By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Mack Brown, along with a handful of other NCAA coaches, is making a goodwill visit to the troops in Germany, Iraq and Kuwait. (He's following in the footsteps of a coach at an actual good football school, Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, who visited the Middle East earlier this year.)
Brown is to be commended for going, of course, even though he's obviously trying to draft off the heat of Weis. He's also writing a diary of events on his Web site and — well, does the dude always complain this much?
We mean about things other than UT's standing in the polls. We know he always complains about that.
But check out some diary highlights:
May 29 — The upper part of the plane is very hot, while the lower part around your feet (and of course your feet and head if you lay down) could get to 10 degrees or lower. Needless to say sleeping was tough. There's no time to complain or be tired, we've landed and are hitting the ground running...It is now 2:45 p.m. Germany time (and 7:43 Austin), the jet lag is already tough to deal with...We just got through signing autographs for about three hours...Long day!
Still May 29 — After a hard-working day again today...You learn around these folks fighting for our freedom that at war, you can't sleep in on Saturday because you are tired and sore. No weekends off and I'll have to catch up on my rest when I get back from the tour.
May 30 — [The base] probably would look great flying in, but there are no windows in the cargo plane!...it is very hard to keep the time zones and days of the week straight, but it's even harder to keep up with the events in the States, especially sporting events. They have a military television station, but night TV games are on live at 3 or 4 a.m. It's tough to watch the game and go to work early the next morning...I'm worn out and headed to bed.
May 31 — The aircraft also takes a controlled crash type landing. It will really test my stomach since I'm not a great flyer anyway...The terrain in Iraq is pure desert, with some breeze, and very thin sand that really burns your eyes. The sun is so hot and so bright the glare makes it hard to be outside without sunglasses...
June 1 — The plane is slow, very loud and hot. You can't hear anything. You must either put ear plugs in or use your iPod...We are tired...Some people have questioned whether I should come on this trip and or why I would...The conditions are very tough. It is very hot and dusty. You feel dirty all the time, and the sand constantly blows in your nose, mouth and eyes. Your eyes start to burn, it is very hard to breathe, and you get a sore throat...We didn't eat at dinnertime because we had a 30-minute practice for the troops...
June 2 — We got up this a.m. about 5:00. I'm not sure why, but some of the coaches were saying it was because there was too much snoring in the room from the seven coaches...On to Africa. I can't wait to see it. I've wondered what Africa is like my entire life even though I hope the malaria pills kick in. At least we are leaving the dust in Baghdad...I don't know what to expect at our next stop but I am happy to be leaving the constant 100-plus degree sandstorms in Iraq...Kuwait was even hotter than Baghdad. It is further south, and the sandstorm had cleared so the sun had a direct hit...We just got off the plane and it is obviously more humid here.
Dude, we get it. Grumpy old man goes overseas.
At least he didn't bitch about OU.
Tales from Transit
The Most Dangerous Game
Man vs. Machine on Metro's new Bellaire line
by Mike Giglio
It was to be the ultimate contest between man and machine.
Hair Balls announced in earnest at the weekly staff meeting its plans to sample the new 402 Quickline Bellaire, which was unveiled by Metro recently. The so-called "signature" bus — the first of its kind in Houston — runs along the standard Number 2 Bellaire route during rush hour, making far fewer stops in order to travel at a heretofore unimaginable pace.
At this, staff writer John Nova Lomax produced an audible scoff.
"I could beat that on my bike," Lomax said.
And so Hair Balls loaded Lomax's 18-year-old bicycle into the bed of its pick-up and headed for the TMC Transit Center, where the Quickline's westbound service begins. Lomax smoked a cigarette as he waited at the station for the race to begin.
It was here Hair Balls learned that Lomax's confidence was drawn less from his prowess on the pedals than the fact that the road between the station and his house, about one and a half miles away along the route, is plagued by construction. Lomax used to be able to beat the traffic on foot, he claimed. It has since alleviated some, but he predicted a handy victory all the same.