Friday, December 22, 2023

House Mountain Hike #187, 12-20-2023: Inspired by Two Young Men (published 12-22-2023; article #446)


Seasonal greetings, to you, dear reader! Wednesday, 12/20/2023, was my 187th (51st “bionic”) hike, on House Mountain. This brief preface will first update three recent “life, such as it is,” events.

The preface, in the 12/1/2023 article, mentions the first two. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's good first cousin, Mike, is much improved. Family members have been caring for him, as needed. Molly, our eight-year-old puppy, is well, despite the scar, on her left ear.

In the latest news, my wife had another mild case of RRC. Mild recurrences seem to flair up, about every six months. (The humorous acronym, RRC, which I invented, stands for recurring, relentless “corony.” The 30 articles, under the “Corona Myopia” topic section, are my serious commentary, on the new cold virus, which is in my rear view mirror.) RCC is a mild virus. She came down with it, again, on Monday, the day before her six-month physical examination. She has overcome another round. Her two-week Christmas break started yesterday. Today, still yielding to the crass commercialization of Christmas, she joined the rush of procrastinating shoppers, to buy gifts, for three family members. Before her mild case of RRC, she'd already purchased gifts, for other family members. What do I want for Christmas? The gift can't be bought, in a store. The conclusion will explain.

I'd hoped to hike “My Mountain” several more times, before Wednesday. My last hike was on 11/29/2023 (the 12/1/2023 article). Helping care for Mike, however, took priority.


This article is for fellow hikers and for all, who are fighting the good fight, in the ongoing struggle to advance the biblical worldview! This is the 59th entry, under the "hiking” topic section, and the 17th, under "worldviews in conflict.”

My unexpected and pleasant conversation, with two young men, below the west bluff, explains why I was inspired. But first, let's hike up the west trail, on House Mountain!

Hiking Up to the West Bluff

I'd enjoyed playful activity, with Molly, before leaving. That's what delayed the start. I touched the marker, to start hiking, at 1:43 PM. The morning low was 19 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature was in the low 40 degree range, during the hike. The weather was mostly sunny, with a cool breeze. As a veteran hiker, my rookie mistake was to add a light outer layer. The T-shirt and sweatshirt would have been sufficient. I sweated more that I should have.

I challenge myself. It's me against me. While enjoying the hike, I noted the times, at key junctures. With the four lower switchbacks behind me and just before the first of the six upper switchbacks, I realized that I had taken 14 minutes, to reach that fallen tree. (That's about two minutes slower than my usual “pre-bionic” time.) The time was 1:57 PM. Undaunted, I hiked up the six upper switchbacks, in ten minutes. The time, at the sixth switchback, was 2:07 PM.

In “pre-bionic” hikes, I could hike from the base, to the west bluff, in 24 minutes. On this hike, it took me 24 minutes, to get from the base, to the sixth upper switchback. The trail, heading west, below the ridgeline, is just over two-tenths of a mile. It's rugged, narrow, and has some treacherous areas. I've never timed myself, until this hike, from that sixth switchback, to the west bluff. It took me 15 minutes, to hike that final segment! I reached the west bluff, touching the rock, to mark my time, at 2:22 PM.

My self-analysis indicates that I should not be so overly cautious, as I hike below the ridgeline, toward the west bluff. My surgically reconstructed right knee and foot are able to travel faster and safely, even up and across the treacherous areas. I still lack the mental confidence to move faster. I must discipline myself, not to be so overly cautious. Eventually, Lord willing, I will win, in the me versus me struggle. The goal is to hike, from the base to the west bluff, in about 25 minutes, as a norm.

I'd taken the photograph, below, at 2:30 PM. It's the only one that I took, on this hike.

I am sitting on the rock outcropping, on the west bluff. The sun is behind me. Mike's “Delta Saloon, Suicide Table” cap (mentioned, in the 10/26/2023 article) and my trusty canteen are hanging, where the fallen tree is regrowing. A few years ago, a strong wind must have snapped the trunk. The living roots are generating new growth. Can you understand the life lesson, to which I allude? I thought so.

