2021: The year in BlogOKC

blog2As we put 2021 to rest and welcome in the promise of 2022, I decided to look through a year’s worth of BlogOKC and see what was important to me over the past 52 weeks.

For the record, this is the 45th post on this blog for 2021. And I decided to rank the top 10 posts that meant the most to me over the past year. BlogOKC touched on a lot of random topics, from noodling to road rage to the COVID vaccine and more.

I hope you’ve found them interesting. So, the blog countdown begins right here:

No. 10 from August 18
Road Trip! Noodlers and Rain Delay Theater

When my friend Ed learned that the Tulsa Drillers were going to change their name to the “Noodlers” for a weekend to honor the sport of hand fishing, he not only wanted to go see them play, he ordered a Noodlers cap that very day. Ed, his son, Cade, and I made an August road trip to watch the Noodlers, who won on a walk-off home run. But not before we waited out a two-hour rain delay.

“I won’t give a play-by-play of the game except to say that neither team scored for the first seven innings. So it went into “extra innings” where a player was placed on second base to start each extra inning at bat. ‘Free baseball!’ Ed yelled, his theme whenever a game goes into extra innings. We won’t debate the merits of the free base runner in extras.”

No. 9 from July 24
Why the Unvaccinated are taking a political stand

I was fed up with the anti-vax crowd by mid-July, and I’m still fed up with those who refuse the COVID vaccine. It’s all a political statement by the Trump crowd, because we’ve faced vaccine mandates as Americans for decades before this one arrived. I stand behind what I wrote in July.

“As one who is proudly vaccinated, I reluctantly keep my mask at hand. I fear more disruptions loom in our future. All because of the unwilling who are making a political statement by shunning the vaccine. So, what’s the point of all of my rambling? What we’re seeing in the unvaccinated is a collective display of the Ugly American. The me-first. The selfish who would never consider doing something for the greater good.”

No. 8 from Nov. 28
Drive-thru rage and the shame of it all

Yep, I embarrassed myself in the Starbucks drive-thru line.

“The young man rolled down his window, and I started screaming: ‘What are you doing?! Couldn’t you see I was sitting there with my blinker on waiting to pull into the line?’ The guy responded: ‘how was I supposed to know?’ I screamed again that he should have seen the blinker, and then he said ‘I’m leaving.’ He quickly backed out and left the lot. I went back to my car. My wife said I was lucky he didn’t jump out and punch me. Suddenly, my righteous indignation gave way to an incredible sense of shame. What had I done? I was the old man screaming ‘get off my lawn!’”

No. 7 from June 17
A REAL ID adventure on the Mother Road

My daughter and I had a grand misadventure on the Mother Road as we sought a tag agency where we could get her a REAL ID.

“ ‘We don’t do driver’s licenses here, never have,” he said (with a straight face). “But you can just walk in at the Chandler agency, which is about 15 miles east on Route 66.’ I was laughing again as we walked out the door. My daughter was fuming, because I had us on a wild goose chase. We headed east again on the Mother Road.”

No. 6 from July 31
A Vintage Coffee Shop Idea for the 2020s

My friend Ed really is an idea guy. And he hit on a good one with his concept for a vintage coffee shop.

“ ‘I think we ought to open up our own coffee shop,” he finally said. ‘We’ll call it Vintage Coffee. No espresso machine. No fancy pastries. Donuts only.’ I laughed at the thought of a straight coffee-only coffee shop run by a couple of old school geezers. ‘We’re going to offer only Folgers, Maxwell House and Sanka, which was my father’s favorite coffee,” Ed continued. ‘It’s like a step back in time.’ “

No. 5 from Jan. 3
A Salute to 1971, the coolest year, from a cool kid wannabe

I read an article on New Year’s Day about what an awesome year 1971 was, which happened to be the year I graduated high school. I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.

“So, why did this article hit me so hard? I think it’s because I had never really given any thought to how many years had passed since Graduation Day in 1971. And how I’ve lived sort of my own version of Forrest Gump’s life in the intervening 50 years, still trying to be one of the cool kids and never quite making it.”

No 4 from June 23
For crying out loud: Ted Lasso packs emotional punch

I stumbled on to Apple TV’s Ted Lasso in early June and was hooked right away. I loved his corny, well intentioned motivational tactics that almost worked.

