Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Group Mentality in Dealing With the Weather

It has been an enormously entertaining  day to watch people--like me--adjust to life without electricity. At least at home. I'm at Panera Bread tonight, taking a light supper, charging my cell phone and catching up on a couple of blog posts, e-mail and even some work (I've just edited two stories for our August issue).

It's hotter than 17 levels of hell outside (I don't care what the NWS says about this 104 degrees shit; it was 112 on my back porch yesterday and hit 106 Thursday and 108 today) and simply finding a place where I'm comfortable is a huge challenge when no air is moving. My little house is wonderfully insulated, but that only means it holds the heat better. I left a bit ago at about 7 p.m. because it was 91 degrees in the living room and APCo is saying the power could be off until July 7 (I don't much believe that, but it's the official line. In any case, it'll be hot for a while).

Panera has had a rotating group of people like me, parking at tables, plugging in, asking for a password and going to work. I've even seen a couple of cells being charged, so I'm not along in this. There's a certain comfort to that shared effort at normalcy, but in 15 minutes this place closes and me and the cat are going to have to go back to entertaining us in hell. I have a laser light and can watch him chase it until it's too dark to be safe. Then we'll both hit the sack and sweat out the night.

Life's a bitch and then you play with the cat.

Studio Roanoke Sets a New Standard for Itself

"To the New Girl from the Former Mrs. ________: Sound Advice for My Husband's New Wife or Mistress" by Samantha Macher is right smack in the middle of the reason Kenley Smith founded Studio Roanoke a couple of years ago.

This is a series of 10 short monologues about--well, from the title, you can guess--written by a Hollins University grad, who has found some success on the West Coast and who looks like somebody we'll need to keep up with.

The writing here simply crackles with intellect, wit, insight and a kind of theatrical introspection that makes live performance unparallelled in some ways.

Friday's wind-assaulted performance (which knocked out my power and left me to run to Panera Bread Saturday to write this) elicited a deserved standing ovation. Roanoke audiences are often more generous than necessary, standing at the drop of a punch line, but this one was richly earned.

Eight of the 10 actresses gave superior and the two weaker links had such good material that it didn't matter they weren't great.

My favorite was the performance by Stevie Holcomb as the wife of a slick-haired, hard-bodied, Christian evangelist who has fallen in love with a man. She's considered the options and decided to stay with velvet tongued preacher and she's even up for allowing his new lover to share time with her. It's about being shown the money. Stevie has already earned veteran status among Roanoke actors with some sterling performances in the past 18 months and this one fits in the box nicely, as well.

Cheryl Snodgrass, another of those excellent directors being brought in occasionally by Studio Roanoke, has a firm grasp on this production throughout. Her 10 women are real, vulnerable, pained, angry and thoroughly believeable.

This one will be Studio Roanoke's standard for a while, I suspect.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Governor Reappoints Helen Dragas to UVa Board

Helen Dragas reappointed after dust-up
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell failed to correct former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine's error in appointing Helen Dragas to the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors today, surprisingly re-appointing here.

There was every good reason to end her service on the board from smart politics (make Kaine look bad in the face of a tight Senatorial election), to popular consensus (most UVa people want her gone), to simply dumping somebody who did something really and truly stupid (getting ride--temporarily, as it turns out--of a popular and competene president.

McDonnell had a wonderful opportunity to do something that would have pleased a whole lot of Virginians and, instead, chose to stick with the status quo, which is unacceptable.

Here's a statement fromMcDonnell today announcing the appointment of members of the Board of Visitors, who has been called "a third-rate, Virginia Beach condo developer":

“I have also reappointed Helen Dragas to the board. Ms. Dragas was appointed to the board by my predecessor Governor Tim Kaine in 2008 and elected rector by the board's members in 2011.  Prior to that appointment, she had served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, in both cases through appointments made by Governor Mark Warner. During her four-year term on the board she has been a strong and dedicated board member, committed to advancing the mission of the university.

“Just as I was disappointed to see the lack of transparency and communication surrounding the request for the resignation of the first female president of UVa, I am also concerned that the first female rector seemed to become the sole target of recent criticism. While there is no doubt that the board made several mistakes in its actions, which it has publicly admitted, this is not a time for recrimination. It’s a time for reconciliation. I have been heartened by recent statements made by president Sullivan, the Board of Visitors and by the faculty senate chair about their ability to work with the rector. 

