Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bedtime Stories and More

This was the scene at our house after bedtime stories. Gus starting labeling body parts with his favorite being the tongue. Listen closely and you'll also hear him point out 'Da-da's bye-bows' (eyebrows). Owen has his own side show in the background. Needless to say, the kiddos didn't want to go to sleep when the lights went out last night.

Thursday Tidbits

Some tidbits from la casa de Rutledge this week...

  • The weather has warmed up in North Carolina -- temperatures in the 80's all week -- so Owen & Gus have spent a lot of time outside. I had the boys for a couple of hours last weekend so we ventured to the neighborhood park with climbing rails, slides, etc. You can just see the boys' apprehension fade and their courage grow as they got to the point where they were running for the next turn once they hit the bottom of the slide. Gus had a minor setback falling from a monkey bar onto his face which scratched him up a bit and scared him more than anything. But scratches, bumps and bruises are part of growing up.

  • On Tuesday Amy took the boys to a park where there were several kids. Unfortunately there was an incident where Owen pushed a younger boy off the playset causing him to hit his head and fall about four feet to the ground. Luckily the little boy was ok and we knew his parents. Still Amy took it really hard that Owen had done this. Owen and Gus battle each other at home for toys, books, position in line for raisins, etc. But when they act out aggressively towards other kids obviously that's something we want to nip in the bud. It is tough because at nearly two, they aren't quite at the age yet where they fully understand the consequences of their actions.

  • To help with the discipline we've scratched off pajamas, books and Elmo DVD's from their upcoming birthday needs lists and replaced them with the bear trap and stun gun below. Hey, we're about to embark on a double dose of the terrible two's -- Amy and I want to be ready.

(I joke. Of course we wouldn't use such devices on our two-year olds. We'll wait until they are two and a half.)

  • Switching gears to hoops, the Final Four starts this weekend with a stellar lineup of two #1 seeds and two #2 seeds. It has really been an exciting tournament to watch. Despite the presence of a Cinderella team making a run, the quality of basketball has been tremendous. The Tennessee/Ohio State, Vanderbilt/Georgetown, UNC/Georgetown games last weekend were just great games to watch. I look forward to the games on Saturday.

  • Kentucky's coaching search continues to focus on Billy Donovan. I am intrigued by the possibility of Donovan being the next UK coach and can make a case either way for him jumping ship or for him staying put at Florida. On one hand, he would instantly excite the most rabid, loyal, and supportive fan base in college basketball if he took the job. On the other hand, he can make a ton of money where he is and build his own dynasty in Gainesville. Either way, we will probably know more after the Final Four next week.

  • As an avid Law & Order fan this article on former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson interested me. Thompson plays the district attorney on the TV show and is considering a White House run in 2008. If he does run, L&O reruns where he is in the episode would probably be taken off the air (much to the delight of my wife). If Thompson were to pick Jack McCoy as his running mate, he might have a supporter in yours truly. ;-)

  • Finally congratulations goes out to our good friend Chris LeDuc from Boston who just took the plunge and got engaged to his girlfriend Pam. We are completely stoked for the two of them. Good times!


Friday, March 23, 2007

The Pressure Cooker That is Kentucky

"He was looking forward to a new stage, a final stage I hope here," Maturi said. "We talked about a lot of things, but mostly it was about academic rates, graduation rates and that was one of the many things that endeared me to him. We didn't talk much about salary, but what he could do for young men. I know all coaches talk like that, but he lives it. That's who he is. That's why he is so revered."

--Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi on Tubby Smith

When Tubby Smith decided on Thursday that he was ready to move on from the Univesity of Kentucky, I immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach. My beloved alma mater had just lost a quality, high character, national championship coach to a school where hockey is as big if not bigger than basketball.

I was certainly not the only one who was disappointed at the news. But there were also many people within the UK fan base who had an opposite reaction. On the UK basketball message boards, there were 13,000+ people logged in to discuss the news yesterday. Many if not most of them were glad to see Tubby leave Kentucky.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Considering we live in a microwave society where results are expected immediately, patience is a lost art, and everyone has a voice on talk shows and the internet it was easy to see this situation unfolding over the past year or two. Couple that environment with the fact that the situation at Kentucky comes with incredibly high -- and I would argue incredibly unrealistic -- expectations, and Tubby's departure makes sense. The man was just fed up with never feeling like he was appreciated. I don't blame him a bit for his decision.

