2014 – Year in Review: Livin’ the Dream

IMG_4063The year 2014 was a marvelous year for me.  As with all years of life, there are always ups and downs, and this year was no exception.  But, I always strive to take a positive vent on things (as much as possible) and there was much positive that happened this year.  Following is my retrospective view on 2014…the Good, the Bad and the Wonderful (no Ugly here…sorry!).  I really was living the dream!

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

Celebrated my 35th Wedding Anniversary

35 Years of "Merried" Life

35 Years of “Merried” Life

July 15, 2014 was a momentous day in my life as I celebrated the 35th anniversary of wedded bliss with my sweet eternal companion Julianne. Even now I am awestruck at how she has put up with me all of these years.  My quirkiness, my playfulness and yes, my more often than occasional thoughtless foot-in-mouth disease.

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

Julianne has been a wonderful example to me and, in the words of my favorite musician Antsy McClain, I truly “Married Up, my life is sweet as a daydream”

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

First grandchild baptism

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

In late May we got to go to Montana to attend the first baptism of any of my grandchildren. This was a wonderful event as Kade Matthews was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am proud of this little guy with a big heart and wonderful spirit.  There will be more baptisms coming in the future, but the first is always wonderful

Seeing ALL of the children and grandchildren

Our family has spread out across the United States (literally coast to coast!), thus making it difficult to see them all at one time.  Not since Christmas 2012 have we all been together.  However, as of Christmas 2014, we were able to spend time with all of the children and grandchildren at one point or another.

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

  • Amaree – Our oldest was living in Shelby, Montana the last time we got to visit her and her family (including husband Aaron and four children – Kade (8), Charlie (7), Olivia (5) and Benson (3))  We were blessed to visit them in May for Kade’s baptism and also spent some time traveling in Montana with them.  It was a wonderful time. In October, they moved further west to Port Orchard, Washington in a job transfer for Aaron. They are loving their new place and I am hoping to be able to go out there and visit in 2015 for Charlie’s baptism.
  • Grampz with Amaree's children.  Fun to see Livvy, Charlie, Kade and Benson

    Grampz with Amaree’s children. Fun to see Livvy, Kade, Charlie and Benson

  • Marissa – Our second daughter Marissa still lives nearby in Lexington.  It is always fun to see her sweet family (including husband Adam and three children – Joselyn (7), Landen (6) and Lyla (3)). It has been a blessing to have them nearby and have the opportunity to hang with those sweet grandkids! Marissa’s wonderful talent as a photographer and videographer always continues to impress.
  • Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Fun with Lyla

    Fun with Lyla

  • Chelsea – Our third daughter Chelsea also lives in Lexington and we get to see her and our oldest grandchild Autumn (9) quite often. Chelsea recently became engaged to Jorge Mendez and is excited about the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit his family in 2015. She continues to do well on her job as a manager at a local Wendy’s restaurant.
  • Seth – Our oldest son Seth lives in Vernon, Connecticut.  He and his wife Holly and son Rockwell (4) have been busy in life, Seth with his engineering job at GE and Holly with her business “Cutting It Cute.”  We really had lost hope of seeing them in 2014, but, they surprised us in late December with a Christmas visit and it was amazing to see us.  They shared some other exciting news (coming soon).  With their visit we finally got to see ALL of our children and grandchildren this year.
  • Three Generations of Kravetz...David, Rockwell and Seth

    Three Generations of Kravetz…David, Rockwell and Seth

  • Solomon – Our youngest son Solomon moved out to Colorado to join some friends in a joint business venture.  Though times have been challenging, the business seems to be picking up steam.  Sol visited us earlier in the year for a couple of days.  It was good to see him and hear of his progress.  He has remained upbeat and seems to be finally finding his pathway in life.  We are proud of him.
  • Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

    Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

Kravetz Family Reunion

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Another great highlight this year was a Kravetz family reunion, held in Galveston, Texas in late June 2014. Though not all were able to attend, I was happy to meet with my sister Sherry and her family, my step-dad Joe, my Uncle Lou and his wife Toni, and many of my cousins.  It was a wonderful four days on the beautiful island of Galveston.  On the way back home I spent an evening at my Uncle Lou’s house in Houston and then a day with my cousin Lewis in Austin, finally finishing up in Keller, Texas with my sister Sherry and her family and my dad, before heading home.

