Operation Midnight: Bite Neophyte (PART 2)

Check out Operation Midnight: Bite Neophyte (Part 1) first!

After work the following day I returned to the scene of the crime. I picked up a can of cat food along the way; a peace offering for all the trouble I was causing this potentially wrongfully convicted kitty. I went to the nearby NCSU horse barn. The one thing Animal Control said could possibly keep the kitty from being euthanized was information about its past. Maybe it lives in the barn? Unfortunately, they knew of the kitty but it was not theirs. They had been trying to lure it up to the barn to eat but were unsuccessful. They informed me that someone had called animal control because they were bitten and now a trap was set on their property. I fessed up to being the bite-ee. They were very nice and wished me good luck. I went back to the tunnel with my peace-offering-in-a-can. No kitty. I waited for 20 minutes and still no kitty. Maybe it crawled off to a comfortable patch of green grass to die? Maybe it didn’t feel like socializing with the grim reaper in human form? Maybe it was off researching cage traps for humans? Kidding aside, the uncertainty of the whole situation was unsettling. I gave up waiting and left the food at the tunnel. It was Friday night. I went on with my evening plans of seeing a movie. As I pulled out my phone to silence it in the theater, I noticed a voicemail waiting for me…

“Hi this is Officer so-and-so with Raleigh Animal Control. I wanted to inform you that I did catch the cat. It will be taken to a Wake County animal center for a 10-day quarantine. I know you were considering trying to find a way to adopt or reclaim the cat, but I would advise against that. The cat is friendly but is very much NOT TAME. But that is up to you and just wanted to let you know that that it has been caught and you don’t need to worry about your shots anymore. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.”

It sucked for the cat but I was relieved. I had ten days (assuming no rabies) to make a post-quarantine plan for this kitty. According to the officer, I was dealing with a feral cat: like an unbridled Wildling…a cat of the forest…a critter who is of the land…beholden to no man! I just finished binge watching Game of Thrones – I’ll stop. I’d heard of catch-and-release programs where you can have a cat spayed/neutered and then return them back to the “wild.” That was an option. I already have 2 awesome cats so my house was not an option. My vet referred me to a woman who runs a local cat rescue. I was happy to reach her on the first try. I needed advice and was ready to start making a plan. After I explained my story, this woman scolded me for letting the kitty go into quarantine. She said, “You should have just gotten the shots.” “Excuse me?” I asked. She spoke for the next few minutes saying that the kitty was probably dumped at Umstead by a family who wanted to go on their summer vacation…how it would be very hard for me to get this cat off death row…how the county shelter was like a concentration camp…. She was curt and intense and initially made me feel like the stuff of litter boxes. She eased up when I reminded her that I was trying to do the right thing and not let this cat die. She told me that I needed to tell the shelter that I intended to adopt the cat and to be “very convincing about it”…that I had a place for it to live… that I would get it fixed…to say whatever I needed to in order to free the cat and we would find a place for it once it was out. “BUT DO NOT MENTION MY NAME!” she said. “If they think you are working with a rescue group, the kitty is a goner, “ she finished. Jeez, I had no idea the world of cat rescue was so complicated and political. I felt like I’d been handed a top-secret black ops mission. I was determined that this little soul would not go down because of me. Intense cat-rescue-lady had me paranoid for the cat’s wellbeing during quarantine. I decided to visit the shelter the next day. I was actually nervous as I gave the girl behind the counter my case number. Surely this young woman did not have an evil mastermind plan to prevent me from saving this helpless cat? I asked if there was any news – she checked and said, “The cat is still back there – no sign of rabies.” It had only been two days. I asked if I could see it. “No – we don’t allow visitors in the quarantine area, “ she answered. Per my mission, I told her I wanted to adopt the cat after quarantine. She looked up at me, “We can’t do that. We do not adopt out animals that have bitten people.” “Even if I have a place for it to stay?” I asked. She hesitated, but then said, “You would have to claim that this is your cat. You would be responsible for the cost of boarding the cat for 10 days as well as a rabies shot.” “I can do that,” I said. Looking doubtful, she asked if I had a photo of the cat. Luckily, I took one when I was waiting for animal control. I showed her the photo…

