Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bitter Blast?

The news went into weather hype yesterday.

You know: Rain. Front coming from the North Pole and picking up extra Canadian cold! Freezing temperatures, dropping 40 degrees! Alexa Conomos, traffic cutie,

tell us which roads will likely get ice first!

Troy Dungan, bow-tied weatherman,

give us the hourly breakdown! Show us the video of sand trucks getting ready! Show the "bitter blast" logo continously in the corner!

Hence, the girls went to bed last night with high hopes of school closings. Rightfully so.

And, at this point, several of the schools around us did close for the day.

Unfortunately for them, they'll at least have to start the day at school. The L.I.S.D. was left out of the closings scroll at the bottom of our television. Liberty Christian: Closed. North Hills: Closed. No L.I.S.D.

That alarm is going off in about 10 minutes. Disappointment awaits.

Maybe they'll get an early release and have the best of both worlds: Freedom AND not wasting a spring inclement weather make-up day!
The Tradition Continues

For the better part of 8 years, my senior guys Bible study group gets together for an evening of grilling red meat and watching...

...and last night was the night. So, for former group members (or afficianados of the Wes Anderson/Luke Wilson/Owen Wilson movie) feel free to add your favorite lines. I'll start:

"He's out. You're out, too. And I don't think I'm in, either. NO GANG!!!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brushes With Greatness

David Letterman used to do this bit where he would get audience members to talk about their brushes with greatness. You know, some sort of thing where you were just walking along, living life, and came across somebody famous or important or infamous or whatever. Couldn't be someone you were intending to see...just one that you ran across.

I haven't had many, but these came immediately to mind:

...some friends and I were riding in a glass elevator at a hotel while waiting on our parents to pick us up from a hockey game and legendary guitar player Chet Atkins got on to go the restaurant.
...I saw Charlie Sheen pumping gas while I was walking in Manhattan on a visit to my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly.
...same visit, Sally Field was going to the same Broadway show as us and she got out of the limo and went in while we were standing by the door.
...I was at McDonald's in Auburn right after Charles Barkley signed his first pro contract with the 76ers and chatted with him in line. He didn't order as much as you'd think.
...some college friends and I were picking up another friend at the airport in Atlanta (when you could go directly to the gate) and we saw the professional wrestling tag-team champions The Freebirds. We went crazy and they came over and high-fived us all.
...numerous run-ins with Bo Jackson and other various Auburn football players and coaches as a student there. My favorite was riding in Tim's pickup truck and seeing Bo coming out of a phone booth wearing a Superman outfit surrounded by photographers.
...sitting in a restaurant here in Dallas going to see their show, and seated at the table next to us was the entire band Stavesacre. I couldn't have been more thrilled.

All of a sudden, I'm drawing a blank, but I'm sure I'll remember more later. What are some of your brushes with greatness?
I Keep Trying To Tell All Of You

Many times in this space I've tried to explain the passion that the state of Alabama has for college football. They care about high school football inasmuch as it pertains to where the best players will be playing college football. They care about professional football inasmuch as which team their former stars play for.

I grew up in that culture. Hence, I "get it." I follow college football...with borderline obsessive passion. It's pretty much a hobby. One example: two months ago, I drove 24-hours--round trip--to watch a 3-hour football game with my daughter. She wanted (dare I say needed?) to see what all the hullaballoo was about. Mission accomplished. There was hullaballoo and we were right there in the thick of it.

Another recent example: My mother wanted her ashes scattered at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This wasn't considered odd by anyone we knew. My entire family was there to trespass and scatter...they cheered when I did it. Mission accomplished.

Most of you likely don't know that the head coach of The Dark Side (The University of Alabama) was fired this week. You can't go 6-6 and lose to Auburn for the 5th straight year. Went 10-2 in 2005? No matter. You went 6-6 and lost to Auburn. Here's $4 million (yes, the buyout of his contract was $4 million), thanks for trying, now go away.

People don't raise an eyebrow at that in Alabama.

So you shouldn't be surprised by this little bit of information I got this morning from Alabama's newspaper page (all the state papers get together to make a pretty good web page):

" recorded 8.2 million page views Monday, including 4.6 million in its talk forums. That performance outpaced milestones of 4.9 million views to 5.2 million views for such events as Hurricane Ivan, the Huntsville school bus crash and the day talk escalated that Shula might be replaced by Nick Saban of the Miami Dolphins."

Just one more example to try to help you all understand why I'm so into college football...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Coupland Character Provocation

Yesterday's entry was a thought-provoker from a novel I'm reading by Douglas Coupland. I mentioned that some of the more interesting parts of the novel are actually found within the verbal exchanges of the software developer characters.

Ethan, who develops all sorts of theories and then observes them, had this one on meetings:

"That's why meetings become toxic--they put uncreative people in a situation in which they have to be something they can never be. And the more effort they put into concealing their inabilities, the more toxic the meeting becomes. One of the most commone creativity-faking tactics is when someone puts their hands in the prayer position and conceals their mouth whle they nod at you and say, 'Hmmmm. Interesting.' If pressed, they'll add, 'I'll have to get back to you on that.' Then they don't say anything else.

The uncreative people who run a meeting say such things as 'Does anybody here have something to say about Ethan's idea? The ensuing silence makes even a good idea look stupid.

...In a way, the best meetings are the ones where nobody is creative and nobody has any ideas about anything. People sit around, stare at their notepads, and then, after a plausible amount of time has passed, everyone leaves. Everybody's happy because nothing was demanded of them, and nobody was made to look bad.

Knowing all of this doesn't make meetings any less numbing, but at least now you know why they're numbing."

Granted, my my world, we have meetings but oftentimes we have meetings for the express purpose of creativity in what we do. But we have our share of "business-type" meetings...and they may be a necessary evil. That doesn't make them any more bearable, though. At least now I know why they're numbing.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Here's A Provocative Thought, or Why I Enjoy Reading So Much

Whenever one reads a Douglas Coupland novel (as I'm currently halfway into his latest release, but I own them all if you want to borrow any), it isn't so much about the character development (which I think he gets a bad rap on) or the satire of pop culture (which everyone regards as brilliant and insightful)--yes, I agree his stream of consciousness entries get annoying--it's about the little nuggets of thought found in the interplay between the characters. In this case, a bunch of software workers with lots of time to kill in the office.