At 3:31 PM, about an hour after the photograph, I started hiking back down and out, on the same west trail, up which I'd hiked. The next section recounts the conversation, of about an hour, with two young men.

I wasn't in a me against me challenge, on the hike out. I still noted the time, at key junctures. Overly cautious hiking, east, along the trail, below the ridgeline, I reached the sixth upper switchback, at 3:46 PM. (That's 15 minutes.) Continuing down the switchbacks, I reached the lowest upper switchback, at 4 PM on the dot. (That's 14 minutes.) Touching the marker, near the enclosed picnic area, at 4:23 PM, ended the hike.

Two hours and forty minutes, in the woods, is better than not having been there! The inspiring conversation is in the next section.

Inspiring Conversation

I'm glad that I decided not to hike east along the ridgeline, to the middle bluff. Standing below and looking up at the west bluff, I was contemplating taking another photograph or recording a video episode. I noticed two young men, hiking up toward where I was standing. Their upper layers were tied around their waists, so they were bare chested, at the time.

We struck up what I thought would be a quick and casual conversation. I summarized my “bionic” story, which started, on 3/29/2016. I related my first hike, as a “bionic man” (mentioned, in the 12/22/2016 article). Both young men are college students. One lives in Florida. He was in, visiting family and friends. The other is local. Conversation turned to geology, the field of study, for one of the young men. I described the location -- a few yards east of the lower middle bluff, below the north side of the ridge trail -- where I think a cave entrance could be. Years ago, I had crawled into the opening far enough, to see where dirt could have sealed a narrow entrance.

Our conversation shifted quickly, to profound dialogue, on worldviews in conflict. About four decades of age separate us; however, mutual affirmation, of the biblical worldview, unite our spirits! The two Christian young men shared their Solid Rock foundation. They are standing and will continue to stand, on that Solid Rock!

In their college years, these young Christians are facing intense and negative pressure, from a majority of their peers, who follow unbiblical worldviews. Those ungodly values tempt, challenge, frustrate, annoy, and harass each of us, on a daily basis. We, who affirm godly values, stand firmly on the sure foundation. The foul winds do not blow us off our course.

We spoke, in agreement, about how this temporal world is a “vale of soul-making.” They mentioned the phrase, with which I am quite familiar. As I stated, in the 12/9/2022 article, “John Keats, the poet, described the earth, filled with both evil and good, as a 'vale of soul-making' (in his April 1819 letter to his brother and sister).” Our conversation was about the so-called problem of evil. (The 12/9/2022 article includes my thoughts on the subject.) Impressively, these brothers in Christ have a depth of knowledge on that important topic.

We placed the looming fall, of this once great nation, in the context of the Old Testament account of the nation of Israel's falls and rises, hinged on allegiance to God. The Book of Judges came to our minds. We expressed prayerful hope that this once great nation will return to the Lord.

We understood our roles -- joining the voices of many and following the example of John the Immerser -- as voices “. . . crying in the wilderness . . . .” (John 1:23, KJV). We strive to share the saving truth of Jesus. We hope that folks hear and heed our words, for their everlasting benefit.

I brought up the maxim that we are either missionaries or mission areas. The two young Christian men are missionaries, as they continue their college studies. College campuses are certainly mission areas.

Our impromptu and reviving conversation concluded, as I encouraged the two young men, to continue to stand their ground. Above all, stand. Stand firmly. Remember, if you are on God's side, then you stand in the majority, even if you are the only one standing. Be encouraged and continue to stand firmly, on the Solid Rock!


So, what do I want for Christmas? The gift can't be bought, in a store. I will explain.

The article of 12/26/2021, almost two years ago, comes to mind. I had been reminded of my social media comment, on 12/21/2013. On that date, ten years ago, I had written:

After having engaged in the secular ritual of almost last minute gift buying, and feeling frustrated by the wanton secularization of the observance of our Lord’s birth, I stopped at a Weigels on the way home.

The older man, in front of me in line, was buying a gallon of milk. As he turned, I noticed his cap: Vietnam War Veteran. I caught his attention, as he turned from the checkout. All I did was look him in the eyes and offer my handshake. I didn’t have to say a word. He saw the words in my eyes. He looked in my eyes, man to man, and said, “Thank you,” as he shook my hand. I respect this man, whom I may never meet again, because he offered his military service, as a sacrifice to this once great nation.