Midnight at Umstead

This was somehow the golden ticket. She relaxed and said, “Ok!” She told me she was updating the file in the computer to say I would be picking up the cat Sunday. “What’s the cat’s name?” she asked. I went blank. She knows it’s not my cat – was this a trick question? I stumbled over a few words sounding like Porky Pig, “Uhh, buuuh, mmm, uh, Midnight!” I blurted. She typed it into the file. She handed me the paperwork, “Ok, Tracy – you can pick up Midnight this Sunday. If you are late, the cat will be put down.” “I will be here!” I said. I was elated – Operation Midnight was in effect. I called intense cat rescue lady to report my progress. She said, “You are great!” And then told me a story about how the city had raided a house earlier this year and removed 60 cats and could I believe the city would do that? “Wow,” was all I could say. I think she thought we were on the same page. I was beginning to realize that intense cat rescue lady was a little too extreme for me. Nonetheless, I needed her help. I asked about the friends she has mentioned as a possible foster home for the cat. She said, “Couldn’t you just keep the cat for a few days? That way you could observe its temperament and get good photos to post online?” I explained that I already have 2 cats and live in a small house – not an option. I felt a little bamboozled. I told her I would investigate options and she said she would too. I never heard from intense-cat-rescue lady again.

Two days later I returned to the animal shelter to check on Midnight. What? I was raised Catholic – being driven by guilt is my specialty. On this visit I dropped off some cat treats and a toy. The woman who was helping me asked if it was a boy or a girl. Another trick question, maybe? Then she said, “Do you want me to go find out?” I was grateful. When she returned she said, “That is one sweet cat. And it’s a girl.” She said she scruffed her and held her like a baby and the kitty purred and purred. Aw, it’s a girl! Take that, Animal Control Officer! It’s a girl and she is sweet.” At this point, rabies was off the table. I was 98% sure this cat was fine. Now I just needed to get her off death row. I walked around the shelter looking at all the dogs and cats that day – sweet nervous face after sweet nervous face. I read story after sad story. I am not cut out for this. God love the people who volunteer here. And Jon and Tracey Stewart. I could not bear to see critter after critter be put down because there simply was nowhere for it to go. The statistics are too overwhelming for me.

Throughout my Operation Midnight experience, I had been searching the lost pets postings online. Damn if all black cats don’t look alike. I spent hours checking various websites and driving around nearby neighborhoods. I called multiple rescue groups and vets to find one that could take Midnight in to be spayed as soon as possible. Did she have a chip? Add that to the list: check for chip. Did I have a cage, not carrier to pick her up in? I lined up a cage. Where would I take her on day one? My Dad generously agreed to let the cat stay in his basement overnight if I couldn’t find anything else by pick up time. Finally, Sunday arrived – time to free Midnight! My Dad and I were first in line before the shelter opened. I was still skeptical they would actually hand her over thanks to intense-cat-rescue-lady. I gave the cage to them and they returned with sweet Midnight, the girl cat. She was free – Operation Midnight was a success! She trembled all the way to the car. I tried to explain to her that even though I was the reason she was there in the first place, that now I was saving her. I don’t think she heard me. I was grateful that my Dad put a tarp down in the back of my car because she pooped in the cage on the way home. Something in her eyes said, “That was for the past 10 days.” I guess I deserved that.

We emptied my Dad’s garage of cars and opened up the cage. Midnight explored her surroundings. She was very nervous but clearly enjoyed being around people. I hadn’t noticed it before, but there was an obvious “collar mark” in her fur from wearing a collar full time in her previous life. Where did this little girl come from? The next day a vet confirmed that she was already spayed. Again, take that Animal Control officer! This cat is “definitely not tame”? I challenge you to throw any cat into Midnight’s situation and they will act crazy. I felt vindicated on all levels. The more I hung out with her, I realized that she – as many cats do – communicated with her bites. I am convinced that her break-the-skin-bite to my leg on the greenway was definitely a “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE” bite – and I’m so glad I didn’t.

