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I attended the Super Bowl in person twice, in 2007 and 2009. It looks like I won't be doing that again.

In both cases, I purchased tickets for face value directly from the NFL after winning the opportunity in the annual NFL Super Bowl Random Drawing. For years, so long as football fans sent in a certified letter before May, there was a chance they could buy tickets in November for that January's game. Hopefuls could enter only once per physical address, and each year over 30,000 requests were received for approximately 1,000 tickets. Those were long odds. Now they're worse.

This year, the NFL canceled the program.

Why did they do it? Who knows. The NFL didn't explain its thinking when it updated its website to let us know that we couldn't enter this year. The league hinted they've got something else in the works for next year's Super Bowl LII, but still no word on what it might be. Given the league's guiding principle is the same as Gordon Gekko's — "Greed is good" — I'm not expecting great things.

I'm disappointed in this development, but not mad. I did get to go twice, after all. That's two times more than most. Good times.

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About a zillion posts ago, I posted a pic of my grandmother's newspaper wedding announcement. At the time, Cam asked for a pic of my grandfather to accompany it. Never let it be said that Walter doesn't follow through! (Eventually.)

Down in front!

Okay, I confess. That's not just my grandfather, and this certainly isn't his wedding photo. This is three generations of his family circa 1979. From left to right, that's my grandmother, my mother, Trey, my grandfather, and my aunt Kelley standing in the backyard of my grandparent's house. I still haven't identified the dapper little member of the Lollipop Guild in the front row.

(This reminds me of a true story: not too many years after this, I attended a Georgia State University initiative for "gifted" children on Saturday mornings. A local magazine ran an article on the class. I was mentioned, described as a snaggletoothed youngster who wore a fake watch. I cannot deny that I had snaggleteeth, but my Mickey Mouse watch worked just fine, thank you!)

I'm guessing that my father was the cameraman. He was big into photography back in the day. I have no idea why the family was framed so far to the right. That's bad composition technique. Visual scanning tendency in Western culture leads the eye naturally to the bottom right of an image, so you should balance the composition by keeping focus away from that edge. Sorry, Dad, but not everyone is cut out for art school.

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Not so long ago, Cam suggested that there should be an official Wriphe.com Seal of Approval. I approved of her suggestion.

Wriphe.com Seal of Approval

And now I approve of this.

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Remember last year two years ago when I said I was designing puzzles and scripting dialog for a video game? Well, SnarfQuest Tales, Episode 1: The Beginning is finally available on Steam!

For the record, I wrote the script for that trailer, too. Perhaps next I'll try my hand at being a playwright. That can't pay worse than video game scripting.

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I make fun of newspapers a lot, but they're not always the problem. For example, today I read this Newnan Times-Herald lede:

"Coweta County Crooner Richard Hawk is now officially a member of the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel."

Yes, I thought it was odd that a singer would be appointed to such an important sounding government position, but this is 2017. We have a brain surgeon running government housing, a movie producer directing the treasury, an anti-science lawyer scuttling the EPA, a bespectacled idiot in charge of a department he can't remember the name of, and a game show host in the White House (on weekdays — on weekends he pretends to be an amateur golfer in Florida). In that light, a singer taking a state government position doesn't seem so strange.

But that's not what the paper really said. After I had my breakfast and was thinking more clearly, I realized that the man wasn't a "crooner" but a "coroner." Appointing a professional coroner makes way more sense for a Fatality Review Panel.

If only the federal government was so rational.

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After hearing a strange whirring/grinding sound coming from the rear axle, I dropped the Jeep off at my mechanic's the first week in February. Five weeks and twelve-hundred dollars later, I finally picked it up today. It felt like bringing a sick family member home after a long hospital stay.

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts

Sitting behind the wheel again for the first time in a month, I was reminded why I love that car. The ride is rough. It vibrates and clangs. The road noise is so loud that it's impossible to hear the radio. It's too cold, yet I have to crack the windows and let air rush in to keep the soft top from blowing in. It's so old, the local auto parts places don't carry parts that fit. But, boy, is it fun to drive.

Now if only I can keep it healthy.

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I'm sick.

That doesn't happen often. I think the last time I was sick was last spring. Once a year seems about right.

The only good thing about being sick is it give me an excuse to post this picture of an awesome wreath that friend Cam made last year out of Coca-Cola bottle caps.

Merry Cokemas

When I do die (which won't happen from this illness, but is, sooner or later, inevitable), I don't want flowers. I want wreathes of Coke caps.

I'm super jealous that Cam finds time to make such cool art, while all I'm doing with my free time between coding video games is writing novels and getting sick. Obviously, I need to do something about my priorities.

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Discipline is most necessary when it is least desired.

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The Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3 over the New England Patriots late in the third quarter of the Super Bowl. No team had ever come back from such a deficit in the big game, and the Patriots didn't look like they were going to be the ones to do it. All Atlanta had to do was keep doing what they had been doing for the better part of 2 hours, and they would be NFL champions.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you who won.

The Falcons were good enough this year; they should have been able to beat the Patriots. But the one thing holding back, the lead weight around their necks, was their own history. The 1999 Super Bowl. The 2011 Divisional game. Now the 2017 Super Bowl. When a few plays late in the game went wrong, you could see the Falcons lose confidence that they could win. If you think you're going to lose, you're right.

I'm not a Falcons fan, but I do consider myself an Atlantan. This loss hurt. It hurt bad. Like a second betrayal by an unfaithful lover, it's the sort of pain you never get over. You can forgive, but you'll never forget. You can only blame yourself for believing she wouldn't do it to you again. A loss like this, in a city seemingly incapable of escaping it's terrible luck at team sports (1 MLB title, 0 NFL titles, 0 NBA titles, 0 NHL franchises), this loss leaves a permanent scar on our soul.

As my friend Keith, a Falcons fan since birth, said at the start of the postseason, "I'll believe the Falcons can win a Super Bowl the day after they win a Super Bowl." After this game, I don't think either of us will live that long.

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On January 20, 1993, my high school A.P. American history teacher, Mrs. Pat Tidwell, let us watch the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton in the school media center (i.e., library) during class. The bell to end class rang before Clinton had actually been sworn in, so I remained behind for a few extra minutes before hustling to my next class, English Literature. I wore a purple pullover and blue jeans with a Miami Dolphins Starter® jacket.

Frankly, I don't remember that day all that well.

(What I do remember was that I was not (and remain not) a fan of Mr. Clinton. I found his campaign, including playing saxophone for Arsenio Hall and telling MTV that he smoked but didn't inhale, to be incredibly pandering. Gennifer Flowers didn't help my impression.)

Anyway, as I was preparing to leave, the band started playing "Hail to the Chief." Turning to the teacher, I quipped, "They should be playing the Beatles 'The Fool on the Hill'." I still think it's a pretty good joke.

I wrote all of that just to say that for Donald John Trump's inauguration on Friday, the band should play "Back in the U.S.S.R."

It's funny because it's true.

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