Here's one that really got my mind working overtime yesterday. It came from a dialogue between co-workers Bree and Ethan when she was wowed by his ability to remember all the types of salad dressing in the door of the break room refrigerator:

"How do you remember all that [stuff]?"

"Brain wiring. I've always been able to remember brand names. I have this theory about smart people. If you're smart, you're either the only person in your family who's smart, or everybody in the family is smart. No in-betweens."

I've been thinking about my extended family on this, and my maternal family side are all college graduates and most hold advanced degrees...but my paternal family is more blue-collar types.

Funny thing is, there are ones I'd consider smart and others I'd consider to be on the other side of the ledger on both sides. If there was ever an in-between family in this regard, it's mine.

I think that's why I enjoy reading so much. My mind engages. It makes me feel alive. Unlike most television or movies, which only entertain. Even a bad book can do that.

But Coupland's a good writer...and he's got another insight on why people hate meetings I might just bring up tomorrow.
Celebrating Advent

Just in case you didn't get the memo at church yesterday, our staff decided to aid our families that want to celebrate Advent (the season of preparation for Christmas). We put together a blog and will be adding all sorts of information every other day or so to help families, men, women, small groups, etc., and the first few posts are already up.

You can get there by going to CBC Celebrates Advent, 2006!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday Night?

Wife tired from her week.
Kid1 at a friend's birthday party.
Kid2 and friend wanted to see a movie I didn't want to see (Deck the Halls).

Drop Kid1 off at the party.
Get tickets and watch Kid2 and friend head into the movie, reminding them of the post-movie meeting point.

Decide to kill time by walking around in the adjacent mall.

Came home crabby.

Lesson: For someone with inherent Scrooge-like tendencies anyway, walking the mall in November is NOT something I'd recommend.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Video Game Living Cartoon Profile

I picked up the new Douglas Coupland novel: jPod. He's the guy who coined the term "Generation X." Now, he's using the term "jPodders" to describe the late-teens, early 20-something age group--because they came of age after the iPod. Get it?

Anyway, this group of jPodders work in cubicles for a softward giant who makes video games. Part of their job is to write profiles of each character who will be in the game...and when they get bored they write them for co-workers or themselves.

Thought I'd undertake that task today, using questions they used in the book:

Name: Brent McKinney
Name People Actually Use: Brent
Preferred Simpsons Character: Reverend Lovejoy
Favorite Video Game: NCAA Football 2006
Preferred Karaoke Song: Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, but wouldn't sing karaoke no matter how much alchohol was involved
Most Disturbing Trait: Drastic changes in temprament/moods for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Usually, these changes occur because of the presence or absence of people...which doesn't come close to rationally explaining cause/effect.
Preferred Room Temperature: 50 degrees F. Loves any room, any time to be freezing cold.
Most Evident Pathology: Has no use for fashion sense. Really. None. Also, a visible disdain for people who create a market for spam, mobile phone rudeness, internet pornography, and various mass media vehicles (such as certain reality shows, game shows or "trilogy" movies).
Favorite "Knick Knack" In His Office: A commemorative hockey puck from a minor-league game in which the local team played the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team that eventually won the gold medal. Runner-up: A 12-oz. bottle of coca-cola taken from his grandmother's laundry porch shortly after her funeral.
Do People Notice Him?: Yes. He has a job that requires visibility. In addition, his long hair, poor fashion sense, a tattoos get people talking.
Most Creative Thing Ever Done: Long before the "Left Behind" series came out, he was 80 pages in writing a novel about a group of people who were left behind in the Christian "rapture." His computer crashed and the data could not be retrieved despite serious attempts to do so...and he gave up the project. His wife still jokingly brings this up occasionally when reports of sales of the "Left Behind" series get published. Runner-up: one novel and one children's book in the chute of good ideas. Multiple back-ups will be employed on these versions when, and if, they get written. Third-place: Kept The Diner up and running for well-over three years now.
Favorite Food & Candy: Spaghetti & pizza--pretty much anything Italian. Candy: Peanut M&M's.
Does He Enjoy His Job?: Absolutely much so that he often has trouble relating to others who don't like their work. He understands why someone might sacrifice personal work happiness to serve others, like their family, but doesn't like hearing that people do that. Feels like everybody should do something they love and can do that with passion...and not call those things "hobbies."

Not exactly sure why the jPodders used those questions or how they'll help in their work. Of course, this all happened in chapter 1 as the author was helping you get to know the characters, so it may or may not have a practical application to their work...but that was the auspicies of the assignment. We'll see how the story goes.

But have fun rearranging my answers if you don't think they're correct, or answer one or two or all of them in the comments as they pertain to you...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Feeling Pressure

Towards the end of a wonderfully slow and uneventful Thanksgiving (well, I guess you could say what transpired in the kitchen from 9:30AM until 3:30PM was an event of sorts), Kid2 was getting antsy. The Cowboys weren't doing it for her.

She started lobbying me to get up in the attic and start doing the Christmas set-up.

And for whatever reason, I was hardcore against it. Just didn't feel like getting my holidays mixed up, I guess. But it seems right somehow to keep Thanksgiving Thanksgiving and start Christmas today.

Our ritual will begin in earnest in about an hour. The outside gig, which will involve a brief roof stint. Followed by the indoor shifting of the knick-knacks. And, truth be known, I kind of enjoy it. My favorite part is getting the ornaments for the tree out--we've tried to get one from every year that sort of said something about that year, like the year we moved to Dallas we got a Santa dressed in Cowboys colors or the year we were in Manhattan we got an NYC one...stuff like that. Not to mention the kid's old stuff they made.

My wife and mother-in-law will hit the stores later.

And we'll have football on while the set-up occurs.

And I'm still glad I didn't mix holidays.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Predictably, Stuff I'm Thankful For...