I found a Lost-Cat posting from a neighborhood near Umstead. It described a female all black longhaired cat named “Kitten” for her small size. It said, “She’s not very friendly but we love her!” She had been missing from their home for three months. I reached out and she and her husband immediately came over. Could Midnight be “Kitten?” Could the first number I called actually be the right one? When they saw her, they both fell to their knees crying in disbelief, “Kitten, is it really you??” Kitten ran to her long lost owners. It was a storybook ending. I couldn’t believe it! And neither should you – because that’s not how it went at all. This very sweet and cool couple spent 30 minutes trying to figure out if this was their cat or not. THIRTY MINUTES! She would say, “It sure looks like Kitten…but bigger.” He would say, “I’m pretty sure that’s not our cat.” I told them she weighed 7 lbs. They said their cat weighed 5. We all decided that 3 months living in the woods would likely result in weight loss, not weight gain. She would say, “But look, honey, look how she wiggles when she walks? That’s Kitten!” He would say, “Uh, really don’t think that’s our cat.” Clearly she wanted to take her and he did not. Midnight seemed indifferent. From my perspective, I wasn’t thrilled about sending Midnight off with a couple whose take was, “Eh, I guess it’s our cat?” no matter how cool they were. I looked at their videos of Kitten – it was surprisingly hard to tell if it was the same cat. We agreed to sleep on it and they left without Midnight. I would continue searching the Lost postings. The wife said, “We’ll be back.” And they were – the next day they came back to take Midnight for a trial run at their house. Before I knew it, she was loaded into their crate and the little critter who had consumed all of my energy for the previous two weeks, was gone. I burst into tears. What? I was surprised too. I told you I wasn’t cut out for this. I hoped they didn’t get her home and decide (realize) that it definitely was not their cat – but I also was having a hard time letting go of the control of this kitty’s fate. My friend who is a vet said it best, “If they are good people, that is the best you can hope for.”

The couple did end up keeping my little furry friend. Today they still aren’t sure if it’s the original Kitten, or Kitten 2.0 but they have very generously welcomed her into the family all the same. We keep in touch via text message and I’m happy to report that Kitten Midnight (full name) is doing very well in her new-old home – a happy ending after all.

**Special thanks to Amy at Operation Catnip for being so awesome throughout my journey with Kitten Midnight. Thank you to Kelly with Snap-NC. Thank you and huge respect to all of you who donate your time, money, and love to rescuing animals in need. And last but not least, thank you little Midnight for letting me know you needed help. I’m so glad I listened!

Sweet Kitten Midnight when she first came home from the animal shelter.

Sweet Kitten Midnight when she first came home from the animal shelter.

Operation Midnight: Bite Neophyte (PART 1)

My friend and I were walking on the greenway absorbed in conversation, per the usual, when a GIANT PANTHER sprang from the tall grass onto the pavement and charged towards us. Jumping, we grabbed each other while my friend yelled. Giant panther was not deterred. Fight response kicked in. Lightening reflexes engaged. Laser focus calculated the aggressor to be…7-pounds? Heart rate leveled. “Meow,” it said to our ankles. It was aggressively…friendly. It hurriedly moved between us rubbing its face on our legs. Despite initial giant-panther-like assessment, this little black kitty did not seem to have malicious intent. It was out of place. Was this little one lost? Now what were we supposed to do, damn it? Leave it here living in a drainage pipe? Leave it to be hit by a car or attacked by a coyote? We were near NCSU’s Equine Unit – maybe it was a barn kitty? After five minutes of debate and leg rubbing, my friend suggested that we walk to the nearby houses. I agreed. We turned to go and, chomp. OUCH – the little stinker bit me. Hard! Broke the skin & now it was bleeding. Well, shoot. This was not how I envisioned my afternoon. I grew up with cats. I know that cats bite…but a maniacally friendly-but-possibly-wild-kitty? Uh-uh. I searched my brain for rabies knowledge… drool, aggression, raccoons…bats…stay away. Yep, I knew nothing about rabies. After a panicky Google session and a text exchange with my friend who’s a nurse, I was a rabies expert. It’s a virus that infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. You know, your typical walk-on-the-greenway risk. On the bright side, there was only 1 reported case in a human in the U.S. in ALL of 2014 (according to my recently acquired expertise a la Google). I knew chances were slim that this desperate kitty had rabies, but I headed to Urgent Care. $50 later, I’m talking to a PA.