The frustrating part for me is that I don't think these fans who demand so much will really learn anything from this experience. In their minds they believe they are justified in having their wish fulfilled for a new coach and entitled to the success that they want for UK. The reality is these expectations are wildly unachievable. A Final Four every year is not realistic. Is it something to strive for? Certainly. But if the team has a great year and falls short of a national championship, that doesn't justify or entitle getting a new coach.

Tubby is an outstanding indivdual. I met him in 1998 in North Carolina at the Jimmy V charity golf tournament after Tubby had just won the national championship. He was as gracious, humble and unassuming of a person as I could imagine, especially for someone that was the championship coach at arguably the most storied basketball program in the country. But he was more than that. Tubby graduated his players, ran his program the right way, and didn't cheat to win -- something to be noted with Kentucky's checkered past. And Tubby certainly won -- an average of 26 wins per year, one national championship, two Elite Eights, and multiple SEC championships. It is a sad reflection on us as fans when such success isn't good enough.

All that said, in spite of the negative aspects of the expectations at UK there is an upside to Kentucky fans' fanatacism as well. When Kentucky plays in the SEC and NCAA tournaments their fans turn out in blue-clad droves. Amy and I traveled to Nashville a couple years ago to see the first and second round games there, and Kentucky fans filled up 75% of Gaylord Arena. Despite a fourth-place finish this year in the SEC, Kentucky fans still had the plurality of fans in Atlanta. Kentucky fans are loyal, passionate and will travel anywhere to support their team.

Pat Forde, my favorite college basketball writer, sums it up very well in his article on yesterday.

But beyond the lunatic fringe -- and it's probably true that Kentucky's lunatic fringe is thicker than most -- this was a supportive fan base during a pretty lousy season.

The proof of that was on display in Rupp on Feb. 20, when the Wildcats played LSU.

Kentucky came in reeling, having lost three in a row. LSU was in the midst of a terrible season and was playing without All-America center Big Baby Davis. This had mismatch written all over it.

Instead, LSU raced out to a 16-point first-half lead. I fully expected the UK fans to drop a chorus of boos on the home team, given its blasé performance in a must-win situation against a very beatable opponent. There were none. Zero. Instead, the fans helped energize a Kentucky comeback victory. The place roared with positive noise throughout the second half. This is what you'll get when you're the Kentucky coach: More scrutiny than you've ever had in your career, but also more passionate support.

The coming days and probably weeks will be dominated by speculation on who the next coach will be. There will be those who want Billy Donovan to bolt from Florida and those who want to return to the glorious 90's with Rick Pitino. I don't think there is a chance in the world that either one of these two coaches would take the UK job.

Similarly I think Kentucky fans have to realistically expect that some candidates may turn the job down. The pressure cooker that the fans have created is not for every coach. Some coaches will probably talk to Mitch Barnhart only to stay at their schools for more money -- the leverage game will definitely be played.

Coaches like Marquette's Tom Crean, Texas A&M's Billy Gillespie, Texas's Rick Barnes, John Calipari at Memphis, and Villanova's Jay Wright will be on the list of candidates. Personally I don't think Crean has done enough outside the Final Four run with Dwyane Wade. I think Barnes is a great recruiter but a questionable bench coach. And John Calipari left his last program at UMass in turmoil with NCAA violations, something Kentucky should be very leary of.

In the end I would be happy with Wright or Gillespie. I think both of them are good, up-and-coming coaches who have produced at schools with less basketball acumen than Kentucky. I just hope the next coach can survive the pressure cooker environment that he will face. And I hope he can hold a candle to the character coach in Tubby Smith that he will replace.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Inmates Running the Asylum

I am dumbfounded at this. What an absolute shame. Kentucky fans can expect their program to take a huge hit -- both in terms of respect nationally and success on the court -- with the loss of Tubby Smith.

Sources: Smith to Leave Kentucky for Minnesota

Tubby Smith will leave Kentucky to take over the head coaching job at Minnesota, multiple sources told's Andy Katz.