...Christ, and the past, present & future work He's done, is doing, and will do in my life. wife, and her photographic genius. painter and my ballerina. higher-order life-liver sister Jilly, and barnstorming brother-in-law Shane, because they make each other happy, and the Napoleonic-complex dog Dignan. Shania-loving siter-in-law Jodie, and legal-beagle brother-in-law Stephen...and the gunslinging-qb nephew and pink-princess niece. in-laws, who really have always been there for us.
...soldiers that do their jobs and their families that sacrifice.
...same for police and firefighters.
...the fact that I ask questions regarding how much we can afford to spend on Christmas this year, not if we can spend on Christmas this year. friends I still keep in touch with from high school.
...the fact that I got to go to high school. friends I still keep in touch with from college.
...the fact that I got to go to college.
...a church that feels more like family that a job, or a ministry. A really big and wonderfully bizarre family, but a true family nonetheless.
...the fact that I got to go to seminary, and one that really prepared me for my church family.
...the benefits of suburbia, such as being relatively crime-free, providing a good public education (and all that entails), and generally nice folks. to laugh with. And the best kind of laughs, too. Those created because the people are both fun and funny. The belly-laughs where you have to take your glasses off and wipe your eyes. that "get it" and push you to be your best because they're the best.
...that former teens ask me to do their weddings, and there've been a lot this year.
...that former teens make it a point to check up on me while they're home for the holidays. dog, Lloyd. He really is a part of the family. The Diner patrons. It's peculiar how this little piece of therapy for me brings so many of you along for the ride. The private e-mails, the little conversations we have about the things you read "but would never comment" about, the emaphty with my Cobain-esque mood swings, the passionate disagreements...makes for a nice little community establishment.

In all sincerity, Happy Thanksgiving Day, readers. I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord! They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work; and His righteousness endures forever.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Life Worth Living

In the 1979 movie "Manhattan" starring Woody Allen (back when he was brilliant and not a celebrity who took himself too seriously) as Isaac Davis, his character was asked the question on why life is worth living. His response was, "Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Wilie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face..."

So, for me...uh...ohhh, that's a very good question. Well, there are certain things that make it worthwhile, I guess... from Two-Boots Pizza in wife sitting in her red chair with her blanket over the space heater to name one dog sitting on the footrest of the recliner...ohhh...the loud music and resulting art that comes out of Kid1's studio...ummm...naps...oh yeah and...hammocks and mild afternoons...the Ballpark in Arlington and Jordan-Hare Stadium on gamedays, naturally...okay, umm...Kid2 sewing ribbon on her pointe shoes...a freshly mowed lawn...grilling any kind of meat, of course...the energy level of teenagers in my world...uh...the beauty of both Manhattan and Portland...the Ramones and Sex Pistols and Social Distortion...oh yeah and legos...Blue Bell...watching old videos of the kids...and there's laughing with friends...and uh...Disney World is good...uhh...


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This Sounds Serious

I saw a promo for a television show called "Heroes." I'm not sure what all is involved but my children seem to like it...and my wife's starting to get into it, too. My wife likes the highbrow stuff so something tells me it's good.

Anyway, one of the lines in the ad was, "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World."

All I can tell you is that I'm going to start making sure my friend Bailey is well taken care of from here on out. I didn't know the stakes were this high until now.
I Didn't Get Finished Mowing, And I'm Okay With That

For various reasons (one of which was me taking Kid1 to open a checking account--how old am I now?) I didn't get started working on the yard until about 4PM yesterday.

I was all iPodded up. Audio quality on one of my sermons wasn't too good so I decided to save them and went with the Foo Fighters as my background music.

Weed-eater going. I have the electric kind so there are starts and stops while I'm moving the plug in.

Sam The Retired Widower Neighbor pops out. He catches me between moving the plug.

We chatted.

For long enough to keep me from my appointed rounds.

But we chatted.

And I found out about how he and his wife went to Oklahoma to get married. She was 16 and he was 18. Apparently, that was cool back then. He said the scuttlebutt around them was that the "had to" get married. He joked that was true, but she just carried the baby for five years. His reasoning for "had to" get married was that he fell in love. "Most people don't have anything to do but get in other people's business," Sam told me.

We talked about his golf game, or lack thereof. His Liar's Club morning meetings have been more about breakfast than golf these days, but he thought the recent snap of good weather might get them all back out. "Our game hasn't gotten any better over the years, but our lying about it has," Sam told me.

We talked about family coming in for Thanksgiving. He's got his daughters and son-in-laws coming in. "They're handling it all--cooking, cleaning, all that. I'm just bankrolling the project," Same told me. He wasn't sure of his Christmas plans yet.

We talked about being the only guy in a house full of women. "I must've done something wrong in a past life because God cursed me by being surrounded by mean women who just wanted my money. I got Him back, though. I just didn't have any money. I'm so poor I can't even pay attention," Sam told me. He also winked a lot telling me the stories. We both know the rewards of the situation outweigh any and all inconveniences...but we joked about it just the same.

We talked about baseball. "The Rangers will never win anything," Sam told me. I didn't like it that he might just be right.

We talked about the Cowboys. "I stopped going when Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones got involved. Just doesn't seem like the Cowboys, even though they won more Super Bowls, it just doesn't seem right," Sam told me. Even though I didn't move here until the 90's, I knew what he meant.

He made fun of my dog Lloyd, "He's like a dog, only smaller," Sam told me.

We were in the middle of the street the entire time. It was long enough to cost me enough daylight to avoid mowing the back yard.

I'm okay with that.

I got a lot from the stuff Sam told me.
Still Smiling!

I know it means nothing to those of you who aren't part of my readership below the Mason-Dixon line, but this...

...makes me happy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mish Pish B' Gish

So, my friend Mish (who happens to be my friend Steve-O's bride of almost a year now) wrote an article for the online edition of Radiant Magazine--a version of Relevant Magazine designed for the female 20-something. Since she is a female twenty-something, she'd have keen insights. You can read the article here.

