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Posts published in “Day: December 18, 2001

Patriots hope Cinderella season continues against Dolphins

‘Tis the week before Christmas and all through the league, thoughts of playoff spots are dancing through team’s heads. Especially in Boston, where the New England Patriots have shocked fans and media members by being smack dab in the middle of the hunt for the AEC East title.

This was the same Patriots team that finished well under .500 a year ago and started this year by losing All-Pro quarterback Drew Bledso in week four. But the season turned around when Tom Brady took control of the team and has produced eight wins in 10 tries and this week, the Pats entertain division leader Miami in a game that will go a long way towards determining who wins the division.

Before we take a look at that game and the other key matchups on this holiday weekend schedule, let’s review last week’s record. A stellar 7-1 mark brought the season record to 105-40, (a season-best 75 percent).

Now let’s take a look at this week’s schedule, which will include three Saturday contests.

Miami at New England: Week 15 of the NFL season kicks off in Foxboro where the Dolphins take on the Patriots in perhaps the “key” game of the weekend. The Pats have proven to folks in the last few weeks that they are for real. They overcame a 14-0 deficit at New York to upend the Jets and two weeks ago they followed former Houston Cougar Antowain Smith’s two rushing touchdowns to a victory over the Browns. This team has been getting it done with solid defensive play and an opportunistic defense, and don’t expect them to let up this week when longtime rival Miami comes calling. The Dolphins put together their best game of the season two weeks ago when they drubbed Indianapolis 41-6. Quarterback Jay Fielder has done a good job this year and the emergence of rookie wide receiver Chris Chambers has given him the deep threat he did not have earlier this year. Weather could play a huge factor in this one at the boys of South Florida must play a game in late December in a cold climate. Expect a tight defensive struggle, with Brady making the play late to win it for the Pats. My pick, New England 19, Miami 13

Philadelphia at San Francisco: Another division leader hits the road to take on another surprise team in the second game of Saturday’s triple header. The Eagles (as of Dec. 22) are undefeated on the road this year and getting out of the cold confines of Philadelphia might be just what the doctor ordered for Andy Reid’s team. The Eagles have been up and down this year, but they appear to be peaking at the right time. With a healthy Duce Staley back at running back, a load of pressure has been taken off quarterback Donovan McNabb. Look for McNabb to attack the young 49ers secondary and use his elusiveness to make plays. The 49ers need to bounce back after the bruising they took at St. Louis two weeks ago. Although they are one of the most improved teams in the NFL this year, they still aren’t up to par with the league’s top teams and the Eagles are one of the better units in the NFC this year. This could turn into a high-scoring affair, so expect plenty of fireworks in this one. The 49ers need this one, so expect a big day from quarterback Jeff Garcia and wide receiver Terrell Owens. My pick, San Francisco 26, Philadelphia 24

Tennessee at Oakland: This game will conclude the action on Saturday and it might turn into another shootout as the Titans visit the Raiders on Saturday night in front of Al, Dan and Dennis. The Titans have had a tough year and a win over a playoff contender could do wonders for their psyche, but don’t expect the Raiders to feel sorry for them. Oakland needs to win as many games as possible down the stretch to secure at least one home playoff game. The Raiders’ run defense has been spotty at best recently, so expect Eddie George to try to get untracked for the first time this year. With George ailing this year, the Titans have let quarterback Steve McNair open things up via the airwaves and he has put up some impressive numbers. Look for more of the same this Saturday. Also look for Oakland QB Rich Gannon to attack the porous and injury-riddled Tennessee secondary. If Todd Bouman (Todd who?) can throw for 348 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee, imagine what Gannon, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice will do! My pick, Oakland 34, Tennessee 28

Cleveland at Green Bay: Years ago, this was one of the better rivalries in the old NFL, but that was way back when, prior to the original Browns moving to Baltimore. Still, this should be an interesting game as the upstart Browns pay a visit to the division-leading Packers. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre has had an MVP-like season and he’ll need another solid performance as the Pack closes in on the NFC Central crown. This is not a game the Packers should look past because the young Browns do have talent and have won on the road this year. Look for Favre to use the pass to soften up the tough Cleveland run defense. My pick, Green Bay 26, Cleveland 14