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry's daughter)

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry’s daughter)

Extensive Travel Opportunities

Welcome to Louisiana

Welcome to Louisiana in 2014

As noted above, in 2014 I was able to travel to Montana and also to southern Texas. As is typically the case, I drove and made a vacation/blogging trip out of these.  During the year I visited 18 states and drove close to 10,000 miles in road trip travel (not counting local Kentucky travel).  Detailed blog posts on my travels can be seen on my Less Beaten Paths blog (see actual post HERE). But, I will note below some of my “Bucket List” locations that I was able to check off.

Visiting Oklahoma

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014

  • Paul Bunyan Statue in Bemidji, MN – I have wanted to visit here since I was 8 or 9 and first saw it in a LIFE travel book back in the 1960s. Finally made it in May 2014! (see blog post)
  • Beartooth Highwayon the border of Wyoming and Montana – Supposedly one of the most spectacular mountain drives in America, it has been on my list for many years.  I made it (just barely) on Memorial Day weekend in late May 2014.  I got there a couple days after it was opened for the season and there was still piles of snow. It will leave me with everlasting memories of the beauty of this earth. (see blog post)
  • Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska – One of the “Car Sculpture” places I had hoped to visit, I was able to get here on my way from Montana in late May. It was a fabulous visit! (see blog post)
  • Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

    Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

  • Traversing US Highway 2 across northern US – Though this is still a Bucket List item (since I have east coast to Michigan and then western Montana to Washington coast remaining), I was able to knock off a big chunk of the 2,571 mile highway as I drove from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Browning, Montana (about 1,171 miles) (see blog post)
  • Didn't matter which way.  Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

    Didn’t matter which way. Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

  • Travel the “Blues Highway” in Mississippi – Another of my “Bucket List” trips, I had hoped to someday travel US Highway 61 north to south in Mississippi.  I was able to do this (see blog post)
On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

Meeting New Friends and Old Friends

This past year provided me with the opportunity to visit a couple of old friends from the past and also opportunities to meet a few “new” friends from Facebook and otherwise. Also wonderful and fun to continue old relationships and to also create and foster new ones!  Here are a few:

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs' fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs’ fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Building My Own Business

As reentering the work force has gotten more difficult for me due to my age and extensive experience, I really dug in hard this year to build my own business, Sumoflam Productions, and really strived to make it on my own (coupled with Julianne’s work at University of Kentucky). After learning WordPress through my blogging, I have been able to expand my expertise  and indeed was able to build the business throughout the year with new clients and partnerships. I worked hard to learn more skills and have successfully built a number of sites this year in the WordPress platform. Following are a few of the sites I have done and manage now:

There are a number more and all can be seen listed at My Sumoflam Productions Site

Also during the year I was contracted for website work and broadcast monitoring for Blue Million with monitoring internet broadcasts of the PRCA Rodeo and other broadcasts on the Wrangler Network.

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

And America’s largest marketing producer of high school rivalry football games, The Great American Rivalry Series contracted me to manage their social media, arrange and monitor broadcasts and also manage and update their website during the 2014 high school football season. We did 100 games this year and that made for a busy few months at the end of the year. It was a wonderfully busy time.

Sumoflam in the News

In 2014 I was asked to write a couple of articles for local press.  These were both fun adventures.  The first one was about the playground at Jacobson Park. (See Entire Article here).  I wrote the article and also provided the photos.

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014.  My article about Jacobson Park

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014. My article about Jacobson Park

In November I was asked to write an article about the murals and wall art in Lexington for Ace Weekly magazine. This article was posted online in December and may appear in their end of the year issue.  They also included a complete photo gallery of my photos of Lexington’s amazing street art.

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Also, in December, I was involved with Lexington Nativity Festival, which was sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I managed the website and the media relations for the event. The Lexington Herald-Leader photographer Pablo Alcala out to do some shots and I was included in this and the newspaper gallery in late December.

NativityFest

Nativity Festival Gallery featured in Lexington Herald-Leader. Photos were by Pablo Alcala

A Few More Odds and Ends

I got to visit with my cousin Lewis Goldstein a couple of times in 2014.  Once was a sad affair at the loss of my uncle Jay Goldstein, who passed away in Louisville.  I also got to spend some time with Lewis at his home in Austin after the family reunion in Galveston.  Always good to visit with one of my favorite cousins!