"As Faculty Senate Chairman George Cohen said to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, “She (Dr. Sullivan) said she can work with the rector. I think we can work with the rector as well.” That kind of commitment to unity, healing and advancement is crucial to the university’s success in maintaining itself as a pillar of higher education to pursue the growth of knowledge and advance the human condition. Today’s reappointment is made in that spirit and with that purpose. I look forward to the board and administration moving forward together.  

"The university’s tradition is the embrace of inquiry, critical thinking and change, which the rector and many others bring to the table. Ms. Dragas’s serious critique of the challenges facing the university is a voice that must be heard, and can help, in ensuring UVa remains one of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning."

Here are the other appointments:

Frank B. Atkinson of Hanover is the Chairman of McGuire Woods Consulting and previously served in state government as counselor and director of policy for Governor George Allen. Helen E. Dragas of Virginia Beach is the president and chief executive officer of The Dragas Companies, a real estate company. Victoria Harker of McLean was recently announced as the new CFO for Gannett Company, Inc., a Fortune 500 global print and broadcast media company. Bobbie Kilberg of McLean is president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Dr. Edward Miller of Baltimore, Maryland was named chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the 13th dean of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and vice president for medicine of The Johns Hopkins University in January 1997. 
Dr. Linwood Rose of Harrisonburg served for 14 years as the president of James Madison University. He is retiring on June 30.

Senior advisors are: William H. Goodwin Jr. of Richmond is a former member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. Goodwin is currently chairman of the board of CCA Industries Inc.  Leonard W. Sandridge Jr. of Charlottesville retired from the University of Virginia in June 2011, after serving for 44 years. He previously served executive vice president and chief operating officer for UVA president John Casteen.

No word about the service of Roanoke's Haywood Fralin, who turned out to be a hero in all this, the one man who voted against Dragas' wishes all along. I'm not sure if his service is over or if he wasn't up for re-election. Let's hope it was the latter.

(Charlottesville Daily Progress photo.)

OK, So Now It Is Officially Ridiculous

This is the reading at 5:30 p.m. today. We are inching closer to hell. I put some laundry on the rail of the deck 30 minutes ago and it is completely dry ... including the bluejeans. The laundry in the dryer is still going. Think I'll cook dinner outside and save some energy (since my heat pump is straining about as hard as it can; hell of an introduction to summer for that poor instrument).

No, Dammit! This Is Not Roanoke, TEXAS

It's 2:30 in the afternoon an getting hotter by the minute. I'm pretty old and I've never seen 108.5 before. Feels a lot like 106.7, which is what it was about 15 minutes ago. This reading is on my deck.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Weather Outside is Frightening

If you thought it was hot, you were right. This is at 3:10 p.m. today on my back porch.

Republican Chief Justice Roberts: Health Care Law Is Legal

John Roberts
"The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress's power to tax."

--Chief Justice John Roberts (a dyed in the wool Republican functionary) on upholding key provisions of the Obama administration's health care law today

(CNN photo)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For Joyce Waugh, a Well-Deserved Honor

Joyce Waugh
Joyce Waugh, the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's president, was named the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year last week and nobody deserves it more.

I remember when Joyce was picked to replace Beth Doughty as the chamber president when Beth moved over to the Regional Partnership a few years ago that the hire created instant excitement. She was well prepared and has been an exemplary chamber head.

My contratualtions to her.

Roanoke International Corridor Growing Legs

It is beginning to look like an idea Christina Koomen had nearly a year ago and which I wrote about here is getting some momentum.

Christina's thought was to create an International Corridor along Williamson Road, marking foreign- and immigrant-owned businesses with a distinctive flag and helping to form a community that would make what is one of Roanoke's least attractive roads distinctive and culturally sophisticated. This community would display its flags and sponsor occasional events to highlight its international flavor.

Pearl Fu of Local Colors is enthusiastic about it, as are many others. Getting Pearl on board is crucial because she gets things done.