Congratulations, Mish!
So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that when I saw a guy at the mall Saturday night wearing a button that read "Radical Militant Lutheran" I wondered if that was the same as a "Conservative, Non-Confrontational Baptist." Adam, a little help?
...that the new refrigerator in your kitchen takes a lot of getting used to when you first come around the corner. This one is bigger than the one we got at a Sears "scratch and dent" sale 12 years ago, but small enough to fit in our 20 year-old house's allotted, non-adaptable space for a fridge.
...that my in-laws are coming for the holidays and this will be nice. My mother-in-law is a cook in the traditional "Southern" way of doing it, so it'll be nice to have the bonus fridge as a necessary back up. If you know anything about southern cooking, you fully understand what is meant by that.
...if anyone has tickets to Wednesday's Stars home game or the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game, well, I'm on vacation, and if you're leaving town, I'll be happy to take either off your hands for you. And, as long as I'm wishing, lottery winnings and HDTV all sound nice, too.
...I need to call the wood guy before the first cold snap. There's a guy I've made exactly 3 phone calls to in my lifetime and I call him, he leaves a half-cord of wood neatly stacked in the allotted space in my back yard, and we leave him a check. I don't ever see him, and it's funny to think you have an wood guy with a cloak of invisibility.
...more movies should be made like Stranger Than Fiction.
...interestingly, there was an editorial in the paper today about the children of Darfur, right when Kid1 was choosing that as the topic for a series of paintings she's about to do. of my daughter's friends went to the dollar movie place, and on half-price Tuesday, purchased the entire house of seats and then handed out tickets to all her friends to go see the show. For about $150 (which is a little more than you might pay for a sleepover with 12 friends, with pizza and snacks and movie rentals) she got to hand out tickets and invite them to go see the Pirates of the Carribbean sequel. I thought it was a fun school vacation idea.
...want yet even more proof that college football needs a playoff system? Michigan, after losing to Ohio State last weekend, is set for a re-match to determine the national championship according to the latest computer rankings. So, lemme get this straight? You don't win your conference title, but you can play for the championship? Auburn wins it's conference title in 2004, but can't? Open letter to whom it may concern: Fix this.
...when I mow, I listen to sermons on my iPod. The podcasts I get for free from all around the country are pretty cool, but I've got a backlog starting because my yard isn't growing as fast. I can't decide whether or not to complain about that.
...I'm still thinking about tattoos to represent my wife & each of my daughters. I don't think my family enjoys the fact I found a tattoo artist who has serious pastor discounts. And, when people who have tattoos say, "They're addicting," well, they aren't exaggerating much.
...I thought about my mom during the Auburn-Alabama game. My family, too. I didn't realize how vivid a memory that would be when we scattered her ashes at midfield (and a small portion where Auburn's team came out) at her alma mater's football stadium. reading has slowed down. I don't know if it's because of age or just current work busy-ness or a level of fatigue, but whenever I sit down with a good book I get really drowsy. What's up with that?
...I think we have to go to IKEA today. I've never been, but I'm kinda excited about it. My higher-order life-liver sister told me she was at Crate & Barrel the other day and I had to send my imagination into overdrive to even picture that. She was also in a mall. My head nearly exploded. I don't have the aversions to malls and mass-marketed trappings Jilly does, but it's close. However, for some reason, I'm curious about IKEA.
...I could go on and on, but I want grab a book while I've got a good jolt of coffee in me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

1,456 Days And Counting

Yesterday's Iron Bowl turned out to be the nail-biter I thought it would be...although after Auburn got a 2nd turnover they jumped out 14-3...

photo courtesy of

Then Bama got TD's on two consecutive drives, one at the end of the 1st half and one at the beginning of the 2nd. Halfway through the 3rd quarter the Tide had the lead 15-14.

And then Auburn caught a TD pass on 3rd and 15 late in the 3rd quarter...

photo courtesy of

With Bama driving to try to tie the score in the last minute, David Irons intercepted a pass and we hung on to win...and he's showing his thumbs...

...signifying the fifth win in five years against (Auburn's head coach irritated the Alabama faithful by saying this year Bama needed to "fear the thumb") our arch rivals. The first time in my lifetime that's ever happened.

photo courtesy of

And it was if I have a little more bounce in my step today, you'll know why.

Well, that and we're getting a new refrigerator.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Proud Dad Alert

Several of The Diner readers enjoy it when I put Kid1's art work on this page. Sometime this week, we're going to put a web/portfolio together so people can get a look at her stuff...apparently this will be a temporary stop until she gets her own "offical" domain.

Anyway, here's one she did this week, 11 x 15, watercolor, that she thought might be a nice addition to her Aunt Jill & Uncle Shane's, gameroom/wine cellar/bar/guest room downstairs:

Here's a pastel landscape, 11 x 17, that hung in the local Starbucks for a couple of weeks she did in her art class:

She told me that this week she intends to do a series of paintings while she's on vacation to highlight the injustices in Darfur regarding the "Invisible Children" crisis...

...I'm intrigued.

And, I wonder exactly how I got such interesting children.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Good Harbinger

Now, I don't put any stock in horoscopes...the ones in the newspaper always seem silly. In fact, in our paper they always have a big, bold number to tell you what kind of day you should have on a scale of 1--10. I never see 1's or 10's. I'd imagine a zero would mean all the Pisces might die that day. I can't imagine what would cause the delirium of a "10."

Anyway, for some reason, I glanced at mine today (I'm an Aquarius) and there was a big, bold "9" staring at me.

Since I've got a pretty important meeting with my student ministry staff this morning at 10:30AM (see entry from a few days ago entitled "The Perfect Thing") I figured I'd check out what was going to make this a great least as great as they seem to give out.

It read: "You're good working with others for altruistic objectives. You're inhibited by a tyrant or other large monster, which make the game more interesting. Get your team together."

My only concern seems to be this tyrant or other large monster that could make the game more interesting...
Iron Bowl Prediction

The Dallas Morning News said Auburn would have an easy time of it, winning 24-14. I'm not sure they've seen the same Auburn team I've been watching this season, though. They spend a lot of time writing about the Big 12.

So, after thinking about it, I think it'll be Auburn 16, Alabama 14.

I also think Bama will miss a couple of field, what I'm saying is that Bama will have better stats than Auburn (their offense will sputter and spurt like it has all season, too and come away with 3 field goals to show for it), but the way their season's gone they always find ways to lose games late. I don't think that will change Saturday.

Of course, that might just be wishful thinking, too. But I think that's pretty objective...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If I Did It...

O.J. Simpson will be getting $3.5 million bucks to write a book entitled something like, If I Did It. Pretty much self-explanatory. Lawyering can work it out so he could keep that money, too, despite owing nearly 10x that amount to the families of the victims from another court case. For the same reasons I can't understand why Dancing With The Stars would be watched by anyone, I can't understand why anyone would read this or watch the accompanying television show, either.

But, since there's money to be made...

...I stole the Lindberg baby.
...You don't even want to know where I was on November 22, 1963.
...Marilyn Monroe, well, I was there, but not intimately involved (if you know what I mean).
...I worked on Amelia Earhart's plane.
...I drove the tractor that put the spaceship into Area 51.

So, if any publisher wants to pay me for a full confession for crimes "I didn't do," well, just contact me here at The Diner. I could use the cash.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Perfect Thing

I'm currently reading a book entitled The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness by Steven Levy. It's a fascinating read, detailing how the successful little Mp3 player came into existence and the entrepreneurial climate Apple co-founder Steve Jobs established that would allow for that successful little Mp3 player to come into existence.

