Sunday, February 29, 2004

Not Really Helping The Cause...Or Is It?

My friend Steve-O comes across all sorts of things on the internet. He's a surfer. Me, on the other hand, well, suffice to say I'm pretty much like the old Grumpy Old Man played by Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live ("Back in my day, we didn't have fancy schmancy internets. We had to get our news the old fashioned way, by going down to the town square and waiting for the Pony Express to bring one newspaper...and then we had to wait in line.") when it comes to techology.

Anyway, a few days ago he comes across this. You can actually leave an e-mail that will go to a number of your left-behind unsaved friends weekly in the event that The Rapture takes place (although, I'm curious what would happen if we found out that the mid-tribbers or post-tribbers were right). For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of The Rapture, it's explained on the site.

The strange thing is I'm sure the people who came up with this site are well-intentioned. The same for the lady who offered to give out tracts at the end of The Passion. The same for the rainbow-haired "John 3:16" guy who holds banners behind the uprights at televised football games. Same for the kid who took "Jesus Loves You" pencils to school and gave them to his classmates (maybe not, since his parents sued the school board-and settled-for over a quarter-million bucks, but let's give the benefit of the doubt, shall we?). Same for the folks who ran the alternative to haunted houses called "Hellhouse 13." I could go on.

I simply am having trouble with all this kind of stuff this morning. For some reason, it rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it shouldn't. But it does.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Burying Your Head In The Sand

Myles Brand, newly elected president of the National Collegiate Athletics Association: "College sports is not a business. It's about educating young men and women in the field and in the classroom."

(Side note: Brand makes over $750,000 a year, has a private plane, and the NCAA recently recieved $6 BILLION from CBS to broadcast the yearly basketball tournament.)

Not Burying Your Head In The Sand

Bobby Knight, basketball coach at Texas Tech: "If it isn't a business, then General Motors is a charity. College sports has turned into one of the biggest businesses in the whole sports industry. Sports just doesn't provide entertainment. It provides thousands and thousands of jobs. Those salaries have to be paid for. It takes people who are extremely good business people to run a college athletic program."

Friday, February 27, 2004

Fleeing Haiti

I have some friends who live and work in Haiti with our sister church's sponsoring organization. They literally escaped on another organization's DC-3 to get out before the uprising officially becomes a coup d'etat.

Say what you want, but I think the missionary lifestyle truly exemplifies a genuine walk with Christ. Let's be honest: Fleeing and leaving pretty much everything you own behind (with the likely reality that it will be looted before you get back)--which is almost a worst-case scenario for a missionary--beats the heck out of filling out TPS Reports (making sure to use the correct cover sheets) and memos about Red Swingerline staplers.

Walking with Christ may be misunderstood, unconventional, inconvenient, uncomfortable and about 100 other similar adjectives I could throw in here, but I'll take it over a sedate, safe, comfy life...and in my line of work I can use more "good" adjectives than my missionary friends can.
Give me the best of 24 to make a sacred vow to...

Wouldn't it make sense that if one of the concerns against the gay-marriage issue is truly the "devaluing of marriage" in our society, that those opposed to homosexual unions would also be equally vehemently opposed to shows like "The Bachelorette?"
The Women's Retreat

My wife is off to our church's annual women's retreat this weekend. I'm not sure exactly what takes place and I don't ask. I mean, I know there's a gifted speaker, and I know that some people will be doing music...but beyond that, all I know is that my wife comes back early Sunday evening and she's tight lipped, happy and tired.

It's almost like those commercials for Las Vegas. You know, "What's Done Here, Stays Here?" I think the Christian women's retreat is really like a tame trip to Vegas.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Passion of the Christ

A few scattered thoughts after seeing the movie yesterday at the 11:30AM showing:

I find it hard to understand how anyone could view the movie as "anti-Semitic." My friend even attended with a RABBI for cryin' out loud who said as much.

It would be hard for anyone who wasn't familiar with the Bible stories to tell the players without a scorecard. There were some flashback scenes that might leave neophytes of Scripture in the dark as well. Now I know what I sounded like asking Lord of the Rings afficianados things like, "Why is that staff so magical? Why can't elves die?"

It probably isn't that great of a movie for what Christians call "outreach." My wish is that someone would've told that to the lady who loudly announced (during the closing credits to an otherwise silent and somewhat reflective audience) that she had "tracts from the Billy Graham Association" that can tell you how you can have a "relationship with Jesus Christ because He is alive." No one responded to her. I can't blame them.