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

In 2014 I really kicked my blogging and photography into full gear.  I had 38 posts on my Less Beaten Paths blog (and over 50,000 page views during the year).  I also posted 20 posts on this blog and have had nearly 5000 page views this year. Between my travel photos and local photos, I had nearly 500 selfies (HA HA….I love these iPhones!).  I also took well over 5000 photos of travels, family, sunrises and sunsets, birds, squirrels, bison, antelope, murals, wall art, sculptures and more. I had nearly 3700 views of my photos on my SmugMug Photo site. I will be doing a post about my favorite photos of 2014 in early January 2015.

My SmugMug Photo site

My SmugMug Photo site

Overall, this was an amazing year.  I am grateful for all of the blessings, all of the adventures and all of the family and friends.

Life is Good

Life is Good

 

Livin’ the Dream – Following the Reinvention of Myself

Last week I put up a post on my Less Beaten Paths travel blog noting how writing that blog lead to a reinvention of myself and my career path (and also celebrating that blog’s 50,000th visit). This post is a follow-up to that one and I do it on my Sumoflam’s Singlewide blog because it’s not really associated with travel (though I do note some travel things in here….let’s face it, its in my blood).

Livin' the Dream

Living the Dream – masking Antsy McClain

I have called this “Livin’ the Dream” as that is the best way for me to express what my current career situation is for me.  I have gone from nightmares to living the dream and doing what I am passionate about.

DreamJob1To me, a “dream job” does not necessarily mean a job that provides tons of income, but rather a job that provides satisfaction and doing what I love doing. Don’t get me wrong, income is necessary and more of it is better.  But doing what I love while earning money to do it…now THAT is a Dream Job!

My fist real dream job - being a tour guide in Flagstaff in 1983

My first real dream job – being a tour guide in Flagstaff in 1983

Over the years, I have had a number of dream jobs. Perhaps my first was working as a tour guide in Flagstaff, Arizona in the early 1980s.I drove vans and buses and took tourists all over the beautiful locations of northern Arizona to places like Sedona, Monument Valley, the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations, the Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater, and many other fabulous locations including the Grand Canyon. I met wonderful people, saw beautiful scenery year around, and I truly had a great time.

Working as a Tour Guide with visitors from the Isle of Man on the Navajo Reservation in 1983

Working as a Tour Guide with visitors from the Isle of Man on the Navajo Reservation in 1983

It was not until the late 1980s when we had an opportunity to go to Japan as a family that I was able to experience my next “Dream Job.” After graduation from Arizona State University with a Master’s Degree in Political Science/International Relations, I landed a position through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) to work for the Oita Prefecture Government as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR).  In fact, I was one of 32 Charter CIRs in the first year of the JET Program, which also brought nearly 500 Americans, Canadians and British to Japan to teach English.  This was my second “dream job” as I once again got to work with people from all walks of life from different parts of the world as they visited Oita and I got to travel, I did TV shows and had a wonderful two years on that gig (as well as an additional 2 years with Asahi Solar Corporation. My children were in TV commercials and all of these were a result of that particular position.

I served as interpreter, guide and host for then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe (L) and Oita's Governor Morihikio Hiramatsu (R) in 1987

I served as interpreter, guide and host for then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe (L) and Oita’s Governor Morihikio Hiramatsu (R) in 1987

I spent three days as host, guide and interpreter for famed Olympian from Romania Nadia Comaneci

I spent three days as host, guide and interpreter for famed Olympian Gymnast from Romania Nadia Comaneci

I did many TV shows while in Oita.  This was in Bungo Taketa at a famous Samurai museum.  I have the authentic swords used by the samurai as I presented a show (in Japanese) about this historical site.

I did many TV shows while in Oita. This was in Bungo Taketa at a famous Samurai museum. I have the authentic swords used by the samurai as I presented a show (in Japanese) about this historical site.

I was a co-host for a New Year's Celebration program in Oita in Jan. 1989.  Here I am with the camera man prepping fr the show.

I was a co-host for a New Year’s Celebration program in Oita in Jan. 1989. Here I am with the camera man prepping fr the show.

Upon returning from Japan in 1991, I struggled to find gainful employment for quite a while and ended up doing a lot of Japanese translation work and other work related to my Japanese language skills. Though very skilled in Japanese, I believe that I went through a “burnout stage” because of all of what I was doing. Indeed, it was a Japanese-related position that brought the family to Kentucky in 1993.