And a couple of quotes stood out to me:

"...some of the attributes behind Jobs's success: his unwavering focus, his insistence on excellence, and his belief in his own vision. These were all in play when Apple developed the iPod. Jobs did not invent the device, but he created conditions that made it possible and focused on ensuring that the end result would meet his exacting standards. It may not be accurate to say that only under the leadership of Jobs and the culture he created could the iPod have been devised and only under Jobs could it have further evolved into its current dominance--but there is undeniable fact that no one else did it."

Later, Levy notes, "You would think that a run like that [iPod was selling 5 million players every quarter] would pause to take a breath, and certainly a willingness by the company to ride with the most successful versions of the iPod. But that is not what Jobs had in mind...[quoting Jobs now] 'And a lot of people think it's really great, we've got a lot to lose, let's play it safe. That's the most dangerous thing we can do. We have to get bolder, because we have world-class competition now and we just can't stand still.'"

And it's peculiar that I'm reading this book at this time in my life.

See, over the last month my staff and I been re-evaluating our student ministry systems. I've given my staff a white board, some markers--and more importantly, an eraser--and some parameters. They're bringing the creativity and design. They present to me on Friday.

I'm sure what will happen on Friday won't be the end result of the deal. We'll tinker and such for another few meetings.

And I'm expecting greatness, frankly.

I have a vision and insist on excellence in this deal. It may not look like it to outsiders, but I'm more passionate about this ministry more than ever...maybe it's because after 19 years you know the stakes you're playing for.

I hope I've created conditions that will allow my staff to get there. If nothing else, I've stayed out of all their meetings thus far. But I think we've got a fun-factor and an attitude that will allow their innovative selves to shine.

And, yes, we've had a bit of what people would call ministry "success." We do have a lot to lose. We could play it safe if we wanted.

Steve Jobs went re-vamped the iPod at the height of sales--went with something called "flash memory." Ultimately this technology led to the Nano and eventually the video capability we all secretly want. And, yes, I'm aware of all the books about Steve Jobs and what a lousy boss he is...but the guy invented Apple, got fired--and then headed up a little company called Pixar--, came back and saved Apple from bankruptcy to enhance their stock to 700 times the value it had the day he took over. He took the calculated risk to make a good thing truly a great thing.

I'm no Steve Jobs. This could happen under a number of people's leadership.

But I'm pretty excited about my staff's meeting this morning to finalize the presentation they'll make to me on Friday.

I have a "good vibe" about all this.

And I hope 2007's student ministry year at our church hits with the same impact that iPod hit with in 2004. For reasons way better than money.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Actual Conversation At My House

Mom: Dad's going to take you to your doctor's appointment tomorrow. I'm really tired and want to sleep in.

Kid1:'s my ear doctor appointment.

Mom: Yeah, I know. What's the matter?

Kid1: There's a lot involved, Mom. Insurance cards. Payments. Notes for school. all sorts of stuff. Do you think Dad can handle it?

I think I need a better P.R. assistant...
Game On

It's Iron Bowl week in the great state of Alabama. While the game might not have national implications this year, I'm sure talk radio and on-line forums and water cooler conversations have amped up. If you haven't lived there, the game consumes pretty much everybody, and by this morning, everybody will have dissected the match-ups on the line, the potential of each quarterback to play well, the ability to run the ball, and the defensive schemes needed to win the big game.

Being in Texas, well, let's just say the lead story on the sports page today was whether or not the Cowboys' 1st round pick will make an impact this season.

I kinda miss the hoopla, though. It's a pretty electric week in Alabama.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Uncomfortable...In The Best Way

I've embedded the video since the original post
*end edit*

There's been a lot going on at my church the last 7 weeks or so. Some of it wretchedly, horribly bad. Some of it inspiringly, wonderfully good. Crisis will do that.

The crisis coincided with my 10th anniversary of working for students there. Lots of energy and effort was expended to deal Biblically with said events. To manage the details and minister to the new levels needed by our members (keeping in mind the "normal" levels of ministry never went away) became the highest priority of the leadership and staff. Crisis will help you figure out what those priorities are.

The leadership, in my opinion, handled the situation admirably (and continues to do so, if you're wondering. It ain't over yet.). Now they're starting to focus on vision and ministry "as usual."

Part of which meant they wanted to show me how much they appreciated the years of service. They've done so continually for the last decade so it seemed redundant to me, but they seemed dead-set on making a fuss.

Generally, I don't like a fuss being made about me. Or my work. I love what I do. I'm built to do it. I get to do it at a place that I enjoy. My church really seems like family to me. And they want to make a fuss about me? I should make a fuss about them. I try to.

The fuss involved putting my family and I on stage. They gave us nice cards people had written. There was a nice gift. There were nice words spoken about me and my family. There was a plaque:

There was also a video made by my staff. They didn't want sappy sentimentalism so they went with the fun factor...they said the goal was to show that one of our staffers was having fun and enjoying their work. Mission accomplished. Here it is:

There was a reception. With cake. And a big card for everybody to sign.

And yes, it all made me very uncomfortable. A good uncomfortable...but uncomfortable nonetheless.

I felt like I should be the one thanking them.

See, my church recognizes the value of my wife in my work. They put her name on the plaque, too. Her picture was in the card.

See, my church recognizes the sacrifice my kids have to make because they share their dad with so many others (which includes a video of their dad that would make most teens cringe from embarrassment, but they understand and think it's pretty funny, too.) That's why they put them on stage.

See, my church always seems to find room in the budget for whatever schemes and visions our staff comes up with.

See, my church builds rooms, decks and coffee shops so we can do ministry effectively.

See, my church values having teenagers be a part of their body right now...not some vague idea of "church of the future."

See, my church has supportive parents, even if they don't always see the method behind the madness. They at least give us the benefit of the doubt and most of the time encourage us.

See, my church has elders and other staff that wnat us to succeed. They don't get very "territorial" because they understand a healthy student ministry is good for the entire church.

See, my church understands that spiritual formation is a slow business. They understand it takes a lifetime and where I'm stationed is often foundational to the building...and when the goal is love, from a pure heart (it's on the plaque, so they certainly have heard it enough from us) and all that, it can be hard to quantify "success." But they understand the realities of ministering to teenagers.

See, my church likes it when we hire staff that started in our ministry in middle school and stayed with it into college.

See, my church values discipleship...even when that gets messy.

