Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Llama or an Emu?

This post was inspired by sitting in church earlier this week. The song was played during a video segment in which kids in the church discussed what they would do if they had $100. Part of me feels bad that what I got from church on Sunday was the inspiration to write this. Part of me is ok with being inspired to write this because church should be a place you go to get inspired. 

What follows is an "Expecting the Spanish Inquisition Special Investigative Report" looking at the most pressing issue of our time. 

 In 1992, the Barenaked Ladies scored a hit with "If I had $1000000" in which they discussed all the things they'd do with a million dollars. It's a fun song that wikipedia tells me was never considered a true single as it didn't even have an official music video to go along with it. Nevertheless, it remains popular, especially in Canada where it was second in the most essential Canadian tracks of all time. 

Take four minutes and listen.

 Fun, right?

But that seems like a lot of things to buy for only a million dollars. So I decided to investigate how things would work today if you tried to purchase those things listed in the song.

But before we can even get to that, we have some other things we need to figure out. First of all, the song was written in 1992. One million dollars then isn't worth the same as it is now. 

We also have to convert the $1,000,000 from Canadian dollars to American dollars. After all, the Barenaked Ladies were a Canadian band, writing, presumably for a Canadian audience. A quick Google search tells us that the exchange rate in 1992 was 0.828136, meaning our million dollars, Canadian, is actually $828,136, American.

However, that's in 1992 dollars. We need to adjust for inflation, right? Again, going with the chart I found on Google, that $828,126 would be worth $1,449,202.58 today. So, we need to figure out if all the things listed in the song can be purchased for that amount.

Ready? Let's go.


[Verse 1]
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a house
(I would buy you a house)


Ok, so we're not told how big of a house or where this house is located. According to Zillow.com, the median house price in the United States is  $201,900. Now depending on where you live, that could get you anything from a five-bedroom house with a yard and a picket fence to something much smaller. We've got nothing to go with, so for the sake of simplicity, we're going with a 3-bedroom, two bath house with a large yard and a fence. (Later in the song they reference the need for a yard, so we're going with this. We also need this to be in middle America for reasons that will become apparent later.)

Starting total: $1,449,202.58
Let's say we got this house.

House total: $201,900
Remaining:  $1,247,302.58.

But we didn't include property taxes. The average property tax bill in the United States is $2,149. Presumably once you bought the house and gave it to the person, you'd pay the taxes, at least for the first year, so we'll do that.

Taxes: $2,149
Remaining: $1,245,153.58


And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
I’d buy you furniture for your house
(Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman)


According to United Kingdom home furnishing specialists Terrys Fabrics, it cost £15,215 to furnish a 3-bedroom house from scratch. Among the most expensive items purchased were a sofa and a television. Converting that figure to American dollars, it's $20,384.78, meaning we're down to $1,224,768.80. But that is for an average sofa. A Chesterfield is a high quality sofa, with it's design dating back to the Victorian age and becoming synonymous with British craftsmanship. The modern Chesterfield can be traced back to the turn of last century and popular in gentlemans clubs and military offices. Let's add in $300 to to be safe on our cost.

Furniture for the house (including a nice Chesterfield but no ottoman): $20,684.78
Remaining: $1,224,468.80

And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a K-Car
(A nice reliant automobile)

Presumably, the K-Car refers to the Chrysler K platform that ran from 1981-1995. It is credited with saving the Chrysler Corperation from certain death and, in 1984, University of Michigan business professor and auto industry historian David Lewis said no platform "in the history of the automobile industry has so dramatically allowed a company to survibe in such a substantial way. No company has been down so low, in such difficult straits, and then depended on practically a single product to bring it back."

But how are we going to get a K-Car now?  A quick check of cars.chryslerkcar.com shows 57 cars for sale with the most expensive being a 1983 Dodge Convertible for $1,900. It's only got 43,000 miles on it, so this seems like a good deal. The car is in California, so we're presumably going to need to transport it somewhere. Let's add in $500 for that, bringing the total to $2,400 for the car.