Japanese interpreting at the Toyota Plan in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada in 2008

Japanese interpreting at the Toyota Plan in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada in 2008

Nevertheless, it was interesting to work in manufacturing plants such as the big Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky (1997) and the Toyota plant in Woodstock, Ontario (2008). I worked in a number of parts manufacturers plants as well. Learning the manufacturing process was quite enlightening. In between a couple of those jobs, I worked on a Japanese-owned horse farm (which was beautiful) and I also spent a number of years working at Lexmark where I thrived on the job, but I would never call them “dream jobs.” The best part of the job at Lexmark was the opportunity I had to travel to Cebu in the Philippines (where I trained my eventual replacements!).

Island Hopping in the Philippines

Island Hopping in the Philippines

On a boat off of Mactan Island in the Philippines with "Team Higante", the crew I was training in 2006

On a boat off of Mactan Island in the Philippines with “Team Higante”, the crew I was training in 2005

The trips to Cebu (which altogether totaled about 7 weeks) were definitely one of the best parts of the job. Despite the daily work routines, I spent many evenings and every weekend traveling around Cebu and other islands.  In fact, my first real trip journals (which lead to my travel blogging) were borne out of these trips (check out these early trip reports). Little did I know back then what my travel writing would do for me!

Sumoflam squeezed into an outrigger canoe on a small island north of Cebu.

Sumoflam squeezed into an outrigger canoe on a small island north of Cebu.

With friends in a Jeepney in Cebu

With friends in a Jeepney in Cebu

After Lexmark I did more Japanese work and eventually made my way to Ontario (which I noted above).  I really did not enjoy the translating work, but it brought income.  The best part was the travel to and from home every two weeks.  I took a different route each time, took lots of photos and wrote lots of trip journals (see them here).

Japanese trainers in Sparta, Ontario on a Sumoflam led "tour" of Southern Ontario

Japanese trainers in Sparta, Ontario on a Sumoflam led “tour” of Southern Ontario

My little home away from home in Paris, Ontario in 2008

My little home away from home in Paris, Ontario in 2008

After my Ontario gig ended, I spent nine months in a job that was a literal hell for me.  I worked as a call center rep for Sprint, then Boost Mobile, then Apple.  I hated the jobs…low paying, low morale and no challenge.  I sought for opportunities to leave at every corner.  And, then in 2009 it finally happened.

Working a baseball game for iHigh.com

Working a baseball game for iHigh.com

My next real “dream job” evolved from being hired by iHigh.com in 2009. I have always enjoyed working in web design and web related services. I have also always enjoyed working with people. And, furthermore, I have loved working in things related to sports, especially high school sports. As a result, my position became one of great passion and enjoyment. Indeed, I did not even take a vacation for almost 3 years. My job was practically a vacation.The job also included a great deal of travel and meeting with people at high schools around the country. I got to do broadcast work which I enjoyed immensely.

Polo Cross at the Kentucky Horse Park - we broadcast a number of Pony Club events.  Was great fun.

Polo Cross at the Kentucky Horse Park – we broadcast a number of Pony Club events. Was great fun.

I traveled to many locations to broadcast BMX Races and took many photos, like this one.

I traveled to many locations to broadcast BMX Races and took many photos, like this one.

As part of my iHigh work I was responsible for the USA Swimming partnership and got to attend the Olympic Trials and broadcast some events.  I a interviewing multi medalist Kaitlin Sandeno

As part of my iHigh work I was responsible for the USA Swimming partnership and got to attend the Olympic Trials and broadcast some events. I a interviewing multi medalist Kaitlin Sandeno

I participated in the FFA National events and helped manage broadcasts of this huge event in Indianapolis

I participated in the FFA National events and helped manage broadcasts of this huge event in Indianapolis

That dream job came to an abrupt end on November 2, 2012. At that time the company had made some major decisions in the business direction and the shifts left both my wife and myself unemployed as we did not fit into the new program.I was devastated as my “dream job” had fallen out from underneath me.

Had to Ponder the Future

Had to Ponder the Future

From the time I lost that position in 2012 through 2013 I struggled again to find any full-time employment. And that is where my previous post begins and how I have participated in the “reinvention of myself” and my skill sets.

Resilience in hard times is always best

Resilience in hard times is always best

I like to think of myself as being resilient. I have learned to adapt to change and always try to take a positive angle towards it despite any challenges, frustrations, hurdles, etc.I also make a great effort to not burn bridges along the way and to do a good job wherever I am up until the last day.