See, my church lets me be who I was created to be. They seem to encourage me to think outside the box. Actually, they encourage me to eliminate the box altogether and build a new box to then, in turn, eliminate that box and repeat the process.

And I could go on and on.

Yes, I was uncomfortable with the fuss. But for them to thank me, while I appreciated it greatly, seemed silly to me. I should've been thanking them.

So, while I have the chance:

Thank you, my family at Crossroads, for 10 wonderful years. I only wish there were better words to express how much you mean to me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

They Do Grow Up

So, Cristina got married last night. To Brian. I like her. I like him. I like them together.

I've known her since she was 12. Her mom lived across the street then. She'd hang out and watch movies with us or eat the food in the youth cabinet.

I've been all over the world with her on mission trips. We built a church together in Mississippi. She taught sports camps in Holland. We built houses together for the poor in Juarez. She's since been on a couple of mission trips since then...doing her thing. The Great Wall was involved in one of them.

She was in my ministry from 6th grade through her graduation. She did it all. The Pine Cove trips. The ski trips. Involved in small groups each year. Led middle school small groups her junior and senior years. She was there when we moved from the old building to the new one and helped us through those growing pains.

It was nice to actually be needed by a kid, too. The whole ten years.

And all the hullaballoo that comes along with a wedding was a reunion of sorts. Lots of the former teens were around for this one, too. Ryan & Melissa. Jeremy & Lori. Lizzie (Wes had to work--and I mean HAD to work, or he'd have been there). Nathan. Tim. Maria. Heather. Christy & Josh. Steve & Mish. Matt & Liz. Meredith. Katherine (and beau Goliath/Daniel--even though I didn't get to visit with them). Kristy (and beau Marky Mark--even though I really didn't get to visit with them, either). Faith. Millard. Others I'll forget and they'll be mad. And, yes, it's a pretty surreal moment when there's champagne and wine and toasting and you're there with former students and you realize that they're all legal and now this is socially accepted behavior at weddings. It was nice seeing everybody again, that's for sure.

But seeing Cristina coming down the aisle with her dad.
Smiling at Brian.

It seemed like one of those movie clips where all the pictures moved too fast and you couldn't see them all but they went through the whole lifetime of one of the characters to me.

The pictures moved too fast but I can freeze each one of them now.

Manalive do I love that kid.


Manalive do I love Mrs. Welch.

And the fact that she is Mrs. Welch. He'll love and serve her. She'll reciprocate. It'll work. And this makes me happy.

Happy beyond words.

And yes, I'm still a sucker for student ministry.

And yes, I'm still a sucker for weddings like last night's. Largely because they highlight "that kid" and everything that's good about my life.

I'm blessed beyond words.

Godspeed, Brian and Cristina. And thank you both for the reminder for everything good about my life.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Poor Choice...Almost

Sorry I'm blogging so late today...decided to have a lazy morning and sleep in. Woke up in time to join the Auburn DFW Alumni Club to watch the traditional rivalry game against Georgia. Kid1 came with me...and we were joined by another AU family that goes to my church.

Auburn wasn't even close today...losing big, 37-15 (and, frankly, it could've been 51 pretty easily). On top of that, a waitress called in sick so the service, which is always dicey with a sports grill full of people anyway, was a bit, ahem, slow.

So, no food. Empty drinks. Tigers getting whipped. Dangit...looks like a Peach Bowl or Outback Bowl. Maybe Cotton for those of us Dallas dwellers...which I'd actually kind of like now that we won't win the SEC championship.

But, the ride home, and the spiritual conversation that ensued in a very spontaneous way with Kid1, well, now I'm glad I went.

Even if the Tigers got whipped.

Friday, November 10, 2006

High Enough...Long Enough...It's Good!

A field goal. A short one, too.

I saw it go through the uprights when I got home from the local high school's production of "Narnia" (in which my friend Keila played a very believable Lucy and all the kids put on a great show).

With that field goal, Rutgers took control of the Big East Conference with their perfect 9-0 record. Louisville, the former #3 team in the country, watched their national title hopes crash.

Why all this happiness about a game winnning field goal?

Well, first of all, my friends Bob & Sue graduated from Rutgers and have been scrounging for old sweatshirts and such to show their school spirit with the Scarlet Knights' perfect season.

But, more importantly, one word: Chaos.

See, those of us who follow college football as a hobby--a very passionate hobby--have a disdain for something called the B.C.S. The Bowl Championship Series.

The idea is a good one. See, in major college football there is no playoff to determine the's picked by the polls. And in the old system, each conference champion went to a specific geographical bowl and there was a possibility that the best teams never played each other to determine the National Championship. That was voted on.

So, to correct that little problem, they decided to put a formula together to figure out who are the top two teams and they'll put them in one bowl game each year so that way a truer National Champion could be crowned. It involves a lot of number-crunching from voter polls and computer programs.

The main problem is that it never really works. Seems like somebody always gets screwed in the deal.

Like one year, the computers picked L.S.U. and Oklahoma as the two best teams. They played and L.S.U. won. Well, they each had one loss, as did U.S.C. and a slew of other teams. Somehow, U.S.C. shared the national championship with L.S.U. that year.

Another year, my beloved Auburn Tigers ran the table undefeated. The B.C.S. numbers showed that U.S.C. and Oklahoma should play for the title. Meanwhile, Auburn and Utah won their bowl games and U.S.C. won the "championship game." Auburn later had 5 players taken in the first round of the N.F.L. draft. U.S.C. had one. Hmmmm.

But the system works when...oddly enough...only two teams go unbeaten, like last year when Texas and U.S.C. were it.

Well, this year is now officially CHAOS with that magnificent field goal kicked last night.

See, Michigan and Ohio State are the top two teams...and along with Rutgers, remain the only unbeaten teams. Well, they play each other. Barring upsets, the Ohio State-Michigan winner will be unbeaten...and get one spot in the big game.

What about Rutgers? If they win out, they won't get to play for it. Computers won't bump them up enough. That just doesn't seem right, right?

Who is better: A one-loss Texas team or a one-loss Florida Gator team? What about Arkansas, who will have one loss if they win out but could be ranked behind Auburn--the team they beat? Southern California could climb back in it with one loss? Notre Dame, too? What about West Virginia and/or Louisville?

There could be as many as 9 teams left with one loss, 7 from major conferences.

Hence, the chaos. Nothing will really be settled no matter who the computer spits out for the 2nd spot.

And why am I so happy about all this, you ask?

