Vacation Highlights

I was back at work today after spending the last few days in Indianapolis for Bible Bowl. We’ll be back to our regular social media coursework shortly, but here are a few reflections and memories from four days in Indy (and two days traveling there and back):

It was a joy to see our granddaughter, Evelyn, and her parents as they joined us from their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s a picture of Evelyn after having gotten a hairdo from her mom in our hotel room:


Lisa and I were also glad to have three of our four parents and five of our six children be with us for this family getaway. We missed Lisa’s mom and our son Jake and wished they were there too, but we were thankful everyone else could make it.

Another highlight was that Joe and Bekah got to play in the National Bible Bowl 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which was held at Conseco Fieldhouse following a Sunday night WNBA game (Indiana vs. Atlanta.) Here’s some footage from the semifinal game, which they lost 15-10.

Finally, here’s the Austin Bible Bowl team photo taken after they were awarded their fifth-place medals (out of 120 teams) in the double-elimination tournament.


And here’s the story that ran in today’s Austin Post-Bulletin after an editor saw my #biblebowl09 tweets and assigned a reporter.

It was a great few days…but now it’s time to resume our regularly scheduled classes!

Bible Bowl 2009

I’ve written some posts over the last couple of years about my kids being involved in Bible Bowl, such as this one from 2007 and this from 2008. My daughter Ruthie, who has been the “franchise player” for the team, just graduated from high school, so this year’s national competition in Indianapolis is her last.

Bible Bowl is a team game, but most teams typically have one key player who wins the toss-up questions. That’s Ruthie. So when I say “Ruthie won” or “Ruthie had a tough time in last year’s round robin” it’s because so much of the team’s performance depends on winning toss-up questions, and also because she is the hardest-working and most dedicated member of her team. Her brother Joe and sister Rebekah are key contributors to the Austin team, and it’s been great to have them all doing this together (Bekah also graduated in June; Joe will be in 9th grade next year.)

During the first couple of days of the competition the teams play a round robin format to determine seeding for the double elimination competition. The teams are grouped into pods or pools of 12 based on how they have done earlier in the year, and then those teams all play each other, and are seeded for the double elimination based on their pool record.

In some ways the round robin doesn’t really matter, as Ruthie showed last year. Her team lost every game in round robin, was seeded 12th, and still came back to finish fifth in the double elimination tournament. She’s kind of streaky that way.

This year she’s off to a much better start, with a 6-2 record and tied for first in the round robin, with three games tomorrow afternoon. Two of those games are against the teams with which Austin is tied, so it’s nice that she can just focus on the games she’s playing instead of depending on someone else losing.

Of course, the most important thing is that through the competition the kids are learning a lot and memorizing lots of scripture. But it’s nice to have Ruthie doing well in the competition since she has worked so hard.

Bible Bowl has been our family vacation for the last couple of years, as we went to Kansas City in 2007 and Atlanta in 2008. We’re glad to have my parents joining us again this year and Lisa’s dad attending for the first time. And a big highlight is that my daughter Rachel and her husband Kyle were able to come for the weekend with our granddaughter, Evelyn.


So for the next few days, until Wednesday, my Twitter stream will be mostly personal. If you want to follow the Bible Bowl tweets, you can use this hashtag: #BibleBowl09. Looks like I’m the only one using it right now, but let’s see if we can get that to change.

But now it’s time to stop blogging about vacation and resume my experience of it.

Here’s hoping everyone is having a great Independence Day!

Bible Bowl 2008

My daughter Ruthie experienced emotions at Bible Bowl 2008 that ranged from despondency to delight, and we who joined her (with her brother and teammate, Joe) for the five days of competition all got to experience those same highs and lows with her. It was quite a dramatic week that started with great difficulty.

I’ll get to the story in a bit, but first here’s a little background. Bible Bowl is a competition similar to the now-defunct College Bowl or Quiz Bowl, but with subject matter taken from selected books of the Bible. This year the text was the Gospel of John as well as his epistles (1 John, 2 John, 3 John) and 1 Peter and 2 Peter. The strongest players have memorized and can recite the entire text (1,178 verses). More demonstration of that in a bit.