K-Car (with delivery): $2,400
Remaining:  $1,222,368.80

And if I had a million dollars, I’d buy your love
If I had a million dollars
(I’d build a tree-fort in our yard)
If I had a million dollars
(You could help it wouldn’t be that hard)
If I had a million dollars
(Maybe we could put a little tiny fridge
In there somewhere)

I'm not sure how we can calculate buying someone's love, assuming it was for sale. I'm also not sure how you would sell love. I mean, escort services provide companionship, but that's not love. Prostitution is a thing, but again, they aren't selling love. For the sake of simplicity, we're going to go with love not actually being for sale.


[Post-Chorus]
We could just go up there and hang out
(Like open the fridge and stuff
And there’d all be foods laid out for us
I have always wanted
a treehouse.

Like little pre-wrapped sausages and things
They have pre-wrapped sausages
But they don’t have pre-wrapped bacon)
Well, can you blame them?
(Yeah!)

But what we can do is buy a tree fort. (See, I told you we needed a house with a yard.) We're assuming this is for an adult. Treetopbuilders.net out of West Chester, Pennsylvania, has a handy estimator for the cost of a tree house. Because we're trying to impress the object of our affection, we want this to be a fairly nice treehouse, so we went with a "a few upgrades" on the quality of materials and a complex tree house with "bay windows, multiple rooflines." (No boring tree fort for the person we love.)  We also need this to be fairly spacious as we are going to hang out up there, so we went with 450-800 square feet and a 50-90 square foot deck. This would cost us $305,368.

We then need to add a mini-fridge and some food. Wal-Mart has a 2.6 cubic foot mini-fridge for $90 and stocking it with food, let's say is another $90. Who knew tree houses were so expensive? Moving on.

Treefort: $305,368
Refrigerator: $90
Pre-Wrapped sausages and other food: $90
Remaining: $916,820.80


[Verse 2]
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a fur a coat
(But not a real fur coat, that’s cruel)

Good for them for not buying a real fur coat. Not only is that the humane thing to do, it's cost efficient as a  real fur coat, according to Google, is anywhere from $995 for a short fur coat (which looks awful) to $22,425 for a Louis Vuitton fur coat. But a faux fur coat on refinery29.com can be had for $555. Not bad at all and we're down to $916,265.80.

Not a real fur coat: $555
Remaining: $916,265.80

And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you an exotic pet
(Yep, like a llama or an emu)

Next we have to decide if we want a llama or an emu. Llamaseeker.com says that nice quality llamas are in the $2,000 to $5,000 range. Emus, meanwhile, could be had for as little as $85 if we get it as a one-week old bird.
We don't need no stinking emus.

However, there's much more to consider. Emus require about as much space as horse, though if we're being cost effective, a narrow pen about 120 feet long is recommended so we can have a much smaller yard. Llamas, meanwhile need to have a llama companion as they are herd animals so we're looking at at least two llamas. They would also require shelter from the elements and fencing. Presumably our house that we bought way back in the first verse has a large yard. But for either a llama or an emu, we're going to need a fenced in back yard.

Fencing in an acre can be done for as little as $225 if we do it ourselves, but it may not be tall enough for an emu. With that being our deciding factor, we're going to get a llama. (well, two llamas.)

So $7,000 for two llamas, another $300 for fencing, and we need a shelter for them that can be found online for $300. Add in $300 for food for two llamas for a year (that's surprisingly cheap) and our exotic pet budget is $7,900.

Llama (2): $7,000
Fencing: $300
Shelter: $300
Food: $300
 Remaining: $908,365.80


And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you John Merrick’s remains
(Ooh all them crazy elephant bones)


But for some reason, we're also buying John Merrick's remains.

Merrick's actual name was Joseph Carey Merrick and was first exhibited as the Elephant Man in 1884 in Europe after he contacted a showman about the possibility. He was robbed and abandoned by his road manager in Belgium and by the time he returned to London, he was unable to speak. He spent the remainder of his life in Royal London Hospital and his remains are on display in Royal London Hospital.

In 1987, Michael Jackson offered $1 million for Merrick's bones, but the hospital refused to sell out of respect for Merrick. As recently as last year there were calls for Merrick to be given a Christian burial, but the Royal London Hospital has, thus far, refused.