PA: I’m obligated to tell you that if you are concerned about rabies, we can’t help you here. You’ll need to go the ER.

Me: I wish you’d told me that before I’d paid $50.

PA: We will refund your money if you choose to go to the ER.

Me: That’s RIDICU-what? Oh, well, it’s a good thing. So, to ER or not to ER…hmm, what would you do?

PA: I would stay away from cats.

Me: Ok, let’s say I can’t get my hands on a time machine. If don’t get the rabies shots, what is the incubation period?

PA: If you wait to see if you have rabies, you’re dead.

Me: Seriously?

PA: Yes.

Me: Really?

PA: (Nodded yes)

Me: I heard rabies shots are really expensive – like $500-$1000?

PA: I’m not sure how much they cost.

Me: Why don’t doctors ever know how much stuff costs?

PA: What would you like to do?

The PA had already started cleaning the 4 small punctures on my leg. It didn’t feel like $50 worth of cleaning. And I was beginning to feel like a big hypochondriac.

PA: They say the likelihood of human contracting rabies is like getting bitten by a shark.

Me: There have been 8 shark attacks in North Carolina in the past month.

PA: You didn’t let me finish – but of course I can’t say for sure that you haven’t been exposed to rabies. There is chance. Rather than get the shots (plural), you could also call animal control to pick up the cat to quarantine it for 10 days. You will know for sure then.

Me: How?

PA: Because cats do not survive longer than 10 days if they have been infected with rabies.

Me: I’ve never dealt with Animal Control. I’ve never been bitten like this before.

PA: (Silence. He was done cleaning my leg & with my chatty, indecisive, google- searching ways.)

I called Animal Control and went back to the Equine Unit driveway near the kitty’s drainage pipe to meet them. While waiting, I watched the kitty pounce out at other passersby. They jumped too (see!?)…but then barely paid any attention and kept on cruising. Stupid smart passersby, why didn’t I do that? The official looking Animal Control of Wake County truck approached, whew. The officer was young, female, and a fan of dogs – not cats – she made that clear. She pulled out a humane trap (aka long skinny cage) and set it upright on the ground next to the truck. She put on one­ glove, walked 25 feet to the drainage pipe and easily picked up the kitty who had jumped out to greet her. She held the cat away from her body, legs dangling, and walked the 25 feet back to the cage. She angled the kitty feet first into the narrow opening. If you know anything about cats, you know this plan was a bust from the start. The cat took one look at its destination and twisted free. It bolted back to its safe tunnel under the driveway. The twenty-something officer said, “I’m only going to give this another 15 minutes.” Um, ok? The officer took a can of food to the drainage pipe. The now wary kitty sat safely at mouth of the small tunnel watching us, interested in the food but unwilling to come forward. The Animal Control officer grabbed a cartoonish hand held net from the truck. I rolled my eyeballs internally. I gave her a .001% chance of catching this cat with a net. She mumbled something again about how dogs are better. “So if you catch the cat, what is the next step?” I asked. “We quarantine it for 10 days – a cat will die within 7-10 days if it is infected with rabies. At the end of the 10 days, we’ll put it down. “ My eyes widened, “Wait, what? Why?” She answered,” We can’t adopt out animals who have bitten someone.” “What if I find a home for it?” I asked. “The only way a bite-cat can be adopted out is if an owner reclaims it.” I was getting frustrated, so I stopped. It was getting dark outside. “Now I’m kind of hoping you DON’T catch the cat,” I said. The officer replied by saying that she wouldn’t be doing her job if she didn’t at least try to catch it. Not surprisingly, she was unsuccessful. She called it a night and planned to return the next day to set a trap. She would return every hour during the day to check the trap. It had been exceedingly hot, even for North Carolina and a cat in a cage wouldn’t last long in the sun, in this heat. I hated the thought of this little critter getting caught in a trap, thrown in jail for 10 days, and then killed because of ME. On the other hand, a viral infection of my nervous system leading to certain death didn’t sound good either. “If we can’t catch the cat, you should consider getting the shots,” she stated. “Do you know how much they cost?” I asked. “They’re a LOT. Like, maybe $1000-$1500.” (seriously, why doesn’t anyone know how much stuff costs?) We exchanged phone numbers and parted ways. She would keep me posted.