Williamson Road is known primarily for the Motor Mile cruise event that will take place this weekend and for its scattership, decades-old lack of a development plan. It looks thrown together because it is. Still, it can be made much more appealing to both Roanokers and visitors by highlighting its distinctive mix of those international businesses--ranging from restaurants and food stores to garages and other businesses. The Hispanic farmer's market at Happy's on weekends is a real treat in its cultural mix.\

I just got a note from City Manager Chris Morrill telling me that he has had discussions with some key players and has asked the economic development people to work on getting this done. My pal Jeff Rigdon of Roanoke Vikings has had a booth at Happy's for the past few weekends (promoting the Vikings) and had discussions about the idea with Happy's manager, who was enthusiastic and supportive.

Chris suggested that the Williamson Road Area Business Association is looking closely at working with this, as well.

So, we could have this take off in the near future and I want everybody who likes the idea to thank Christina. She's one of these people whose ideas are always great, but who never really takes credit for anything. This is a great idea and it belongs to her.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finally, a Roanoke Daily Reporter on the UVa Story

Tonia Moxley
Well, how about that! Roanoke's local daily newsletter has seen fit to actually put a local reporter--the estimable Tonia Moxley--on the UVa debacle. Tonia is a good reporter who covers the New River Valley primarily. She was with for a few years before moving into the NRV slot.

This story is solidly into its second week and the newsletter has been depending on AP for its feed on what has been the most important story in Virginia this summer. But, heck, Tech's asleep right now and maybe sending a reporter to Charlottesville will cost some money, but it'll be good for the fading image.

Let us mention in passing that all the while, WVTF-Public Radio in Roanoke has had award-winning Sandy Hausman covering the bejesus out of this story and setting herself up for more awards. That's the same WVTF that had its state funding eliminated and has to scramble twice a year for money.

(Photo: Roanoke Times)

Curley Ennis: A Sweet and Gentle Man Leaves Us

Curley Ennis at Floydfest
Curley Ennis, one of the sweetest, most gentle and talented men in this region, died Friday and we're all a bit less for his going. Curley, who was 73 but had the energy of a man half his age, was a musician and teacher whose folk songs entertained children and adults for six decades.

Here's a final song from him.

Curley was a guy with a face a photographer--me, in this case--could love. I have a trove of photos somewhere and wish I could bring them to the front immediately to show you, but filing has never been a strong suit on this end.

He was a throwback to the wandering Depression-era minstrels, a Midwesterner with a slow drawl and an easy manner. He played with some of the best-known folkies of his era (Arlo Guthrie, Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, among others) and was responsible for helping develop talent in this region, as well. He was an organic farmer in Bedford County in the 1970s. He had been in the military, but left when Vietman became a moral issue. He ran art galleries and was even a technical writer at one point.

Everywhere he went, Curly left an impression of a man of great character, a giving man who cared about his community, his country and his world.

There will be a memorial service Thursday 7-9 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Roanoke.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bullshit of the Day: The Supremes Are At It Again

"Independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," and therefore "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations."

--Huffington Post on today's Supreme Court Ruling on campaign finance. This 5-4 Republican court is devastating our democracy. There is no doubt whatever that the Health Care bill will fall Thursday. These Repub functionaries are carrying water for Rush Limbaugh.

Mickenberg Makes an Important Statement About Being Local

David Mickenberg addresses a full house.
Taubman Museum Director David Mickenberg said a lot at his town meeting ("Taubman Talk About") tonight about all that money that's being spent, but not necessarily raised, but he said nothing more important than that the museum is interested in local and regional talent.

People are starting to get it, even people you wouldn't necessarily expect to. I would not expect that of a museum that wants to be the Bilbao of Virginia, but David was reassuring tonight. The Taubman is a museum whose reach has consistently exceeded its grasp, an art museum with great ambition in the face of some stark economic reality that has been made worse by the George Bush Economy.

The Taubman is going to find its level. I'm not sure where that will be. One of its founders and strongest supporters--Haywood Fralin--just last week had the University of Virginia's art museum named after him. He is a guy who desperately wanted the Taubman and worked tirelessly to make sure it was built. The problem then, now and tomorrow is maintaining it at $4.5 million or so a year--a figure that exceeded expenditures for the all the arts in the Roanoke Valley at the time it was built.