So the bad news is it appears we're not going to be able to get the bones of the Elephant Man. The good news is no one should want those anyway as it's creepy and weird. Just no.
John Merrick's Remains: Not For Sale 
Remaining:  $908,365.80

[Chorus 2]
And if I had a million dollars I’d buy your love
If I had a million dollars
(We wouldn’t have to walk to the store)
If I had a million dollars
(We’d take a Limousine ’cause it costs more)

We just got a K-Car. Why do we need a limousine now? Why did we get the car if we're just going to take the limo to the store? This seems to be a bad use of our resources.

There are many kinds of limousines, but we all know this is referring to the stretch limo. Searching for brand new limos on americanlimousinesales.com led me to a 2017 Lincoln Continental for sale for $94,995. My quick search didn't turn up what kind of fuel efficiency we would get with this and since this will appear to be our "getting around town" car for trips to the store and whatnot, we'll need to estimate the first year gasoline bill. The average American spent $1,400 on gasoline in 2016. Let's triple that to $4,200 for our limousine. So our total for that comes to $99,195.

Limousine Total: $99,195
Remaining: $809,170.80

 If I had a million dollars
(We wouldn’t have to eat Kraft dinner)

[Post-Chorus]
But we would eat Kraft dinner
(Of course we would, we’d just eat more)
And buy really expensive ketchups with it
(That’s right, all the fanciest - Dijon ketchups)

What we in the United States know as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Canadians call Kraft dinner. They're delicious, though I'm not sure you want to subsist on them as your main diet. Nevertheless, the singers say we're going to eat more, so let's say they eat 18 Kraft Dinners a month. On Amazon.com, you can get an 18-pack for $28.97. We'd need 12 of those for the year, which would total $347.64.

Now the bad news. There is no commercially available dijon ketchup. I know, right?  In fact, such a product does not exist. I don't know how to bridge this gap. We can find fancy ketchup, which is an actual designation by the United States Department of Agriculture that "producers are allowed to use for marketing if their product meets the standards of US Grade A/US Fancy tomato ketchup, which possesses a better color, consistency and flavor, and has fewer specks and particles and less separation of the liquid/solid contents than US Grade B/US Extra Standard Ketchup and US Grade C/US Standard Ketchup."

Wait, grading ketchup? What goes in to that, you ask? Well, testers look for lack of tomato skin and seeds in the product, a smooth texture and other things. You can find a complete explanation of what goes into to ketchup grading here.

So no dijon ketchup, but we can get expensive ketchup. You can get two-pack of Whatburger fancy ketchup for $15.85 from Amazon.com. Better get four, total, just to be safe.

Kraft Dinners: $347.64
Expensive Ketchup: 31.70
Amazon Prime Membership (to save on shipping): $99
Remaining: $808,692.46


[Verse 3]
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a green dress
(But not a real green dress, that’s cruel)

We need a green dress, but not a real green dress because that's cruel. I'm going to assume that means we're buying a dress, but not a green one. What kind? We don't know. For what occasion? Again, no idea. What season? It could be anything.

My research lead me to discover that there is a Fancy Dress Party in England. This party was formed  in 1979 as a "frivolous alternative to mainstream electoral parties," according to Wikipedia, and as of 2010, the party was on the official register of political parties.

But we're not here for British political parties, we're here for a not green dress. Nordstrom has what seems to be a nice dress for $158 and since I don't know what we're looking for, I think we'll go with this.

A green dress (but not a real green dress): $158
Remaining: $808,534.46

 And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you some art
(A Picasso or a Garfunkel)

Next we need some art, either a Picasso or a Garfunkel. I actually enjoy the Art Garfunkel joke there, but we need to get a Picasso. Our Amazon Prime membership comes with Amazon music, so we can stream all the Art Garfunkel songs we want.

 In 2015, Picasso's Women of Algiers sold for $179 Million at Chrstie's Auction House in New York. That exceeds our budget by approximately $178 million, so we're going to have to pass on that one. But that doesn't mean we're out of luck.

The website artbrokerage.com appears to have several Picasso sketches for sale. Rather than going for a painting, there appears to be two small sculptures that would make great bookends and good conversation pieces for $6,000.

I should mention that I am in no way an art historian and would have no way to know if these are forgeries or not. So we're going to with them  and hope we weren't ripped off.