Smith had four year remaining on his Kentucky contract.

Smith met with Kentucky players and Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart. Smith is expected to fly to Minnesota later Thursday afternoon.

Smith called former Minnesota coach Dan Monson early Thursday and told him he was accepting the job. Minnesota is expected to pay Smith $1.8 million per year.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Go Big Blue (from Owen)

Four days of basketball in the Rutledge household. Even Owen is catching on. Go Big Blue!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March Madness

I am a kid in a candy store right now. A dog at feeding time. An astronaut with a fresh diaper. Yes, it's like Christmas Eve at la casa de Rutledge right now as the NCAA tournament is upon us.

Every year I take off the Thursday and Friday to watch the first round of NCAA tournament games. And every year I become glued to the TV when an underdog takes a favorite down to the wire, pulling hard for the upset without regard to what the upset will do to my tournament brackets. I have been fortunate enough to experience the first round games in person in Nashville and Raleigh in the past few years, and there is nothing like it when fans in the arena from all the other schools unite to start pulling for the underdog to pull out a win. There is nothing like the NCAA tournament, and the time is finally here.

Amy and I have our brackets filled out and have placed our annual friendly wager on who can pick the most correct games. If recent tradition continues, I will happily be donning a chef's cap and firing up the grill to make Amy the dinner of her choice. But that's part of the fun.

Finally as my buddy Dave O (also a Kentucky fan in NC) accurately pointed out, the schedule couldn't be better for an NCAA tournament fan who also pulls for Kentucky. As the Cats are the last game of the first round late Friday night, we get to enjoy two full days of basketball without the disappointment setting in when your favorite team has its season end with a loss. Hopefully Tubby can right the ship and finally get this team -- which has been so close to the brink of success this year -- over the hump. No better time to do it than in March.

So enjoy the tourney. I know we will be enjoying it for the next four days. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Politico Tuesday

Great piece on the appeal of Barack Obama as a "both-and" candidate in the Washington Post today.

Eugene Robinson: The Moment for this Messenger?

"I think that there's the possibility -- not the certainty, but the possibility -- that I can't just win an election but can also transform the country in the process, that the language and the approach I take to politics is sufficiently different that I could bring diverse parts of this country together in a way that hasn't been done in some time, and that bridging those divisions is a critical element in solving problems like health care or energy or education. . . ."

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Owen shows off his new 'do in his SKIVVIES. ;-)

People told us that the boys would look less like babies and more like little boys once they had their first haircuts. I think Gus definitely illustrates that point, shown here. In his SKIVVIES. ;-)

BTW, the next thing I may need our blog readers' help with is convincing Amy that it's Chuck 'E Cheese not Chunky Cheese.


Just a Trim

This week marked Owen and Gus's first haircut. It took them twenty-three months before getting their first trim. But after Amy & I showed them pictures of hair metal bands that they could end up like if they didn't agree to a haircut, Owen and Gus quickly darted for the van, started it up, and buckled themselves into their car seats.

We took the boys to a place that specializes in kids' haircuts. The place is a good fit for kids with toys, stuffed animals, kid videos, airplane and horse seats -- you name it. When I asked the stylist if she gets sick of watching Dora the Explorer and Elmo all day it didn't take her long to tell me what she thought of the videos by the end of a day's work. But hey, whatever works for the kids right?

Gus settled in to the airplane seat and sat stoically while getting his protruding wings trimmed. Meanwhile Owen was scared to sit by himself so he had to sit in my lap. Once he realized he was going to be ok, he sat like a statue while the stylist gave him a much-needed clip.

Meanwhile Amy snapped pictures with the camera -- make that both the digital camera and the video camera -- despite her husband's objections that they looked like the tourists at an amusement park. In the end though it was a breeze. Amy got a bunch of photos to document for her scrapbook, and the boys can relax knowing they don't have to face the pressure of learning screeching guitar solos and the art of throwing TV's out of hotel rooms like hair metal rock stars.

The photo that scared the boys into taking the plunge for their first haircuts. Oh yes, it's Dokken!

Curly, pre-trim.

Shaggy, pre-trim.

The brothers grim

Still as a statue...

"Ooooh, not so much off there. Just shape it up a bit."