Working with VYPE

So, this reinvention of myself and my skill sets led me to learn the WordPress CMS through my travel blog and then through this blog and others. Relations that I had created such as those at VYPE.com brought me work and I was able to continue to build on the foundation that I had learned through my blog. With VYPE.com I worked with a developer and helped build the entire network after VYPE left iHigh and had to build their own network.and now, for over a year, I have worked with them and manage their entire Web structure which is all based on the WordPress platform. Through them I picked up other work and through other connections I picked up even more work to where I now have number of clients and I was working from home. I was doing things that I enjoy as putting together websites is just a form of creativity that I seem to thrive at.

Working with Antsy McClain

Working with Antsy McClain

With the freedom of working from home, I have reestablished the management of a number of websites I had done in the past. One of these was moving my good friend and well-known singer/songwriter/recording artist/graphic artist Antsy McClain’s website into the WordPress platform.  I once again manage this for him and work closely in his promotion. Indeed, this has been part of “Living the Dream” as I remain in the music industry, something I had dreamed about as a high school student.

On tour with Antsy McClain in San Francisco in the early 2000s

On tour with Antsy McClain in San Francisco in the early 2000s

Then, in early September I got “The Call.” I had been doing some work with my former boss at iHigh.com who now runs a multimedia company called BlueMillion.com. Blue Million is a digital technology and marketing company specializing in social media, digital marketing, and live video to online and mobile audiences around the world. Through this work, he called me from the offices of iHigh, Inc., which runs the Great American Rivalry Series.

Working with the Great American Rivalry Series

Working with the Great American Rivalry Series

This company used to be a sister company of iHigh.com, but recently split away as iHigh.com moved to VolarVideo. I was asked to use my web skills and social media skills to be their “Control Central” during football season. This has literally brought me full circle as I am now working out of the old iHigh Office on Mondays and Fridays and then from home during the week.  Like the days of iHigh, I watch and monitor high school football from the office on Friday nights.  I get to work with many of the high school coaches and broadcast organizations of the past as well. I count this both as an immense blessing and a recognition for my devoted hard work ethic.

Wearing two hats (OK, a hat and a shirt) as I am full swing into high school sports again.

Wearing two hats (OK, a hat and a shirt) as I am full swing into high school sports again.

Coupled with this, I have partnered with Fieldhouse Media Group as their Web Manager (and as an extension I am the Digital Media Coordinator for VYPE.com, part of FMG now). I work with many wonderful people. As a result of this work, I am once again working with a number of broadcast groups across the country and am able to bring them on to the VYPE network as partners.

David&Tui

Sumoflam with Texas author and blogger Tui Snider

Another wonderful “dream fulfiller” which originated with my blog writing was “meeting” other bloggers, photographers and writers. They have all inspired me in so many ways that I will continue to “reinvent” myself and move towards writing some books about travel the back roads of America…an extension of my blog. (Shown above is Tui Snider, author of two books recently and blogs at Mental Mosaic).

A couple of others that have become an inspiration:

Derek Ace a professional photogapher...does amazing work.  We met at Hells Half Acre in Wyoming in May 2014

Derek Ace, a professional photographer…does amazing work. We met at Hells Half Acre in Wyoming in May 2014 (See some of his work on Facebook)

A video about Minnesota Travel Writer Seth Hardmeyer, who does the Highway Highlights blog about Minnesota (and beyond).  We have shared many inspirational stories and places.  He has been an inspiration.

The Dream Job is here and better than ever. Its not about the money, its about the doing what you enjoy and excel at. I now have a photo blog, a photo site on National Geographic and have become a member of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association  Life is Good!

Life is Good

Life is Good

Synchronicity on a Saturday Night: UK Basketball & Antsy McClain

UK and Antsy McClain

UK and Antsy McClain

This is a true story of unusual events that happened on April 5, 2014. I take no real meaning from it, but there were notable coincidences that make for a fun story. Indeed, Synchronicity was there.

SynchronicitySynchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s. I find synchronicity daily as I say words that happen to be said at the same time on the radio…happens ALL the time!!

Synchronicity2

Synchronicity Theory

Jung believed that many experiences that are coincidences due to chance in terms of causality suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances in terms of meaning, reflecting this governing dynamic.

Before I tell about this synchronicity, I feel I should provide a few pieces of background about all this.