Amidst the gift buying and giving, I pause, in the ultimate level of thankfulness, to “shake the hand” of the One, who sacrificed his all for such a lowly one as I. May I and all in this nation live in respect of the Greatest Gift of all.

That's what I want for Christmas! I want everyone, in this once great nation, to live in respect of the Greatest Gift of all. The gift is free. It's not sold in stores. You must be willing to accept it. Please do, if you haven't.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Sunday, December 17, 2023

2023 Christmas Gift: House Mountain Hike, on 10-17-2015 (published 12-17-2023; article #445)


Greetings, dear reader! I trust that you enjoy hiking and, more importantly, that you value family and heritage. This is the 58th article, in the “hiking” topic section. It's also the 118th entry, under the “family” section, and the 99th, under “heritage.”

Christmas is approaching quickly. Next Sunday will be Christmas Eve. My mind hears the commercials, as they jingle, “only seven more shopping days, until Christmas.”

My brothers and I stopped swapping Christmas presents, years ago. We just try to see each other, or at least call, on or around Christmas, each year.

This article is my surprise Christmas gift, to my youngest brother and his family. I hope that he doesn't open this gift, until Christmas day! Well, he can open it early, if he reads it, before then!

The Christmas Gift

The article of 12/1/2023 was about my 186th hike, on House Mountain, on 11/29/2023. That also marked my 50th House Mountain hike, as a “bionic man.” (The 17 articles, in the topic section “My Bionic Life - since 3/29/2016,” will explain.)

My youngest brother and his wife have hiked House Mountain, with me, three times. I didn't publish any articles, in 2015, as the “Website Archive” verifies. The following, as a late entry, is my Christmas gift.

House Mountain Hike, 10/17/2015

On Saturday, 10/17/2015, my youngest brother, his wife, and their two daughters joined me, as we braved the elements and the fairly treacherous areas, on House Mountain! At age 55, it was my 124th hike on “My Mountain.” It was the second hike, for my brother and his wife. It was the first hike, for their daughters.

My hiking log indicates that we hiked up the west trail and reached the west bluff, in 50 minutes. We then hiked east, to the middle bluff. Afterward, we hiked to the east bluff. We hiked back out and down, on the east trail. I'd taken two photographs, of my brother and his family, at the upper-middle bluff. As those images show, the weather was sunny and seasonably cool.

Yesterday, I was able to order and pick up, at the local Walgreens, 8x10 prints, of the two photographs that I'd taken. They are as follows, with my comments, below each photograph.

I'd taken the above photograph, at 4:24 PM. The view looks northwest. My younger niece is on the left. She had attained the grand age of six, three days before the hike. My older niece, on the right, was age nine, at the time. Do you see the personalities, in their faces? These were their humorous “styling and profiling” personalities! They still have them.

Three minutes later, having gathered the entire family together, I'd taken the above photograph. I still wonder why there was a need for two hiking sticks! My youngest brother was age 41, turning a year older, in four days. His wife is a few years younger than him. Don't worry, sister-in-law, I ain't telling the number of years!

This article publishes the memorable event -- of hiking with family, in 2015 -- as a family heritage snapshot in time. Youngest brother and family, this is part of your surprise Christmas gift!

Two Other Hikes

The first hike that my youngest brother and his wife took with me, on House Mountain, was on Saturday, 2/28/2004. (This website started two years later, on 3/6/2006.) My hiking log only mentions that this was my 17th hike on “My Mountain.” I didn't take any photographs, but I remember the hike well enough. As I recall, my sister-in-law was hiking faster than my brother and me! We had to ask her to slow down! Their two daughters were not yet born. Dad (Earl Ferrell, 9/17/1927 - 1/25/2008) was still alive and getting along fairly well. My wife and I had been living, in our newly constructed home, almost a year. That was “back in the day,” as folks around here say!