Because if there was ever a sport that needed a playoff to determine the champion, this is it. And there would be more money to be made than the NCAA basketball tournament. And if you think March Madness is great (like I do), I think that December Madness would be a sports fan's ultimate dream...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What Do You Do?

I have a LOT to do.

I mean, a LOT.

And I get to my desk and just don't have the juice today. No fire. No creativity. No real passion. It's just a temporary thing and I'm sure it happens to everybody. I mean, I had the fire, creativity, & passion on Tuesday. Got stuff done yesterday, too. Just don't feel like doing what I need to do. I'm even sure I will. I just don't want to, I guess.

When this would happen in college, I'd clean the room. Or do some laundry. Maybe take a break and go shoot hoops at the student activities building. Run the car wash. Mundane stuff like that.

I pretty much do that at work, too, just that the tasks are different. You know, return a phone call or two that aren't urgent. Go through the "in box" of papers and get them to who they need to go to. File some lessons in the right manilla file folders. Return e-mails. Mundane stuff like that.

It usually gets the snowball going downhill and eventually gets the necessary tasks done.

So, for me, I think it's clearing the mountain of mundane that frees up my brain to think creatively on the more meaningful tasks that gets me going.

What do you do when you have LOTS of stuff to do and don't have the juice to do that stuff?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just A Few Quick Hits

...Kevin and Britney didn't make it. And man, if there was one superstar couple I thought would've...

...some of the students in my ministry accomplished quite a feat yesterday: They won a state title in the marching band competition for the state of Texas. I don't care how you dissect that, it's quite an accompishment and speaks to excellence when you can win a state championship in a state this size in the "large school" classification (most high schools in this division have 3,000 or so students...maybe more). Congratulations to all you guys!

...if there's a television viewing experience that gives me more tired-head than election night election coverage, I've never found it. I'd rather watch a TLC marathon of Trading Spaces than be subjected to "races too close to call right now" and a series of bond issue updates and concession speeches. I care about those things, but I'd rather read the results in a paper or on-line than watch some journalist at a campaign headquarters telling me what's going on with about a million different tallies with little check marks on them scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

...if the Stars' power-play doesn't improve, this losing streak will certainly continue.

...if you're not checking out Pastor Bill & Pastor Mike's blogs (linked at left) you're missing out. Bill's on a very creative series regarding his thought processes on why he became a believer (or why he rejected other philosophies) and Mike's been very transparent as of late--which is dicey because he's preaching for November and all. Probably worth reading if you haven't already.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Gentle Reminder

I'm off to vote.

Is this a great country or what?!

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Know It Was On Adam's Blog...

...but this is pretty funny.

More On The 'Burbs borders on too easy when it comes to a bash of the suburbs. Lack of inspirational architecture. Too many strip malls. SUV's with kids' names & activities on the back. Megachurches. Too busy. Blah blah blah materialism blah blah covenant neighborhoods blah blah college blah blah. Etc. Etc. Etc. ad infinitum. Yes, we get it.

It's where I live...and there are some nice things about where I live, too. Quality public education. Good economic realities. Pretty much crime-free. Bible teaching churches. Quality instruction in your activity. Blah blah blah educated populace blah blah nice parks blah blah good road (except for Homestead) blah blah. Etc. Etc. Etc. close to ad infinitum. Yes, we've got it pretty good.

And in this month's Youthworker Journal (yes, we have our own professional magazine & literature. Some of us take this gig pretty seriously, okay?) there's an article with Al Hsu (who has commented at The Diner before) and Dave Goetz (who hasn't commented here but I listed his book on the left and quoted it earlier in the year) who are commenting on the spiritual life in the suburbs, so I thought I'd roll through a few quotes and let ya'll have at it:

In response to the question, "Do you feel suburbia holds more benefits for the spiritual lives of today's Christians or more dangers?":

Al Hsu: I'd say that suburbia is both a threat and an opportunity for the spiritual lives of suburban Christians. The fact that suburbia is a land of abundance cuts both ways. Suburban Christians have more access to material and spiritual resources but we've become numbed to physical and spiritual needs both at home and around the world.

Dave Geoetz: I think to stay in the 'burbs and thrive spiritual requires a continual mending of your spiritual life. It seems cliche to say, "You must be intentional," but there's no other way, really, to say it.

In response to the question, "How do the cultural values of suburbia impact youth ministry?"

Al: First, suburbia tends to be a commuter culture. So suburban youth groups can easily have teens from eighteen different high schools...and many youth workers are frazzled, commuting between a dozen schools...

Second, suburbia tends to have a busy culture. Some youth groups feed the frenzy by constantly scheduling more and more events for their teens. But many teens are so overscheduled that the last thing they need is more activities. So I applaud the contemplative youth ministry movement...

Third, suburbia tends to be a consumer culture--suburbia is almost a place of consumption rather than production. So a Christian alternative would be for youth workers to find ways to cultivate spiritual disciplines of creativity simplicity and generosity. One Christian high school of 575 teens chose to give up Starbucks, pizza and prom dresses in order to raise money to fight AIDS in Africa...

Some random quotes:

Dave: Spirituality without service in the world is a form of narcissism.

Al: Parents tend to feel good if their kids are part of the grades and sports groups but worried if their kids are part of an alternative crowd. You wonder if the grades and sports students end up worse off, spiritually, because they view themselves as healthy or normal. But they are simply absorbed into the culture. Normal takes on new meaning in the kingdom of God.

Dave: [Effective churches] are ministries built not around the homogeneity principle but aroudn grace and around a deep sense of mission in the world. The best student ministries are led by pastors who are struggling to learn how to pray and build silence into their lives. They themselves work at swimming upstream against the suburban current of efficiency, control and incessant activity.

*realizing we're open a little later than normal, but pours coffee, turns on "Now Open" neon sign, sets up chairs and waits for the discussion that makes The Diner what it is*

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I Still Don't Know What To Do About It

It's the weekend.

Mine started immediately after work on Friday: Pick up kid from school, get her to hair appointment, leave for wedding rehearsal. Dinner with said daughter after the wedding rehearsal, which was at about 8:30.

Saturday began by dropping off kid2 at the carpool meeting location. Off to the newcomer's meeting at the church. Came home & changed, went to perform the wedding ceremony. Wife and kid1 shopped.

Then, a movie and dinner. We decided to go to one of our favorite places, Tin Star. It's at a mall we don't go to very often because traffic is a nightmare. We were having a good time and laughing and such...first time we've all had a Saturday night free in a while.