1. I have cheered on Kentucky basketball for many years, but have not really ever been a true “blue-blooded” fan. Rather, I have been more of a BYU fan for various reasons.

2. I first met Antsy McClain in 1993. We worked side by side in Shelbyville, KY at a Japanese auto parts manufacturer as Japanese interpreters.

3. I am not originally from Kentucky, but my step mother had ancestral roots here, which I later learned after doing genealogy upon arrival in Kentucky.

4. All of my children graduated high school in Kentucky.

5. I have two children that graduated from UK.

6. My college professor/mentor at Arizona State University graduated from UK.

7. My wife recently was hired to a position at UK

8. Antsy McClain went to UK

9. I have worked and, at times, traveled with Antsy McClain and his music interests in varying capacities over the past 20 years.

10. My real passions in life are travel, music (especially Antsy McClain) and my grandchildren. I love sports as well, but they rank lower on the “passion scale.”

UK FlagThese things being said, I do get excited when UK gets into the Sweet Sixteen and, like the majority of Lexingtonians, I do get caught up in March Madness. (For an example of how “Mad” and “Crazy”, see this article on Couch Burning in Lexington). Indeed, I was really excited to see that UK would play in the final four beginning on April 5.

Antsy McClain

Antsy McClain

However, on April 5 I had other plans. For a few months I have been planning to go to the Cincinnati area to see Antsy McClain performing a concert with a band comprised of some other individuals I know well (Pauly Zarb and Pat Kirtley).

Lunch with my wife Julianne in Cincinnati on Antsy Day / Game Day

Lunch with my wife Julianne in Cincinnati on Antsy Day / Game Day

So on Saturday morning my wife and I ventured to Cincinnati, had a good time seeing if you sites and then headed northwest to the small town of Harrison, Ohio to see Antsy and the Trailer Park Troubadours perform at the Martin Marietta Center at Harrison High School. But, I did as any real UK fan would do, I wore a UK hat and UK shirt to the show to promote my support for them in the final four against Wisconsin.

Hanging with Antsy before the show, in my UK gear

Hanging with Antsy before the show, in my UK gear

Upon arrival, there were a few people that noticed my UK outfit and asked if I was not at the wrong venue? Of course, I am more of a Pink Blooded (as in Flamingohead) Antsy fan. And my opportunities to see my close friend perform are few and far between.

Sumoflam with good Aussie mate Pauly Zarb

Sumoflam with good Aussie mate Pauly Zarb

So, with iPhone (and an ESPN app) in hand, we visited with Antsy, Pauly Zarb ( an Australian musician who has performed with Antsy for many years, a former resident of Bardstown and a big UK fan), Chris “Spoonz” Long, the drummer (and a UK fan) and amazing guitarist Pat Kirtley (also from Bardstown and a UK fan). After that we enjoyed a great show ( and monitored the score of the UK/Wisconsin game, which went back and forth).

Sumoflam with fellow Kentuckian and AMAZING guitarist Pat Kirtley

Sumoflam with fellow Kentuckian and AMAZING guitarist Pat Kirtley

The show was fabulous and ended while there was still three minutes left in the UK/Wisconsin game. We hurriedly said our goodbyes to everyone in the green room. Pauly already had the TV turned on to the game.

UK vs. Wisconsin

UK vs. Wisconsin

Julianne and I hustled out to the car and watched the last three minutes in the Harrison High School parking lot. It was so exciting. And with 7 seconds left UK Freshman Aaron Harrison knocked out a three pointer to gain the lead. They stopped Wisconsin on the other end to win and advance to the championship.

Aaron Harrison after scoring the three to drop Wisconsin

Aaron Harrison after scoring the three to drop Wisconsin

It struck me as funny that we were in Harrison, OH and in the Harrison High School parking lot watching Harrison drain a 3 for the win!! Synchronicity!!

Harrison Twins on cover of VYPE Magazine in November 2012

Harrison Twins on cover of VYPE Magazine in November 2012

But the story doesn’t end there. Aaron and his twin brother Andrew were recruited by UK from a high school in Houston. Back in November 2012 they were featured on the cover of VYPE magazine in Houston. I knew this because I manage the websites for VYPE.com and work closely with the Houston group. With the last 3 games the Harrisons have been key to getting the wins. In fact, Aaron Harrison has drained a game winning shot in each of the games. More Synchronicity!!

