Friday, June 29, 2012

No. 61 -- Adam Gets Jiggy

This, in a nutshell, is Adam.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Houston, Two Years Later

Two years ago, I sat down in a space shuttle simulator and could not fasten all of the safety harnesses because of my belly. It broke ... and changed ... my heart.

Ninety-five pounds later, I'm back in Houston to conduct interviews for another space shuttle-related book. Because of the end of the shuttle program, the simulator is now in the process of being moved to Texas A&M making it impossible to visit again.

So I did the next best thing. I found a 5k to run Saturday morning in downtown Houston. The last time I was here, I couldn't have walked a 5k, much less ran in one. The Dad's Day 5k here was my 10th race ... nine 5ks and one 10k ... and it was by far the muggiest and most humid one that I had done. There wasn't a dry stitch on me ... and thanks to David and Angela Hilmers for washing the nasty clothes after the race, so they'd be safe to put back in my suitcase for the flight home.

Believe it or not, I actually won a category in the event. I was first amongst runners from North Carolina ... that I was the ONLY runner from North Carolina is completely and utterly beside the point!

I finished the race in 30:48, 433rd out of 860 overall and 34th in my age group.

This is me in Houston, Texas on 22 June 2010. 

This is me in Houston, Texas on 16 June 2012.

Maybe I shouldn't say it, but I'm proud of the difference.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

No. 60 -- Boo

I don't think many things will ever mean as much to me as seeing Adam cry as we left Coleman Field in Cary, N.C. yesterday.

Let me explain.

Since Tuesday, I've been covering the NCAA Division II baseball championship tournament for It's been a blast seeing the game played the way it's supposed to be played, with no money on the line. Best of all, Adam was able to spend Wednesday through Friday here with me.

Lord, did that kid have a ball. Actually, he had at least eight balls ... seven foul balls that he chased down or had tossed to him and a brand-new one given to him by an off-duty umpire who wondered into the press tent. He kept four of the gamers -- plus the new one that he got signed by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Dave "Boo" Ferris.

That's us with Coach Ferris, an absolute legend for the Fighting Okra of Delta State University. I can only hope I make it to 90, much less have as much left in the gas tank as Coach Ferris. 

Adam gave one of the baseballs away to a grandfather of a kid playing for Catawba College and another to the dad of a Delta State player. Yet another went to a kid who had a foul ball he was chasing take a bad hop and go to another youngster.

But he had a game to play himself tonight, so I took him back home yesterday. He didn't want to go, and if you want to know the honest truth, I didn't really want him to go, either. When we left the motel room yesterday morning, he actually made me leave first so he could take one last look around his kingdom for the last couple of nights.

Then, when we left the park yesterday, he cried.

I'm not going to have many chances to make as big an impression on him as I did here this week, and now that I'm back at the ballpark for tonight's national championship game, there seems to be something missing.

There is something missing. My assistant.