**To be continued! To learn the fate of the Umstead kitty, check out Operation Midnight: Bite Neophyte Part Two HERE! **

IRIS Sports – No Foolin’

Here are your top sports happenings this week for all you non-sports fans…No foolin’!

1) Hamburgers and Hockey – The fans of the professional hockey team, the Ottawa Senators, are throwing hamburgers onto the ice after the games. And here’s why: Andrew Hammond is a 27-year-old Canadian professional hockey player – he’s a goaltender. In college his nickname was “Hamburglar” because he was known to “gobble up loose pucks.” His professional career has not been stellar. He was not drafted; the Ottawa Senators signed him as a free agent in 2013 and he’s been primarily playing for their minor league team. In February the Senators lost both their first and second goaltenders to injury, so they called up Hammond. This undrafted 27-year-old, whose last game was a minor league loss where he’d allowed 4 goals, proceeds to go on a record-breaking streak winning 14 of his first 15 games. This infusion of success has not only landed Ottawa in the playoffs, it has revived the Hamburglar!

hamburglar Ottawa Senators

Fans started wearing hamburglar masks, McDonald’s gave Hammond “free burgers for life” (maybe they’re rooting for the other team), and last but not least, fans have been throwing burgers onto the ice! You gotta love a good Cinderella story, eh?

2) Men’s Division 1 Final Four Teams: Kentucky (Undefeated this season!), Michigan State (Magic Johnson’s Alma mater), Wisconsin Keep an eye on 7 footer superstar Frank Kaminski, aka Frank the Tank) , and Duke (Go ACC! I’d like to see class act Coach K take down Kentucky in the finals). Here’s the BRACKET.

3) Women’s Division 1 Final Four Teams: Connecticut, Notre Dame, Maryland, and South Carolina. These were all the #1 seeds (good job, NCAA). My money is on UConn; they’ve won 8 championships in the past 15 years. They are 36-1 this season and they have DOMINATED…we’re talking 30, 40, 50 point deficit dominating. Impressive stuff. Here’s the BRACKET.

4) To Tee or Not to Tee – Tiger Woods still isn’t sure if he’ll play in Augusta for the Masters. Everyone is curious – not because they think he can win it (it’s been 10 years since he won The Masters), but because it’ll be more fun if he does. And when you’re a big shot athlete like Tiger and you’ve won before…you can drag your feet on your commitment to playing (hey that sounds a lot like how he treated his marriage. Had to say it!) And now, oooh, it’s reported that Tiger’s plane has been spotted in Augusta. OoooOOOooohh!

5) Women get fake boobs, men get fake noise (And no I’m not talking about a fart machine). The louder your home crowd, the tougher it can be for a visiting team. The NFL is fining the Atlanta Falcons $350,000 plus a 5th round draft pick in 2016 for using an audio file during games with fake crowd noise for the past two seasons at the Georgia Dome. It’s reported that the Falcons were playing the fake crowd noise during the opposing team’s huddle, likely making it harder to call plays. Not cool, man. In addition to the $350K and the draft pick, the Falcons President Rich McKay is suspended from the competition committee.

Thanks for reading “I Read It Somewhere” aka IRIS Sports!



Hump-Day Hallway High-Fives

Don’t worry non-basketballers, we’re almost through March. We’re honing in on a Champion. But while we’re waiting, may as well see what all the buzz is about. Here’s your humpday-hallway-highfive-happenings in sports this week sports. And don’t forget, when your coworker wants to know how you’re so in-the-sports-know, just tell’em… Oh,   I Read It Somewhere. Welcome to IRIS Sports!

