslam is the real deal. He'll work hard for the State.  It's time for Ted Welch and Bill's father, Jim, to fade into the pasture and let the new generation lead.

Let's allow the people (and not the old guard) to elect the next Governor. Bill has my vote and support.  

Soon the curtain will be pulled.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zach Wamp for Governor

Zach Wamp is a self made man. He has been a leader for his congressional district in SE TN and knows the difference between needed government and bloated government.

I'm tired of someone with zillions of dollars coming into office based upon business success and with the the resulting funds to buy the most advertising to influence the most voters.

Zach is the real deal. He will work hard for the state. It's time for Ted Welch, Jim Haslam, and all of the Republican political insiders to fade out to pasture.

Let's let the people (and not the political cronies)  elect the next Governor. Zach has my vote and my support.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I've started tweeting at    ---not sure what that will do to my longer posts as well as the frequency thereof here at catchmyblog, but will prolly reduce for a while. You are encouraged to follow me!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Print is NOT dead! Southcom is a great example locally

Great article in the WSJ yesterday about how print is just another medium, and that rumors of it's death are entirely premature. You can click here to read it, although it may be in the paid content area
Now, admittedly, I don't subscribe to as many magazines as I used to, particularly ones such as (Time, Newsweek, etc). Those types of magazines are probably heading to the sea of extinction. So broadly, the internet is having major influence on how we, as consumers, stay informed, but not so much that the printed word is going to die completely. Back in the 1930's they claimed that radio would be the demise of newspapers (and to some extent that is occurring 80 years later, but the working model for the local City Paper is brilliant). Then, critics said that television would replace radio in the 1950's, and lo and behold, both TV and radio compete to this day. So now in the 21st century, the internet is supposed to be displacing print completely. In the final analysis, it's just a fourth medium that has developed before our eyes. Fine, tightly niched print publications are going to thrive long after we are gone. Which is why I am so excited about companies locally like SouthCom. Chris Ferrell and Townes Duncan have put together several very focused print publications all operating under one roof with one sales and management team. They are well positioned to reap the rewards of a company with shared resources that produces various print and internet publications without the large overhead of disparate and spread out organizations. Although the WSJ article mainly alludes to national print magazines, the same can be said for unique companies like SouthCom.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letter to the Editor--Apalachicola Times

Click here to read the original article

Here is my letter to the editor:

As a homeowner on SGI, I subscribe to the Apalachicola Times, and read with interest about the recent protest surrounding offshore drilling for oil by a local group of environmentalists. 

Are these people out of their minds? Do they wish for our county and  country to be continually at our knees to foreign Middle East countries for the lifeblood of our economic engine--Tourism--which is supplied by the abundance of oil ?? 

How many of these people who protested would be happy to see this area rely on things other than tourism--such as  locally produced seafood products? I have been reading  how this  much beloved local industry is having its own difficulty right now unrelated to our collective concerns for the continuous supply of oil.

What kind of depression would Franklin County be in if we could NOT  buy oil from overseas NOR produce oil domestically from drilling? If there were no tourists visiting the area,  and if we had a challenged seafood industry, there would basically be no jobs in Franklin County...... What would these protesters protest at that time ? My guess it that they would blame the government for their problems.  Ahh, Liberals...You can never make them happy. 

My other guess is that most of the people  who "joined hands across the sand" are idealists, who generally wish the best for this area, but just don't get it. Not only should we be drilling for oil NOW, but we should also be exploring Alaska (where all the polar bears live) and we should also be doing all that we can to sustain the development and exploration of oil and natural gas--not for the betterment of society--but for the sheer existence of the world in which we live. 

Believe it or not, I love the environment as much as anyone.  I love the outdoor pleasures that surround me on beautiful St. George Island, and I support the RiverKeepers. . But I am willing to risk that the benefits of  technological developments  for oil production can and will supercede the possibility of an accident  that might temporarily jeopardize the wildlife and world that we all love on SGI.  It's a risk worth taking. And at the same time we should be developing alternative fuels. Our energy needs must  be attacked, not protested!! 