A Picasso or a Garfunkel: $6,000
Remaining:  $802,534.46
 
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a monkey
(Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?)

And finally, a monkey. I choose to believe this verse was the inspiration for the creators of Friends to give Ross a monkey as a way to make him the least bit interesting. Be honest with yourselves, if Ross wasn't on Friends, the show would have been so much better. Sure, we miss the whole "Ross and Rachel" thing, but that was always the least interesting part of the show. When they reboot Friends in 10 years, I hope they kill off that character in the first episode.

 Nineteen states have banned pet monkeys, so hopefully we didn't buy our house in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersy, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. I told you we needed a house in middle America. I'm assuming we're living in one of the other 31 state that doesn't prohibit monkey ownership.

Next, we have to decide what would be the best monkey to get. The most common are Capuchins, Guenons, Macaques, Marmosets, Squirrels, Spider Monkeys and Tamarins.  All of them live 25-40 years and will require you to change their diaper if they're living inside.

TheSpruce.com said "(Monkeys) are expensive, dangerous, live a long time, require a huge amount of your daily time, need a lot of space, and are not cuddly." Other than that, they make great pets, I'm sure.

But we're getting a monkey (to go along with our llamas. I think I know where the people behind "We Bought a Zoo" got their idea.). I'm going with Spider Monkey because the name seems cool.

According to Costhelper.com, Monkeys cost between $4,000 and $8,000. As we've done in the past, we'll go right in the middle and get a $6,000 monkey. We're going to need a cage (let's do outdoor cage, we didn't get the big yard for nothing) so that's $3,500 (we're going top of the line on this, safety first.) We'll need a nesting box with branches, blankets and toys, for $200.

Fruit and vegetables for a monkey is about $100 a month, so we can add $1,200 to our total. Add in another $60 for a year's supply of monkey chow. Apparently most primate owners choose to diaper their pets, so that's $260, plus the indignity of changing a monkey diaper for 30 years and who can put a price on that?

 We'll also need to include veterinarian care, though to be honest, I have no idea how to figure out how much it costs to take a monkey to the vet or even how you would go about finding a vet who can treat a monkey. I'm just going to say $1,000.

Monkey: $6,000
Cage: $3,500
Food: $1,260
Diapers: $260
Veterinarian: $1,000
Total Monkey Costs: $12,020
Remaining:  $790,514.46



[Chorus 3]
If I had a million dollars, I’d buy your love
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
If I had a million dollars
I'd be rich

So at the end of all that,  we've still got nearly $800,000 remaining. Between maintenance on the limousine, the Dodge convertible, annual taxes and upkeep on the house, what I assume to be high homeowner's insurance since we have a monkey and llamas and other costs, I'm not sure our remaining cash will be there long.

But my biggest question in all this is would it actually work. I mean, buying a house and a car and a limousine seems like it's coming on a bit strong. Maybe start with some flowers and dinner at a jazz club or something a little less "I'm ready to make a lifetime commitment and to prove it, here's a house that comes with two llamas and a monkey."

Anyway, good luck dude. and if it doesn't work out with this girl, you still have enough left over to try one more time. 

If you've read all this, you might as well follow me on Twitter as you've shown you have no regard for using your time wisely. Also, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Keep Sports Out of Politics

Craig Wilson is tired or sports ruining his politics.


NEWPORT NEWS (Va) - At the end of a long day of writing beleaguered sports blogger Craig Wilson just wants to turn on the news and forget about sports for a day. But increasingly, that become more and more difficult as sports has intruded in politics.

"I spend all day writing about sports," Wilson said. "Whether it's an injury for the Cubs or the latest NFL rumor or the start of the NHL season, it's my job. I just want to turn on the news and see what Congress or the President has done without sports intruding on that."

Whether it's the President tweeting about the NBA or some candidate trying to sell his "everyman" persona by talking about the local sports team, Wilson said it's exhausting.

"Politics is my respite from my work. It's where I go to forget about home runs or slam dunks. I get that all day at the office. I don't need it in my leisure time too," he said.

Wilson said he's talked to other sports bloggers who feel similarly.

"I hate seeing politicians making things sportical," Wilson said, attempting to coin a phrase "If they'd just stick to politics and keep sports out of it, everything would be better."