The film is harsh and brutal. It is, at the same time, an artful film. I stand by my earlier blog that the "R" rating should stand as a good guidline for parents.

The language and subtitles "work," and even added to my enjoyment of the movie. Normally, I don't like subtitles, but this film had to be done this way.

High points: The opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, complete with a brilliant Genesis reference of the "curse." There is a rain drop coming from heaven at the end of the Crucifixion was the basis for some creative cinematography. Both are simply amazing on the big screen. I doubt seriously if the DVD will do it justice.

Low point: The earthquake/splitting of the vail in the temple was noticably overdone. The special effects when Jesus side was pierced seemed comparatively weak, too. There was a scene where Satan was holding some demon-baby that I still have no idea what was trying to be communicated and neither did my pastor.

As an "epic" film it has an "Oscar" tone to it. It likely won't get nominated as the "niche" marketing of the movie doesn't lend itself to wide audiences and the controversy will override any critical acclaim, but it was easily a better movie than Titanic. The movie was truly relentless. It stayed after you from the opening scene to the credits...our theatre had no commercials, previews of coming attractions, or reminders to turn off cell phones. It started and we fastened our seat belts.

My take: A contextually violent but artfully accomplished movie, done with excellence befitting one of any particular year's best film. By far the best "Jesus" movie I've ever seen, and certainly provocative. I've spent more money on worse movies, and I'll buy the DVD. But it is a movie, no matter how well done or what the subject matter. No more. No less.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

If you've got a minute...

Has anyone else seen the new commercial for Quiznos Subs? The one where the potato/mutant gerbil (or whatever it is) sings?

And, following up on the success of the "Wingman" commercials (which are brilliant...complete with the facial expressions of the guy getting whipped by the "junior investment banker who talks about herself and not much more" and the tip of the cap by the Wingman while his buddy lives "the dream."), there is now one for the "Wingdog" who breaks the ice at the beach for a group of guys by running into a pack of girls and doing tricks.

Both are laugh out loud funny. I think it would be fun to work for an advertising agency on a creative team.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

From Chuck Swindoll:

"In a ministry based on God's Word, where truth is proclaimed and pleasing people is not one's objective, there are jagged edges not generally known by the public. Most believe pastors and church leaders work on Sundays and relax the rest of the week, either playing golf or fiddling around with non-essentials and hanging out with a few friends. Those of us who've been in God's work for years simply roll our eyes when we encounter that opinion...Few relaize the intensity of pressure and enormity of responsibility connected with accurately presenting the Word of God, then correctly handling the fallout."

The intensity and enormity of responsibility is there even in youth pastors. Just thought I'd let you all know in case you think differently.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Great Line From Daymon Wayans

Daymon Wayans was asked what he thought about Mel Gibson's upcoming movie, The Passion of the Christ, and he responded this way:

"Well, I think it'll be good if they stick to what the Bible says. But if they Hollywoodize Jesus on the cross, if Jesus says something like (doing an Arnold voice) "I'll be back," well then I think it won't work."

Funny line, and true. Even if it won't work in the movie, Daymon got the theology right.
Better living through chemistry

I saw an ad on television for a pill that helps cure Social Anxiety Disorder. Their website puts it this way:

"If you have social anxiety disorder, you often have an extreme fear of a situation in which you have to meet new people or could be scrutinized by others. As a result, you experience intense anxiety in these feared social situations -- or you avoid them entirely. Often you get physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, shaking, trembling, tense muscles, shaky voice, dry mouth or a pounding heart."

It sounds to me like there's a pill that cures the dating scene. Think of the money that will be saved on buying liquor to get the nerve to talk to that potentially special someone.

And, while I'm at it, do I really want to take a "challenge" offered by another drug manufacturer? It's a competitor of the folks that make Viagra, so, make your own

It's been going on for a while, but I'm not sure I like the idea of advertising drugs to the general public. How can Joe Guy legitimately walk into a doctor's office and, upon the doctor's diagnosis of these symptoms, tell the doctor an idea of what to prescribe?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

A Heartfelt Thank You

From Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies:

"Slowly I came back to life. I'd been like one of those people Ezekiel comes upon in the valley of the dry bones--people who had really given up, who were lifeless and without hope. But because of Ezekiel's presence, breath comes upon them; spirit and kindness revive them. And by the time I was well enough for Bill to consider tapering off our meetings, I had weaseled my way into his heart. I drank, he led a church, and together we went walking every week..."