If the weather is right, any Irish-American, who is worth his or her salt, wants to hike on St. Patrick's Day! St. Patrick's Day -- on Sunday afternoon, 3/17/2019 -- marked the third hike, on House Mountain, for my brother and his wife. It was their daughters' second hike. It was my 156th hike (or my 20th hike as a “bionic man”). That hike -- which involved seven humans and three dogs -- is highlighted, in the article of 3/21/2019, titled “HOUSE MT. #156, Saint Patrick's Day: 7 Humans and 3 Dogs!” Two photographs are included.


Well, Merry Christmas, youngest brother and family! I'll have a paper copy, of this article, included with your surprise Christmas gift!

Family heritage is a very important part of this Appalachian Irishman's life. The heritage is good. The four of us boys were raised by godly parents. We had fine grandparents.

Remember, the greatest Christmas Gift is not found in stores. Set aside the crass commercialization of Christmas. Remember Christ, the true meaning of Christmas. Christ's Christmas gift is the gift of Himself. It is a free gift. It is available to all, who seek, accept, and live for Him.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

2023 - 2024 College Bowl Games List: with Commentary on the 12-2-2023 SEC Championship Game (published 12-10-2023; article #444)

Image by jorono from Pixabay. Free for use under the Pixabay Content License.


As a public service -- to American college football enthusiasts -- this article lists the forty-two (count 'em, forty-two) college football bowl games, from 12/16/2023 to 1/1/2024. The national championship game, on 1/8/2024, makes 43 total games. (This is the fourteenth article, under the “sports” topic section.)

This may become an annual public service. I'm reminded of my article, on 12/10/2022, titled “2022 - 2023 College Football Bowl Games: List and Commentary.” I still think that ten bowl games are enough! Those ten games are emboldened.

2023 - 2024 College Bowl Games

The source, for this list, is “2023-24 college football bowl game schedule, scores, TV channels, times,” on (as updated on 12/8/2023). Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams, in bold underline, are in nine games, down from eleven last year.

The ranked teams, in the list, are from the final College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings, of 12/3/2023. (Source: “College Football Playoff Selection Committee Announces Final Top 25 Rankings of 2023,” on College Football Playoff, 12/3/2023.)

The following is my redacted and easier to read list of bowl games, based on the NCAA list (as referenced previously). Warning! Your eyes will glaze over, and your mind will start turning to mush, if you read through the entire list! I'd suggest that you only glance through it. I'll have a few pithy comments, after the list.

Saturday, Dec. 16 (7 games)
-- Myrtle Beach Bowl (Conway, SC): Georgia Southern vs. Ohio (11 AM, ESPN)
-- Celebration Bowl (Atlanta, GA): Florida A&M vs. Howard (12 PM, ABC)
-- New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans, LA): Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana (2:15 PM, ESPN)
-- Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL): Miami (Ohio) vs. Appalachian State (3:30 PM, ABC)
-- New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM): Fresno State vs. New Mexico State (5:45 PM, ESPN)
-- LA Bowl (Inglewood, CA): UCLA vs. Boise State (7:30 PM, ABC)
-- Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA): Texas Tech vs. Cal (9:15 PM, ESPN)

Monday, Dec. 18 (1 game)
-- Bahamas Bowl (but renamed temporarily the Famous Toastery Bowl) in Nassau, Bahamas (but relocated temporarily to Charlotte, NC): Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion (2:30 PM, ESPN)

Tuesday, Dec. 19 (1 game)
-- Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX): Marshall vs. UTSA (9 PM, ESPN)

Thursday, Dec. 21 (1 game)
-- Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, FL): USF vs. Syracuse (8 PM, ESPN)

Friday, Dec. 22 (1 game)
-- Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, FL): Georgia Tech vs. UCF (6:30 PM, ESPN)

Saturday, Dec. 23 (7 games)
-- Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL): Troy vs. Duke (12 PM, ABC)
-- Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL): Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois (12 PM, ESPN)
-- Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX): Air Force vs. James Madison (3:30 PM, ABC)
-- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID): Georgia State vs. Utah State (3:30 PM, ESPN)
-- 68 Ventures Bowl (Mobile, AL): Eastern Michigan vs. South Alabama (7 PM, ESPN)
-- Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, NV): Northwestern vs. Utah (7:30 PM, ABC)
-- Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu, HI): San Jose State vs. Coastal Carolina (10:30 PM, ESPN)