Harrison Twins at Kentucky

Harrison Twins at Kentucky

So, all of this was melded in the Harrison High School parking lot…Antsy from UK in Harrison while we wore our UK gear and seeing Harrison, who I knew from VYPE, shoot a real game winner! So exciting.

UK Celebrates after victory over Wisconsin in final seconds

UK Celebrates after victory over Wisconsin in final seconds

Then, there is the final fun irony….my son Seth lives in Connecticut and now has the opportunity to wear his UK gear to work in the midst of all these Connecticut folks.

My son Seth and his wife Holly decked out in UK gear.

My son Seth and his wife Holly decked out in UK gear.

Julianne and I are caught up in the madness and look forward to watching the UK / UConn championship game tonight!!  In fact, for today I have even changed my Sumoflam logo….

Sumoflam_head UK

Sumoflam turns blue for UK!!

GO CATS! Go Big Blue!!

And remember…..

Only YOU can prevent couch fires

Only YOU can prevent couch fires

.

March Madness and Colonel Crazies!

A Colonel Crazy

A Colonel Crazy

March is the time of year for Basketball Tournaments – we all know about the NCAA National Championships – the brackets, the wildness, the March Madness.  But, these trickle down to other levels as well.  And I have been fortunate to be a participant of these at many levels.

Sumoflam at KHSAA Sweet 16

Sumoflam at KHSAA Sweet 16

Last week I worked with my friends at PrepSpin.com to assist in broadcasting the events of the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) Boys’ Sweet 16 Tournament held in Rupp Arena.  Today, when people around the country hear the term “Sweet 16”, they typically think of the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.  What most people may not know is that the term “Sweet 16” originated in 1918 in Kentucky (and the KHSAA actually holds a trademark on the phrase – they got it in 1988).  The KHSAA has licensed the use of the term to the NCAA as they split along high school and collegiate lines.  The term “March Madness” did not originate with the NCAA either. The Illinois High School Basketball Championship was the first tournament to be called ‘March Madness‘. The term was first used about the Illinois tournament in 1939 (coined by H.V. Porter to capture the spirit of High School Basketball Tournaments), decades before it was used about NCAA basketball tournament.  The IHSA has a nice writeup about Porter and his coining of the term.

Covington Catholic cheering section at Rupp Arena

Covington Catholic cheering section (the Colonel Crazies) at Rupp Arena

Indeed, the basketball tournaments, from High School, to Junior Colleges (see the NJCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournament) to the NCAA are not only known for their great basketball, but for their fan craziness!  These have become big events with mascots, inflatables, half time shows and competitions, etc.

Sumoflam and the National Guard guy at KHSAA Sweet 16

Sumoflam and the National Guard guy at KHSAA Sweet 16

My first real experience with these at any level was back in 1972, while a sophomore at Charles M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana.  I was in the Marching Band there (played saxophone) and we ran the concessions for the games.  Because of the nice domed arena the school had (one of the nicest in the country at the time), many of the state tournaments were played there.  I ran the “hot dog steamer” post during these events.  It was always an exciting time.  Even then, the fans were crazy!! (And the Hot Dogs were awesome!)

Hot Dog Steamer

Hot Dog Steamer – Kind of like what was used in the 1970s

My next opportunity to really enjoy March Madness was when I got tickets to attend the BYU vs. Xavier game at Rupp Arena in March 2007. What a game that was (though BYU lost 79-77).  It was an exciting time to be a BYU Fan.

A mock up with my friend Glen Krebs -- March Madness

A mock up with my friend Glen Krebs — March Madness

During my employment at iHigh.com I had the opportunity to work with the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) and managed the initial setup of their NJCAA-TV internet broadcast program.

NJCAA TV

NJCAA TV

The glowing crown jewel for the NJCAA was their Men’s and Women’s National Basketball Championships held in Hutchinson, KS (for the Men) and Salina, KS (for the Women).  As the manager of the NJCAA program at the time, I journeyed to Kansas and oversaw the production of the broadcasts of all Men’s and Women’s games.  This was a lot of work, but it was also loads of fun with all of the activities and excitement.

Practicing the art of Monitoring Broadcasts

Practicing the art of Monitoring Broadcasts

Sumoflam the Broadcaster

Sumoflam the Broadcaster

During my time at iHigh we also broadcast all of the KHSAA tournaments, but I typically stayed at the office to monitor the broadcasts, so I never got in on the excitement.  But this year I did.  The games were all fun, but, it is the “Madness” part of March Madness that I got into….