I guess those of us who follow Christ have a story of someone whose spirit and kindness revived us. Thank you, Duffy. Thank you, Big Dave, Sr. I wonder where I'd be if the two of you didn't see extraordinary possibilities in a very ordinary & lifeless teenager.

And, thanks, God. Sometimes I forget about the Ezekiel's you used. And, sometimes I forget to be your Ezekiel. So, thank you.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Empty Nest Kind of Morning

My daughters were out and about last night. One at a youth group conference, the other at a sleepover with a friend.

This morning, I treated myself by sleeping in until 6:30, made the coffee, read the paper, grabbed The Book, grabbed a book, grabbed the laptop...

...and not a creature is stirring. My own two sorry creatures, Buford--the greatest of all dogs--and Lloyd (the apprentice), went back to sleep.

I was thinking this might be what an "empty nest" is like. It's nice in a way, but I think it's nice because this is a rarity and not the norm. I mean, no kid to help get ready for school. No papers to sign. No lunch money to dole out. No climbing into my chair with hugs and questions. No morning hype music happening in the back of the house. No chores happening. No reminding children about chores.

It's just quiet.

At present, I'm glad this situation is temporary.

And, I'll be a bit more attentive at high school graduation this spring when parents start talking about how hard the last kid leaving will be.

Friday, February 20, 2004

In Today's "What's The Matter With People?" File:

Our homogenous suburb's school board voted to extend kindgergarten in elementary schools from a half-day program to a full day.

Now, I'm not sure that I ultimately feel strongly either way. My kids did the half-day thing and it had it's plusses and minuses, and I'm sure the newly affected kids going all day will have their plusses and minuses.

And I know that in this day and age (especially with a Texas law nicknamed "Robin Hood" in which school districts with high property values share their tax dollars with struggling school districts) that monies are truly an issue. Pinching pennies is necessary and this little deal will somehow get our district $6 million. Nothing wrong with that at all.

And the politicians on the school board did mention that in passing. They said things like, "Yeah, the $6 mil will be nice, but the most important thing is giving our kids a leg-up on the competition." There were phrases like "grasping future concepts" and "more proficient" and "time-on-task issues."

Grasping future concepts? Like learning how to line up and that naps are good for you?
More proficient? At things like breaking the Graham cracker exactly on the line and not spilling your juice?
Time on task issues? Paying attention to a teacher reading a story for 10 minutes?

Hey, I'm not knocking kindergarten, but let's don't glorify the experience. Yes, kids will learn basic reading skills and social skills and acclimate to how it all works. But I'll refer everyone to Robert Fulgham's classic essay "Everything I Need To Know About Life I Learned In Kindergarten" (here's a highlight of it just in case you missed it) and the reality of it.

People wonder why my ilk don't trust politicians? Guys...there are plenty of good reasons for the move. Just say that it's a good thing to save 6 million bucks and we'll do our best to give your children a positive kindergarten experience. But don't expect us to buy mumbo jumbo about getting a leg up at age 5.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

From the desk of researcher George Barna...

This article by the noted pollster of church life tells us about the differences in the Baby Boomers (age 40 & up) who are pastoring churches and those of us in Generation X (I loathe the term baby busters, hence will not use it). One of the more interesting (and sad?) findings:

"Perhaps because of their increased sensitivity to media influence, Buster pastors (46%) are more likely than are Boomer pastors (30%) to prioritize ministry to families, youth, and children. The study showed that Buster pastors are also focusing more attention than do their predecessors on spiritual growth, discipleship, and Bible study (37% to 27%)."

What were these pastors doing with their life and time then?
The Passion of Youth Ministers

Open notice to all the youth ministers who are jacked up about taking their groups to see The Passion of the Christ: Don't you think you should at least SEE the movie first before you buy 150 tickets? It's likely rated "R" for a reason.
And Visions of Championships Danced In Their Heads

That giant humming sound you heard this morning was the universe being pleased with itself, knowing for sure that all is well and back in cosmic harmony and symmetry.

Pitchers and catchers report today for Spring Training. Professional baseball players are back in business. Harmony and symmetry.
Do You Believe In Miracles?!

Saw the movie Miracle last night with my high school guys Bible study. It was a good movie, but for those of us who still have the images in our minds of the endless replays of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team it was strange seeing guys who were trying to do what you remember the real guys doing after they scored the goals or won the games. Nice little movie, though.

I enjoyed hanging out with my high school junior and senior guys more, though. They really are a pretty fun group.

Movie review from one of my juniors: "Man, that movie was like The Mighty Ducks except it was for grown ups."