Tuesday, Dec. 26 (3 games)
-- Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI): Bowling Green vs. Minnesota (2 PM, ESPN)
-- First Responder Bowl (Dallas, TX): Texas State vs. Rice (5:30 PM, ESPN)
-- Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Phoenix, AZ): Kansas vs. UNLV (9 PM, ESPN)

Wednesday, Dec. 27 (4 games, 1 SEC team)
-- Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD): Tulane vs. Virginia Tech (2 PM, ESPN)
-- Duke's Mayo Bowl (Charlotte, NC): North Carolina vs. West Virginia (5:30 PM, ESPN)
-- Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA): #15 Louisville vs. Southern Cal (8 PM ET, FOX)
-- Texas Bowl (Houston, TX): #20 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (9 PM, ESPN)

Thursday, Dec. 28 (4 games)
-- Fenway Bowl (Boston, MA): #24 SMU vs. Boston College (11 AM., ESPN)
-- Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY): Rutgers vs. Miami (Fla.) (2:15 PM, ESPN)
-- Pop-Tarts Bowl (Orlando, FL): #18 NC State vs. #25 Kansas State (5:45 PM, ESPN)
-- Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX): #12 Oklahoma vs. #14 Arizona (9:15 PM, ESPN)

Friday, Dec. 29 (4 games, 2 SEC teams)
-- Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL): #22 Clemson vs. Kentucky (12 PM, ESPN)
-- Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX): #16 Notre Dame vs. #19 Oregon State (2 PM, CBS)
-- Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN): Memphis vs. Iowa State (3:30 PM, ESPN)
-- Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX): #7 Ohio State vs. #9 Missouri (8 PM, ESPN)

Saturday, Dec. 30 (4 games, 3 SEC teams)
-- Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA): #10 Penn State vs. #11 Ole Miss (12 PM, ESPN)
-- Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN): Auburn vs. Maryland (2 PM, ABC)
-- Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens, FL): #5 Florida State vs. #6 Georgia (4 PM, ESPN)
-- Arizona Bowl (Tucson, AZ): Wyoming vs. Toledo (4:30 PM, Barstool)

Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 (5 games, 3 SEC teams)
-- ReliaQuest Bowl (Tampa, FL): #13 LSU vs. Wisconsin (12 PM, ESPN2)
-- Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL): #17 Iowa vs. #21 Tennessee (1 PM, ABC)
-- Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ): #8 Oregon vs. #23 Liberty (1 PM, ESPN)
-- College Football Playoff Semifinal, Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA): #1 Michigan vs. #4 Alabama (5 PM, ESPN)
-- College Football Playoff Semifinal, Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA): #2 Washington vs. #3 Texas (8:45 PM, ESPN)

Monday, Jan. 8, 2024
College Football Playoff National Championship Game (Houston, TX): winners of the semifinal games (7:30 PM, ESPN)

My Pithy Comments

The ten bowl games that are sufficient are the Gator Bowl, Sun Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. The list is chronological, by when each bowl game is played this year.

Thus, thirty-two bowl games can, well, just flush down the toilet bowl. Of course, it's all about the money and following the money. Lackluster teams, several with 6-6 records, that don't deserve bowl appearances are awarded bowl games. It's similar to giving medals to children, for simply competing, even if they don't finish in first, second, or third place. See, if interested, “College Football Win-Loss Records & Trends,” 2023-2024 season, on TeamRankings (undated, no author listed).

Let's do a little basic mathematics. Research indicates that the NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is composed of eleven conferences and includes 128 teams. Since there are 42 bowl games (not factoring the National Championship Game), then 84 teams are in those games. Thus, almost two-thirds, or 65.6%, of the 128 FBS teams are in bowl games. Only forty-four teams are excluded. Again, I say that ten bowl games are sufficient! Let the FBS top 20 teams, the top 15.6%, compete in ten bowl games!

Stepping off my soapbox and onto a humorous note, the Bahamas Bowl (on Monday, 12/18/2023) is renamed temporarily the Famous Toastery Bowl. This year, the game will not be played in the Bahamas. It is relocated temporarily to Charlotte, North Carolina! I didn't know that the Bahamas were in North Carolina. Apparently, the stadium, in Nassau, Bahamas, has an “out of order” sign on it.