Monday, February 08, 2010

George Will--A sensible path to GOP and US solvency

This is a great article by George Will, originally posted on It needs no further explanation than an open mind and a willing spirit to compare these ideas to the current ones being offered up by Washington, both by the President, and by the majority party in Congress.

In 2013, when President Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor, is counting his blessings, at the top of his list will be the name of his vice president: Paul Ryan. The former congressman from Wisconsin will have come to office with ideas for steering the federal government to solvency.

Not that Daniels has ever been bereft of ideas. Under him, Indiana property taxes have been cut 30 percent, and for the first time Standard & Poor's has raised the state's credit rating to AAA. But in January 2010, Ryan released an updated version of his "Roadmap for America's Future," a cure for the most completely predictable major problem that has ever afflicted America.

Some calamities -- the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11 -- have come like summer lightning, as bolts from the blue. The looming crisis of America's Ponzi entitlement structure is different. Driven by the demographics of an aging population, its causes, timing and scope are known.

Funding entitlements -- especially medical care and pensions for the elderly -- requires reinvigorating the economy. Ryan's map connects three destinations: economic vitality, diminished public debt, and health and retirement security.

To make the economy -- on which all else hinges -- hum, Ryan proposes tax reform. Masochists would be permitted to continue paying income taxes under the current system. Others could use a radically simplified code, filing a form that fits on a postcard. It would have just two rates: 10 percent on incomes up to $100,000 for joint filers and $50,000 for single filers; 25 percent on higher incomes. There would be no deductions, credits or exclusions, other than the health-care tax credit (see below).

Today's tax system was shaped by sadists who were trying to be nice: Every wrinkle in the code was put there to benefit this or that interest. Since the 1986 tax simplification, the code has been recomplicated more than 14,000 times -- more than once a day.

At the 2004 Republican convention, thunderous applause greeted George W. Bush's statement that the code is "a complicated mess" and a "drag on our economy" and his promise to "reform and simplify" it. But his next paragraphs proposed more complications to incentivize this and that behavior for the greater good.

Ryan would eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains, dividends and death. The corporate income tax, the world's second-highest, would be replaced by an 8.5 percent business consumption tax. Because this would be about half the average tax burden that other nations place on corporations, U.S. companies would instantly become more competitive -- and more able and eager to hire.

Medicare and Social Security would be preserved for those currently receiving benefits or becoming eligible in the next 10 years (those 55 and older today). Both programs would be made permanently solvent.

Universal access to affordable health care would be guaranteed by refundable tax credits ($2,300 for individuals, $5,700 for families) for purchasing portable coverage in any state. As persons younger than 55 became Medicare-eligible, they would receive payments averaging $11,000 a year, indexed to inflation and pegged to income, with low-income people receiving more support.

Ryan's plan would fund medical savings accounts from which low-income people would pay minor out-of-pocket expenses. All Americans, regardless of income, would be allowed to establish MSAs -- tax-preferred accounts for paying such expenses.

Ryan's plan would allow workers younger than 55 the choice of investing more than one-third of their current Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts similar to the Thrift Savings Plan long available to, and immensely popular with, federal employees. This investment would be inheritable property, guaranteeing that individuals will never lose the ability to dispose of every dollar they put into these accounts.

Ryan would raise the retirement age. If, when Congress created Social Security in 1935, it had indexed the retirement age (then 65) to life expectancy, today the age would be in the mid-70s. The system was never intended to do what it is doing -- subsidizing retirements that extend from one-third to one-half of retirees' adult lives.

Compare Ryan's lucid map to the Democrats' impenetrable labyrinth of health-care legislation. Republicans are frequently criticized as "the party of no." But because most new ideas are injurious, rejection is an important function in politics. It is, however, insufficient. Fortunately, Ryan, assisted by Republican Reps. Devin Nunes of California and Jeb Hensarling of Texas, has become a think tank, refuting the idea that Republicans lack ideas. 

Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Turning 50-Celebrating with Friends

So we celebrated in Nashville last night and here's what my good friend Chip Smith had to say about our little party of 12 people:

Just got up a bit ago from my SECOND nap of the day. We had a BLAST! What a memorable night shared with a great cast of characters and friends! We are so glad that we could be there to celebrate MO's big 5-0! Any time you want to rent a country music star's bus, crack open some Dom, taste some great bourbons,  hit the disco, and go for a little late night karaoke in Printer's Alley count us in.Thanks so much for letting us be a part of such a momentous occasion!