That echo you heard was the sound of his voice traveling over the generation canyon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Long-Term Influence of Reading

I'm not really sure what it is that causes some people to enjoy reading and then other people to loathe it. And, more often than not, I'm surprised by people I find on both ends of the spectrum. Either way, I absolutely love to read.

Well, I love to read when it isn't part of the required curriculum.

Anyway, I think this had something to do with the fact that my childhood home always had some good books in my formative years. And I was thinking about some of my favorite reads from say, ages 5 through 10 and why I liked them and what ways they influenced me:

1. Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Suess. My all-time favorite. I heard he wrote that book as a $50 bet with a friend that he could write a legitimate children's story using no more than 25 different words or something like that. I think this is why I like people who are truly individuals.
2. Yertle the Turtle. Again, Dr. Suess. I often wonder if the moral of that story is the reason that I don't have much desire to use other people for personal gain and dislike people that do and love it when they get their comeuppance.
3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. Judith Viorst. Man, we've all been there...and I love how Alexander had those moments you couldn't really explain like how his marble went down the drain. As a kid, I was always having those moments...and I wonder if my love of this book explains my why I see the glass as half-empty.
4. Flat Stanley. Jeff Brown. Even when I was young I always wondered about what else was out there. Maybe it was the reality that in Alabama we never really went anywhere other than the beach or Gatlinburg. I still think the idea for this story is incredible, and now incidentally, elementary school curriculums have kids using Flat Stanley as a geography project.
5. The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald. Clifford Hicks. I actually got into the entire series and they were my first "chapter books." There were all sorts of adventures about how he would develop a newspaper thrower for his paper route, or a pulley system to make his bed up in seconds. I think is where I get ideas like trying to buy a "solar Yard-Goat" in order to keep from mowing the lawn.

And there's some great stuff out now for kids, too, like Bently and Egg and The Polar Express and collections of Shel Silverstein's poems that I got to read to my kids (who both love to read, too).

We'd all do well to turn off the television and read more.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm Not Sure What To Make Of These Observations From The Last Three Days...

I sat in a parking lot yesterday waiting to pick up my child. I counted 25 SUV's/Minivans, 7 cars and two pick-up trucks. Just to be sure, I found similar ratios in the adjoining businesses parking lots.

In a 10 minute drive to the mall (including the parking lot), I counted 7 people talking on their mobile phone while driving.

Dallas has more houses of worship per capita than any other city in the U.S.

My college football team hired their fourth offensive coordinator in a four seasons.

It's hard finding a free blog template that a 10-year-old girl will like.

I can't think of any movie that has ever been the subject of more news interviews and print media coverage than the upcoming Mel Gibson movie "The Passion of Christ."

I don't know why, but when I'm tired, I try to fight through it to read good books...which only results in about 15 minutes of nodding off every two minutes until I just give up and go to bed.

This web site gets about 1300 hits a month...and some days can get 80 hits or so if you're lucky enough to get on the Blogger page "10 Most Recently Published Blogs."

I still can't figure out how some people truly regarding "file sharing" of music as anything other than piracy...and believe me, if I thought it was ethical, I'd be all over it.

Science fair projects have become high-level professional presentations with every kid having access to computer technology.

I rarely, if ever, remember my dreams and I've remembered each one the last three nights.

Snow days in places that usually don't get snow make the morale of the general public rise.

The folks at Disney are some of the most creative people on the planet. The Lion King 1 & 1/2 has some lines in it that are laugh-out-loud funny (a scene where Pumbaa & Timon are trying to come up with alternative phrases for "Hakuna Matata" because "it isn't catchy" is great, and Timon, after talking to Rafiki, says to Pumbaa, "Hey, check out the monkey gettin' all existential on us.").

Monday, February 16, 2004

So, to celebrate...

I try to keep my birthday somewhat low-key. Obviously, my family and close friends know and I enjoy hearing from them, but I generally don't like the attention. Not sure why, but it's difficult to keep it low-key when you are a pastor at a church. All things considered, though, I'm glad that I work at a place where people love and care about me and were so nice to shake hands or smile and say "Happy Birthday!" and do so in a genuine way. Even if 38 isn't nearly as interesting as say 15 (permit), 16 (license), 18 (vote/grownup status), 21 (legal) or 25 (when the car insurance rates went WAY down).

That was nice, but what was peculiar was that several people asked me, "Hey, if it's your birthday, how come on your blog when other people have birthdays you tell your readers to celebrate by doing stuff that the birthday person does, why didn't you do that on YOUR birthday? You know, when it was your friend's birthday, you told us to celebrate by getting piercing or on your sister's birthday you told us to fly a plane...that kind of stuff?"