I call it the Rat's Mouth Bowl. I'm referring to the “Boca Raton Bowl” (on Thursday, 12/21/2023). The name of the city, Boca Raton, Florida, “. . . comes from boca de ratones, a Spanish term meaning 'rat’s mouth' that appeared on early maps and referred to hidden sharp-pointed rocks that gnawed or fretted ships’ cables.” (Source: “Boca Raton, Florida, United States,” on Britannica, last updated 11/23/2023.) I hope that the University of South Florida (USF) and Syracuse enjoy playing, in the Rat's Mouth Bowl.

The Sun Bowl (on Friday, 12/29/2023) should just drop that Tony the Tiger part. If not, I may drop it, from my list of ten bowl games.

Finally, I figured out, this year, that the Arizona Bowl (on Saturday, 12/30/2023) is not televised from a literal barstool. No, in fact, Barstool Sports is a real online entity, apparently. (I had to do the research.)

12/2/2023 SEC Championship Game

We have two good neighbors, whose first names are Chuck. One is an Alabama fan. Another neighbor has nicknamed him “Alabama.” This “Alabama” Chuck is mentioned favorably, in the articles of 10/22/2022 and 12/1/2023. I saw Chuck a couple of days ago. I shook his hand and said, “Good win.” He was polite and gracious. The teams were matched evenly. The game could have gone either way. I despise Alabama. I like our neighbor, Chuck.

On 12/2/2023, Georgia's SEC Championship Game loss, 24-27, to #8 Alabama did not surprise me. I knew that it would be a close game. That was my only sad Saturday, this season. Tennessee Vols (10-4) fans had four sad Saturdays. Two were expected (losses to Alabama and Georgia), and two were not (losses to Florida and Missouri). Georgia's mistakes and inability to throttle Alabama's running lost the game, by three points. Georgia's missed field goal, which bounced the right upright out, instead of in, was a key factor. The Dawgs' fumble, near their end zone gave Alabama a field goal. That was another key factor.

I plan, Lord willing, to watch the Orange Bowl game, on Saturday, 12/30/2023, at 4 PM, on ESPN. The #6 Georgia Bulldogs face the #5 Florida State Seminoles. Go Dawgs!

On Monday, New Year's Day, I hope to watch the Citrus Bowl game, at 1 PM, on ABC. The #17 Iowa Hawkeyes take on the #21 Tennessee Vols. Go Vols!


Well, yesterday, Army beat Navy, 17-11. I watched a few minutes of the game, after I'd gotten another Tony's Best Clips haircut, gone to the Tractor Supply, and filled my truck with gas. The weather was rainy, like today.

Georgia's loss to Alabama knocked them out of a potential third national championship, in a row. Georgia won national championship titles, the last two years!

Next season, the College Football Playoffs will include a 12-team bracket, expanding the current four-team bracket. The top four teams will receive a first-round bye to the quarterfinals. The six highest-ranked conference champions will get automatic bids. The remaining 7th to 12th ranked teams will round out the 12-team format. (Sources: “College Football Playoff Expands to 12 Teams Beginning in 2024,” on College Football Playoff, 12/1/2022 and “How the 12-team College Football Playoff will work: Teams, schedule, bids,” on, by Maya Ellison, 12/3/2023.)

Oklahoma and Texas will join the Southeastern Conference, in 2025. (Source: “SEC grants membership to Oklahoma, Texas starting in 2025,” on SEC Network, 7/30/2021.) The SEC started with ten teams. Arkansas, not in the southeast, and South Carolina joined, in 1991. Missouri and Texas A&M, neither in the southeast, joined, in 2012, making fourteen teams. Oklahoma and Texas will make sixteen teams (eight in the two divisions).

I thought that southeastern meant southeastern. I'll end this article with four questions.

Geographically, how are Arkansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Texas in the southeast? If not, what could we rename the conference? How about the Sun-Earth Conference? That name would fit -- for any college football team that is on the earth and under the sun!

This article calls on the Southeastern Conference to rename itself the Sun-Earth Conference. What say you?