With the assistance of Tom Sturdeyvant of Sedan on Demand, we had a progressive dinner party, and well, er um, after party too. We started at Whiskey Kitchen for appetizers and a bourbon tasting, followed by salad and dinner at Allium Cafe in East Nashville. We were chauffeured around in Alan Jackson's old black tour bus that Sedan on Demand now owns and rents (Sedan on Demand is a highly recommended vendor) . Our dinner was accompanied with some great wines, the most interesting being a 2002 magnum of Divine, courtesy of Sylvia Roberts, who owns this label in Napa. After dinner, we journeyed back over the Cumberland and wound up at a trio of late night spots. The first stop was Hollywood Disco where we were all moving and grooving as best we can these days (pure unadulterated 70's fun), followed by live music at Loser's (basically next door). Loser's was a great atmosphere with an entertaining house band playing mostly country rock hits from the 80's and 90's. We worked our way up front by the band because there was no stage, which added to the honky tonk feeling of this roudy collegiate atmosphere bar. Our final stop was Lonnie's Karaoke bar in Printer's Alley. I'd never been to a karaoke bar, and found it quite entertaining. Lonnie's has a stage right behind the bar so those poor souls who want to embarrass themselves get up in the middle of the place and belt out to their heart's content. My business partner, Shawn Thomas sang an old Journey song. He sang pretty well, but not as well as a rendition of My Girl that had the whole place singing, from another patron, to the best of my recollection. With the clock fast closing in on 2:00 AM, we headed back towards the burbs in our swanky tour bus. We had originally planned on late night dessert and cappuccino but alas, we were all ready to head to our respective homesteads.

All in all, it was a truly unforgettable evening with the fabulous company of Chip and Mary Loch Smith, Shawn Thomas and Carla Stokes, Jeff and Mary Ellen Morris, Mike and Claire Robbins, Peter and Kim Oldham, and lastly Louis and Cynthia Kirkpatrick who thought the snow was going to cancel the event, so they ended up being no shows, the little weenies. It was definitely their loss.

 And in case you're wondering, we will have a much larger celebration in May, entitled  "125 reasons to celebrate" --100 years of combined living for Sharon and myself plus 25 years of marriage. If you are reading this, you will most certainly be on "The List" , since my blog is not that widely read, because I don't promote it , but that's another topic altogether. 

And I'd just like to say publicly on my blog about how much I value the support and love from my wife,  Sharon , for over 25 years of marriage. Thanks for all you do! We had a blast on my 50th! 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On Turning 50--A Palindrome

from Jim Merenda, an affiliate publisher with Uniguest
You must watch this link
A palindrome reads the  same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite  backwards as forward.  Not only does it read the opposite, the  meaning is the exact opposite.
This is only a 1 minute, 44  second video and it is brilliant.   Make sure you read as  well as listen forward and backward.
This is a video that was  submitted in a contest by a 20-year old.   The contest was  titled "u @ 50"  by  AARP. This video won second place.  When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke  into spontaneous applause.  So simple and yet so brilliant.  Take a minute and watch it.

So much for Rumors, ATT beats out Verizon for IPAD/ IPHONE still with ATT too

AT&T Inc. won the right to carry Apple Inc.'s high-profile iPad in the U.S., a coup for the company but on terms that further erode the wireless industry's carrier-centered model.

Here is the full article from the Wall Street Journal, which may or may not be behind the paid wall. More and more content on WSJ is free, so it's hard to tell. As a paying subscriber to WSJ, it's great to have access to the whole site, but it's a crock that they charge an additional fee for a mobile app. So if one wants access to the full site and to the mobile app , there are 2 fees. Kinda strange. 