Seattle at NY Giants: So much for the Giants repeating as NFC champs this year, or making the playoffs for that matter. Dallas badly damaged New York’s playoff chances with a 20-13 win two weeks ago, which means the Giants might be going through the motions when the Seahawks come calling this weekend. One can only hope (as if you couldn’t tell, I’m not a big Giants fan). Seattle has the talent to beat the Giants, but a lot will depend on how well Matt Hasselback, the first year starter, performs at quarterback. Hasselback has shown flashes of brilliance at times and at others he’s looked like the backup he has been his entire career. Look for the Giants to apply plenty of pressure to force him into mistakes. If Shaun Alexander can find some running room, that will take a lot of pressure off the young QB. The Giants will try to get Tiki Barber untracked against a suspect Seattle run defense. Even though the Giants have nothing to play for, expect them to play hard on Sunday. My pick, New York 20, Seattle 16

Chicago at Washington: Expect a tight defensive game when they two meet on Sunday. Neither team’s offense is much to write about, but both teams have pretty decent defenses. Add to the fact that both teams need a win here to remain in the playoff chase and you have the chance for a game that should be competitive and one that goes down to the wire. The Bears’ offense has sputtered recently (averaging only 11 points in its last three games), while the Redskins defense hasn’t gotten untracked all year long. Look for each team to turn to their running games to make the big play and since the ‘Skins have the more experienced back in Stephen Davis, look for him to make the play that turns this one into a Washington victory. My pick, Washington 13, Chicago 10

Dallas at Arizona: Things are starting to look up for the Cowboys. They’ve played well in December (something they did not do a year ago) and rookie quarterback Quincy Carter is starting to appear comfortable under center. While he won’t make people forget Troy Aikman anytime soon, he has made some plays in recent weeks that have made the difference between victory and defeat. But the Cowboys will be playing an Arizona team that has a glimmer of playoff hopes left and over the last four years, the Pokes have found it tough to win in the dessert. Still, with a defense that is playing the run tough, the Cowboys have a good chance of knocking off the Cards this Sunday. The key will be how well they contain quarterback Jake Plummer. Plummer is dangerous when left to roam and he’s been known to give the Cowboys fits over the years, especially late in games. This could turn into another high-scoring affair that should be fun to watch. My pick, Arizona 31, Dallas 27

Tampa Bay at New Orleans: A key encounter for both teams’ playoff hopes. This game pits two of the better defenses in the league, so don’t expect a lot of offensive firepower, although the Saints passing game has put up some impressive numbers lately. After a so-so start, the Bucs are starting to put things together as a team, as are the Saints. Neither team can afford many more losses down the stretch considering neither is in position to win its division. Both teams will have to take the Wild Card route, and this game might be played at playoff level with that in mind. I like the Saints at home because of quarterback Aaron Brooks and his two deep threats, Joe Horn and Willie Jackson. It also doesn’t hurt to have a back like Ricky Williams around to take pressure off of the passing game. My pick, New Orleans 23, Tampa Bay 17.

Judge Robert Eckels hands out Certificates of Promotion at Aldine Middle School

Harris County Judge Robert Eckels handed out Certificates of Promotions to 70 Aldine Middle School LOTC cadets. The Armed Drill Team, the Unarmed Drill Team and the Steppers also performed. Judge Eckels was presented with an LOTC jacket and Drill Team rifle. Sponsors of the LOTC at Aldine Middle School are Gunnery Sgt. John Peoples and Petty Officer Clyde Nelms. Justin Carter presents Harris County Judge Robert Eckels with a Drill Team rifle. Judge Eckels is shown here wearing his LOTC jacket.

Mendel Honors Fire Fighters

Ernest F. Mendel faculty, staff and student body recently honored the Houston Firefighters from Station 34, shift D. Students from each grade level participated in baking a variety of cookies and put them in decorated tins.

They also made posters, cards and wrote letters sharing their appreciation for them and the job they do. The firemen brought out a ladder truck and an engine truck for the students to learn about. It was a great way for the school to share in the Make A Difference Day project that the school district supports each year. Mrs. Jamie DeGeorge, Principal presented a plaque to firefighters Joe Kittrell, Randall Currie, E.O., and Bruce Wisniewski, Captain. Bottom row, left to right are third graders Daniel Montez, Juan Parra, Angela Juarez, and Fernando Garcia.