It was funny on a couple of fronts: First, I didn't know that some of those people read my blog so closely (or even at all).

Second, I'd never thought about putting my own charicature traits out there...

So, here goes:

Hey, everybody, it was my 38th birthday yesterday, so let's all celebrate by dressing a decade behind the times (and wearing a hairstyle 30 years behind them), watching a mindless comedy on DVD enough times to memorize lines and apply them to daily situations, simultaniously reading books by C.S. Lewis and Al Franken, and fail to see the irony in driving a minivan around while listening to the Sex Pistols.

If you wanted to celebrate in a more "retro" manner, you could wear a mullet, drive a '77 Cutlass Supreme while listening to Iron Maiden, going to the batting cages and hitting 200 pitches and wasting your high school and first two years of university educations by manipulating systems to get average grades instead of learning.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I am...

...a disciple of Christ.

This means that I am in a constant state of transformation.
This means that I am on a never-ending adventure complete with risk and unknowns.
This means that I am part of a worldwide family.
This means that I am an alien in a strange land.
This means that I am urged to walk in purity and holiness, but my imperfections are here while I try.
This means that God has a plan for me that confounds human wisdom and often goes against the grain of what people refer to as "common sense."
This means that I am loved beyone comprehension.
This means that I am chosen and adopted.
This means that forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, I belong to Him and nothing (on my end or on God's end) can change that reality.
This means that I have the ability to live an abundant life if I choose to do so.

If I wasn't a disciple of Christ...

...that would mean that I should eat, drink and be merry for "tomorrow" I would die.

If Christ wasn't raised, then me and my tribe are to be pitied by the big broad spectrum of humanity.

If He did rise from the dead, and I remain convinced that He did in a literal and historical way, then the blade from the preceeding statement cuts both ways. Somebody should be pitied for a life poorly lived.

For some reason, as I sit here and type at this moment, I don't believe that the big broad spectrum of humanity is right. And it all feels so very black-and-white at the moment.

I am a disciple of Christ.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Valentine's Day

I love my wife. I love who she is. I love who she is becoming. My feelings for her are stronger now than they ever have been...and that's after 15 years. My reality is that every day is pretty much Valentine's Day so it's kind of hard to get overly jacked about the Hallmark-driven day this has become...

But yes, there is a card and chocolate on the table, waiting for recipient.

She got me a card and a pack of beef jerky. If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

And I have been loved more than I have loved. She's amazing. Happy Valentine's Day, Tracy!
A Great Expression of How I Feel

From today's Dallas Morning News Religion Section by Margaret Kimberley:

"Liberals who are Christians must forthrightly connect their religious and political beliefs and question conservative views that are not in keeping with Christian teaching. Just as it is unhealthy for the body politic if only one opinion holds sway, it is unhealthy for one religious view to monopolize public debate. American political and religious life will continue to suffer unless liberals and conservatives are equally outspoken in the interchange of ideas."


The Perfect (Snow) Storm

It snowed 3 inches or so last night. It's 31 degrees. No ice. I drove to get the doughnuts/chocolate milk/pigs-in-a-blanket for my kids with no problem. Fire is already full-throttle in the fireplace. It's 7:45AM and the kids/wife/dogs are still asleep. I'm about to burst waiting for them to wake up. How can a Saturday be better?

Friday, February 13, 2004

The Art of the "Mix Tape"

I got my first car. A '77 Cutlass Supreme and it came equipped with an 8-track tape player. Something had to be done as the only 8-tracks available were my dad's Kenny Rogers and the First Edition or some other country after driving around a week I went to a car audio shop and purchased a cassette deck. It really was the envy of all my friends.

I also had developed a collection of LP's. It began with the Beatles and some Rolling Stones and by the time the cassette deck was in the dashboard I was well into the Heavy Metal phase. I imagine I had around 80 or so albums.

Since necessity is the mother of invention and blank TDK cassettes were about 7 bucks for a package of three, the mix tape came into my reality. It didn't take long before you realized that audio whiplash could take place when actually listened to the tape you were making and Lynerd Skynard's "Free Bird" preceeded Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills."

There really is/was an art to making a good mix tape. That reality came when you would try to impress the girl you were dating with a Valentine's Day mix tape or coming up with the perfect set of tunes for the two-hour road trip with the guys...of course, the "art of the good mix tape" theme has been discussed in movies like "High Fidelity" et. al. Albums scattered on the floor, runs up to the upstairs of the fraternity house to get that Romeo Void album, checking out a couple of classical collections from the library, etc...about four hours worth of time, too.