1. The THIRD ROUND of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament finished last Sunday. With sixteen teams remaining, the next round is affectionately called the “Sweet 16.” The survivors of the Sweet 16 advance to the “Elite 8”. I feel sorry for the second and third rounds. They should get special names too…like, “32 Kung-Fu,” or “32 Voodoo.” Second round could be, “64 Commodore” or maybe, ”64 Squares on a chessboard which is appropriate considering that scheduling a round with 64 NCAA teams is probably a little like playing a Chess Match am I right??” Or, maybe not. The games resume tomorrow night in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Syracuse, and Houston. By Sunday night, four teams will be left standing. Those four teams will travel to Indianapolis on April 4th to play in the final round, aptly called the “Far-fetched Four.” Just kidding, it’s the “Fart-Etched Four.” Just kidding it’s the “Fab Four.” Ok, ok… it’s the FINAL FOUR!

2. HEY LAAAADIES! The Women’s NCAA Division 1 Basketball Tournament is also happening right now. Round Three (32 Kung-Fu) finished up Monday night when Louisville became the sweetest sixteenth team to advance to the Sweet 16. What’s that you say? Women’s games are boring? Pshaw. These young women are strong, inspiring, fiery, and have mad skillzzz: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:12547688 Check out the Women’s D1 bracket HERE. Go ladies, Go!

3.  ACC Country – I grew up in Raleigh, NC in a Wolfpack family. We didn’t have professional teams around here. We had NC State, Carolina, and Duke – and you had to pick one. So as a life long Wolfpack fan, it was especially fun to watch them knock out the #1 seed in their region, Villanova. State advancing to the next round will make it an especially sweet, Sweet 16. Check them out in action: https://youtu.be/ekElFwu504E

4. Oh yeah, that other tourney… the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) is happening, too. They have their Fantastical-Final-Four all set: HERE.

5. Georgia State On My Mind – My favorite personal story of the tournament so far is Georgia State’s charismatic head coach Ron Hunter and his player and son, RJ Hunter. Coach Hunter tore his achilles celebrating Georgia State’s Sun Belt Conference Championship that earned his team a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Their first NCAA Tourney game was against Baylor. The #14 seed GA State defeated #3 seed Baylor and RJ Hunter hit the winning shot at the buzzer! The coach, who was in a cast due to his achilles injury, proceeded to fall off the stool amidst the craziness of everyone celebrating the nail biting win. They lost to Xavier in the next game but not before the entire country fell in love with these two great guys. I challenge you to watch this without getting choked up…https://youtu.be/KnsmmEWjjco Somebody call Disney!!

It’s All About the Bass…ketball

If you were bummed that you couldn’t watch The Mindy Project last week because a basketball game was on instead…if March Madness pertains more to your feelings than to sports…if Bracketology sounds like a fancy new tax law from Obama, you’re in the right place!! Welcome to IRIS Sports: the non-sports-fan’s sports page. Here are this week’s top 5 water-cooler-worthy happenings…

1) Today is Selection Sunday. A whole lotta love schools all over the country have been playing their hearts out for the past week. Men’s Division I College Basketball teams were not only vying for their respective conference titles, but to become 1 of the 64 teams who make it to the NCAA 2015 Tournament. A team makes it in by 1] winning its conference tourney 2] winning its conference’s regular season 3] This is where it gets interesting. There’s a committee who figures out the rest of the teams. There are power rankings to consider and things like “Strength of Schedule.” If your record is 10 Wins-8 Losses and you played Cheech & Chong’s local yo-yo University Basketball Clowns every other game, that does not help your “SOS” ranking. If you played a bunch of nationally ranked teams and even beat a few (helllloooo NC State), that matters. Today is the day they announce all 64 teams. Exciting stuff! Drum roll…. Here are the results, aka the BRACKET. The games start this week!!

2) The NIT. If you don’t get a bid for the NCAA Tournament, your team might get invited to the National Invitational Tournament. Make no mistake, any die-hard basketball fan is not happy their team is in this tournament. It’s runner-up’s-ville, USA. The games start this week. (conspicuously missing exclamation point)

3) The University of Kentucky. Kentucky is ranked #1 in the country. They have won every single one of their 34 games this season. This is the longest winning streak going into the NCAA tourney since 1985. I love that there is a possibility that some small yo-yo team could come along and slay this dragon. It’s why they play the games instead of just handing the trophy over to KY.