Mercer Arboretum & Gardens presents January programs

Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, a Harris County Precinct 4 facility is located at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, one mile north of FM 1960 Harris County Precinct 4 programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or disability. Anyone requiring special assistance to participate in any program or for more information, please contact Mercer at 281-443-5731.

Master Gardener Morning: Crape Myrtles
Hands-on training on how to correctly prune and shape crape myrtles, Saturday, January 5, 8 a.m. to noon.

Master Gardener interns earn four hours of work credit. Master Gardener training is not required to participate and novices are welcome.

Lunch Bunch: Winter Gardening – Getting Ready For Spring

Spring comes early on the Texas Gulf Coast. Wednesday, January 9, noon to 1 p.m. bring a lunch and learn what needs to be done in the garden before spring arrives.

Garden Tour

Saturday, January 12, 10 a.m., join Mercer staff for a free, guided tour of the gardens.

Texas Arbor Day Program

Arbor Day comes early in Texas. Saturday, January 19, 10 a.m. to noon, John Ross of the Texas Forest Service discusses the best trees for Houston and proper planting and care techniques. Free trees as long as they last.

HPD Chief C.O. Bradford attends Youth-Police Advisory Council

Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford conducted his second Youth-Police Advisory Council (Y-PAC) on November 17th. Y-PAC, created in 1997, recognizes teenagers as a source of insightful input regarding youth and law enforcement issues. The Y-PAC student representatives shown with Chief Bradford have been selected from varying area schools to meet with police officials, parents and other adults to discuss topics such as domestiv violence, school violence, date rape, and personal safety. Y-PAC also allows students to have a better understanding of the role of police and creates a positive attitude towards police officers. The council meets five times a year during the school term. For more information about HPD Y-PAC, contact Bonnie Hopkins in the HPD Community Outreach Division at 713-308-9106.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 4-H and FFA scholarship program expanded to students in all fields of study

More students in 4-H and FFA programs across Texas will have the opportunity to apply for Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarships due to a change in the program.

In November, Show officials eliminated the program’s restriction on agriculture or life science field of study, allowing students to major in any authorized field of study leading to a bachelor’s degree.

The Show’s 4-H and FFA scholarship program is its oldest program and awards $1.4 million to graduating high school seniors each year. This change in policy not only affects future scholarship recipients, but also is effective for students currently attending Texas colleges and universities on Show 4-H and FFA scholarships.

While this may change choice of major for some students, it will still allow them to take their agriculture and life science backgrounds into their future careers.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a 501 ©(3) educational charity. With its current commitment of $8.5 million, the Show has committed more than $85 million to scholarships and since 1957.

Dynegy Pace Associates hammer home the importance of community service

Dynegy PACE associates Kenneth MacMahon (left) and Christian Paoletti put the finishing touches on the roof of a Dynegy-sponsored Habitat for Humanity home.

In 2001, Dynegy sponsored two Habitat homes for families in need. More than 150 employee volunteers – including 30 PACE associates – worked nearly four weekends to build the homes.

Since 1998, Dynegy and its employee volunteers have built seven Habitat for Humanity homes.

The Dynegy PACE program (Programmed Activities for Cross-functional Experience) is designed for recent college graduates with leadership attributes and management potential. In addition to an intensive work experience and training, associates are encouraged to actively volunteer their time.

Dynegy Inc. is a leading provider of energy and communications solutions. The company is committed to enhancing the social and economic well being of the communities in which it operates. Through its partnerships with many diverse organizations, including United Way, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, Junior Achievement, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Houston Children’s Museum, Dynegy supports initiatives, programs and efforts both financially and with time and talent. In 2001, Dynegy will award more than $7.3 million in charitable contributions, environmental initiatives and matching gifts. In addition, Dynegy employees will contribute thousands of hours to help our communities stay strong and vibrant.

Long, lost tuba finds its way home

This little adventure has all the ingredients for a good story. It involves a mystery, a chance encounter, coincidence, a journey, a bit of sleuthing (detective work) and a Good Samaritan. And it all revolves around a missing tuba.