So, kids, today, let's save some time, and practice that art by coming up with a "Blogger Virtual Mix CD" today. Two themes: First, for my Christian readers...12 worship songs/remakes released within the last 5 years. Second, a good 12-mix of songs you want to listen to when you need to get in a creative mood.

To get you started: Song 1, CD 1: Awesome God by the Insyderz. Song 1, CD 2: Chronic Town, by R.E.M.


Thursday, February 12, 2004

"Good" Morning, America?

Could there be anything fluffier than national network morning news shows? Horrible banter among hosts. McNews or news-lite. Stupid human interest stories. Homogenous guests (Josh, the big old dog who won the recent dog show was on each show).

SNL had a great send-up of those shows once, and when the teleprompter broke the entire cast eroded into a "Lord of the Flies" scenario in which the hosts turned into savages (complete with Will Farrell, shirtless, with a palm painted on his chest, screaming, "Respect the Order of the Hand!").

If they want America to really have a good morning they should just show reruns of Looney Toons and provide chocolate milk. It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Not Getting It

I wasn't there.

I missed the mania of it all, even though the first album I ever got was by them.

But it seems plain to me that the Beatles were not that much of a sensation until their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show 40 years ago this week. They did a three-week tour of America, and from everything I've heard, it was only after those appearances that "Beatlemania" took off.

I've heard the songs.

I've seen the guys. I've read the articles.

The Beatles were a good pop band with a bunch of catchy tunes. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I don't get the reverence. Maybe I'm too young.

Maybe it's because I missed the heyday, and my cultural context puts me growing up in the post-Vietnam/Watergate/Woodstock era, but I still don't see what's so amazing about the Beatles. I've tried to, too.

It is possible that they might be the most overrated artists of all time.
Really Not Getting It

Granted, I'm not into the latest technological advancements at all. I mean, my "bells and whistles" computer is pretty much a glorified word processor and even electric door locks and windows in a car seem like more things that can go wrong than a true help.

Cell phones. Again. Yesterday, in line at a fast-food restaurant, the mom and her two kids. Mom is chatting with later from work dad on hers. Kid A is bowling on his. Kid B is chatting on hers.

Yes, I see the value of cell phones, particularly in the technologically developing parts of the world.

But can't we limit this nonsense? My proposal: Everyone gets 10 minutes a month. Vitally important phone calls only.

I remain convinced that we need to reclaim personal solitude and quiet in our lives, and cell phones are a major hindrance to that and the long-term habits that are being developed in suburban America are not worth whatever good stuff comes from cell phones.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Labors of Love

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday helping Tracy with some home redecoration. Keep in mind that I'm HORRIBLE with tools and even worse with the APPLICATION of the intended use of said tools.

We put in an interlocking hardwood floor for a dance studio, and I felt pretty good about my inability to destroy the interlocking pieces since it's some sort of laminate designed to withstand tap/jazz/ballet's so indestructible that you need a new saw blade about every 15 cuts.

Tracy did the math and drew the lines on the wood laminate where I was to use the electric saw. And, I did well enough...surprised myself, actually. The only places I blew it were in the extreme edges which the molding will cover up. Tracy's really happy with it, and at this stage of the marriage game, if she wasn't happy with it, I'd hear about it.

Now, normally I loathe home redecoration. Mostly because once a room gets involved in that process, it keeps another room in chaos as well. Plus, I stink at it. Which leads to frustration and all sorts of doubting my masculinity so I begin to tense up at the first mention about being tired of a room.

But yesterday I didn't mind the sawdust and the wood scraps and empty boxes and I even discovered an innate ability to interlock wood laminate...especially in tight spaces. The thought of the tap/jazz/ballet that will take place in there or the paintings/drawings/creations coming out of that room by my family kept me pretty happy about the whole thing...but don't think for a second when you're hanging the entire wall of mirrors that's next on the agenda that we're above hiring a pro.

Monday, February 09, 2004

"Christian" #3573 that I'm distancing from:

An American Airlines pilot asked Christians on his flight to identify themselves and suggested the non-Christians discuss the faith with them, the airline said.

You've got to be kidding me.
.Ayn Rand et. al

"We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy in those years in the Home of the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It was that the learning too easy. That is a great sin, to be born with a head which is too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to them. The Teachers told us so, and they frowned when they looked upon us.