Follow me on Twitter. Or don't. It's really your choice. but if you want to, that'd be cool. But it's also cool if you don't want to. You know, you do you.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Summer Fun


The Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs for the third consecutive year. This is the first time it has happened since those halcyon days of 1906-1908 back when, well, you know what, I am not up on my history from that time period. I'm sure something big was going on. 1908 was a presidential election year, so that was probably big. Apparently Hitler's mom died in 1907. Google tells me that Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' was published. (See, we're learning and it's fun.)

The odds are the Cubs aren't going to win the World Series again this year. This isn't a comment on the quality of the team, but just basic math. By the time the Cubs' playoffs, there will be 8 teams remaining. They'll have to win three multiple-game series to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1907-1908.

Take a minute and flip a coin, calling it in the air. No, seriously, go ahead. I can wait. If you got it right, do it again. If you got it right a second time, do it one more time. If you got it right the third time, congratulations, you just won the World Series. While not exact, that's the basic math the Cubs would need to win again.

So the odds aren't great that it'll happen. And that's ok, because looking at World Series titles as the only measure of baseball success is a terrible way to enjoy the game and a great way to miss out on some truly amazing things.

In 2001, the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season. Only the 1906 Cubs won as many games in one season. It was a magical season (the Mariners, I don't remember that Cubs team). But Seattle lost in the playoffs. Calling that season a disappointment would take away the six months of amazing play the Mariners put together. Coincidentally, the Cubs didn't win the World Series in 1906 either. It's a small sample size, but I'm confident in saying winning 116 games in the regular season is not a good way to win the World Series.

From 1991 to 2005, the Atlanta Braves put together one of the most dominant stretches in sports, winning the division title 14 years in a row. But for all that success, the won the World Series only once. Measuring success only by championships means that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins were more successful during that time than the Braves despite the fact that both Toronto and Florida only made the playoffs twice during the Braves' run of dominance.

Because baseball plays 162 games over the course of six months, the best teams tend to rise to the top over the course of a season. There's enough time for the randomness of any individual game to become statistical noise. But when there's a best-of-five playoff series, suddenly that randomness of one game can have a huge impact on whether a team advances or not. The best teams don't always win. It may not be the fairest way to determine a champion, but it's the one we've got.

That's not to say I won't be incredibly disappointed if the Cubs lose in the playoffs. I will be. But I know the odds are long.

Having said that, this summer has been so much fun. I got to to a game at Wrigley Field in July and another Cubs game in Tampa earlier this month. (They went 1-1 when I attended if you're keeping track at home. Which, if you're keeping track at home, can we talk later? That is weird and you shouldn't be doing that.) I've spent countless hours watching games and highlights. For better or worse, the Cubs announcers are my summer soundtrack, filling the air with the sounds and sights of my baseball season.

And so a week from tomorrow the playoffs start. I'm nervous and anxious and excited all at once. There's a chance for all my time invested, the season could be over by the following Monday for the Cubs. That would be disappointing, but not enough to overwhelm the awesome summer I had.

Now is the time in the blog post where we dance.

via GIPHY

Follow me on Twitter. Or don't. It's really your choice. but if you want to, that'd be cool. But it's also cool if you don't want to. You know, you do you.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nacho Man

Celebrity is a weird thing.


Take a few seconds to watch this video from last night.



It's an amusing video. The poor guy in the front row gets his nachos knocked out of his hands by Addison Russell flying in trying to catch a foul ball. In his attempt, Russell inadvertently kicks the dude's nachos and spills them on the field (and gets some on his arm.) A few innings later, he brings the guy some replacement nachos and poses for a picture.

It's a cool story to tell your friends today at work and to reminisce about with your girlfriend (who, coincidentally, is the person Russell landed on in his attempt to make the catch.)

But that's not the world we live in now. Nacho Man became a minor sensation on what was otherwise a fairly boring 10-2 game. He was first interviewed by the newspaper the Chicago Tribune. Then, an inning or so later, he was on television giving an interview about what it was like to have a player wind up in his girlfriend's lap and spilling his nachos. Hard hitting journalism this was not.

He tweeted the photo with Russell which obviously made the rounds among baseball fans.