“But Ted Lasso delivers what I see as an awesome message about having a positive impact on people around you — even those who may not be ready to receive it. I’m not crying. You’re crying.”

No. 3 from May 24
We need a Streetcar with a purpose

I love the Oklahoma City Streetcar. The problem is, you can’t really plan a trip and go from Point A to Point B on it.

“New routes would be a major financial hurdle at this point. But the Streetcar needs desperately to connect the OKC Innovation District, the OU Health Sciences Center campus and the Capitol — and NE 23rd Street — to downtown. Someone please make that happen. Then we would no longer have a Streetcar to nowhere.”

No. 2 from July 1
A True Crime Story: Driving While black

My son, who is African-American, was pulled over in July for no apparent reason other than he was a Black male driving East on I-40. I was outraged, as a father should be.

“From my perspective, this was a clear case of racial profiling. Young African-American male driver. Texas tags. Driving alone on I-40 headed east. ‘That’s just the way it is,’ Ryan told me. ‘Every time I’ve been pulled over the cop asks ‘do you have drugs? Do you have guns?” As a 60-something white man, I’ve never been asked by a police officer if I had drugs. Or guns.”

No 1 from Dec. 9
Traffic Stop on the Lake Road

I was pulled over on the Lake Hefner Parkway — by my wife. And had to write about it.

“Then it hit me why Solomon was shouting GiGi! My wife Paula, his grandmother, had cut us off on the Lake Road and was pulling us over. So, I pulled in behind her. She hopped out of her car and began running to our car. I imagined the worst. Had someone in our family died and this is how she was going to break the news to me, here on the shoulder of the Lake Hefner Parkway? I rolled down my window and she said, ‘I think I left my phone in your car.’ What?

BONUS 
From Oct. 20
Fan’s message to the Thunder: Let’s Play to Win

My righteous indignation over the Thunder’s tanking strategy comes out in a lot of places: on Twitter, in texts to my friends Steve and Ed, and on this blog.

As the NBA season began, I called for the Thunder to play to win. Now.

“Here’s to the new season and hoping the Thunder will be over-achievers. Let’s not chase the luck of the lottery once again.”

A salute to 1971, the coolest year, from a cool kid wannabe

From the cool year of 1971, a cool kid wannabe peers out from his high school yearbook

I stumbled upon a Wall Street Journal article the other day that outlined what a watershed year 1971 was in many, many ways. (You can read it here with a WSJ subscription.) 

It was the year that Nixon/Kissinger reached out to China and opened the U.S. to an important trading partner that had only been seen previously as an arch enemy.

It was the beginning of the end of AT&T’s monopoly of the nation’s telecommunications industry, with an FCC ruling that opened the door to a second long-distance calling provider.

It was the end of the link that tied the U.S. dollar to the value of gold, opening the way to what are known as “floating exchange rates.”

Walt Disney World opened in 1971, as did a little coffee business known as Starbucks, as well as the Nasdaq trading market. The 26th amendment passed that gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. Intel introduced the 4004 chip, considered the first “computer on a chip” and launching a wave of technology innovation that continues today.

The Journal article pointed out that all of these events happened in a single year exactly 50 years ago.

Then it hit me. I graduated high school in 1971, which means I’ve been out of high school for half a century.

The thought almost brought me to tears as I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.

I’m not nostalgic for my high school class, because I never, ever sat at the cool kids table. I was a cool kid wannabe, but never made the cut.

I was mostly invisible to my classmates at Southside High School in Fort Smith, Ark.

So, why did this article hit me so hard? I think it’s because I had never really given any thought to how many years had passed since Graduation Day in 1971.

And how I’ve lived sort of my own version of Forrest Gump’s life in the intervening 50 years, still trying to be one of the cool kids and never quite making it.

But I’m proud of the newspaper career I pursued for more than 30 of those years, a career that brought me to OKC where I would meet the woman who became my wife, the kids we raised, yada, yada, yada.

Enough of that.

Just know that 1971 was a really, really cool year. I’m proud that it’s the year of my high school graduation.

Even if I wasn’t one of the cool kids.