So, we fought against this curse..."

Why didn't I enjoy these books when they were required reading? In retrospect, it seems like I missed the entire point of my high school/college education.
And The Grammy Goes To...

I couldn't care less.
Marathon Update

Still in recovery mode...and in a new developement, I'm starting to have lower back pains. I guess it's all about the reclining bicycle trainer for my cardio today.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

It was a beautiful day...the sun beat down...I had the radio on...I was drivin'...the trees went and Del were singin...

You really don't know when they're going to happen. They simply do happen.

It started out innocently enough. We loaded up the car and headed south to Waco, TX where the fast-pitch softball team from my alma mater was playing. If you didn't already know, my daughter thoroughly enjoys softball. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoy my daughter.

Anyway, the hour and a half drive was spent in enoyable conversation and reading about the teams in the tournament. The games were well played, with our team winning the first one 15-0 and losing the 2nd in extra innings 2-0. In between games, the head coach of the team signed a softball we brought and got the entire team to sign it. The weather was perfect, sunny and 55. We got to eavesdrop on what a big time team hears from their coach after they lose to another big time team in a hard-faught game, which was pretty cool. After the games we thanked the coach for the autographs and lots of the girls on the team thanked Kelsey for coming. (I don't think NCAA softball has many "fans" outside of boyfriends and family members, particularly when they're 600 miles from home)

The hour and a half ride back was even more enjoyable. We talked about what the coach told her team. We talked about middle school life. We even talked about our spiritual lives. We clocked the mileage from the interstate sign to downtown (it was off by 2 miles, unless the Infomart in Big D is the city center, in which case it was dead-on accurate). We stopped by Wal-Mart and Kelsey got the tired-head giggles.

We came home and ate dinner with Tracy and Shelby (who had seen the movie "Miracle" with a friend that afternoon. Her review: "lots of hockey." In response to my question if anyone said, "Do you believe in miracles?!" she said, "yeah." One more question: Did they chant "USA!" a lot? Her response: "The people at the movie? "No." People in the movie? "Yeah.") and watched Trading Spaces (One more hockey question: "Shelby, did you see anything red, white and blue in that movie?" Eyes roll back to the TV, followed by "DA-dee, I'm trying to watch this show"). We tucked girls in and went to bed early.

So, in a lot of ways, not much went on. But in it's own way, the day couldn't have been more perfect.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at a "Gas 'N Sip" at 11:30 on a Friday night without a girl anywhere near here?

According to the fine folks at TheRomantic.Com here are the 10 things guys find romantic:

1. Compliments
2. Dark chocolate
3. Hard-to-find gifts
4. You, in his clothes
5. Funny movies
6. A great memory
7. An old-fashioned night on the town
8. Tall buildings
9. Surprise intimacy
10."I love you" notes

Once again, I wonder how I got so far afield from my fellow man. I'm okay with compliments (who doesn't like those?) and the hard-to-find gifts (like the autographed baseball by your favorite player or a special order DVD) and funny movies (but the idea is that you laugh together, I'd rather have The Simpson's or Seinfeld).

And naturally, the surprise intimacy is a no-brainer.

But let's talk about the other six. Dark chocolate? I'm out. You want my heart? It comes through beef.

You, in my clothes. You're kidding, right? Have you seen my clothes? No, I prefer you in your clothes.

A great memory? I'm more of a live-in-the-now kind of mode. I love a good flip through the old photo albums or the viewing of family videos on occasion, but I'm much more attracted to who my wife is BECOMING more than who she was.

An old-fashioned night on the town? Tall buildings? The only way that works is if that old-fashioned night on the town is a great Broadway show in NYC, then the tall buildings are thrown in for free. Other than that, a fire in the fireplace of my one-story home and a really good DVD are my preference.

The "I Love You" notes? Not so much...but if she's paying that much attention to trying to do the other 9 things on the list, it pretty much means she loves me and the notes probably aren't necessary. Besides, nothing says "I Love You" quite like hockey tickets...

Friday, February 06, 2004

Snakes...Why Did It Have To Be Snakes? dream last night (in color, if you think it will help) involved me taking a walk with a baby stroller (I don't know if I was babysitting or if it was my own new baby or what)

and my neighbors (all of whom were not my "real" neighbors)

would come out and ask me if I had seen a snake. Then they would say something like, "Oh, there's one." And these were huge snakes! Like 6 feet long.

One of them bit me...but I had jeans on and didn't think it "broke the skin, so I'll be fine."