Friday, December 01, 2023

House Mountain Hike #186, 11-29-2023: Thankful for Family Heritage (published 12-1-2023; article #443)


Greetings, to fellow hikers and to all, who are thankful for family heritage! My 186th hike, on House Mountain, was last Wednesday. This brief preface mentions yesterday's “life, such as it is,” situation. All, eventually, will be well.

Late yesterday morning, Mike, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's good first cousin, had arthroscopic surgery. Thankfully, the surgery went well, and Mike was discharged from the hospital, to his home, today. Thanks, Lord, for caring for Mike! I had planned to join my sister-in-law, who'd taken Mike to the hospital. The plan was for both of us to await the results, in the surgery waiting room. My plan to be there was forestalled.

Earlier yesterday morning, before my planned departure to the hospital, two large, dalmatian dogs invaded our property. The illegal invasion occurred, while I was talking by phone, with my sister-in-law, who was with Mike, at the hospital. One of the dogs attacked Molly, before I could stop it! Molly stood her ground and fought back. The aggressor dog nipped Molly, on her left ear, which bled. It's a puncture wound. In time, two neighbors (who have the same first name of Chuck) and I handled and secured the two invading dogs. I treated Molly's ear with peroxide and an antibiotic cream, which helped stop the bleeding and cleansed the wound. Thankfully, Molly is back to her usually playful personality. Later, a neighbor told me that a man, in a red pickup, got his two dalmatians. The neighbor didn't get the man's name. My plan is to drive around, looking for a house, with two dalmatians and a red pickup, in the yard! I want to give that man a righteously indignant, but sufficiently polite, piece of my mind! Yes, my Irish dander is still up!


Now that the “life, such as it is,” preface is behind us, let's move on, to enjoy our House Mountain hike, on Wednesday! How many times have you hiked along with me, by reading my articles about previous hikes? I've lost count.

This article takes you along, on another virtual hike. The next section is about the hike, with three photographs. Afterwards, the video that I recorded, on the west bluff, is about family heritage. Before the conclusion, I coin the phrase Hiking Wednesday! The conclusion ends, with the purchase of a gallon of milk!

Come on. Let's hike!

The 11/29/2023 Hike (with three photographs)

I wish that we'd not started so late. The time is 2:18 PM, when I tap the marker, near the covered picnic area. The morning low was 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The sky is a crisp blue and sunny. The wind is blowing, in gusts, at times. (That means rain, in a day or two.) The temperature is about 45 degrees. The T-shirt and long sleeve shirt are sufficient. Who needs a light jacket? Not me!

As we hike up the west trail, my usual route, we keep thinking about turning around, at one of the four lower or six upper switchbacks, to hike back out. I need to get a gallon of milk, before returning home, after all. Jesus' words, in Luke 9:62, come to mind: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (NIV). In other words, we started this hike, to get to the west bluff. We have time. Don't look back. Let's finish what we started!

We meet Maurice and Angela, again! (They are hiking down, on the same west trail that we are hiking up.) The article of 10/26/2023 mentions that fine couple, in high regard. We won't reach the west bluff, in a good time now. That doesn't matter. We had several minutes of enjoyable conversation, with Maurice and Angela! I hope that we can keep in touch.

At 3:06 PM, we finally reach the west bluff The hike up and across was easy enough. We must have talked about 18 minutes, with Maurice and Angela. It took 48 minutes to reach the bluff. We made it in 30 minutes, on our last hike, on 11/16/2023 (as mentioned in the 11/19/2023 article).

I took the following photograph, at 3:09 PM. The view looks west.

Minutes ago, we had just climbed up that rocky area, to the right (or north) of the rock outcropping.

A minute later, I took the following photograph. I'm standing at the same spot, but I turned, to face northeast.

Caves and underground water must be beneath the mountain. The indications are all the rock protrusions. Also, I know where underground streams come out, on certain areas, on the two main trails that lead up (or down).

Thanks for your patience, while I record the video, which I started at 3:12 PM. (The video is in the next section, below.) About 3:25 PM, we are starting our careful hike back down the same west trail, up which we'd hiked. Why is my cell phone ringing? Once we're standing in a flat area, just below the west bluff, I see that Mrs. Appalachian Irishman had called. I call her back, two minutes after she'd called. Well, she's on her way home, from work.