Continue reading “Bible Bowl 2008”

Georgia Aquarium

On Monday, before the Bible Bowl competition really started, I got to take my youngest son, John, to the Georgia Aquarium. It’s billed as the largest aquarium in the world.

Here’s some video from that afternoon, in which John (in red and white) got to touch some rays and a hammer head shark:


John is a pretty sentimental little guy; as we walked back to our hotel he got a little bit quiet and thoughtful and when I asked him why he said, “We probably won’t ever see any of those animals again.” When I said we might go to aquariums in some other cities (as we did in Baltimore a few years ago) he replied, “But we won’t see any of those animals that we saw today.”

I guess the bonding from touching these aquatic creatures with two fingers went a little deeper than I thought.

It was a precious afternoon.

Restaurant Nightmares

As we traveled to Atlanta on Sunday, after having spent the night Saturday in Mount Vernon, IL (which was decidedly non-mountainous) we saw a billboard on I-24 in Tennessee advertising the presence of an A&W restaurant near one of the next exits. My daughter Rebekah, who works at the Austin, Minn. A&W, thought it would be fun to see how they run the restaurant in another city, so she prevailed upon us to stop. I captured her excitement as we arrived at the counter (she had offered to pay for our meals out of the proceeds of some of her roadside strawberry sales from the previous week.):


Then we waited. And waited. Not in line. At the front of the line. There were maybe three tables filled with customers, but no one was in front of us in line. Yet employees walked back and forth in front of us, carrying brooms, or towels to clean trays (they had two people on that job), or wandering aimlessly, but exactly 10 minutes after recording Rebekah’s enthusiastic arrival, I recorded this:


I’m sorry I didn’t keep the camera running, but as we were leaving one of the two tray-clearers asked “Why are y’all leavin’?” and seemed perplexed that it would be a big deal that we would wait 10 minutes to have our order taken: “But we haaaiid to clean traaays!”

That evening we decided to order pizza from our hotel room at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and when we called Pizza Hut they told us they were currently about 2 1/2 hours out on deliveries, so we called Domino’s. We were informed it would be 22 to 32 minutes, I gave my credit card for payment, and then we waited. And waited. After about an hour I called Domino’s again to check status, and the phone rang continuously for five minutes with no answer. So I hung up and tried again. Same deal. I called another Domino’s and asked whether they were under the same ownership, and the guy apologized but said they were a franchise and this other one was corporately owned by Domino’s. I told him this behavior reflected pretty poorly on all Domino’s…and he agreed and apologized, but there was nothing he could do. He said he had gotten several other calls about the phone not being answered (three hours before closing time) at the other restaurant.

So I was thinking I would probably need to call the Georgia Attorney General Monday morning about having my credit card charged and no pizza delivered…but just as we were heading to bed (more than an hour after we were told the pizza would arrive, and after the phone had gone unanswered for a half hour), we got a call from the delivery guy, from 40 floors below us. He said they had been overwhelmed with orders, and that whereas the Pizza Hut phone was answered by the local restaurant (so they could gauge the time), Domino’s had a call center taking the calls and didn’t realize how swamped they were.

Note to corporations: even if you’re not outsourcing your call center to India, it can be a major dissatisfier to customers if those taking the calls aren’t plugged into your business realities. If we would have been told it would be 90 minutes, or if someone had answered the phone to tell us they had been overrun and were just behind schedule instead of leaving us to think we had been defrauded, we would have been frustrated but understanding.

In the whole scheme of things, these have been minor annoyances, not major hardships. But in the new world of blogging and social media, your unhappy customers don’t just leave a note in your suggestion box. They can publish their experiences to the world. And in the case of the South Pittsburgh, Tennessee A&W the billboard expense wasn’t just a waste; it led to a negative result.

Our culinary experiences since Sunday have been markedly better.

More reports from the Aase family vacation 2008 coming later today.