I finally got home and one neighbor asked me if the snakes had been in my yard and I said they hadn' which this nice lady said, "There's one right over there." And, sure enough it was about a six foot red and green snake and she went all Crocodile Hunter on the snake, grabbed him by the tail and held him (or her) away from her body while telling me all about this snake that wasn't even indigenous to our region, and put him in a pillowcase and went home.

So I guess I'm asking for some dream interpretation, kids. Freudian. Jungian. SpongeBobian. I don't me out with some insights.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Random Thought

This morning, for some reason, the thought popped into my head that I heard at this year's Bible conference at my church: "You can tell the character of a servant by how they respond when they're treated like one."
Frances Farmer

We're having a bout of Seattle-type weather here in the Metroplex. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the drizzle and cold...and it should stay until Sunday. Time to get the Mudhoney Superfuzz Bigmuff CD out and grab a cup of coffee and maybe find a replica fish market and throw some fish.
How many viewings of syndicated shows makes a life complete?

If you have cable television you can watch continuous showings of Friends, Seinfeld and The Simpsons non-stop between the hours of 5PM and 8PM.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Shoe Shine

I shined my shoes yesterday.

Lest any of you think I actually have some businessman shoes or even some loafers, think again. Against all my punk rock proclivities, I shined my Doc Martin 9-holers. I know, I know...but back in the day Sid Vicious wasn't paying over $100 for them, either. So, both the company and myself have sold out. Gotta take care of my investment.

Anyway, I hauled off and got the official shoe polish of the world, Kiwi, and then got out the old shoe shine box that was my maternal grandfather's. Somehow my dad wound up with it. After his death, that box made it past college years, 7 moves, and 7 years past that. It's one of those wooden container boxes with an angled footrest on the top that shoeshine boys used to carry (at least that's what black and white movies show me).

Inside was this electric buffer made by Sears. It has two speeds and two detachable round, rotating buffers. I swear the thing has to be at least 30 years old.

Kudos to Hanes for making the old t-shirt I used to apply the polish. Kudos to Kiwi for apparently cornering the market on shoe polish (there's probably a reason they have, too). Final Kudos to Sears for long-term quality and performance of their shoe buffing products.

They all made my day a little more fun. There's definitely something cool about walking around after a shoe shine...even if they are Docs.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Well, that groundhog in Pennsylvania, I think Phil is his name, saw his shadow yesterday. According to legend that's six more weeks of winter to you and me.

With all apologies to my friends in the Northeast and Rocky Mountains, I'm pretty bitter about six more weeks of winter.

I mean, that means I'll actually have to keep my sweaters at the ready and have to finish throwing the softball with my daughter while I still have daylight.

Texas winters are pretty nice. I guess that makes up for the hellish conditions of summer, when my friends in the Northeast and Rocky Mountains get the last laugh.

Monday, February 02, 2004

When Renegades Become The Establishment

An open note to MTV, who produced the halftime show for the Super Bowl last night:

The 50 or so teenagers I was watching the game with last night felt pandered to and demeaned by Justin Timberlake's actions with Janet Jackson. Truly, they didn't think it was cool or shocking or anything like that...they just were bewildered. And, they thought the lip-syncing was cartoonish.

Don't take yourselves too seriously, MTV. Back when you really were the Merchants of Cool (and my generation wasn't wise to your methods) you could do that stuff and get away with it, but this generation is savvy...the same way mine is about politicians and government...because we see through the attempts at manipulation.

Keep it up...and the result will be that you make yourself irrelevant. But I wouldn't pay that team of researchers who study teen trends every six weeks to tell you that teenagers really like stunts like that (okay, granted, they aren't all that much above some of the purile humor stuff like Jackass...they are teenagers) when they are totally out of context.

Pay them to sit with my teenagers and watch an event you produced in this context. The sounds you'll hear are the ones I heard: "Did he're kidding, right?"

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Super Sunday

Sign out front of The First Springfield Church (church home of The Simpson's) on the fade-in of their Super Bowl parody/episode:

First Springfield Church: Where Every Sunday Is Super Sunday.

Somebody on the creative team of that show really understands the way Christians think and act.

My Saturdays are nice. Breakfast with my girls. Shuttling them to various activities (and the conversations you get with the trapped kid on the ride are great) from dance to art lessons to, get this, softball practice (it was far from ideal weather-wise, but playable). We watched a movie on DVD. We went to the bookstore and got some books. I split time watching a hockey game with Kelsey and the Dog Show with Shelby. Nice.