4) Why I Love Sports. The Albany GREAT DANES (really? I guess it’s a fitting mascot for basketball team) defeated the Stony Brook SEAWOLVES to win the America East Championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament. (What is a Seawolf, you ask? According to the Stony Brook, it’s a mythical creature and according to legend anyone fortunate enough to view it is subject to good luck. Well that seems inconvenient. ) Onward. There is an Australian kid named Peter Hooley who plays for Albany. Hooley lost his mother to cancer 6 weeks ago. He missed a lot of the season to be by her bedside in Australia. This kid hit the game winning 3 pointer to secure his team’s trip to the NCAA – Check it out —> http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:12485580 Pretty great.

5) In other sports… Golf: The Masters (Augusta, green jacket) is coming up April 11-14th. Pro Basketball: The playoffs begin at the end of the month. Pro Football: Free Agency just started which means there is wheeling and dealing going on and you’ll see players moving from one team to another. Pro Baseball is in spring training and the season officially opens in April. And last but not least, there is a Boxing match coming up that has been 10 years in the making and is being dubbed the Fight of the Century. Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. May 2, 2015. This future fight even has its own Wikipedia page HERE.

Have a great week!



It Can Wait

I am drinking coffee and writing on this Sunday morning. I have a turquoise, soft cover Moleskine journal that I love and a ball point pen that writes just right. It’s a beautiful, sunny, January day. My phone is downstairs.  In the time it has taken me to write these four and a half lines, I’ve had the urge/impulse/itch to check/use/scratch(?) my phone four times. #1- I wanted to use the timer for what was initially going to be a timed writing exercise [No Tracy, you can use the clock]. #2 – What’s today’s date? It’s right there on my phone’s home screen [Uh Tracy, use your brain].  #3 – I wanted to check the weather app to include the actual temperature when describing this lovely day [It’s January, Tracy…It’s cold]. #4 – I wonder if I’ve heard back from my friend Jamie. Hmm. I could do a Lumosity “workout.” And see what’s up on Twitter. I love Twitter.  [No, no, noooo! IT CAN WAIT! IT CAN ALLLL WAIT. Write your damn journal entry] Jeez, no wonder I have trouble with follow through.  We are living in a distractible world, and I am a distractible girl [Madonna invocation: You know that we are liiiiving in a distractible world and I am a distractible girl].

At work last year I was part of a project team that moved a manufacturing plant from Minnesota to NC. We up-fit an 80,000 Sq. Ft facility on a very tight time line to accommodate the plant. I was the Project Manager. Our team was rock solid, we all worked crazy hours, and lives were at stake. Ok, lives weren’t at stake – but SOCIAL lives definitely suffered. In the end, we were successful and it was extremely rewarding.  Throughout the project, my boss constantly said, “What can we check off the list today? I’m big on checking things off the list.” He preferred to make a good, solid choice and move on versus making the perfect choice (which, obviously doesn’t exist). It sounds simple, but that stuck with me. It has become this perfectionist’s New Year’s resolution. Like most of us, I have a lot of lists. Being distractible and a perfectionist can be a paralyzing combo, especially creatively. Daily I think of ideas for a blog post, joke, sketch, business idea, etc. But I convince myself that I’ll get to them when I have more time (…to make them “perfect” before sharing them with the world, I suppose). And most of the time my (probably genius) creative musings and (probably million dollar) Shark Tank ideas lie dormant, never to be recalled. It’s a bad feeling. This blog post is a case in point. I started it yesterday morning but did not finish it in one sitting. It would be so easy to let it die away like so many others, unfinished. But damn it, I’m checking things off the list. And this year, writing is an important item on my list. Writing, and then letting it go of what I’ve written. It’s not perfect and that’s ok. Don’t over edit. Don’t let doubt keep you from doing what you want to do: just write. And for God’s sake, don’t check Facebook. [Fade out: Li-ving in a distractible world…DISTRACTIBLE!… Li-ving in a distractible world…….]

IRIS Sports Archive – Keeping Up with Your Sports Fan

Originally posted 1/5/2013….