Anyway, here is the link to the article about the continued lovey dovey relationship between ATT and APPLE. It's probably because ATT continues to give Jobs the upper hand, which the article points out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Turning 50

Half a century old. Half a century young. The cup is half empty. The cup is half full. These are some of the thoughts that are going through my head as the calendar slips towards February 1st, where my 50th birthday awaits me. Numbers don't lie. But I sure wish I could prevaricate and say that I'm younger. I feel a lot younger, and yearn to be younger as we all do, but when it's all said and done, I'm comfortable with 50. It's a milestone for sure. I really wasn't sure if I was ever going to live this long, which, by contemporary standards, is not that old. But it's good to be here and to still be kicking! It's fairly typical to reflect when one reaches a milestone such as 50. I have no regrets. Absolutely zero!  It's been a wonderful first 50, and am now hoping to make it another 50. Wonderful wife, family, career. So much for which to be thankful and so much for which I take for granted, it's ridiculous. I got a great head start from wonderful parents, and great brothers to boot. As they say, life is a journey and not a destination, but my overall favorite quote about the journey of life is the following:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ???  WOO HOO what a ride!??? 

Carpe diem!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm predicting a fairly major snow event for Friday 1/29/10

And this just in from the National Weather Service:



Friday, January 22, 2010

Apple to announce Verizon as Iphone carrier--RUMOR

As a previously long time Verizon customer (1992-2006), I switched the day the Iphone came out  and went  with ATT, since that's the only thing a Mac lover could do....It's hard for me to fathom why Verizon passed on the Iphone deal, and it's a fact  that the executive who detested Steve Jobs at Verizon recently took "early retirement". If the below rumor from Mac Daily News is true, then I will switch back to Verizon just as swiftly. Not sure whether to short ATT stock or to buy call options on VZ. Probably neither. It's just a rumor...

A tablet still might not be the only new hardware we see from Apple next week -- the rumor mill is still churning out news that the "one more thing" next week will be a brand new version of the iPhone, set up on the Verizon network," Mike Schramm reports for TUAW.

"It comes not from an anonymous source, but Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek," Schramm reports. "If you ask me, this is one too many rumors not to be true -- eventually, we'll see an iPhone on the Verizon network. But I'm hesitant to agree it'll be announced as early as next week."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Derek Dooley is the Man

With a son named Peyton, and with five years coaching under Nick Saban,  what could be wrong with the coaching skills and thought processes of Derek Dooley??!

I believe for the record that we have found the man to lead the VOLS for the next 5 years, until Peyton Manning is ready to coach, that is, perhaps that might be 3 years, perhaps 10 years. Average of 5 years. Whatever.  Peyton Manning will be our next coach. But yet,  I wonder why Peyton would want to work that hard after having amassed a huge fortune playing professional football for the Colts. But, I digress.

Derek Dooley, despite his Georgia upbringing, is absolutely perfect for the challenge of leading the Vols. After having consumed the Kool Aid of Lane Kiffin, I have hereby vomited it out, and live for the day that Kiffin is laughed out of Southern California, or fired, whichever comes first.

As for Derek Dooley, I am hereby already a huge fan and ready to rumble next fall.

This expert sees a bubble in China; Crash coming

Most people talk and read about how great the overall economy is in China, and how they are kicking everyone's butt in terms of economic growth, output, and every other economic indicator. Could it be that China is similar to Japan  in the 1980's--and  that China is near or at it's peak given the history of other nations in  attempting to industrialize to the max? The road cannot be straight up all the way, there has to be some downhill from time to time.  Read this from the New York Times as written by David Barboza.