In any case, if this becomes one of the country's strongest supporters of local and regional art, then a whole lot of us will be content that it has a special mission that is worthy of our financial support.

(Photo: Christina Koomen.)

Maddie and Pampa Go to a Swim Meet, Maddie's First

Maddie (right) and her buds do Kids on Parade.
Maddie with teammates and coaches waiting, which is what a meet mostly involves.
Pool is full of warming up swimmers.
Maddie backstrokes around another swimmer.
I know nothing of this. Swear to god.
Swimming can be painful, especially when you work at it as Mads does.
Maddie is in the chair at the left (in blue) awaiting her first heat ... ever. Looks relaxed. Don't be fooled.
Up to the board she goes.
At the ready.
And she's off with good form.
Maddie reaching in the butterfly.
Maddie at the wall: goal achieved. She finished!
Maddie (lower left) with her mom and grand parents (and brother Oz) with the big crowd at Read Mountain. Her coach, Annette Patterson --who is wonderful--is at the lower right.
You know, I was a sports writer for 17 long years and never, never, ever went to a swim meet. So, here I am Maddie's Pampa and today we both show up at our first swim meet. Maddie joined the Hunting Hills team a week ago (and couldn't swim a lick) and I joined her as her marketing manager.

I had not even a shadow of an idea how big this stuff is. You can see from the overall shot above--before everybody got to the meet--that it was packed. I'd say there were 2,000 to 2,500 people at the meet at the smallish Read Mountain Swim Club in Botetourt County. Multiply that by the number of swim meets in the Roanoke Valley Monday--I'd say four or five--and you get attendance numbers our professional baseball team would kill for.

It appeared to me that each team had maybe 100 swimmers and each swimmer had a family entourage of several people. It was a mob scene and I loved the look on the face of the people selling concessions (for CHEAP, something I wish the baseball team, which sells a 15 cents bottle of water for $3.50, would note).

Maddie was nervous from the beginning and the emotion bubbled over during warmups when she was working on her strokes--which she's improved on geometrically in a week, but which need work--and trying to navigate a packed pool. She was crying when she finished her workout, nervous, scared and full of anxiety. She wanted so much to do well. We sat and talked for a few minutes and she seemed more confident.

Her first stroke in her first competition was the almost impossible-to-swim butterfly and she finished her lap--last, but she made it all the way. She broke down again, I'd guess out of relief and by then her mom had arrived.  A few minutes later, she was jabbering with her buddies, high-fiveing and being a full member of the team. I think she grew about seven inches today.

I was proud of her. At least when I wasn't showing my own case of nerves. I keep telling myself, "It'll be alright, Pampa. It'll be alright."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sullivan May Be Back In, but Where's the Local Daily?

The protest at UVa
Things are looking up for Teresa Sullivan, down for that Helen Dregas woman and strange for Roanoke's daily newspaper, which seems to have punted on the story. Its coverage of the turn of events--posted on its website as we speak--is from the Associated Press, while just about every other paper in Virginia has a staffer on top of it. If this were at Virginia Tech ... Oh, hell, we don't even need to mention that.

It's just the biggest story in Virginia this month, so we won't go into newspapers' travel budget constraints. Charlottesville, after all, is two hours away from Roanoke and this isn't a football game after all. It's not even a basketball game, for chrissakes. It's just a president and a bunch of rich people having a squabble about education and who the hell cares about that? Certainly not Republicans.

Anyhow, if you're interested in the latest dramatic turn of events which will likely result in the re-instatement of UVa's popular president as early as tomorrow, go to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, C'Ville Weekly, the Daily Progress or any of half a dozen papers that aren't depending on the AP wire service for their stories. Half a dozen other papers half the size of the local daily here and just as far away from C'ville have staffers there, as well. Saving money is commendable. Failing your job is not commendable.

We can follow what happens to the third-rate Virginia Beach condo developer there, too. My guess is the local daily is working on an important story on mommies.

(Photo: Washington Post)

How Hot Is It? Just This Hot: Psssssssss

Exactly 100 degrees
This is the reading from my outside thermometer today at 2 p.m. The inside temp is 83.3 and I'm resisting AC until it's 85. Coming soon, I'd say.