You’re here so you can keep up with the sports fan in your life…boss, coworkers, or yo’ man (sure ok, maybe yo’ lady). Or, maybe you’re here ‘cause you’re my friend (thanks). Either way, here are this week’s top five (and a half) chat worthy sports happenings…

  • It’s College Football Bowl Season. Surely your sports fan (YSF) is up to his eye bowls, in college footballs (see what I did there). If YSF’s team is in a bowl game, you need to find out if they won. If YSF is yo’ man, ask him. He’ll love it. If it’s your boss, just hush up and figure it out… http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/scoreboard . It’s a great accomplishment for a team to qualify for a bowl game. Different bowls carry different levels of distinction and a team’s record determines which one they qualify for. Most of the bowls have goofy names (ex. GoDaddy.com Bowl) because we are a capitalistic society that will likely have corporations sponsoring each square of our toilet paper sometime in the near future….but I digress. My two teams (YSF may insist you can’t have two teams, but if you hold your ground on your reasoning he’ll back off… unless it’s because you like the uniforms.) So, my two teams are NCSU (hometown fan, I grew up rooting for them) and my alma mater, UGA. It’s fun being a UGA football fan. They dominated Nebraska in an exciting win, 45-31, in the Capital One Bowl. Here’s a play that sums up how the game went: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/01/georgia-nebraska-capital-one-bowl-murray_n_2393395.html . NC State did not have the same good fortune. They lost to Vanderbilt 24-38 in the Music City Bowl. Here’s a play that sums up how their game went: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=8796113 . The biggest, baddest, bowl in the land is the BCS Bowl, excuse me, the Discover BCS Bowl. It will be played on January 7th and will determine which of these top ranked teams, Notre Dame or Alabama, is this year’s National Champ!
  • Men’s College basketball season is underway. My favorite! Like any collegiate sport, it’s all about the conference. I grew up in ACC country (http://www.theacc.com/) which is known for elite basketball. Our neighbor, Duke University, is currently ranked #1 the country. NCSU is 11-2 but regular conference play starts this weekend and that’s when games really matter (for the record, the two games NCSU lost were to Top 25 teams). If none of this is doing it for you, think about this…basketball games are always inside, basketball games are short, and basketball games do not consume an entire day with tailgating. In other words, consider yourself lucky if YSF is a basketball fanatic. Find YSF’s team’s record here: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/standings
  • NFL “regular season” ended last weekend. Post season games start this weekend to determine who will make it to the playoffs. This will all culminate at the Superbowl (http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/47) on February 3, 2013. Currently the two top teams (http://espn.go.com/nfl/standings/_/type/playoffs) are the Denver Broncos (my team!) as the AFC Champs, and the Atlanta Falcons as the NFC Champs. One team from each division will end playing each other on the big day. Go Broncos!
  • Seven NFL coaches were fired on January 31st (Happy New Year, Coach). One of the most controversial was Chicago Bears head coach, Lovie Smith. It must be hard to fire a guy named Lovie. Lovie wasn’t feeling the lovie (I lovie his name, btw)…ok, I’ll stop. He had a good season and the ‘da Bears only missed playoffs by one game, but that doesn’t matter. Lovie has not gotten his team to the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. So, he’s out. There’s no loyalty in the NFL. You either get wins, or get fired. There is a lot of shuffling around of coaches and players in between each season and it always feels wrong to me. I don’t want to be reminded that it’s a business; I want the romance of pulling for a team I love. It’s like switching out the actors in your favorite TV show every season. Remember when they replaced Darren on Bewitched? (I’m old) Like I said, the shuffling can be disheartening…Wait, What? The Colts released Peyton Manning? What? He’s going to Denver? Can I get a what-what!? I’m ok with that kind of shuffling.
  • If YSF loves hockey, you might actually be enjoying this NHL season. The players have been locked out; Yet another reminder that professional sports can be an ugly business. It has something to do with revenue sharing. The owners of the teams want to reduce the player’s piece of the pie. While they figure all this out, season ticket holders and little kids across USA just have to wait. When the topic comes up, just throw out the terms “lockout” and “revenue sharing,” and you’ll have instant sports-cred. The season may start sometime this month, but it’s all still up in the air.