Each year hundreds of thousands of students participate in middle school band across the nation. So, it’s not unusual to discover more than a hundred students participate in band annually at Aldine ISD’s Teague Middle School. Year after year, students buy their own equipment while the bigger and more expensive pieces are owned by the school and loaned to students.

It’s also not unusual for students to move during the school year and forget to return loaned items such as books and band instruments, or more specific to this story a concert tuba.

While it is unknown what became of the tuba for six years, its journey home began 1,119.5 miles away in Denver, CO. In a chance encounter, Gloria Mowdy discovered the tuba while helping friends move into a house. Someone had apparently left it behind. Mowdy’s friends didn’t play the tuba and asked if she wanted to keep it. Mowdy took the tuba home. By sheer coincidence, her friend Dale King in Enid, OK was a former tuba player in high school and college. Mowdy decided she would give him the tuba since he would probably make good use of it.

A few months passed before the tuba traveled 639.36 miles to Enid, OK where Mowdy dropped it off with King. He didn’t do anything with it at first. It wasn’t until recently that King looked at the instrument carefully and found that it was in reasonably good condition with only the mouthpiece needing some repair.

He also discovered the instrument’s case had Teague Middle School written on it. A former school band director himself, he decided to see if he could figure out to whom the tuba belonged. King knew that such an expensive instrument meant a lot to any school band program. He began his investigation on the Internet where he turned up two middle schools named Teague: one in Florida and one in Texas. He decided to call both to see if either had the serial number of the missing tuba on file.

AISD’s Teague Middle School returned his call. The school’s band director Mike Johnson provided King with the serial number from old documentation. King, the Good Samaritan, promised to return the instrument to the campus, 546.71 miles from Enid.

“It’s hard to believe that anybody would go to that kind of trouble to return a lost tuba,” said Principal Michael Gallien. “I have to admit that in my 15 years at Teague, this is the first call I have received about returning a lost tuba.

“The instrument is a Boosey and Hawkes concert tuba. Today, the approximate value of this type of instrument is $1,400. To be frank, I’m stunned to be getting the tuba back, but pleased. We’ll send it in for repairs as soon as it gets here.”

And so the long lost tuba has made its way back home to Aldine ISD via a journey through Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas by chance, coincidence and a Good Samaritan. The tuba will be used by current and future Teague Middle School band students, and will bring years of musical enjoyment to all. It will have a restricted travel schedule, however, allowed to journey only where the Teague band plays.

“Lord of the Rings” rings in skeptical reviewer

This review must start with me stating that I have never read any of the Lord of the Rings books and never wanted to, even though my brother kept saying I would like them.

Well, I’ll be darn, he just may have been right – for once.

If the J.R.R. Tolkien books are nearly as engrossing as the intensely exciting and detail-filled three-hour film, I just might have to read them.

I went into the movie knowing next to nothing about Hobbits and their involvement with a ring that is capable of turning even good creatures into evil ones. Now that I know some, I want to know more. So I either read the books or wait a year for the second film in the trilogy. “The Two Towers” will be followed a year later by “The Return of the King.”

The backers and the filmmakers believed in the material they were working with so much that they took on the risky venture of filming the movies back-to-back. Usually they wait to see if the first one is a success before committing to additional films. They need not worry “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings” should be a resounding success.

The little known, but quirky and talented New Zealand (the movie was filmed there) director, Peter Jackson (“Frightners”), deserves kudos. Long have the book’s fans wanted to see Tolkien’s world realized. I think he has succeeded, but I’m no expert on the author’s work. I just know Jackson has made a fine film.

You know you’re in for something special as the film opens and we get a back-story on the Rings and the havoc that has been caused by them. A battle in Middle-earth makes the battles in the most recent “Star Wars” and “The Mummy Returns” look like something done by a filmmaker with a limited budget and even more limited scope and vision.

From there, just about every scene is a marvel. There’s one new land after another and this novice never knew what was next. When events got too intense, I had to remind myself to breathe and relax. “Sally there’s two more movies coming, so all the good guys are not going to die yet – calm down” I’d say to myself.