Sharon Rapoport, Laura Godfrey Form New Company

Sharon Rapoport
A couple of women for whom I have almost unparallelled respect as both professionals and as exemplary people who give tons back to their community and to humanity in general, are going into business together and let me tell you that this one's going to be a dandy.

Laura Godfrey
Laura Godfrey, whose efforts toward women who have been maimed by mines in Southeast Asia, and Sharon Rapoport, a cancer survivor who serves as role model in that arena and a community champion whose work has been Herculean, are going to be working with data management and getting the word out on businesses. These two are personality opposities and are, quite literally, left brain/right brain friends whose functions will complement here.

Here's the press release and let me say again: expect a lot from them and from their company because you're going to get it. 

Two of the most respected business women in the Roanoke Valley have combined their talents and experience in Left Brain/Right Brain, a data management and creative messaging company.

Laura Godfrey of claire v. and Polished and Sharon Rapoport of The Farm say they are eager to explain why they can improve businesses with their approach to web, data management and creative messaging. “Companies often miss out out on big opportunities that affect their bottom line, and the key is to marry data with creativity”, says Sharon Rapoport, co-founder of The Farm and veteran creative director.

Sharon brings a strategic approach to the creative process for her clients, and encourages them to constantly hone the marketing message with proven data, whether it’s web, traditional or social media.

Laura has gained much knowledge as an entrepreneur working as a client herself, with a variety of web vendors and agencies. She is a former winner of Valley Business FRONT’s For the Right Reasons award, which goes to a professional whose ethics and practices are exemplary. “Websites are a crucial tool for every business,” says Laura, who also has an IT background, “but few have an integrated thought process behind them. Either the site is built out from a pragmatic sensibility and then someone throws a pretty face on it, or the marketing message is well developed, but there’s no smart engine behind it that makes a business run more smoothly.”

Laura, whose earlier experience included doing coding and analysis for Fortune 500 companies, recently decided to combine her considerable operations experience and her fluency in web development, and put them to use for other businesses.

While Sharon and Laura each continue to bring their individual skill sets to clients separately, they are most excited about what they can do for a business together. Sharon ensures that the messaging and design are strategically smart for the business goals, and Laura develops systems that work not just as a messaging tool, but also as a pipeline for data that strengthens the marketing and improves operations.

Left Brain | Right Brain has developed an impressive arsenal of professionals from all over the US, who are specialists in the fields of marketing and web. This, and the owners’ combined experience working with household name companies, does not keep them from seeking local and regional businesses as clients. “We are absolutely dedicated to working within a budget, whether it’s big or small. As small business owners ourselves, we know what it’s like to demand a return on every investment.”

To see featured work and case histories, view the client list, or to simply learn more about Left Brain | Right Brain, go to

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another Smack at the University of Virginia from National Publication

Once again, we have a prestigious national publication (The American Prospect, here) examining recent events at the University of Virginia that were engineered by what Waldo Jaquith called a "third rate Virginia Beach condo developer" and it's not pretty. The university is almost sacred in most parts of Virginia and the board of visitors is turning it into a business that is hustling for bucks. UVa grads most often see that as unseemly. And they're right.

But that's what you get when you appoint this caliber of person--one accustomed to dealing in the back room--to a position of authority, one where she can make deals behind the backs of the rest of the board. This woman needs to go and that can be accomplished July 1 when her position comes up for appointment again. Tim Kaine made a mistake appointing her. Bob McDonnell can correct it. But will he?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Plain Truth: Translating UVa Rector Dragas' BS

Dragas piles it deep at a press conference.
Now, we go back to the Great Waldo Jaquith for a simple, easy to understand explanation of the bullshit University of Virginia Board of Visitors Rector Helen Dragas gave us in a speech today.

Waldo cuts through the crap and explains this in a way a woman he calls "a second-rate Virginia beach condo developer" never could. My guess is you'll love it because my guess is that 98 percent of people who care even slightly about UVa, don't care much for this ... person.


Virginia Governor's Agenda: Football, Yes; Education, No

Shortie McDonnell and his heroes.
OK, so now we get it. Clear as it can possibly be.

The governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, favors pro football, opposes education. No doubt about it at all.