Let's make tracks! I still need to buy a gallon of milk, on the way home. Pausing, at 3:42 PM, I take the next photograph.

I see my shadow. Where is yours? We're hiking east, just under the ridgeline. The sun is behind us. Rock outcroppings are all around. As we continue, using hands and feet, we edge our way down what I call the near vertical rock formations.

Before we reach the first switchback, going down, we met and conversed with Seth, a young man. (We'd met an older man and him, on 5/4/2023, as mentioned, but not by name, in the 5/5/2023 article. Back then, Seth saw a tick on my cap.) That fine conversation will delay our hike back out. It doesn't matter. Seth seems to be a fine young Christian. I hope that he stays on the right trail in life.

As we are almost out, we meet a young man, hiking in. He has a very good camera with him. As we chat briefly, he knows that the sun will set, in about an hour. We're glad that he has a headlamp, to guide him, on his hike out, in the darkness. It reminds us of Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (NIV).

At 4:39 PM, I touch the marker, near the picnic area. Two hours and twenty-one minutes in the woods is better than not having been there!

The 11/29/2023 Podcast Episode (on the West Bluff)

This section presents, on Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube), my recorded comments, on the west bluff. The episode is: “House Mountain Hike 186, 11-29-2023: Thankful for Family Heritage (published 12-1-2023; episode 24).” I started recording, at 3:12 PM. I spoke three minutes and forty-four seconds. The description corrects three verbal errors. The brisk and cool wind, which the recording picks up, must have caused my mental stumbles!

I speak, in honor of family heritage. My Mom (Betty Lou Wood Ferrell) was born on 11/24/1932. This year, the 24th was the day after Thanksgiving. Papaw Marion Ferrell got the marriage license, on 11/24/1908. Granny and Papaw Ferrell were married, the next day, on 11/25/1908. Granny Ferrell was fifteen, turning sixteen, on 11/30/1908. The article of 11/30/2022 has a more complete mention of Granny and Papaw Ferrell.

I am thankful for the godly heritage, on both sides of my family. Are you building a godly family heritage? I hope so!

Hiking Wednesday!

Who started Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Weeping Wednesday? I smell marketing gimmicks!

What little online research that I did indicates that Black Friday started, in 1869, when two investors caused a market crash of 20%. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, changed the meaning of Black Friday, to mean tourism and shopping. In the late 1980s, Black Friday became widely known as the frenzied shopping day, after Thanksgiving. It's called Black Friday, not Red Friday, since accountants use red ink for financial losses and black ink for financial gains. American Express started Small Business Saturday, in 2010. Apparently, Sofa Sunday was coined by someone. Years ago, when I first heard it, I thought that it meant to buy a sofa (or couch, as folks in Appalachia call it) on Sunday! Well, I figured out quickly that I was wrong. Sofa Sunday means that folks rest at home, in their pajamas, and do some online shopping. It's like Cyber Monday light, as I reckon. I hope that folks don't stay home, from church, on Sofa Sunday! The National Retail Federation (whatever that is) started Cyber Monday, in 2005. The 92nd Street Y (what and where ever that is) and the United Nations Foundation started Giving Tuesday, in 2012. Those folks wanted to counter the crass commercialization and consumerism of the Thanksgiving season. Weeping Wednesday was coined, for the day that a person realizes how much he or she had spent, in the last seven days!

Near the end of the video recording, I decree that the Wednesday after Thanksgiving is Hiking Wednesday -- not Weeping Wednesday! Henceforth, if you hear anyone talking about Weeping Wednesday, please correct them! It's Hiking Wednesday!


Thanks, fellow hiker, for hiking along virtually with me again! I'll see you later. I've got to get to the convenience store, which used to be called House Mountain Market, to buy a gallon of milk! My 2006 Frontier didn't want me to pause, to photograph him, this time! He knows that I'm in a hurry!

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman was already home, when I arrived. Handing her the gallon of milk, at the door, I went back to my truck, to get my canteen and cap. Once I was inside, she never did ask where I'd been, when we had talked by phone. It's our little secret! We were coming down the trail, not far from the middle bluff! Don't tell her!