After learning the background of the rings, we meet Frodo Baggins (Elijah Woods) a young, idealistic Hobbit whose fate will soon be ruled by the most powerful and evil of rings.

So the ring can be destroyed where it was forged, Frodo – with help – sets off for Mount Doom. That sounds ominous and it is. Three fellow Hobbits are with him on the dangerous quest: Sam (Sean Astin), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan).
Rounding out the fellowship are Viggo Mortensen as Strider, Sean Bean as Boromir, John Rhys-Davies is the Dwarf Gimli, the handsome Orlando Bloom is Legolas and Gandalf the Wizard is played by the always fascinating Ian McKellen.

“The Lord of the Rings” is a basic story of good versus evil, but the movie is filled with such sincerity and attention to detail that it surpasses most in the genre. Some even say its better than the other good against bad story filled with magic and wizards currently playing in theaters, but I have to reserve judgement – not having yet caught “Harry.”

In the meantime, I know this movie is highly entertaining. So engrossing that after the three hours – just about every minute soared by – I was tired. It was if I’d been on their adventures with them.

There were a few times when I did not know what was going on and I wanted to lean to the expert on the subject sitting next to me and say “What?” But in the end everything I needed to know was revealed – except for the good stuff they are saving for the next movie.

Rated-PG-13 for epic battle scenes (I’ll say, but there’s not lots of blood) and some scary images.

Parkway Center proudly celebrates octogenarian Wayne Hemingway

Most 82-year-olds are content to spend their retirement relaxing on a golf course or sitting in a lawn chair. Not Wayne Hemingway. He retired from the South Orange School District in New Jersey in 1980, but has been working in education as an administrator or teacher ever since. After retirement, their three grown children lured Hemingway and his wife of 59 years, Annile, away from the New Jersey winters to Houston. He first affiliated with the North Harris Montgomery Community College District when he taught GED classes at MacArthur High School. He has continued to teach GED through North Harris College corporate and continuing education for the past twenty-one years and recently began teaching developmental math for Tomball College. Hemingway’s strong educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in secondary school administration and an additional 30 graduate hours in math and science through the National Science Foundation. Teaching for the past 58 years, Hemingway can enthrall a listener with many stories about his past and present students. Several years ago, he attended the 40th reunion of a high school class he taught.

A former student greeted him by saying, “Why did you fail me in chemistry?” As it turns out, this former student became a highly successful endocrinologist who credited Hemingway with giving the doctor a wake-up call about his poor study habits during those high school years. In appreciation for this, the doctor offered Hemingway and his wife an opportunity to take an all expense paid, 19-day trip on the world famous Orient Express. Being a life-long train enthusiast, Hemingway had no difficulty accepting his offer.

Hemingway says he relates to today’s students by being unassuming and real. He says we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously because nobody else does.

When asked what one thing he wants people to know about him, he responded with humor, “I like to eat regularly!”

Hemingway continues to teach because he has a good time in class with his students. He tells of an exuberant GED student who was so thrilled when she graduated that she actually lifted him off his feet with a huge bear hug. “I can still feel that hug,” Hemingway chuckles. In addition to his interest in collecting trains, Hemingway has taught Adult Bible class for many years. “Our spiritual lives are important,” he says. “A lack of spirituality can undermine what we try to do.” Historical moments that stand out in Hemingway’s mind are V-E Day, V-J Day and the day President Roosevelt died.

He also recalls his first teacher’s salary as a milestone. In 1943, he earned $1,350 for an eight-month teaching assignment in Alabama. By 1960, he was earning and annual salary of $6,900 as a teacher in New Jersey. Today, he says teachers in New Jersey earn $70,000 a year. It is widely known that salaries are far below what teachers deserved to be paid. And, the value of Hemingway’s contributions to education for the past 58 years is and will continue to be priceless. North Harris College * Parkway Center is located at 16416 Northchase Drive in the Greater Greenspoint area.

Registration for spring classes is in progress. For more information about the center, call 281-618-1100 or visit North Harris Montgomery Community College District, the fourth largest community college in Texas, comprises North Harris College, Kingwood College, Tomball College, Montgomery College, five satellite centers and The University Center. Cy-Fair College, the district’s fifth comprehensive college, will open in 2003.