HANGHAI — James S. Chanos built one of the largest fortunes on Wall Street by foreseeing the collapse of Enron and other highflying companies whose stories were too good to be true.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News
James Chanos made his hedge fund fortune predicting problems at companies and shorting their stock.
Now Mr. Chanos is betting against China, and is promoting his view that the China miracle has blinded investors to the risks in that economy.
Now Mr. Chanos, a wealthy hedge fund investor, is working to bust the myth of the biggest conglomerate of all: China Inc.
As most of the world bets on China to help lift the global economy out ofrecession, Mr. Chanos is warning that China’s hyperstimulated economy is headed for a crash, rather than the sustained boom that most economists predict. Its surging real estate sector, buoyed by a flood of speculative capital, looks like “Dubai times 1,000 — or worse,” he frets. He even suspects that Beijing is cooking its books, faking, among other things, its eye-popping growth rates of more than 8 percent.
“Bubbles are best identified by credit excesses, not valuation excesses,” he said in a recent appearance on CNBC. “And there’s no bigger credit excess than in China.” He is planning a speech later this month at the University of Oxford to drive home his point.
As America’s pre-eminent short-seller — he bets big money that companies’ strategies will fail — Mr. Chanos’s narrative runs counter to the prevailing wisdom on China. Most economists and governments expect Chinese growth momentum to continue this year, buoyed by what remains of a $586 billion government stimulus program that began last year, meant to lift exports and consumption among Chinese consumers.
Still, betting against China will not be easy. Because foreigners are restricted from investing in stocks listed inside China, Mr. Chanos has said he is searching for other ways to make his bets, including focusing on construction- and infrastructure-related companies that sell cement,coal, steel and iron ore.
Mr. Chanos, 51, whose hedge fund, Kynikos Associates, based in New York, has $6 billion under management, is hardly the only skeptic on China. But he is certainly the most prominent and vocal.
For all his record of prescience — in addition to predicting Enron’s demise, he also spotted the looming problems of Tyco International, the Boston Market restaurant chain and, more recently, home builders and some of the world’s biggest banks — his detractors say that he knows little or nothing about China or its economy and that his bearish calls should be ignored.

Time will tell if Mr. Chanos is correct or incorrect.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fulmer and Peyton Manning

Let's face it, Peyton Manning is 35 years old and has about 2-3 years left max in his pro career. I don't look for Peyton to pull a Brett Favre and play until he is a senior citizen.

Let's face it, what happened with Lane Kiffin is not what Tennessee football is about. Those left coast Cali whale huggin' turds just don't think the way we do here in Tennessee.

We are all about tradition. Sure we are mad when we lose, but we don't want to play in this circus going on out there in the ranks of the elite college coaches.

So here is my idea. Make Phil Fulmer head coach again for a maximum of 36 months. Get Peyton Manning to agree to become head coach at the end of his pro career. Who knows, he has a bum knee now, and may win the Super Bowl this year. He may want to go out on top.

Either way, have Fat Phil hold down the fort for a while. Let's not poach another coach the way USC did to us.

When Peyton is ready to "come home" to coach, kick Phil upstairs and find a nice place for Mike Hamilton elsewhere, likely in fund raising or similar.

Tennessee fans would go NUTS!

Blogging about Lane Kiffin

How can a coach (or anyone for that matter) sign a long term contract, and then break it go to elsewhere with little recourse, and yet, if that same coach were to get fired, he would be paid his salary in full for the years not coached? Is that not a double standard?

It turns out that Lane Kiffin has to pay $800,000 over 36 months as a penalty. But if you ask me, he should have to pay his remaining years in salary per the contract he signed less than 14 months ago. To be exact, that would 4 years of time left on his contact (x) $2 million per year, plus the break up fee, for a total of $8,800,000. That would certainly cause dweebs like Kiffin to think twice about bolting. And it's fair b/c the UT administration would do the same thing if they fired Kiffin.

And I've not even touched on the integrity question. College Football is out of control. It has become a big business with few ethical concerns amongst the coaching elite.  And when ethics are brought up by the NCAA, it covers such important topics as whether or not a booster took someone out to dinner. Give me a break. The real ethical concerns to me are the actions of people like Lane Kiffin.

To put it another way, here's what ESPN's Bob Wojciechowski says:

If there were a stock car race between all the frauds, egomaniacs and two-faced weasels I've ever covered, Lane Kiffin would have the pole position all to himself.
Kiffin is a spin doctor without a medical degree. He thinks truth comes in different shades of gray. He demands loyalty, but gives none himself.
Kiffin is a used car salesman with a whistle. Wait, that's not fair to used car salesmen. He ditched Tennessee for USC after just 13 games. The remaining five years on his contract, the players he left behind, the nine high school recruits who planned to enroll early, they all meant nothing to Kiffin.

That pretty much sums it up for me.