Getting in on the madness with CovCath cheerleaders (man in black)

Getting in on the madness with CovCath cheerleaders (man in black)

The event started with 16 Teams and ended with 4 last Friday, including Scott County (my good friend Mike Ritchie broadcasts for them and my daughter in law Holly graduated from there), Trinity (from Louisville), Covington Catholic (the Cinderella team) and Bowling Green (also a Cinderella).  The two Final Four games (the official NCAA story is that “Final Four” was coined by a Cleveland Plain Dealer sportswriter, Ed Chay. In a 1975 article for the Official Collegiate Basketball Guide, Chay wrote that Al McGuire’s Marquette squad “was one of the final four” in the previous year’s tournament. Something about the phrase struck a chord with the NCAA’s marketing folks, and they started capitalizing it as “Final Four” in 1978. It is, of course, now trademarked.)

Broadcasting the KHSAA in March 2014

Broadcasting the KHSAA in March 2014

During the 2014 KHSAA Sweet 16 I worked in the bowels of Rupp Arena where I was responsible for the broadcasts of the Post Game interviews through the semifinals.  I also provided live Tweets for VYPE Magazine of Louisville. (I manage the VYPE.com Network websites). Scott County outlasted Trinity and then Covington Catholic came on strong against Bowling Green.  But, the real interest to me was the CovCath Student Cheering Section (affectionately known as the “Colonel Crazies“).  In the first two games they rocked and shook the arena.  I never really got to see them the first two times around, so I decided to head out during the semifinals.  They were all coordinated…dressed in black and their cheering and movements all seemed practiced and choreographed.  CovCath is an all boys school so these guys were rambunctious and fun loving!

Sumoflam and the CovCath Cheering Section

Sumoflam (in his VYPE hat) and the CovCath Colonel Crazies

CovCath Student Cheering Section

CovCath Student Cheering Section – the Colonel Crazies

A "Batman" from CovCath during the seminfinal game

A “Batman” from CovCath during the semifinal game

Colonel Crazies at Rupp Arena

Colonel Crazies at Rupp Arena

Cheering on the Colonels of CovCath

Cheering on the Colonels of CovCath

During halftime the wave went around the arena but when it hit the CovCath boys they had “fast” waves and “slow motion” waves as well.

The following video then shows their Fast Motion waves as well as some real FAN excitement.  This was one of my iPhone videos I uploaded to YouTube.

As well, at halftime, and to the delight of the CovCath boys, Cincinnati restauranteur Jeff Ruby (owner of Luxury Steak House Jeff Ruby’s chain) bought pizza’s for each of the boys in the cheering section pizza (apparently 119 pizzas).

Jeff Ruby watching the CovCath Cheering Squad enjoy pizza at half time

Jeff Ruby watching the CovCath Cheering Squad enjoy pizza at half time

CovCath Cheerleader showing off his halftime pizza (courtesy of Jeff Ruby!)

CovCath Cheerleader showing off his halftime pizza (courtesy of Jeff Ruby!)

At the end the Scott County Cardinals would face off with the Covington Catholic Colonels for the 2014 Kentucky State Championship

Scott County Press Conference after semi-final victory over Trinity

Scott County Press Conference after semi-final victory over Trinity

In the end the Championship game was all is was touted to be.  Scott County took off strong but CovCath fought back and at the end of the clock they were tied and headed to overtime.  CovCath continued their end of the game hot streak by defeating Scott County 59-51 in overtime.  And, as Jeff Ruby noted on his Twitter site, they couldn’t have done it without the support of the Colonel Crazies.

CovCath Colonel Crazies Cheering Squad with avid supporter Jeff Ruby (taken from Jeff Ruby's Twitter site)

CovCath Colonel Crazies Cheering Squad with avid supporter Jeff Ruby (taken from Jeff Ruby’s Twitter site)

Though I was rooting for Scott County, I am happy for the CovCath Colonels.  Having been ranked to finish 5th in their region, they came out on top then came to state as an underdog and proved their worth.  Their determination and hard fought basketball (and their Free Throws!!) won the game for them.

Go UK!

Go UK!

Now to get ready for the NCAA Sweet 16 game when University of Kentucky takes on Louisville….an in-state rivalry playing their game in Indianapolis later this week.  GO CATS!!