The boys are presentable again.

The brothers groomed

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Poll - Results

Is it skimpies or skivvies? After reading Chad's response I blew it off due to his unique upbringing in Salter Path. When the Rutledge clan jumped in I attributed it to being a Rutledge saying. I know there have been plenty of "Janeisms" which Derek continues to quote from time to time. (Other Janeisms include -- Bergendorfs, Mrs. Whifflepin, "I'll be John Brown" -- we love you Jane.) It was when my own mother replied that I started to question skimpies. My sister's post gave me stronger doubts. I was ready to concede when I sat down to type but I gave it one last whirl on google. The websites might not be appropriate but let me tell you 'skimpies' had 15,100 results. sums it up the best.

1. skimpies: A Word Me And My Friends Use For short shorts and underwear and tight stuff. Shorts You Wear Under Your Skirt.

"you got on your Skimpies"

At the same time google had over 254,000 results for skivvies and following is the definition from Seems that 'skivvies' is a very popular term. Derek didn't make this up after all! So whether you're running around in your ''skivvies' or some misguided people might say 'skimpies'.... just enjoy the moment!

1. skivvies : A trademark used for underwear. This trademark often occurs in lowercase in print: “The venerable white-underwear company . . . had dabbled in socks, sweats, and fashion skivvies” (Advertising Age). “About 500 yards away, on three destroyers snubbed up to the dock, men were clambering on the deck in their skivvies” (Smithsonian).

"I've got my skivvies in a bunch."

Tourney Time

Duke is a shadow of its normal self, seventh-best team in the ACC. Yet I still chuckle when following how their thuggish exploits and dirty play gets national media attention. (See the funny "Love is a Devil" on Page 2 today.)

Kentucky is more likely to fire its national championship coach at the end of the season than it is to make the Sweet Sixteen. The team is soft and dysfunctional, the fans' expectations are wildly unrealistic, and an #8 or #9 seed is on the horizon. Yet I still get worked up watching them and can rationalize the possibility of an unlikely NCAA tournament run with the best of them.

Unlike in years past there is no clear cut favorite to win the national champion. There are 3-4 teams that are a step above the rest of the field -- UCLA, North Carolina, Ohio State. But certainly no team is invincible -- especially with the one-and-done nature of the NCAA tournament.

My favorite time of year is upon us! It's tourney time!

Bracket contest forthcoming....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


A minor controversy has emerged at the Rutledge household among two loving yet hard-headed parents over the correct word to use when describing what two overjoyed, shrieking boys are wearing when they are stripped down to their diapers for one last romp through the playroom before bedtime.

Are the boys in their skivvies or their skimpies?

Please weigh in to help settle the disagreement before professional help is sought. ;-)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Modern Day Peeping Toms

My friend Chris LeDuc and I frequently exchange emails with each other about Typically the topic is the latest goofy news story highlighted on the website. Instead of reporting meaningful news from around the world, all too often fills its homepage with trivial stories. As I post this, "Political debate at nudist colony" and "420-pound mom didn't know she was pregnant" are headlines on their site. And it's not just Pick a news network or a magazine and chances are the topic leans more to Britney Spears or Anna Nicole Smith than to the war in Iraq or things actually newsworthy.

So when I ran across this column in Newsweek from Anna Quindlen, it registered with me as it puts the spotlight on our obsession with gossip culture. I think she hits this one out of the park.

Quindlen: Gossip in the Age of Anna Nicole

Gossip is so hard-wired into humans that someday scientists may isolate the gene. But at least we used to mainly gossip about people we actually knew.

Knowing, of course, is what is supposed to set humans apart from animals. After stalking the bogeyman she and the other kids have created out of imagination and legend, Scout Finch, the little girl in "To Kill a Mockingbird," meets the real Boo Radley. In the flesh he is vulnerable, harmless and human, and Scout leads him back inside, away from punishing public scrutiny. Today, if the occasion arose, Boo would be photographed through his window, the little treasures he gave the Finch children auctioned on eBay, the people on his block interviewed by Nancy Grace and Pat O'Brien. And none of this would seem noteworthy or gratuitous or cruel. After all, we wouldn't even know the guy. We would just think we knew everything about him.