I overheard a lady with her family say, "I hope it rains big-time tomorrow. It wouldn't bother me at all if all your soccer games were rained out so we could just have a lazy Sunday." They all chimed in with a variance of ", too."

It's a tired discussion on this blog, and I tired discussion in all our lives. I rarely speak with anyone who disagrees that our community is overscheduled and tired and all that jazz.

But I don't see it changing any time soon.

And I don't have any idea as to what can be done about it.

I can tell you this: Our family enjoyed our night out together, even if "Man of the Year" was just an average "dramedy." I'll take 'em when I can get 'em.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Answering Some Of The Questions

Hey, The Diner management is now gonna attempt to answer a lot of the questions that were posed the last couple of days. You'll need to check the last two days of comments to get on board with what was asked, though:

First, on the bumper sticker: Who sits around and cares if a bumper sticker is "rude" or "written with a sarcastic hand?" The same could be said about the attitudes of the founding fathers of the good old U.S. of A. in the Declaration of Independence. Same of Paul in certain letters. It's the ideas that matter, and the idea behind the sticker is theologically accurate and funny, since you asked.

Second, on where "religion and politics" overlap: Only in the conscience of the individual members of the electorate doing the voting. There and only there. Anything else is trying to get the culture to bend to the whims of believers...which flips the very idea of "salt & light" upside down. It never will. "The world" will always be the dominant guide of the culture, so it seems a lot of energy and money is expended in a lost cause. And that doesn't even factor in all the bad publicity generated. That being said, American Christians have opportunities to serve in government in ways many in the world do not, and they have both the right and responsibility to vote (and I suggest that if most Christians even bothered to do that you'd see influence at incredible levels--so most should shut up until they do that) and participate in government using their gifts, talents, trainings and insights at all levels from local school boards to the presidency. Unfortuately, our two-party system demonizes and squelches honest debate & discussion and don't even get me started on how money drives the whole machine...hence, I'd rather spend the money generated by "Christian lobbying" on other, more personal and loving causes.

Third, on Bullets and Octane: Actually, they're on the European leg of their current world tour. I think Kelsey will win the bet, Hal, as their video is starting to get play on whatever music channels still exist.

Fourth: on the paintings of the "petite Picaso": She's currently working on a series for a gallery showing. Lots of ships at sea, but no cargo on the docks yet. I'm thinking of helping her start a web page with all the works she's done. There currently is a piece hanging at the local Starbucks.

Fifth, on "how am I?": I'm assuming this means in an overall sense given all the recent happenings at our church involving our former senior pastor. Suffice to say it won't bother me a bit when 2006 leaves. I'm tired, but excited about the future. My emotions are all over the map, but in "normal" and "good" ways. I guess the overall most honest answer is, "All things considered, I'm okay. Not great. Not awful. Just okay."

Sixth, on the vaccine: I don't think the vaccine gives anybody license to do anything. After seeing my own mother's last month of life, maybe my philosophy is intensely personal on this one, but I'll be all for any...and I mean ANY...shot that will keep anyone else from having to have their life end that way.

Seventh, on working out: I'm the last person that needs to be commenting on that. I simply haven't made diet and working out a priority at all in the last six months.

Eighth, on the cookbook: I find fewer things less interesting than recipies. I don't cook, I grill. I season. I marinate on occasion. But I can't envision anything more anti-Diner (which is known more for coffee, beverage, conversation and hanging out...nobody comes here for the food) management than for this to become a posting place or exchange home for recipies. I could see if somebody wants to recommend a good marinade brand or barbecue sauce or spice...or brand of brat. But not any sort of cookbook.

Finally, on Leigh's question about the difference in O.T. and N.T. dealings of sin. The simple answer is to read Romans. Pretty much explains it all there. However, that doesn't really answer the question, so I'll just refer you to a great site, Probe Ministries, which is helpful for all sorts of matters discussed on The Diner (and Hollywood, you might like the "political involvement" discussions they have).

Anything else? I mean, the management of The Diner apparently now has to regain our status as a "full-sevice" establishment! :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm Working On This Comedic Essay At The Moment... right now it's pretty safe to say that for The Diner today,

I got nothin.'

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Full-Service Diner

Hey, here at The Diner, we've grown accustomed to having you around.

We care.

Really. We do.

So, with the weather getting colder and you wanting to spend more time around the tables here, you might want to hear from the management on some things. Hence, instead of the daily menu offerings we offer, today and today only, you tell us what you want to read about.

The managment will do the very best we can to address what you bring up: It can be questions about politics, family, religion, football/sports, pop culture, personal anonymous questions from the gallery, whatever.

So, ask away...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I'll admit it: I was running late.

I hadn't picked up the candy for the trick-or-treaters who would start coming within the hour, so I stopped by Target (conveniently on the way home from work) to get a few things on the old grocery list.

Sugar: Check.
Coffee Creamer: Check.

Now, gotta swing by the candy aisle. Get something fun-sized.

Ahhh. Reese's Cups. Can't go wrong there. Ooooh. And these have caramel in them, too. Nice addition by the folks at Reese's, I say. (Wife later reviewed them and deemed them a "waste of a perfectly good Reese's Cup." Thankfully, I also picked up some fun-sized--read: smaller--Reese's Cups.)

Five bucks, and I probably overspent...we only get between 5 or 10 trick-or-treaters every year, anyway. Just not that big a deal anymore...or possibly our neighborhood is aging or maybe it's just that our block is off the beaten path. Not sure on that one. But, hey, having leftover candy in our home isn't too much of a problem.

Suger in hand, creamer, candy. I'm a no-cart, no-bucket guy if either can possibly be avoided. And then, it happened.

Nice teenage employee.
Big old orange Target cart.
Overflowing with candy... CHRISTMAS packaging.

Double-take. This can't be happening.

Just to be sure, I ask the employee, "Christmas stuff out already?"

She replies, "Yep. One of my friends is actually over by the lawn & garden section and their crew is taking out the Halloween decor and setting up all the Christmas stuff. I'm just getting candy displayed on the end-caps right now. I'll stock the main area after we close tonight."

Nice, friendly employee. This is good.

But I didn't like what she was doing. I don't know why I didn't like it, exactly.

But I didn't.

I'm not ready for Christmas just yet, folks. I mean, we're still three weeks from Thanksgiving, aren't we?