Later, he got a foul ball and gave it to a kid (the correct thing to do, by the way, even if you have a kid at home) for which he drew praise. The game basically became a distraction from Nacho Man. Foul balls hit in the vicinity of Nacho Man were mentioned.

And you know what? It was fun. The guy was having the time of his life. People were walking down to his seat between innings for pictures with him. Someone even asked for his autograph.

 For a guy who just hoped to get a foul ball, he ended up having the story he'll tell when he's out for drinks with his friends or (hopefully) at the reception of their wedding. If this happened to me, I'd turn it in to a 7-part blog series and my wife would have to prohibit me from talking about it ever again or face imminent death.

I hope this guy enjoys his 15 minutes of fame.


Also, I really want to know what the person who got the autograph is going to do with it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Has it really been 20 years?

A group of smart, intelligent people who graduated 20 years ago. And me, I'm in there too.

Of all the people who have ever lived, I'm fortunate to be a member of a select club. There are only roughly 230 people who are can claim membership and we had a meeting of sorts last night. We don't meet often and we're not all always able to go, but it's always special to get together.

Ok, that is vastly overselling my 20-year high school reunion, but in a sense, it's true. There's only a little more than 200 people who can say they graduated in 1997 from the high school I went to. Some of us grew up here, going from kindergarten through high school here. Others moved here at some point during elementary, middle or even high school. We all had different hobbies, interests, cliques and clubs we were a part of. But at the end of the day, we all share the fact that for whatever else we've had in life, we all had she shared experience of finishing high school together.

The ubiquity of Facebook makes reunions a lot less mysterious than they used to be. Not only did I have a general idea of who all was coming, but I knew, more or less, what was going on with almost everyone there.

But social media is no substitute for actually getting together. Being able to hear the voices of the guy you played soccer with or finding out the pretty girl who sat behind you used to cheat off of your paper when she could. (I hope I got those answers right for both of us, Brandy. And I'm glad I could help.)

Then there's finding out what, exactly people are doing, not just where the live or where they work.

It's finding out the girl who you were on the Math Team with in elementary school now works in analytics for Delta. Or that one of the sweetest girls in school is a kindergarten teacher where she seems like a perfect fit.

It's being able to solve the mystery of what happened to that quiet, but really funny guy I sat next to in Biology my senior year and who seemed to have left no trace of himself online.  (He didn't make it, but someone at the reunion says he now lives in New York and works for Google. The fact that he works for Google and can't be found online makes me wonder if he knows something we don't.)

But it's also hanging out with the guy who lives three doors down and the guy who has a kid in my kid's class. It's doing more than just a polite hello to that classmate you see at the athletic fields as you're going to your kid's game and she's leaving her kid's game.

It's finding out one of your former classmates lives in the same town as your in-laws and hitting it off with her husband (though we both had a lot to drink at that point so it's quite possible he doesn't actually like me that much.)

And then there's running in to that girl who, every time she sees me she tells me how much she enjoys my blog and that I should write more. And she is just so sweet that I can't help but try to write more.

It's the random coincidence of talking to a guy whose mom was your wife's Pre-Cal teacher in college (and your wife confessing that she failed the class and him feeling bad about it.)

But more than anything, reunions are about nostalgia. Yeah, high school wasn't the greatest. I think even the people who really enjoyed it wouldn't necessarily go through it again.

But we all lived that experience together. We all freaked out about the tests and dealt with the stupid drama that comes with being 14 to 18 years old. We went to football games and parties and did whatever extracurricular activities we did that seemed important at the time. Whatever cliques existed 20 years ago have long since disappeared. It was just fun to talk, catch up, share stories and enjoy each other's company.

But then we all had to go our separate ways. For some of us it was just across town. Other's had flights to catch including one girl who had to get a flight back to Dallas before leaving tomorrow for London. I have no problem saying she's a better person than I am. Still others had to drive a few hours home where we'll go about our lives.

I realized as I was writing this that I kept writing "guys and girls" instead of  "men and women." That's the power of nostalgia. For everything that's happened in the 20 years since we graduated, my strongest memories of just about everyone there is from when we were kids. We were guys and girls, and in my mind's eye, we still are.

Now if I can just run in to the girl who always wants me to write, maybe I can actually write more regularly.