He supported giving the Washington Redskins $4 million to stay in Loudon County. (There was an additional $2.4 million coming from Loudon County and the state, as well.) A bit ago, he signed a bill that erased more than $300,000 in funding to Blue Ridge Public Television in Roanoke, the bulk of that coming out of the station's education programming.

Legislators from both parties expressed exasperation at the public declaration of Republican priorities. Football, yes. Education, no. Simple formula.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Father's Day, a Gathering of the Clan

Here are three generations of the Smith family tonight following dinner (on my son) at Olive Garden (which Pampa likes because it has enough sense to serve whole grain pasta). That's Madeline and Oz with Evan and me.

Photo Essay: Launching the Batteaus in Lynchburg

With a cannon roaring, the James River Batteau Festival kicked off yesterday at 11 a.m.
Batteaus gather for launch. There were 21 of them.
Batteaus float the picturesque James River in downtown Lynchburg.
Batteau crewman finds time and place for a nap.
Canoes and kayaks escort the batteaus as they launch.
A Monacan Indian tells stories to gathered kids.
My buddy Jeff Taylor is the voice and the image of the festival.
Nameplate for a batteau.
Crewwoman cools off in the sun.
This woman finds a better way to cool.
A colorful escort passes the parked batteaus ...
... and moves on down the river.
Jeff watches the batteaus come to their launch point.
Dog swims out to greet the crew of the Buckingham.
Leah and meah take it all in. That's Leah Weiss. The fat one's me.
Roanoke has been known as the Festival City since Mayor Noel Taylor decreed it so about 30 years or so ago. He was probably premature with the pronouncement then, but the city has grown into the title. Its festivals are many and varied.

None, however, is like the wondrous Batteau Festival in a newly revitalized Lynchburg, just 50 miles east of us. A growing group of batteaus (21 this year) float from Lynchburg to Richmond over about eight days, replicating the commercial route of the mid-19th Century before the railroad moved into the mountains and goods were moved along the river. It is a grueling trip for these modern-day river men and women (and children and dogs in some cases).

The boats gathered at Percival's Island just off downtown Lynchburg in late morning and a cannon signalled the start of the trip before a large gathering of well-wishers and a colorful floatilla of modern boats--canoes and kayaks mostly. It was a lovely scene, full of noise and excitement. Here's some of what it looked like.

'Happy Father's Day, Son ..."

Evan and me at a Salem Red Sox baseball game
While I was running around yesterday trying to put together a Father's Day package for my son, it occurred to me that I'm the father in this relationship and it gave me pause. Should I be buying Father's Day stuff for my own kid?

Well, yeh. I should. He's the better father in this tandem by a ton and if there is a single reason I'm proud of him--and there's a hell of a lot more than that--it's because he's about as good a father as I know; far, far, far better than the one he grew up with.

Evan's influence with his kids is apparent in everything they do, though his quiet, laid back approach goes missing with Madeline and Oz. What I see is his immense sense of what is right, what is fair, what is kind, what is loving. Oz is a little too young to demonstrate those traits yet, but I see Evan's face in that little round blob and that huge smile that yells to get out. Madeline is a good little girl--above all else. I take great pleasure in her enthusiasm, her energy, her kindness and sense of fair play, her simple joy in other people and in her eagerness to be who she is all the time. That doesn't come from nowhere and I see my son's prints all over it.

My guess is that he'll have a good Father's Day and I will too. Especially when I say to him, "Happy Father's day, son."

Photo of the Day: Maddie Takes the Plunge

At the ready ...
... the launch ...
... and into the pool.
Evan's first dive, about 1980 or '81.

Almost exactly 30 years ago, I took the photo at the left of Madeline's father, Evan, launching his first dive.

That's Evan on the left. He was hesitant and tentative,held his nose and finally got up the courage to go in, nearly head-first.

Madeline, as is so often the case, simply said, "Yes, Pampa, I'm ready and I can do it" and she attacked. She had already conquered the slide (in 12 feet of water).

I had to pretty much drag Madeline and her little buddy Maggie--who were playing off each other's courage--out of the water at the end of the day. A couple of happy, self-satisfied kids, they were.

Just like Maddie's dad 30 years ago. Not much changes, does it?

Maddie (right) and her buddy Maggie ponder the leap.